Archive for December, 2016|Monthly archive page

Filming the Fringe

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on December 9, 2016 at 1:38 pm

A few years ago famousactress Nancy Kenny got a particular bee up her bonnet….a documentary bee, specifically, and it was her Fringe bonnet it was poking around in (I’m going somewhere with this, please stay with me). Being the stick-to-it type of gal she is, Nancy corralled talented pals Cory Thibert (of May Can Theatre fame) and Natalie Watson, crafted a plan, put on her producer hat (yes, overtop her fringe bonnet, she can wear both at the same time because she’s THAT TALENTED) fundraised and fundraised and then fundraised some more, and set out to film her (and many other Fringe artists) adventures on the 2014 Fringe Festival tour across Canada, from London to Vancouver.


The end result is ON THE FRINGE, a feature-length documentary I finally got to see this past week. It is the first true pop-cultural record of the madness and magic that is the Fringe tour, inspired by Edinburgh but distinctly Canadian (in my mind, the most truly unique aspect of Canadian Theatre PERIOD, but never mind me). The film follows not on Nancy but Jem Rolls, Chase Padgett, Stacey Hallal, Robert Grier, Grahame Kent, Morgan Murray, Danielle Spilchen, Martin Dockery, Vanessa Quesnelle and a multitude of others as they arrive in a new town, set up their show, flyer, perform, drink, bunk with strangers, succeed, fail, then pack up, hit the road and start it allover again somewhere else. Trying to capture the essence of fringing is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle, but director Thibert and editor Watson succeed admirably. Their months of footage, painstakingly carved down to just 90 minutes, hit on all the successive highs and lows of this lunatic theatrical rollercoaster lifestyle…performance anxiety, fickle public and critics, financial hardships, friendship (and romance), fleeting fame and much, much more. Special shoutout to the beautiful soundtrack, much of it coming from Fringe artists seen in the film (including some of the achingly gorgeous AIDEN FLYNN score).

I’ve been involved with Fringe as a fan since 2008 and as a performer since 2013, so I’m not exactly giving an outsiders’ perspective here. As a relative insider, this flick gave me all the feels times a thousand. It gave me roaring newfound respect for these fearless artists, and made me all the more driven to join them on this most blissfully Quixotic of quests. Fringe is a very special thing in the world, and it’s beyond time that hard proof was made available to attest that fact. Thanks forever to the team for making this happen.

Now…why am I writing this? This movie isn’t available for rent or download yet, it’s playing at no local theatres for you to run and check out, limited tour screenings like the recent one in Ottawa aside. So what CAN you do? Help them out, that’s what. The filmmaking process is an arduous and EXTREMELY expensive one, postproduction included, and this journey isn’t finished yet. I donated some cash to the project’s early indiegogo campaign years back, and it was clearly some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I URGE you to click on their campaign page link and do the same, if you’re able. I want…no, I NEED my special edition 2-disc blu-ray of this movie, and that won’t happen without some cash. So feel the Christmas spirit, gather up those defunct pennies, and help make a Fringe miracle happen.  Because Fringe miracles are pretty much the best kind, I say.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

By the Sword

In Theatre, Uncategorized on December 1, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Action blockbusters at the movies are a pretty big growth industry these days, and I’ll admit to having partaken of my fill over the years. But why should the Marvel Cinematic universe have ALL the fun?


“All for one and one for all!” – Captain America, probably.

Down at ye olde Ottawa Little Theatre, the gang has thrown their century+ weight behind an All-for-One-and-One-for-All production of Ken Ludwig’s THE THREE MUSKETEERS, based natcherly on the Alexandre Dumas swashbuckler classic. The story follows young up-and-coming swordsman D’Artagnan (Robbie Clement) as he heads to Paris to join the vaunted Musketeer ranks and protect the King and Queen (Jacob Benson and Lindsay Laviolette). Trouble unfolds quickly as our young hero accidentally falls afoul of the titular heroes Aramis, Athos and Porthos (Eze Leno, Ian Gillies and Job Dickey) as well as earning the wrathful eye of the nefarious and power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Glenn).

Of course, D’Artagnan and the heroic trio manage to reconcile, and team up to try and protect the realm against Richelieu and his cadre of killers, including Kyla Gray as the cruel Rochefort and Rebecca Laviolette as the deadly Milady. Toss into the mix an innocent lady in waiting (Katherine Norland) and D’Artagnan’s feisty little sister Sabine (Emily Walsh) plus a mighty ensemble cast, and the recipe for epic adventure is ready to go!


“Avengers Assemble!” – Pic by Maria Vartanova

To say the OLT pulled out all the stops for this show is an understatement. Colossal setpieces, rousing score, gorgeous freaking costumes, projection, fog, swordfight after stellar swordfight, they throw everything in their considerable theatrical arsenal at Dumas’ tale and the end results are a heaping helping of fun and adventure. Clement strikes a solid balance of youthful enthusiasm and derring-do for the anchoring role of D’Artagnan (his scenes with sister Sabine and love interest Constance are quite especially delightful), and the musketeers are as wonderful a bunch of heroes as you could ask for. I was personally thrilled to see fellow OTS alum Kyla Gray returning to the stage, and am happy to say she makes a dandy cutthroat as the smashingly-clad Rochefort. Fellow villainess Rebecca Laviollette steals a good chunk of the show with some frighteningly impressive ass-kicking throughout. And amidst the fights and set pieces (all well done, and only occasionally wearying from sheer volume), solid performances and engaging storytelling abound.

This is a big show, using every inch of the OLT stage and even beyond to make it even larger. Sides, aisles, even spaces outside the theatre all become part of the spectacle in a brash and campy adventure played in deliberately broad strokes by director Stavros Sakiadis. Serious moments are peppered with a much-needed humour that allows the play to laugh at itself instead of sinking into melodrama…not that it shies away from the melodrama when it’s called for. Action, love, honour, betrayal, revenge, treason…it’s got all that good stuff and plenty more. Buckle a swash or two this holiday season, feel like a kid again, or just go ahead and bring the kids. If you want fun…here it is. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid