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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Planning for the New Year in Theatre...

Well, as we wrap up one year, it means that we need to think ahead about what we want to see next... don't we? Well, I do... It's good to take this lull and think about what is coming up that interests us and as always, there are a lot of possibilities.  I know I won't make it to all of them, but I am going to try!

So let's start with January 2014!

There are quite a few shows on in town this January.  I'm gearing up for Clybourne Park and Hawksley Workman's The God That Comes at the Citadel.  Both have been on my radar as things I was looking forward to for awhile.  Clybourne Park because of my Tony-obsession, and The God That Comes because I had heard good things about it from when it was in Calgary last season. I'm also hoping to catch Theatre Yes' The Elevator Project at Canoe Festival this January. I missed it last time because of simply having too many things to do when it was on.  I know it will be new stories but the concept fascinates me so I really want to get to it this time around.  For those of you who caught it in the fall, the plays are all new so it's worth your while. I'm also hoping to catch Plain Jane Theatre Co.'s Mack & Mabel in Concert.  I really liked Little Fish at the Fringe this summer and am hoping for more of the same.  I'm also liking that there are more professional theatre companies doing musicals. 


That's only four... if I am lucky I will also make it to A Bronte Burlesque at Theatre Network.  I saw this at Fringe a few years ago and I am hoping that, like The Tudor Queens, it will be even better in a space with better sightlines and space to move.  I thought the script was quite good and would like to see it in a better space. At Shadow Theatre, Marie Antoinette, Colour of Flesh also looks intriguing, so I hope to catch that, as well. With no show in rehearsal I should be able to!

I'll also be keeping my ear to the ground for some of the yet unadvertised University Projects.  I quite enjoyed the ones I got to last year so I hope to make it out to more this year!

I haven't set a 2014 Theatre Goal yet - I started one last year, but stopped counting.  I am pretty sure that I made my goal.  I think my goal this year will be to continue to challenge myself by seeing a variety of things. I'm pretty sure I will hit a minimum of 40 shows... that actually sounds a little low.  I think also, that I will try to take theatre newbies out more.  If I can get a few more people addicted that can only be good!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Looking Back at 2013 - A Year in Theatre... Part Two: What I Saw...

I saw a lot of theatre this year.  I like that.  I have said it before and I will say it again, but I feel so incredibly blessed to live in Edmonton because of the variety and the amount of theatre we get to see. 

What I Saw:

First of all, this list is not exhaustive because I saw a lot.  I think you'd have to flip through the blog to read about everything.  These are what stayed with me for various reasons.  Other people would have a completely different list...

Second of all, there is no real order to this list.  It's not a ranking, more a reflection...

My favorite theatre experience of the whole year was Ride the Cyclone at the Citadel.  As I compiled everything it is the one that kept coming back to me.  So fresh, so odd, so Canadian and so well done.  I saw it twice and wished I could have seen it more.  It's not often I want to see a show more than once, but this one I did.  I would see it tomorrow if it were playing here still.

My favorite play of the year was Let the Light of Day Through from Theatre Network. As a playwright I marvelled at the unwrapping of the story and I thought that it was a beautifully presented with honesty and humour.  I laughed and I cried and I hope to see this play go further.  It is a play that transcends Edmonton and should be seen elsewhere.

The Citadel brought a lot of great moments to my year in theatre.  I loved Beth Graham and the fearless cast of The Penelopiad and I was tickled by Ronnie Burkett's Theatre of Marionettes and The Daisy Theatre (so much so that I saw that one 3 times!). I was caught off guard by how good 2 Pianos 4 Hands was... I mean, I expected good, but it surpassed my expectations! It was a treat to take my kids to that show and listen to Gibson giggle through the entire first act. it was also a treat to take my mother to see Long Day's Journey Into Night.  It has long been once of my favorite plays and it was wonderful to see it performed so excellently for the first time.

The theatre that got me thinking this year was Northern Light Theatre.  Both Ride and Dust made me think about things long after I saw them.  I am long past the casual dating of Ride and never have confronted the issues in Dust, but both were fascinating with strong performances from actors directed delicately by Trevor Schmidt.  They avoided the over-play that we see so much on our stages and took us somewhere real.  Both of these were so good, but it was An Accident that broke my heart. Michael Peng and Melissa Thinglestead - can't say much more than that. Anger, bitterness, blame, guilt and survival - It was all there. I still think about that play.

I really liked both of the Freewill Players productions this year.  I wasn't going to go to A Midsummer Night's Dream since I have seen it so many times and have even been in it, but a blog post I read intrigued me.  I was so glad I did as it re-invented it for me.  I had never seen King Lear before and went twice to make up for that! 

Speaking of Midsummer, I checked out Midsummer (a play with music) at the Roxy, the premiere production by Broken Toys Theatre and had a fabulous night laughing and feeling like I was a long for a wild ride.  I also caught Broken Toys second production, The Three Sisters, at the Varscona.  It was another laugh-filled evening.  I still marvel at the size of the cast.  For an indie production it was so weird to see so many bodies bowing.  I really loved Clinton Carew's adaptation and hope he does some more as he certainly dusted the cobwebs off this Chekhov piece.

Freewill wasn't the only place I got good Shakespeare this year.  I saw a fabulous production of MacBeth performed by the 3rd year BFA class at the U of A.  It had some of the best stage combat I have ever seen and in corner stage it was right close up and personal. I also saw one of the MFA candidates media room show - Much Ado About Nothing.  It was so fun and delightful.  You'd think  would be tired of these shows that I have seen so many times before, but when they are done right and told as though for the first time like these were, they become refreshing.

On the Big Stage - the Jubilee - I was most impressed with Billy Elliot, and with the kid that played Billy  as his triple-threat tour de force was mighty impressive. I also quite liked the Edmonton Opera's Onegin.  The clarity of this performance was amazing as I relied less on the surtitles and more on the performances of the Russian-speaking cast.  Every choice was clear and the production as a whole was beautifully sad.

There were also some lovely 'small stage' shows.  Trunk Theatre's Days of Wine and Roses, Three Form Theatre's Ordinary Days, and Horizon Player's Marion Bridge were all well-done productions which stayed with me long after I saw them. Well-acted and directed, these shows overcame their lower budgets to provide excellent evenings of theatre.

For Fringe 2013 - I did well this year.  Most everything I saw was really quite good - but the shows that have stayed with me are Hockey Night at the Puck & Pickle, Little Fish, Princess Confidential, Coraline: The Musical, and A Picasso. I could probably list more, but I wanted to pare them down a bit.  Really, I saw no duds...

It was a good year.  There were a lot more shows, but this was more about what has stayed with me.  When I read through my blog these were the shows that jumped out.



