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Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

For the Boys

In Theatre on July 30, 2010 at 4:31 am

Today started off oddly productive…laundry.  I think there were still a few Fringe-tainted garments in that pile, so it was definitely in need of doing.  I need SOMEthing to wear to Toronto next week, after all.

After that drudgery, I eventually headed out to the Elmdale Tavern for some Aqua Vitae and some writing, even more direly in need of doing.  I’ve let my non-blog writing get the short shrift of late, and that can’t happen.  As I’ve mentioned before to the two of you paying attention to this thing, I’m trying to write an almost-musical play of my own, and I’m letting that shit slide.  No more!  Got some good work done today on the first draft, and that made me smile.  I took a nice walk after that exercize, over to the Gladstone Theatre, where I had a ticket awaiting for tonite’s show, THE ANDREWS BROTHERS.  Crucial to me since, of course, it was a musical, and I need all the research I can get.

Kicked around for a bit after arriving early (and by the by, beer prices at the Gladstone?  VERY reasonable) afore taking my seat.  The show centers around a WWII era USO show, and a trio of stage-eager brothers (by the name of Andrews)  hoping to trick a recently crowned pin-up princess into believing they’re her new backup singers.  As things would happen, Pinup girl Peggy (played by the downright remarkable Emmanuelle Zeesman) is the opening act herself, for the famed Andrews Sisters.  And once the truth comes out after she and shy brother Patrick start falling for one another…and the Andrews Sisters fall ill, well…

Really, it’s all a glorious excuse for a cavalcade of song and dance numbers from back in the day (I think all of them were period tunes…I recognized MOST of them, anyways) . The first half has our heroes and heroine getting to know one another, swapping showtunes, and generally getting the audience right into the palms of their hands.  The second half is the best drag show you’ve ever seen.

All four leads are dynamite in this, happily dressing the bare-bones plot with song after song after song.  Leading lady Zeesman, in one of her many fetching costume changes, even treats us to a god-damned tap dance number, that makes some of us youngin’s realize why tap used to be such a big deal…it’s fucking AMAZING, is why.

I’m a little sleepy tonite (I don’t seem to have my Fringe-pace energy these days…hopefully I’m saving it all for Summerworks next week), so this won’t last as long as I’d like.  But The Andrews Brothers is going on until August 14, and it’s a bloody good time, and I would like you all to go.  So, there’s that.  Also, I’d like to say for the record that, having seen this show, Emmanuelle Zeesman is now on the short list for the dream cast of MY musical I’m writing.  She’s starring in another Gladstone production, I, later this year, and you better believe I’ll be there for it (and show pianist Nick Carpenter ALSO has a show debuting at Summerworks…guess I should check THAT out, too).   But her, Kodi Cannon, Dave daCosta and Adrian Zeyl all deserve a standing O for their work in this crowd pleaser.

Oh, and the Rosie the Riveter song?  Dynamite.  We CAN do it.  Keep ’em flying,

The Visitor

To the 4th Stage with thee, noble kinsmen

In Theatre on July 28, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I continue catsitting while the Jammy’s away, experimenting with sunburns.  We’re keeping busy…Aleister the Cat has discovered a few cupboard doors he can open,and that seems to please him.   And me, I had a spot of excitement the other day…I clicked on the Face-Book, and who had sent me…ME…a friend request, but Gemma Freaking Wilcox!  Epic, right?  That’s like Wonder Woman calling up, like, Skate-Man and inviting him on a team-up.

The comic book equivalent of this blog.

I was all agog and in a starstruck tizzy, for serious.  SO tizzied that, uh, I accidentally hit ‘ignore’ instead of ‘confirm’, which it turns out is kind of an error.  I sent her a request of my own right after that, but she’s likely on to what a retard I am by now and is counting her lucky stars at the bullet dodged.  Or deflected, as is more appropriate for the Wonder Woman analogy.

This is how awesome I remember SHADOWS IN BLOOM being.

But aside from alienating myself on the intertubes, I had some of that theatre stuff to get around to, too.  Last night, after all, saw the debut of Salamander Shakespeare Co.’s run of ROMEO AND JULIET at the NAC’s 4th Stage.  And since I’d missed that show when the had their outdoor run at the Ottawa fringe this year, I wasn’t about to miss this opportunity to retroactively up my show count.

Got downtown a little early and shopped for a bit, which was a spot of luck because I finally found a copy of vol.6 of SCOTT PILGRIM!  With only an hour and a half to spare, I ran to the Dominion for a pint and some pre-show reading.   I made it through most of the final volume, thrilling to the adventures of Scott, Ramona, and all the others that are soon to be a major motion picture…Romeo and Juliet would have their work cut out for them on this night, I could tell you that much. 

I cut and run to the 4th Stage, a lovely lounge-style room that totally discriminates agins the solo theatre-goer…like I’m gonna sit at one of the tables?  No, you know I’ll be shamed into lining up against the back wall with the rest of the rabble.  Still, appropriate for Shakespeare, I suppose.  The Salamander gang were mingling with the audience as we settled in, singing sweet songs and offering oranges and ballads for a dollar apiece.  A cool touch, and I recognized most from THE DEATH OF TYBALT at the Fringe festival, which was a very good time indeed.  I had high hopes.

