A red-hot performer with a wide-ranging musical and writing career, Seana-Lee Wood has appeared on stages across Canada, including Mirvish Productions' 'Sound of Music', Hal Prince's 'Show Boat', and Andrew Lloyd Weber's 'Phantom of the Opera'. A Jessie Award winning singer with an "earthy, passionate voice"(CBC) Seana-Lee's tackled roles such as Marge in the hit show 'Suds', Dolly in 'Hello Dolly', Mama Rose in 'Gypsy', Kate in 'Kiss Me Kate', and Marion in 'The Music Man'. An author and musical review writer, her one-woman comedy, 'Good Morning Cariboo Country,' has toured across Canada, and '21 Reasons to Come Home to Walsh' was chosen for both Gros Morne Theatre and Stratford SpringWorks festivals.
In 2015, after 6 months of honing her accordion chops in the Mirvish production of 'Once' in Toronto, she was off to the Mediterranean on-board a cruise ship to headline with an 8-piece band and play in the piano bar while seeing the world. Seana-Lee is thrilled to plant herself in Alberta this summer to reprise her role of Dolly in Rosebud Theatre's 'Tent Meeting', after performing in the critically acclaimed Blinding Lights' Production (2000).
Where do you call home?
Home is where my husband Jim Hodgkinson is. He’s a wonderful composer/pianist who wrote the music and shared the lyric writing for Little Women that was performed in Rosebud last fall. We own a house in Stratford Ontario, but we both travel so much it’s often rented out.
What’s your "must-have" morning ritual?
2 cups of coffee. I’m definitely addicted. I also won’t book anything before noon if I can help it beause I often wake up with creative ideas for writing or new song arrangements, so I want to get them down before I have to get going. I have no kids, and no pets so I have a lot of freedom.
Favorite place to sing? And do you have a go-to song?
Interesting question. I love warming up in the big theatres (The Princess of Wales or Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto), walking back and forth in the seats before the audience is let in. In the Stanley Theatre in Vancouver there’s a spot in row 6 near the aisle where the sound bounces off the dome in the ceiling and it fills the entire hall.
Go-to artist for chores is Stevie Wonder.
As a piano lounge player on cruise ships, I’m always working on new music, and I love finding current gorgeous tunes, so my top two right now are Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran and Love Song – Sara Bareilles.
Favorite Guilty Pleasure?
Naps in the afternoon, when I can.
Looking at your resume, you’ve done some seriously impressive musical theatre! Are there any roles still on your bucket list?
Both in Steven Sondheim musicals – I’d love to perform Desiree in A Little Night Music and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. I’m about the right age for both of those complex, funny roles. But I also LOVE goofy shows – I came very close to the U.S. National Tour of Mamma Mia! in the role of Tanya. Fluff, but so much fun.
You toured Western Canada with ‘Tent Meeting’ in 2000, and are back in Rosebud reprising your role of Dolly. What’s changed for you this time around?
I wanted to find more lightness in Dolly. The play takes place over one day and exciting things happen as well as tough encounters. Our emotions go up and down in life, sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly so I wanted to find moments of Dolly’s joy. Also, Royal Sproule was playing George during the tour as a broken, deeply disillusioned man. Declan O’Reilly plays him more angry. I can fight back more this time around. Dolly is less beaten down – more frustrated. Not better, just different.
Do you have a favourite on-stage moment from a previous production?
I have thousands! I have collected them into several cabarets that I perform for fundraisers. How to pick just one? A friend of mine, Peter Cavell, who has written for Second City in Toronto, wrote a song about a female airport security guard who has to do a full body scan of a man she has fallen in lust with and it’s hilarious. I love making the audience laugh with material they’ve never heard before.
A specific favorite is from Calendar Girls at the Grand Theatre in London. The first act closes with 6 naked women on stage for the final calendar shot. (I was facing upstage at the piano with a naked backside), and there was no black out for our exit one night. The lighting board had frozen, but we had no way of knowing. So when we should have had the black out, the stage management team and all backstage personnel came on stage with blankets and towels to cover us while we exited.
Is there anything currently inspiring you?
Rosebud is full of artistic busy people. That’s inspiring to be part of. It’s a unique place because people aren’t afraid to talk about spirit. I love this little town.
Lastly, ‘Tent Meeting’ centres around a marriage going through drought. How do you revitalize relationships with people you love?
I use the phrase “this too shall pass” and focus on the good and the hope. I’m not sure if Dolly does that because George has been angry for a long time. Fortunately, in Tent Meeting, there is a whole community lifting him out of his drought.