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Monday, January 26, 2015

A Wild Bus Ride, An Evening of Sondheim, and A Very Sexy Audition... Just another #yegtheatre weekend!

If you look at the weekend I just have, you can get a pretty good idea of the variety of theatre opportunities that Edmonton gets to experience all the time.  It's why I like living here. 

Friday night, Gibson and I took in Promise Productions' Birdie on the Wrong Bus, about the perfectionist Birdie who, after a first with her sister, hops on the wrong bus and takes a wild ride around the city.  Over the course of the ride she meets a variety of people who tell her about the city and she sees parts of the city she never knew existed.  Gibson and I had a terrific conversation on the way home about all the places Birdie went and we made plans to go check out the ones that we hadn't seen before. Gibson's favorite character was Birdie's Philllip-Phillips-obsessed older sister played by Lana Michelle Hughes and his favorite part was the sing-a-long section. He was concerned that at some points no one was driving the bus, but relaxed when I said we just had to use our imagination. It was overall a great night out for the two of us and while it would have been a little young for Oliver, it was perfect for Gibson. 

Saturday night, we took in a phenomenal night of Sondheim as performed by Kate Ryan, Susan Gilmour and Liz Han in It Takes Two.  I had bought these tickets way back in September and was glad to finally see the show!  It was simply wonderful.  Sondheim is one of my favorites and he's tricky, but these ladies were up to the challenge.  A friend of mine called it a masterclass in interpreting a song. Not only did they have fine voice, but it was funny and sad and they crafted an evening that made you feel that you got your money's worth, but still left you wanting more! It was in The Club at the Citadel and it felt perfectly placed there.  I hope that they might be able to remount this cabaret as it was a real treat and I think that any musical theatre lover would be in heaven! 

And then last night, it was off to see Venus in Fur at the Citadel. I had been to the dress rehearsal, but I was looking forward to seeing it again and to bringing Mark along. AM also joined us for the night.  I remain totally in love with the script and this production.  What I love is how the humour allows you to see the audition situation and the shifts in power back and forth from director to actor without pushing you into a place of outrage. You can think about those things - afterward - but the play doesn't let the power politics get in the way of seeing the show. Alana Hawley as Vanda is brilliant and Jamie Cavanagh the perfect foil for her.  I love how it twists and turns on a dime and the changes to the ending from dress to performance were spot-on.  It's funny how something didn't seem wrong before, but the new choices seem so much more right!  You can still catch Venus in Fur until February 8th and I highly recommend! 

Anyhow, what a weekend.  Ahead for me is another theatre filled week with the opening of Playing With Fire: The Theo Fleury Story, teaching an Audition Workshop, and catching some of the Canoe Festival! What a great city we live in! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ups and Downs... Last week in Edmonton Theatre

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Opening Night! SHOUT! onstage at C103

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

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

Shout! takes us back to the 60s

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

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

Tix available at www.tixonthesquare.ca or at the door (Cash only at the door).