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Monday, January 19, 2015

Venus in Fur... I wouldn't miss it, if I were you...

I got to take in the Dress Rehearsal of Venus in Fur at the Citadel on Friday night.  I cannot wait to go see it again (actually, I will have to wait, but I have the tickets and it's marked on the calendar). It's so funny.  Alana Hawley blew me out of the water and Jamie Cavanagh is the perfect counter-part to her roller coaster ride.

I was captured from start to finish and laughed so much more than I expected.  I read the script. I knew it was funny - smart funny - but I had no idea how much I would laugh seeing it live on the stage.  It's very sexy, very clever, and it will catch you off-guard. It caught me off guard and I even knew what was coming.

It's a 90 minute wild ride - I suggest you book now and be prepared to buckle up...

How Many Times Do We Reinvent Ourselves? Circle Mirror Transformation at Shadow Theatre

Last week I took in the charming and funny Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker at Shadow Theatre.  It's a very cool little piece that takes place over several weeks at an adult drama class.  The structure was very familiar.  I have taken AND taught those classes so for me it was a unique look in from the outside.  The class is small, yet diverse, and though the participants come to learn drama and acting, the events of the weeks teach them all, including teacher Marty (Coralie Cairns), something very different.  Each leaves changed, a new person, not so much from the exercises but from their interactions with each other.

I really enjoyed the evening.  Theresa (Lora Brovold) is a luminous and reflective surface, seeking healing after a break up, and unintentionally wreaking havoc on the men in the class. They like seeing themselves through her eyes. Schultz (Declan O'Reilly), recovering from his own break-up,
tries to be what he needs to be in the mirror, but constantly tries too hard, failing to see what the reflection really is. James (Dave Brindle) and Marty (Cairns) are the perfect couple, until the mirror reflects the flaws they never really saw before. Lauren (Mikaela Cochran) is not there to learn about herself, but to learn to act, and she pushes against the irresistible path of change.

As an ensemble, the five actors are delightful. It's as though they have spent their rehearsal in their own drama class, doing trust exercises and sharing personal monologues.  They work together as a well-oiled machine.  Each finds the unique humour in playing their character and the situation.  I know that some of the situations where more humorous to me because of my background in drama, but sometimes it's very nice to go to the theatre and see yourself and life reflected back at you.  I understand why some of the exercises seem silly, but I also know what they are for, and as someone who has reinvented myself a few times in my life (I am a very different person now than I was 10 years ago), I could really relate to the theme of reflection and reinvention... Circle. Mirror. Transformation.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ups and Downs... Last week in Edmonton Theatre

It's weird to look back to the last week.  It was such an up and down in Edmonton Theatre and for me personally.  The weekend saw the close of SHOUT! and I was riding a high that comes from performing for audiences that are laughing and enjoying the show you are doing.  So many strangers smiling and complimenting me after the show.  Your friends will always love it (or at least tell you they do), but when strangers stick around to say nice things you tend to believe them. A quick Strike (like, amazingly quick) and the show was packed up until the summer when we remount it for the Edmonton International Fringe.  We left ebullient with plans for a cast get together in a couple of weeks.

Then the week started.  I planned my theatre week.  It was to be Cheerleader on Wednesday, Circle Mirror Transformation on Thursday and dress rehearsal of Venus in Fur on Friday - what a fabulous line-up.  When I woke up Tuesday morning to my radio alarm I heard people reminiscing about the Roxy Theatre.  I thought, "What a cool way to promote the theatre for their 40th season!", then I woke up for real.  A fire.  The Roxy Theatre was on fire and completely destroyed.  I was in shock. Having just produced a show, I knew exactly what went in to that and where the artists involved in Cheerleader would be at emotionally.  I couldn't fully imagine what it would have been like to have woken up to the news.  And Theatre Network had a tremendous amount of programming to complete.  What would happen to that?  What would happen to Nextfest? What about the city as a whole?  We are in dire need of more mid-size and smaller theatre spaces and here was another one lost. I could offer my condolences to Theatre Network, but all I really wanted to know was, "How can I help?"

And that is what it seems everyone else was seeking.  The tremendous show of support of the greater Edmonton theatre community was and continues to be inspiring.  Freewill Players, still recovering from their challenges last season, offered a portion of the proceeds from their upcoming fundraiser to aid Theatre Network.  Rapid Fire Theatre offered up proceeds from one of their upcoming shows. The Artistic Directors and Executive Directors of Edmonton's theatre community got on the phones and started looking at the calenders to try and figure out how to help Theatre Network keep their programming for the rest of the season.  People shared and shared and shared the Canada Helps Donation page and people donated and are continuing to do so. I heard today that the U of A is hosting a reading of Cheerleader on the Timm's Centre Mainstage on Sunday evening.

So from high, to low to high again... it's been a very interesting week. Tonight I will be attending Circle Mirror Transformation at Shadow Theatre because the other thing I know we have to do is to keep going to local theatre. And I remain ready to help in any way I can should Theatre Network put out the call.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Opening Night! SHOUT! onstage at C103

It has felt like a whirlwind, but a good one.  The best is working with the fabulous people involved in this production... no wait, the best is singing this music... no wait, the best is being onstage again... no wait... how can you sum up 'the best'? It's just really a great time.  There are nerves but mostly excitment about Opening Night and sharing this with an audience.  I really feel like we need one.

