visitorium

By the Sword

In Theatre, Uncategorized on December 1, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Action blockbusters at the movies are a pretty big growth industry these days, and I’ll admit to having partaken of my fill over the years. But why should the Marvel Cinematic universe have ALL the fun?

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“All for one and one for all!” – Captain America, probably.

Down at ye olde Ottawa Little Theatre, the gang has thrown their century+ weight behind an All-for-One-and-One-for-All production of Ken Ludwig’s THE THREE MUSKETEERS, based natcherly on the Alexandre Dumas swashbuckler classic. The story follows young up-and-coming swordsman D’Artagnan (Robbie Clement) as he heads to Paris to join the vaunted Musketeer ranks and protect the King and Queen (Jacob Benson and Lindsay Laviolette). Trouble unfolds quickly as our young hero accidentally falls afoul of the titular heroes Aramis, Athos and Porthos (Eze Leno, Ian Gillies and Job Dickey) as well as earning the wrathful eye of the nefarious and power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Glenn).

Of course, D’Artagnan and the heroic trio manage to reconcile, and team up to try and protect the realm against Richelieu and his cadre of killers, including Kyla Gray as the cruel Rochefort and Rebecca Laviolette as the deadly Milady. Toss into the mix an innocent lady in waiting (Katherine Norland) and D’Artagnan’s feisty little sister Sabine (Emily Walsh) plus a mighty ensemble cast, and the recipe for epic adventure is ready to go!

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“Avengers Assemble!” – Pic by Maria Vartanova

To say the OLT pulled out all the stops for this show is an understatement. Colossal setpieces, rousing score, gorgeous freaking costumes, projection, fog, swordfight after stellar swordfight, they throw everything in their considerable theatrical arsenal at Dumas’ tale and the end results are a heaping helping of fun and adventure. Clement strikes a solid balance of youthful enthusiasm and derring-do for the anchoring role of D’Artagnan (his scenes with sister Sabine and love interest Constance are quite especially delightful), and the musketeers are as wonderful a bunch of heroes as you could ask for. I was personally thrilled to see fellow OTS alum Kyla Gray returning to the stage, and am happy to say she makes a dandy cutthroat as the smashingly-clad Rochefort. Fellow villainess Rebecca Laviollette steals a good chunk of the show with some frighteningly impressive ass-kicking throughout. And amidst the fights and set pieces (all well done, and only occasionally wearying from sheer volume), solid performances and engaging storytelling abound.

This is a big show, using every inch of the OLT stage and even beyond to make it even larger. Sides, aisles, even spaces outside the theatre all become part of the spectacle in a brash and campy adventure played in deliberately broad strokes by director Stavros Sakiadis. Serious moments are peppered with a much-needed humour that allows the play to laugh at itself instead of sinking into melodrama…not that it shies away from the melodrama when it’s called for. Action, love, honour, betrayal, revenge, treason…it’s got all that good stuff and plenty more. Buckle a swash or two this holiday season, feel like a kid again, or just go ahead and bring the kids. If you want fun…here it is. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

Burn Baby Burn

In Theatre on November 18, 2016 at 5:17 pm

So as readers of this blog well know, there really isn’t much of a blog here to read anymore. In fact, why are you reading this..? Okay okay, I’ve been slacking off, devoting my so-called time to pursuing the actings and what not. I wasn’t sure what to do, exactly, with this old webspace of mine, but I’d figured my days of theatrical blogging were kind of behind me.

Then the Citizen gutted its Arts section, and let old Patty Langston out to dry (and hey, Citizen…if this was retribution on my behalf for that ‘not always successfully’ line, you shouldn’t have done it, I was totally gonna get him back on my own!). And then Drumpf got elected as Grand Wizard of the Confederacy, and we’re all basically fucked, forever. And I suddenly felt like I wasn’t doing anywhere near enough. Just in general. Not enough.

Then good guy and Acting Company co-czar John Muggleton gave me a shout out of the blue, offering me a review ticket for his nearly sold out show BURN, enjoying a two-weekend run at the Avalon Studio. I wanted to see the show, I thought that writing a little bit of theatrical pressage might be much needed good vibes, so I jumped at the chance. And here I am, belting out one of those ‘Visitorium’ reviews that used to make me so much more beloved than I ever, ever will be as a performer! Ah, memories. At least the pressure’s off, since this run is already sold out and basically over and…

…what, they’ve added new dates? Shit. Time to remember how to write!

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So, BURN. Written and directed by Johnny Muggs himself, and featuring a sweet cast of four performers ranging between well-seasoned to brand spanking new the story centers around Robert (Chris Torti), a former novelist still mourning the mysterious disappearance of his wife, a far more celebrated authour, years earlier. As we begin, Robert’s lifelong friend Paul has just passed away, and his long-estranged daughter Eve (Megan Carty) has asked to meet with Robert and his friends Samira and David (Tahera Mufti and Michael Thompson)to give them…something. They all gather at hiss apartment, musing over what Eve has to tell them, settling in for a pleasant evening with their pleasant new arrival. Until things start to get weird…and disturbing…and downright nasty.

Here are the 2 things that stood out and stuck with me about BURN. One, this is a smart script, that lets the mystery reveals itself cleverly and engagingly. The characters feel real, the tension is dense and palpable, and the unease is well-earned.

