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Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

A Fest of Us

In Theatre on December 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Is there a better way to spend a cold, slushy evening than in the company of friends, enjoying some live theatre and drinking between each show?  I’M THINKING NOT.  And luckily for you, Ottawa, the Red.Collective crew share my thinking, and decided to make it happen.  After a couple of sadly cancelled shows over the last few months, the Reddies have returned to cheer up the holidays with some rapid-fire, cool beans theatre under the banner of RED FESTIVUS, deep in the cozy nook that is the Saw Gallery.  They’ve lined up 4 shows (only 3 a night, and if you weren’t there last night you already missed one of them!) with a might kick, in what I definitely hope becomes a new holiday tradition.  The Radio Play can’t have ALL the fun, right?

Red Festivus

After a stop off at the bar, and some welcome palaver with lovely Team Visitorium alumnus Danielle Savoie (who totally needs to write some more reviews for this site in the new year, I’m just saying), the festivus kicked off with Floyd Dell’s ENIGMA, directed by Maritie Lord and starring Dan DeMarbre and Allison Harris.  The show features Dan and Allison as Paul and Helen, a couple breaking up before our eyes, and all the emotional suckerpunch stops are being pulled about for thee occasion.  It’s a gutwrencher, and DeMarbre and Harris deliver the goods.  I won’t go into much detail, as it’s a pretty short piece.  But there was more to come!
A quick trip after that show to an adjoining space (passing the bar on the way…the Reddies planned this well), where the players were already set up for show number two, SPANISH FLY by Maureen Medved, and directed by Fraser MacKinnon.  Featuring Dave Rowan and Mekdes Teshome as another couple on the verge of a particularly harrowing breakup , even as they’re locked inside together five stories up in a somewhat hardcore attempt to quit smoking.  Threats, emotional torment and knife-fights ensue in a pretty sweet little show that mixes sexy, funny and hysterical into a fun package.  Dave and Mek do good work, and Fraser’s job at the helm has me anticipating his full-length debut next month with REASONS TO BE PRETTY even more than I was before.  And that was kind of a lot.

My last show of the Festivus was one I’d caught before, from the good lads at May Can Theatre, doing a little emergency subbing-in work for the evening.  I’m not sure exactly why the third scheduled show, THE ANGER IN EARNEST AND ERNESTINE from director Shelby Fairbarn, couldn’t make it that evening, but it promises to return on nights 2 and 3.  In its place this time was Cory Thibert’s THE ROOM OUTSIDE THE ROOM, a one-manner starring Tony Adams as Thomas Tills, a slightly off-kilter young man waiting for an audition call, and with a few things to get off his chest.  Tony’s Thomas is an endearing weirdo, who illustrates his abusive upbringing in a bittersweet but hilarious series of acted vignettes.  Tony is really, really good in this show, especially as Thomas’ aggressive, dimwitted Father (and in a wonderful bit where he takes us through his process of getting into a character called ‘the Birdman’).  A great end to thee evening I must say.

But it wasn’t over!  The Reddies kept the bar open a little longer, Dave Rowan played us some songs, followed by Caitlin McNamee and the May Can boys, and we all just hung out and enjoyed the groove til it was time to cal it a day.  A great night out for any self-respecting Ottawa theatre buff, and for goddamned well sure the sort of DIY action we should be supporting the Hell out of.  Get on down to the SAW, have a few drinks, and see what the new kids are up to. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

On the Air Again

In Theatre on December 19, 2012 at 11:55 am

I’m running SO FAR BEHIND this month!  ‘Tis the season, I suppose…I haven’t even started my Xmas shopping, as I’m too busy getting the spirit crushed out of me at the drudgery.  It was jut a couple days after one of the nastiest workshifts I’ve ever had, actually (and a happy birthday it was NOT, I can tell ya, dear readers), that I found myself with a pleasant Sunday off.  I spent it in the best way possible…at the theatre.  Always a good decision.