Looking Back at 2013 - A Year in Theatre... Part One: What I Did...

This was a busy year for me for theatre.  I finished off the second half of my great VUE Weekly Season Grand Prize and also had a few fabulous projects of my own on the go. This is What I Did, and the next post will be What I Saw...

What I Did:

I started the year with Auditions for ELOPE's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  It feels so long ago...  I was blown away by the auditions and was thrilled with the cast I was able to assemble. There were new faces and familiar ones and the cast had that incredible kind of synergy that made it a most joyful experience.  The show surprised a lot of people.  I had so many people tell me that they were not expecting much because of the title but then when they came to see it, they both laughed and cried and loved it.  I did too.  So much so that I saw all but 2 of the 8 performances.  Of course, I missed the most incredible one where the power went out and they finished the show in the lobby.  I followed at home on FB and Twitter and heard from cast and audience members about how absolutely wonderful the experience was.

I overlapped this with Chairing/Production Managing From Cradle to Stage at Walterdale - the annual new work festival.  I also set designed and mastered-painted that.  Luckily the run for it nested between the two weeks of Putnam so I could make it work but I was stretched pretty thin.  My goal was to create two sets that didn't feel thrown together and that could share the same space.  This doesn't always happen as the focus for this festival is on the scripts, but I wanted these playwrights to have a fully realized world for their scripts.  I think I made it work.  I had some challenges with  people on the team who didn't quite understand the lines of communication, but in the end I was happy with what was on stage.  Sometimes you just have to have longer conversations to get what will work for everyone, and Walterdale is about learning so hopefully some learning happened.

I started directing a piece for Fringe 2013, but we were on the Wait List and never came off in time to make it work. With 3 of the cast in other shows we anticipated conflicts so we let it go.  It was fun to dip the toe into the work, but letting it go cleared the way for my new job at the Citadel. I don't know if it would have been as smooth a start if I was still committed to directing.

This fall I rounded off the year with Proof at Walterdale.  I have been in love with this script for a few year now and was blessed with the support of one of the finest teams I have ever worked with. And then I got a tremendous cast.  What a cast. I will be honest, I was spoiled at auditions, there were several fine casts in there, but I was truly pleased with the one I chose.  Such dedication and commitment to the show and my process.  It was so wonderful to see onstage.  I was very, very proud of it.  The only fly in the ointment was the relatively low attendance.  I will admit being disappointed by some of the no-shows, but the crappy weather, the lack of media coverage and the Christmas season wasn't doing us any favours.  I know I have to let that go.  I don't get to everything myself because I get busy, so I can't expect everyone else to.  We did the show for those who came and everyone seemed to love it so I think I can be happy with that. Plus, my Mom, Dad, Sister and 2 of my Brothers came to see it and that hasn't happened in forever!  That was pretty cool.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spice, Proof and an unfortunate Germ or two...

This weekend was to be a little holiday for me.  My sister came to town on Friday so I took the day off work to go get her from the airport and get some visiting in.  Of course, the weather has been crap so a normally 45 minutes drive to the airport took an hour and a half.  I left plenty early so that was alright and the drive back meant for more visiting so that was all cool. I had, however, woken up with a scratchy throat and low-grade headache which did not bode well for the weekend... Good thing my husband is a pharmacist.  I medicated and hoped adrenalin and positivity would carry me through the weekend!

We took in Wannabe (Spice Girls Tribute Band) at the Citadel Club that night which was so much ridiculous fun.  We were joined by friends Kim and Cliff and enjoyed much chair dancing and singing a long to the tunes we guiltily knew all the lyrics to.  Cliff provided the biggest moment of entertainment however when he and a couple of other guys jumped onstage during the encore and he recreated the splash moment from Flashdance.  It was hysterical!  A fun night and my medicine managed to carry me through it alright. It was also great to see the house so packed.  The Club is a fabulous space for shows and I am so looking forward to Hawksley Workman in January for The God That Comes. 

Saturday I was supposed to do some shopping but instead I slept in and left my sister to go off shopping with my mom and brother.  I think I needed the sleep and that night we had dinner with more family before the Closing Night of Proof. It was nice to have our biggest house for the Close and share the play with so many friends and family.  Everyone seemed really impressed with the show so I was gratified that the hard work paid off.  We then had a relatively quick strike of set and theatre clean and then a nice potluck party where we enjoyed no-pasta pasta and square root vegetables and other yummy treats.  My ongoing sickness meant I wasn't going to be able to stay too late, but it was a nice wrap up to a wonderful theatrical journey.  I was so pleased with everyone on the team and in the cast.  I hope to be able to work with them all again!

Sunday the cold kicked into high gear.  I missed breakfast with the family and slept quite late.  I also missed a baby shower for a good friend but sent the gift on without me and my germs.  You do not bring germs to an 8 month pregnant lady.  You just don't...

And the cold continues... I missed work on Monday - did some work from home (was actually impressed with how much I could do from home - this Internet thing is pretty cool!), but slept a lot and medicated a lot.  I made it in today because the low grade headache seemed to be abated, but still left a little early when the productivity seemed to drop off.  I am hoping for even better tomorrow.  I have a long day tomorrow as it is Christmas Concert time for Gibson at his school.  I'm trying to get caught up with Christmas prep - a little baking, a little cleaning, bought a turkey, did some of my cards and some of my shopping - but I have a ways to go and if I don't get back to 100% soon, I am not going to be ready! Wish me luck and good health, please!

Anyhow, there are a few great theatre opportunities for you all this holiday season - The Snow Globe Festival is in it's third year, A Christmas Carol at the Citadel has a week left in it's run, With Bells On at Theatre Network is on, The Best Little Newfoundland Christmas Pageant Ever is at the Varscona and Grindstone Theatre is a having a special Christmas 11 O'clock Number. So there is a lot to see this week.  It seems to quiet down over the actual holiday, but this week is packed with things to do and see!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Winding Up a Great Couple of Months with Math, Madness, Genius and Doubt...

We are approaching the end of the run... only two more shows left and the journey that has been Proof will be over.  It's been a great experience. The cast really rose to the challenge of the script and they have consistently delivered engaged, present and compelling performances.  I was blessed with a fabulous design team who delivered pitch perfect details in set, costumes, props, lights and sound.  It was really lovely to just direct and not worry about the details because I had a team that was looking after it.  And my crew... I left the show in their capable hands with no hint of fear that it would be well cared for and looked after.

There were disappointments, mostly that we were hit squarely with the cold and snow and that affected attendance.  It descended on opening weekend, receded a bit around our dark day and then came back today.  It's hard to compel people to venture out when police are recommending people stay indoors. Throw in a lack of media attention and you have a recipe for disaster.

We did get a fabulous review from Sound and Noise which I was extremely pleased with.  You can't knock a review like that. Also, local blogger Louise Mallory wrote a nice review of the show.   VUE Weekly and St. Albert Gazette also did lovely preview articles on us. We also hosted a tweet-up night and had great fun following the show on twitter.  It was very cool to catch the reactions of the audience in near-real time. Anyhow, have a read and then buy your ticket.  I guarantee it is worth the price of admission and venturing out in the cold.

I will miss this when it's done. When you direct you kind of feel lost once the show opens.  I have been back a few times but I wanted to give the show and cast time to deepen and grow.  But I am really looking forward to seeing it again on Closing.  It will be a bitter-sweet evening I am sure.

I hope to see you out, if not at my show, then maybe at yours...

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Chekhov Makes Me Laugh! Yay!

This past week was insane!  I had two Openings: Proof on Wednesday and A Christmas Carol on Thursday.  As Director of the first and Marketing Administrator for the second I was very busy!  Fortunately both went very well.  I have been very pleased with Proof and it was great to share it with an audience.  Although the weather kept the turn-out smaller than I would have liked, they were extremely appreciative and I received glowing reviews from audience members at the reception following the show.  I hope that you all can take the time to see it.  I guarantee a great night of theatre worth braving the cold for. It runs until December 14th and the tickets range from $12-$16 so it's really an affordable theatre opportunity.

A Christmas Carol also went well.  It is so cool to see the people coming to Opening Night for this show.  Many of them have seen it before and they all look so excited to be back for it.  For many of them it is the kick-off of their Christmas season.  I also liked meeting the parents of the kids in the show. The pride and expectation is visceral.  If you haven't seen it before it is definitely worth checking out.  If you have, you know it's worth a return visit.  There's a very good reason why so many people have made this part of their holiday tradition!

Today, I saw the penultimate performance of Broken Toys Theatre production of The Three Sisters at the Varscona.  IT WAS SO GOOD!  I really wish I could have seen it earlier so I could have told you all how good sooner (but this literally was the first chance I had to get to it...).  The last show is currently underway so if you missed it you are out of luck. Clinton Carew did a fantastic job as both translator and director.  It's the same play by Chekhov, but he made it accessible and engaging. I'm really hoping this qualifies for Sterling 'new work', I am not sure how the category works for adaptations/translations.  He really tapped into how funny Chekhov should be.  The direction is also very elegant.  His use of the space is brilliant and often there are three clusters of action onstage, but never are you focused on the wrong grouping.  It moves briskly so that the 3 hour running time flies by.  Great performances from all involved.  Indeed the cast list is amazing.  It's so cool to see so many bodies onstage in an indie theatre production.  Everyone is in the same world.  Hard to pick a favorite when everyone is so strong.  Well done!  This is their second production and they are certainly proving themselves to be a company to watch!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Fringe on the Horizon... The Far Horizon...

So in the midst of all my busy, the Fringe Lottery was held last week.  I couldn't attend because I was knee-deep in a tech rehearsal, but had my iPad on hand for updates and was overwhelmed to get word that Finally Sauces was drawn, not once, but twice.  Round Barn did not get pulled, so we will try again next year if everyone is still up for it. I had decided to let the Fringe gods decide which projects would be on the docket and would have been happy with one, or two and probably stressed with all three so this has worked out.  We (Finally Sauces) will be presenting one of my scripts and one of Anne Marie's.  After Proof gets up and running we will have to have a meeting to figure out roles and responsibilities and discuss possible casting, but it is exciting to know so far in advance that we will be in.  I have done the Wait List before and that is stressful - best when you get in and are ready, but very sad when you are working on being ready and you don't get off the list. Trust me, the stress level drops considerably when you know one way or another.

In any case, it is fuel to put my focus on my writing at this point.  I have a script, but it needs work.  I look forward to having a deadline to push me forward.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The past few weeks...

I have been working on Proof at Walterdale.  We are a hair's width from Opening so that will mean my schedule will open up and I will be able to post in a more timely manner. I did manage to squeeze in a few shows over the last little while... better late than never!

A couple of weekends back I managed to get to Two One Way Tickets to Broadway's Forbidden Broadway at La Cite.  It was a fun night of parody of Broadway musicals.  I think it really worked for people who know musicals.  I am not sure how it would play for people who don't know the shows and performers being mocked.  It was pretty quick and the four performers all sang well and went for it.  My favourite moments were an outrageous Carol Channing performed by Kyle Thulien and almost every time Kristin Johnston was onstage. She has an electric stage presence and is a quadruple threat as you can clearly add comedian to the list of singer, dancer and actor.

Last weekend I grabbed the last available ticket for the Saturday Night performance of NLT Bitches and Money 1878 at the PCL Theatre. This was a surprising departure from last season's shows.  It was a non chronological steam-punk caper of sorts.  Very well directed, acted and designed with an intriguing script that left you with a few more questions than answers.  It was fun, but I do admit I wanted a little bit more, but I think that was the script more than anything.  I liked the play with chronology and the absolute commitment to the choices.  It was also a nice surprise in that I have seen two of the three actors before (Ben Gorodetsky and Andrea Jorawsky) but never quite in this way and it made me appreciate the depths of their talents more.  The third actor (Laura Gillespie) was new to me and a delightful discovery.  Nice to see three young and skilled performers bringing it with such an interesting piece.

Tonight I took a drive out to Spruce Grove to see Marion Bridge at Horizon Stage.  I'm a sucker for a Daniel MacIvor play!  Indeed, if I weren't directing Proof, I would have been auditioning for this show. I did get to take part in a small way by contributing to the sound design as the evil Kara Ryan in the audio from the TV Soap that the sisters watch off stage.  As it was, they certainly didn't need me as the trio onstage were totally up for the job.  Director Anne Marie Szucs kept it simple and let the script do the work. This was a wise choice in the severe thrust of Horizon Stage. It's a hard space to block in but I think they did a nice job considering the constraints. I really liked the interplay of the three sisters, eldest-alcoholic-rough-around-the-edges Agnes (Erin Forwick-Whalley), middle-never-a-problem-ever-patient Theresa (Julie Sinclair) and youngest-strange-homebody Louise (Sarah Van Tassel).  The three worked well together and felt believable as sisters. They managed to raise them above the potential stereo-types of the characters and make them real. I love the script but had forgotten how funny it was.  This production used the humour to lift it up above the events that could otherwise seem very sad.  It was a lovely night out and totally worth the icy drive!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Knee Deep in Proof, First Contact with Christmas Carol...