Cue the lights (and might I say, the tabletop candles have a lovely effect on this darkened theatre. Kudos), and Shakespeare’s most emo tragedy gets underway, clocking in at just over two hours plus intermission.  The company know this show well ideed, and I wsh I could assign an actor’s name to each part, but…well, without a program, there’s only so much my damaged brain cells can keep up with.  I know Rosalind Crump was Juliet, who I thought really kicked some ass in the second half, when Juliet’s rosy world started to turn to shit.  I totaly forget the name of the actor who played Romeo, but he nailed it as well (though I kept recalling his more comic take on Romeo from TYBALT and giggling…that’s a compliment!).  And then there’s Garret Quirk, doing double duty as Tybalt (once again), and the unluckiest Friar in all of Verona.  He really tears it up as the ferocious Tybalt, and impressed me just as much here as at the Fringe. 

Other highlights were Juliet’s nurse and the dandy Parris doing some marvelous scene-stealing, and the whole interactive way the company used the room, feeling no need to limit their acting to the stage.  All of this for only 15 bucks makes it just about a steal.  And, just between you and me (spoiler alert), OMG THE ENDING IZ TOTALLY SAD U GUYZ!!!  FOR REALZ!!

Despite their comical smiles, this does not end well.

The show runs until friday at the 4th stage, and it’s a great time from some talented effing actors.  They’re taking R&J on the road from there, check their website for more info, and go out and get yourself speared…SHAKE-speared, that is.

…Wow, that’s the worst thing I’ve ever written. Sorry everyone.  Romeo and Juliet.  See it.  Later,

The Visitor

..but I’ve never even BEEN to Calgary!

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on July 26, 2010 at 2:43 am

I came home from work today, the first day of my catsitting period while my Jammy is off at her lake.  She has a lake, or something like that.  She’s there, anyhow, and her cat is not,hence I have the cat at my home.  Today was the first day of this transplantation du kitty, so I was eager to hurry home and see how he had adjusted. 

..and seriously, just how DOES a cat lock himself in one’s bedroom while you’re out?   How did he DO that?

Smarter than he looks..?

Anyways.   I feel like writing, as it’s been a couple days now since an update in what may literally be the least popular chud on the intertubes (hey, I’m no ROY ORBISON WRAPPED IN CLINGFILM, nor do I pretend to be) .  I have a few shows I wanna see later this week, but that’s miles away.  And yes, I still have my SUMMERWORKS Toronto trip to finalize, but there’s still something missing.  And then, only a little tipsy after having a few while watching Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut WHIP IT this evening, I realized…I still have the Calgary Fringe to pimp! 

Which isn’t cool…I did it with Winnipeg, and then Windsor, after all.  And I don’t know if anyone saw any shows based on my own disreputable advice, but on the off-chance that one of the many spambots who frequent my page DO attend Fringe festivals, I feel I should keep this going, at least as far as Calgary (BC, you’re on your own, this is starting to get old).  But we’re getting pretty far from my quiet little government town home of Ottawa…just how many of the shows coming to the Calgary Fringe this year HAVE I seen,even?

It turns out, Five.  One of thm even made into my own self-proclaimed Top 5 shows list of this years Fringe in Ottawa, so that must count for SOMEthing, if only in my own mind.  That show, by the by, was THE PETER N’ CHRIS SHOW, and I don’t really have any new praise to give  it that I haven’t already.  Besides it being pants-shittingy funny, AND deftly-staged theatre to boot.  Take that, Sophocles (I don’t even know what that means).

Next! More comedy in the form of DALE BEANER AND THE TURTLE BOY, another two-manner from gents Devon and Connor, and told in a sketch-comedy form recalling the best of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.  This is a well-written,well performed bit of wackiness-with-a heart, and there’s a reason it won best of venue here in O-town.  Checkitout.

Next up is SEEKING…, an ensemble romantic comedy featuring three disturbingly talented cats, whom I would name if I hadn’t just cleared my desk of my reference material to keep the nelwy arrived cat from knocking it around.  Oh, responsibility! *shakes fist*  Suffice it to say, each of the three actors plays a couple of characters in this intertwining story of love, lust, and would-be romance gone right, wrong, and wherever.  It’s beautiful stuff, very funny, and just real enough to kick you where it hurts. 

And then there’s PHONE WHORE.  Starring and created by Cameryn Moore (and if you’re attending the Calgary Fringe, you WILL hear her shouting the words ‘Phone Whore!’ at you at least a few times, bless her), it tells a night in the life of a phone sex operator.  And THIS one gets real enough to kick you in all sorts of nasty places, places you didn’t know you had.  As I’ve mentioned before on this chud, this is a show that sticks with you, and gets into your head…Cam is a pretty smart storyteller, and manages to take her audience with her to places they probably wouldn’t have otherwise gone, easing them on their way, like they were one of her clients.  And aren’t we, really?  Do yourself a favour and see the show.