We’re winding down the theatrical year here in O-Town, not much left on the 2012 horizon (tho there ARE still things going on, never fear).  And one way to spot the end of the calendar is the return of the Gladstone‘s seasonal event, the live Radio Play, back now for its, what, third incarnation?  Fourth? (*thanks to Teri Loretto Valentik and Nicole Milne for the clarification offstage…this is the Fourth radio Play at the Gladstone*)  However many it is, it has officially (I’m calling it) become a holiday tradition in this burg, and a welcome sight it is.  Considering what a dearth of genuinely family-friendly theatre there usually is on the schedule (not complaining, mind…I’m a weirdo bachelor and can take whatever you throw at me), the cheery, friendly Gladstone gang is like an extra present under everyone’s tree, or whichever device you install in your home to celebrate the season.

After a neato double-bill of classic Shadow radio broadcasts last year, the gang has returned in full force to with a face full of Christmas with MIRACLE ON 34th STREET: THE RADIO SHOW, based on the classic flick and adapted here by Tale Wagging Theatre’s John Cook.  And the kids at Plosive Productions just couldn’t wait until you actually took your seat to blast you with some Yuletide cheer…the Gladstone lobby is decked out in, I must say, a pretty impressive bit of festive dressing, train set and all.  And the musical Gladstone Sisters (Rachel Eugster, Lori Jean Hodge and Michele Fansett) lead us in to the show Pied-Piper style, if the Pied Piper were a holiday-themed trio.  The familiar Radio Gladstone set awaits, with a newly added twist from director Nicole Milne of a Grandfather and young boy (Bob Lackey and Ben Blacklock), waiting impatiently by their own old-timey radio to listen to the broadcast.  But the show doesn’t kick into gear until the announcer (this time Steve Martin, in one of several key roles) calls the play, and the ON AIR sign shines to life.

Something kinda reassuring about that.

Something kinda reassuring about that.

The dependably classic story centers around Macy’s department store, where a drunken Santa-for-hire has to be replaced at the last minute by a pair of desperate executives (voiced by Gladstone mainstay smooth Tim Oberholzer and Irish O’Brien, who I totally went to high school with!).  They end up with the jolly ‘Kris Kringle’ (Tom Charlebois), who excels at his job, with a couple of minor hitches.  One, he has a tendency to send customers to other stores if Macy’s doesn’t have what they need (a move that turns into PR gold, mightily pleasing loud-talking Mr. Macy himself…Steve Martin again).  The other problem is that Kringle claims to be the real Santa Claus, something that starts out as a minor quibble, but ends up getting serious when Kringle is tossed in the nuthouse, and must prove himself to be the genuine article in a court of law.

The Plosive team does a predictably great job with the material…Shaun Toohey makes his Gladstone debut as a psychiatrist who escalates the whole situation in the first place, forcing Steve Martin into triple duty as a friendly lawyer who takes Kringle’s case.  Irish O’Brien is perfect as the doubting Doris, with her real-life daughter Kelty stepping in as her onstage daughter Susan (a magnificent debut indeed, and she steals several scenes with pure charm).  And speaking of scene stealing, did I mention Katie Bunting is in this show?  Because she is, and you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Katie as a little girl, or perhaps a monkey.  For serious.  And ALL the props go to Karen Benoit, providing the live sound effects for the whole production right there on stage.  Nobody can slam a door like Benoit, folks.

The Radio Play is pure holiday charm, and if that’s what you need, then look not further.  I do have my own Grinchey problems with the story of Miracle as a whole, which I’ll reserve for an upcoming Foofarah rant. 🙂  For today, I’m content to say that the serious talent assembled on the Radio Gladstone stage makes for some serious theatrical merry in this show, and should leave you smiling even if you’re a bitter old grump like me.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Monday Foofarah! – Dec 10 2012

In Foofarah on December 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Howdy!  Another week, another no-entries-at-all on this perhaps rather rashly award-nominated blog.  Oh well.  Some half-hearted explanations for that lack of activity are somewhere below, as well as other cool stuff (I hope), but first things, as sometimes happens, first!

