Tag Archives: Backstage

Backstage: New season, new characters, new problems

When I was in high school (oh so long ago), I viewed the new school year as starting over. The summer was spent hanging out with my closest friends, on family vacations and working. Every September was a new year with new classes and in most cases, new friends.

The same is true of the kids at the Keaton School of the Arts. They’re back for another school year in 30 new episodes of Backstage—airing next Monday to Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT on Family Channel—with plenty on their minds. For Vanessa (Devyn Nekoda) and Carly (Alyssa Trask), it’s owning up to pulling the fire alarm. For Bianca (Julia Tomasone) and Jax (Matthew Isen), it means reuniting after a summer he spent on tour with DJ Diamond Mine/Kit (Romy Weltman). And with seven new characters joining Keaton, this year promises to be a humdinger.

To sort it all out, we turned to Lara Azzopardi, Backstage‘s co-creator, showrunner, writer and director for help. She tells us what’s in store for some of your favourite characters, a peek at new ones and the injury that caused an entire rewrite of the Season 2 scripts a week before filming began.

Backstage is back for Season 2! A new season means a new year at school.
Lara Azzopardi: Yes, a new year. The students have all had a summer to get over and evolve during and they return with new problems and new drama. Lots and lots of drama at Keaton!

I always viewed the new fall school year as a clean slate. Is that the case for some of these kids?
One hundred per cent. We’ve got quite a few new characters. All of the emotional storylines carry through. For any viewers who watched the first 30 episodes, you will see a lot of carry over but we are starting fresh. New year, new characters. Old characters but with new problems. We’ve all been through high school so we all bring our problems and stories about it to [the writer’s room] and try to make it as grounded and real as we can.

You have several new characters this year, but does having a group return from Season 1 help you production-wise with filming 30 episodes? Have you all developed a shorthand to make production move more smoothly?
Definitely. Everyone had a rhythm and we were lucky enough to have all of our directors from Season 1 come back. Everyone knew what we were up against. The writing process for Backstage is that I like to have as many scripts finished before we start shooting as we can. We have a big readthrough of the first 15 episodes before we shoot them. We spend an entire day reading and the actors can ask questions. It’s great. However, a week before shooting, our lead broke her ankle. And, fictionally, Vanessa broke her ankle in Season 1 of Backstage. She broke her ankle a week before we started shooting and we had to rewrite everything. That was really fun. [Laughs.] We decided not to shy away from it and just go for it. It meant a lot of sleepless nights for the writers. We were writing as we were shooting.

The first episode begins with Vanessa and Carly. They were the first two characters we met in Season 1. Have you always viewed these two as the anchor for Backstage?
For me, it always started with Vanessa and Carly. Episode 1 in Season 1 is them meeting outside of Keaton and walking in together. Yeah, they are a bit of the anchor. I look at the storylines as streams and they are the anchors for those streams. However, I think that relationship between them is the heart of the show. As a female, going through that experience of high school and having a friend that you grow with and have your conflicts with and love with, that’s where I really share my experience.

Will Vanessa and Carly keep in touch 20 years down the road?
One hundred per cent. Their friendship as a love story is what I try to explore with Vanessa and Carly. I think for sure that they end up together as best friends, talking about their kids 20 years later.

Let’s discuss Jax and Bianca. He returns from a summer tour with Kit. What can you say about their relationship this season?
It’s a bit of a slow burn. It’s going to go up and down. There are some very exciting things that happen with the Jax, Bianca and Kit storyline.

Alya and Miles broke up last season. What’s the deal with them this time around?
Alya and Miles have been arced out through 30 episodes. We like the slow burn on Backstage and it’s ups and downs. I look at them as our OTP—our One True Pairing—and there is quite a journey for them this year.

