In our latest 20 questions series we meet some of the people behind this year’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. This week we meet actor and musician, Ben Elliott.
Ben finds himself on stage as both Slender in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet at this year’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. Visit http://bardonthebeach.org for tickets and information.
Meet Ben Elliott
Ben Elliott was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. As one of four siblings, he had a built in audience that he sought to entertain. And entertain he did: at the age of two he delighted the kids on the school bus picking up his brothers by putting on a bunny costume and popping out from a new hiding place every morning. His first regular gig. Growing up in a musical family meant that piano lessons were complemented by family jam sessions. Recitals quickly gave way to composing, and included such classics as ‘Hotels & Motels’ & ‘Freddy The Squirrel’.
A naturally adventurous streak, coupled with a natural athleticism meant more trips for Ben to the ER than for most kids. The common theme was that every injury was self-inflicted, and earned often in the pursuit of comedy.
After high school, Ben attended Bishops University, earning himself a BA in Philosophy, but also providing the raw materials for his band ‘The Water Solubles’, who entertained countless keg parties and outdoor gatherings. There was also the well loved Bishops Singers, under the direction of Jamie Crooks – he stole the show with his trumpet solo during ‘I’m Going To Sit Right Down’ during the annual spring concert.
At Kilcoo Camp for boys, Ben found not only a captive and enthusiastic audience as the camp piano player, but also a new appreciation for the power of theatre and music to change lives: he directed his first shows there – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and David Mamet’s The Revenge of the Space Pandas or Binky Rudich and the Two-Speed Clock.
Life took Ben to Vancouver, where he jumped feet first in to the Studio 58 programme at Langara College. Developing his skills with the holistic approach proscribed there allowed him to explore writing, acting, directing and composing. While there he was awarded the Sydney J. Risk Foundation Acting Prize in recognition of outstanding skills in acting and the Gertrude Langridge Theatre Arts Scholarship for exhibiting strong and consistent contribution to the Theatre Arts ensemble.
Since his graduation from Studio 58, Ben has been working full time as an actor in several productions. He has been a member of the Bard company both as an actor and as a musical director since 2011. Recent and notable performances and credits in Vancouver include The Arts Club productions of Good People and Other Desert Cities, and The Virtual Stage production of Broken Sex Doll. Most recently Ben completed a cross-Canada tour with the Firehall Arts Centre production of Chelsea Hotel: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen.
Ben is looking forward to this summer’s production of Romeo and Juliet and The Merry Wives of Windsor, and perhaps some downtime to ride his bike and take in the occasional Blue Jays or Vancouver Canadians game.
20 Questions with Ben Elliott
1. Your first job.
Drink and milkshake guy at Lick’s Burgers and IceCream around the corner of my high-school in Toronto. I’m 15, behind a soda fountain literally singing out orders to the grill guy – “The back, the bacon, there ain’t no mistaken…”- while my friends order burgers after drinks in the park on a Friday night.
2. The job you always wanted as a child.
All Jim Carrey’s roles.
3. Your pet peeve.
4. Your hero.
5. Your biggest indulgence.
6. One thing no one knows about you.
What the inside of my intestines look like.
7. Three things you would want with you on a deserted island.
A piano, Oscar Peterson, the Internet
8. The one word your best friend would use to describe you.
I asked him and he gave me a few – Fun Fatherly Friendly Quick Expressive – and a word I can’t use here.
9. If you were not pursuing a career in theatre, what would you be doing right now?
Pursuing a career in music.
10. Hero or villain?
Both. That’s like asking, butter or garlic?
11. Your life’s motto/mantra.
Things have a way of working out (my dad came up that one and now uses the acronym THAWOWO for it).
12. Your favourite playwright.
13. The last book you read.
“But He Doesn’t Know The Territory” by Meredith Willson (an insightful account of what it was like to write the musical The Music Man).
14. If you were a cartoon character what cartoon character would you be and why?
Tigger, because Tiggers are wonderful things.
15. What will it say on your grave marker?
I’d like to keep it simple. My last name and the year of my birth and death.
16. Who would you most like to have dinner with?
My loved ones.
17. Your idea of happiness.
Frisbee in the park, followed by drinks on the porch, followed by my mum’s pork loin roast, followed by music or mini hockey in the living room, followed by more music, laughter, followed by a midnight swim, then scotch.
18. The one thing in your life that makes you most proud.
19. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 20-year old self?
You’re not as good as you think you are and you’re better than you think you are.
20. To be or not to be?
Be. Definitely Be.