Five years ago, Antony Hall left Alberta for Toronto.
It was a career move. Hall grew up in Lethbridge but had spent much of his formative years working in his father’s Chinese restaurant a few kilometres east in the small town of Coaldale. In 2010, he left to study theatre at MacEwan University. Four years later, the Big Smoke was calling.
“I decided to take everything I had and give it a proper shot of trying to be an actor and comedian,” says Hall. “I figured Toronto was probably the best place. I had friends and classmates I went to theatre school with who were also looking to make the move. So we all decided to come here together.”
He probably never anticipated that he would eventually turn his experiences into a comedic webseries that would return him to his home province in a big way. Ming’s Dynasty, which is currently streaming on CBC Gem, is more of a funhouse-mirror reflection of Hall’s experiences. But shooting it did return him to his Alberta home, including at least one day in his old stomping grounds of Coaldale. That’s where his family’s restaurant, which is called Ming’s Garden and is now run by a cousin, remains a going concern as the town’s only place for Chinese cuisine.
Co-created with actor-comedian Calwyn Shurgold and writer Julian De Zotti, the series follows the misadventures of two would-be rappers with big dreams and little success. Young Riesling (Hall) and Whyte Wyne (Shurgold) are trying their best to make a dent in Toronto’s hip-hop scene when the former gets a frantic call from his mother. It seems Young Riesling’s father has had a stroke and he is needed back home to run the family business.