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?
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)