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Archive for March, 2015|Monthly archive page

Dawn of the Hairy Ape

In Theatre on March 26, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Well, this is it. A long road, a lotta rehearsal (and that’s Lotta with a capitol L, folks), a few sore throats and a serious wrench later, and Eugene O’Neill’s THE HAIRY APE is finally ready to show its ugly mug to the world. Starting with a special preview show double-bill tomorrow night at the legendary Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield (immediately following the show, castmate Jed Rached will be leading his band the Fat City 8 into a blistering blues set). After that, we hit the just as legendary Carleton Tavern in Hintonburg in Ottawa for a three week run. Now, Ottawa audiences are familiar with the sight of Chamber Theatre at the Carleton Tavern, their main stage for most of their career (tho they’ve played such esoteric venues as Cube Gallery, the Elmdale Tavern, and Collected Works bookstore), but I can pretty much guarantee they ain’t seen anything like Eugene O’Neill’s APE around these parts for quite some time. So far, we’ve been unable to track down any evidence of it having ever even been performed in Ottawa…and if anyone has any knowledge about a past performance, I’d love to hear some specifics! Because this show lives up to its name…it is a Beast, and no fooling. And what the Chamber gang has done with it is going to take this classic of American Theatre and turn it into one of the most energetic and engaging pieces to crash into your senses this season…crash into’em, and beat’em senseless.

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Lisa Zanyk and Donnie Laflamme are the beatin’ heart of Chamber Theatre, and have been working like stokers in the bowels of a ship to bring this classic of American Theatre to life in Ottawa. Donnie takes the lead in the show as Yank, O’Neill’s steel-tough, grimy, iconic everyman champion, and a vicious brute when he wants to be (which is often). One of the most unlikely leads a play has ever had, and Donnie Laflamme is a fiendishly great fit for this hard-luck hero…I can’t think of anyone else in O-Town who has the sheer power to pull it off. Previous collaborators from their production of DEATH OF A SALESMAN, Louis Lemire and Matt Smith, are back in this one as Paddy and Long, respectively, two of Yank’s fellow coal-shovelling cronies. Meanwhile, above decks, Laura Hall and Ellen Manchee keep the filth of the stokehole at bay as upperclass Mildred Douglas and her Aunt. It’s Mildred who unwittingly fires the plot into action, indulging herself in some ‘social service’ with disastrous results.

The cast is filled out by a mighty ensemble filling a variety of roles, including my Strange Visitations stage partner Madeleine Hall, plus Rebecca Laviolette, Jed Rached, Brent Rouleau, Darren Jerome and, you know…me. And I’m proud as heck to be part of their gang. I’ve learned a lot working with this team, and look forward to learning even more once we hit the stage.

Myself and costar Rebecca Laviolette, even prettier than usual.

Myself and costar Rebecca Laviolette, even prettier than usual.

Behind the scenes, Matt Smith has done double-duty, composing and creating a soundscape for the show that is a character unto itself and WILL have audiences talking. It’s utterly incredible, and I can’t wait for people to hear it. Our amazing lighting and sound tech Glen Macintosh has cooked up some sounds and sights that are going to make everything we do so, so much better than we alone could have managed. The costumes by Donna Bourgeault are things of beauty (or horror, when necessary), once again making our jobs as actors that much easier. Add in propmeister Kirsten Saar, Box office guru Carole Johnson, and omnipresent Stage Manager Alain Chauvin , and we’ve got a team I couldn’t be more excited to perform with. And, of course, I’d say the Carleton Tavern itself deserves credit as well, because ain’t no stage in town has more character than ours.

As for myself…well, I’m old and cynical and stuff, and refuse to use words like ‘blessed’ to describe my fortunes (tho I may have lapsed into that in the odd sentimental moment in the past, and slap me if it happens again). But, this is a major step on my stumbling, tumbling path towards becoming…whatever, an actor, a creator, I don’t even rightly know. But this has been glorious hard work that I’ve loved every moment of (except for the moments of supreme frustration, but those pass, and the love remains), and Donnie and Lisa are saying nice things about whatever it is I’ve been doing in rehearsal, and I really DO get an awfully big wrench to lug around. And maybe a fav’rit thing of mine has been Lisa’s constant urging us to be louder, and be heard more. Can you even imagine? To a weirdo loner like me who can’t even ask women out on dates or make phone calls to close friends from utter tongue-twisting, nerve-wracking anxiety, having the freedom…the goddam AUTHORITY, even…to speak out, to talk, to be heard is…well, it’s pretty amazing, I don’t mind saying. I don’t know if I’ll ever make a living at this acting gig (probably not), or even a remotely steady paycheck (thin possibility). I only know I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life. Definitely. Or is that too sentimental?

