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Archive for August, 2013|Monthly archive page

Crushed! AL vs. Dan, Round 2 (sort of)

In Improv on August 29, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Okay, full confession…I was actually kind of sick this week, and I missed both AL and Dan’s workshops at MY SUMMER CRUSH this week.  Boo! But, the show must go on, am I right?  So without further ado, here’s part two of my Tuesday/Wednesday workshop comparison, now being settled by the TV shows I watched those nights.

Tuesday night was my first night home sick, and I like to think I was receiving divine guidance from Dan Lajoie (whose workshop I was missing that evening) as I uploaded teevee episodes to my flash USB drive to sit and watch while blowing my nose repeatedly.  I ended up with a lot, but settled on the following four episodes…let’s see how the evening played out:

Episode 1 – CHUCK.  Right, catching up on Chuck season 5…final season!  Exciting!  This one was kind of a Christmas episode, not my fav’rit, but it actually ended up being kind of badass.  Brandon Routh was in it…you might remember him from being a terrible Superman a few years ago (before the currently terrible Superman took over).  Anyways, he gets beat up in it, so THAT’S good.  And it made some neat advances in the season-long arc, so lets call that 2 points for Dan.

Episode 2 – THE TIME TUNNEL.  Oooh, and oldie and a goodie!  Irwin Allen time-travel goodness, and this one was a pretty unusually cool one.  Fuckin’ Robert Duvall was the guest star, sabotaging the Time Tunnel and leading Doug and Tony on a chase over two million years across.  Plus foil-wearing future humans, and implied dino-bees!  A whopping 3 points for Sir Lajoie right here!

Your hair must be THIS perfect to travel through time.

Your hair must be THIS perfect to travel through time.

Episode 3 – THE BORGIAS.  Have you watched this show yet?  It’s basically GAME OF THRONES without the dragons.  I think we might be living in a new Golden Age of Television when companies are competing to make the most expensive, violent softcore porn they can.  Anyhow, this one was about new Pope Jeremy Irons getting his daughter Lucrezia married off, while various intrigue-plots prance bloodily along in the sidelines.  Only 1 point for this one though, because the rape scene made me feel all icky.

Episode 4 – VEEP.  Hey, didn’t I watch the first ep of this, like, ages ago?  Time for the second one! Why not?  Julia Louis Dreyfuss (who still looks goddam lovely, might I say) as a hilariously powerless Vice President, in this one failing to push through several pet projects while managing to fuck up a photo-op at a Frozen Yoghurt shop.  Funny show.  A few poop jokes.  2 more points to Dan, for a grand total of 8.  Not bad, mister Lajoie!  Good workshop!

The extent of my political activism, ladies and gentlemen.

The extent of my political activism, ladies and gentlemen.

And over on AL’s night, here’s what his spirit guided me to view…

Episodes 1 and 2: CHUCK.   Would ya look at that?  A Chuck double-bill!  The dreaded DoubleChuck!  AL Connors does NOT fool around, folks.  On tonight was a cool one featuring some Sarah backstory (we like Sarah, mmmmm), with a guest appearance by former Charlie’s Angel Cheryl Ladd.  Excellent nostalgia factor there, and some surprisingly hardcore fight scenes.  3 points!  The second one was weaker…some goofy romance with Adam Baldwin and the lady from the Matrix, blah blah blah. I started to miss the Intersect before this one was over. Only 1 point there.

The Subway promos ARE a bit much, tho.  For serious.

Oh Chuck, you’re the everyman in all of us.  I’ll miss you.

Episode 3: THE FINDER.  A new one for me, the first episode of a one-season wonder that most of you probably don’t remember ever hearing about.  Honestly, I can’t really recall why it’s even on my hard drive, but there you go.  It’s about some dashing Iraq war vet who suffered brain damage and now he’s really good at finding things, because that makes perfect sense.  It was actually a lot more watchable than it sounds, and props for the late Michael Clarke Duncan being in it…his booming voice is always a treat.  Good quirk in this show.  A solid 2 pointer.

Episode 4: COMMANDER IN CHIEF.  Did you ever really want to watch the West Wing, but wished it weren’t THAT good?  Have I got the show for you!  Featuring Geena Davis as an uppity independent woman who becomes President (the nerve..!), this ep features her trying to secure a Veep of her own.  Arch-enemy Donald Sutherland wants Bruce Boxleitner to get the nod, but Geena has her heart set on Peter Coyote, because fuck Babylon 5.  A point for Donald Sutherland, and a point for being slightly (slightly) better than the first episode.

And you believed me up there when I said I wasn't politically active.  TWO presidential tv shows I watched! Shame on you.

And you believed me up there when I said I wasn’t politically active. TWO presidential tv shows I watched! Shame on you.

That brings AL to a total of 8…and it’s another tie!  I can’t believe it!  It’s almost as if I’m too wishy-washy to declare a victor!!  Although props to Dan for tackling a lady President show with a lady Vice-President show.  That’s the kind of plucky, underdog spirit we like here at the Visitorium.  I think this kid Lajoie is one to watch out for, folks.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have soup to eat, noses to blow (well, one, anyway) and clearly MUCH more teevee to watch.  Peace, love and soul, folks,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Crushed! Bad Dog Day

In Improv, Theatre on August 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm

This past Saturday was a pretty fucking amazing day, not gonna lie.  And I don’t claim to have amazing days all too often, so feel free to read on.  For starters, it was my second Saturday off in a row, so, SHAZAM, right there.  And it was my second Saturday spent at MY SUMMER CRUSH, courtesy of local heroes Crush Improv, this being the end of week two of three of their expanded and outstanding summer series.  Last Saturday was spent in the sublime company of the lady miss Kirsten Rasmussen, and it was hard to imagine how this weekend was gonna top that.  And while I’m not saying it DID top it (because, Kirsten Rasmussen!), this day was right up there, believe me.

summercrush

Special guest stars for the day BAD DOG THEATRE were pouring into town by the vanful out of Toronto, and three of them got there early enough to teach us stuffy Ottawa types a thing or two in a special Theme exploration Workshop from 1-5, which I was mightily looking forward to.  Improvisers and instructors Anders Yates (who some of you might remember from his time in the awesome troupe UNCALLED FOR), Chris Ramelan and Tess Degenstein ushered me and seven other attendees under their wings for a workshop that would very handily blow my mind.  For serious, gang, the way they stripped down the process of creating a scene from scratch and making it matter was so bafflingly simple it was like one of those wonky lenticular pictures you stare at, when suddenly another picture just emerges out of nothing. You know, if I ever actually saw the pictures in those things.  As it is, I’m usually stuck being Ethan Supplee in MALLRATS…but not today.

