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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cinderella, BUST and Moi, Monsieur, Moi! All over the map - literally!

Well, I traveled from Italy to Fort McMurray and then to Senegal this week in my theatrical adventures! I also took in an Opera, a new work and a one-woman show - variety that is a testament to the many different theatrical offerings available in Edmonton in most months!

Cinderella (or La Cenerentola) at Edmonton Opera was a delightful, silly romp! The cast went for the ridiculous in this Cinderella story with a twist (the Prince is also in disguise!). Supported by terrific costumes and a fun set, this was a great light-hearted adventure. I enjoyed the singing, particularly from Krisztina Szabó as Cinderella and John Tessier as Prince RamiroThey made a lovely couple! It was also nice to go to an opera where you don't have to rely too heavily on the surtitles because you know the basic story and the step-sisters and Dandini provided many over-the-top comic moments!

Bust at Theatre Network took us to Fort McMurray post-wildfire. I have to admit, this show had me apprehensive, as most shows about Fort McMurray do. I am not sure that it captured much that I recognized as being specifically Fort McMurray any more than any other smaller city in Canada, so I could relax a little in that. I think for any of my friends who went through the fire, that this would be a challenging show to see - because there are trigger moments that might be hard to deal with. The set is gorgeous (although there should be snow... if they're playing hockey in McMurray there will be snow outside). It evokes more the burnt out  forest surrounding the city. Note: for people familiar with Fort McMurray and what the area around the tailings pond looks like, you will have to accept that there was dramatic license... The cast is a committed ensemble. Louise Lambert stands out with incredible drive through the piece and Lora Brovold delivers a heart-breaking monologue about loss that I really connected with.

Moi, Monsieur, Moi! at L'uni Theatre was a one-woman show about a young girl born in Senegal who was passed on to an aunt, a cousin, an uncle. It was brilliantly performed by Patricia Gomis using puppets, props and a terrific story-telling ability. It's a story with humour and sadness and truth. Truly entertaining but not veering away from challenging and difficult topics. French with english surtitles. I took my husband and he liked it so much he returned the next evening with our sons.

Friday, February 03, 2017

On the Horizon... The Citadel/Banff Professional Theatre Program...

I haven't written about this yet... too busy preparing and getting things ready for me to go. But in a few short weeks I will be starting an amazing career adventure. I will be the Director Intern for The  Citadel/Banff Professional Theatre Program. What does that mean? Well you can find out more about the program here. For me, specifically, it's an opportunity to learn more about how to direct from some of the top theatre professionals in Canada and following the program I will be Assistant Directing Sense and Sensibility at the Citadel. I will also be there with the 12 Acting Participants (who will be in Sense and Sensibility) and another Directing Intern who will be Assistant Directing Peter and the Starcatcher. I anticipate that it will be rigorous and challenging - I am certainly hoping it will be - and I also believe it will be incredibly rewarding. It will be wonderful to immerse myself with my fellow artists and simply commit myself to artistic growth.


Past Participants from ebenezerink37016692 on Vimeo.


2017 Program Trailer from ebenezerink37016692 on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Mountain, A Weapon, and a Dinner Party...

Annapurna, Shadow Theatre - Funny, real, and moving, it tells the story of an unexpected reunion of a long estranged couple. Their history is revealed slowly and significantly as they each harbour resentments and scars from the past. Ullysses, in a powerful and humourous performance by Shaun Johnston, is a tortured cowboy poet who greets us in an unconventional outfit. Emma, played by Coralie Cairns, arrives at Ullysses' somewhat derelict trailer with an obvious hidden agenda and more baggage than just the large suitcases which suggest she is there to move in. The two have great chemistry together and Shadow has created a sensitive and funny show you probably shouldn't miss this theatre season.

Annapurna runs to February 5th at the Varscona Theatre. Tickets here. 

Star Killing Machine,Broken Toys - "This is absurd!" yells one of the characters... and yes, yes it is. But it is also a lot of fun and filled with some really great music. I did wish for mics, not because you can't hear every word, but because it's a rock musical and I wanted to hear it more. It's a new work and I hope that it's only an early incarnation, because I think there is a lot of future in it. Go for the music, go for the ridiculous twinkie, go for the rolling chair dance, go for the beautiful closing song, go for the quirky humour. There's a lot of reasons to see this show.

Only one show left - today at 2 pm. Tickets here. 