Last is, appropriately enough, THE LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE, a Jayson MacDonald bit, so if you know Fringe at all you know it’s got cred.  This version is put on by Ben Meuser and a local Ottawa actress whose name escapes me, but it should be a must-see on every Cal-fringers list.  Jayson Mac has never balanced comedy and drama more daringly than here (I’m kind-of making that up, having only seen two of his shows previously…), and when I saw this particular duo peform, I was hurting myself laughing before they’d even officially started the damn show.  Later on, after what must certainly be the scene-specific comedy highlight of the Ottawa Fringe, they knuckle-punched me to the heart like experts.  They’ll make you cry every which way!

Much as Black Belt Jones will make you sweat 'first one way, and then, the other'

It was an awesome show, and you’d be fools to miss it.  Great script, great actors.  You want more?  Okay, well, there’ s Gemma Wilcox in THE HONEYMOON PERIOD IS OFFICIALLY OVER.  Which I have NOT seen, but I’ve seen Gemma Wilcox, and she’s like magic on legs, so see her, for heaven’s sake.  And then see more shows.  And then, I dunno, drill for oil or rope steers, whatever you Calgarians do when you’re not Fringing.   But support indie theatre first, awright?  I gotta go now.  Love y’all,

The Visitor

Foolish Dreams

In Company of Fools, Theatre on July 23, 2010 at 1:44 am

I almost didn’t go out tonight.  SO close to just giving in to a case of grumpiness, sitting at home, watching my brand-new box set of SUPER ROBOT RED BARON…

…but somehow, I managed to rouse myself from this obviously wicked cool temptation and bike my lazy ass out to…where was it?  Right, Clare Gardens Park, somewhere in the wilderness of westboro.  Yes, it was finally time to get my fool on!  Specifically, A Company of Fools summertime production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by Bill something-or-other, which has been doing the rounds of area parks for a few weeks now.  I’ve been neglecting them, and I’m sorry.

Though it certainly seemed like they hadn’t been missing me, as the park was right packed by the time 7 o’clock rolled around tonite.  I was apparently the only genuine fool in the audience, ie: I was the only one not packing a chair, and had to settle for leaning back on some freshly returfed hillock, like a proper bophemian boy oughtta.  Don’t tell me I’M not keeping it real.  I also forgot to bring any bug spray, but it proved unnecessary.  Enough folks in my immediate vicinity were spraying the stuff on themseves in half-can shots at a time that insect life nearby stood little chance.  I’m not sure just what these people were expecting, really.

But enough of the unwashed masses, of which I was most definitely one, it was showtime!  The lights went down, the curtains rose…ok, none of that happened.  I had new rules to learn for an outdoor performance, but anyways, the show began.  A small sectional stage and a tent for quick changes (of which there were plenty) were the set, a cavalcade of colourful costumes from Sarah Waghorn, and six fools were all we had for ninety minutes.  Okay, sorry…ninety AWESOME minutes.  I was more familiar with the fellas in this production than the ladies (Oh, for shame,Visitor, for shame) and it was great seeing David Whiteley doing something besides clawing the eyes out of the local theatre scene in THE BEER TENT Fringe series.  And he was a delight.  Quick, funny as all get-out…well, that describes the whole company, really.  Everyone partook of multiple roles in Shakespeare’s most fairy-filled comedy, and probably as perfect a fodder for an outdoor summer performance as you could hope for.  Richard Gelinas was on fuckin’ fire throughout the show (which is maybe why they kept dousing him with cold water..?), deftly bantering with the audience on occasion, which given the amount of children in attendance was no mean feat.   

But as I say everyone…Gelinas, Whitely, Brad Long, Stephanie Iszak, Katie Ryerson and Cari Leslie, they ALL shone, no weak spots in the bunch.  Al Connors, also with Crush Improv, directed the merry heck out of this play, giving it just the right amounts of sexy and funny, adding a few modern touches along with the classic and the fantastical.  Maybe not enough of the fantastical for the two little monsters I got stuck next to for half the play, who kept moaning aloud about ‘when they donkey-man was gonna show up!’  But, hey, unwashed masses, right?  This is how it was DONE, son, in Bill Shakes’ day, and the Fools are keeping the tradition alive right here in O-town. 

Now as I said, I’m a little late to the Fools’ game this year, so there’s only 9 performances left.  But on the other hand, THERE ARE STILL 9 PERFORMANCES LEFT.  Go see one!  Click that link up there, see where it’s playing (Hintonburg’s Reid Park tomorrow night!) and get out for some great entertainment.  It’s a pay-what-you-can deal, the company is suggesting ten dollars a person, but would it kill you to kick in a few bucks more?  I think not.   Get a tee-shirt while you’re at it, be the coolest kid on your block.  Fool it up a little.

