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Archive for October, 2014|Monthly archive page

The Importance of Being Hunchbacked

In Theatre on October 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Oh my God, you guys, Oh my GOD (fun fact: I have no God, that’s just an expression)!! You’ll never guess…I went out to see a PLAY!! TWO plays, even! Is that ginchy or what? Now, sure, I used to do that sort of thing all the damn time…even got to be sort of reputed for it, just ask around (“that’s Kevin, he sees EVERYthing!”…I try, all right, I TRY.), but it seems like ever since I got back from Clown Camp about 600 years ago I’ve barely made it out to see anything in town. Granted, I’ve been keeping busy with some pretty terrific stuff…making theatre is even more fun than seeing it, who knew? But I love the Theatre scene in my town and was happy to finally get out and take in some shows, now that Fresh Meat 3 was a wrap. And since I’m a little rusty at this ‘writing reviews’ thing by now, I’m making this post a two-fer to really smoosh in the love. And oh yes…there is love.

First up was a trip this Tuesday eve to the grand ole NAC for a look at their premiere event of the new English Theatre season, Oscar Wilde’s ultra-mega-classic comedy THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. Directed by Ted Dykstra, and set on a towering collection of pretty awesome backdrops from designer Patrick Clark, who also did the sweet costuming, the tried and true story follows the titular Earnest (or maybe Jack, played by Christopher Morris) as he leads a somewhat unintentional double life in Victorian London wooing the prim Gwendolen (Amy Matysio) in town while being guardian to witty Cecily (Natasha Greenblatt) in the country. His layabout best pal Algernon (Alex McCooeye) takes a rather keen interest in this state of affairs and decides to weasel his way into Jack’s other life. All this is done while doing their collective best to avoid the unforgiving scrutineering of the imperious Lady Bracknell (Karen Robinson, in a goddamn unforgettable turn) and try and sort out the mess they’ve made of things.

Alex McCooeye and Christopher Morris in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.

Alex McCooeye and Christopher Morris in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.

The new NAC acting ensemble gets a terrific showcase in this production, which is tweaked into the over-the-top range just enough to make it irresistibly hilarious. McCooeye and Morris have great fun bantering back and forth as the mismatched Algy and Jack, with some nice physical flourishes added in to keep things jumping. Other ensemblers make memorable appearances as well, with Lois Anderson as the high-strung Miss Prism, Andrew Moodie as ever-proper Reverend Chausable, and Herbie Barnes and David Warburton as Lane and Merriman, the all-seeing servants (God, I love onstage servants, they’re the BEST). But props to Robinson’s Bracknell, who steals a goodly portion of the show…which is, of course, exactly what Lady Bracknell is supposed to do. This a ridiculous and fun time with some classic Wilde, and a great start for the 2014/15 ensemble.

But there’s more! The next night I was stilll achin’ for some more theatrical hijinks, and cruised on over to the Gladstone Theatre to check out their latest, a visiting show from Under the Table and brought to Ottawa by local heroes Black Sheep Theatre. And it was a clown show even!! Right up my own silly alley. So after nabbing me a ticket, I headed in for THE HUNCHBACKS OF NOTRE DAME, a proud production from the Hunchinson Family Players (aka Under the Table Theatre). Before the show got underway, the players were milling in the audience, arming us with props for a big scene near the finale, with brother Johann (Matt Chapman) doing his best to sell some questionable merchandise to the audience, with mixed success (pro tip: don’t take his first offer, he WILL drop the price). Eventually the show gets underway, with big brother Paul (Josh Matthews) leading the way as Writer/Director/Choreographer and actor, in the role of the priest. Johann plays Quasimodo, a role he is determined to transform into the romantic lead if it kills him, and rounding out the family is Hilda (Sarah Petersiel) as Esmerelda, who really, really wants you to know that you can call her ANYtime. Seriously.

The Hunchinson Family Players (tm), ready to do some Hunching.

The Hunchinson Family Players ™, ready to do some Hunching.