First off, lemme tell y’all about a very cool and slightly weird exercize* the gang walked us through…it involved pairing up with someone, facing off, and staring each other straight in the eyes.  No, that’s NOT all.  Chris would shout out a word…say, Desert.  One partner would then say that word to their partner, and the other would have to say the first related word that popped into their head.  Simple, right?  Well, turns out maybe not so much, especially when Chris is running around the room urging us to go faster and faster, and then adding in new conditions at random (“famous people associated with deserts only…go”:) , culminating in a round where the every couple had to create a story back and forth, using only one word at a time.  Not like “The” “Desert” “Was” “Hot”…or anything like that, nut more like Snapshots, as Chris put it.  Something like:

Desert.
Vacation.
Vultures!
Escape.
Cave.
Termites!
Fire.
Digging.
Oasis.

…and so on, if you get the picture.  It reminded me a bit of that improv game where everyone gets assigned a number, and can only speak in sentences with that many words in it, but if everyone just got one.  Which, now that I’ve done this, would be a pretty interesting thing to try.  I grappled with this one for a while, no lie…it was hard to turn the conscious part of my mind down enough to just go with the flow.  Also, making eye contact apparently freaks me the fuck out. But that’s another story.

Honestly, there was a ton of amazingly useful information and play in that workshop, including two of my fav’rit scenes I’ve ever played in (an admittedly limited repertoire to draw from, but still).  Very good tips got drilled in about how to start a scene, build a relationship, find the stakes and raise them, and just allow yourself the time to let your world establish itself, before the robots attack or the puppy factory burs down, or whatever the wacky twist is.  I know this rookie has a tendency to rush to the crisis, before the audience gets a chance to find out what anyone’s name is, or why we should give a shit about their lives.  I could go on and on, but I’ll just say that if you’re interested in Improv and Bad Dog Theatre is around, GO TO THEM.  They are wise indeed (and terribly pleasant folk to play an afternoon away with, too…Anders, Chris and Tess were perfect hosts and instructors, all love to them).

Once the shop was over I hightailed it to Smoke’s for a poutine dinner and some down time before heading right back to Arts Court, where the Bad Dog show was slated to start up at 8.  Well, not exactly at 8, since there was an opening act consisting of a little game play from 4 members of the advanced workshop crew.  And tonight, that was Ryan, Kevin M, Jill…and me.  Yessir, it was time to see if any of this learning was sinking in, or if I was even half as funny as I think I am when it’s just me and Winston at the apartment.  Bad Dog had drawn a good sized crowd, so me and the gang had some pressure on us.  Dan Lajoie handled the emcee chores, and gave us four games to goof around with…Options (which is a straightforward improv scene, with occasional interruptions for new audience suggestions and directions), Foursquare (four different 2-person scenes, rotated in a square formation, very fun), Switch/Change (like foursquare, but now a single 2-person scene, parts alternating between all 4 performers), and New Choice (in which performers are occasionally ordered to change their last line of dialogue, until the emcee decides the scene can continue).   You can probably YouTube all of these games (name variance from region to region notwithstanding) to get a better idea if you’re not familiar with them, but I think that, rough patches and rookie bumbles aside, we handled ourselves just fine.  I’m really starting to enjoy foursquare and new choice, although I could still feel myself holding back as far as making broad character choices goes.  But since it was my first time doing improv in front of an honest-to-gosh audience, I forgive myself.  Just this once.  Mad props to Kevin M, Jill and Ryan, who knocked it outta the park and made me look good.  I’ll never forget the wheelbarrow factory.

TCL-banner

But once our set ended, it was time for the main event, and that was the Bad Dog Repertory Company’s THIS CANADIAN LIFE, based on some podcast or other that is apparently a thing. Taking a suggestion from audience member and fellow advanced workshopee Adam, the BadDog troupe based their makeshift 3-part live radio show on summer camping, and featured a veritable Avengers-worthy lineup of comedy rockstars…as well as Chris Ramelan, Anders Yates and Tess Degenstein, there was Colin Munch, Sarah Hillier, Sean Tabares, Jess Bryson, and…oh God, was that all of them?  Am I missing someone?  SO MANY FUNNY PEOPLE.  Watching them work was downright inspirational…their collective improv skills are off the charts….like tossing words into a blender, and ending up with the script to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Like with Kirsten Rasmussen the week before, everything we were taught in the workshop got an incredible showcase in their performance.  The Bad Dogs can craft a scene and characters like the masters of old, and I hadn’t laughed as hard since…well, last Saturday.  Have I mentioned how much I’m enjoying this series?

Seriously great stuff, I’m in awe of the whole troupe (I could have watched Sarah and Jess as their excitable camp girl characters for a solid hour all by themselves…painfully fucking funny), and I’ll be watching for any chance on my schedule to hop down to Toronto and see them in their native element where they put on regular themed shows.  Sounds like a great excuse for a road trip to me, anyways.  They brought the house down, and stuck around for the late show with Crush.  And what happens at the late show stays at the late show, but I will say this: Unitards.  If you missed this one, folks, you missed OUT.

And now I’m out too, it feels like I’ve been raving for quite a while now.  Up this week at MY SUMMER CRUSH: Final Foundations and Advanced workshops with Dan and AL on Tuesday and Wednesday, Performance Ensemble showcase on Thursday (which I might be part of the opening set for once again), MONTREAL IMPROV with a workshop and show, EASY ACTION on Friday night, Anders Yates sketch writing workshop on Saturday afternoon, UNCALLED FOR with their greatest sketch hits that night, and the final epic Late Show at 10 that night.  Please do yourself a favour and come out for some of this great stuff, trust me…we WANT this series to get bigger and better every year. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

* to anyone who might be getting annoyed at my spelling of this word (and by ‘anyone’, I of course mean Caitlin), I just wanted to say, yes, I’m well aware that the ‘proper’ spelling is Exercise.  My spelling here is a nod to an old hero of mine, Robert Anton Wilson, who used this version of the word (quite deliberately, mind you) in his books quite frequently, because what fun are words and language if you can’t shape them to your will from time to time?