– IN THEATRES THIS WEEK:

THE NUMBER 14 from Axis Theatre, at the Irving Greenberg Theatre (GCTC).  Last week for this crazy fun show about the people you meet on the bus.  Unmissable.

MR.PIM PASSES BY at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Also closing out this week, AA Milne’s sweet and snappy comedy of love and tradition.

pim

MIRACLE ON 34th STREET: THE RADIO PLAY at the Gladstone Theatre.  Previews beginning on the 14th for the annual radio-show fun at the Gladstone, courtesy of Plosive Productions and director Nicole Milne.

CARNAVAL DES ANIMAUX at la Nouvelle Scene.  An all-ages show on the 15th only, from L’Arsenal a Musique and Cie Vox Theatre!

DON’T DRINK THE WATER at Centrepointe Theate, from the Nepean Student Players.  On the 14th and 15th, come and check out some Woody Allen, from a gang of high schoolers who didn’t let a little thing like a labour dispute stop them from putting on a show!

ddtw

FIRST ABOVE ALL at Shenkman Centre, from Vintage Stock Players.  From the 13th thru 15th, a little Avro Arrow to get yer blood pumping!

LES ZURBAINS 15 ANS at the NAC. A fascinating sounding youth-oriented show from NAC French theatre, produced by Theatre le Clou. From the 11th thru 15th.

MAINLINE:  Ever since this past summer, I keep getting a regular bunch of invites via e-mail to come and see/review shows in Montreal.  Now, I pretty much owe that to MTL’s far superior answer to me, Al Lafrance at Bloody Underrated.  Al and his crack team cover it all over Montreal way, and a lot of what goes on happens at the legendary MAINLINE THEATRE.  Started in 2005, the Mainline quickly became a home away from home to all sorts of Fringe artists, improv kids, burlesque performers, and whoever else would fit in the doors.  I’ve heard nothing but great things about it from people who I respect a hell of a lot, like Al, and Victoria, and Shane Adamczak (aka Zack Adams), and Cameryn Moore, and many more.  So when I heard the Mainline was in a bad way, it hit home.  I’ll let them tell you the story themselves, and then, if you’ve got any spare Xmas change knocking about the place, send it their way and hurry!  Don’t be letting the Stephen Harpers of the world win this time, eh?

mainline

“In 2005 we received a grant from the Canada Council to produce Johnny Canuck and the Last Burlesque in our own space. We decided to make a home for emerging artists, seasoned ones too, and perhaps most importantly, for the spirit of the Fringe to live on throughout the year.

Seven years later, more than 55,000 people have walked up our stairs to see hundreds of shows. MainLine has helped launch companies and artists like Tableau d’hôte, Simon Boulerice, Dance Animal, Les Néos, Processed Theatre, and SideMart Theatrical Grocery. We have developed new talent through the Gala for Student Drama, tickled funny bones with Uncalled For Improv, tittilated with Miss Sugarpuss, and even put on a few of our own critical and popular successes, like Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Hedda Gabler, and The Mid-Life Crisis of Dionysus.

Over the years, we have overcome the many obstacles faced by all independent artists cursed with deeper passions than pockets. Still, we never lost our cockeyed optimism. However, recent changes in the political and economic landscapes hit us hard and fast. The unfortunate reality is, if we don’t raise $15,000 by the end of 2012 we will have to shut our doors forever.

Raising this sum in such a short time may seem a daunting task. It may even seem impossible, but I assure you, it is NOT. Besides, the impossible is MainLine’s stock and trade. If I had dug a grave every time MainLine was handed a death sentence, I would be halfway to China by now.

MainLine Theatre is our communal vision, but without your help now, it will soon turn from a reality to a memory. And so I ask everyone who has ever performed at, benefited from, or enjoyed MainLine Theatre to please step up and help us in our time of need. Any and all donations will help. Any donation over $20 will receive a tax receipt but no amount is too small.

It’s quick and easy to help. Just click on the CanadaHelps link below to make your donation and receive your tax receipt. Please join our Facebook group and invite your friends to donate as well. Remember, enthusiasm, like our bathroom, is infectious.

