Very few have the opportunity to interview ‘Hank’, everyone’s favourite Mother’s Boy and star of his own almost-annual Christmas Holiday Showcase in Orillia. Hank usually slips away quickly after the curtain call and never seems to be around backstage. However, intrepid Green Room editor John Bleasby tripped him while ‘Hank’ was still in costume running out the stage door, and managed to have a special conversation with someone always happy to speak his mind, even at Christmas.
A warning to readers: This interview with ‘Hank’ contains humorous comment concerning the hypocrisy of municipal cultural policies, amongst other things. If you are devoid of a sense of humour and have an aversion to nonsense, it is suggested you not read this interview.
Another successful fund-raising show, Hank; this time for The Sharing Place, Orillia’s Food Bank. Your mother must be so proud.
She is, and did you know that this room we’re in Mr. Bleasby…may I call you Mr. Bleasby?…is Gordon Lightfoot’s room. They fed him here a week ago.
Fed him to whom?
They actually fed him this time. Some of the crumbs he ate are still here I see.
They could be of immeasurable value. Do you think the City will enshrine them in a trophy case at City Hall?
Oh, I think maybe they will sell them off, half a cup for five bucks, with the proceeds going to the so-called Orillia Culture Department.
Like feeding crumbs to the hungry? A few cups of crumbs would more than double the 2013 Orillia cultural budget!
Something like that, yes.
When you script your Christmas shows, it’s pretty clear that nothing stands on sacred ground. What does ‘Hank’ hold holy?
Three nuns and Reverend Father McFlannery, that’s about it.
I mean, you really don’t take any prisoners in your Orillia news stories and monologues, do you?
Well, we do have a prisoner. We have Opera House Manager Krista Storey locked in the room to your right over there.
I understand Mayor Angelo Orsi, was in the audience on Opening Night. How exciting was that for you?
Actually I had Mayor Orsi on stage in my show 2 years ago. This time he sat in the back, in the dark.
Was he comp’ed (free ticket) or did he pay with cash or a credit card?
Umm….. I’m not allowed to answer that question. One of the above.
Did your mother sit with the Mayor?
No. She wasn’t there. Mother doesn’t like theatre.
Your show featured some quite ‘frisky’ nuns. Coincidently I saw a big ad in the Globe & Mail this past week from the drug maker Pfizer. Apparently they have lowered the price of Viagra to the same level as the generics. Do your nuns read Toronto papers?
No, in fact it’s ‘none of this’ and ‘none of that’ when it comes to them.
But I guess old habits die ‘hard’.
Yes they do, but if you want to be a nun, you shouldn’t have a habit to begin with. And if you do, you better change and maybe become an Anglican nun because they are much freer.
In your ‘Orillia News’ skit, you made comment on the demise of Orillia’s ‘Department of Culture & Heritage’ and it’s absorption into the Parks & Recreation Department.
The point is, you see, is that Mr. Merkley who is the head of Parks & Recreation, wanted Culture put under Sewage and Water and not under Parks and Recreation. He pleaded for weeks with Mayor Orsi, to no avail.
But his suggestion does make perfect sense. If the intention is to flush ‘Culture & Heritage’ down the toilet, it makes sense to merge it with ‘Water and Sewage’.
It would have worked perfectly!
Now, all seriousness aside; your show this year was in support of The Sharing Place Food Bank. I notice that part of the fundraising program suggests that people buy whole turkeys for distribution to those in need. However, for those on a tight budget who still want help, ‘turkey parts’ can be purchased. Have you been watching a bit too much Dexter on TV?
I would not suggest that I was inspired by Dexter, but I do like to go down and watch the butcher at Metro do his work. You see, Mr. Bleasby…is it still alright to call you Mr. Bleasby?…originally the idea was to have live turkeys running around the lobby of the Opera House, but Front of House Manager Terry Rossiter said they would crap on everything, so that was that.
Not to mention that those turkeys don’t carry Actors’ Equity cards ….
Now the other thing you mentioned was that the City Hall Christmas Pageant had to be cancelled this year.
Yes. Sadly they could not find Three Wise Men on Council to play those roles, let alone a virgin.
Meanwhile in Midland, the Huronia Players have organised a Food Drive using the theme, The Three Scrooges. Maybe this is an alternate concept that might fit the talents of the Councillors.
That might take up a lot of their time from their duties, whatever they are.
Perhaps the City could organise a series of public hearings to learn how the citizens of Orillia felt about Councillors participating in a Food Drive. Then after the hearings are complete and public opinion is strongly expressed, the Councillors could then turn around and ignore the public entirely and just do what they wanted to do in the first place.
They could! Why should they change tactics now? By the way, it’s nice to see Mayor Orsi looking so well. He seems to have recovered from being on stage in my show two years ago.
Yes, I understand he is very popular in the polls these days. Or was it popular with the Poles those days?
I don’t know any Polish people so I can’t answer that question for you. But I hear he’s popular in Ramara. Listen, I’ve got to go. I’ve got to change.
Yes, you should…You’d better! Merry Christmas!