Based around a scaffold-set, a merry blast of a show ensues, with singing, dancing, a fight or two, several director’s notes, and the occasional less-than-subtle advertisement. Under the Table are some talented clowners indeed and never miss a step or a laugh as the lovably non-normal Hunchinson clan. If this show doesn’t put a smile on your face, I can only assume you don’t HAVE a face, and now wonder what you’re using to read this.  Whatever it is, get it over to the Gladstone Theatre this week and DO NOT miss this hilarious take on Vincent Victor Hugo’s classic tragedy…which has never been funnier.   This show is in its last week, let’s show them some love!!  As a baby clown myself, I found this show pretty inspiring.  As a regular sort of person, you’ll still find it painfully funny, beautifully inventive, endearing and unforgettable.  Peace , love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Fresh Meat 2014 – Wrapping it Up

In Theatre on October 27, 2014 at 2:54 pm

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And just a whole Helluva lot faster than it came, it’s all over. Fresh Meat Festival 2014 is a wrap, or expired, or whatever the correct metaphor/simile would be, and there’s nothing to do but look back on what went down (before we start looking forward to next year, that is). It was a wild weekend for me, and I’ll start with a quick recap of the shows I done seen and enjoyed from some amazing artists I’m proud as punch to call pals.

Lily Sutherland in GARDEN IN THE SKY.

Lily Sutherland in GARDEN IN THE SKY.

There was DOUBLE DUTY from FG[squared], written and directed by Laura Hall and starring the comedy triple crown of Brooke Cameron, Des Warmington and Jordan Hancey. A merrily goofy tale of sinister plots of intergalactic war and rather ambitious janitors trying to save the day. Features one of the best spit-takes of all time.

Then came Seedling Theatre and GARDEN IN THE SKY, a touching and funny story from creator/star Lily Sutherland about a 12 year old girl who neither understands the rapid changes in her life, nor has any intention of surrendering to them without a fight. Beautiful stuff.

May Can Theatre threw a very special party with TUSK TURNS ONE!, and turned in one of their most vividly theatrical and effective pieces to date. A seriously great show, and one I hope they’ll return to or remount someday.

Saturday night saw some special guest stars in the mystery performer slot, and we were treated to not one but two performances, as local heroes ANDY MASSINGHAM and TIM OBERHOLZER delivered wildly different pieces based on the same inspiration items supplied to them only 3 days previously. The end result was an alien transvestite musical from Tim (who clearly has ROCKY HORROR on the brain for some reason…) and the unforgettable onstage transformation of Andy Massingham into Leonard Cohen. Brilliant. And kudos once again to the first week shows, Backpack Theatre’s MY CARDBOARD LIFE, Cart Before the Horse’s ME AND MY MONSTER, Will Somers and Dave Brown with FORSTNER AND FILLISTER PRESENT: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER IN: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER, Thunk! Theatre’s smash.bam.kapow., and Traced Theatre’s THE BIG WEED.  Delights and wonders all.

And then there was that OTHER show.

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With my wonderful and awe-inspiring teammates Madeleine Hall and Jodi Morden, the premiere show from Strange Visitations, FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING came about on Thursday night, the second show of the evening. More than five weeks of steady rehearsals all came crashing down into one 20 minute onstage explosion, and we would finally find out if anything we were doing would click with people at all, at all. Well, I’m happy to say that yes, things did indeed click. In fact (or at least, in my potentially skewed opinion), the response to the show that night, and on the following two performances, exceeded all my hopes and childish little dreams. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic, and I could not be prouder of what our gang brought to the Fresh Meat table. On behalf of us all (including our onstage personas Simpleman, Bruiser, Mystic Flower, Muscles Krenzer, Puff Mommy, Sexy Dreamgirl, Dreamy Nerdgirl, Hannah Gloriana, Helena Handbasket, Dancing Queen, Bonnie N.Clyde and Datebot 5000), a HUGE thank you to everyone who came out and supported not only us, but the entire beautiful DIY initiative that is the Fresh Meat Festival. Almost teared up a bit on closing night when Andy Massingham shared a reminiscence about the origins of the event with Jonah Allingham and the OTS. Proud to have helped keep the connection going this year.