To make a donation please visit:http://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=s38135

Thank you for your generous support.”

Jeremy Hechtman, Artistic & Executive Director, MainLine Theatre

And now…

DRAMATIC READINGS OF THE SHIT I FIND IN MY SPAM FILTER
READING THE SECOND:

I truly wanted to construct a small remark

MORE SHOWS:  It may seem surprising, since this Foofarah is the first post on the blog since the LAST Foofarah, but I actually do see some theatre from time to time.  It’s just that, for one reason (laziness) or another (I’m just awful), I haven’t been writing about any of it this particular week.  Okay, I did indulge in repeat viewings of both THE NUMBER 14 and NOVEMBER (two of my fav’rit shows of, well, the whole damn year), and I guess I didn’t have much to say about those wonderful shows that I haven’t already said.  I should make a note, however, to point out what a wonderful thing VOLUNTEERING at one of your local theatres can be!  It was in my regular voluntary status that I hit up 14 again this past Tuesday, and I ended up being able to catch a complimentary viewing of SevenThirty’s great NOVEMBER on closing night when I answered smooth Tim Oberholzer’s call for help in striking the amazing White House set the following morning.  Aside from a short bit of chair removal following THE LAVENDER RAILROAD a while back, this was my first set striking, and it was a good time.  Also, hard bloody work, but a good start to my Sunday.  So, volunteer!  You’ll feel good, and you’ll see AND help great theatre.  I’m just saying.

The previous night I’d been out at Academic Hall, catching the much anticipated CRUSH IMPROV FIFTH ANNIVERSARY SHOW, which was a goddamned hoot and three-quarters, it was!  From a particularly impressive opening dance routine from a stage FULL of non-dancers (well done, gang!), to some brilliant footage from the streets of Amsterdam courtesy of Cari Leslie, the Crush gang (AL Connors, Desiree Warmington, Tim Anderson, Dan Lajoie and Glen Gower) and friends (Julie Dumais, Michael Grajewski, Kirsten Rasmussen, Jordan Moffat and Anders Yates) took it up a notch for their Wooden anniversary.  Doorgal Jen Jarvis headed up to the booth to give Crush some sweet tech cues, Glen Gower provided the usual perfect tunes on keyboard, and the performers rolled out an epic variety of Improv to please all tastes.  A few things I took away from the night include: Dan Lajoie has a LOT of very vocal fans that none of us ever knew about; Crush was formed years ago when AL Connors lured an unsuspecting teenage girl to a dark, empty warehouse; Brad MacNeil has difficulty differentiating between ‘Unicorn’ and ‘Uniform’ over the phone, to everyone’s amusement; Two and Half Women (featuring Tim Anderson and his Elmdale cohorts Brooke Cameron and Kristine Shadid) seem to be dragging out their ‘retirement’ for all it’s worth, which is a good thing; and my crush on Kirsten Rasmussen continues unabated.  Seriously, if I ever catch one of her solo Fringe shows, I’m DONE for.  A fine and hilarious night from the folks putting Ottawa Improv on the map in a big way.  Five more years!  And don’t forget, the gang are having a farewell-to-the-Elmdale Tavern show on Monday the 17th!  Be there!!

Andrew Alexander photography!

Andrew Alexander photography!

