Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

2011 – Big Stoopid End of Year Post

In Theatre on December 31, 2011 at 11:38 pm

That’s it!  Another 365 days down, and I seem to have survived with my clinical depression intact, thank Christ.  Theatrically speaking, I’m calling it a great year, and it turns out it was pretty good for me in that sense as well, if I think about it.   Let’s get to the numbers, straightaway…just what did I manage to see this year?  Well…

5 Easy Steps (to the End of the World)
the 39 Steps
297 Bayview Clinic
All my Children
All my Day Jobs
Amelia: the Girl who Wants to Fly
Am I Blue
And Slowly Beauty…
the Animal Show (3)
Antony & Cleopatra
Bifurcate Me
the Birdmann
Burning Brothels
Canterbury Cocktails
Canuck Cabaret
Charles: a Trip Through the Multiverse
the Circle
Complex Numbers
Curriculum Vitae
Danger Project
the Daughter of the Father of Time Motion Study
Deliver Us From Evil
Dianne and Me
Dirty Bird
the Donnelly Sideshow
Double Yellow Line
Dreams of Whales
Dying Hard (2)
Einstein’s Bicycle
Every Story Ever Told
Exit the King
Exs and Ohs
Fallen: the Book of Samael
Falling Open
the Fan
Five Lies
Fortunate Son
Freres d’Hiver
Fruitcake (2)
Fucking Stephen Harper
the Game and How to Play It
Giant Invisible Robot (2)
Giving Into Light
Grim and Fischer
Hamlet 2011
Hard Ways
Hip Bang!
Houdini’s Last Escape
the Hysteric
I Do Not Like Thee, Doctor Fell
the Importance of Being Earnest
an Inconvenient Truthiness
In the Eyes of Stone Dogs
Into the Woods
Iphegenie en Tauride
I Remember Mama
Israeli Love Story
It’s Nothing
Jem Rolls is Pissed Off
Kawasaki Exit
Kismet One to One Hundred
the Lavender Railroad
Lion King
Little Martyrs (2)
Little Orange Man (2)
Live from the Belly of a Whale
Love Letters for Georgia
Marcel Pursued by the Hounds
the Middle Place
A Midwinters’ Dream Tale
Momma’s Boy
My First Time
My Mother’s Daughter
My Pregnant Brother
Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme
Old Legends
One-Act Comedy Festival
One Man’s Trash
Padre X
Peter ‘n Chris and the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel
Peter ‘n Chris Save the World (2)
Pick Your Path
Pink Shoelaces
Playing Dead (2)
Playing for Advantage
Pretentious Young Ladies
Pretty Little Instincts
Queen For a Day
Question Period: the Musical
Rambo: the Missing Years
Retour a Pripyat
the Return of Love
la Rire de la Mer
Roller Derby Saved my Soul (3)
the Room Outside the Room
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead
St.Carmen of the Main
Salt-Water Moon
the Search for a Reason for a Murder
Secrets of a Soccer Mom
the Shadow: A Christmas Mysteries Radio Show
the Shadow Cutter
Shadows in Bloom
ShLong Form Improv
Sins of the Mother
Smart Arse
Something with Virgins and Chainsaws
Sonnets for an Old Century
Sounds from the Turtle Shell
Sparrow and the Mouse
Spitting in the Face of the Devil
Spotlight On…
Strawberries in January
the Suckerpunch
the Summit
Tara Firm and the Lunar War Chronicles
That Summer
This is a Recording
This is Our Youth
This is What Happens Next
Three Sisters
A Tour de Morose
Trapped in A Vox
the Troubles
Ukrainian Dentist’s Daughter
Under Milk Wood (2)
the Walk
When Harry Met Harry
Whiskey Bars
Whispering Pines
the Year of Magical Thinking
Zack Adams: Love Songs for Future Girl

Honourable Mentions

Company of Fools Twelfth Night
Empty Space Series: Chekhov
Homegrown: Reading
Ottawa Improv Festival
Stories of Love
Wrecking Ball

…Beat THAT, Langston!  Yeah, I think no matter which way you cut it, that’s a heaping helping of live theatre.  But I had more going on that JUST seeing shows, oh yes.  For instance:

HOLY SHIT, I TOOK MORE CLASSES!  Yeah, I went back to the OSSD well for two more courses, both with the delightful and wise Brie Barker as coach.  I had a blast, learned a lot, and am eager to learn more.  Also did my very first ever workshop, a movement adventure led by the amazing Alix Sideris, put on by the glorious gals of Deluxe Hot Sauce.  I think I’m STILL sore.

HOLY SHIT, I AUDITIONED FOR THINGS!  And from my point of view, WOW. I really did!  Three things so far, starting off with a terrified stab at Nadine Thornhill’s COMPLEX NUMBERS earlier in the year, and just recently with two attempts at the Ottawa Little Theatre (for LOST IN YONKERS and TRANSLATIONS, for the record).  No bites yet, but two callback outta three?  I’m calling that a decent start.

HOLY SHIT, I WORKED ON THINGS SEMI-OFFICIALLY!  Okay, that was an awkward intro, but the point is I did stuff outside of the purview of simple audience.reviewer mode.  Like I made Front of House Manager for Evolution Theatre’s LAVENDER RAILROAD, and had a great time doing it.  I also got tapped to do a mess of research and data mining work for the Ottawa Fringe Festival, for what would eventually become their OFF THE RECORD commemorative book.  And while that book turned out to be, well, what it turned out to be (don’t get me started), I’m still pleased with the work I did, and feel kinda proud I was tapped for it at all.

HOLY SHIT, I WAS IN A MOVIE!  Hells yah!  Specifically, the Ken Godmere written/directed/produced Digi60 short film bur.  And okay, I was only a silent extra in the background who you can’t even see until the last minute or so…but god damn!  2011 is the year I was in a movie, and y’all ain’t taking that away from me!

HOLY SHIT, PEOPLE THINK I’M MEDIA!  Zoinks, do they ever!  First the lovely Natalie Joy Quesnel gets me a shiny-sweet media pass for the Fringe, and then, bafflingly, lots of other people started following suit.  At last check, I’m on over half a dozen media call lists, which is just NUTS.  Oh, and speaking of Fringe…

HOLY SHIT, I DID TWO FRINGES!  Yes, I finally followed through on my age-old threat to do this, and flew out to Victoria for their 25th anniversary Fringe festival this summer.  It was a tremendous, balls-out wicked good time, and I saw terrific shows  I might otherwise never have gotten to catch.  Not to mention late night waffles.  And now Katie Hood knows who I am!

So, there’s all that.  And looking back, it’s really gonna be kind of hard to top all that.  But there were better stories than mine last year…

GCTC LAUNCHES UNDERCURRENTS FESTIVAL:  Yay, a brand-spanking new festival of goodies for me to glom onto!  Even as we gear up for the second edition in a few short months, it’s fun to look back and recall what a success this inaugural two-week showcase was, for all 6 shows involved.  and, really, for Ottawa Theatre in general.

THE GLADSTONE THEATRE RETURNS:  Dormant for what, a whole year?  More?  The dashing Gladstone Theatre off Preston thundered back to life thank to the tag team of Seven Thirty and Plosive Productions, and I couldn’t be happier.  The shows have been zippy and fun, and even community mainstays Phoenix Players got in on the fun.  The Winter season looks fantastic, and hopefully, the Gladstone is here to stay for good.