Crushed! Andy Falls Down

In Improv, Theatre on August 25, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Having some down time between the just-completed Movement workshop with Andy Massingham, and the stage debut of the MY SUMMER CRUSH Performance Ensemble, so figgered I’d take this opportunity (hurray for laptops!) To yammer a bit about OMG ANDY MASSINGHAM MOVEMENT WORKSHOP!!  Andy Massingham is a local actor/creator/everything else about town, whose most recent credit is directing the smash ARMS AND THE MAN for Odyssey Theatre, just wrapping up its run in Strathcona Park.  He knows his shit.
I had done a movement workshop a couple of years back, courtesy of Andy’s superhuman partner Alix Sideris, so I had an inkling of what to expect…it would be amazing, I’d sweat, and there would be wonderful, beautiful pain.  It was a bit of a wonky turnout, in that it was entirely dudes…Myself, Leslie (I know, but he’s a guy, trust me), Dave Brown, Andrew, Adam, Travis, and Ryan.  I’d done workshops of one stripe or another with all these fellas before, so it was a close-knit group.  Andy showed up predictably full of smiles and energy, and teeming with wondrous ideas of how to teach and abuse us hapless lot.  First up was a sort of trust exercize involving chairs, a lot of running, and a lot of leaps (or rather, sits) of faith as we scampered about the stage, randomly sitting down and hoping someone else would run up behind us with a chair to sit on.  It was the first of many astoundingly simple but wonderfully terrifying adventures of the day.

We worked with what Andy calls Impulses, in scenework that was very reminiscent of something I did with Boss Barry Karp back in my OSSD days.  He’s run us through a simple scene, with 6 main beats, or ‘impulses’.  Then replay it, only faster.  Then faster.  Then FASTER.  Then please kill me, but the point got across.  And introduction to the wonders of gravity followed, with an intro by Andy to the ‘point of no return’, and just how much work it takes NOT to fall down after the tipping point.

Eventually we got there…falling.  Lots and lots of falling.  Andy, having once performed in a show that was pretty much 45 minutes of falling with some text here and there (the lovely BIFURCATE ME, by the way), knows him some falling down, and he ran us through a good round of pratfalling.  We started with the classic spin-drop, adding in a bit of a trip once we’d all had a chance to hurt ourselves in fun ways.  Then came the joy/horror of a Buster Keaton inspired fall and roll off a chair, which I’m still smarting from.  I didn’t know it was possible to hurt your throat from falling down, but I managed.

Buster, how COULD you..?

Buster, how COULD you..?

Might have to rearrange the furniture in my apartment, so I can perfect that sucker (with apologies in advance to my downstairs neighbours).  Kind of annoyed at myself for how much I was resisting the fall, like I really had to force myself into it.  But then, I never said I wasn’t a chickenshit.

All in all, bruise for bruise, this was as cool a workshop as I’d expected it would be.  And since I’m about to have Andy as one of my full-time instructors at the Ottawa Theatre School, I’m well aware that there’s more of this to come in my life.  Fucking YIKES.  This is a short entry for now, a bit of a bumper before I get the mighty BAD DOG DAY roundup going.  It was pretty epic, gang.  In the meantime, there’s plenty of MY SUMMER CRUSH left in this final week, with the regular Crush Improv workshops and performances, plus workshops and shows from awesome guest-stars MONTREAL IMPROV and UNCALLED FOR.  Be there, unless you enjoy missing some of the best times and biggest laughs in town.  Which is just weird…stop being weird.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

PS: sorry again Adam, for that one time I was late with the chair!!  You owe me one.

Crushed! AL vs. Dan, round 1

In Improv, Theatre on August 23, 2013 at 8:42 am

Another week, more slacking off on MY SUMMER CRUSH posting!  And it’s already been a two-workshop kinda week, with lots to yammer about.  I hit up week 2 of AL Connors’ Advanced Improv workshop on Wednesday night, natch, but this week I also stopped in on the Foundations Workshop run by Dan Lajoie on Tuesday evening.  Had a good time at them both, I can safely say, but the question on all of your minds now is…which was better?  I shall now attempt to prove once and for all who is the better Improv coach…AL “Mrs.HM” Connors, or Dan “Hey, that’s not Brad McNeil” Lajoie.  I will attempt this in as nonlinear a fashion as possible.

summercrush

Dan’s shop started with about 8 of us rookies, including a couple of his cousins and good guy Leslie Cserepy (always nice to have a familiar face in the crowd), and a surprisingly thorough limbering up/opening stretch routine.  Dan walks into nothing unprepared, folks..he’s a lot like Batman in that way (suck it, Affleck..!).  Over at AL’s shop the next day, he started us (mostly returned from the previous week, with a few sadly missing faces but Leslie and Ray Besharah tagging in, among others, yay!) with a few name game rounds, zipping around the circle to try and remember who the Hell we all were.  We acquitted ourselves…passably.

After warmup, Dan scored some bonus points by starting us off where Kirsten Rasmussen left off, namely with a little character generation, and a swell round of Hot Seat in which we all got to be interviewed as characters we created out of a single physical gesture.  I ended up as jo-E, male model for Sears.   And no, I will not answer any questions about Roebuck..!

AL had us all doing a mass game of ‘Freeze’, where two folks would do a scene on stage, and at any time someone could clap and yell FREEZE! And then take the place of one of the improvisers, beginning an entirely new scene from whatever physical position they inherited.  I had a good time with this one, once I reminded myself to stop staring and waiting for a position I thought I had an idea for, and just clap my hands, go in blind, and make something up at the last second.  It’s hard for me to turn my writers brain off and turn the improvisers brain on, but I’m starting to get it.  And it worked.  The game morphed into its evil twin ‘Bastard Freeze’, where you still clap and stop the scene, but this time order someone else onto the stage.

Dan’s character work continued, meanwhile (and 24 hours earlier), with some paired scenework.  Two of us would hit the stage (me and Leslie started things off this time), get a quick word of inspiration from Dan as to what our character would be based on…Leslie got Dust, and I got Trucks.  And a few seconds later, off we went, with angry trucker Jim Earl trying to get his radio fixed from a somewhat flaky clerk.  It was gold, folks, a sitcom in the making.

AL’s shop led to a round robin of scenework, with two-person scenes rotating on and off the stage in succession.  The twist was, the next person in the queue had the power to decide when the previous scene was ‘done’, either by natural high point, running out of steam, whatever.  It was an interesting experiment in editing.  My first scene with Jill, about a brother and sister who were maybe a little too close, could not have ended soon enough.  That led into me and Ray Besharah trying to crack into the Snakehandlers union, and the debut of my weak Australian accent for some reason.  Good times.

