visitorium

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Monday Foofarah! – Superheroic Edition –

In Uncategorized on January 30, 2012 at 11:33 pm

I don’t feel qualified to write tonight’s Foofarah.  I didn’t even have the heart to capitalize the poor word just there.  Shameful.  And I had a theme prepared and everything, spilling out from my recent indulging in Grant Morrison’s amazing SUPERGODS original nonfiction novel.  If you’re a fan of Grants or comic book superheroes in general, it’s a dandy, electrifying read, part history, part autobiography, inspirational, goofy, packed with interesting and insightful looks into the storied history of the spandex-clad Gods of newsprint.  It got classic comix on my mind so much that I’ve been splashing out on reprint volumes of the original Marvel mags…FANTASTIC FOUR, THOR, SPIDER-MAN, and it’s just god-damned dandy.  The classic Marvel Universe ROCKED.

Okay, I'm geeking out in anticipation of THE AVENGERS movie. Fuck you, it looks fun.

So superheroes is my theme for this Monday…or at least, that’s the plan.  I’m personally feeling a little defeated this day, tho as the Human Torch just told me in an old issue, every hero suffers defeats.  But it feels worse than that…the internet is hammering my wobbly self-esteem with a vengeance these days, and I have the sneaking suspicion that I’m going to be looking for a new job before too long.  Yes, like a proper modern comic book hero (and also an asshole who’s just passed 40), I may just have a good old-fashioned CRISIS on my hands.  Let’s greet this with an inspirational, heroic anthem:

(that thing doesn’t seem to be working, link-wise, but cut and paste it, you’ll love me for it) Have you noticed how many songs there are about Superman, and how few there are about Batman?  Think about it.  In the meantime…

FIRST AND LAST CHANCE TO SEE:  CREATION, debuting over at the NAC, and you totally have to go see THIS one, because it’s your last chance to see bonafide superstar Kris Joseph on an Ottawa stage afore he heads out to Edmonton.

Also, CYRANO DE BERGERAC hits the Gladstone, from Plosive Productions.  I had the chance to see a brief preview of a few scenes from this show a few days back, and it looks to be a pretty fantastic take on swashbuckling superhero Cyrano, big nose and all.  Featuring one of the biggest and coolest sounding all-star casts an Ottawa stage has ever played host to (Richard Gelinas, Elise Gauthier, Tim Oberholzer, Katie Bunting, Garret Quirk..and I’m not even half done!), and newly translated by the almost eerily knowledgeable David Whiteley.  I chatted with him for a spell about the appeal of the Bergerac, the world’s most tragic comedy-adventure, and his passion for the material is pretty infectious.  Also?  There’s cool swordfighting and stuff, so right away you KNOW you don’t have anything better to do.  Go get Cyranoed already!

And don’t forget, this is your last week to catch Pierre Brault’s BLOOD ON THE MOON at the GCTC, and it may not be around again!  And your life WILL be poorer if you don’t go.  Just saying.

…And, honestly, I don’t have much else to say this time around. Like I say, defeated.  But I’ll bounce back (or I won’t, but that’s life, eh?).  Hey, at least I have CYRANO and CREATION to catch this week, so hells yeah to that!  Now let me try and find one silly Superhero themed video to share with you on the way out, and…well, here’s three.

Oh yeah, THAT’S the stuff.  Keep your heads up, folks, you’re stronger than you think.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

The actual source of my online handle. Wish I were joking (it was a long time ago).

Yerma

In Theatre on January 27, 2012 at 7:05 am

Rocking a bit of a deadline issue today…didn’t get this post up last nite due to sleepiness, and now I face a long day of drudgery with no end in sight, so if I want this review to be up before the next show, it has to be done now.  As in, quarter to seven in the AM.  Sigh.  There’s a first time for everything, right?

And as it happens I DO want this post up before the next show, as it’s the latest from the peppy kids at Sock’n’Buskin Theatre over Carleton U. way, and even though I keep getting lost in the tunnels on the way to the theatre, I suppose I can’t blame them for THAT.  The latest show is YERMA from Federico Garcia Lorca, and directed by KAthleen Frost.  Set in what seems to be rural Spain , it follows the tale of the titular character, stuck in a going nowhere marriage and desperate to have a child.  On the face of it, it sounds like some by-the-numbers Katherine Heigl RomCom.

Don't worry though. It's nowhere near THAT grim.