The Dating Team of Kevin Madeleine and Jodi...glad to say we're still smiling after that run.

The Dating Team of Kevin, Madeleine and Jodi…glad to say we’re still smiling after that run.

Thanks also to the amazing FM stage management team of Katherine Dermott and Connor Price-Kelleher, who were fantastic and professional all the way through, never missing a beat. Plus the entire Fresh Meat production team, sponsors, mentors, the whole mob of’em. I already miss the vibe, and look forward to whatever comes next in my theatrical life. For right now it’s back into rehearsals for Chamber Theatre’s 2015 production of Eugene O’Neill’s THE HAIRY APE, and plotting out a thing or two on the side and in the future in the meantime. Has the world seen the last of Faster then the Speed of Dating..? Time will tell. But thanks again, Ottawa (and Toronto, in the case of the amazing Nadine Thornhill who drove all the way over just to catch our show…love ya!), it’s been tremendous, it’s been heartwarming, and hopefully it’s been just the beginning. Ding!

Peace, Love and Soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Faster Than the Speed of Dating

In Theatre on October 21, 2014 at 10:25 pm

A few months back during the Ottawa Fringe Festival, as I was winding down my marathon attending and reviewing of 40+ shows in two weeks or so, a couple of friends of mine started bugging me to do something. The friends were Emily Carvell and Madeleine Hall, and they were both working on the upcoming third installment of the Fresh Meat Theatre Festival in October. They were prodding me to take the plunge and apply for entry, because what the Hell did I have to lose? I pretty much didn’t think about it, until the very last day of applications was upon us, I downed some trusty Jameson’s, said ‘Fuck it!’ and e-mailed my application under my invented Production company blazon of Strange Visitations. Couldn’t hurt, right?

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Well, a week or so later I found out I got accepted, and holy shit, I guess I had to start writing a show! That started a whole month-long adventure of me starting and halfway finishing about 4 separate treatments for shows that, while I liked them, weren’t quite the right fit for the fest that I wanted. Still, some of them may see the light of day yet (THE MAN IN THE AUDIENCE and STONE THE CROWS will return someday, I’m sure of it..!), but that didn’t help me at the moment. Until my pal Karina Milech (OTS grad and co-founder of Vacant House Theatre) got in touch with me…she and pal Patrick Kelly were having a fundraising party for their cross-Canada audition tour, and she asked if I would perform my short piece THE FLOWER at it. The Flower, a silent 5-minute bit about a nerdy guy trying to ask out his fav’rit barista, was initially my first year ‘vocal masque’ at the Ottawa Theatre School during my short but sweet time there, which I later reprised at the Visitorium’s 4th Anniversary Foofarah Live party in June. I said yes, but that I might try and think of something new for my lonely, sad-sack character to do. I ended up doing the original piece again after all, but in the brainstorming process I came up with the idea of him (or ‘Simpleman’ as he’s come to be known in my head, and in the script) going to a speed dating event. Because speed dating…that’s weird, right? Why not? The more I worked it, the more I liked it, and the more I realized THIS was my Fresh Meat show.

See? We're on the poster and everything!

See? We’re on the poster and everything!

Working it a bit more on my lonesome, I realized eventually that doing a show about a man interacting with lots of different women at a Speed Dating event as a one-man show was seriously stupid, which led to me sending one of the better e-mails of my life to the aforementioned Madeleine Hall (at that time in France studying with the legendary Philippe Gaulier), asking her to be my co-star in the project. She happily agreed, and shortly after that I lucked out again and convinced the amazing Jodi Morden (recently seen in PrettyUgly’s production RACHEL & ZOE at the Ottawa Fringe) to be stage manager/director for the show. We’ve since had a helluva rehearsal process, I’m guessing way longer and more intense than the average Fresh Meat project, and we’re still tweaking a few odds and ends right up until the last minute. I’m one proud papa for this show, as FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING has turned into something way cooler than I ever hoped for. Working with Maddy and Jodi has been wonderful-wonderful, and I’m extra-thrilled that my first created show is going up with an all OTS cast and crew (what can I say, I’m true to my school). I almost still can’t believe I’m doing this…but then again, this is what I do, now. Welcome to my new normal. It’s way better than the old one.