BRIGETTE DEPAPE STRIKES A THEATRICAL BLOW FOR DEMOCRACY:  Fringe heroine Brigette dePape (She Rules With Iron Stix, one of my first and fav’rit Fringe shows ever) shoved a handmade red STOP HARPER sign in Parliament’s face, protesting the policies of Emperor Steve, losing her position as page, and making National headlines all at once.  And we couldn’t be prouder.

ARTS COURT BUSTS OUT:  Not only did the legendary arts.Fringe venue in downtown Ottawa clinch (it is clinched, isn’t it?  Tell me it’s clinched!) a multi-million dollar redevelopment deal this year, but they also announced three new resident companies (Evolution Theatre, New Theatre Ottawa and Creations in Vivo) would henceforth be calling AC home.  Which means more solid theatre for us, in a great old venue.  Huzzah!

FOOFARAH ARRIVES, MASSES REJOICE:   Trying to remember what your lives were like before the Monday Foofarah arrived?  Don’t.  You wouldn’t like it.

Now, there was bad news this year too, sure.  The great Third Wall Theatre company was forced to cancel their season due to budget concerns, but they promise to be back, better than ever.  And Nancy Kenny finally left town (about which I am still in denial, thank you very much)!  But hey, let’s keep things positive here.  Didn’t I publish, a few paragraphs back, a gigantic-ass fucking list of shows I done seen this past year? What up with those?  Let’s ladle up some PRAISE, yo!  But first off, I’ve kind of decided tyo leave Fringe shows out of htis roundup, if only because I already gushed over those and made my lists and such at the end of each respective festival.  Which is, of course, no reason not to quickly recap some Fringey awesomeness right off the top:


There were a lot I loved..I do love me some Fringe…but a few from both Ottawa and Victoria still stand out in my mind as the kind of awesome you can only dream of.  Shows like brilliantly unique ALL MY CHILDREN and ZACK ADAMS: LOVE SONGS FOR FUTURE GIRL.  The heartwrenching FALLING OPEN (due for an Undercurrents relaunch as we speak!) and powerful SPITTING IN THE FACE OF THE DEVIL.  Another Undercurrents returner LIVE FROM THE BELLY OF A WHALE was joyous to behold, and the gloriously masqued GRIM & FISCHER left audiences cheering.  Nancy Kenny (denial!) rocked many worlds in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL, and Jayson MacDonald crushed whole cities in GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT.   The brilliantly talented Mikaela Dyke and Ingrid Hansen positively floored me with DYING HARD and LITTLE ORANGE MAN, respectively.  And, a special shoutout to the one wee lass who managed to make my list of fav’rit Fringe shows (with the same show) in two damned provinces…

I'm still waiting for my copy of this poster, Hood.

If you missed it (or any of these shows), you’re a sucker.  But I forgive you.  Winston does not.  Speaking of which, it’s time for the first award of the evening.  Oh yes, there are awards!  The Visitorium is a posh operation, dig?  And we have to start upping the ante around here, so it’s time for the first ever WINSTON THE CAT SCENE-STEALER AWARD!
We here at the Visitorium are big fans of any thespian versed in the fine art of scene theft, and there were some beauts this year.  And there were some beauties for consideration…Ross Tundo’s hilarious Polonius in ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, for instance, or Tom Charlebois’ Ferapont in THREE SISTERS.  Hell, Jackie Richardson almost stole the entire show in ONE scene in ST.CARMEN OF THE MAIN.  Likewise, Katie Bunting nabbed whgole chunks of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA this summer with naught but a comic glare.

Still and all, I think I have to go with my gut on this one.  So the award goes to:  JACKIE BRABAZON as the maid in THE PRETENTIOUS YOUNG LADIES.  She had me in stitches with the one-two punch of shuffling and mumbling, and half the show I was just keeping an eye on her to see what she’d do next.  That, my friends, is scene-stealing.  Well done, Ms.B, and you’ve won a slightly-used dvd copy of Jodorowsky’s film classic EL TOPO, should you choose to accept it.

Should we whiz thru the technical fav’rits now?  I still tend to think of myself as too ‘layman’  to decide such things properly, but I guess if people are treating me like honest-to-gosh media now, I should at least put in the effort, right?  And hey, it’s not like I didn’t notice some amazing work that the geniuses out there put in.  For example…

COSTUMES: I really, really don’t do fashion, but there was some fine accoutrement going on this year.  Like the fine duds on display in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (Andrea Robertson), IPHEGENIE EN TAURIDE  (Genevieve Couture), ZASTROZZI (Judith deBoer), or Eo Sharp’s primary-themed ST CARMEN OF THE MAIN.  There’s lots more, I’m sure, and I luv ya all.

SOUND AND LIGHT:  Oh, I REALLY am an idiot when it comes to these two.  But looking back, I have to bow to Al Connors, for his soundwork in shows like LITTLE MARTYRS, LAVENDER RAILROAD, and probably about a dozen others.  Seriously, dude, I want an MP3 of that CARS slowdown from LM.  I’ll buy you beer and everything.  Also, Clement and Fairfield invented whole new zones of cool with their soundwork in TARAM.  And lights?Shit, most of the time I’m lucky if I even notice they’re ON.  I honestly have tgo pay more attention to this, and could probably use a few good conversations in that area.  I’ll just say Pierre Ducharme and Jock Munro, and we’ll move on.

HAIR AND MAKEUP:  Annie Lefebvre. Moving on!

SET DESIGN:  Ok, THIS I notice.  And I love me a good set.  Like Benoit Brunet-Poirier’s industrial labyrinth for MEDEE-MATERIAU, or Anna Lindgren’s working-rainfall-and-all set for the wunnerful EURYDICE.  Or even the simple, slapstick setup for BIFURCATE ME (Jon Lockhart, I think?).  But if we’re calling ‘winners’ here, of fav’rits (better), I’m torn.  Ivo Valentik designed so many insane gorgeous sets, from ZASTROZZI to SPEED-THE-PLOW to MIDWINTER’S DREAM TALE.  But Pierre DuCharme designed my fav’rit set EVER, for LITTLE MARTYRS.  So, fight it out amongst yourselves, dudes.  There’s no actual prize here.  There IS however, for this next one:

Yeah, Winston’s not the only one who gets an award named after him!  What of it? I’m cool too!!  Fuck you!
…But time for that later.  First, we gotta give this thing away, and as to what it IS, exactly…it’s whatever.  It’s to who I think is as excited, or rather ten times MORE excited about theatre, than I am (which is, quite frankly, a lot), and who shows it, and who I notice, and…you know what? This is getting complicated.  Let’s just give the award to out two recipients…yes, in this inaugural award year, it’s a tie!  Because I’m a noncommittal fuck, as my ex could surely tell you.

The first winner is…MAY CAN THEATRE.  Comprised of good guys Cory Thibert and Tony Adams, the May Can Boys have demonstrated a love of performing that borders on the ridiculous this past year.  Besides their highly endearing Fringe show SOUNDS FROM THE TURTLE SHELL, they put up the insane DANGER PROJECT in the backroom of the Avant-Garde bar, and spent 2 days showcasing 2 original works, 297 BAYVIEW CLINIC and THE ROOM OUTSIDE THE ROOM (among a great variety of other acts) during their anniversary celebrations at Cafe Alt.  They showed that, whether you have a gig or a venue or not, it doesn’t matter too much…just go out and find that shit for yourself, and you’re good to go.

Pictured: A faceful of Motherfucking ACTING!

And recipient number two..?  None other than ANDY MASSINGHAM, also known as FOR FUCKS SAKE WHEN DO YOU SLEEP???  Here’s what this cat appeared in this year (that I saw): BIFURCATE ME.  THE SHADOW CUTTER.  EXIT THE KING.  HAMLET 2011.  THE FAN. IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS.  And the EMPTY SPACE reading of Chekhov short stories from Third Wall. And how many of those was he amazing in?  Oh yeah.. ALL that shit.  And he’s already got about half a dozen project on the go in 2012…again, that I know of.  Congrats, Mister Massingham, you’re the goods.  And you and the May Can boys can politely decide which among you want my used directors cut of THE WARRIORS, my burned disc of SPACED, or if you just want me to get you all drunk some day.

I really have to get moving on this…it’s already, like, the longest thing in the history of long (Your Mom told me the same thing, by the way), and there’s miles to go.  So let’s get fav’rit-ing!

This is just me loving gangs of actors doing some acting on stages, and wow, there were lots of them!  And while some were visiting troupes, like the swell gals from the Missoula Oblangata who treated us to the amazing FATHER OF THE DAUGHTER OF TIME MOTION STUDY, or the dynamite One Yellow Rabbit trio with their challenging but brilliant KAWASAKI EXIT.   Then there’s the amazing group assembled for AND SLOWLY BEAUTY at the NAC, or the hysterical gang from I DO NOT LIKE THEE DOCTOR FELL.  More fine trios?  How about McManus, Downey and Savoie in the lovely QUEEN FOR A DAY, Watt, Lyford-Wilson and Capogreco in THREE SISTERS, or Quirk, Skanks and Phillips in DIRTY BIRD?   Third Wall’s EXIT THE KING had just about as good a gang as you could beg for, as did A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE from a Company of Fools.  SPENT’s duo was a sheer delight, and the onstage radio players from THE SHADOW really made me wanna come back again.  And I’m gonna single out a particular fav’rit of mine…the Ottawa Theatre School gang.  Not the new grad class….tho they showed their chops just fine in IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS and I’m looking forward for more.  But I’m thinking of the cats from UNDER MILK WOOD, GLITCH and HAMLET 2011.  Diego, Greg, Henry, Kaitlin, Jodi, Kyla…you’re the goods.  Hope to see you ALL up on stage again soon (and new gangsters…the bar has been set!  Cant’ wait to see you top it!).


I’ve decided to do away with splitting up the sexes this year, because it just seems silly.  So here’s my smorgasbord of boy/girl/whatever acting goodness, all in one!

There was plenty of greatness going around on Ottawa stages (again, not counting Fringe), and a solid bunch of them stand out in my memory.  Like John ‘Killer’ Koensgen tearing it up as the King in ANTIGONE.  Or Mary Ellis ruling in her PJs in DREAMS OF WHALES.  Or Andy Massingham in EVERYTHING.  Jason Cadieux positively owned Undercurrents in HARD WAYS, and Mackenzie Salhany was the awesomest Red Riding Hood ever in INTO THE WOODS.   Brennan Richardson cut a very memorable MacDuff in Sock’n’Buskin’s MACBETH, Bev Wolfe cut to the quick as the sister in LAVENDER RAILROAD, and Guy Buller nailed villainous Iago in Salamander’s OTHELLO.   But my absolute fav’rits..?
– Chris Ralph in SPEED-THE-PLOW.  Props to his co stars Kyla Gray and John Muggleton, but it was Ralph’s Charlie Fox that really killed it in Plosive’s stab at Mamet.

– Monique Floyd in THAT SUMMER.  I can still almost FEEL her beaming, mischievous smile.  A wondrous performance.

– Tim Oberholzer in ZASTROZZI: THE MASTER OF DISCIPLINE.  The smooth one nailed it into the ground (or as close as one could come to it, in Valentik’s Escher-esque set) with his over-the-top showing as the classic stage villain.  Marvellous.

– Matt Miwa in LITTLE MARTYRS.  In a play filled with great performances, his stood out.  As tortured Jacob, Matt made you feel every pang of conscience like a knife thrust.  BLOODY marvelous.

– Jamie Mac in SALT WATER MOON.  It ain’t easy, owning the NAC stage, but VIMY’s Jamie Mac pulled it off as David French’s rogue romantic Jacob Mercer, with a newfie accent to beat the band.  Very well done indeed.

Which all leaved me with not much time to get this done, and that means the main event…


This is it…the shows that reached deep, grabbed my heart, and shattered my soul (in a good way).  I’m gonna save my super fav’rits for last, but there’re lots of great ones to go around, like the Fools’ ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, and Third Wall’s absurdist EXIT THE KING.  Or pretty much the entire run of UNDERCURRENTS.  But let’s not forget student gems like Sock’n’Buskin’s wonderfully funny ONE-ACT COMEDY FESTIVAL, and the Youth Infringement gem from Rebecca Garcia QUEEN FOR A DAY.  Plus the Missoula Oblangata’s DAUGHTER OF THE FATHER OF TIME MOTION STUDY, a beauteous DIY gem of a show, and Seven Thirty’s gleeful and high-strung Hitchcock cover 39 STEPS.   But my own, personal, certified fav’rits of the year as of this writing are…

THE PRETENTIOUS YOUNG LADIES from Obviously a Theatre Company.  Yeah, I said it!  I know not a lot of people got to see this free, debut show, and more’s the pity, because it was goddamn fabulous.  Innovative, colourful, and merrily disrespectful to the conventions of theatre. Also fun. Remember fun?

MARCEL PURSUED BY THE HOUNDS from Chamber Theatre.  It might have been the combination of great cast, directing, gorgeous/horrific subject matter and perfect Carleton Tavern venue that drove this one into the hallowed territry for me.  Maybe.  Maybe it just fucking RULED.

A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE from A Company of Fools.  As fun a show as you’re even allowed to wish for, centered around the clown combo of Pommes and Restes (Scott Florence and Margo MacDonald) searching for ice cream in a winter wonderland, and running afoul of Fairies, Jesse Buck, and the audience, this is the joy of theatre served up to order.

UNDER MILK WOOD from Ottawa Theatre School.  Featuring the gangsters along with Todd Duckworth and Annie Lefebvre, and directed by wondrous Jan Irwin, this adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ glorious play was such utter magic to behold that it was only the second play I was all too happy to pay full price twice to see.  The other one?  My narrow victor for show of the year…

LITTLE MARTYRS from Evolution Theatre.  The purest gut-punch of the year, an adherence to the credo of ‘challenging theatre’ so pure that it scared half of their audience off.  And theirs is the pity, because they missed a luminous theatrical experience, the kind that can only come from a dark place.  Not to mention killer performances, amazing sound, brilliant set…I only wish I could see this show again.

And…that’s it!  I suppose now would be the time for any resolutions…I know I ‘d like to hit the Mayfair and Bytowne theatres more in this new year.  And I have one resolution I can’t tell you all about (you’d think it was very sad, and I don’t want to upset you).  So instead, from all of us here at the Visitorium, have a good tomorrow, and try and hold out until the shows start up again.  It won’t be long now!  Peace, love and soul

The Visitor (and Winston)

ETA:  I woke up this morning and realized I’d forgotten a couple of things I wanted to mention…stoopid, right?  But I did want to make mention of another dandy ensemble this past year, namely the dynamite tag team of Jake William Smith and Christine Hecker as the leads in ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, plus Garret Quirk’s pitch-perfect Algernon Moncrieff in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.  And oh yeah, I seem to have totally forgotten about Directing in my whole ‘categories’ thing up there.  They’re not important, right?  Fuck, I’m dumb sometimes.  Happy New Year everybody!

Monday Foofarah! – Six-onal Affective Disorder Edition

In Just me doing stuff on December 26, 2011 at 8:22 pm

All right, first of all, let’s get it over with, late or not…Merry Christmas!

Happy Hannukah (sp..?!)

And…you know, everything else!  Life Day, or whatever..?  So anyways, I’m sorry I missed last week’s Foofarah, but I was crippled by my ongoing hopeless, miserable depression, which I hope to FUCK you all find hilarious or I’m REALLY screwed…I’m back this week, buoyed by wads of Xmas cash and some cool gifts.  In fact, I’ll probably be drunkenly watching some of this season 2 COMMUNITY dvd as soon as I’m done with YOU greedy bastards.  All in good time, of course.  I only just got back today from a couple days over in Kemptville with the folks, and my Sister, Brother-in-law, and my two darlin’ niecelets Brynn–Marie and Clara Dannon, the only two girls who’ll ever love me (and I think I’m starting to be OK with that).  I’m giddy to report that they loved my gifts for them to pieces…especially Clara’s Scooby-Doo action figure set which I TOTALLY wanted for myself.  Great minds think alike.    Although as soon as I got back to Ottawa, I headed out and did some…

BOXING DAY SHOPPING:  First stop was the Silver Snail, where I got Warren Ellis’ delightfully dirty DESOLATION JONES tpb and volume 1 of the Canadian underground classic CEREBUS by Dave Sim and Gerhard, for 30% off.  Sweet.  After a bit of wandering, I ended up at the evil empire of Chapters where I got the Xmas gift I didn’t get, Grant Morrison’s SUPERGODS, also at a hardcover discount, yay!  I perused it a bit later at the Carleton Tavern…it’s worth it for his optimistic dissection of the ACTION COMICS #1 cover alone.

Oh, and I guess this is still relevant…

LAST CHANCE TO SEE:  OLIVER! at the NAC, which I’m totally missing…looks like the folks in the big leagues have either figgered out how little I can help them, or I got forgotten, but by the time I realized I wasn’t getting an invite to this one, it was all but sold out!  Good on ya, Kris Joseph, Jamie Mac, Bev Wolfe and all the rest!  At least my Sister and clan got tickets for this week!  And who knows, maybe I’ll use my Xmas cash to splash out for BLUE MAN GROUP if I still can.  Oh, and there’s also A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD from the 27th thru 30th, at the Ron Maslin.  Funs for the family!

VOLUNTEER TALES:  A couple weeks ago, I finished my second volunteer shift for the wunnerful MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE, making it my third viewing of this perfectly fantastic show.  I know it’s been a while now, but I wanted to drop a line and say how much the ensemble continued to impress me more and more with each repeat performance.  Margo and Scott grew more playful and warm as Pommes and ‘Restes every time, Kelly Rigole’s regal Titania ruled as ever, and Jesse Buck continued to be a comedic revelation as pesky Puck.  I even met cool new fellow volunteers (hiya Heather!) , and had lots of famous-people spotting on my final shift…Nick Alain, Jan Irwin, Kate Heney, Kyla Gray, Jackie Brabazon (ok, she works there, but it was her night off!), and I’m pretty sure that was Robin Bowditch from THE CIRCLE!  A good night, a GREAT night, and I’m sad to see this show go.

This is getting a little dialogue heavy.  Here’s some Xmas music to sooth you!

What the Hell else…?  I’m pretty much outta shit until the New Year (according to Pope Gregor).  And I’m working hard on the big, stoopid end of year post, which promises to be bigger and stoopider than ever before! Also, a few thing I learned at my folks’ place over Xmas, watching cable teevee, (which I never do anymore): 1) I am, after only 3 episodes, dangerously addicted to HOLMES ON HOMES.  Also, I may be turning into my Father.  and 2) Commercials are balls.  Except that it WAS pretty cool when I recognized the lovely Kate ‘Sweet Tarts Takeaway’ Drummond in that McCain commercial.  Someone give that goddess a movie!

Almost out for this post/year…here’s a few pictures of Winston the Cat over Xmas to play you out…

Winston eating the tree (it's plastic, which he loves)

The best present of all under the tree. Love ya, buddy!

Happy Holidays from the Visitorium, folks.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

The Monkeys who Built the World

In Just me doing stuff on December 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Just  a story I wrote, once upon a time.  Feel free to ignore.  Peace, love and soul, all that jazz.  -V (+W)


by Kevin Reid

Humans have, over the course of their existence as a species, built a great many things on this Earth.   They have built homes for themselves and their loved ones.  They have built temples and places of worship, pyramids and statues of marble and stone.  They have built mini-malls and megaplexes, skyscrapers and substations, baseball diamonds and geodesic domes.  They have built weather tracking stations in the dead cold of the Arctic, and emergency fallout shelters in the stone hearts of mountains.  Oil drilling platforms treading the crashing ocean waves, towers of glass and steel that touch the clouds, telescopic observatories that reveal the secrets of distant stars, and power generating plants whose unleashed fury could rend the ground asunder.  They have even begun building in the airless skies above the world, all the while continuing nonstop with their efforts on the surface below.

Humans are indeed a species with a passion for building, and there is a reason for this.  It begins long, long ago, in the days before the world was made.  It begins with God, the great creator, and his plans for this wondrous Earth.  And perhaps most importantly, it begins with monkeys.

You see, in the beginning there was nothing.  Except God, of course, who said ‘Let there be light’, and so there was light.  Then he created the heavens, and the Earth, only that last part wasn’t so easy.  ‘To help him with this monumental task, God first created the monkeys.

The monkeys were very smart little mortal creatures, with hands, and feet, and long nimble tails.  To the monkeys God gave the glorious honour of building his Earth, which would be their home.  Earth would be home to many other animals as well, but none of them besides the monkeys were involved in the actual construction.  The monkeys worked many long years, building the great planet from the core up, to the crust and mantle, then covering that with rock, soil and lots and lots of water.  Then they added other things, like trees and volcanoes, islands, geysers, whirlpools, coral reefs, icebergs, pretty much everything you could think of.   The monkeys were hard little workers, and God was very pleased with their diligence.

Now, the monkeys weren’t performing all this grand labour out of simple goodwill.  No, they had undertaken this project, with its centuries upon centuries of backbreak and sweat, on the specific understanding that, upon completion of this place called Earth, the monkeys would be rewarded with a very special place in the scheme of things there.   They would become the dominant species, a singular prize they were clever enough to secure beforehand by forging a lengthy contract with God, ensuring their supremacy in this new land.  Safe in this knowledge, the monkeys built God’s green Earth, and prepared to settle into their new roles and rest after their long labours, nestled contentedly at the top of the food chain.

