Photo and Story submitted by Barb Shaw
Even in casual conversation Jessica Wilson’s energy is noticeable. Her words are delivered clearly, with enthusiasm and it’s easy to understand why she does well as a stage performer – she has the gift of drawing people in and that’s why she’s a great new addition to the cast of the touring production of “HASTINGS! the Musical.”
A Canadian singer/songwriter, Jessica Wilson is a promising and ambitious young artist from Welland, Ontario. Having acquired a passion for performing at a young age, this multi-instrumentalist and triple threat performer now takes the stage, acting and singing in Canadian productions and she also plays acoustic shows around Ontario.
Her schedule is jammed and that’s probably why she ended up crashing the auditions for “Hastings the Musical” with the Tweed and Company Theatre.
“I missed the deadline and I didn’t get a slot,” Wilson admits.
But that didn’t stop the recent grad from the Triple Threat Program at St. Clair College.
“I just decided to go,” she laughs. “I’ve been playing instruments all my life, it was two hours from Niagara and I just thought – this is a perfect fit. This was me.”
Artistic Director Tim Porter remembers Jessica well from her first audition and says that she was indeed a perfect fit, with talent, experience and her energy.
“As soon as we heard Jessica sing, we knew it had to be her,” says Porter, who saw close to 100 people for this single track in this year’s production. “She is going to blow the audience away. We are overjoyed to have her on board. She is something very special.”
So after a callback and a successful second audition, Wilson was booked for the show.
“And it all came together, and everything just worked out,” Wilson says. “It was luck and it was also hard work.”
The hard work continues for Wilson who is busy learning lines and diving deeper into the characters she’s playing in the show.
“When I was reading through the script I couldn’t stop smiling,” Wilson says. “It’s so brilliantly written. I have a lot of work ahead of me because I’m playing a character unlike any other character I’ve played before. Her name is Mrs. Simpson and she’s a tavern owner. I’m also playing three other characters, but one that sticks out to me is Brigid because she gets to sing ‘A New Home,’ and that was my audition song, so it will be wonderful to come full circle and sing that again. I cannot wait to bring them to life in rehearsals next week and the many shows to follow.”
Now, with opening night and a long list of show dates fast approaching, Wilson is in show mode. She describes her diet as being super healthy and she’s sticking to a strict sleep schedule to be ready for show after show that involves singing, acting and dancing some great local history in “Hastings the Musical.”
“I’m cutting out the junk food,” Wilson sighs. “Which sucks, because I have a sweet tooth.”
Other show prep involves getting Zen by ditching her phone.
“Tech distracts me,” the 22 year-old says.
With excitement mounting for the show that opens in Bancroft on Aug. 7 at the Village Playhouse, the young performer says she’s looking forward to being on stage with so many other talented singers, dancers and musicians and the rest of the cast is excited to welcome the artist who has performed with Serena Ryder and who was personally selected by American radio personality, television host, and producer Ryan Seacrest as the international winner of his "March Music Madness" cover contest.
“Being on stage is sometimes easier than my other work,” Wilson explains. “As a musician, gigging is really hard - there are often more shows and at least with theatre, you know the audience is really there to see you and the show.”
Besides her joy of being on stage with other professionals, Wilson is looking forward to being part of a show that features such interesting Canadian stories, written by Canadian artists and that features a younger cast. She also says she’s looking forward to the intimate theatre environment that the Village Playhouse offers.
“When you make a choice on stage it’s nice to hear the audience reaction,” Wilson says. “It’s not delayed, it’s immediate and it captures one, special, live moment.”
Jessica Wilson joins the cast of “HASTINGS! the Musical” as they share a show full of special, live moments at the Village Playhouse in Bancroft from August 7 – 11. Tickets for this family-friendly show are on sale now at local ticket agents including Harvest Moon, Posie’s, Vintage on Hastings, Hospice House and online at bancroftvillageplayhouse.ca.
The Bancroft Village Playhouse is operated by Hospice North Hastings and as part of their “Caring through Culture” initiative, funds raised at the theatre support the free programs and services offered by Hospice North Hastings in the community.
For additional details:
Hospice North Hastings
Media passes available by request.