See? Just lookit how happy I am!

See? Just lookit how happy I am!

Major, major thanks go out to the Clocktower Brewpub, Carleton Tavern and Chamber Theatre Hintonburg for their invaluable help with rehearsal space and, in the case of the Clocktower, loaning us our ‘set’. And of course my Mouse, Kathryn Paige Reeves for our boffo early promotional photography. Special shoutout as well to Nancy Kenny for some terrific last-minute dramaturgy (not to mention a key prop assist), which has, in a way I didn’t see coming at all, brought this show very weirdly full circle. I’ve learned a ton on this project, and I’m forever grateful to the gang at the Fresh Meat Festival for giving this opportunity not only to me, but to so many other newbies, creators, performers and assorted theatre lunatics. This year continues to astound me, and it ain’t done yet. Our show (as well as the other amazing Fresh Meat week 2 shows from May Can, Norah Paton, Seedling Theatre and FG[squared]) will be playing at the Arts Court Library from the 23rd to 25th, doors at 7pm, advance tickets available at the Fresh Meat Website. We hope to see you there.

Rehearsal Team Multi-Selfie!!

Rehearsal Team Multi-Selfie!!

Faster Than the Speed of Dating. You will believe a man can date. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

If anyone shows up at Arts Court this weekend actually looking for Speed Dating, that's totally my fault for being SO AMAZING AT POSTERZ!!! Right?!?

If anyone shows up at Arts Court this weekend actually looking for Speed Dating, that’s totally my fault for being SO AMAZING AT POSTERZ!!! Right?!?

Fresh Meat 2014 – Week Two Preview!

In Theatre on October 21, 2014 at 10:39 am

Halfway there!!

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The first week of the 2014 edition of the Fresh Meat Festival is a wrap, and the first five world premiere shows all strutted their considerable stuff on the Arts Court Library stage to a nearly sold-out three day crowd. I managed to make it out to opening night, and have nothing but jolly praise for the creators who made their magic. Fest Founder Jonah Allingham impressed with his solo physical piece MY CARDBOARD LIFE, taking potent theatrical jabs at working class Hell. Megan Carty had a very cool, dark experimental piece in ME AND MY MONSTER, with some especially nifty use of audio. Geoff McBride and Karen Balcome of Thunk! Theatre had a hilarious and visually wonderful story of a dysfunctional dynamic duo in their superhero tale smash.bam.kapow. Allison Harris and Lindsay van der Grinten showed awesome comedy chops with the fast paced comedy THE BIG WEED, but were mightily challenged for best comedy team of the fest by David Benedict Brown and Will Somers as FORSTNER AND FILLISTER. I hope we see both of these pairs back again some day, fingers are crossed. So happy I caught them all, sad that I missed Saturday’s surprise performer Pierre Brault..! But anxious for part two. Here’s what’s comin’!

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TUSK TURNS ONE! From May Can Theatre. The latest from Ottawa’s hardest working independent theatre kids, and fresh off a proper 5-year roasting last month. Come celebrate Tusk’s first birthday (at 33, no less) and see what May Can have to launch years 6 to 10!

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DOUBLE DUTY from FG[squared]. Written by the awesome Laura Hall, it’s the time-honoured story of Space Janitors saving the universe, with the killer cast of Desiree Warmington, Brooke Cameron and Jordan Hancey!  Ain’t no funny like sci-fi funny.

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GARDEN IN THE SKY from Seedling Theatre. A one woman tale (yay!) Starring the hyper-talented Lily Sutherland (double-Yay!!) in a tale about new surroundings and how to make sense of change when you’re only 12 years old. Theatre for young and old alike from one of my fav’rit up and coming superstars. Can’t wait!!