For enders, AL tossed a couple of classically deadly improv games at us…3-way dub, and stage directions.  It was kind of a sink or swim thing, but I think we managed pretty well…Me, Leslie and Jill had a decent 3-way dub about the pyramids, then Jill and I enjoyed some domestic violence stage direction style (the only way it should ever be enjoyed, folks).

I think I’m blanking on some stuff at the end of Dan’s shop…I blame the headache that knocked me out all day yesterday.  In fact, I think It’s still too early to call a victor on this one…I’m just gonna have to come back to both workshops NEXT week, and get a little more to go on.  Only fair.

MY SUMMER CRUSH is half over, folks, but still lots of great sstuff to come.  Tonight is not only Andy Massingham’s movement workshop, which is gonna be epic, but also the public debut of the Performance Ensemble that’s been training up since the beginning (including Laura Hall, wee Lauren, Joel Garrow, Dave Benedict Brown, Ryan Walsh and the Hai/yleys).  Saturday the legendary BAD DOG THEATRE rolls into town for what promises to be an amazing workshop and incredible show of THIS CANADIAN LIFE (which, by the by, I and some of my fellow advanced students will be opening up for…be there).  And then there’s the late show, which is utter madness by nature.  See you there, yah?  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Crushed! Can I Try That?

In Improv, Theatre on August 19, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Another day, another immersion into MY SUMMER CRUSH, and this one was the best one yet.  I know I promised today would be written by a special guest-blogger, but I just now realized that absolutely would not work for a variety of reasons…a bit of an annoyingly recurring theme on the blog these days.  Ah, me.  For now you’ll just have to settle for my dumb old voice, telling you about all of the AWESOME STUFF you missed (or didn’t, if you were one of the wise and lucky few I shared this particular day with).

As I said, this was a day to get very excited about at The Crush, because it was KIRSTEN RASMUSSEN DAY!  For those of you miserable enough to not be at least passingly familiar with miss Kirsten, she’s an improv guru out of Toronto, formerly Montreal (where she co-founded Montreal Improv, who will be in town later this series) who is also one of the funniest people on the planet.  She’s done improv all over, and was most recently in our town for Crush Improv’s 5th anniversary special a while back.    She did a workshop even before that, and I was gutted when I had to miss it, so there was no way I was gonna strike out when I heard she was holding a 4-hour character development shop as part of this event.  I showed up eager and sporting my most fashionable hangover, hoping like Hell I wouldn’t fall too far behind the other attendees.  It was a smaller turnout than I’d been expecting, but in retrospect I’m glad it wasn’t any larger…more Kirsten for us!

The lady Miss Kirsten Rasmussen!

The lady Miss Kirsten Rasmussen!

‘Us’, by the by, was myself, T-Lev, Brooke, Ryan, Ayma, Travis, good guy Leslie Cserepy, and the man himself Dave Benedict Brown (and, for a little while in there, Paolo). We were met by HM, My Summer Crush’s semi-benevolent overlord, and ushered into the Arts Court Theatre where our lesson courtesy of comedy dynamo Kirsten Rasmussen was about to begin.  After introductions, she put us through a few warmups (which my out of shape carcass is still a little sore from….Theatre school is gonna KILL me, isn’t it..?)  before getting to the heart of the workshop.  She started in on some classic theatre techniques (which I soon recognized as stuff I’d been introduced to by Brie Barker at the OSSD two years back) centered around making strong character choices…fast or slow, heavy or light, directness, and where the fuck is your center, son?  We did a few dozen laps of the theatre switching between various combinations before we started creating characters to go with them.  I ended up with Chester Heatherington, Brick Petunia (professional sports podcaster) and…some old lady whose name I no longer remember, before we broke for a refresher.  I should say at this point that Miss R. is an amazing instructor, and the way she slips in and out of completely rounded characters at the blink of an eye is inspirational in the extreme.

Break’s over!  Everyone knocked down some caffeine and, if memory serves, we played a game of Hot Seat.  This little exercize works by putting two of us on stage to create a character on the fly, then sitting down to be interviewed AS said character by Boss Kirsten. We were allowed to ask for a suggestion (like an animal, or a colour) for inspiration…I went emotion, and got Fear to work with.  A few seconds later, this little lady was born (my original idea was to let her write this entire post…but you likely wouldn’t have been able to ‘hear’ her voice too well.  I compromised and asked her to write a little something bout herself, based on what we learned in her brief time in the Hot Seat):

*******

Hello.  My name is Sally Pidgeon, and I’m 14 years old.  I’m in the eighth grade…I have two brothers who are bigger and older than me.  Alphonse isn’t so much bigger, though, and sometimes we play fort together.  My oldest brother Gorbachev (don’t make fun of his name or you’ll get a punch!) Is in grade ten and he can be SO MEAN!  He protects us from th’other kids, but he also takes my lunch monies sometimes and is scary.

My Mom named him that, I think because she knew it would make my Dad so mad (Daddy hates ‘commie-nists’ a whole lot, and says that Gorbachev is one of those kindsa names).  My Mom is a lectrical engineer, which is what I wanna be when I grow up so I can make the mini-golf castle go at the right speeds and stuff so I can get the little golfball through for once.  Even Alphonse laughs at me when I play the mini-golf.  It makes me feel dumb.

Gorbachev says I’m a fraidy cat, and I totally am not, except sometimes maybe.  I like to try all sorts of stuff, and I’m always asking people ’Can I try That?’ and stuff, like when I saw Missy Goldfranken with her hula hoop.  And she gave it to me to try!  But then I got scared and ran away.  It was a funny color. 

*******

Thanks Sally.  Hopefully, you’re getting what a fantastic time this workshop was…I learned buckets about just how much work goes into making it look easy, and the day wasn’t over yet.  When the shop ended, I broke away for some poutine and bloggery before heading right on back for Kirsten’s one-woman show, TOUGH!  I’d heard and read nothing but good things about this one, and was pretty damn giddy to see it at last.  Starring Miss Kirsten as a whole mess of characters (seeing this show really drove home a LOT of what she taught us earlier that day), the show centers on the stories of Amanda Pain, a novice boxer, and Lucy Diamond, a nightclub singer looking to get out from underneath the shadow of her famous crooner Dad Dickie.  The two stories are connected in a wonderful way that reveals itself over the course of this, just about the funniest show I’ve ever been lucky enough to see.  Kirsten is utterly amazing in this show, like if Jayson McDonald and Carol Burnett ran really fast into each other and merged into one superbeing.  Along with our two main characters, Kirsten brings to life plenty of other memorable folks…I was plenty tickled with the coach and bartender, myself.  And Esther…oh, my.  I have never laughed so hard at a character’s one second of stage time in my life, and don’t expect to ever again.