There are several new characters this season. Can you tease a couple of them for me?
A theme of this season is family. We explore family in the 30 episodes. We try to go into these kids’ lives a little bit more. We have a brother duo in George and Aidan, who are going to be a part of the show. Beckett explores family as you will come to see. Our cast is so big it’s impossible to show every kind of kid on a TV show but we really did try to represent as many people as we grew up with through the show. We’ve got some bad guys this season. But even our bad guys are good guys … we try to figure out the good in the bad and why these kids act the way that they do.

Season 2 of Backstage airs next Monday to Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT on Family Channel. Backstage airs in its regular timeslot beginning Friday, March 23, at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT.

Images courtesy of Family Channel.




Lights! Camera! Classroom! Family Channel’s Backstage returns

From a media release:

It may be March Break for most fans, but class is back in session at Keaton School of the Arts as Family Channel’s popular tween drama Backstage returns for its second season. Premiering Monday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT, the highly anticipated second season debuts as a full week event, with new episodes airing daily at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT until Friday, March 16, and an advance preview on The Family Channel App. The all-new season headlines Family’s March Break programming lineup, which includes the return of the out-of-this-world competition series, Massive Monster Mayhem and new movies every day!

Backstage follows a group of exceptionally talented teenagers as they face the challenges that come with attending the prestigious Keaton School of the Arts. Season two welcomes a brand new school year for the students with the emergence of new rivalries, friendships and a multi-school arts competition. The series, which is filmed in Toronto, features an all-Canadian cast and all-original musical score, with episodes directed by some of today’s most notable music video directors including RT! (Snoop Dogg, Sean Paul), Director X (Drake, Rihanna, Zayn), Wendy Morgan (Dragonette, Janelle Monáe) and Warren Sonoda (Johnny Reid, George Canyon). Following premiere week, Backstage moves to its regular timeslot, Fridays at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT.

Season two of Backstage premieres as part of Family Channel’s March Break lineup, a can’t-miss programming event for the entire family. The fun officially begins on Friday, March 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT with the network premiere of Daddy’s Home (starring Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell) and features must-see movies daily at 7 p.m. ET/PT, from March 10 – 18. Movie titles include: The Smurfs, Astro Boy, Hotel Transylvania, Monster House, Zathura: A Space Adventure, Away & Back, Open Season 3, Surf’s Up and The Peanuts Movie. The festivities also include the return of Massive Monster Mayhem, a laugh-out-loud comedy that pits real-life kids against all-star monsters in the most grueling and toughest challenges known to mankind. New episodes will debut on Monday, March 12, Wednesday, March 14, and Friday, March 16 at 9:30 a.m. ET/PT, before the series moves to its regular timeslot on March 24, Saturdays at 9 a.m. ET/PT.


Family Channel’s multi-platform offerings will also be joining the March Break celebrations with new episodes of Backstage available on the The Family Channel App beginning March 9. Immediately following each episode’s broadcast premiere, fans can head to the App to watch the next episode of Backstage, one day early! Those looking to catch up on past episodes can take advantage of the App’s Free Preview, which currently offers the entire first season of Backstage and the first part of Massive Monster Mayhem to users without a subscription throughout February and March. New episodes will also be available on Family OnDemand, with a sampling on Family.ca.

Backstage stars Josh Bogert as Miles; Aviva Mongillo as Alya; Mckenzie Small as Scarlett; Devyn Nekoda as Vanessa; Alyssa Trask as Carly; Colin Petierre as Sasha; Matthew Isen as Jax; Julia Tomasone as Bianca; Romy Weltman as Kit, Kyal Legend as Julie, Adrianna Di Liello as Jenna and Madison MacGregor as Cassandra. Joining the cast for season two are: Thomas L. Colford (Center Stage: On Pointe) as Beckett; Joshua Kilimnik (Odd Squad, Bruno & Boots movies) as George; Stephanie La Rochelle (Heartland) as Frances; Sydney Kuhne (Dino Dan) as Azadehl; Robert Bazzocchi as Aidan; Corteon Moore as Matteo; and Hailey Fauchere as Mindy.