Thanks for shooing away my mean reds, Fools.  Have a killer run, and I’ll see you next year,

The Visitor

Summer Crushin’, had me a blast

In Summer Fling, Theatre on July 21, 2010 at 4:01 am

So as I’ve stated before here, I am not really ‘improv guy’.  Never gotten the appeal, don’t dig that ‘whose line it is’ show, and just generally would rather avoid the whole shebang and see something with, say, a script.  And since this all clearly represents a flaw in my personality (one of many), I decided today to check out opening night of the summer fling show MY SUMMER CRUSH IMPROV  and get myself some re-education. 

Naturally, after buying my ticket I realized I would need to be drunk for this affair…it was improv, after all.  So a few pints at the Dominion Tavern later, I was all ready to go.  I wandered back to Arts Court and headed up to the studio, aka the space just outside the theatre proper, and discovered my first revelation of the night,which I’ll now share with you folks reading this (which, if my stats counter is correct, is almost certainly someone named ‘datarecovery.sex991’…thanks for reading!)…you don’t have to buy a ticket!!  Seriously, NO ONE checks, you can just walk right on in.  I felt like a dork, paying for a ticket and all, but I suppose it’s like a hazing for all us Improv ‘newbies’, am I right?  You jokers…that beer’s on me, guys!  Ha!  Everyone, remember, do NOT buy a ticket, just walk on in like you own the place, you’ll be fine (*note to Arts Courts folks…seriously, check at the door guys…).

Eventually the show began, as the stage was taken by the familiar (from the fringe tent) face of Brad McNeil, who hosted the night’s events.  After introducing the 6-folk cast of improvisationalizers, they got down to what I presume is some variation on the usual improv-schtick, different ‘games’ centered around responding to shoutouts from the audience, and literally just making shit up as they go along.  Good work if you can find it, right?

And they were indeed a very talented bunch, from what I could see…a variety of pretty funny indeed shenanigans involving piranhas, stepchildren, surprise birthday parties and classic cop duo Salt and Pepper ensued.  I can merrily say I got over my improv-fear and enjoyed myself, even though I can’t really do a proper ‘review’ of this show.  How really CAN you review a show whose whole point is to change every fucking time it appears?  Whose nature can be changed based on whatever pop song or foreign language is in the head of the loudest shouter in the audience that night?  In fact, inspired by the improv bug I’ve seen dancing about tonight onstage, I’ll just abandon this bit entirely, and mention how stoked Iam that, having acquired the rights to the old GoldKey comic book characters, Dark Horse Comics is launching new versions (helmed by the man, Jim Shooter) of NOT ONLY Doctor Solar, Magnus Robot Fighter AND Turok Son of Stone, but also……are you ready for this…?
Mighty.  Fucking.  Samson. 

Oh YEAH! Take THAT, traditional family values!

…Awesome.  Oh yeah, and MY SUMMER CRUSH IMPROV, too.  That’s awesome too.  Go and see those kids, on account of they rock, the whole lot of ’em (tho I think Averie is my fav’rit!).   Tuesday nights at Arts Court through August, or something like that.  Check your local listings and get out there! 

Talking to myself,

The Visitor

Watchin’ movies, writin’ stuff

In Just me doing stuff on July 19, 2010 at 1:18 am

Not really sure what to do with this beast in between shows , but I hate neglecting it.  I gets lonely.  There’s good old vicariousness…I’ve been stoked to see the good reviews from Winnipeg on some of my fav’rit shows, like Pitch Blond, 7 (x1) Samurai, and Countries Shaped Like Stars.  From my side, I can share that I’ve been getting some actual writing-writing done in the last little while, which is a long time overdue for me.  It’s been strange, trying to write  a play, which I’ve never attempted before.  I’m sure it’s adorably hilarious how wrong I’m doubtless going about it.  And the songwriting…forget about it.  That shit is HARD.  I’ll crack it, tho.

I’ve also been catching up on some movies…aside from a recent pair of Brit films at the Bytown and Mayfair, FISH TANK and HARRY BROWN (both awesome), I’ve been catching up on some of the older flix I own but hadn’t gotten around to seeing yet (yeah, I’ve got that kind of collection…it’s a bit of a problem with me).  In the last week I’ve watched the original FUN WITH DICK AND JANE, Doris Day in CAPRICE and PILLOW TALK, Cagney’s THE PUBLIC ENEMY, and Frank Sinatra, Jane Russell and Groucho Marx in DOUBLE DYNAMITE.  Pillow Talk was probably the best.  And can anyone recommend some great musicals to watch?  I think I need to study a bit.

Hopefully getting out to Shakespeare in the park this week, and I may even give improv another try at the Summer Fling Crush event.  Why the Hell not, eh?

Flingin’ with Rita

In Summer Fling, Theatre on July 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm

It was a nice day off yesterday, and I even had plans of stuff to fill my time with!  I’m starting to get like that, all plan-y and getting shit together.  My trip to Toronto for SUMMERWORKS is set to go this August…train tickets and room have been taken care of, and soon I’ll have a whole new crop of talented artists and performers to gush over while simultaneously shying away from.  It’s a tricky path I walk, friends.  And even my attempt at a play is now blueprinted to my satisfaction…oh, delusions of grandeur, where have you been all my life?

So, my day…a hot one, and I wandered a spell, bought some comix (Jim Shooter back on Doctor Solar?  Geek squee!), and hit the Bytowne Theatre for an afternoon show of FISH TANK, a grim and gritty 2009 UK coming of age story.  In which we see that coming of age in Britain is a gruelling, unending nighmare of poverty and despair. Good flick.

After that I had tix for the opening night of one EDUCATING RITA at Arts Court, kicking off the Downtown Rideau ‘Summer Fling’ operation which, if successful, might mean we’ll actually have some god-damned plays to see in summer once Fringe ends from now on.  Good thought, sez I, so here I am, all supporting-the-arts and shit.  Plus, Arts Court is just a great place to catch a show, so ’tis always a dee-lite.

The show is directed by Kate Hurman, who starred in the Summer-Fling prototype show SEXY LAUNDRY last year, in which she kicked much theatrical ass.  And even before the doors opened last nite, you could hear a constant stream of 80’s style power-pop tunes emanating from within the theatre, perhaps a nod to the decade of origin of Willy Russell’s play, or maybe just something to get us all into a play-ful mood?

Because if this won't do it, let's face it, nothing will.

So we finally entered to see an office-type set, a few desks, tons of books, a window and a cheeky painting of Eve and the snake.   I’m crap with allegory, but even I could see the subtle hint once the lights went down and things got underway.  John Koensgen (recently of HEROES and FACTS at the GCTC) appears first as Frank, a moptopped, world-weary professor in various stages of drunkenness.  He, much against his better wishes, has taken on a position at a public college in order to get by, and one of his first duties turns out to be tutoring. And his first tutoree is Sarah McVie’s Rita, a brash, sexy sparkler of a character like I assume actors generally only dream of getting to play.  McVie nails it beautifully, balancing Rita’s hammy charm and earnest thirst for knowledge (see: the snake painting earlier), and generally getting fabulousness all over the scenery wherever she treads.    There’s enough costume changes going on throughout to intimidate pretty much anyone this side of Madonna, but our Rita enjoys her fashion.

Hair is also a factor...it's the 80's, after all.

The playitself (for those, like me, who were pretty oblivious of it before this) is an interesting fusion of a buddy comedy and a love story, and ends up being something quite other. As Rita herself puts it in one scene, “It’s fun, tragedy…innit?” So is Educating Rita a funny tragedy?  A tragic comedy?  Will Frank find new life under flamboyant Rita’s influence?  Will Rita become that most dreaded of creatures…the fine arts major? For me, watching Rita’s bullheaded quest for knowledge and enlightenment clash with Frank’s bitter, nihlistic alcoholism and despair (and Koensgen’s performance is one that only gets better as the play picks up steam), I couldn’t help but love these two weirdos and want them to win.  Whether they do or not, you have to watch the show to see (or rent the movie, I suppose, but come on, get out of the house already!).

I should point out there’s an intermission in this perofrmance, and I offer a tip…intermissions minus beer money=fucking BORING.  Plan ahead, kids.  And please, let’s do get some kids out to catch this good time…not that I felt intimidated, being one of the handful of people at the performance who was NOT over 50.  I just wish the young’uns in this town would see something OTHER than just Fringe as far as plays go.  Kick-ass theatre is kick-ass theatre, yo.

Oh, and the good thing about opening nights that I’d forgotten?  FREE FOOD.  Yum!   I only wish I could do the opening of the next two Arts Court shows, INSEPERABLE and SWIMMING IN THE SHALLOWS, but I’ll be just getting back into town.  So til next time, AC, and everyone, do the right thing and get yourself Edjicated.  Out for now, still trying to do that Shakespeare in the park thing,

The Visitor

Breaking Down the Windsor Fringe

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on July 12, 2010 at 2:38 am

As we enter the third sphere on the Visitorian calendar, I have to ask myself…why am I updating so much??  Okay, I’m glad I’m writing, but there are other things I should probably be writing MORE (I haven’t forgotten about you, Becky Sue..!).  Oh well.  At least this keep me from watching too much teevee, or commiting gravity-based supercrimes.

It SOUNDS wicked, but they make you wear THIS. Balls.

 So what’s new?  Well, a few days ago I wrote a post pimping a few shows up and coming to the WINNIPEG FRINGE FESTIVAL.  It was a slightly large undertaking, as the WFF is freaking enormous.  If Fringes were dogs, the Bull Mastiff that is Winnipeg could crush the poor, underfed Ottawa Shihtzu with a scant few bites (tho we’d go down fighting!)  I even forgot to give a shoutout to the rapid-fire comedic gem DALE BEANER AND THE TURTLE BOY, which you Winnipeggies should all be sure and see.

 So something a little more manageable in the offing?  Ah, yes indeedy…and starting soon, from the 16th-25th of July no less.  I speak of the smaller in stature, but definitely awesome (it IS a Fringe, after all) WINDSOR FRINGE FESTIVAL.  I actually only have seen two of the shows they have lined up, so let’s speak of them and convince you to check them out, shall we?