Wrong show information at the bottom there, but you get the idea.

Wrong show information at the bottom there, but you get the idea.

The show is peppered with original songs belted out my Miss Rasmussen, who can sing on top of everything else (I forgot to buy a CD, dagnabbit, but they DO exist).  TOUGH! is something I’ll never forget, and I would do terrible things to people for the chance to see it again someday.  And would you believe it, the day STILL wasn’t over!  Because now, it was time for the first of three LATE SHOWS, a 10 pm Saturday improv jam that got every bit as chaotic and hysterical as you might expect.  HOW chaotic?  Would you believe even I took to the stage at one point for a game of Switch/Change?  And didn’t totally suck?  Okay, you don’t have to believe that last part, but it still happened.  Of course, things got much better later on when AL, Dan, Brooke and Kirsten took over the stage for some long form shenanigans involving bad teeth and the sexual violation of the elderly that you really had to be there for.  Don’t worry, there’ll be another chance this coming Saturday, after a solid day of Bad Dog Theatre that will be the NEXT best day I have.

A huge thank you to Crush Improv for putting this great programming together, and major props to Kirsten Rasmussen for making my month.  For reals, if you meet this woman and don’t fall at least a little bit in love with her, then you’re an awful person and I hate you SO MUCH (I know, I get carried away sometimes.  Bite me).

And I’m out…see you this coming week at MY SUMMER CRUSH for more workshops, shows, improv, and beer.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

CRUSHED! The Happiness of Wolves

In Improv, Theatre on August 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm

I was supposed to be writing this post in a Horror style, as suggested to me by the luvly Jenny David.  But it’s been kicking my ass for the last day, and I’m running out of time, so I’m just gonna charge ahead with it regular-like for the moment, and see if I can’t shoehorn Horror in there somewhere down the road.

Anyhow, the first Friday of MY SUMMER CRUSH, hosted by Crush Improv at Arts Court was upon us, and it was time for the first comedy/theatre offerings of the series to hit the stage.  And there was a packed house in there for good reason…we were in for a good old fashioned double bill courtesy of Cory Thibert and Tony Adams at May Can Theatre, who were rolling out their two most recent Fringe Festival smash-hits, HAPPINESStm and WOLVES>BOYS.  I snagged a sweet spot up front with the likes of Leslie Cserepy and Jonah Allingham (sidenote: I’m hearing seriously good things about his upcoming second edition of the FRESH MEAT festival. Get excited.), got myself a glass of wine (the beer wasn’t pouring right, don’t worry, I’m not going posh on y’all), and settled in for the fun to begin.

First up was HAPPINESStm, from this year’s Ottawa Fringe, but already with enough exciting twists and tweaks to make it almost a new show.  Streamlined, well-suited to the more conventional space, and most notably no longer featuring superstar Ray Besharah, except in a side-splitting promotional video.  There, we learn the story of ‘Mr.Carpenter’, founder of HPL, a company that boasts nothing less than the selling of Happiness itself (in handy product form). Enter James Lemon and Peter Barrel (Tony and Cory), two sometimes-antagonistic salesmen out to work the room and get us into the HPL spirit.  A hilarious first half features the pair acting out absurd onstage scenarios to demonstrate the effectiveness of their dubious wares, stuff like the ‘happy hook-up’, which amounts to trying a painful-looking elastic around your head to force a smile.  It’s a seriously effective sendup of corporate sales seminars, and would make for a great show in itself.  But a mysterious call from Carpenter takes young Lemon out of the room for a minute, and when he returns…the mood turns, and the game is on.

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert in HAPPINESS (tm) .  Photo by Dsmitry Klathkou.

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert in HAPPINESS ™ . Photo by Dsmitry Klathkou.

Happiness takes it’s beautifully simple and twisted premise and uses it very, very well to tear open the dark heart of brainwashing scam-schemes and corporate doublespeak, and is a mighty fine showcase for the May Can lads to show what they can do (the dance number is a pretty goddamn amazing high point).  This show, like the next one up was directed by the always amazing Mado Boyes-Manseau, who is great person to have showing you the way.  Loved, LOVED how well the show worked in Arts Court studio.  This was a great show, made greater.

Second up was WOLVES>BOYS, winner of last years ‘name most people screwed up’ award at Fringe.  Mostly the same, tho I think they tweaked it a little off the top just to fit the space, W>B follows Lawrence (Cory Thibert) and pal Isaac (Tony Adams), two longtime friends meeting up for the first time in months…at a graveyard.

Wolves Boys 1
Okay, NOW I’m feeling the horror vibe.  Let’s roll with that for a few paragraphs…

*******

The graveyard was dark.  Not far from where the boys met, a funeral was in progress.  And one of them knew who it was being buried.  Oh yes.  He knew all too well.

But the body would wait.  First…first came the Wolves.  Wolves from an ancient time, spirit animals with a neverending taste for flesh.

Ghost wolves.  Howling in the moonlight.  For reals.

Their terrible story of blood and hunger, wolf versus wolf, played out before our terror-stricken eyes and pun-filled ears, mirroring the journey of the boys themselves, alone in the graveyard but for mourners, and the ghosts that may or not lay disturbed around them.  We all lay on the razor’s edge.

A baby screamed.  A glass shattered.  And from out of one of the tombstones itself…music.  Like the bones themselves were playing their sweet song of death.

Seriously.  Right out of the fucking TOMBSTONE.  Scary, right?

*******

Okay, that’s enough horror…don’t want ot scare you all TOO much.   W>B was just as fun this time as when I saw it the first time, even if the lads have found it plays much better in the great outdoors, where I hope to see them perform it one of these days.  They’re off on the road with this one to the Fundy Fringe soon, and I got a feeling they’re gonna like it out there.  The show is personal, heartfelt and damn funny even when it’s being tragic…LOVE the breakup scene.

Had a blast that night, hung with some good folk and saw two amazing shows in a supercool crowd.  My Summer Crush is off to a rocking good start, and I know I’m not alone in thinking so.  And the weekend isn’t over yet…Saturday is officially KIRSTEN RASMUSSEN day at MSC, and I’m planning on turning my blog over to a super-special guest writer to cover both Kirsten’s workshop and show…can’t wait for both.  If you’re in town and not at this series at some point, I seriously think you’re missing out huge.  This is the best thing to happen to August since I downloaded season three of The Flying Nun (which was last week, if you’re interested in a marathon…call me.)  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston).

