Hooked: Behind the Scandals - Nicky Guadagni Brings Seven Notorious Women to Life at Stratford's SpringWorks Festival

Jessi Seguin's picture


As a Dora-Award winning actor, Nicky Guadagni is no stranger to centre stage. In her one-woman show Hooked, all eyes are certainly on her and audiences are utterly captivated by her “exquisite, note-perfect performance” (Brian D. Johnson, Maclean’s Magazine).  

Hooked: Behind the Scandals - Nicky Guadagni Brings Seven Notorious Women to Life at Stratford's SpringWorks Festival

In this production – adapted from Canadian poet Carolyn Smart’s book of the same name – Guadagni plays no less than seven scandalous women. All of them hooked on love, liquor, or drugs – sometimes all three. “I was fascinated by the characters of these seven women,” says Guadagni, “so different but the commonality living in a time where their accomplishments have not lasted through the test of time.”

In the sixty-five minutes of this one act show, Guadagni proves herself to be a consummate shapeshifter as she becomes by turns a notorious murderer, a reviled groupie, a captivating southern flapper, and some of the most intriguing artists and writers of the twentieth century.    

Bringing these seven women to life was certainly a labour of love. Over several days in the summer of 2009, Guadagni and director Layne Coleman rehearsed each of the monologues in a farmhouse in Nappanee, Ontario, developing movement and characterization for each woman. “I became intimately involved with each character,” says Guadagni. “…each woman had a unique way of being and interacting with the world. Some had men in their lives that outshined them or left them in the shadows. They were each talented in their own right but got lost along the way. … I want the audience to experience these women’s lives in their time in history.” 

Developing that intimacy was certainly worth the effort, as Hooked has gone on to rave reviews at both the SummerWorks Festival in Toronto and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Lynn Slotkin describes Guadagni’s performance as bringing out “the inner life of these remarkable women with finesse, nuance and committed respect.” Allan Radcliffe of The Times (London, UK) called the show “intense, at times alarmingly close to the bone, but highly accomplished.” 

And critics aren’t the only ones getting hooked on Hooked. “I completely lost track of the actor in this show,” said playwright David Young, “I was surfing a sea of feeling, an ocean of language, in a show so propulsive and plain old fashioned GREAT that there is hardly time to breathe.” 

Hooked: Behind the Scandals - Nicky Guadagni Brings Seven Notorious Women to Life at Stratford's SpringWorks Festival

One of the greatest things about this production is that it gives an immensely talented actor seven meaty roles for the price of one. “There is a serious lack of work for an actress of a ‘certain age’” says Guadagni. “It comes to the point where you just have to do it. It has been the most difficult, yet rewarding experience.”

With the help of simple staging, these notorious women and their stories (as well as the actor playing them) are able to truly shine as Guadagni guides the audience through their inner lives and shows the person behind the reputation.

Hooked is onstage at SpringWorks indie theatre & arts festival in Stratford, Ontario May 13-16th. Tickets are available online at www.SpringWorksFestival.ca or at the door. 



Jessi Séguin is an actor, playwright, and arts administrator from Stratford, Ontario. Lately she has appeared as The Field Mouse in A Wind In The Willows Christmas (Alternative Theatre Works). Some favourite writing credits include The Cousins of Corsica (2015 SpringWorks’ People’s Choice Award), Thrown (Honourable Mention, Canadian International Film Festival 2014), Pickled Heart (SpringWorks 2014), and The Man with the Leek in his Cap (shortlisted for Robertson Davies Playwriting Award, University of Toronto Drama Festival). Jessi is a graduate of the joint Acting program at Sheridan College and the University of Toronto. 

Photo credit:  Michael Cooper