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So join me and the Chamber gang, won’t ya, tomorrow at the Black Sheep Inn, or the following three weeks at the Carleton Tavern, for a piece of brash and raw theatre that won’t soon leave your psyche. This will be a show to remember, folks (and if not, then at least the bar is open, am I right?). Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Monday Foofarah! – March 16 2015

In Foofarah on March 16, 2015 at 10:50 pm

Well, I’m not reviewing anymore, so I might as well use this space for SOMEthing. And the Monday Foofarah, why that certainly is something! It’s ten pounds of something in a five pound bag is what it is! Or IS it..???  Never mind just get your dancin’ shoes on already!

And when I said just now “I’m not reviewing anymore”, well, just take that with an apparent grain of salt, because…

THE BEST HAPPINESS: …I just saw two shows back to back that I simply GOTTA give a little public props to, because I feel a deep, gnawing need to have people fill their houses with adoring fans. First up is a gorgeous little slice of Daniel MacIvor with THE BEST BROTHERS, playing now at the GCTC. Starring John Ng and Andy Massingham as Hamilton and Kyle Best, two brothers who are just similar enough to make their differences all the more grating whenever they try and get along. And as the occasion of their meeting in the play is to handle funeral arrangements for their suddenly departed Mother ‘Bunny’, emotions are indeed flaring a little higher than usual between buttoned down Hamilton and flaky Kyle. And then there’s Enzo, Mother’s beloved pooch who has a tendency to eat all the things, and then defecate them wherever he likes. It’s a trying time.

John Ng and Andy Massingham in THE BEST BROTHERS (pic by Andrew Alexander)

John Ng and Andy Massingham in THE BEST BROTHERS (pic by Andrew Alexander)

A sneaky piece from Danny Mac, BROTHERS starts off looking like a wacky dark comedy, and somewhere along the way shifts into a multilevel character piece and exploration of grief, relationships, sexuality and family, among other subjects. GCTC boss Eric Coates sits comfortably behind the reigns on this one, and couldn’t have asked for a better tragicomic duo than John Ng and Andy Massingham, who play off each other like a human game of ping pong, as well as taking turns giving a posthumous voice to Mother Bunny. It’s a hilarious and touching play whose every moment bears close examination. 2015 is turning out to be a stellar Ottawa year for MacIvor!

Meanwhile, over at TACTICS, the third show in that inaugural series has rolled out this past week at Arts Court, as local heroes May Can Theatre hit the big time with a revamped and reworked version of their 2013 Fringe show HAPPINESS(tm). And while the show is still pretty much the same at its very core, or at least in the same ballpark, this is very much a bran new experience for audiences to take in. And I do mean experience, as Cory Thibert, Tony Adams and director Mado Manseau have turned this darkly comic tale of corporate shilling gone wrong into one of the most wonderfully immersive theatrical experiences of the year.

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert in HAPPINESS(tm)

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert in HAPPINESS(tm)

Working with a budget for likely the first time in their history, May Can puts every cent of it into the production and the results are fantastic, with an eye-popping opening that sets the scene perfectly, with high-octane HPL sales reps Peter Barrel (Tony) and James Lemon (Cory) getting ready to sell the ever-loving shit out of their new ‘Infinity Line’, products specifically designed to make you happier (including the cringe-inducing ‘Happy Hook-Up’). All of this takes place in the studio…audiences are then ushered into the Theatre for a look at what lies beneath the happy face of Pyramid scheming-sales in a genuinely inspired and clever twist in storytelling that goes from hilarious to grim when you’re least expecting it. Aided by some sweet light and projection effects, Cory and Tony deliver what is probably their fullest and most satisfying show to date, and one that should propel them into a new phase of their careers in theatre, if there’s any damn justice in the world. Amazing to think back to when I was sharing a venue with the original prototype of this show at TAN Coffee in Sandy Hill. And very proud of how far May Can has come since then.