Strange Visitations - Fresh Meat 3 (photo credit Kathryn Paige Reeves)

FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING from Strange Visitations…but more on that tomorrow. 😉

Also, there will be a Super-Secret Show on Saturday Night (replacing May Can, who only perform twice this weekend, so don’t miss’em like a chump!), which I seriously have no clue about…but the last one was Pierre fuckin’ Brault, folks, so expect something pretty damn sweet.  Get excited for the Freshest Theatre meat around, and let’s see you folks pack the joint this weekend!  And remember, the bar IS open. 🙂  See you there.  PEace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Fresh Meat 2014 – Week One Preview!

In Theatre on October 13, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Okay, so I’m not really getting out to see or review, well, anything these days.  Which sucks, because I’m missing some cool shows, which is kind of unlike me.  But even with my suddenly loopy rehearsal schedule, even I will be getting out this Thursday to catch the opening night of the coolest theatre party in town, the third FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL.  From humble roots at the Pressed Cafe on Gladstone to last year’s shenanigans upstairs at the Lunenburg, the DIY Fest and brainchild of Jonah Allingham is back, this time in an honest to gosh theatre!  Or, okay, Arts Court Library, but they have risers now and everything!  And the Courtroom next door is being converted into a bar/lounge for in between and after shows, so I’m calling it an improvement.  Like last year, the event is split into two weeks, now with five different companies presenting their original, twenty-minute works each weekend from Thursday thru Saturday.  Ain’t no funner theatre bash in town, and here’s what you can look forward to having your collective worlds rocked by in the first weekend:

Backpack 2MY CARDBOARD LIFE from Backpack Theatre.  Written by and starring Fresh Meat Founder Jonah Allingham his own bad self, and directed by the awesome Katie Swift (who Ottawa last saw in the amazing HROSES from Evolution Theatre).   It don’t get much more do it yourself than cardboard box props, and that’s where Backpack is starting their latest theatrical adventure.  Back for the third time at Fresh Meat, following the wicked cool SUMMER OF ’34 and THE B TEAM.

Forstner and Fillister 1FORSTNER AND FILLISTER PRESENT: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER IN: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER from, you guessed it, Forstner and Fillister.  A two-man comedy about the wild world of woodworking, starring Will Somers and Dave Benedict Brown, and directed by Melanie Karin Brown.  That’s an impressive list of talent, and a whole lot of funny for just twenty minutes to try and contain.  Will they be able to build something sturdy enough to do the job??  Come and see.

Thunk! 1smash.bam.kapow. from Thunk! Theatre.   Superheroic misadventures from the wonderful Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride, the dynamic duo that brought us BREAD and FAR & NEAR & HERE, as well as being the current holders of the coveted Rubber Chicken Award.  Always innovative and inspirational, their presence is reason enough by itself to get your ticket.

ME AND MY MONSTER from Cart Before the Horse.  Starring the unstoppable Megan Carty (soon to be seen again at the Avalon Studio in a reprise of SHAPE OF A GIRL starting on the 31st) in a one-woman show about the monsters under all our beds.  Directed by Paul Griffin, and sure to be powerful medicine indeed.

Traced_Theatre_2THE BIG WEED from Traced Theatre.  Some killer comedy to round out the first weekend, in this offering from the awesome Alli Harris, Lindsay van der Grinten, and director Gabbie Lazarovitz. After a solid debut at this year’s Ottawa Theatre Challenge, I can’t wait to see what Traced comes up with now.

That’s it for opening weekend…tho I should mention that smash.bam.kapow will only be playing the first two nights, and a SUPER SECRET SHOW will be offered in its stead on Saturday!  Remember, the bar will be open the whole time, and you can get your advance tickets at the Fresh Meat Website!  See you there, and again same time next week for a peek at Week Two (About which I’m oddly overexcited, for some reason…)!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

 

Coming Up in October 2014

In Theatre on October 1, 2014 at 5:08 pm

OCTOBER! Now there’s a month. Am I right? Watch, I’ll prove it…

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THE PERILS OF PERSEPHONE at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Still a few more chances for some perilous theatre! Until the 4th.

THE BOY IN THE MOON at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. The 40th season opener draws to a close, so get out while you can! Until the 5th!