The first show is ART DEXO, a performance dance piece by NY based dance outfit DEXDANCE.  Now admittedly, I knew nothing about modern dance when I wandered into their opening show at the Ottawa Fringe, besides that one date I had with a breakdancer a couple years ago, and I really still don’t, but I know I enjoyed that show quite a bit.  A whole made up of several smaller parts, some using all four members of the gang, a few duets, and one totally solo piece starring group founder Kristin Dexnis (a soundly stunning solo piece, I can add, and the one that quickly sold me on the show).  The troupe incorporates different styles of music into the performance, most of which are pretty groovy…

Might I humbly suggest some DEX-y's Midnight Runners next time 'round?

…as well as spoken word, costumes, a few trippy props that come along in an all-out final ensemble piece that rocks…it’s a really good time of a show, and I still feel a little bad that they weren’t more succesful here in Ottawa.  We’re a government town, please don’t hold it against us!  Also?  Kristin gave me some awesome poutine on the final day of the Fringe, thus safely securing her spot on my secret Fringe-crush list of 2010 (come on, everyone had a list..!). 

On to the second show I can safely and happily recommend, and that’s BREAKING DOWN IN AMERICA by gentleman journeyman Pat Devine.  Pat is a writer/performer outta the US of A who spent 500 bones on a dodgy but gorgeous old Cadillac, who is christened with the sexy moniker TinaSeville (one word) as he sets out to try and cross the country in this vintage jalopy, clashing the inherent personality of the car with those of the people and places he encounters in his travels.  It’s a true story, and Pat recounts it with easy charm and a carefully colected montage of video, music  and slides from the voyage.  I had a blast listening to the tale of the tape as Pat and TinaSeville chugged from one small town to the next, detailing breakdowns, triumphs, run-ins with the law and other truly American weirdos, in this humble, modern-day multimedia ON THE ROAD.  Kind of a sleeper Fringe hit, I can happily tell ya to give this one a try.  It’s worth it.

…Ahh, that’s more like it!  It’s nice to actually have the time and space to TALK about the shows, isn’t it?  Thanks for being a reasonable size, Windsor Fringe, and have a grand Fest.  Some of the other shows there sound pretty faboo,too…THE MAN WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH A TUBA, SHAVIREZ – GYPSY OF THE SEA, and one I sadly missed in Ottawa, LOVE AND HATE IN THE POSTMODERN AGE.  Someone see that one for me, willya?  I’d appreciate it.

That’s it for me tonite…rest up, all those who are finishing with the Toronto Fringe right now, you gots my luv.  Next up for me in O-town is some MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM in the park next chance I get, and EDUCATING RITA starting this Wednesday at Arts Court.  Oh yeah, and Wayne told me he’s got a new show coming in a few months, remind me I gotta bug him for more details on that.  Until then, keep calm and carry on,

The Visitor

Socks…ON.

In Theatre on July 10, 2010 at 3:59 am

Ha!  It finally happened tonite, my first post-Fringe bit of theatre!  Sure, I had a bit of a false start on Wednesday, when the GCTC box office Heismanned me when I tried to get into the preview show (sold out, just like last night’s show…and tonight’s…), but this time I slipped though.  And I’m so stoked about it I’m not even gonna start off all tengential and tell you about last night at Bluesfest (later), or where I drank before the show tonite(okay, the Carleton Tavern…but such a  small tangent!).  Instead, let’s get right to it…Alan Shain’s new show, TIME TO PUT MY SOCKS ON.

Saw a few familiar faces as I filed into the Oiving Greenboig Studio tonite…Wayne C., Sterling Lynch, Alison Cousins, theatre ninja superstars all, and here for the same prize as me, namely, a a good time at the theatre in the capable hands of one A.Shain.  I’ve only seen Shain in one show previously, when he performed his autobiographical one-manner UNDER THE RADAR at the 2009 Ottawa Fringe Festival.  He won me over pretty soundly that time…I seem to recall uttering the phrase ‘fucking FUNNY!’ to people when describing his show.  And I’ve heard nothing but goodness about his older debut show, STILL WAITING FOR THAT SPECIAL BUS.  So the chance to see a brand new theatrical piece by this guy was a pretty cool occasion for me. 

The studio was decked out with a decent bachelor-pad of a set, and just before the lights went down, the man himself made his entrance, took the stage and…well, went to bed.    The lights went down, and I was enjoying myself already.  The play proper began with a video montage of the eary life of Marc, Shain’s character in the play, from teeny toddler to eager youngster, to…

…well, lets just say there’s nudity, bondage and party games involved in what comes next, and we’re off to the races!  The story starts with Marc’s 1st anniversary wth his girlfriend Linda, and where things go from here.  Marc is just an ordinary guy…nice apartment, good job, pretty girlfriend, but he’s having some relationship issues.  Among other troubles…

At this point, I realize I should probably mention, for anyone reading this who’s not familiar with the mighty Alan Shain and his work, that Shain is disabled.  Specifically, cerebral palsy, and the play deals with that issue along with many others…such as the not inconsiderable fact that most people looking at Marc only SEE the ‘disabled’ part of him, and ignore the independent, sex-hungry, fun-loving, punk rocking and just generally badass regular guy that he happens to be.  Including, maybe, his girlfriend.  The central pivot of the story revolves around an ongoing argument about socks…Marc likes plain old white tubers, Linda likes multicoloured elfin leggings, the odder the better.

It sounds silly, but that’s partially the point, I think…aren’t all the arguments most couples have, ultimately, kind of silly?  Only this one is stealthy, because it masks a deeper, and more important point, namely Marc’s fierce desire to be his own man.  A desire he’s not sure the ‘normal’ Linda can ever really get.  Marc’s dialogues on the relationship, and his life in general, are punctuated here and there by returns to the screen for more montages that flesh out his life with Linda, as well as give Alan a bit of a break onstage.  He really moves around in this one, including a few rocking dance numbers (in which I realized, without shame, that Alan Shain dances much, much better than me) to Sid Vicious’ MY WAY. 

Sid took it especially poorly when he heard the preview show was sold out.

And amidst it all Marc is occasionally haunted by nagging voices from his life past and present…Linda’s constant calls, Physiotherapy teachers from his youth demanding he try to fit in, his overhelping Mother and those damn socks again…

As someone who, like Marc, only recently celebrated his 1st 1st anniversary, I can understand the guy’s trepidations.  And that’s a great deal of the point of this great show, that Marc (and Alan himself, maybe) just want the same crap, and are plagued by the same fears and indecisions, as the rest of us.  His greatest handicap seems to be that other people almost consistenly fail to recognize that, and again only see ‘disabled’.  No, he doesn’t need your help crossing the street, or taking his coat off (unless you’re a comely young lady, and then by all means..!)

This man ain't no fool, after all.

Shain and co-writer/Director Michelle Decottignies have made an excellent piece of theatre that hits on several important levels, often at the same time.    It’s much more than just a message piece, or a ‘disabled’ show, and if the last shows on Saturday aren’t sold out yet, get out and catch this while you can.  Or pester Smashing Sterotypes  and Stage Left (Shain’s  and Decottignies’ prod. companies) to remount the show somewhere, and soon.  It’s worth it.

And oh yeah, in case I forgot to say..?  It’s fucking FUNNY, too.  Peace,

The Visitor

Shain, Winnipeg or Bust

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on July 8, 2010 at 2:44 am

So I hit the road today despite the moiderous heat (and yes, yes, I know what our man Switters said, that there’s nothing more useless than complaining about the weather.  But when said weather comes with a health advisory, I feel somewhat justified) to catch me some much-needed theatre.  My post-Fringe ennui is setting in hard, and I needs me a stage to set it right!  So it was off to the GCTC studio to catch the preview show of Alan Shain’s new comedy, TIME TO PUT MY…

…wait, sorry, did you say ‘sold out’..?  Oh.  And tomorrow, too??  Uh, how about Friday, is Friday…?  Oh, Friday’s good?  Great, great.  See you Friday, then.  Great.

So what the FUCK do I do tonite, now?  God-damned charmng bastard Alan Shain, packin’ em in like that…I was all psyched to see a show, and then write a proper review of it!  Because, as much as I enjoyed the booze-fuelled and sleep-deprived madness that was my eleven days of Fringe-Coma, I do feel like I maybe gave more than a few of the shows I saw the short shrift, review-wise, as a result of the crazy pace I set myself.  Will I slow it down next year?  Mayhaps, I think.  But then again, I do plan on seeing at least two Fringes next year, so there’ll be plenty of half-assed theatre talk coming from me, don’t you worry (and I just picked up my train tickets to catch SUMMERWORKS for a week this August, yay!).

So, with all this pent-up blather denied its Alan-Shain-outlet for tonite, what to do?  Well, I realized that, this being a site on the intertubes, peoples who live places OTHER than Ottawa might chance upon readingt this, and maybe I could use my feeble powers for som good.  So I’m gonna start making up for my drunken, late-nite reviews from the Ottawa Fringe and see what I can do for the Fringes still to come.  Toronto is well under way by this point, so I’m turning my sights to the next big boy on the block…Winnipeg.

Where Guy Maddin goes, I follow!

From what I hear, this is one tough Fringe on perofrmers, a make-or-break kinda town.   So after checking out the July 14-25 playlist for this festival (and dearly, bitterly wishing I was going too), I wanted to give any attendees who stumble upon this post (Winnipeg Fringe Festival!  Take that, Google) my several cents on what to catch during your stay.