But clever though the monkeys were, contracts were not their speciality.  And in their legal short-sightedness, they very unfortunately missed something extremely important buried in line 314 of their divine agreement: the evolution clause.

It was using this finely worded loophole that, shortly before the final finishing touches were put upon the last blades of grass, and the Sun’s batteries were almost fully charged and ready to shine bright for several thousand millennia, that God unveiled his latest creation.  He called them Humanity.

These new animals, these Humans were amazing creatures, superior to the monkeys in almost every measurable sense (although no good explanation for a lack of a prehensile tail has ever been offered).  And as the new Earth was born, God revealed the truth to the monkeys that the Humans, not they, would rule there.

The monkeys were, naturally, devastated.  Feeling slighted and betrayed, they banded together to contemplate how they might revenge themselves for this grand snubbing.  After much deliberation, their course of action was agreed upon:

‘We built this Earth,’, the monkeys declared, ‘Now, we shall UN-build it.’

Thus began the monkeys daring scheme as they set about the task of unravelling this world they had laboured so long to create.  They started taking the leaves off the trees, they tore off the bark, uprooted the stumps.  Coral was yanked from the reefs and banks, hydrogen was violently pulled out of the water and it hissed away into the ether.  Mountains became hills, rolling valleys turned to pastures, oceans became lakes.  The work was slow, but it was steady.  The Earth was in danger.

God saw this trouble below, and fretted.  Though he was angry, he also understood the reasons behind the monkeys terrorism, and could not bring himself to destroy them.  Instead, he hit upon a subtler solution.  As he deposited his new, human race onto the Earth, he bestowed unto them one final gift: a deep-rooted desire to build.  This way, He reasoned, the humans would unknowingly fix the damage done by the monkeys, and he was right.  For as fast as the monkeys unbuilt, their replacements could always build that much faster.  Before long their sabotage was not only erased, but had been so built over you could scarcely tell they had even tried.  They worked for a time at stepping up their efforts, but the humans were simply too prolific, their construction too expansive to counter.  Eventually the monkeys just gave up, reluctantly accepting their demotion and skulking away to the trees, as far away from the ever-building man as they could manage.


Today, the building continues.  Humanity still rules the Earth, but the monkeys are no longer quite so bitter as they once were about it.  For as they watch the humans from their treetop homes or jungle habitats, or even from zoos and cages that the humans have built for them, the monkeys have noticed something quite interesting.

You see, without the monkeys and their unbuilding efforts to counter them, the obsessive building of the humans has started to become somewhat of a problem.  No longer held in any check, the new dominant species has managed to cause significant damage to the world the monkeys built.  Oceans are befouled, lands poisoned, the very glory of the world itself paved over, and then built over that, and so on, and so on.  And while God watches all of this unending building with a terrible, growing worry, the monkeys merely watch and laugh.

‘Perhaps,’ the monkeys chuckle to themselves from their homes in the trees, ‘…we shall have our revenge after all.’


Monday Foofarah! the Fifthtacular

In Just me doing stuff on December 12, 2011 at 11:34 pm

I spent all day at work, then headed straight to the Elmdale Tavern for a wicked Christmas funtime edition of CRUSH IMPROV, and I only just got home and there’s only one hour left in which to get this edition of the Foofarah out, and still honestly call it the MONDAY Foofarah (as opposed to some other day of Foofarah, which would obviously just be silly).  So let’s get to some gettin’ to it!

FIRST AND LAST CHANCE TO SEE:  The hit of the season from a Company of Fools, A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE wraps up this week at the GCTC, and you should go or you suck (that was lame, but like I said, I’m in a hurry tonite).  Over at OLT, I HATE HAMLET enjoys its last week, and I’m totally going.  I haven’t been to an OLT show yet this season, and that’s ridiculous. I’ve been to two auditions, but no shows?  What awfulness I am!  And THE SHADOW wraps up at the Gladstone, which is worth the price of admission just for Michelle LeBlanc’s Christmas cookie bit alone.

NONCOMMITTAL CHANCE TO SEE:  OLIVER!, which I still have managed to miss, and hopefully I’ll correct that if I can ever even access the damned NAC website again.

AUDITIONIZING:  There was an audition this past Sunday that I’d been looking forward to and planning on for months.  And I totally bailed.  It was weak of me, I know, and I suck very much indeed, and quite honestly I deserve that look you’re giving me right now.  I had my reasons, and I’ll go into them some day when it’s NOT past eleven on Monday night, but in the meantime I’m probably going to take this failure as an impetus to head on back to my alma mater of the OSSD and nab a few more courses in the new year.  Whaddaya think, Improv, or playwright workshop?  In the meantime, enjoy my fav’rit opening movie monologue ever (and which I would love to do someday as an audition piece), from the amazing SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING:

And wow, I should probably have more to talk about…hey, I volunteered over at the GCTC this weekend, for the aforementioned MIDWINTERS show, and it was awesome second time round (can’t hardly wait for third viewing THIS weekend, when I have another shift).  And shoutout to my co-worker Jenna, who cut her Ottawa Improv chops as tonite’s CRUSH show (which had a killer lineup all around…Brad, Al, Jordan, Tim, Ken, Katie, Dan, Desiree…a colossal calamitous conglomeration!).  And, lacking anything else to say, her’es two of my fav;rit things, from the legendary Mary Prankster:

Not much else to say, I suppose…been awfully busy over at the work these days, and I’m feeling pretty wiped.  At least I have something to look forward to tomorrow evening…the adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill has promised to stop by the Visitorium in person, and we’re gonna have some drinks, some baked goods, and maybe watch some Barbarian movies.  No special reason or anything, tho I hear it’s SOME loser’s birthday, but fuck THAT guy, am I right?  Let’s just hang out, be chill, and have a good time.  Which I guess means I’m gonna cut it short this time around on the Foofarah…Peace, love and soul, everyone,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Take it away, Xena!

The Shadow Knows (how to put on a show)

In Theatre on December 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm

So it’s that time of year again….December has hit, the theatre companies are crawling into their hibernatory states, and quite frankly there’s not much left to look forward to for about a month or so.  But, at least there’s SOMEthing good about the Xmas season (ok, fine, Xmas is okay too, I GUESS…), and that’s radio playtime at the Gladstone!

We last got a dose of live radio goodness last year with IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, and the good folks at Plosive Productions have kept the tradition going with THE SHADOW: A CHRISTMAS MYSTERIES RADIO SHOW from director Kel Parsons.  I myself first got introduced to the weird avenger of crime back in the 80’s, when writer/artist Howard Chaykin rebooted the classic Conde Nast character at DC Comics.  Although I rather suspected the Plosive version would be SOMEWHAT toned down.

Merry Christmas, you bastards!

But despite the lamentable lack of uzis, I was still excited for this latest production from the little theatre that could, partially on account of the sweet cast assembled for the occasion.  Smooth Tim Oberholzer, Michelle leBlanc, Katie Bunting and Allan Pero share the onstage radio duties, along with live foley operator and soundsmith Karen Benoit.  The evening was divided into two seperate Shadow radio broadcasts, both Christmas-themed, featuring Tim Oberholzer as the Shadow, aka Lamont Cranston, and his constant companion Margo Lane (Michelle LeBlanc) bringing goodwill to those in need via intrepid investigation and spooky, invisible vigilantism.

