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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!