Commissioned by DHX Television, Backstage was created and developed by Fresh TV. The series’ executive producers are Brian Irving, who also serves as producer; Lara Azzopardi, the series’ co-creator, show runner, writer and director; Jennifer Pertsch, also co-creator; Tom McGillis and George Elliott. Mario Azzopardi (Stargate SG-1, The Outer Limits, Degrassi) also directs. Backstage is internationally distributed by DHX Media.




TV Eh B Cs podcast 60 — The Hewlett Dynamic

Kate Hewlett is a Toronto born writer and actor.

In addition to playing lead on The Stanley Dynamic, Kate has played a variety of recurring roles, including Sarah on The Girlfriend Experience, Mrs. Matlin on Degrassi, Paramedic Nicole on Remedy, Jeannie Miller on Stargate: Atlantis and Andrea on The L.A. Complex. Kate also played the title role in the pilot Fancy (nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award).

Kate is the co-executive producer and writer of the hit drama series Backstage.

Kate is an accomplished screenwriter and playwright. Her stage play, The Swearing Jar, was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award, and her film adaptation won first runner up at the Harold Greenberg Screenplay Competition in 2016. Kate wrote and acted in the acclaimed BravoFACT She Said Lenny, which received the Worldwide Short Film Festival’s screenplay award and a spot on Bravo’s Top Ten Short Films. TV writing credits include The L.A. Complex, Seed, InSecurity and Turning Point. As a playwright, Kate’s credits include: The Swearing Jar, Humans Anonymous (Bridge Theatre New York), Malus Domestica (Sound Plays, Soulpepper Theatre), Use My Babies Well and Without (TAC grant). In 2017, she will be adapting the beloved children’s book What Katy Did into a musical for Carousel Players.

She is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, Queen’s University (BA), the Tarragon Playwrights’ Unit and the Canadian Film Centre’s Prime Time Television Programme. Kate lives in Toronto with a dog, two cats and an American.

The Stanley Dynamic returns Monday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. ET/PT on YTV.

Listen or download below, or subscribe via iTunes or any other podcast catcher with the TV, eh? podcast feed.

Want to support TV, eh?’s work? Become a Patreon!



DHX Television brings the heat to fall with hottest programming lineup to date

From a media release:

This fall, DHX Television has the perfect cure for the end of summer blues: a sizzling hot lineup the entire family will enjoy. The forecast for Family’s suite of channels is bright as musical celebs, daring adventure-hunters and animated heroes bring the best in fall entertainment to viewers. Beginning as early as August 29, exciting new series, returning favourites and monumental finales join the programming schedule.

With new episodes debuting weeknights at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on Family Channel throughout the fall, singing and dancing take centre stage ushering in the return of fan-favourite series Backstage, The Next Step and The X Factor UK. Family’s teen block F2N continues with new episodes of Degrassi: Next Class, culminating in the gripping season finale. Family CHRGD keeps Tuesdays turbo-charged with the return of The Deep, Slugterra and Fangbone! Meanwhile, Family Jr. sparks creativity and imagination with brand new episodes of Nature CatYaYa & Zouk and Rainbow Ruby airing alongside returning fan-favourites Playdate and Teletubbies.

Family Channel – All Times ET/PT
Backstage – New Episodes Return – Friday, September 9 at 7:30 p.m.
After a whirlwind mid-season finale which saw Carly take her best friend Vanessa’s place in the show and Alya leave school to chase stardom, nothing is like what it was before the break. With missing faces in the halls, new musical partnerships forming and dancers changing positions, all of Keaton’s students are searching for answers while trying to adjust.

The Next Step – New Episodes Return – Friday, October 14 at 7 p.m.
With Regionals just around the corner, the pressure is on for A-Troupe who are determined to defend their title as Regional Champions. But tensions run high in The Next Step studio as Piper struggles with the fact that she saw Alfie and Riley kiss, and the dancers wonder how they’ll even qualify after Noah’s departure from the team. The new episodes will also feature a guest starring role by the winner of the UK’s reality competition series Taking The Next Step, which currently airs Fridays at 7 p.m.