This week we hit an important milestone in our rehearsals for Proof.  We finished Blocking the whole show.  We now move into putting the whole thing together and getting the feel of the arc of the show through stumbles and runs of larger chunks of it.  Sunday will see our first Stumble Through of the whole show and we will see where we are at for lines.  Since we did so much text work off the top I am not worried about that.  Already my actors are taking sizable chunks off-book and trusting themselves.  With a cast of four that means that everyone has a lot to get into their brain and body but they are all hard workers and seem to be really trusting the process.  Already I am seeing them trusting the emotional response and on Tuesday night we had a few moments of us tearing up at the table as we watched their work.  Truly lovely moments coming through.  Makes me happy as a director!  Now to put it all together! We are also blessed with a super fast and dedicated production team.  The set is built and we have blocked the whole show in situ.  Layers of paint have made for cool discoveries as we come in to see the world becoming more and more real each rehearsal.  It makes it easier for the actors to inhabit the world when it feels so complete right off the bat. We are lucky!

At work, we started Christmas Carol rehearsals this week.  Tuesday was the Meet and Greet and First Read Through.  There are quite a few new faces this year.  I have only ever seen the show once (last season) and this is my first year on staff for Carol, so I stayed for the Read to hear it.  I was a little surprised to see how much it moved me just from the table.  I must admit I had a couple tears to wipe away.  It is a testament to the actors in the cast that they could bring the piece to life without anything but their voices and their emotional commitment.  It will be all the more magical with the sets and costumes, but for me there is always something special about that first Read-Through! In any case, it is going to be a bit more active and noisy at the theatre with all those kids and the rest of the cast in the building.  I am looking forward to it.  Some of my favorite local actors are onstage, so it will be great to see it again!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pig Girl - Hard to Watch, Important to Think About

The other night I took in Pig Girl at Theatre Network.  I am not one to shy away from shows with difficult and challenging topics, as I like theatre that leaves me with a pang in my heart and thinking for days.  The topic is the abduction and murder of marginalized women in the Vancouver area by Robert Pickton and the impact on their families. Although Pickton's name is never mentioned, it's pretty clear that he is the model for the Killer (Randy Hughson).  It's a tough piece to watch for many reasons. The topic itself is not very palatable.  In real time we watch the Killer assault and prepare to kill Dying Woman (Nadien Chu), this is itself is very hard to watch as it is graphic and unrelenting and ever present.  Side by side with that we watch the frustrated Dying Woman's Sister (Elinor Holt) plead for help from the Police Officer (Brian Dooley) over the many years of her sister's disappearance.   It challenges everyone sitting in the audience about how much they care about these lost women.  It's very clear to me that playwright Colleen Murphy is angry and this comes through in her play very clearly in her representation of Police Officer.  I think this was what was hardest for me.  As the figure of authority, Police Officer represents all of society, and the anger leveled at him in this script is palpable.  As he appears uncaring and annoyed at the persistence of the Dying Woman's Sister it says something about the world as a whole.  Initially, when I left I was ticked off at that portrayal as I thought that the play actually was dehumanizing the police, making them more monstrous than the actual killers. I know RCMP officers and they truly care about the people they work with, most of whom are marginalized like the Dying Woman.  But then I started to think about it and why I was so angry.  In this play, the Police Officer is all of us.  The Police Officer is those of us who read the horrifying stories in the newspaper and are appalled, but distanced. We feel sad, but we are thankful that this is not our world.  We might hold our children closer and use the Dying Woman and Killer as a cautionary tale, but we do not do much more than that.  I am not sure where to go further though. We can think more of these lost women as humans who did not deserve what happened to them no matter what their life choices.  We can think more about their families who have lost precious daughters and sisters and mothers.  We can give money to the organizations that help protect those women (you can do this right in the lobby of the theatre). Beyond that, I am not sure what else we can do, because there will always be monsters in the dark that take the shape of humans and prey on those least able to help themselves...

Friday, November 08, 2013

Salome, The Fierce Awards, A Visit from my Sister, Opening Night of 2 Pianos 4 Hands, Hallowe'en and a Second and Third Helping of The Daisy Theatre... Just Another Week...

The trouble with having so much great stuff on your plate is that when you don't have much time to actually blog about it!

My incredibly busy spree started last Thursday with the Invited Dress for the Edmonton Opera's Salome.  It was a gorgeous and lush show and I loved Salome's ( Maida Hundeling) soaring high notes, although she was difficult to hear in the lower sections.  They told us that because it was dress the performers might be marking their voices, so I imagine that this did not happen during actual shows. I just wanted to hear! Compared to the last two operas I saw, this one took me a little longer to get into as I felt the opening half was a bit slow and I was a bit distracted by the disembodied voice of John the Baptist (Jakonen).  Once we met all the characters I was much more invested.  I really loved what they did with the Dance of the Seven Veils and Salome's final aria as she cradled the head of John the Baptist was quite lovely.  The world was striking itself.  I loved the fractured moon and the lighting and the use of chains as a framework/scrim was quite ingenious, and the lighting (designed by Brette Gerecke) - Oh! the lighting was gorgeous.   I feel like I am being challenged as an audience member when I see opera so I am excited for whatever comes next.

The next night I was at another Invited Dress as I took in 2 Pianos 4 Hands at the Citadel.  I hade read the script because it's part of my job but it really didn't prepare me for how incredibly good the show was going to be.  I think that is because the script doesn't really have all the music in it and the two actors (Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt) are so good at both acting and playing that it took it to a whole new level. I am going back tonight with my kids and husband because I MUST share it with them.  My boys have done piano for 4 1/2 years so I think they will get a kick out of it. It's selling really well so I would advise getting tickets earlier rather than later - so totally worth it!

My sister came to visit on the weekend.  I took her to The Daisy Theatre as I thought she'd like that.  She did and I did.  It was my second time.  About 65% of the show was the same with 35% of new stuff or stuff I hadn't seen, but even the things that were familiar were fresh and alive as Ronnie Burkett certainly keeps it current and he mixes it up a bit.  I actually went for a Third helping last night as well, so I feel like I am stalking the show.  I am not sure if I will catch it again, but I kind of want to because there are characters I still haven't seen and I want to see it all!  Last night was
particularly hysterical, with a new piece that had me howling!  Only two more weeks of this show and the seating is limited because it's in The Club so I'd get on this one.  It's not one to miss!

On Monday I was at The Fierce Awards for which I was nominated.  I didn't win, but I felt like a winner because I had some great friends there with me to support me and make me feel special.  The chocolate martinis and cotton candy didn't hurt either!  It was nice to see so many talented women (and men in the Champion category) from the community being recognized. It was a night filled with cheesy jokes, belly dancing, some cool hula hoop tricks, great singing and hip hop dancing.  Most inspirational were the winner's speeches.  Some really great women got recognized!