The show stars Jane Hosek as the single-minded Yerma and Will LaFrance as Juan, her dedicatedly protective husband.  In and around them are Mark MacDonald as local heartthrob Victor, Ellen Manchee as the Mother-mystic Dolores, and several choruses and supporting characters.  Our Yerma especially seems to live vicariously through her pregnant friend Maria (Sophie Crump), who seems nowhere near as excited about the concept of Motherhood as her increasingly obsessive galpal. Juan, meanwhile, sics his eerie sisters (Veronique Nolin and Joanna Hearn) on Yerma to act as surrogate jailers, trying to keep her nocturnal wanderings to a minimum lest the family honour be tainted.  As these two ideologies clash, music and dance paint a picture of the surrounding scenery to great effect, and pretty swanky entertainment, too.

It’s a killer story about primal urges running headlong into tradition, dated concepts of honour (which Yerma herself gladly ascribes to), and cold hard biological fact.  And after a few desperate attempts involving occult ceremonies and obscure local remedies, well…I’ll let yo find out for yourself how it all plays out.  But solid direction and cool set, with performances from Hosek and LaFrance that anchor the whole storied production.  And special shoutout to Carly Kastner and Jake William Smith as a pair of masked devils in the second act…very goddamned effective stuff, and it helped put YERMA a notch up.  It’s definitely worth watching, and ya got two more days to do it!  And now I gotta go to work!  Yikes! Peace, love and soul, everyone,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Monday Foofarah! – Spectacular Edition

In Just me doing stuff, Theatre on January 23, 2012 at 7:40 pm

That’s right, I said SPECTACULAR!  Not that the Foofarah isn’t always something to amuse your friends and frighten your enemies with, naturally, but we’ve something special in store today.  Exciting news, of a spectacular variety!  More on this later.  I have to soldier on, because I’m having trouble typing right now.  So, first things first:

FIRST AND LAST CHANCE TO SEE: LOST IN YONKERS, the Ottawa Little Theatre show that’s been packing them in, and deservedly so, ends its run this week.  And the wicked fun 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS wraps up over at the NAC, too.   Plus, the kindly kids at Sock’n’Buskin are putting up their latest, YERMA, this week, and you should all be there as well.

NONCOMMITTAL CHANCE TO SEE:  Over at the GCTC, good ol’ BLOOD ON THE MOON continues its triumphant return, and for crying out loud (and I will..!) you need to check it out.  Pierre Brault be the bizness, yo.

PARTYTIME:  The other night, Winston and I hosted a grand soiree of wine’ cheese and adventure here at the Visitorium for a hand-picked, elite audience.  It was a smashing success, although I have to say my fav’rit guest HAD to be the adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill.  She looked smashing in a yellow ensemble, enjoyed some of my patent-pending havarti and striploin Amuse-bouches, and sat plitely while I forced British teevee o=upon her.  Also, we spun some vinyl, including this gem from my collection that I found in a thrift store in Peterborough:

You just keep that on repeat if you like, I won’t mind.

VOLUNTEERISM:  Had my shift for BLOOD ON THE MOON last week, and happily have another one booked for tomorrow night.  I’m actually kinda happy with myself that I’ve kept up with my GCTC volunteering, even after I found myself in the fortunate position of being on their media call list.  I’d honestly been worried that I was such a shallow person that I wouldn’t bother doing it once I was getting my free tickets some other way.  Hmmm..when I say it like that, I sound like a shithead EITHER way.  Oh well. I’m bringing treats tomorrow for the girls in the box office (the coolest, most glamorous gaggle of gals you’ll find in this town, sez I), so hopefully that’ll help everyone overlook my terribleness.

Speaking of me being awful, here’s a great video I was just using seconds ago to torment Natalie Joy Quesnel on Twitter.  Please make sure you have a bag of chips within reaching distance before watching.

So in the runup to my Wine and Cheese Spectacular (no, that’s not the reason for the name of the post) I went on a pretty epic cleaning of the old Visitorium, finding junk that needed to go on a fairly large scale, and I now have storage space I’ve been cluttering up for the past four years.  I’m thinking it might be time to buy new shit…except I just DID buy something new and pretty expensive, so I may have to wait a bit on that.  And what WAS it that I picked up, you ask?  New comix?  A nice pimp sweater for Winston?  A cellphone?

…HA!  As if.  No, Your dear old Visiotr has no need for a cellphone, since luckily enough, no on ewants to talk to me!  But I did just today pick up something, well, spectacular.

Okay, maybe not as spectacular as a Moulin Rouge/Harry Potter mashup, depending on your nerd levels, but pretty exciting for me…new glasses!