We received some nice words from Colin MacLean in the Edmonton Sun.  He came to our Dress Rehearsal last night.

Shout! takes us back to the 60s

"The music is warmly familiar, the ladies create five distinct characters, have excellent voices and their long stage experience makes them completely at home in front of an audience." - Colin MacLean, Edmonton Sun

There are only 4 shows, January 7th - 10th, so I hope you can make it out for this Fab Mod Musical! The music is terrific and it's a fun, colourful way to warm up your January!

Tix available at or at the door (Cash only at the door).

Saturday, December 13, 2014

#yegbookclub Returns in January 2015 with a Mystery!!

We had a great time chatting with author Wendy McGrath about her novel Santa Rosa on November 17th.  You can follow the discussion with this storify. It was an interesting conversation and we were once again treated to having the author participate in the live discussion! We also talked about the progression of the story started in Santa Rosa and continued into North East and beyond.  I personally found that fascinating - the 'where the story will go and why'.

#yegbookclub will be returning in January with a book that caught my eye this summer at the Free Will Shakespeare Festival.  As most people know I am neck deep into the theatre community of Edmonton and this time around I get to combine reading about Edmonton with theatre in Edmonton. We will also be tackling our first mystery novel. We will be doing Janice MacDonald's Roar of the Crowd.  It's set in and around the Edmonton theatre scene, as well as the University fo Alberta English and Drama departments.  As someone who has spent time in all those 'scenes', I am looking forward to reading and recognizing (I hear that some people I know get mentioned in the book - very cool!). I was leery about starting a mystery series partway through, but have been reassured that it won't be a problem to start with this one.  I've also bought an earlier book in the series to see if that holds up!

When: January 19th at 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Where: Anywhere you can get online to twitter
How: Use the tags #yegbookclub and #roarofthecrowd to follow the discussion. You can also tag my twitter handle @smeep22003 and I will retweet any related comments. 

I hope to see you ll there!

I thought I would get this out there now so you could all get copies for people for Christmas so they can join in!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Elephant Wake - A Grande Visite with Jean-Claude!

A quick post to tell you about Elephant Wake currently playing at Catalyst Theatre.  Thankfully they added an Industry Show on Monday night so I was able to see it.  They also had a very funny talk-back with actor and playwright Joey Tremblay and Catalyst Artistic Director Jonathan Christenson facilitated by James MacDonald.

The show takes place in a paper filled ditch on the side of the road in Saskatchewan.  We are there to visit Jean-Claude (played by Tremblay).  Jean-Claude may not be the smartest person but he is a wonderful story-teller and during this Grande Visite we hear the story of his life, his town and the many deaths he has experienced.  It is magical and compelling, funny and sad, and simply beautiful. This is one of the best shows I have ever seen.  A good deal of that is due to the absolute completeness of Tremblay's characterization of Jean-Claude combined with a barrel full of stories that overlap and twist wonderfully to tell the story of his life.   It only runs until Saturday, November 29th so I strongly encourage you to get your tickets now and go see it.

You can get tickets here. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Back for a Second Helping of ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS with the Boys!

On Tuesday night the whole family headed to the Citadel to take in the wonderfully ridiculous One Man, Two Guvnors.  I had seen it earlier at Dress Rehearsal but was looking forward to seeing it again and having Mark and the boys experience it.  It was great to see it again and even better in that I got to hear Gibson and Oliver laughing hysterically at it.  Once The Craze started up Gibson was glued to the stage.  He's a big music fan and he was really impressed with the group and the variety of instruments on the stage.  He also loved the parts throughout the show when the other members of the cast joined in for their 'special' numbers.  I think his favorite was Jesse Gervais on the bicycle horns, but John Ullyatt on the Xylophone was also up there!  The show was simply terrific.  It's great to go to a show that you can still laugh at even though you've seen it before, even more rewarding when your 13 year old leans over 3/4 of the way through the first act and whispers, "This is SO good!" It's hard to impress a teenager!  Of course, he did like all the inappropriate bits the best... but he's 13 so what can you do?  He told me the next day that he was telling his teachers about it.  When I asked what he told them, he said, "That it was very funny, and not really appropriate for kids!" and then he laughed.  

I think their favorite parts were the audience participation and the physical humour.  There was much discussion of the audience elements on the way home, as well as incredulous talk about how many times Andrew MacDonald-Smith either fell down the stairs or got hit. Gibson wants me to get a copy of the soundtrack, because he really, really liked the music and he's even considering taking Ukelele lessons.  I'm thinking I probably could also get him a Be Arthurs CD... I know some people...

There are only 3 more shows left for this own.  It's one I would highly recommend.  There aren't a lot of seats left for Saturday, but you probably could get in Friday night or for the Sunday Matinee.  I doubt you will be disappointed and there's a high probability you will laugh so much it hurts!

One Man, Two Guvnors is at the Citadel until November 16th.