It’s almost odd to describe how much fun it is to watch four talented actors putting on a show like this…Allan Pero is an amazing voice actor, and his multiple roles, first as narrator, and then as various cabbies, victims, and villains along the way, are a delight.   Katie Bunting is insanely adorable even while being oddly typecast as several small children throughout the show, and Michelle LeBlanc is wonderful not only as Margo Lane, but multiple supporting characters, and even as the bubbly onstage performer persona behind the radio mike itself.  The proceedings are very smartly anchored by Oberholzer as an elegantly convincing Cranston/Shadow, all ably assisted by Benoit’s spirited soundwork and some cool lighting tricks from David Magladry.

As with previous radio plays, the ‘broadcasts’ themselves are peppered with old-timey adverts, and lively performances by the Gladstone sisters (aka Lori Jean Hodge, Michele Fansett and Laura Thompson).  I think I liked this one even more than last years, and I suspect the smaller cast is part of the reason why.  With the limitations on actual visual theatrics stemming from the core concept, its nice to have the actors wearing a few different hats in the production (in Pero’s case, somewhat literally at times) to spice things up.  The show was a blast, and ends this inaugural season at the revived Gladstone on, in my opinion, a very high note.

There was a wee opening nite reception afterwards, with tasty nosh from the Big Easy, and plenty of mingling.  Ketra kept the Mill Street flowing for those of us with crippling but hilarious social addictions, and I had myself a fun geek moment….and really, it shouldn’t have been SUCH a moment.  See, I’ve caught something like a hundred and fifty theatrical productions this year alone.  I’ve been to two fringes this summer, and I’m now, somehow, on the media lists for more than half a dozen companies in town.  I really shouldn’t be SO amazed and astonished when an actor knows who I am.

But ZOMG HOLY COW YOU GUYS KATIE BUNTING TOTALLY KNOWS WHO I AM!!! *ahem* It was pretty awesome, I gotta say, when she told me she digs the Blog.  And aside from that, it made me happy to find that after all this time doing this, I still get blown away like a goofball by stuff like that.  Peace, love, soul, and happy holidays, you lot,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Three Sisters at Academic Hall

In Theatre on December 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Wow, I really should have written this last night.  Now I’ve got, like two hours to rattle this off, have dinner, shower, change, and beat feet for ANOTHER play.  Sigh.  I may have to skip dinner.  I hope the Gladstone has nibbles tonite…

But if I wanna make this dopey schedule, I should probably focus on LAST night, when I headed over to the ever-lovely Academic Hall for the premiere of their latest production, and a special one at that.  The show was Anton Chekhov’s THREE SISTERS, directed by the maestro Peter Froelich, and it’s a show with an interesting local history…originally, this was to be the first show in Third Wall‘s new season, a co-production with the Ottawa U Drama Guild.  When 3rd Wall had a bit of a hiccup with their cash flow, tho, they had to cancel their season (they’ll be back!), and the Drama Guild decided to go on with the show.  But not alone…much of the cast from Third Wall’s resident company stuck along for the ride.  And If I’m getting some of the specifics of how this actually went down wrong, please forgive me, I just have a vivid imagination sometimes.

Anyhow, I clearly wasn’t the only one interested in the show’s pedigree, because the joint was packed to the gills!  I was lucky to nab me a frontrow seat, not to mention a ticket.  A lovely, staggered set from gentleman John Doucet waited for the players to climb on, and after a few minutes of people-watching in the cheap seats (Snowdon, Ruprecht, Langston…paparazzi don’t usually crowd the student productions like THIS…kinda cool), the lights dimmed and we were on our wondrous way.

Chekhov’s classic (and the inspiration for recent NAC killer show AND SLOWLY BEAUTY…) tells the story, obviously of three sisters in a pedestrian Russian town whose sole point of interest is a military battalion stationed there.  We meet them on the anniversary of their father’s death, a Colonel who moved them there much earlier from their beloved Moscow, where they long to return to.  Over the course of a few years, we see their ups and downs, and a few more downs, and then whoa BOY some downs, and…

…okay, THREE SISTERS is not a traditionally uplifting play, at least not on paper.  But in between all that suffering (unhappy marriages, loneliness, death, fire, and other hilarities are par for the course for our heroines) is some amazing text, and on the Academic Hall stage some amazing performances awaited.  Anchored by some heavy acting power from the likes of John Koensgen (as romantic, world-weary Vershinin), Paul Rainville (as the fading Doctor Chebutykin, always looking for a reason not to get drunk), Tibor Egervari (the eternally cheerful and terminally ignored older husband of the middle sisterMasha) and Tom Charlebois (stealing scenes adeptly as half-deaf bureaucrat Ferapont), the vets are joined by some solid young gangsters from the Ottawa U crowd.  Ivan Frisken does nicely as Baron Tusenbac, a well-intentioned soldier intent on winning one of the sisters’ hand in marriage…Garret Brink, as his friend and rival Solyony, exudes a very nice air of menace throughout.  Steve Bowa and James Graziano round out the battalion as a pair of charming soldiers, along for the occasianlly bumpy ride.  And Zach Raynor gives a great turn as doting and brilliant young Andrei, whose transformation in the play is positively crushing.

But as solid as the boys are, I’ve GOT to give this one to the ladies.  Lauren Cauchy’s unassuming Natasha is a revelation, flowering into one of the best on-stage villains I’ve seen all year.  Janet Uren of Linden House Theatre is wonderful as elderly housemaid Anfia, doing very much with very little.  And then there are the Three Sisters themselves, and just WOW.  Right off the bat, you’ve got Kristina Watt as eldest sis Olga, stoic and heartbroken but somehow finding the strength to face each new pain.  And happily, her co-stars not only manage the feat of matching the amazing Ms Watt, they sometimes  come dangerously close to stealing the show.  Jennifer Capogreco radiates presence as moody upstart Maria  (or Masha), wrestling with her doomed feelings for dashing Vershinin with a wonderful lack of restraint.  And Sophia Lyford-Wilson just amazes as Irina, the cheery ‘baby’ of the group who grows up all too soon…when she sits, weary and defeated after a soul-crushing day of thankless work, you seriously FEEL it.  I felt like giving the poor thing a pillow at one point.  It was just perfectly goddamned great.

This is taking me a while (no wonder I like one-person shows…MUCH easier to credit everyone with a job well done!), and close to having to skip my shower too, so I’ll wrap it up…THREE SISTERS is more than worth the trip and your time.  I’m bloody thankful I got introduced to some of the names and faces I saw last night, not to mention the familiar ones I saw who continue to impress (Rainville was particularly delightful, I gotta say, and the lighting by Lockhart was primo as usual).

And the icing on the cake..?  Jenny David on drums.  What more can you ask for, really?  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Monday Foofarah! the Fourtharah

In Just me doing stuff on December 5, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Well, I’m showered, fed (I had a strange delicacy called a ‘Sal-Add’ tonite…outtasite!), and vaguely ready to write, so here we go.  And not just for any old edition of the MONDAY FOOFARAH, neither.  No, this is now, officially, the LESLIE CSEREPY APPROVED Monday Foofarah!

