Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Happy Birthday’s Nathan Ings is bustin’ out

Toto Too's latest gift

STAGE PRESENTS. 'One character is out naked on a balcony. Another one is talking about his dead brother. It's so extreme, all these heightened experiences,' says Nathan Ings of Toto Too's latest project, Happy Birthday. Credit: Pat Croteau

When I first met Nathan Ings, he was applying for a high school co-op position at the Third Wall Theatre Company. Dressed in a stylish waistcoat, he was hopelessly eager and adorably nervous. You can imagine my surprise when I realized that, as of late, 19-year-old Ings has become a bit of a superstar on Ottawa’s film, theatre, and modelling scenes.

Still as humble as ever, Ings has recently completely a successful run of the gender bending drama Comes Around at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. This sold-out production was awarded Best In Venue and starred some of Ottawa’s best actors, including Margo MacDonald and Richard Gélinas who were featured in the June issue of Capital Xtra last year.

This was Ings first professional show outside of Algonquin College, where he studies theatre.

“The script itself is so scandalous. I play Nicholas, the waif that works the streets and has sex with clients for money. No, not money — food,” says Ings of Comes Around.

Next up for Ings is a stint with Toto Too, Ottawa’s gay and lesbian community theatre. In Happy Birthday, Ings plays Troy, who comes out to his family on his birthday. The thing is, they already knew. Still Troy does not accept this comfortable ending, as he always wants something to be wrong and likes to cause drama.

“Flamboyantly and dramatically, [Troy] is on par with what I can be in real life,” assures Ings, recognized for his slim physique and sharp cheekbones.

“But he does say things I would never say. Everyone I told about this role, I said I have to be such a flamer. And my friends say that’s not a stretch,” he says.

This is the second time that Toto Too has produced a work by playwright David Blue, the author of last summer’s blockbuster hit Memoirs of a Single Gay White Male.

Directed by Benoit Roy, this production features a number of familiar faces from Ottawa’s queer community and theatre community: Jesse Reynolds (The Soldier Dreams), Marc-Andre Bernard, Tim Ginley (The Soldier Dreams), Lawrence Evenchick (Galatea), Douglas Connors, John Collins, Alex da Silva, and, of course, Ings.

All the scenes in the play — some monologues, some dialogues — feature a character celebrating his birthday under strange circumstances.

“These characters are put in such extreme situations. One character is out naked on a balcony. Another one is talking about his dead brother. It’s so extreme, all these heightened experiences,” muses Ings.

Ings became enamoured with Toto Too when he was given tickets to go see the recent production of Galatea, a brand new play written by local actor Lawrence Aronovitch (William & James, Jigsaw Confession). After the show, Ings wanted to speak with the playwright, but was nervous about approaching him:

“What do I say? I don’t know how to talk to writers! They’re so philosophical!” he remembers the thoughts going through his head at the time.

The two artists did end up having a conversation: Aronovitch suggested that Ings audition for the next Toto Too production – and the rest is history.

Ings is thrilled to be building a reputation in Ottawa, but he’s also eying Toronto and Vancouver once he finishes his studies next year. Having participated in a number of independent films, he looks forward to pursuing film-acting as a career. There is not a doubt in his mind that he will want to continue performing — whether onstage or on screen — as long as possible.

“I’m going to keep myself going in the community. Where I am now is amazing. Coming out of first year college and having this much work is so great for me. It’s what I dream of.”