Disgraced, Citadel Theatre - As I woke up this morning and read my twitter and FB feed, this one feels all the more relevant. An explosive dinner party that lets you step inside the experience of those that aren't you... at least to some degree. You won't leave with answers, but you should leave with more empathy and hopefully connection. A terrific script brought to life by the perfect cast.

Disgraced runs to February 12th. Tickets here. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes and Fortune Falls - Illuminating

This past week I took in 2 very different shows, both Canadian works. 

First up was Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes produced by the relatively new company, Cardiac Theatre in the PCL Theatre at Fringe Theatre Adventures. The short (59 minutes) show tells the story of Peter Fechter, a young East Berlin brick-layer who attempts to cross the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s. As he attempts to escape he is shot and we experience a fictionalized account of what goes through his mind in those 59 minutes before he dies. The source material is true and one thing the show did for me was get me thinking and reading. Off to climb down that wikipedia wormhole. That's one of the things I love about theatre is that often it provides a glimpse of something I didn't really know much about and it sparks that interest in finding out more. The production is well done. I loved the set and lighting and the choice of the alley staging - underscoring the two sides of the wall - and the twisted barbed wire that is entangled with the detritus of Peter's (Bradley Dore) young life. It was tight and engaging and thought-provoking. 

The other show I saw was Fortune Falls presented by Catalyst Theatre at the Citadel. Catalyst Theatre started out much in the same way as Cardiac Theatre is now - a group of young U of A drama grads presenting challenging work. Fortune Falls combines many things that Catalyst has become known for, an edgy world with a unique vision. Each moment is excellently executed by it's 5 person ensemble. The music is original and tight with stand-out vocals from Jamie Tognazzini and Daniel Fong. The many characters portrayed by the ensemble are clearly defined and individual. My favorites included Braydon Dowler-Coltman's brash and larger than life Tour Guide, Shannon Blanchett's hilarious clickety-clark executive secretary (there are too many characters for me to remember names) and Graham Mothersill's East-coast factory repairman. I really loved the lighting design by Kerem Çetinel, which was brilliant and precise - no small feat in a thrust theatre - and Megan Koshka's costumes were inspired. Truly an original world created onstage. 

Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes runs to January 22nd at the PCL Theatre.
Fortune Falls runs to Feberuary 5th in the Maclab Theatre at the Citadel. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Great Theatre Abounds!

It's been a ridiculously busy few weeks (and still is) for theatre in the city! The good news is that there is much to see, the bad news is you can't get to all of it. I've managed to take in a few shows that still have a few dates left in their run and a few that are closed and there's a few others I wish could get to but there aren't enough days...

Ones You Can Still Catch That I've Seen:

Anxiety - Theatre Yes
If you are into immersive theatre and theatre that is less traditional you shoudl definitely check this out. I can't give much detail because I had to sign a waiver, but it definitely was a complete theatre experience. Unsettling at times and it likely challenges every audience member in a different way. Be prepared for about a 2 hour experience. Wear comfortable shoes and don't dress too warmly. Runs to Dec 4.

Fen - Trunk Theatre (at the Varscona)
A challenging, untraditional piece of theatre by Caryl Churchill (Cloud Nine, Top Girls). This is a well-acted piece by a strong ensemble of six actors who play several characters apiece. Life is bleak in the fen and that bleakness creates some compelling characters. Moments of humour contrast sharply with the darkers ones. Runs to Dec 4.

A Christmas Carol - The Citadel Theatre
Although Opening Night is officially tomorrow, I have caught a performance already. I've also seen it a few times before. It was my first time seeing Tom Wood as Scrooge and his performance truly reinvented the show for me. Usually it's just Tiny Tim who makes me tear up. This time it was also Scrooge! Runs to Dec 23.

Ones You Can Still Catch That I Will be Seeing This Week:

Only In Vegas - Mayfield Dinner Theatre
Promising music from the early days of Vegas up until present day, I'm looking forward to seeing this show tonight. The Mayfield always does a terrific job with their shows and the environment is really lovely. It's also a terrific opportunity to celebrate my husband's birthday! Runs to Jan 29.

Brent Carver In Concert - The Citadel Theatre
I am soooooo looking forward to seeing this concert. Having seen Brent Carver at the Ted Dykstra and Friends concert and Evangeline last season, I was very quick to pick up tickets to see him in concert this year. It's not everyday that you get to see a Tony-Award-Winning artist in such a small intimate venue. Two shows only - Dec 2&3.