Actually, there’s one more show that I also wanted to mention, actually from a few weeks back.  I would have written about it before but, well…I can’t actually talk about it. Well okay, I CAN, but I can’t say the NAME of the show.  Or at least, I’m not supposed to.  See, it was one of the free shows in the Ottawa U 4th years director series, and the shows were free because…well, it’s a legal thing, a rights thing, and I’m not supposed to name certain names (although I have TOTALLY done so on this site in the past…apologies if anyone ever gets sued over it!!).  But the names I CAN use are ones like Emily Carvell, who directed the water-themed show in question, that starred the titanic and talented trio of Lily Sutherland, Cory Thibert and Tony Adams (those last two lads from local theatre upstart brigade MAY CAN theatre…you maybe heard of’em).  The play, by someone I’ll only refer to as Danny-Boy, was a wonderfully wordy and powerful punch of a show, and Emily set it up absolutely gorgeously down in the depths of Studio Leonard-Beaulne.  Lily Sutherland was all grace and mystery as our enigmatic host for the odd proceedings, and Cory and Tony…oh, boys.  I know how much the lads think of Danny-Boy, I do, so I do not speak lightly when I say they made him their bitch with this performance.  Absolutely NAILED it.  This was one of the best hours in Ottawa Theatre this year (and the first part of one of the best nights in Theatre I’ve EVER had, followed immediately by my first viewing of NOVEMBER, followed by Crush Improv’s SPOTLIGHT ON… show.  Awesome).  The May Can boys are only getting better, Lily Sutherland matched them all the way thru, and Emily has shown she’s got some serious director chops.  The future’s in good hands, folks.

LAST THOUGHTS: No, not LAST-last thoughts…things aren’t that grim with me yet, folks.  Okay, I’m coming up this week on a Douglas Adams birthday that I’ll almost guaranteed be spending at work, and later at home alone with the borrowed cat.  And okay, my few-and-far-between ‘dates’ this year have been so platonic I’ve earned an honorary philosophy degree (get it?).  But to the petunias* with that!  I’ve got some  shit goin’ on…I’m working on a short play, for New Theatre Ottawa’s upcoming 2nd Annual EXTREMELY SHORT NEW PLAY FESTIVAL in April at Arts Court!  Submission deadline is December 31st, and I’m going in this year.  My piece is called MISSY DOESN’T LIKE YOU, which is sort of a character study/prequel piece inspired by a longer Fringe show I want to complete later, MISSY VS.DINOSAURS.  You know you want to see it.  Also, this Wednesday I’ll be volunteering at the GCTC again for THE NUMBER 14 in a recently added matinee show, which you should come to.  Technically it’s the day BEFORE my birthday, but I’m calling it my birthday because I’ll have WAY more fun that day than I will on the actual day.  So come see the show, and let’s go buy comix afterwards and then have food and drink.  Whaddaya say?  I know what I say…peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

*Petunia is a word I find hysterical these days.  I’m trying to work it in as much as I can.   It’s a midlife crisis thing, just go with it.

Monday Foofarah! – December 3rd 2012

In Foofarah on December 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I seem to have sliced the merry Hell out of my thumb a ways back at the drudgery, it doesn’t seem to want to stop bleeding, and quite frankly I feel a little woozy. So this’ll either be the BEST or the WORST Foofarah ever.  If I finish it before I pass out, that is.  Best be quick about it, I suppose.

– IN THEATRES THIS WEEK!

NOVEMBER from 730 Productions, at the Gladstone Theatre.

THE NUMBER 14 from Axis Theatre, at the GCTC.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at the National Arts Centre.

SOUS-SOL A LOUER at Theatre de L’Ile.

LE GRAND CAHIER from NAC French Theatre.

MR.PIM PASSES BY at Ottawa Little Theatre.

DICKEN’S DELIGHTS from Third Wall Theatre, on December 5th.

CRUSH IMPROV 5th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL from Crush Improv and friends at Academic Hall, on December 7th.

…Aaand, I left my trusty theatre bible at home today, so this will have to do until I get back and can check it for what I missed.  My brain ain’t working so good right now, whoo!