You can't fake that enthusiasm, folks.

With the celebrity endorsements rolling in, let’s get on with the business at hand:

FIRST AND LAST CHANCE TO SEE:  Kind of the unofficial ‘lost’ episode of Third Wall’s defunct season, the Ottawa U Drama Guild’s THREE SISTERS (6th to 10th at Academic Hall), featuring guest performers like Kristina Watt and John Koensgen, easily qualifies as must-see material.  Vintage Stock Theatre puts up MEETING MR.BENNETT at Shenkman from the 8th to 10th.  On the 6th the NAC premieres OLIVER! for some singing and dancing, about starving beggars (Man, they’ll make a musical about ANYthing).  And the Gladstone brings back the radio play tradition with THE SHADOW, also starting on the 6th.  And hey, this Wednesday at the Imperial, it’s LEGOPROV with Grimprov!

NONCOMMITTAL CHANCE TO SEE:  A Midwinters Dream Tale at the GCTC, which neither starts nor ends this week, placing it in a most enviable theatrical eigenstate indeed.  Come on Saturday nite to see me doing something front-of-housish, mebbe tearing some tickets.  Like a BOSS.

A NIGHT AT THE CARLETON:  Lemme tell ya this story.  I was off a late shift at the day job this past Friday, a stoopid long day of drudgery that made me miss SAUCE BRUNE at la Nouvelle Scene and everything.  Tired, I caught a bus to the Carleton Tavern, arriving just as the evening’s performance of MARCEL PURSUED BY THE HOUNDS was wrapping up.  I snuck on over and joined a table with a workmate of mine and her husband, who had come to see the show (I’m happy to say I got a few people I work with to check this one out…the availability of booze makes it a particularly easy sell, I admit).  We chatted a spell when show co-directors Donnie LaFlamme and Lisa Zanyk joined us…my co-workers husband is doing some work on Don’s house, so they already know each other.  And Don had some copies of his newly published MECHANICSVILLE MONOLOGUES with him, for sale at a ridiculously low 20 bucks.

Your life is worth NOTHING without this in your collection...order now!

Being flush as I was with some early birthday cash from my Ma and Pa, I tried to buy one.  But Don just shook his head, pushing a copy at me and telling me that my money was no good here, insisting I take one, and talking me up in front of my workpal in a way that made me seriously blush.  In fact, LOTS of people that night were saying really, really nice things to me…Don, Lisa, lovely Annie Lefebvre, even good guy Leslie Cserepy made the mistake of telling me he liked the Foofarah, and now I’ve gone and abused his kindness with a silly picture up there.   The POINT is, although I indulge in a lot of self-deprication, only 90% of which is really genuine, I am slowly, slowly starting to understand and appreciate the notion that maybe, just maybe, some people out there actually like me.  And I kinda love you for it.

Wow, that was getting serious for a second…here’s the WHITE WIRES latest, with animated artwork from local legend Dirty Donny:

DIGI60:  Hey, I finally headed on out to the screening night of the DIGI60 film festival, out at the Centrepointe Studio.  It was kinda neat, a diff’rent vibe from the average theatrical event, but still lots of familiar faces.  Of course Ken -the God’ Godmere was there, who not only starred in, wrote and directed bur, the short film in which I was lucky enough to have a part as an extra, but he managed a documentary submission as well (this is all on top of his upcoming Fringe tour in 20102…phew!).  Also met up with the lady miss Jennifer Vallance, one of the other stars of bur, and also starring in another submission, EXCRUCIOR.  Then my old OSSD playmate Vanessa showed up and we watched the shows, which was a fun mixed bag, all centered around the theme of a transformative, passionate kiss.  My fave was probably one called MARY MAE, starring Ellen Manchee of COMPLEX NUMBERS (we auditioned for that on the same day!  Visitorium fun fact.), but they were all swell.  I bought the dvd collections of all the films, and not just so I could freeze frame on the few scenes in bur where I appear on screen.

Um, but…yeah, I’m totally going to do that.  Hey look, Elvis!

Also, getting back to that almost-theme I had going of cool people I know who are amazing, do you know KATIE HOOD?  Because I do, and if you don’t, we’ll just pause for a moment while you, quite justifiably, die of jealousy.

…are you done?  Because there’s one more video I’d LOVE to share with you, but it’s sort of a not-for-sharing kind of thing, at least I think, so I’ll hold off.  But it’s the Hood playing a ukelele cover of that song CREEP, and it turns out that aside from being a brilliant actor, amazing writer, and more adorable than the KITTEN KONG episode of THE GOODIES…

MORE adorable! Can you believe it??

…it turns out she’s capable of doing what I, personally, had imagined impossible:  JUSTIFY RADIOHEAD’S EXISTENCE.  So thanks for that, Katie the Hood (and if you know her, for crying out loud, watch that video, then watch it over and over and over.  You know, like some blogger or other may have done recently *ahem*.  That’s it for the Foofarah this time around, folks, let’s take a look at next week’s episode:

See you then!  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

PS  Anyone wanna go to the opening of THREE SISTERS tomorrow?  Or THE SHADOW on Wednesday (I got an extra ticket for that one)?

A Dream Come True

In Company of Fools, GCTC on December 3, 2011 at 12:19 am

So, A MIDWINTER’S DREAM TALE from the GCTC and a Company of Fools is pretty much one of the most fun things ever since the invention of fun by John J.Fun, back in ’03.  Let’s just get THAT out of the way right now.  And then I’ll back up a shade.

Last night, I headed out to the venerated Oiving Greenboig Theatre on Wellington, to check me out some premiere night action (solo once again, as I’d already used up my Nadine Thornhill voucher for the week on THIS IS OUR YOUTH), for the aforementioned MIDWINTERS blah blah blah.  I snapped on my red suspenders and premiere pinstripe pants and headed on out to greet the other papparazzi and fine folk of theatre.  I was well met by Boss Barry Karp, then saw the Gladstone crew (John P.Kelly, Michelle leBlanc, smooth Tim Oberholzer and a few others) and numerous other was clearly a night of some import.  After some palaver and festive imbibements, I headed on in.

Now, I hadn’t been able to make the media call (which they’re STILL inviting me to!  They haven’t caught on yet what a total fraud I am, so SHHH!!), and was trying to avoid any spoilerific views of the set so as to preserve the surprise.  And I’m fucking glad I did…what a perfect goddamn winter wonderland (a phrase used more than once in the show, and rightly so) mad Ivo Valentik has cooked up for the fools, lasers included!  If they could bottle his creative insanity and market it, it would be…I don’t know, Red Bull or something.  Or Jolt.  Remember Jolt?

Anyways.  The set is fantastic,and once the show got started, I realized why that was so…because it HAD to be, to measure up to what the cast (and director Albert Connors) had in store.  Playing on the Fools’ longstanding fast and loose relationship with Billy Shakes, the show is a weird Frankensteinian (Girltalkian?) mashup of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and A Winter’s Tale, with a couple of clowns thrown in because why the Hell not?