Witch Hunt at the Strand - Workshop West Playwright's Theatre (at the Backstage Theatre)
Based on true events from Edmonton's history, Witch Hunt at the Strand, tells of the persecution of members of the theatre community in the 1940's on the basis of their sexuality. I've heard great things about this show and I am really looking forward to seeing it. Runs to Dec 4.

Ones You Can Still Catch That I Probably Won't Make It To:

I'd really like to catch both Twelfth Night (Studio Theatre) and The Drowsy Chaperone (Grant MacEwan Theatre Arts) but I simply don't have enough nights. I've heard great things about both shows so if you are a Shakespeare buff or love your musical theatre here are two terrific options! They both run to Dec 3.

Ones I Saw Recently That are Now Closed:

If We Were Birds - U of A
A simply lovely piece of theatre. Well done and heart breaking, it weaves true stories of modern victims of war with the Procne and Philomele Myth. A phenomenal ensemble with Kendra O'Connor anchoring the whole thing. I have only ever seen Kendra in musicals and I was blown away by the strength of her performance.

Tornado Magnet - Theatre Network
I laughed so hard at this slice of real life from the trailer courts of central Alberta. Dotty tells it like it is and you can't help but recognize her and the world she lives in. It was great fun to go and just laugh and laugh.

Anyhow, I hope to get to writing more... when I am not at the shows! I hope you get out to see some of the great options onstage in our city!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Gearing up for RED at Walterdale...

RedThis week I am very excited for the Opening of Red at Walterdale. I saw the play several years ago at the Citadel and loved it. This month, I will see it again at Walterdale 3 times. That's because my husband is playing Mark Rothko in it. It's an awesome task, even more so for him because by day he lives far away from the world of art making his living as a Pharmacist. That is not to say he doesn't have an appreciation for things artistic. He is a phenomenal singer and has been onstage in several musicals, usually playing the bad guy, or the angry guy, because he's huge (6'5") and has a even bigger voice. The bigness helps for Rothko, at least I imagine it will, as Rothko certainly did not have a small personality. He also frequently buys art from local artists - things he likes. He has little pretension in that area.

 All of us in the house have been helping him prepare, running lines, giving pep talks, discussing art, letting him sleep, so I am excited to see him onstage this week. I am not sure if I will blog about the show after seeing it. It would be hard to be objective. I might talk a little about why I love this play so much. Hopefully you can take it in.

Red runs from October 12-22 at Walterdale Theatre.

Witnessing a Conga and a Trio of Bittergirls...

The theatre season has begun! I can tell because my calendar is getting busier over the next few weeks. This makes me happy. 

In the heyday of kicking off the season officially at the Citadel, I still managed to squeeze in Witness to a Conga at the Varscona (Teatro La Quindicina). I had seen this show in it's original presentation several years ago at the Fringe. I liked it then, but was puzzled by it as I wasn't sure what it was trying to say. The current production, however, was simply wonderful. Sometimes a play needs to marinate a bit, I guess. The design helped considerably but also the show itself seemed more gelled. It was touching and funny and Andrew MacDonald-Smith's journey through his life to his wedding is full of depth. It runs until October 15th so you can still catch it! It makes for a delightful yet meaningful evening of theatre.  


We've opened two shows at the Citadel so far this season! The first (Curious Incident) closed yesterday, but Bittergirl - the musical opened last week to a standing ovation! It opened on my birthday so I got an extra special treat seeing the show that night. I laughed so hard. Sadly and hilariously there were moments that I could related to, though I am well past my dating years. The 3 bittergirls (Rebecca Auerbach, Amanda LeBlanc and Tara Jackson) don't hold back on the humour and emotional investment. They are also amazing singers. Individually or on their own, the music is simply terrific! Jay Davis, playing The Guy, is also a treat in the show. He's great to look at, fabulous to hear sing and he plays the Magic Man, the Coward and the Mountie with such humour and self-deprecation it's so much fun to watch. Bittergirl - the musical runs in The Club until November 6th. This is a great space for the show and highly conducive to a girl's night out (you can bring your wine in!). I'm happy to be seeing the show again later this month with a couple of girls and my husband (I am sure he will enjoy it too!). It's worth it just for the music, so the fact that it's hilarious on top of that is icing on the cake! 

This week I am gearing up for Red at Walterdale (my husband is in it so I am seeing it a couple of times) and 10 out of 12 at the Roxy on Gateway (Wildside) which I think will be fascinating since I have lived through many a Q2Q both on and off headset.