Cyrano vs.Aramis

In Theatre on August 16, 2013 at 8:34 am

Just when I thought my summer was all outta park shows, somebody comes along and finds more parks!  Good thing too, I needed something else to see while My Summer Crush gets up and running.  This show kinda came out of the blue, put up by some swell kids calling themselves the Screaming Artists Collective (and with the assistance, so I’ve seen on Facebook, of Ottawa Stage Combat in some capacity).  Unlike the other touring park shows of summer, this one is a brand new piece, JE Brogan’s THE CHRONICLER, directed by Chris McLeod.

The show is a bit of what-if fanfiction, essentially, something one might expect to happen in Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen shared universe.  Taking place in mid-seventeenth century France, our story involves a meeting between legendary musketeer Aramis (playwright Brogan himself) crossing swords, very literally at times, with celebrated fellow swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac (Tim Oberholzer).  At first they quarrel over Cyrano’s published writings (found in a local newsrag called The Chronicler, hence the title), with the aging Aramis incensed over implications of disloyalty in the poet’s words.  Cyrano takes umbrage at this, and it’s all Aramis’ fiery niece Jacinthe (Danielle Savoie, who also serves as narrator for our tale) can do to keep them from each other’s throats.  Cooler heads soon prevail, at least momentarily, and Cyrano begins making regular visits to Aramis’ home for reflection, comparing war stories, and keeping an eye on Jacinthe (who quickly becomes enamoured of the warrior-poet, nose or no).

chronicler

Adding to the fun are Reena Belford as a quick-witted cook with an odd penchant for setting fires, Aaron Lajeunesse as an excitable would-be soldier, director McLeod as Cyrano’s favoured baker and confidant, and Jeremy Piamonte filling things out in a couple of small roles.  CHRONICLER is a fun enough time out, although I couldn’t help but wish there’d been some more meat to the story.  A meeting between two of fiction’s greatest swashbucklers is a grand occasion and could have used more of an event to back it up.  Danielle Savoie, longtime Visitorium fav’rit, is wunnerful as Jacinthe, but as a potential love interest to Cyrano has rather a lot to live up to in the shadow of Roxanne.  She and Aramis have a curious subplot going on about her status in his family that never quite had the impact I hoped for.  The best moments, however, are usually when she and Cyrano are in on the action (they have one of my fav’rit swordfights of the piece, short but slick), although Lajeunesse and Belford do some sweet scene-stealing from time to time as well.  The staging is fairly simple, to be expected in a park show, but could have used some pepping up here and there, especially during Cyrano and Aramis’ several lengthy conversations.  All in all, though, a fun time out with some dandy fighting, pretty costumes, and a fun (if fluffy) script that has several memorable lines…how well it stays in canon with it’s respective source materials I’ll leave it up to others to decide for themselves.  Arguing it is probably half the fun.  CHRONICLER pays in parks around town for the next week and a half…here’s the rundown (note the Gladstone show in there, a last minute change from the Reid park location mentioned in the poster above):

16th Briargreen Park
17th Alta Vista Park
19th Strathcona Park
20th Gladstone Theatre
21st Hiawatha Park
22nd Iona Park
23rd New Edinburgh Park
24th Windsor Park

6:30 start times, pass the hat payment plan (except the Gladstone, which is straight up $15), and family friendly, so check it out if you wish!  Do like me and Laviolette did and bring a picnic…it’s the right thing to do.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

CRUSHED! A Dame to Improv For.

In Improv, Theatre on August 14, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Well, as promised, Crush Improv’s new and improved MY SUMMER CRUSH series is here and underway, with a few workshops preceding tomorrow night’s gala opening.  I pitched in tonight, throwing my weak skills into the 1st of 3 ‘Advanced Improv Workshops’, and a swell time was had by all.  I’d previously decided that, in the improv spirit, I would write these blog posts about the goings-on as quickly as I could, and in a different writing style every time.  Tonight’s suggestion  was FILM NOIR,  suggested by my awfully talented workshop-mate Ryan.  I rattled this off over a couple of pints at the Wood following the workshop.  Try and take it with a gran, or gallon, of salt.  Enjoy,or hate, but remember to tip your waitress.

summercrush

*****

I wondered what I was doing there even before I pushed the button on that deathtrap of an elevator, riding the two floors up like a coffin going in reverse.  I must have been outta my tree, or maybe I was just hanging from it like the last leaf of Autumn, too dumb to just fall to the ground and get it over with.  Story of my life.

When I got to the meeting, it reminded me of my AA days…plastic chairs, high ceilings, and the stink of desperation.  All that was missing was the stale coffee….but I guess that wasn’t included in the cover charge.  A saucy dame with initials for a name took my cashola at the door, and she coulda had more if she’d asked me nice enough.  I waited around like a good little boy, minding my P’s and Q’s as the rest of the guinea pigs filed in, one by one.  Something had to happen to break the tension…and then, when me and my old war buddy Levy were shooting the shit about that ball buster Ruprecht, it happened.  And SHE walked in.

She had all eyes on her in a flash.  I’d never SEEN someone wear a purple shirt like that, like it wasn’t even a colour until it wrapped itself around her chest.  She had eyes like a gazelle in a knife-fight, and a beard that didn’t know the meaning of the word no.  Her name was AL.

“Let’s have some fun” she said in a husky voice with a life of its own, and we were all on board.  We all formed up around her, obeying her every command like she was the purplest drill sergeant in the whole world.  We did roll call forwards, backwards and sideways, ..this dame was more thorough than a body cavity search at Afghanistan customs. Pretty soon we were all good pals…along with me and Levy, there was Kevin, Travis, Andrew, Kim, Danni, Ryan, Stephanie, Jill, Andy, Ayma and  Jennifer.  I had my suspicions about this motley crew…never trust a Kevin, I always say, and there’s no WAY ‘Ayma’ is a real name.  Probably secret service or some other off-the-books spook.  But we’d worry about that some other time, like my back taxes…AL had plans for us, and we weren’t about to let her down.