..get it?  ‘Spectacular’?  You get it.  You’re clever sorts.  But come on, it’s my first new pair in over a decade, and I’m stoked. Also having a little trouble with my depth perception, as often HAPPENS with a new pair of spex, hence the trouble typing.  And with that bombshell, I leave you with a self-indulgent picture of me in my new Clark-Kent best and, of course, a killer tune from the X-Ray Spex:

Peace, love and soul, folks,

The Visitor (and Winston)

In a rare happenstance, this photo shows the twin phantom Batman and Superman imps that constantly advise me.

Return of the Moon

In GCTC on January 20, 2012 at 12:24 am

Let’s take a little trip back in time, to explore some long-gone Ottawa lore, shall we?  Picture this: it’s Saturday June 19th, 1999, closing in on 6 pm.  You’re at opening day of the second ever Ottawa Fringe Festival, looking for a good show to hit up.  You’ve already caught THE BOSNIAN BOYS and HITCHHIKING TO THE END OF THE WORLD, and have to meet a friend at Academic Hall at 7:30 for Screwed and Clued’s latest, TRENCH.  But you don’t really have any leads on the 6pm slot, so you figure, fuck it, I like the seats at Arts Court, I’ll check out whatever’s on in the theatre.  If it sucks, at least you can rest your eyes comfortably, right?  You buy your ticket (seven bucks?? Shoulda bought a pass. Next year.) and head on in, wondering what the company, Black Banana Productions, has in store.  The set is as sparse as it gets, just a solitary chair amid the dimly-lit surroundings.  God, you hope it isn’t some artsy-fartsy experimental crap, you HATE that.  But you don’t know anything about the show about to start.  You have no idea you’re about to become part of Ottawa Theatre History.  You’re about to see the world premiere, my friend, of BLOOD ON THE MOON.

Several remounts, NAC appearances, world tours, one Gemini-award-winning tv movie and 13 years later…

Yes, it’s back, it’s back, it’s goddamn-well back, and I couldn’t be more goofily thrilled about it. Pierre Brault’s legendary, put-the-Fringe-on-the-map one man show is back for a well-deserved remount at the GCTC, and I actually got to see it (I honestly thought I never, ever would)!  Not that this was planned, even…the return is a last-minute affair, the result of some unfortunate bad news and health woes involving Maja Ardal, star of YOU FANCY YOURSELF, the show that was supposed to have been premiering tonight.  Sadly, she had to cancel (although we’re told she is on the mend and things are looking up, so YAY! ), but Pierre and the gang stepped up, including John ‘Killer’ Koensgen on direction duties, producer Judi Pearl, Sound designer Marc Desormeaux, Stage Manager Samira Rose and ‘Scenographer’ Martin Conboy (I only put it in italics because I’m congenitally stoopid and don’t know what a scenographer IS…tho I assume it’s awesome).

The hype was high, to say the least.  This is a show so well-loved an image of it is literally painted onto the Elgin street facade of the National Arts Centre.  That’s kind of hard to argue with, really.  But, we must come at it fresh, oui?  Can’t be intimidated by the past press, this is a fresh run from the good folks at Sleeping Dog (I guess they rethought that ‘Black Banana’ moniker PDQ) and it deserves fresh eyes. So, I suited up in some swell duds (which NO ONE commented on, le sigh), called up/begged Fringe overlord Natalie Joy to tag along, and was off to the Oiving Greenboig for a perfectly unbiased, even-handed look at OHMIGOD ITS FUCKING BLOOD ON THE MOON OHMIGOD!!!

…Yeah, you saw that coming didn’t you?  It was amazing, and that’s no hype.  Pierre Brault, for those who haven’t seen him in action, is just about as engaging and versatile a performer you’re likely to see on a theatre stage in your lifetime, and I highly recommend the experience.  Along with the other star of the show, namely the brilliantly staged lighting effects (no lighting designer is mentioned in the program, but I’m guessing that maybe it falls under the header of ‘scenography’..? *ETA: I just checked one of the handy media kits I was sent, and it was Conboy indeed who gets the credit…I should read those things more often), Pierre leads on a theatrical vision of a true life bit of Canadian history…the murder of Thomas Darcy McGee.  And our host for the tale is none other than the man convicted and hanged for the crime, James Patrick Whelan.  From his tiny, squalid cell in the downtown Hostel (no, really), Whelan leads us through his version of events, protesting his innocence and pointing out the glaring flaws in the prosecution’s case, allowing us to be his new jury.