I squeezed in a couple of Proof Rehearsals and then Hallowe'en/Opening Night hit. It was exciting to hear about the audience's reaction to 2 Pianos 4 Hands.  This show has gotten standing ovations every night so far and has been so well received that we had to add another show to accommodate the demand.  That's pretty exciting.  I took my boys a few nights later and I will be writing a separate post about that.   Suffice it to say, I was impressed, entertained and touched by the show and the performances.

A busy week!  I have more to write about since, so I will wrap this up and hope that you can check out some of the shows... there are more on the docket in town so, as I like to say on twitter, DON'T STAY HOME! SEE A SHOW!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Last Week's Theatre Re-cap - Much Ado about Dracula on an Ordinary Day!

Last week I managed to take in three shows!  That's with rehearsing and having to go to Red Deer for an APN Board Retreat!  I feel like a rock star for getting to three shows!  So, I am also very tired...

Anyhow, I took in Opening Night of Dracula at Walterdale.  I am not a big horror fan, so it's not the kind of piece I expect to connect with, but I did appreciate the gusto and expertise with which everything was attacked.  Everything looked and sounded perfect so I am sure for those Vampire Aficionados it hit the spot.  The tech/designer in me was fairly blown away by the detail in all the designs.  From the pitch perfect costumes to the Special FX and props, to the sound, to the make-up and the blood, oh the blood - you could see that hours upon hours were put into the show.  The set design was elegant and supported by a fabulous lighting design so that the multiple locations were clear and functional.  Well done! It's selling terrifically well so I would advise getting tickets early to avoid disappointment.

I spent the week rehearsing for Proof and then was off to my APN Board Retreat on Saturday in Red Deer.  It was a great day and I think we really got a lot of work done towards directing the organization into the future.  It was also really great to meet in person with the board as we primarily have phone meetings and it is so good to actually see who you are talking to.

And then I drove home quickly (but not too quickly) and did so well that I managed to make it back into town early enough to catch Three Form Theatre's Ordinary Days.  I was very excited to be able to catch this as I had intended to see it the night before but an hitherto unplanned volleyball game for my 12 year old pre-empted my going.  I am glad Red Deer was not farther away and the roads were clear.  The show was delightful.  It's a song cycle, but unlike many of those, the songs were clear and told a story with real characters.  I was unfamiliar with it, but I liked the music - it wasn't easy but the four singer/actors (played by Adrianne Salmon, Kristin Johnston, Mark Sinongco, and Brian McDougall) handled it well and they were all very strong singers.  It was simply staged and they all made us care about each of the characters  and I even teared up a little bit. I'm excited to see what this little company does next.  I think they are smart in the choices they are making.  Small cast shows that they can stage simply and really do a good job of.


The next day, Sunday, I was back to rehearsing for Proof and then rushed off to the U of A to catch a slightly truncated Much Ado About Nothing in the Media room.  It was so good. I was worried because I have seen much Ado a lot recently, but it remains my favorite Shakespeare of the moment. This production was fun and light and was staged beautifully.  Everyone was up to the challenge of the language and it was delightfully physical and modern without being present day.  The cuts were judicious and worked well and made for a brisk show where you got everything you needed and they could leave you wanting more.  Favorite moments include text exchanges, the funeral scene that redeemed Claudio (Scott Shpeley) and made me believe Hero (Sophie Gareau-Brenna) would take him back, Benedict (Kris Joseph) hiding in the audience, Beatrice (Alana Hawley) explaining why men without beards and with beards are not for her, and Margaret's (Mary Hulbert) ability to make everything saucy. But really, everyone was up to the challenge and Director Megan Watson did a fine job staging this.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Theatre Yes - The National Elevator Project

Theatre Yes presents the National Elevator Project

What can happen in an elevator? Absolutely anything!

OCTOBER 16 - 27, 2013
At Various Downtown Edmonton Locations
Starting @ Tix on the Square, Sir Winston Churchill Square, 9930 – 102 Ave

Theatre Yes’s National Elevator Project features short plays written for and performed in working elevators.

Theatre Yes has arranged commissions for noted Canadian Playwrights from across the country to write very short plays (5 minutes and under) that explore the ritual of the elevator ride. The plays require audiences to enter elevators with the actors for one-of-a-kind, unforgettable performance experiences.

Theatres and Arts Organizations involved: Eastern Front Theatre (NS), Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland (NL), Mulgrave Road Theatre (NS), Playwright’s Atlantic Resource Centre (NS), Magnetic North Theatre Festival (ON), Imago Theatre (QC), Nightswimming Theatre (ON), Persephone Theatre (SK), L’Unith√©√Ętre (AB), Ghost River Theatre (AB), Workshop West Theatre (AB), The Canadian Centre for Theatre Creation (AB), Shadow Theatre (AB), Rumble Productions (BC).

You will start at Tix on the Square, Sir Winston Churchill Square (9930 – 102 Ave), where you will be given a map and directions to each elevator. From there you will make your way to the location of each play in your own time. Plays are approximately five minutes in length and will be available on demand during each 2-hour performance window.

SHOW TIMES

Oct 16 (Preview)
Oct 17th -27th Shows available between nightly 7:30-9:30 pm.
Matinees Oct 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 2PM-4 pm
No Show on Monday Oct 21

TICKETS

Available at Tix on the Square or At The Door (Cash Only)

Preview $15.00 (Everyone)
Adult $25.00
Student/Senior/Artist $17.00
Pass $35.00
—See the plays over three performance times of your choice during the run
Pay-What-You-Can @ The Door Tuesday Oct 22
— Does not include three night passes

ARTISTS & ARTISTIC TEAM

Directed by Heather Inglis
Co-curated by Melissa Thingelstad
Designed by Brian Bast

FEATURING

Mark Anderako, Candace Berlinguette, Lora Brovold Lee Boyes, Patricia Cerra Jason Chinn, Ellen Chorley, Murray Cullen, Eva Foote, David Horak, Lana Hughes, Cole Humeny, Sharla Matkin, Nancy McAlear, Troy O’Donnell, Niko Ouellette, Andrew Ritchie, Isabelle Rousseau, Morgan Smith, Ben Stevens, Caley Suliak, Melissa Thingelstad, Fred Zbryski

Stage Managed by Betty Hushlak
Assistant Stage Manager Joan Wyatt
Assistant Director/Producer Brooke Leifso

Call for Volunteers:
Additionally - Theatre Yes is seeking volunteers to help with the FOH for this project. The tasks are very easy: Opening doors for people with tickets and Asking people to wait a few minutes if they arrive at the elevator and we are mid-show. 

