Total Pageviews

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.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What are the chances? Sequence at Shadow Theatre...

I wish I'd had more time this past weekend to post.  I would have written about Sequence by Arun Lakra, now playing at Shadow Theatre. I saw it last Friday and really liked it.  What I loved the most about it was the extremely clever and smart script.  This was the winner of the 2011 Alberta Play-writing Competition and it's easy to see why it won.  The play is a study of chance and probability, of genetics and mathematics, and of humans dealing with all of them.  Two stories, seemingly unrelated, are told simultaneously, and layer by layer the probabilities add up.  I'm a bit of a weird mash-up of science and drama so this was the perfect piece for me.  My Education degree is a Physical Sciences (Physics and Chemistry) Major with a Minor in English and Math.  I have since taken enough Drama courses that I could have a major in that, as well.  So I really enjoyed the merging of my many worlds.  I loved that the script is smart - not just throw-away puns, but sophisticated references (and yes, I got the golgi body joke). It's also quite accessible, so fear not if your science is not up to snuff.  If you can understand the logistics of chance that exist with the flip of a coin, I think you'd be fine.

It's the layering and unwrapping of the play that's done so well.  The reveals in the two stories are carefully measured out for maximum payoff and aha moments. Although it engages your brain, I don't think you'll find it mentally exhausting - it's more of a yoga class than a free weight session - I think you'll leave a little more enlightened.

Sequence runs until November 16th at the Varscona.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Pulled In Another Direction...

Last night I took in the Opening Night of The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble by Beth Graham at Theatre Network. On the surface, the play is about children dealing with their aging parent who is struck by early onset Alzheimer's Disease.  More specifically, it is about the middle child, Iris (played by Clarice Eckford), and her struggle to help her mother deal with the disease on her own terms.  To that end, we spend a lot of time with Iris as she tells the story very pointedly from her perspective. She even warns us that the story will be told through her filter as storyteller.  What that results in is vibrant characters in the form of the loud and brassy older sister Sarah (Patricia Zentilli), the withdrawn and tension avoiding younger brother Peter (Jason Chinn) and the warm, beautiful and wise mother Bernice (Susan Gilmour). Iris' filter exaggerates the good and the bad in each of them.

There are many wonderful things with this production. Zentilli is terrific as the outspoken and opinionated older sister, Chinn finds a way to make his limited dialogue worth every syllable, and Gilmour is the mother everyone wants - wise, sad, and poised. Perhaps she is idealized a little by Iris, but Gilmour gives her a realness that is truly moving and heart-breaking.  It is Iris that feels a little lost, but maybe that was the point? Her every insecurity is on display as she narrates and reveals what she is feeling about the awkwardness of the situation she is placed in.  Her desire to avoid the ugliness of the situation but still respect her mother almost made her shrink amidst the larger than life personalities of the other characters, so much so that she sometimes appears to be drowning. My challenge as an audience member was connecting to Iris because I think I would react so very differently to the situation than she does.  In some ways I was horrified by what she 'goes along with' even though she doesn't seem to want to.  It's always the challenge with a first person narrator - the audience member can only relate as far as they can relate to that speaker.  I know from the many sniffles in the audience that there were many people who were completely engaged.  Perhaps they were more like Iris than I am, or maybe because I haven't been in that situation I am meant to seek to understand better what it might really be like to be Iris.  Let's hope I never have to find out first-hand..

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

That was a Dress 'Rehearsal'?!?! Wowzers! One Man, Two Guvnors is Simply Hysterical!

Last Friday, as part of my job, I took in the Dress Rehearsal for One Man, Two Guvnors at the Citadel.  I loved it when I read the script.  It was so funny.  I loved the read-thru.  Even more funny. The Dress Rehearsal?! To use my current word of effusion - WOWZERS!  So, so, so, so, so funny! I cannot wait to see it again.  It breaks all sort of rules - propriety, the fourth wall, music but not a musical, crazy accents, skewed logic, prat falls, audience participation, improv - and it's ridiculous!  It's hard to pick a favorite part because you can literally go through the cast one by one and list a favorite moment. Get there early because The Craze (performed by the Be Arthurs) starts entertaining the audience for about 10 minutes before the show starts and they are terrific so you don't really want to miss them.  They also play for part of intermission so run out quickly for your ice cream and get back to see and hear them!

For this one, I'd get your tickets fast, because when people start talking about it I think it's going to get harder to get good seats! Speaking of... I better book mine tomorrow!

Photo Credit: The Be Arthurs as The Craze with Jesse Gervais - photo from the media call

Time for a Haircut?! The Barber of Seville - Edmonton Opera

Last week I took in The Barber of Seville at the Edmonton Opera.  It was a bright and energetic production with a cool concept, replanting the story in a 1940's Hollywood Movie Studio Backlot. The costumes, set and make-up was bang-on for transporting us to the world of the play and the titular Figaro (Phillip Addis) seemed perfectly situated in this new location.  Afterall, you need someone to look after all the actor's hair needs on a movie set! Addis was a fireball with great comedic skills to compliment his singing skills. When he's onstage your eyes are always drawn to him.  He's most fun when he and Almaviva (James McLennan) are playing off each other, but it's also fun to watch him get in the mix with all the characters.  As Rosina (Sylvia Szadovszki) is lovely and her voice is bright and sunshiny.  Szadovski is delightfully bratty and she plays the diva film star with a sense of fun. This is the bugs bunny opera.  The music will be familiar to most and they have done a fabulous job with the world, with everyone onstage embracing the swing of the 1940's and the hustle-bustle of the movie set.  There are even some cool magic tricks as Figaro employs his hair-styling art - it's those little details that make this so much fun!

There are only two more chances to catch it - Tonight and Thursday.  It's at the Jubilee Auditorium and tickets are available here. They've got great options for a whole range of budgets, so check it out.  Chances are you will find a seat that suits you. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Busy Doing... Too Busy to Write!

Sometimes you get yourself so busy seeing things and doing things that you don't have time to write your blog.  That's what the last two weeks have been like for me.

I have caught a couple shows that were well done and great examples of the variety of theatre that you can see in Edmonton.  A week and a half ago I took in Happy Toes by Stewart Lemoine at Teatro La Quindicina.  It was a lovely piece which caught me off guard.  I didn't really know what it was about and my presumption that the happy toes were dancing was totally incorrect.  It was more about friendship, relationships and how our expectation and anticipations affect our personal happiness.  It was a subtle piece, set in familiar places and subtly brought to life by a quintet of actors: Ron Pederson, Jeff Haslam, Julien Arnold, Cathy Derkach and Davina Stewart. It's closed now, but the Varscona is moving into the Shadow Theatre season and there are some great shows on the horizons there!

Last week I hit two shows.  The first was Ronnie Burkett and The Daisy Theatre at the Citadel.  I saw this show three times last year, I loved it so much.  It has the wonderful quality of no show being the same as there is an element of improvisation and audience participation. This time I took a Ronnie Burkett newbie and it was wonderful to see her react to his mastery of the marionettes.  After the first 'number' she leaned to me and said, "This is amazing!". It took me back to my first Ronnie show where I was just totally blown away by how you completely get absorbed by the characters on the stage, not the man up above.  It's truly magic! Now, it's on the wrong side of ribald, so be prepared and at this point there are less than 250 seats left for the rest of the run so you're going to want to buy fast to get to see it.  There are great seats left on this Sunday night, so I would hope on the phone and pick those up if you want to catch it. It runs to November 2 and plays in The Club.

The second show I saw last week was Theatre No. 6's Proud by Michael Healey - the fictionalization of what might have happened after the 2011 election if the Conservatives won all the Quebec seats instead of the NDP.  It took liberties, as it was a fictionalization, so although the Prime Minister in question is named Harper, it is very clearly an interpretation.  It is also a comedy so there is a lot of play at hand.  It's not the most perfect script - there's a character in it that you're not quite sure why they are there - and the arc is not really clear, but it was excellently acted by it's cast of four: Brian Dooley, Melissa Thingelstad, Dave Horak and Richard Lee Hsi. What I really liked about it was the explanation of politics - the tactics and the strategies - the speculation on why some things were done. Some of what is in the play (in generalities) I know to be true.  The way a party will only woo the sway-able middle and they will not waste their time on those they know they can never win over - that's totally true. There was also some political theory that literally gave me some 'aha!' moments! It also had one of the funniest sex scenes I have ever seen. Proud closed this past weekend, but I look forward to what Theatre No. 6 will bring next.  It's an exciting mix of artists who have kicked off with a very interesting piece!

Tonight I am heading out to catch the first show in the Walterdale season, And Then, The Lights Went Out by Alberta playwright Andy Garland.  It's a play on Film Noir and Detective Fiction.  I had a very small hand in helping to paint the floor but I know a lot of people involved and they are all very talented, so I am looking forward to seeing what they have done with it!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

#YegBookClub - Next in the Queue! Santa Rosa by Wendy McGrath!

My apologies for not getting this out sooner - a rather densely packed life due to the start of both the school year and the theatre season led to a bit of a delay in choosing a book and finding a date for the club.  First, a brief recap of the last book club.  Mid September, we spoke with Marty Chan about Demon Gate, the first book in his Ehrich Weisz Chronicles.  It was a great chat and although it was mostly Marty and myself chatting, I could tell from the retweets and the favorites that there were others following the discussion.  I was pleased to hear hints about what was to come (but with no spoilers!) and it was great to get the insight on Marty's research and inspiration. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series!

Here are some snippets...



What book next? For our next #yegbookclub we will be reading and chatting about Santa Rosa by Wendy McGrath.  Her sequel, North East has just been released and I thought it might be nice to read the first one before I dive into the second.  I've bought both so I might just read the second as well and see where that goes. 

When: Monday, November 17th, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Where: On Twitter - use the tags #yegbookclub and #SantaRosa to tag and follow posts.  
Who: Everyone is welcome to join in the discussion! The more, the merrier!