AWARDS?  So, this past week I headed down to the basement of the Laurier Royal Oak to attend the OTTAWA FRINGE FESTIVAL lottery draw party, for the first time ever.  It was a good time, and I got to see some pals like Rich Hemphill (who got drawn first in local, huzzah!), lovely Victoria Luloff (waiting listed, boo!), and of course Fringe overlord Natalie Joy Quesnel.  Some familiar names were called, and some exciting new names came to my attention (I’m already looking forward eagerly to more than a few of the companies headed our way…dance, opera, clown, yay!).  While I was down there, I got an e-mail that took me quite by surprise…it seems my silly little blog, home of my drunken raving ramblings about local theatre, has been nominated for two awards in the 2012 NINJAMATICS CANADIAN WEBLOG AWARDS, in the Arts & Culture, and Best Written categories (that last one I’m particularly chuffed about).  I’ve no idea who nominated me, or for heavens’ sake WHY, but my thanks to ya, you made my day.  The nominees list gets culled in half on the 15th of January, with awards being given out at the end of that month.  So, I’ get to ride this at LEAST til the 15th, and I guess that’s better than nothing!  Wish me luck, and all that jazz, eh?

nomineeSEASONS: Over the last few weeks, a few local companies and theatres have been making waves, announcing their new seasons and upcoming shows, and I thought I should take a moment to shout-out what’s been happening.  First off, my good buddies at the ever-amazing EVOLUTION THEATRE are back, and ready to bring the goods in their 2013 season.  In March, the Evolution gang teams with local heroes Mi Casa Theatre to bring you HROSES: AN AFFRONT TO REASON by Jill Connell.  Starring Nick DiGaetano and Katie Swift, and directed by Emily Pearlman, you should already be looking forward to this one if you’ve got any horse sense in ya (get it???).  After that, in May…[boxhead] is back!!  This utterly amazing show from writer Darren O’Donnell was one of the hard-to-catch highlights of this past year, curtailed as it was due to actor illness.  I’m thrilled to bits that it will be returning, hopefully with the original team intact.  Director Alix Sideris, stars Stewart Matthews and Chris Bedford, and stage manager Nick Alain put too much work into this brilliant, insane show not to have it seen by the adoring masses.  Nice call, Evolution, and I can’t wait to see it again.

Meanwhile, just this week Ottawa Little Theatre went ahead and announced their 101st season, already getting started on century #2.  A more modern mix after this year’s 100-yearspread, OLT will be kicking it in 13-14 with shows like SKIN FLICK from Norm Foster; DEADLY MURDER from David Foley; A CHRISTMAS STORY from Phillip Grecian; RUMORS by Neil Simon; HALF LIFE by John Mighton; DRAMA AT INISH by Lennox Robertson (co-production with the Tara Players); MARUTIUS by Theresa Rebeck; TOUCH AND GO by Derek Benfield; and DRIVING MISS DAISY by Alfred Uhry.  I’m already hip-deep in enjoying the current season, and the new one sounds mighty fine to my ears.  Keep on keeping on, OLT!

SPAM:  Last night, in a slightly drunken, alightly depressed bit of indulgence shopping, I spent some cash and officially made this a paid website (notice the new ‘thevisitorium.com’ address up above, yo).  Part of it was because, if I AM going to spend money for this site, it shouldn’t all just go to line the coffers of the Ben Wellands of the world.  More and more of my time and life is absorbed by my theatrical dealings on the site, and more and more people seem to enjoy reading what’s on it’s pages.  So, there’s that.  There’s also that I wanted to be able to upload sound and video eventually, and this was a necessary step towards that.  Why, you ask?  Glad you asked.  Because here for your incredible amusement is the first in what I hope will be an ongoing feature here at the Foofarah…

DRAMATIC READINGS OF THE SHIT I FIND IN MY SPAM FILTER.

READING THE FIRST:

Voice 001(1)

OH yeah, there’s more to come of that, terrible sound quality and all.  I need to practice, after all, for any further REMOTE PLANET adventures I may have (my first episode is coming up soon, gang…excitementation!!!  In the meantime, I’ve lost a lot of blood, and i still have to drag all this non-perishable food to the Elmdale Tavern for tonight’s Food Bank episode of Crush Improv‘s BOUT TIME!  I should note that much of what I’ll be bringing tonight was generously donated by the Clocktower Brewpub, which I more commonly refer to as ‘the drudgery’.  Sometimes, they do good. 🙂

So I’ll see you at the show, for sure, right?  For sure, then.  In the meantime…peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)