If you are interested in volunteering contact Joan Wyatt at jaj.wyatt@gmail.com

They have shifts from 7-9:30 Wed –Sun AND 1:30-4:00PM on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Playworks Ink... A Writing Retreat in the Mountains...

A few weekends ago I spent the weekend in Banff at the Banff Centre for the Arts participating in Playworks Ink.  It was glorious.  Playworks Ink is offered every two years in the fall in coordinated by Theatre Alberta and Alberta Playwright's Network.  It is similar to Dramaworks, which is held in alternate years in the summer.  Playworks Ink, however, has a little more focus on play writing with staged readings and more play writing based workshops.  I took Facing the Re-Write with Robert O'Hara which I felt would be a good fit since I have so many scripts on the go in various drafts. I decided to bring a scene from Little Monsters, which I started two years previously at Playworks Ink in a session facilitated by Daniel MacIvor.  I had been feeling a little stalled with it, so I thought this would be a chance to kick it into gear. To some degree, it was the right workshop.  I was exhausted, however, after my long and busy September so what this weekend actually did for me was point out where I need to go and why I was stalled.  So while I didn't get a terrific about of writing done, I got some important writing done.  I also got a list of about 20 things I can do to jump start the process if I am stuck.  I can also use these with other people when I am helping them.  Some fabulous tools

I wish I had been able to write more, but that's okay.  I did feel that the move to Banff was perfect.  There were also so many other things that made the weekend work well.  With all of us in the same place, we didn't all scatter at night to go for supper with just those people we knew.  We all ate together and my roomie AM and I made an effort to sit with different people at different tables for each meal so that we would meet more people. That was pretty cool.  There was a real feeling of us all being at the same level, so while the people stretched from Newbie to Professional, there were no lines. It was also the best food.  I could probably write a whole blog post about the bacon... It was also beautiful and I love that mountain air!  Other events were great for us to share in - We got two experiences with Christopher Plummer (my new boyfriend) - one was a smaller group interview about his life and career and the other was a Gala evening with him doing Shakespeare off set by an orchestra playing music that had been inspired by Shakespeare.  They were both wonderful events, but I was so happy for the interview as I felt we really got to meet Mr. Plummer and he even seemed to be flirting with us a little. Another terrific event was a Trivia Contest and I had so much fun with that.  It was theatre based with a special focus on Alberta and Canadian theatre with a chunk of musical theatre thrown in.  How could I not love that? Our team came in second and I am good with that, although I think other people on my team felt we should've won.  It was all for fun so it is alright with me.

I really hope that Playworks Ink returns to Banff.  It felt ideal and I would love to go back with a calmer brain and a little more rested.  I could see me writing a lot there!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Stage Struck 2014 - Entries Now being accepted!

It's time to think about Stage Struck, the Annual Adult One-Act Festival.  This is your opportunity o test-fly a new work, produce that short play you always wanted to, and meet others in the community who are doing the same. There is also the opportunity for Adjudication to offer feedback so you can develop your play and grow in your artistic endeavors.

Edmonton Zone 
CALL FOR ENTRANTS
Stage Struck! 2014
 
Edmonton’s winter drama festival
 
What:     A regional adult one-act play festival
When:     February 21 & 22, 2014
Where:   Walterdale Theatre

Is there a one-act play you always wanted to produce?  Need an outlet for your own new play?  Would you like a first run of your Fringe show?  We’ll provide the venue, the audience and the adjudication, you provide the talent!

Winning play goes to the provincials in Grande Prairie
 May 2 & 3, 2014.

 Entrants must be based in the City of Edmonton. Any scripted play, previously published or new, between 10 to 60 minutes in length, is eligible for production.

Entry fee $50

For more information or to request a registration package, contact Mary-Ellen Perley at 780-481-3716 or email at mperley@shaw.ca

 Entries being accepted now.  Only 9 spaces available!

Submission deadline is December 15, 2013

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Want to Win a Piano? I do, but I can't enter...

 
So there is this fabulous contest in conjunction with 2 Pianos 4 Hands at the Citadel.  You can win a piano.  Check it out.  Enter. I can't because I work here, but if you win and you are my friend it will make me happy.

A Little Delay in Posting due to my Crazy Busy Life... But it's ALL GOOD...

So the past week and a half has been C-R-A-Z-Y busy and C-R-A-Z-Y good so I have not had a chance to write.  I am going to tell you about some things (like Long Days Journey Into Night and some work stuff) now and some other stuff (like Playworks Ink and my trip to Banff) later!

So last week we opened Long Day's Journey Into Night at the Citadel.  Opening nights are a big part of my job.  Although my work was not perfect, the 2 errors I made I was able to fix up quickly and the 3 arising issues were similarly solved with relative ease.  Whew!  I really like the people that I work with at the Citadel.  The box office was fabulous in helping me deal with my ticketing errors, the rest of the marketing people that were there were awesome making sure it ran smoothly and the whole energy was just so good. I am feeling good that I only made two mistakes and that I could handle the other issues on the fly without too much stress.

I knew that I would be too brain buzzed from work to focus on the play on Opening, so I took my mother to the show on the Wednesday night Preview.  I had been impressed at the Invited Dress rehearsal the week before, but was even more so the second time around.  My mom was similarly impressed, saying to me at intermission "Wow!  She's something else!" referring to Brenda Bazinet who plays the unstable mother, Mary Tyrone.  It's definitely not just Brenda, but the whole cast, that works so well creating a tight, yet broken family.  I can't say enough about Tom Wood (James Tyrone Sr.), John Ullyatt (Jamie Tyrone) and David Patrick Flemming (Edmund Tyrone) who make up the rest of the addicted family who clearly love each other but who rail against the years of picking at each other's flaws and faults amidst the destructive addictions they all suffer and deny. Lisa Norton, as the servant Cathleen, contrasts the family with her crackling energy; her relaxed tone showing even more how much tension lives in the house.  The set is gorgeous and has so much depth, and the fog creeps in as the day wears on scored by increasingly fractured music.  It was wonderful to see this, one of my favorite plays of all time, created so well in all ways.

I could go on... But instead I encourage you to see it yourself so we can talk about it.  It's a polarizing piece, which to me says that it's so relevant.  It's the kind of play you react strongly to - a true sign of what theatre is for.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Midsummer (a play with songs) - A Wild, Hilarious Ride!