And the case is strong, raising all too many images of saps railroaded through courtrooms to satisfy a public outcry for results.  DID Whelan do the deed?  No one can ever be sure (but, let’s face it, probably not), but Brault places more than enough doubt in all our minds to bring this piece of history to terrible life before our eyes.  A master at work, Brault slips with ease into over a dozen different courtroom witnesses to replay the crucial trial, along with the ever-present Whelan, portrayed here as an easygoing Irish lad who only longs to be reunited with his true love Bridget.  In their honour, I am drinking Irish whiskey as I write this.

It's called respect, folks.

So yeah, major props to Brault and company for this show, which is everything I expected it to be and more.  Brault was as impressive, if not more, as the first time I saw him a few years back in his incredible PORTRAIT OF AN UNIDENTIFIED MAN.  The lights AND sound were spot-on, and the emotional sniper-shots (pardon the poor taste of the metaphor) hit all the targets. Picture-perfect theatre, folks.  It runs til February 5th.  Do yourself a favour, and find out WHY it’s a legend.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

PS:  I want to officially start, as of now, the campaign to get Maja Ardal’s YOU FANCY YOURSELF onto next season’s GCTC schedule.  It’s the right thing to do, and you know it.  Represent!

PPS:  Thanks to superstar Judi Pearl, for correcting my dumbness…Mr.Conboy, I finally got your name right!

Monday Foofarah!

In Just me doing stuff on January 16, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Yoinks!  I think I may have bit off more than I can chew with this whole weekly FOOFARAH / Whatever thing I’ve assigned myself.  I may literally not have ten minutes worth of things to talk at people about after only a week’s time.  At least, that’s what it more often than not feels like when I sit down to type this thing.  Let’s see if that’s true or not.  Away we go!

FIRST AND LAST CHANCE TO SEE:  Only one new show, that I know of, starting up this week, and it’s a doozy.  A last minute replacement for YOU FANCY YOURSELF at the GCTC, Pierre Brault is bringing his legendary one-man show  BLOOD ON THE MOON back for a return engagement.  I haven’t had the chance to see it previously, so I’m tickled.  I assume, of course, it is a harsh examination of the menstrual cycle.  I HOPE so.  Also, Third Wall is putting on the second of their EMPTY SPACE reading series on the 18th, this time rocking a little Henry Beissel for y’all.  Be there!

NONCOMMITTAL CHANCE TO SEE2 PIANOS 4 HANDS continues at the NAC, while LOST IN YONKERS carries on over at the OLT, and I can happily attest to the fun-ness of both shows.  Check ’em out!  I cast this LEDERHOSEN LUCIL video in both their directions, with luv:

I’ve been really digging into Grant Morrison’s new non-fiction book SUPERGODS this past week, trying to savor it.  For those not in the know, Grant is my fav’rit comic book writer of pretty much ever.  Not only is he writing one of the VERY few bright spots in DC comics’ foolhardy and ill-advised ‘new 52’ reboot, he’s also introduced such fantastic concepts and characters over the years as Hypertime, Danny the transvestite street, King Mob, We3, Batman Incorporated, Chubby da Choona and the Brotherhood of Dada, to name but a mind-blowing few.  His book is part history of the comic book superhero, part autobiography, and it’s giving me a serious nostalgia jones for old-time comix.  I’ve already bought and been poring over a reprint volume of the first ten issues of FANTASTIC FOUR, and I suspect there’s more expensive trips to the Silver Snail and Comic Book Shoppe in my near future.  Which is a good thing.

In other news…not much, really. Aside from getting some cleaning done in my apartment, and another thing I’m not allowed to tell you about (kinda cool, tho), I have woefully little to report.  That being said, I have reinvention on the brain, and a few tasks I’d like to set for myself.  For instance, finish that god-damned play I’ve had half-written for six months.  It’s all there in my head, I can see it, I can HEAR it, I just have to beat my personal demons Fear and Sloth and get that shit down on paper (or electrons, that would be fine too).  I honestly think it’s a decent, fun little piece…again, if I ever finish it.  THEN I have to find someone I trust to read it, and tell me all the ways it’s terrible so I can fix it.  Then I can get started on the next one, and the other one, and the one after that.   I swear, I wanna have BECKY SUE IN THE BIG CITY, THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN VIDEO and MISSY VS.DINOSAURS finished by summer.  Well, first drafted, anyhow.  You know how it is.

I’m running out of things to say earlier than usual this week, so I’ll leave you with the song that, almost 10 years ago, inspired me to start writing that BECKY SUE piece I mentioned in the last paragraph.  From my fav’rit Neko Case album, The Virginian:

Trust me, it’ll all make sense once you see that shit on stage.  Fringe ’13, mayhap?  Peace, love and soul, folks,

The Visitor (and Winston)

 

 

the Piano Men

In Theatre on January 16, 2012 at 7:39 pm

First of all, apologies for this one being so late, not that anyone’s been waiting on pins and needles for it (and if you have, stop it, you’ll hurt yourself).  Still, I caught this show that I’m about to blather about back on Friday, and here we are in Monday (that’s Foofarah country!) and it’s still not reviewed and raved about.  Well, let’s correct that, shall we?

The show in question, at the illustrious and well-lit National Arts Centre, was one 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS, written by, directed by, starring, and slam-dunked by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt.  It’s a show they’ve been working for 125 years now, and the story is that this year is their farewell to the piece, and Ottawa was one of the lucky recipients of a final look.  We’re pretty lucky for the opportunity, I can safely say.

Ted and Richard star in this inspired musical comedy as, basically, themselves, as they chart their lives on the piano from earliest lessons via bored teachers, to soul-crushing exams inflicted by cruel masters of the form.  Along the way, every good joke to be mined out of piano lessons is expertly dug up and fired gleefully towards the audience.    I actually felt sorry that I’d never taken lessons myself, because I could just HEAR those in the audience who had, groaning or wincing with knowing familiarity as our heroes were grilled about arcane musical terminology and driven through ever-more challenging pieces.  The lads take turns playing the others’ teachers, mentors and (as the case may be) tormentors with terrific charm…Ted Dykstra’s nearly suicidal Kiwanis spokesperson was a comedy highlight, for sure.

The music, of course, is dynamite, with the boys proving their detractors wrong by dazzling in several extended musical interludes.  My only polite complaint about the show is that, as a play, it doesn’t exactly have an ending.  Although they still manage to bring down the house, so that’s a minor point, I suppose.  It’s a fantastic time, and you probably WILL be sore from laughing, and just plain grinning like a sucker.  PIANOS is classic feel-good theatre, and a pretty can’t-miss night out.  Congrats to the lads for a grand run on this show, and I’m very glad I got to see it before they packed it away.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Yonkered

In Theatre on January 11, 2012 at 9:38 am

Months ago, I went to my second ever audition, having taken a few months to slowly but surely get over the trauma that was my FIRST audition.  Yes, I was ready to get back on that acting horse, and the new audition went purty well.  I even made callback, and had lotsa good fun playing off some of the other folks who were also brought back.  Ultimately I didn’t get cast, but I still felt pretty good about it, all things being equal, and decided based on what I’d seen from the other actors in the callback that I was for sure going to catch this show when it finally arrived.

Well, it’s finally finally, and that show, Neil Simon’s LOST IN YONKERS at the Ottawa Little Theatre, has arrived.  And I’m happy to report that I’m honestly and truly NOT a sore loser, as I was right there on opening night to see what Director Chantal Plante had done with the show. Set in Yonkers, NY at the outset of WWII, it tells the tale of the spectacularly flawed Kurnitz clan, trying to find some joy in their lives against all odds. And by ‘all odds’, I mean Grandma.  Our tale starts with Jay and Arty, two feisty kids played with hi-energy and definite moxie (ask Uncle Louie) by Thomas Nyhuus and Ven Djukic.  Their down-on-his-luck Dad (Bob Hicks, beautifully human as the desperate, emotional Eddie) has to leave town for a whole year, and is leaving the kids in the home of his dreaded Mother and slow but sweet sister Bella.

Bella is the childlike heart of YONKERS, a 35 year-old woman who looks to Jay and Arty, barely in their teens, for support as she strives to wend her way in the world.  And she’s just wonderfully brought to life by Laurie Batstone, giggling and charming her way across the stage with infectious delight.  That is, when she’s not cowering from the imperious matriarch of the clan, Grandma.  A hard-as-nails survivor through and through, Charlotte Stewart’s intimidating Grandma Kurnitz makes her entrance onto the stage like Godzilla invading a small town.  You know she’s coming, and you’re terrified, but there’s nowhere to run.  And it’s great to watch.  Rounding out the terrific cast are Tara Berish, doing a little classic scene-stealing as respiratorily-challenged Aunt Gert, and a bombastic John Collins as tough-guy Uncle Louie, merrily chewing the scenery (or intimidating it into looking away).

You do NOT want to look in this man's bag.

The script is fast and funny, peppered with some particularly sharp one-liners that the cast for the most part nails, and when the tale turns to the heavy stuff, it never feels forced…it flows, just like it should.  Batstone and Stewart particularly shine in a memorable sitting-room confrontation in Act Two.  And Nyhuus and Djukic as plucky Jay and Arty manage the tough task of anchoring the entire production splendidly.  I KNEW them kids were the goods when I met them at the audition…glad I was right.

The set is of the usual spiffy OLT quality, and designer Paul Gardner and lighting guru David Magladry deserve special props for the clever gimmick used to deliver Eddie’s letters to Jay and Arty…trust me, it’s pretty cool.  YONKERS is probably the most fun I’ve had at the OLT yet, and that’s saying something.  Congrats to the cast and crew for a great show.  And while I’m sorry I didn’t manage to get into the cast, I’m VERY glad I got to see it.  You should too.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

 

Monday Foofarah! – What number is this..?

In Just me doing stuff on January 9, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I was at the Elmdale Tavern tonight, watching a particularly killer start to Crush Improv’s second year of ‘Bout Time adventures.  hosted by Al Connors, the show featured improvisers extraordinaire such as Brad McNeil, Laura Hall, Dan Lajoie, Joel Garrow, Tim Anderson, and Desiree Connors (pardon, I don’t recall her married surname just now, but she’s still Al’s sister, right?), all set tot he musical accompaniment of the talented Glen Gower as always.  There was an opening round of questions that was so rapid-fire at times you would have SWORN it was staged, and an on-the-spot musical scene by one of the teams that was quite beyond belief.  It was an amazing night, for the first half. And then, for the first time ever, I left early.

And I really don’t have a good answer yet as to why. Welcome to the Monday Foofarah.

I mean, I’ve had a fine couple of days.  Caught a couple of cool old Hammer films at the homestead…LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES and CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER, good times both.  I caught the amazing LARAMIE PROJECT at the Saw Gallery, and there’s more shows on the way this coming week.  Speaking of which..

FIRST AND LAST CHANCE TO SEE:  The aforementioned LARAMIE PROJECT has shows from the 11th thru 13th, and as I’m told only the 11th has any tickets left. It’s worth it.  Meanwhile, the NAC premieres 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS, which my boss at work tells me I’m going to see with him, which probably means lots of talk in the intermission about my future with the company.  Fuck, but I hope there isn’t an intermission.  Tho on the plus side, he usually buys all my drinks when we head out.  Also, again, Ottawa Little Theatre premieres LOST IN YONKERS, which I came close to being cast in a few months back, and I’m excited as Hell to see what’s become of this show.  You should be too!

So why’d I leave?  I’d gotten there all early, reading my collected volume of early FANTASTIC FOUR issues…and as we’re on the subject, everyone involved in those last two FF films?  Fuck off and die.  How could you miss the primal explorer/adventurer aspect of the team like that?  How could you misinterpret Doctor Doom THAT badly?  And Jessica Alba…?  Seriously, go fuck yourselves. Shit, now I’m all worked up. Let’s see if comething new from Buffybot’s playlist will soothe me.

Okay, that was good, but that was from Greta’s playlist, get it right!  What was I talking about.?  Right, comic books. Well, thanks to Grant Morrison’s  SUPERGODS, currently out in hardcover, I’m learning to relove all my old comix (hence my return to classic Fantastic Four, whose reprints I read as a wee child).  My Mother tells me I taught myself to read at a particularly young age, because she balked at reading me the BATMAN comix I had my heart set on hearing, so I read them myself.  90% of my character can be summed up in that last sentence.  Point, if there is any, is: I love my comic books, and am slowly working towards the way I can marry my oldest love to my newest: theatre.  Also, a message to the folks behind DC Comics’ ‘New 52’ initiative: there is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING stupider than the sight of a completely invulnerable man (Superman) wearing a suit of fucking armour.  Thank you.  Now fuck off and die also.  Spandex was FINE.

No new auditions to speak of, as I’ve passed on/chickened out of the last few that have come up.  I’ve told myself it’s because I’m working on concentrating this coming year on the Blog, and making it a true force to contend with in the Ottawa theatre scene, but the truth is I’m just a pussy (and not the good kind).  Which has me a little annoyed myself for sitting back and letting things pass me by.  And that’s actually the reason I left early tonight.  I was tired of being just a spectator, and I really, really felt like just that this evening.  So, no fault to the fantabulous performers up there tonight at the Elmdale, I split, to come back home and write.  Even this.  Just to do SOMEthing.  Even if it was just to send you all this video you’ve probably all already seen:

…And that’s as good a plan as I’m liable to come up with tonite.  Hopefully I’ll see some of you back here this week for my takes on YONKERS and PIANOS, if I make it out to both of them, which is the plan.  And even more hopefully, you’ll get out to those shows and more.  Boom!  Peace, love and soul, friends,

The Visitor (and Winston)

 

 

the Sparkling Lights of Laramie

In Theatre on January 8, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Finally, new theatre!  Okay, okay, I’ve already seen BIFURCATE ME and the Fools fundraiser this past week, but I’d already seen one at UNDERCURRENTS last year and the other wasn’t exactly a theatre show per se, so I was dutifully excited to scoot down to the SAW gallery last nite for something new, at least to me.  Honestly, the new year is getting off to a rapid fire start compared to last,  which is fantastic.  My Winter ennui was about to turn savage.

But I digress…the SAW!  Yes, there was a solid crowd of us there last evening, packing the classic underground venue for a highly anticipated night.  A company I’d heretofore been unfamiliar with, the Red.Collective, was just about at the halfway point of their run of THE LARAMIE PROJECT.  A verbatim piece originally created by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project, the show is comprised of the words of Laramie, Wyoming residents culled from hundreds of interviews following the brutal murder in that town of Matthew Shephard, that became a flashpoint worldwide for anti-gay hatred.  It’s heady subject matter, to be sure, and the play has no shortage of material to work with.  It’s structured almost like a particularly grim episode of COLUMBO, with the murder and murderes clear from the outset, and our heroes (in this case, the theatre company themselves) putting the pieces together from the ground up.

The set by designer and director Emma Hooper Brooks was sparse and wide, echoing the play’s namesake locale (and boldly sacrificing several rows of potential customers by eliminating some precious seats in the cramped gallery, a nice art-over-commerce triumph) and giving her troupe some room to strut their stuff.  And strut they did…I wasn’t familiar with the actors involved (well, one, but not as an Actor) but I’ll be keeping an eye out from now on.  The six-strong Red.Collective gang took on dozens of roles throughout the long but never dull PROJECT, and each shone in her or his turn, and each voice helped flesh out the story turned media sensation, reminding us of the sleepy small town where it all happened.

Alain G.Chauvin for example, was excellent as the wise-voiced bartender who served Shephard his last drink, then turned positively eerie in a scene as unrepentant killer Aaron McKinney.  Mina Delic turned in terrific work as Reggie Fluty, an officer who was unwittingly exposed to HIV from the crime scene, forgotten fallout from a senseless crime.  Nick Fournier had several standout roles, most memorably charming limo driver Doc O’Connor (though his final appearance as grieving Father Dennis Shephard was just plain stunning).  And Nick Surges was alternately endearing as local budding actor Jedediah Schultz, and wickedly vile as Shock-Jock ‘Reverend’ Fred Phelps himself.  Caitlin McNamee was perhaps most memorable as chain-smoking Marge Murray, mother of previously mentioned officer Fluty, not to mention out Laramie resident Jonas Slonaker, spouting words of wisdom.  And Laura Young impressed as lesbian schoolteacher Catherine Connolly, shaken to her core by the brutal attack.  I could go on, and on (I’d kinda like to, actually).  They tackled intense material, and handled it superbly. There was nary a flat note in the entire show.  And yes, these are young actors, so not every accent was polished and what-not, blah blah blah.  They hit it where it counted.

It’s a great show, filled with many amazing voices (ironically, the only major voice necessarily missing in the show is, of course, the most important one of all…Matthew Shephard himself), and the show structures itself very neatly.  I was a little concerned about the choice to include the voices of the original troupe themselves in the play, tho I understood the choice.  Only in one or two spots did it feel a little strained in that respect (although that’s a matter of opinion).  Point is, this is an important work based on a small-town crime that echoed out across the planet, and it does a great job of getting across the reasons for that resonance.  As Jonas Slonaker sagely brings to light, Laramie’s vaunted ‘Live and Let Live’ policy, proudly boasted by several kindly folk in the first half of the show, turns out to be just a thinly veiled ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’.

I’m happy to say the show has stuck with me, and I’m very much thinking of going again next week.  And seats are limited, kids!  So if you don’t want me to scoop your seat (the first week sold out), start planning your trip to the SAW right now.  You really don’t want to miss the first great Ottawa show of 2012.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Alice, Queen of Fools

In Company of Fools, Theatre on January 6, 2012 at 6:51 pm

It’s a whole new Year, and that means it’s time to crown a new head fool!  Or, at least, NOW I get that that’s an annual thing…I did not realize that a few days ago, when I first heard there was going to be another COMPANY OF FOOLS TWELFTH NIGHT CELEBRATION happening at the NAC 4th Stage.  I made it out to last year’s shindig and had a blast, but by the time I found out they do this regularly, I thought I’d missed my chance to get a ticket.  But luckily, I know amazing people who are much, much cooler than myself.  One of these is Smooth Tim Oberholzer, who had two tickets for the event he didn’t need, and most generously gifted them in my hapless direction.  I figure the least I can do is tell him what he missed.

With the effervescent and pun-tastic Leslie Czerepy in tow, I hit the 4th stage to see what was up, meeting the loverly Kelly Rigole on arrival.  Kelly just finished up a brilliant run with the Fools at the GCTC with their remount of A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE, and part of the fun of tonite’s fundraiser was to announce their 2012 season.  After some drinks, some food and some raffle-ticket-nabbin’, Fool Al Connors took to the stage, joined by legendary clown-combo Pommes Frites (Scott Florence) and ‘Restes (Margo MacDonald).  There they made several doomed and hilarious attempts to tell at least ONE scene from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  They managed (adding in a few extra lightsaber duels and mass deaths than I recall in the original, but whatevah), and after a brief cake break it was time to crown the new King or Queen.  Last year’s matriarch, you’ll recall, was Hazel.  And hers was a glorious reign.  But time goes on, and by decree of the red dot on the bottom of her cake plate, the new Queen of Fools is Alice (oddly fitting for a company whose last show put them in a Winter Wonderland), maybe she rule wisely.  She got off to a good start by commanding a pie in Scott Florence’s face.

A final scene ensued, with Scott, Al and Margo gathering for a tag-team take on MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, performing the Pyramus and Thisbe scene in their insane, patent-pending sudden-switch style that has to be seen to be believed.  I’ve caught their TAMING OF THE SHREW before like this, with each actor leaping mid-pentameter into a different role at the shout of ‘SWITCH’ from anywhere in the audience, and it was great to see them give a different play the Fool treatment.

Following the festivities, the new season was finally and merrily anounced.  I’m sure it’s all on their website, but if you’ll permit me the indulgence of a recap:

SHAKESPEARE AND YOU – Appearing in the lobby of the upcoming UNDERCURRENTS festival (much as THE LAB did last year) Feb.7-19, the Fools will be engaging in some interactive development of a new piece with willing (ideally) volunteers, to build their next show from the ground up.  Yes, you can be a part of it, folks, one more good reason to go to that festival.

SWEETS AND SONNETS DELIVERY – Send your sweetie a Fool with a personalized Shakespearean love sonnet!  Valentine’s Day, but potentially other days too.  Just ask’em!

OTTAWA THEATRE CHALLENGE – March 27, the Fools will host Ottawa’s annual event in honour of World Theatre Day.  Competing companies have 48 hours to brainstorm their pieces.  Rubber Chicken glory awaits the victor!

SHAKESPEARE’S DEAD – April 30 – May 12, at various venues across the city (to be decided).  An indoor twist on the Fools’ annual outdoor show, this tale of a troupe of actors visited by the spirit of Shakespeare (who forces them to act out all of his death scenes) will be touring the city in a host of diff’rent venues.  And I can attest that th eFools are just as good inside as out.  But when they go out…

HENRY THE FIFTH – July 2 – Aug 18 at parks across Ottawa.  This year’s in-the-Park parade is Billy Shakes’ legendary war romp, directed by ANTONY & CLEOPATRA’s Geoff McBride and featuring an almost entirely female cast (with Margo Mac herself as Henry 5, whee!!).  We got a wee taster of this show in one short scene, and it’s gonna be so terribly sweet.  I’m for SURE bringing the nieces to this ‘un.

And I’ve also heard tell that Al Connors will be bringing the Fool’s classic SHAKESPEARE’S INTERACTIVE CIRCUS to this years Algonquin Theatre Arts season, so there’s that much more Foolishness to look forward to!  I couldn’t be exciteder, and it was a great night out with one of Ottawa’s finest companies (even if Tim Oberholzer’s borderline mystical raffle-luck didn’t manage to transfer to me, sigh).  And this time, I’ll plan ahead for next year.  Peace, love and soul to Fools everywhere,

The Visitor (and Winston)

PS:  Thanks again, Tim!