The second thing is the cast, and the terrific performances that director Muggleton brings out of his ensemble. I was almost dumbstruck by how naturalistic the whole affair felt, and the sense that I was peering in on a group of old friends whose lives were slowly being turned upside down for reasons they didn’t understand was wonderful, and more than a little unsettling. Chris Torti continues to impress, having clearly blown well past me since we did a few workshops together years ago. Megan Carty is always terrific, and shines as the impossible to pin down Eve. Stage newcomers Thomson and Mufti are rock solid too, supporting Robert’s world while slowly being drawn into Eve’s web.

This is a terrific homegrown slice of mystery and psychological mayhem, and it’s wonderful to see an original local show performing so well. It may also be testament to how much the Acting Company had ingrained itself in the communities, both Ottawa Theatre and the Glebe, and not a moment too soon. As mentioned above, they have just announced new show dates to this sold out run, coming near the end of December (the 28th to 30th, check the Burn website for details). Just make sure the lights are working at home before you check it out…this one may very well leave you with an awesome case of the creeps. Although, considering who just won the election, maybe horror is suddenly rather relative. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

Coming Up in November 2016

In Theatre on November 1, 2016 at 11:07 am
  • Updated Nov 8th – Added The Three Musketeers, Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas, Equivocation, the Addams Family. Updated info for Undercurrents launch party.  Nov 10th – Added Fringe 20 Hot Ticket Trivia Night and MacBeth*

Hey, it’s November!  That’s  NO-vember…as in, NO more local arts coverage in the Ottawa Citizen! Or so goeth the rumour mill this morning. Whoops-a-doodle!  Guess it’s time for me to start this up again…I’ve been meaning to rave more about local theatre anyhow.  Let’s see what’s coming up this month on your local stages. Welcome to YES-vember, folks.

DA KINK IN MY HAIR at the National Arts Centre until the 5th. Still time to get Kinky!

ATTEMPTS ON HER LIFE from the Ottawa U Drama Guild, playing at Academic Hall the 1st to 5th.  Written by Martin Crimp, Directed by the dynamite Peter James Howarth!

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JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL…AND LIVING IN PARIS from Bear & Co., playing at the Gladstone Theatre from the 2nd to 12th. Jacques Brel fans will be glad to hear he’s fine, I’m sure.

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LAST WIFE from Belfry Theatre and the Great Canadian Theatre Company, playing at the Irving Greenberg Theatre from the 1st to 20th.  I don’t know this show, but Mahalia is in it, and she’s supercool, so go see it.

IMAGINARY LINES from Linden House Theatre, playing at the Elmwood Theatre (261 Buena Vista, Rockliffe Park).  More good stuff from Janet Uren and the gang!

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BURN at the Avalon Studios from the 4th to 13th. A new play from John Muggleton with a seriously cool cast. Selling out fast!

EQUIVOCATION from Kanata Theate, at the Ron Maslin Playhouse from the 8th to 19th. Shakespeare vs.Guy Fawkes! Or something like that…it sounds right cool.

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UNDERCURRENTS launch party on the 15th at Arts Court studio, between 5 and 7. Be the  first to hear the 2017 lineup, yay! Also, don’t miss out on the FRINGE 20 HOT TICKET TRIVIA Night on the 21st at Arts Court, 730 start. Fun and prizes (and I may have contributed a trivia question or three)

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WILL SOMERS: KEEPING YOUR HEAD from Pierre Brault,at the GCTC Studio from the 9th to 19th.The onus is now on Will Somers to remount his play Pierre Brault if he wants to remain competitive.

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GRL PWR a Theatre-y doule bill at Live!on Elgin on the 24th and 25th. Toasted Theatre Company pairs their Fringe hit CHOCOLATE CAKE with the musical stylings of local fav’rits Rhythm and Burgundy for a couple of nights you don’t wanna miss!

THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE from Indie Women Productions, playing at the Gladstone Theatre from the 15th to 19th. For fans of spelling, I’ve cleverly inserted a typo into the next sentence. Can OUY find it?

THE ADDAMS FAMILY from Orpheus Musical Theatre, playing at Centrepointe from the 18th to 27th.  Ooky-spooky theatre for the whole family!

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HAVE YOURSELF A SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS from Eddie May Mysteries, at the Velvet Room starting the 19th. Interactive original murder mystery dinner theatre every weekend at the Velvet Room downtown (and starting in the Kanata location in December)!

EMPIRE OF THE SON at the NAC Studio from the 22nd to Dec 3rd. Tetsuro Shigematsu’s much lauded one-manner comes to the Capitol…can’t wait!

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MACBETH from Sock’n’Buskin, at the Kailash Mital Theatre (Carleton U campus) from the 24th to Dec 3rd. The story of a brutal madman who steals the highest office in thee land….thank goodness that couldn’t REALLY happen.

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WELFAREWELL from Phoenix Players, playing at the Gladstone Theatre from the 25th to Dec 3rd.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS at the Ottawa Little Theatre, from the 30th to Dec 17. One for all and all that jazz!  Swashbuckling!

I kind of threw this together at the last minute…more to come!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid