Nothing like a good launch to liven up a wintery week, if I do say so. Just a few days ago now, NAC English Theatre uberboss Jillian Keiley took to the podium at a packed 4th Stage to unveil her second full season as Artistic Director. It was a fun, circus atmosphere to go along with the ‘Witness the Wonders’ theme of the 2014-2015 season. Now, you gotta take season ‘themes’ wit a grain of salt…it’s really just a bit of fun for AD’s to play around with, but there really are some wondrous things to look forward to in this one, including several that I absolutely do not wanna wait for.
The mainstage Theatre series kicks of in Wilde style with THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, one of those never-gets-old classics that hits the stage this October. Directed by Ted Dykstra and starring the new NAC ensemble (more on them later), seems like as swell a way to kick off the season as anything.
That gets followed up in December with the big family ensemble, ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, a co-pro with the Stratford Festival and fairly certain to be a big hit…I’m calling it. From the sounds of it, this one’s gonna be a pretty sprawling cast, with the ensemble being joined by a host of other actors to bring Wonderland to Ottawa. Should be a gooder, folks.
Getting political after that with STUFF HAPPENS by David Hare, telling the tale of the runup to the invasion of Iraq and featuring Bush jr. and company, again as portrayed be the ensemble. Kinda curious about this one, as at this point don’t all but the staunchest red state republicans consider the Rumsfeld White House as a bit of a punchline anyhow? There may be a lot of preaching to the choir going on during this run…but hey, choirs LOVE preaching! So there.
Next up is TAKE ME BACK TO JEFFERSON, and adaptation of William Faulkner’s classic novel AS I LAY DYING, a Southern tale about family, funerals and other horrors. An amazing sounding piece devised by Theatre Smith-Gilmour, who have been at this for over 30 years and now what they’re doing, folks. Don’t’ miss it.
Closing off the Theatre series is maybe the one I’m most excited for, Robert Lepage’s NEEDLES AND OPIUM, which looks so goddamn amazing they could just have run this all season and I likely would have been happy. Check it out for yourself:
Moving on to the Studio series, Boss Keiley’s scheduled an awesome trio of shows for the season, starting with DO YOU WANT WHAT I HAVE GOT? A CRAIGLIST CANTATA. Yes, it’s a musical based on actual Craigslist ads, so at the very least it should be crazy fun. And considering how many Dora awards this show has already been nominated for, I think we’re getting way more than ‘least’.
Middle show is the Buddies in Bad Times hit OBAABERIMA (don’t worry, you’ll get it with practice), starring and created by ensemble member Tawiah M’Carthy. A one-manner that sounds like on of those ‘tour de force’ things that you just have to see or never forgive yourself. On my own must-see list, and that’s for damn sure.
Closing out the studio series is THE DOUBLE, and adaptation of the Dostoevsky novella of the same name, telling the ages-old tale of man vs.cello…or something like that. It sounds pretty damn cool, anyhow, and a great note to go out on.
The Family series follows, including ALICE as its mighty centrepiece, as well as a couple of smaller, sweet bits, including THE QUEEN OF PARADISE’S GARDEN at the 4th Stage, a puppet adventure from Andy Jones (yes, that Andy Jones, recently strutting his stuff at the NAC in his adaptation of TARTUFFE) and THE GREAT MOUNTAIN in the studio from Red Sky Performance Productions, some right proper Canadian legendry for y’all.
So that’s the lineup as it stands, and it stands pretty tall from where I’m looking. But what about that ensemble I kept mentioning? Well, here’s the official lineup for the 2014-15 season: Alex McCooeye and Karen Robinson (returning members I recall from the Peter Hinton reign), Amy Matysio, Andrew Moodie , Christopher Morris, David Warburton, Herbie Barnes, Lois Anderson, Natasha Greenblatt, and as mentioned above, Tawiah M’Carthy. It’s a solid bunch, most of whom are NAC veterans from some time or another, and will be joined along the way by some other stellar Ottawa talent, including my own much beloved Alix Sideris and Andy Massingham. All in all, it was an exciting and superfun launch, and I’m very much enjoying Boss Keiley’s rule here at the NAC. Okay, I’m not sure about that new logo (a little 70’s for my taste, and not in a cool way), but everything else..? Spot on. And by all means, Jillian, keep the popcorn once the shows get underway. See you under the big top in the new year, folks. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)