We Are Savvy – New Timeslot – New Episodes air Thursdays at 7 p.m. beginning September 8
Hosts Tehya, Spencer and Sarah continue to keep fans in-the-know and up-to-date on the latest trends with awesome interviews, crafty DIYs and tours of cool locations. Upcoming special guests include: singer JoJo, rapper Little T, popstar Betty Who, illustrator Juliana Neufeld, astronaut-in-training Alyssa Carson, viral sports fan Mini Bautista, DIY superstar LaurDIY and more!

F2N – All Times ET/PT
Degrassi: Next Class – Season 2 Finale – Tuesday, September 20 at 9:45 p.m.
As the Degrassi girls volleyball team prepares for the championship game against Northern Tech, things reach a boiling point. Shay finds out if her relationship with Tiny is “Lola approved,” while Winston continues to second-guess his relationship with Zoe – forcing her to make an important personal decision. Meanwhile, Hunter worries that he is an angry monster who will never deserve Yael, or any relationship for that matter.


DHX Television announces casting details for Season 2 of Backstage

From a media release:

DHX Television’s Family Channel and Fresh TV Inc. announced today that production has begun on season two of the tween drama series Backstage. Following a group of elite teen performers at Keaton School of the Arts, the second season is filming in Toronto and will bring 30 new half-hour episodes of the drama, which airs internationally. The sophomore season will introduce a variety of new characters to each of the arts streams, with seven talented young actors joining the cast.

Making their mark in the new season of Backstage are:

  • Thomas L. Colford (Center Stage: On Pointe); plays Beckett, a strong and technically superior dancer who possesses a natural rebel-without-a-cause persona
  • Joshua Kilimnik (Odd Squad, Bruno & Boots: Go Jump in the Pool); plays George, a grade nine graphic design student with a wickedly smart intellect that shines through in his art
  • Stephanie La Rochelle (Heartland); plays Frances, a charismatic senior music student who becomes a mentor to the younger musicians
  • Sydney Kuhne (Dino Dan); plays Azadeh, a new student in the fashion design program who is determined to make her mark at Keaton
  • Robert Bazzocchi; plays Aidan, the epitome of heartthrob, chasing the spotlight on his quest to become a famous actor via Keaton’s drama program
  • Corteon Moore; plays Matteo, a senior art student who believes creativity comes directly from the soul and proves to rival Keaton’s resident art star student
  • Hailey Fauchere; plays Mindy, a freshman dancer who is eager to please and succeed, while leaving it all on the dance floor.

Faced with new challenges, friendships, and seven new students, the second season of Backstage opens on a new year at Keaton School of the Arts where the talented performers and artists will find themselves in fierce competition with other schools… and each other. With a huge multi-arts school competition on the horizon, will the pressure tear the students apart? Or bring them closer?

In addition to the new faces joining Backstage, returning cast members include: Josh Bogert (Miles), Aviva Mongillo (Alya), Mckenzie Small (Scarlett), Devyn Nekoda (Vanessa), Alyssa Trask (Carly), Colin Petierre (Sasha), Matthew Isen (Jax), Julia Tomasone (Bianca Blackwell), Romy Weltman (Kit), Kyal Legend (Julie) and Adrianna Di Liello (Jenna).

Backstage was commissioned by DHX Television, and is created by Fresh TV. The series’ Executive Producers are Brian Irving, who also serves as producer; Lara Azzopardi, the series’ co-creator, show runner, writer and director; Jennifer Pertsch, also co-creator; Tom McGillis and George Elliott. Directors for the series include top music video directors RT! (Snoop Dogg, Sean Paul, Shane Harte), Director X (Iggy Azalea, T.I., Drake), Wendy Morgan (Dragonette, Janelle Monáe) and Warren Sonoda (Johnny Reid, George Canyon), as well as Mario Azzopardi (Stargate SG-1, The Outer Limits, Degrassi) and Lara Azzopardi (I Am an Apartment Building, Rewind). Backstage is internationally distributed by DHX Media.