Jennifer Walls is a Toronto based performer, producer and voice actor. Most recently she was a performer as well as assistant to the director in Canada 151: Better Late Than Sorry at Drayton Entertainment. She has received critical acclaim for her portrayal of Liza Minnelli in her one-woman show Liza Live! as well as her autobiographical rock cabaret Jagged Little Me featuring the music of Alanis Morissette. She has also enjoyed four seasons as a performer at the Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia. Jennifer has also produced a number of successful productions at the Toronto Fringe including The Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl series and Baker’s Dozen, Twelve Angry Puppets. This past year Jennifer was featured on the cover of NOW Magazine. As a voice actor she is the voice of the Family Jr. channel as well as a recurring character on PBS’s Peg + Cat and Amazon’s Creative Galaxy. Up next, Jennifer will be returning to the Victoria Playhouse for the 2018 Christmas Jamboree. .
When did you first think of yourself as an artist?
I think I've always considered myself an artist. I grew up singing along with my favourite performers- Sharron, Lois & Bram, Fred Penner then moving on to musicals, starting with Phantom of the Opera- into a Fisher Price microphone and making up dances to my mini pops cassette on my tiny boombox. Performance has always been a part of who I am. When I started school I was in school plays, Christmas concerts, music festivals and competed in dance, skating and gymnastics outside of school. Then I moved on to performing at my small hometown's summer festival before I moved to the "big city" to go to theatre school where I continued to hone my craft. Honestly, it's been a steady climb since I sang along to The Elephant Song as a toddler.
Who helped you develop your voice as an artist?
I've been so lucky to have a number of wonderful mentors throughout my life and career. Growing up, my music teacher was a huge influence on me from the age of six until I graduated high school. My church guitarist and another local musician and producer also played a huge roles in helping me find direction as a young person and artist and gave me so many opportunities that have helped me become the professional artist I am today. As a professional I've had the opportunity to work with some incredible artists that I looked up to as an aspiring artist- Rebecca Caine from the original Canadian Phantom of the Opera has been an empowering force in my life since we met several years ago and got to perform together. I also had the privilege of working closely with Ben Vereen a few years ago which was one of the most inspiring experiences. David Rogers and David Hogan of the Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia have played an invaluable role in helping me realize my potential as an artist on stage and have been such a immense source of opportunity and inspiration as I've moved into directing as well. Meeting them changed my life. I've been extremely lucky.
What’s something that’s inspired you this week?
Something that has inspired me this week has been my Heathers' cast. (Really I could say that for the past 5 weeks, for 5 different reasons!) This show is a behemoth and my actors have constantly risen to the occasion. And it's not even the actual work that they have been doing on stage that has inspired me but watching them bond as a company that has inspired me. To see the friendship and respect that has developed and flows through the group from one performer to the next honestly moves me to tears. My first theatre experience in Toronto was at Hart House and my cast really became a family throughout the rehearsal process and run of the show so to see the same happening with the cast of my first directing effort at the same theatre fills me with absolutely joy and gratitude. They truly inspire me.
What’s your favourite restaurant in the city to visit?
My favourite restaurant in the city used to be a place on Queen Street across from Much Music called Everest but they closed and now it's a Furniture Warehouse restaurant- which I also enjoy because you can have a meal for the homeless added to your bill! But, my current favourite would have to be Insomnia in the Annex. They have a brunch that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. They also, in my opinion, have the best coffee in Toronto. I think the brew it with cinnamon? However they do it I definitely drink a pots worth every time I go. I recommend The Tradition on their menu but honestly, I've never had a meal there that I didn't love.
What do you want to see more of on Toronto stages?
I would love to see more sit down musicals and for the number of new musicals being workshopped to continue to grow. We have a few companies in the city that do a great job of incorporating musical productions with Toronto performers but for the number of tours that come through the city I always think "there are SO many amazingly talented performers in this city that would be brilliant in these shows!" Of course, I'm a bit biased because musicals are my chosen thread of theatre but I just think we have so much talent in this city we could do more.