YOU DAMN DIRTY APE: Counting the days now until THE HAIRY APE at long last clambers onto the stage, first for a preview show at Wakefield’s Black Sheep Inn, and then back in Hintonburg for the full run at the Carleton Tavern. Working with Chamber Theatre for the last several months on this beast of a show has been challenging, frustrating and fulfilling, sometimes all at once, and its hard to believe the end is at last in sight. Donnie Laflamme is poised to once again knock Ottawa audiences over with his performance as Yank, a steel-tough stoker on a liner who has his world turned inside out after a chance encounter with a high-society dame (the seriously amazing Laura Hall).

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Director Lisa Zanyk continues to push the whole cast in wonderful new directions up to the last minute, and I think audiences are going to really enjoy what she’s come up with. Our cast is filled out with Madeleine Hall, Matt Smith, Louis Lemire, Ellen Manchee, Brent Rouleau, Jed “Rocket” Rached, Darren Jerome and Rebecca Laviolette, and rehearsals are starting to really cook as we near the finish line. Now, I’ve got a couple of comp tickets to give away for opening night here at the Carleton on April 2 at 7:30, and that means CONTEST!!!  What do you have to do to get’em? Simple: get out your phones, use the hashtag #ChamberApe, and between now and next Monday post a pic (or a video, if you’re feeling ambitious) of yourself doing your best impression of a Hairy Ape. The winner will be announced next Monday right here…and keep in mind I may post some of the pictures here as well, if we get a good-lookin’ bunch. Trust me, this is theatre good enough to make yourself look silly for. 🙂

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STRANGE VISITATIONS: Even as APE nears its destination, over in Fringe Festival territory my other show, HANNAH & GEORGE, is just starting to pick up steam. Just yesterday I sent in information to be printed in the official Fringe guidebook (guess there’s no changing the name NOW), version 2 of the script is in all of our hands, prop and costume scouting is on and rehearsal spaces are being booked. I am desperately anxious and excited about this show, which is almost a direct descendant of the short piece THE FLOWER I performed as my end-of-semester presentation at the late, great Ottawa Theatre School, so I feel pretty close to it.

Coming soon to a Fringe near you...

Coming soon to a Fringe near you…

Even got assigned my dream venue, the beautiful Studio Leonard-Beaulne on Ottawa U campus, where I’ve seen the likes of Amy Salloway, Celeste Sansregret, Nancy Kenny, Jem Rolls, Margo MacDonald, David Gaines, Peter’n’Chris, Chris Bange, Ken Godmere, May Can Theatre (of course), and so many more do so many amazing and inspiring things. I have a lot to live up to, and I’m confident that with the help of my radiant co-star Madeleine Hall (our third show together in a row, and if that could continue forever, I’d be quite content) and whipsmart director Jodi Morden (who also wowed me in SLB last year with RACHEL & ZOE) we’re gonna deliver something very, very special. Or at least silly. Silly is a good start.

See you next week, gang!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Coming Up in March 2015

In Theatre on March 2, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Marching into March with a loaded calender of Theatre-stuffs to keep you inspired and giddy.  Take your pick!

sfair

SABRINA FAIR at the Ottawa Little Theatre. OLT takes on the classic romcom, with cockatoos. Until the 7th.

bankrupt

BANKRUPT At the Gladstone Theatre, from Plosive Productions and Theatre 4.669. Stephanie Turple’s world premiere comedy, with music from the Peptides. What more ya need to know? Until the 14th.

OBAABERIMA at the NAC Studio. Tawiah M’Carthy’s acclaimed one person show about sexuality and identity. From the 3rd to 14th.

URINETOWN THE MUSICAL at Alumni Auditorium, from Fauteux Productions.  If you’re a fan of musicals about urine, then…well, you might have to crash this one, as it’s already sold out! On the 5th and 6th.

conjure

CONJURE at the Avalon Studio, from Magic Studio Productions. A magical evening with Zach Counsil and Steven Lafond, making things disappear and stuff. The 6th to 8th.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Centrepointe Theatre, from Orpheus Musical Society. One of Mel Brooks’ finest gets the Orpheus treatment. The 6th through 15th.

TOUGH! at Algonquin College Studio N118, from Algonquin Theatre Arts. The Gonqs take on George F.Walker. The 11th to 15th.

THE BEST BROTHERS at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. Andy Massingham and John Ng in the latest hit from Daniel MacIvor! From the 10th to 29th.

