Leslieville Lives: Stories from the ‘Ville – Cara Adams
Meet Cara. We first met back in May 2015 at a local Leslieville Pop-Up art market put on by The Vandenberg House. Me selling my posters, prints and calendars of Leslieville and she her body products, lotions and yummy skin care collection.
She has an infectious smile and I was taken aback by her genuinely friendly and outgoing nature. We became Facebook friends shortly after. I saw her again later that summer at another pop-up and she was just as friendly and charming as at our first meeting. Little did I know Cara was a multi-talent. She not only makes her own creams and lotions, she’s an opera singer, teacher and (now) musical theatre actor! Ah, Facebook. The things we discover about one another.
Cara is the elder of two (she has a younger brother) and hails from the small hamlet of Tide Head, New Brunswick (pop 1036, 2011). Born of French (on her mom’s side) and (mostly) Scottish heritage on her dad’s side, she’s fluent in both of Canada’s official languages, and the language of the soul, music.
‘I’ve always felt my true authentic self when I sing. My mother told me I used to just make up songs as a kid!’ she laughs. She has the fresh-face look of a true east coaster; fair skin, blue eyes and that Anne of Green Gables red hair.
She turns a bit more serious when she tells me, “I was picked on a school. Grade school and high school. Singing took me away from that.” She couldn’t figure out why but it led to her discovering the magic of music festivals and performing throughout her young life.
She left to go to university at Acadia for singing (Bachelor of Arts, Music). After 2nd year, at 19, she auditioned for the Opera di Roma and was one of four Canadians to be chosen to go. She performed Second Spirit at the festival and was there for a month. “I think that was when I knew I was an opera singer”, she laughs. Once she graduated, Cara headed to the big city, bright lights world of Toronto.
“I lived in my friend Adrian’s basement for a year, working as an usher at the Royal Alex. During her time in Toronto, Cara did opera workshops, like Summer Opera Lyric Theatre (SOLT), went to Italy to tour with the Palestrina Choir, and occasionally sang at Cameron’s, where Arnold, her friend from the Royal Alex, performed. “He would invite me from time to time and have me sing a couple of numbers. He also introduced me to Bill Shookhoof (a noted opera & musical theatre director, conductor and vocal coach) who helped me by giving me a list of names of Toronto people I should sing for.” Then the work in Toronto started coming; as First Lady in the Magic Flute, Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Antonia in Tales of Hoffman (Trindad 2016), performed a solo with the Regina Philharmonic, and later, when she left for Victoria to do her Masters in Voice, was a special guest with the Vancouver Philharmonic Choir.
It was her audition with Ben Butterfield (a well-know Canadian Tenor) that changed her course. He was a huge fan. He was on a panel during her audition for Opera Nuova, in 2005, a Summer Opera training intensive. “Ben believed in me. He said I ‘fell through the cracks’ somewhere along my journey, and I credit him to giving me my voice.” Her audition led to a 3 day intensive. “I wanted the longer term, but didn’t get in. Things happen for a reason though. It was there in Edmonton where I met my husband, Justin. I had just ended a long relationship, so our ‘courting period’ was much longer than the norm! It was the ‘made from scratch’ dinner that sealed the deal many months later”, she laughs.
She continued singing opera and auditioning when a mutual friend put her in touch with Louisa Burgess Corbett, who helped her work on some musical theatre numbers for a wedding show she was hired to sing on. “It was so odd. Around the same time, several others had the same idea, but Louisa’s suggestion that my voice was really suited to musical theatre made the most impact. And auditioning for opera roles is expensive! It was costing me about $480/month to pursue.”
Cara started auditioning for musical theatre roles in Toronto in 2015 which led to some great roles in community theatre including Mrs. Feziwig in A Christmas Carol with Curtain Call Players, Sunday in the Park with George with the Confidential Music Theatre Project, Red Sandcastle Theatre and many more. She missed some great lead parts by the ‘skin of her teeth’ but being fairly new to a whole different theatre form, she sees it as just the beginning of a new path. Her agent, Rod Maxwell of Premier Artists Mgmt., sees Cara as a bright light to musical theatre and has been instrumental in these breakthroughs.
Aside from her busy life as a singer/theatre actor, Cara teaches singing privately and has created a line of skin care products which are taking off. “I had to develop my own line due to my skin/gluten sensitivities. I had some experience in this area, having been a salesperson for Mary Kay Cosmetics years ago. My business started off by sharing with friends and and small gifts, then selling at small, then big markets. “It was when I went to see Justin (my husband) in a role (he’s also an opera singer) a few years ago that things took off. It’s tradition for leads to give other cast leads small gifts in opera. So, I decided to give everyone a lip balm. One of Justin’s co-leads in that opera was the Canadian diva, Measha Brueggergosman, who LOVED the balm! She ended up ordering a slew of my products. I even have a body butter called ‘Measha’s Body Butter’. To top everything off, she promoted me in an article she did for Best Health. You can’t buy that kind of advertising”, she smiles.
As I’m getting to leave, Cara’s living room is sky high with products. This Canada Day weekend she’s off to do a 3-day Artistry by the Lake market in Niagara. She’s also getting ready to go and teach and later prepare for rehearsals next week for the upcoming show, ‘Dazzle: An All-Female Cabaret’, at the Arts & Letters Club on Elm St. July 24th. On top of this, she’s involved in Bliss B4 Laundry, a wellness retreat for women, where she donates products to the guests and presenters, as well as giving one on one treatments during the weekend retreats.
When she’s not crazy busy, she is in the kitchen, cooking for friends. “It’s my favorite way to bring people together and show my love. Cooking is another of my passions and it’s my meditation and joy when I’m not travelling or working. Justin still recalls the first dinner I made for him nine years ago. That’s saying something!”
To see Cara in an upcoming show or check out her line of homemade bodycare products go to: http://www.carasallnaturalproducts.com/ & https://www.facebook.com/CaraAdamsSop/
Family photos & theatre production shots supplied by Cara Adams
Photo of Cruel Pain & Burning Love supplied by Nancy Bennett