Author | Photo Emily Cooper

15 Minutes With Veda Hille, Co-Creator of ONEGIN

Vancouver-born Veda Hille started playing piano at six years of age. After attending art college in the late 80s, she started writing music. Now, she makes records, writes musical theatre, scores films, teaches songwriting, tours, and generally keeps busy.

Her hit show, ONEGIN, opens in Toronto this weekend. The musical is a thrilling, contemporary adaptation of Pushkin’s timeless poem and Tchaikovsky’s renowned opera. It uses an indie-rock musical score to tell a sweeping tale of unrequited love, infatuation and intrigue.

We chatted with Veda this week.

SDTC: What should we be paying more attention to?

VH: I’m pretty sure the answer to that is the fleeting beauty of life. And maybe cholesterol intake.

What was the last Netflix series you binged on?

Chewing Gum, Trapped and Teen Titans Go.

One new thing you learned this year?

It is possible to pay off a credit card! Briefly.

What memory brings a smile to your face?

I have a book of ridiculous things my son said when he was just learning to talk. For example, this conversation between him and my husband:
Kid: Papa, would you like a treat?
Papa: Ok. What can I have?
Kid: A boot, or a window.
Papa: I’ll have a window. With lots of syrup.
Kid: (laughing hysterically) No.

What book/song/lyric/etc is resonating with you right now?

I really loved Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I’ve bought it for two friends in the last week.

Describe the funniest thing you’ve experienced in recent memory.

You know, funny things rarely survive description. But I do know that the last three times I’ve been breathless with laughter, it’s been in conversation with Amiel Gladstone. That’s why I keep working with him.

Best advice you’ve been given?

Write about what amazes you.

What is the best part of being your current age?

I really care a lot less about what people think of me. It’s freeing.

What word or phrase should we use more often?

For some reason this is the hardest question on this page. “Thank you,” “I love you,” “Whoops, my fault!” “Don’t worry about it,” “Pass the butter.”

What’s on your night table?

Twenty thousand books, a glass of water, ear plugs in an old enamel pill box, massage oil, two Ookpiks and a lot of dust.

What one item would you be lost without (besides your phone)?

Pen and paper. I’d be pretty hooped without my glasses too.

Your biggest music/theatre industry pet peeve?

I thought Skype would be way better by now and I could just attend rehearsals in bed or in the bath or whatever.

What trends are you loving right now?

I’m pretty into where fashion is sitting these days. I already dress dangerously close to Crazy Old Lady, and I think the current layers of pattern and colour (I’m looking at you, Gucci) are really supporting my impulses.

Who was your celebrity crush when you were a kid?

Bowie all the way. I never really thought of him as a celebrity. More like a god. And it was not a crush, it was a very meaningful one-way relationship.

What do you love about Toronto?

The people! Obvs. Also: streetcars, Kensington Market, roti, Dufferin Grove Park, and sudden thunderstorms.

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