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert in HAPPINESS(tm)

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert in HAPPINESS(tm)

HAPPINESS(tm) at Arts Court Theatre, from May Can Theatre (part of TACTICS). Are you happy? Because even if you are, this show can make you happier. The 13th to 21st.

ACT at Studio Leonard-Beaulne. From Ottawa U MFA candidate Miriam Cusson. The 12th to 14th.

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MY FAIR LADY at the Kailash Mital Theatre (Carleton U Campus), from Balmour Productions.  A classic story gets a modern Arabic twist, for one night only on March 14th!

THE YOUPPI CLUB at Artissimo Cafe, from the Ottawa Stilt Union.  First of a promised series of monthly meetings about…I have no idea. Just be there on the 16th at 7pm.  And don’t forget about the Stilt Union’s weekly Drop-In workout sessions, Sundays at the Ottawa Dance Directive studio!

REXY! at the Gladstone Theatre, from Phoenix Players. William Lyon Mackenzie King, onstage where he belongs. The 19th to 28th.

Tess McManus, sittin' in a tree.  Pic by Tom Benson.

Tess McManus, sittin’ in a tree. Pic by Tom Benson.

STRAIGHT FROM THE HARP at the NAC 4th Stage, from Little Green Hat and Ottawa Storytellers. Tess McManus’ Fringe hit TALES SHE TELLS gets reworked and relaunched with some musical accompaniment from Dawn Bailey and Susan Toman! Only on the 19th.

SUBDEVISION at Enriched Bread Artists (951 Gladstone), from a Ton of Artists.  Three days of Site-
Specific mini-plays in a festival of sheer wonder brought to you by the SubDevision collection of artists, including (but not limited to) Emily Pearlman, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Skeleton Key, Catriona Leger, and so much more!  From the 19th to the 21st.

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THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO at NAC Southam Hall, from Opera Lyra. Opera! Get dressed up and enjoy. The 21st to 28th.

GOODBYE, PICCADILLY at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Family dramedy to kick off your springtime. The 24th to April 11th.

THE LION IN WINTER at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, from Kanata Theatre. Christmas in the 12th century!  From the 24th to April 4th.

TAKE ME BACK TO JEFFERSON at the NAC Theatre, from Theatre Smith-Gilmour. Southern Gothic tale of tragedy and family all that jazz. The 25th to April 11th.

OTC 2015

OTTAWA THEATRE CHALLENGE at NAC 4th Stage, presented by A Company of Fools. Who will win the Rubber Chicken Award? Find out on the 27th!

Ape

THE HAIRY APE At the Black Sheep Inn, from Chamber Theatre Hintonburg. From Eugene O’Neill, granddaddy of American Theatre. Premiering on the 27th! Continues into April at the Carleton Tavern. And I’ll be in this one, by the by, so get your tickets now! 🙂

GAME OF BONES at the Velvet Room, from Eddie May Mysteries.  Every Saturday night, killer dinner theatre inspired by the classic Fantasy Teevee series SIGMUND AND THE SEA MONSTERS, I think.

– THEATRE FRANCAIS

LA SOUPE DE KAFKA at Theatre de L’Ile. The 11th to April 11th.

LE CHARGE DE L’ORIGINAL EPORMYABLE at Academic Hall. Ottawa U franco-theaatre goodness from director M.Guy Beausoleil. The 24th to 28th.

THEATRE 100 at Studio Leonard-Beaulne. A Collection of one-acts from Ottawa U. The 27th and 28th.

– IMPROV

‘BOUT TIME at Mother McGinteys, from Crush Improv. Reunion Tour vs. The Princess Parade! Monday the 2nd. And Check out Crush’s One-night Fundraiser show for Juvenile Arthritis at O’Grady’s Outpost on the 7th!

A CHEST FULL OF BOOTY at the Lunenburg Pub, from Hall of Justice on the 15th.

GRIMPROV every first and last Wednesday of the month at the Cock and Lion! Wednesday the 4th join them for a bout of ELEMENTAL IMPROV.

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SHELARIOUS at Pressed Cafe. Hosted by Birds of Prey from Experimental Farm Theatre, an all-gal night of comedy in celebration of International Women’s Day! Sunday the 8th.

MARCH MADNESS WORKSHOP SERIES at the Jack Purcell Community Center, from Experimental Farm Theatre. Improv workshops for all comers, on Tuesday the 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th.

– More to come!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)