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HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH from Vanity Project, at the Gladstone Theatre. Did you miss it the first time around? Well, you’re about to miss it again unless you get a move on! From the 1st to 4th.

FISH EYES and BOYS WITH CARS from Nightswimming Productions, at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. A double-bill (including one world-premiere) from performer Anita Majumdar! From the 14th to November 2nd.

NEXT TO NORMAL from Indie Women Productions, at the Gladstone Theatre. More musical theatre on Gladstone, because why not? From the 15th to 18th.

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KAFKA’S APE from Infinitheatre, at Theatre Wakefield. A little far out, but this touring production looks fantastic!!  Plays on the 17th and 18th.
THE MOUSETRAP at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Get your Agatha Christie fix. From the 21st to November 8th.

THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT at Academic Hall, from the Ottawa U Drama Guild.  Directed by artist in residence Dragana Varagic.  From the 21st to 25th.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at the National Arts Centre Theatre. The NAC kicks off with classic Wilde. From the 21st to November 8th.

THE HUNCHBACKS OF NOTRE DAME from Black Sheep Theatre, at the Gladstone. A hilarious sounding new show that ya don’t wanna miss. From the 22nd to November 1st!
JACK STRAW at the Elmwood theatre, from Linden House. A Somerset Maugham classic from the Linden gang! From the 24th-26th, and November 1st and 2nd.

THE MAGIC FLUTE at Arts Court Theatre, from Opera Lyra. Opera for young’uns, from people who know how to make opera fun. The 25th, 26th, and November 1st.

THE SHAPE OF A GIRL at the Avalon Studio, from Cart Before the Horse.  A return performance of this powerful production from early this year, and a second showing from Megan Carty this month (see the FRESH MEAT Festival, below)

GAME OF BONES, every Saturday evening at the Velvet Room, from Eddie May Murder Mysteries. Based on the popular fantasy TV show ‘Wizards and Warriors’, I think.

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THE FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL returns in its third incarnation, and its third home, landing this time at Arts Court for two weekends of original shows from emerging artists around town! Ten shows for your theatre pleasure . A 20$ ticket gets you all five of the shows on that evening. The first weekend 916th to 18th) features:

ME AND MY MONSTER, starring Megan Carty.

MY CARDBOARD LIFE from Backpack Theatre.
ME AND MY MONSTER from Cart Before the Horse.
FORSTNER AND FILLISTER PRESENT: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER IN FORSTNER AND FILLISTER from Forstner and Fillister.
THE BIG WEED from Traced Theatre.
SMASH.BAM. KAPOW. From Thunk! Theatre. Week two (the 23rd to 25th) will spotlight the second half of shows, including:

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TUSK TURNS ONE from May Can Theatre
GARDEN IN THE SKY from Seedling Theatre
DOUBLE DUTY from FG [squared]
BURNT OUT from Norah Paton
FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING from Strange Visitations.

The fetching stars of FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING, being talented.

The fetching stars of FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING, being talented.

That last one happens to be co-created by and co-starring yours truly, and it would be swell if you’d come out and make me feel like this was a good way for me to be spending my time. It’s gonna be fun, I promise!

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THE ANIMAL SHOW at the Box Theatre in Toronto, from Katie Hood! Okay it’s in Toronto, but it’s KATIE HOOD! From the 2nd to 4th.

    — THEATRE FRANCAIS
LA SAGOUINE at Theatre de L’Ile. Until the 18th.

FOOL FOR LOVE at the Motel Concorde, from Theatre de la Vielle 17. Only until the 2nd! Don’t miss this special return presentation!

VILLES at Ecole de la Salle, from Theatre de la Pire Espace, with Theatre du Trillium. From the 14th to 17th.

CINQ VISAGES POUR CAMILLE BRUNELLE at the National Arts Centre Studio. The 15th to 18th.

CARTE BLANCHE at L’espace Rene-Prevost. Multidisciplinary artists strut their stuff, from theatre to visual arts and more! Always cool. The 16th to 18th.

2H14 at Ecole de la Salle, from Theatre la Catapulte.  One day only, on the 25th!

 

More to come, stay tuned!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)