First of all, god dammit, is there ever a lot going on at the Winnipeg Fringe.  It SOUNDS great,  but it also exponentially increases the average Fringe Fan’s chances of missing something balls-to-the-wall awesome.  Like, for example:

7 (x1) SAMURAI by David Gaines, a positively breathtaking clown/mime retelling of SevenSamurai.  I’ve raved a couple times here at the Visitorium about this show, and will gladly do so again.  Gaines is not to be missed, but tickets alsoys sold out early here, do what you gotta do.  Same goes for…

CACTUS: THE SEDUCTION, because it’s Jonno Katz, for pitys sake!  Katz is a cruelly talented and funny performer who generally has audiences eating out of his hand by about the end of the first minute.  His physical comedy is fantastic,  and occasionally death-defying, like if Harold Lloyd had been a prima ballerina.  The story stretches impressive comedic and romantic ground, treading bravely onto the plainly naughty and loving every moment of it.  When not performing, Katz is also a pretty gifted director.  he helmed Ellison Zasko’s brilliant show THE SPUTNIKS, as well as music videos for the next folks…

DIE ROTEN PUNKTE: KUNST ROCK  Now, I haven’t seen this particular show, but Otto and Astrid Rot are a good time, period.  Did you watch the video up there?? Get out to catch this show, and be ready to rock bang your heart out.  And then prepare to lose that heart (are you loving these seques or what??) to…

COUNTRIES SHAPED LIKE STARS, from Ottawa’s own MiCasa Theatre.  The darling of last year’s Ottawa Fringe, and deservedly so, Countries tells the fairytale story of the meeting of Gwendolyn Magnificent and Bartholomew Spectacular, with theatre, song, playful lighting, audience interaction, cookies, balloons, and some occasionally cranky dragonfruit.  You will never forget this show, I promise you. 

PHONE WHORE is one I’ve been ruminating on a lot this last week, and not just because creator/star Cameryn Moore is wicked cool (which she is).  But because this show, with its bare bones and holy-shit honest look at this occasionally forgtten aspect of the sex worker industry, is so fucking smart.  It keeps on making me think.  and trust me, I need intellectual stimulation, folks.

AOMEGA is an interesting one, beyond the trippy story about a triplex transdimensional being of pure consciousness invading our reality for who-knows-what purpose.   Performed (which seems like too small a word here ) by Aussie Daniel Nimmo, and for goodness’ sake, do your brain a favour and catch it.  Turnout was actually not great here in Ottawa for Nimmo (a scant dozen at the performance I saw), and I think people are just plain scared of the intensely weird vibe he can hardly contain.  An obviously born entertainer, the man practically defines ‘Fringe’ just by existing, and I’ll say it now…someday this madman is gonna pop HUGE.  And I for one am gonna sit back all smug-like and say ‘Shit, I saw that guy at the SAW gallery once!’.  Daniel Nimmo.  Try not to be afraid.  He comes in peace.

Shit, I’m falling behind, so much to cover…so much for in-depth!  Winnipeg, you’re just too huge! 

...yes, thank you, The Office. Didn't see that one coming.

So what else?  Well, there were must-sees from the Ottawa Fringe like THE PETER N’CHRIS SHOW (the Die Hard of theatrical comedy), A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MISS HICCUP (the Die Hard of one-woman Japanese clown shows), ARCHY AND MEHITABEL (Jeff Culbert’s grand tale of anarchy, rebellion and lust through the eyes of a cockroach and a cat).   And before I forget again, the dee-liteful DALE BEANER AND THE TURTLE BOY, a two-manner with rapid-fire comic godness.

Then there were rock-solid ensemble pieces like IT’S RAINING IN BARCELONA and BILLY STUTTER,  sneaky but brilliant romantic gems like HEART-STRINGS and SEEKING…

And musical goodness!  If Die Roten Punkte aren’t your scene (and what’s wrong with you if that’s the case?), check out crooner Bremner Duthie’s ace cabaret show THE PIG OF HAPPINESS. for the most fun you’ll experience involving a concertina this year.  Colin Godbout, who hit Ottawa this Fringe with his Trans-Canada ’69 show, does Winnipeg with ROUTE ’66, and he’s a genius with the guitar, besides being fiendishly intelligent.  And Randy Rutherford, who I saw a couple years back in Singing at the Edge of the World,  with THE GUITAR TEACHER.  He’s got plenty to teach, so check it out.

And there’s still more!!  Alex Eddington in TIRED CLICHES, Jayson MacDonald in a new solo piece GUNPOWDER (explain to me again why I’m not going to Winnipeg this year..?), SPIRAL DIVE – EPISODE THREE…Episode Three???  I still haven’t seen episode TWO!

This is not even mentioning THIRD TIME LUCKY, by the hilarious Paul Hutcheson of On Second Thought, and Laura Harris’ positively brilliant and beautiful PITCH BLOND, an amazing one-woman show about actress Judy Holliday’s run-in with McCarthyism.  Or any of the other shows at Winnipeg this year that I know nothing about, and which are likely fantastic in their own right.

Okay.  So I didn’t exactly get to go full-on review mode with this one, either…it kinda got away from me, but I hope I did some good.  I’ll be back with, hopefully, a review of that new Alan Shain show (now that I’ve actually got a ticket), and then some more Fringe-across-the-country previews, to the best of my own limited purview.  Windsor, Calgary,  I’m looking at you.