I have been so busy this week I haven't had much time to reflect on Midsummer (a play with songs), that I saw at the Roxy this past Thursday.  Starring Clinton Carew of the amazing voice and the smart and beautiful Elena Porter as a mismatched couple who tumble through a crazy weekend in Edinburgh on a Midsummer solstice night, it is a belly-laughing show that whizzes by like a roller coaster.  I went in to it knowing nothing about it, really.  It popped up in my radar only a week or so before and I put it on my list because I love to watch Elena onstage (she's so sharp) and I love to hear Clinton speak (Best Voice on the Edmonton theatre scene - I have said this before - AND in this one he has a Scottish accent and sings!).  Anyhow, It was so much fun.  I'd rather you experience like I did, with nothing to prepare you.  It's one of those 'anything can happen' kind of stories and the two actors attack it with gusto and absolute commitment.  It has one of the funniest sex scenes I have ever seen (second only to the one in last year's Let the Light of Day Through) and I have been recalling the music on and off ever since I heard it (I was making up new verses to the hangover song this morning in the shower).  Check it out - it's totally worth it!

I also saw the invited dress rehearsal for Long Day's Journey Into Night.  So, so good. I can't wait to see it again this Wednesday night.  I am blown away by how strong it was in Dress Rehearsal, but with that cast and that script I probably shouldn't be surprised.  It hit me like Death of a Salesman did a few years ago. You could tell that the cast and artistic team was really serving the masterpiece that it is.   A night off tomorrow for me and then I shall see it again!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kill Me Now... Talking about things you never think about...

On Friday night I finally made it to Workshop West's Kill Me Now, the new Brad Fraser play (he wrote and directed it). I was supposed to go to Opening Night with a  friend but I was suffering an incessant cough and really didn't want to be that person in the audience, so I was extremely fortunate when my friend Catherine asked me to go on Friday. 

The play, like most of the Brad Fraser plays I am familiar with, is one that addresses a hard-to-deal-with topic, or two.  This play deals with the challenge of caring for a child who has severe health issues that require a great deal of care, and the challenges that occur with that child maturing into an adult with physical (sexual) needs as well as the concept of what happens when it becomes difficult to provide the level of care needed.  I can't talk too much about details of the plot, because I want to avoid spoilers.  What was very interesting and engaging for me was that being that I haven't had to think about the issues raised I think the play did a great job of making you think about them without pandering or lecturing.  These were simply people and their faults and foibles were human and these were just the circumstances of their lives.

I was very impressed with Mathew Hulshof as Joey, the disabled teen.  I thought he was marvelous in portraying so many honest teenage emotions combined with the physical restrictions of his character.  Both he and the writing of the character really allowed you to see that underneath the physical limitations of the person was a real, intelligent, caring and compassionate person with a sense of humour and needs beyond those of just food and shelter and someone to help change his clothes.  It's interesting, because I wondered as to the real purpose of Robyn, his father's hidden girlfriend, and then I realized she was the audience-proxy.  Her interactions with Joey made us all re-evaluate how we have interacted with people of disability and hopefully how we will in the future. I also loved the character of Rowdy, played by Patrick Lundeen.  Rowdy, as Joey's best friend with just a touch of FAS shows us a different kind of disabled kid who we have no doubt misjudged.  He's a wonderful complement, very entertaining, but also very humanizing.  I have known kids like Rowdy and it was kind of cool to see one on stage.  These kind of characters don't get as much stage time as others.  The ensemble as a whole works well together, painting a world where people are stretched too thin to provide care for others, and providing insight into why they might be pushed to the breaking point or other risking behaviour. There are a few moments of awkwardness and lack of connection, but I am still thinking about this reaction.  In this kind of world you would expect the awkward. The set is brilliant.  Horizontal bars emerge and disappear, the chairs are missing parts, and the whole world feels like a once perfect world that has decayed.  It works.

This is a play that pushes you to think about things you might not think about otherwise, and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I Can Tell I am in the Right Job...

Because I like doing it, and even have brought work home not because I had to, but because I really wanted to finish something up.  Today was great.  I was a little worried because part of my job involves the Opening Night invitations of VIPs.  It is complicated and there is not enough information written down about how to do it, but I figured out a system that will work for me and that I can refine on-the-go and for-the-future.  What was so cool was how many people responded with excitement over seeing the show - not any show - but this show.  So many people said that it was one of their favorite plays and that they couldn't wait to see the cast we had doing it.  I knew I was in the "Long Day's Journey" Club, but I didn't realize how big it was!  Even for the declines, there were many mentions of seeing the play later in the run.  Of course, they could have just been polite, but it all felt very sincere to me.  In any case, it made me happy.

I am dying to see some theatre though.  Fringe feels too far away.  Luckily I am going to the new Workshop West/Brad Fraser play, Kill Me Now, this weekend.  I was supposed to go last weekend but I couldn't stop coughing and didn't want to be that person in the audience that everyone wishes was somewhere else.  So I decided to be somewhere else that night.  So I will see it this weekend and I am really looking forward to it.  I have some other things on the calendar (Warhorse, Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Daisy Theatre) and on my wish list (Midsummer[a play with songs]) so I am anxious for the rest of the month to get a move on!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Very Late to the Dr. Who/Torchwood Party... But having a good time...

I am not exactly sure why I never got into Doctor Who when younger.  Maybe it was because when the series reboot happened I was up to my elbows in diapers and play-school and lego and it wasn't on the radar of the other people I was hanging around with.  Plus I moved in 2005 and got myself so involved in theatre in Edmonton that it just didn't happen for me.  The old series wasn't really accessible when I was waaaaay younger... so anyways... I have a lot of friends who I can tell are really into Doctor Who.  Some of them recommended Sherlock to me a few months back and I loved that series and I thought I would see what the big deal was.  Maybe I'd like it, maybe not, but it didn't hurt to check it out.  So I bought Series One with the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and dug in, and I discovered that I liked it.  Of course nowadays I watch TV with my iPad in hand, looking up things on the net and when Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) came of the scene I looked him up and discovered Torchwood, which I had never, ever heard of before. So, when I went to Best Buy to try and find Series Two of Doctor Who (which I didn't find) I also saw Torchwood, the Complete Series and I bought that, and I bought that instead.  I have been watching it, periodically with my 12 year old, and I really, really, really like it.  I think I like it better than I liked the Doctor Who series (but I do still want to watch the rest of it, after all we are just getting to the tenth Doctor - David Tennant).  What has been particularly interesting is the discussions with my 12 year old about the various relationships presented in the show.  It's nice to have the context for some of the conversations about human sexuality. Anyhow, it has been nice to finally know a little about what all my Doctor Who Fan Friends are talking about, even though I know I have a lot of catching up to do. Also, I know what the TARDIS is now... that's a relief.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Work Takes Over My Life... In a Good Way...