Our two red-nosed heroes are dry-witted Pommes Frites (Scott Florence) and shiny-object-attacted ‘Restes (Margo MacDonald), who, in their perfectly reasonable search for Ice Cream in the middle of an unending winter, stumble upon a bit of a Fairy brouhaha, between proud Queen Titania (the always wunnerful Kelly Rigole) and self-important Oberon (Adrian Proszowski), with devious Puck (the rather impressive and hilarious Jesse Buck) trying to keep the tenuous peace.  What happens next is hard and not even desirable to describe, because you’ve got to see it for yourself…Choruses of dancing fairies, love spells gone so very wonderfully wrong, pop culture references, innuendoes, good tunes, and more than a few bouts of pole-licking (behave).

And while all the actors, chorus included, are phenomenal, the praise here has to be on Margo and Scott, our two key clowning fools Pommes and ‘Restes, on whose backs/jokes the show lives or dies.   And it lives like nobody’s bizness, folks.  These two clowns are pure magic, the same as the rest of this amazing show (directed by Alastair Connors), which is filled with enough genuine and silly laffs to turn any adult into the kid she’s always longed to return to. And that’s not even mentioning the improv bit that I dare not mention, that’s so insane that they couldn’t POSSIBLY keep it up for the entire run…or could they?

So, thank you, GCTC, thanks Company of Fools, thanks director Alhambra Connors…you’ve done so terribly well, I may have to get all sentimental on you, and bring my nieces to the show.  Because it’s so beautiful, so warm (despite the snowflakes), and so uniquely funny, anything else would be a disservice.  Kind of like not seeing it yourself.   Way to raise the bar in the last month of the year…I really do appreciate it.  And I’ll even be back for a few volunteer shifts.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice…YAY!

Peace, love and soul, Fools,

the Visitor (and Winston)

Youth in the Reagan Years

In Theatre on December 1, 2011 at 11:39 am

Last night, I found myself surrounded by hyper Uni kids at a campus bar, as I killed time by sipping a pint and trying not to leer at cute girls much, much younger than me.  Sigh.  My pre-show Sock’n’Buskin routine needs work.  But what can I say, Oliver’s is cozy!

And yes, last night was time for a new premiere at the Kailash Mital Theatre, spacious home of Carleton U’s venerable gang of theatrical upstarts SNB.  This time, with the lovely and adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill accompanying me, the show was THIS IS OUR YOUTH by Kenneth Lonergan, and directed by Iain Moggach.  And I was intrigued from the start.  First off, unlike most SNB or other theatre productions, which are usually big cast affairs, this was a rare three-hander…and set in the 80’s no less!  I remember the 80’s!  Buckaroo Banzai, Corey Hart, Bananarama…those were the 80’s, right?    I’ll be right at home in this show!

The play is broken up in two acts, both set in the squalid NY apartment of Dennis Ziegler (Geoff Burnside), a small-time drug dealer with an over-inflated sense of his own awesomeness.   Into his doped-out calm enters frantic ne’er do well Warren Straub (Luke Bradley), an eager hanger-on with some major family issues, a nasty drug habit, and a bagfull of stolen cash that has major trouble looming for the both of them.  Infiltrating Dennis’ life through sheer persistence, Warren tries (sort of) to deal with his troubles, while also trying to woo the girl of his dreams, storng-willed good girl Jessica Goldman (Emma Bromley), who seems to have everything in life figured out except for herself.

YOUTH is an interesting piece, albeit one that too often seems to have way too many balls in play at the same time.  A few too many plot elements seemed to get added just for the sake of it, and had an unfortunately diluting effect on the whole.  Luckily we had three very strong performances from some talented theatre gangsters to make up for any meanderings of the script.  All three leads impressed, and I was especially floored by Luke Bradley as Warren, who’s on stage for pretty much the entire length of the play (nearly 2 hours) and never missed a beat throughout.  A really winning and sympathetic performance, and Bromley and Burnside deliver as well as loudmouthed Dennis and nihlistic (or not) Jessica, respectively.  And the set is even pretty cool, too.

I’m calling this a nice change of pace for SnB, and while I’d like to see this script streamlined for maximum efficiency (tho there’s some great laughs and drama in there, don’t get me wrong), it’s VERY much worth getting out to see if you have the chance.  Hell, there’s even an HR Pufnstuf reference, and that’s something sorely lacking in most theatre.  Peace, love and soul, folks,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in December 2011

In Theatre on December 1, 2011 at 10:51 am

End of the year is just about here, folks, and it’s unfortunately driving us into that December-January negative zone of theatre down time, or as I like to call it, Hell.

Fuck you, Christmas, you're no consolation at ALL.

But, there’s still a few goodies left to tide us over, and here I am to do my best to tell y’all what they are!    Let’s get started, I’ve got another post to write as soon as I’m done THIS one:

THIS IS OUR YOUTH continues until the fourth at Carleton University’s Kailash Mital Theatre, from the kids at Sock ‘n’ Buskin.   SAUCE BRUNE from Theatre la Catapulte goes until the 3rd, at La Nouvelle Scene.  And oh yeah, also ending on the third is Chamber Theatre‘s MARCEL PURSUED BY THE HOUNDS at the Carelton Tavern.   You can still catch ’em all!

Over at Ottawa Little Theatre, I HATE HAMLET runs until the 17th, and looks like a fun one.  Meanwhile, the Great Canadian Theatre Company runs A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE, courtesy of a Company of Fools, until the 18th.

A triple-play of new shows gets started on the 6th…the NAC English Theatre Company belts out some Dickensian tunes with OLIVER!, from the 6th to 24th* (and yay, Bev Wolfe’s in this one!) *ETA: the run of Oliver has now been extended, with shows all the way to a matinee on the 31st!  No excuses for missing THIS one, I guess.

The Ottawa U Drama Guild, carrying on with the planned team-up with Third Wall Theatre, puts on Chekhov’s THREE SISTERS from the 6th to 10th at Academic Hall (with an open Dress rehearsal on the 5th, if you like).

Over at the Gladstone, Plosive carries on the radio play tradition with THE SHADOW, a pair of broadcast adventures performed live on stage, and featuring smooth Tim Oberholzer as Alec Baldwin.  Should be sweet, film noir fun!  From the 6th to 17th.

From the 8th to 10th (short run!) Vintage Stock Theatre will put on MEETING MR.BENNETT at Shenkman Centre, a play based on actual letters to Prime Minister Bennett.  In other news, we had a PM named Bennett?  Wow, I paid NO attention in school.

And finishing things off, Kanata Theatre has family-friendly show A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD from the 27th thru 30th, a nice treat between high-stress holidays, eh?

That’s it for shows that I know of…a quick note that Crush Improv‘s Monday BOUT TIME slot at the Elmdale Tavern has been pushed back a week, and will now be happening on the 12th.  You’ll all be there, right?  Day before my birthday and all…just saying…

Oh, and if you’re interested, there’s the DIGI60 film competition screenings at Centrepointe Theatre on the 2nd and third…Ken Godmere’s short film bur will be in the second showing on the 3rd, and may or may not feature me shuffling about zombie-like in the background.  In a curious turn, it seems I DO have ego enough to actually show up and see myself on the big screen. Also, it looks like it’s going to be an amazing bunch of shorts, so check it out.

Right, I’ve gotta get back to writing this blog, which I’m curently doing anyways.  Sigh.  This morning is going all solipsistic on me. Nevermind…peace, love and soul, Ottawa, and I’ll see you soon,

The Visitor (and Winston)