She didn’t play nice, neither.  Her little games went straight for the tough little shell I keep tucked up inside me, a lifetime of scar tissue that I’ve nurtured real good with a steady regime of booze and very deliberate isolation.  But this little lady and her beard were having none of that…she had more tricks with her than a whole herd of one-trick ponies. She ran us through a round of ‘Make it Better’, something I bet she’s real good at.  She made us play, oh yeah, we did scenes for her and the others, strutting an stumbling like babes in the woods, and me without my weed whacker.  I bit my pride and swallowed my lip, playing third wheel in a scene with Andy and ‘Ayma’ about lawn bowling…we had a humdinger of a time, I’ll admit, but I’ll leave the reviews to the man upstairs.

I admit it, I felt outta my element…ugly mugs like mine don’t belong on a stage any more than the Chairman of the Board belongs in a tutu, but I’ll fight if someone throws a punch and I held my own.  The last half hour was all mine, when AL threw some of her ‘restriction games’ at us…and brother, me and restriction are old school chums from way back.  A little ‘word count’ and ‘alphabet’ got me ending on a high note, just like when Joey Petunia got his minister of procreative affairs caught in the sausage grinder over at Delvecchios.  Served him right, I still say (God rest his soul).  Nice that Levy was on that stage with me for the last one…and whoulda thunk it, but Kevin came through in the end too.  Maybe I was wrong about them after all.  Maybe.

It wasn’t the best of times, but it was sure closer to it than the worst of times.  And that’s saying something.  I’ll see AL and the gang again next week, sure, what have I got to lose?  My dignity and self-respect skipped out in the middle of the night back when Reagan was still in office, and good riddance.  But when the little lady asked us to let her know what our weaknesses were…?  Oh brother.  Neither of us have that kinda time, sweetheart, believe me.  Let’s just play it by ear, or toe, or whatever body part you like.  Doesn’t really matter does it?

Let’s just play.

…to be continued!

CRUSHED! My Summer Crush 2013 Preview!

In Improv, Theatre on August 13, 2013 at 9:44 am

The first time I saw Crush Improv was way back in the summer of 2010.  It was as a part of the now defunct (or at least comatose) SUMMER FLING series being put on then by Arts Court.  I’ll be honest…it was not only my first time seeing Crush, it was also my first time at an Improv show, period.  Their show was called MY SUMMER CRUSH, and I loved it to bits.  The Summer Crush has been back in different forms since then, but this year it’s undergone a major growth spurt and is back at Arts Court for three whole weeks of much-needed summer comedy mayhem!  Not only will the current expanded series feature performances by the core Crush gang themselves – AL Connors, Dan Lajoie, Tim Anderson, Desiree Connors-Warmington, and of course, Glen Gower on keys – but they’ve invited some of their most talented pals along for shows and workshops all throughout the event…we might even see a few first-timers on the stage, thanks to the Thursday evening Performance Ensemble workshops, designed for just such a purpose.  I’m excited as an electric poodle for this shindig to get underway, but rather than do too much blathering myself, I dusted off my uber-lazy ‘5 Questions’ interview bit from Fringe and went straight to the brains of the Crush operation, Heather Marie ‘HM’ Connors to get the scoop on just why MY SUMMER CRUSH is the most important thing in your life.

HM, reflecting on her works.

HM, reflecting on her works.

– What is your role with Crush Improv (besides being AL’s boss)?

– Despite popular opinion, I am not actually AL’s boss. We do collaborate on a lot of projects together, as co-producers of Crush Improv. And that is ideal in so many ways, as our skill sets are very complimentary.

– MY SUMMER CRUSH started as part of the Arts Court SUMMER FLING series back in 2010.  How has it grown since then?

– Yeah…did I mention I named My Summer Crush? I did, in 2010. The Arts Court Foundation had asked for pitches from people, AL pitched his idea (which I named My Summer Crush, still very proud of that) where there would be workshops and shows, and it became part of the Summer Fling series. I think that was the first time Crush realized the appetite that was out there for this kind of programming; not only for audiences but for talented performers who just needed the opportunity to be seen. It ran for two years under the Summer Fling banner, and then in 2012 My Summer Crush was a series of weekly shows out of the Elmdale Tavern. This year we (I) decided that My Summer Crush had the potential to be so much more, and we wanted to bring it back into Arts Court, and back to the idea of doing a mix of workshops and shows, with the added element that we would collaborate with other improv and theatre companies to present a full series of summer comedy.

– How hard was it to decide which awesome guest-stars to invite (and how awesome are they)?

– Choosing the line-up for My Summer Crush was super fun. I really did start from the premise: who do we have a crush on, who we think hasn’t been seen by Ottawa audiences? And then beyond that, who do we know who can both perform and teach? Obviously there aren’t a lot of improv performance opportunities in Ottawa, but more importantly, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to learn different styles of improvisation, or as an improviser, to expand your tool kit beyond the basics of communication and playing games.  So that’s what I was looking for: shows that we love that haven’t been to Ottawa, and performers who also teach.

The swell lads of UNCALLED FOR.

The swell lads of UNCALLED FOR!

Crush has had a long standing love affair with the Montreal sketch/improv company Uncalled For, so they were naturally at the top of the list, but where we have brought them to town multiple times for improv shows, this time we asked they bring a sketch comedy show to be part of this series. On top of that I really wanted Anders Yates to teach a sketch writing workshop. Again, this is something you just don’t have access to in this town, and yet I know there are talented writer/performers here who are interested in getting into sketch comedy. Programming this workshop, taught by someone who regularly writes, performs and teaches sketch comedy, is my attempt at kick-starting some sketch comedy writing to happen here in Ottawa.

Julie Dumais is another long-time crush of ours, and she now runs Bad Dog Theatre in Toronto – one of the biggest and most popular theatre and improv companies in that city. Bad Dog does a lot of genre-based improv shows, as well as a lot of training. We of course wanted to get them here, and we’re lucky they could find a weekend that wasn’t already jam packed with their own programming, where they could actually come to town and play with us.

The lady Miss Kirsten Rasmussen!

The lady Miss Kirsten Rasmussen!

Kirsten Rasmussen is known for her solo work in theatre, as well as for being one of the founders of Montreal Improv. We brought her in a few months ago to teach a workshop and it was the most well attended workshop I think we’ve run to date. Kirsten is an incredibly talented performer who also happens to be a great teacher, so she was an obvious ask for My Summer Crush. Ottawa audiences haven’t had a chance to see her solo work, so I was thrilled when she said she could do “Tough!” for us on Aug.17th.

I would characterize our relationship with Montreal Improv as more of a budding romance – because of our proximity, we’re finding there’s all sorts of opportunities for our two companies to collaborate – both for performances and workshops. I had heard about the popularity of  “Easy Action”, as that is a show Marc and Brent have been doing for a while – I am excited to bring that one here because it means I finally get to see it!