A month ago I started my new job at the Citadel Theatre as the Marketing Administrator.  This shift in my life had some major implication primarily in regards to child care and balancing all the things I do.  I have tried to cut back a bit.  This meant fewer than usual Fringe shows, but still a respectable amount (16!). It also meant more camps for the kids and some crazy driving to pick them up on time and a discovery of being very tired and not being able to stay up to watch the Colbert Report. 

The best news, however, is that I really like my job.  It has a lot of different tasks for me, which I love, because I hate being bored. Right now the learning curve is steep but not insurmountable so I feel engaged and good about my ability to pick things up.  Today I got my first Playbill Proof and it feels good to see it all come together.  I will never look at another Citadel Theatre Playbill in the same way after this.  I never realized the number of people involved, nor the coordination required to make sure it's perfect and complete. I really like the people I am working with.  Everyone has been great with answering questions and helping me figure things out. An added bonus is that I have run into quite a few other friends from long ago that occasionally work in the building. This month is going to get crazier for me.  It has meant that I have had to get really, really organized for the other upcoming things in my life (Proof at Walterdale), and while I am normally really organized for the shows I direct I will have to be a little less flexible on schedules because I simply do not have the room in my life schedule to have more options for rehearsals. I am currently booking auditions and we are up to 48 people for 4 roles.  It's going to be tough to cast this, but in a good way.


Anyhow, it's a great adventure.  I am so looking forward to the first play up on deck, Long Day's Journey Into Night, a script I have loved since I first read it 22 years ago.  Now that I have done more research on it I am amazed that O'Neill managed to write such a perfect script without the benefit of ever seeing it staged (it was published posthumously and he never intended for it to be produced). It is a true testament to his genius. The cast is also terrifically perfect so I couldn't be happier!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

From Fringe With Love Draws to a Close... A very good year...

So today was the final day of the Fringe.  I saw 16 shows which is a little low for me, but luckily I seem to have chosen well and I feel sated with my theatre choices. I also saved the best (meaning, My Favorite) for the last day.  There is satisfaction in that... and I am not sure why...

Anyhow, I started the day today with Princess Confidential.  It was delightful.  A Detective/Fairy Tale which was funny for kids and for adults.  I found it very smart and it had the right amount of action and explanation.  The script, by Ellen Chorley, is well paced and clever and the two actors, Merran Carr-Wiggin and Neil Kuefler, shift humorously from character to character re-enacting re-interpreted fairy tales to solve the mystery.  The updates of the classic fairy tales are familiar enough for us to know the story, but freshened up with modern interpretations that fit the detective theme.  A lot of fun.

I had a wee break - and a horrible dining experience at O2's - and then headed to my second show for the day.

Although I tend to stick to plays at Fringe, I had heard a lot about the 11 O'clock Number, the improvised musical group that started up this year at the Varscona.  And since I am rarely up for a late evening finding the 4:15 p.m. show at Fringe was perfect.  It was a hoot.  Like all improv shows, some things/songs/scenes worked better than others, but the group is charismatic and it was fun watching them walk that tight rope of 'what now?'  Adrienne Salmon and Jason Hardwick were stand-outs to me, with Salmon delivering a beautiful solo ballad lamenting her parents never buying her a dog as a child. If I can stay up late enough, I may go back during the regular season to see what else they can do!

And then I saw A Picasso.  What a show.  That's the one - my favorite this year.  Julian Arnold, completely transformed into Pablo Picasso (he's almost unrecognizable) against the stunning and sharply intelligent Shannon Blanchet as Miss Fischer, the German art critic.  It's a brilliantly written play set in Paris during the occupation and John Hudson has done a wonderful job with it.  Everything was perfect.  It's in hold-overs at the Varscona If you didn't see it - you absolutely should.  I was drawn into it in less than 5 minutes and they held me tight until the end.  It didn't hurt that I know a bit about Picasso and Guernica, but I think the more important thing is understanding the artist's attitude towards art and it's impact on culture, as well as the seductive power of art.

Finally, I ended the evening with Promise and Promiscuity: A Jane Austen Musical.  It was a lot of fun. I'm a fan of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility so I enjoyed a lot of the references and there was a wonderful incorporation of pop culture music and other references.  It's a one woman show and was a fun way to end the festival.

Ah well, until next year...

One last Word of Mouth...

A couple more Word of Mouth shows from the line-ups! Sorry I have not been as diligent about it this year!

Matchstick
Little Fish
God is a Scottish Drag Queen
Grim and Fischer
Coraline
Never Let the Crew See You Cry
Scratch

Saturday - Terrific Fringing! Great Shows AND Green Onion Cake!

Second last day of a slow Fringe for me and I took in four solid shows.


I started with Port Authority (shout out for being Held Over!! Way to go, local group done good).  It was an excellent piece, well-paced with solid performances. I liked the subtlety of it and it's realness. It has both sadness and humour and makes you think about regret and missed opportunities.

Next we caught The Lonely Hearts.  It too was very well done, a solid script and well performed with an interesting vaudeville-like approach.  It left me a little unsettled, however, as the subject was a bit macabre and the fat jokes were hard to take after a while.  Many strong things to this show, but I think I will be thinking about this one for a while.  It's a matter of wanting the laughs to be unencumbered, I think, but sometimes I felt guilty for laughing.  Does that make sense?  It too is held over - at the Varscona - so catch it if you can and tell me what you think.

Then a well-deserved break to eat green onion cakes and cool down.  We grabbed our festival food favorite and headed to the air conditioned interior of the main box office.  Those first two shows were both in non-air-conditioned buildings and we needed to lower our core temperatures!  It was a yummy break and then we headed off for more shows.

Third on the list was Little Fish.  It was really well done.  Strong singers and actors and a very tight ensemble. I am unfamiliar with the composer and I will admit I cannot recall any of the songs, but while they were happening I was engaged.  I really liked the choreography and how well everyone stayed in the world at all times.  There was no checking out and waiting - it was 100% present from all cast members all the time.  It was nice to see this company (The Plain Janes) do this less traditional musical and equally nice to see something I did not know. I was also impressed with the acoustics.  No mics, but it was never an issue - all the voices were strong and the Varscona has brilliant acoustics. The play itself led to discussions about what it was trying to say and I always love a show that lives beyond it's final notes.  It's the talking about it afterwards that indicated whether it was truly interesting.

Finally we ended our evening with Countries Shaped Liked Stars.  It was beautiful and silly and tuneful and so funny, yet sad (only at the end).  Lovely use of low-tech magic and a commitment to the world that was beautiful.  Both actors were charismatic and engaged the audience beautifully.  And, oh, the music bordered on magical.  There's a whimsy to this piece that is truly lovely and it's great for all ages - it's based on a children's book.

A lovely end to a great day of Fringe-tastic theatre!