As for the local components to our line-up: I’ve been talking to Andy Massingham literally for months about offering a movement workshop specifically for improvisers. As you know, improv shows very often take place on blank stages, so the improvisers’ bodies are not only their tools, but also their set and props! Also improvisers like to get physical with one another on stage – picking each other up, or contorting into weird shapes – I love that sort of thing but want to make sure we’re teaching people to do it safely – so, these are the conversations I’ve been having with Andy, and My Summer Crush became the perfect opportunity where he can come in and work with our ensembles – and they can incorporate what they learn into their shows.

Tony and Cory of MAY CAN THEATRE!

Tony and Cory of MAY CAN THEATRE!

I kept a spot in the first weekend of My Summer Crush open for a local show. AL and I went to local Fringe shows, to scout something out. When we saw “Happiness” by May Can Theatre, we knew we had found it. I’ve had a crush on the May Can Theatre boys for a couple of years now, but “Happiness” is also perfect because the premise is it takes place at a seminar, and I feel like the studio environment matches perfectly with the conceit that the audience is attending a seminar. When I started to talking to Cory and Tony, they told me how they were taking “Wolves>Boys” to Fundy Fringe, and they wanted to do some kind of public performance of it before taking it on the road. “Wolves” was one of my favourite 2012 Fringe shows. We realized we had a mutually beneficial opportunity here to do both shows, and we decided to make the first Friday a May Can Double Bill. Thank goodness these guys are young and have a lot of energy, ’cause those are two very different shows to do in one night! But I think it’s a great opportunity for the audience to see the range of what May Can is doing, and that’s what makes it exciting.

– Are workshops something Crush Improv is committed to continuing beyond this series?

– Yes, definitely. I’ve been on this kick about workshops since September, and since then we’ve been offering on average a workshop a month. It’s something I’m really passionate about, I think if we’re to grow the scene here in Ottawa, we can’t just keep looking to each other and repeating the same things over and over. It’s important to know what is happening elsewhere and to capitalize on the opportunity to work with other artists when they are in town.
There’s also clearly an appetite for accessible improv workshops – there are a few places in town offering improv classes, either as a social thing or as a resource for becoming a better communicator – and those are great to have – but Crush is the only professional improv company offering workshops taught by performers. We get asked all the time when the next workshop will be offered, so we know this is something people are looking for. We have a whole series of workshops already lined up for the fall, so stay tuned.

– Where do you see MY SUMMER CRUSH in 5 years?

– It’s hard for me to say right now what I see My Summer Crush becoming – this is a pilot year for the idea of producing a line-up of shows as well as a workshop series. I’m going to learn a lot throughout the run of this series, and it will of course influence where I want to go with it. But the potential exists to keep growing it as a summer series, to look for more partnerships and interesting collaborations – to look further than Montreal and Toronto – there are obviously more companies we’d love to work with, from say Edmonton or Vancouver, or Atlanta or New York. For now I am just extremely thrilled to finally launch the programming that I’ve been crafting in my head for the last two years. It came together this year in an amazing way, and I got a lot of my first choices. I can’t wait for people to see what we’re doing in Arts Court Studio! And how cool is it that Kichessippi came through as a beer sponsor? Yeah…how about we just enjoy these next three weeks, and then I’ll think about the next five years?

my-summer-crush-knife-poster-FINAL-web

There ya have it, folks…if you’re not excited yet, contact your programmer and ask him to switch on your emotion chip already.  I’m signed up for at least 8 of the killer workshops being offered, and fully plan to blog the living shit out of MY SUMMER CRUSH, as foolishly and drunkenly as I can manage. The action gets underway this very night with the first Foundations workshop, from the man Dan Lajoie himself,  I’ll be there the next night, and so should you.  It’s gonna be good, yo.  See you at Arts Court!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

End of the Century

In Theatre on August 11, 2013 at 8:43 am

Well, it only took a hundred years, but the latest season at the Ottawa Little Theatre is finally nearing a close.  Nine shows so far this centennial season the OLT gang have showcased a diff’rent play from one of the decades they’ve been around, and it’s been a pretty good ride so far.  I’ve had fun the whole way through, only missing one (COME BLOW YOUR HORN, sorry again!) in the set.  Now we’d made it all the way to the end, and they’d decided to finish things off with a Canadian touch, showcasing Michael Healey’s THE DRAWER BOY.  Directed by Chantal Plante, who helmed the OLT’s terrific production of LOST IN YONKERS the previous season, this is a bit of an odd show on paper…a Canadian classic about the making of a Canadian classic.

A semi-fictional recounting of the creation of THE FARM SHOW in the 1970’s, the show follows eager Toronto actor Miles (Mike McSheffrey) to a small rural farm run by stern Morgan (Mark Kielty) and his Brother Angus (Brian Cano).  Angus is a special sort…pleasant to talk to, but without enough long-term memory left to remember what Miles’ name is from one minute to the next.  An accident in the war, Morgan tells him, as he attempts to care for both his brother and the farm.  But Miles’ snooping investigations into farm life to find material for the play become problematic when he hears something he shouldn’t have, and Morgan is less than thrilled to see it performed on stage a few days later.  Angus is tickled, however, even if he can’t quite recall why…yet.  And just what the Hell is it he’s always looking for?

drawerboy

A seemingly simple show, featuring just the 3 actors on a sweet Margaret Coderre-Williams set, and yet there’s plenty going on in TDB, and most of it great.  The OLT has made very wise casting choices this year and this show is no exception…I’m especially crazy about Cano and Kielty as Angus and Morgan, who each fit their roles to an absolute T, tho McSheffrey’s wide-eyed Miles is lotsa fun too.   All three are charming as all get-out, and get a lot of good laughs when the moment calls for it, easing us nicely into the dramatic second half.  Director Plante is proud of the original score designed by Riley Stewart, and rightfully so…it’s beautiful stuff, nicely accentuating the transitions and Dave Magladry’s typically great lighting.   Now, there was a glitch or two in the system when I saw the show, but in fairness, the theatre HAD been struck by goddamn lightning the night before, and they still managed to fix everything by intermission.  The show must go on indeed, folks, and that 101st season will wait for nothing.  Kudos to the behind-the-scenes heroes for getting everything up and running at all costs…I expect the rest of the run will be smooth as silk, and that onstage combo will only get better and better as time goes by.  Check out a sweet and powerful rendition of a funny, all too human story, and then get ready for the next hundred years.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)