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Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

I don’t know what the birds signify!

In GCTC, Theatre on February 25, 2017 at 6:38 pm

I’ve been in a bit of a theatre funk, post-Undercurrents. Is that okay? It seems a bit selfish, frankly, but being able to share the festival stage with the kinds of big shots and talented magillas that we did was pretty amazing, and the post-show ennui is a force to contend with (note: I know totally forgot to do a blogpost about my show, Faster than the Speed of Dating, being part of the 2017 Undercurrents Festival, so if the above confuses you, don’t worry, I just suck at marketing!). But funk or no funk, Theatre stops for nothing, especially not whiny suckybabies like me. And hey, is that my 1st GCTC opening night show in almost 2 years I see before me? Well hot damn, so it is. Right, funk over, let’s get to the show!

The show, 5th up in the 16/17 season and a bit of a milestone in even GCTC’s long history, is LES PASSANTS from the mighty Theatre la Catapulte. And yes, as that company name implies, this is indeed a French language production (no catapults though, here’s hoping for next time), first ever at the Irving Greenberg Theatre. Seems a little silly to think about it, but there you go…and if this is the beginning of a GCTC francotheatrical tradition, then it’s off to a terrific start. As was easily predicted from the involvement of Catapulte, Luc Moquin’s PASSANTS is a terrific show.

Featuring a cast consisting of Melanie Beauchamp, Benjamin Gaillard, Andree Rainville and Yves Turbide, and directed by Jean Stephane Roy (also the AD of Catapulte), Les Passants is made up of a series of vignettes and scenes each shining its own light…be it satirical, slapstick, serious, ironic, or all of the above…on human interconnectedness (or lack thereof, aka solitude). A somber opening featuring a ride on the river Styx (or something similar from Dante’s Inferno) and a lone man trying to remember his way and his why, quickly give way to lighter fare including the recurring romantic misadventures of the Waldo-esque Bernard and the series of women he tends to drive away with overzealous ardor. Or a mismatched long-term couple venting their mutual frustrations via interpretive dance. Or a fantasy vs.reality look at knocking on a strangers door in search of romance.

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There’s a lot covered in PASSANTS’ 100 minute runtime, and if you don’t find something that relates to your experience, you might want to leave your house more. Not that homebodies aren’t covered well too, like the middle aged gent who realizes that, despite his best efforts, he just doesn’t (gasp!) like reading as much as he used to. The quartet cast slides effortlessly (probably not, of course, but they make it look as easy as falling off a log) between multiple roles and styles, be it deadpan serious or over-the-top goofy, assisted by a terrific overall production. Brian Smith’s set is all-encompassing and out of the way at the same time, and the lighting from designer Chantal Labonte is nothing short of astounding. The great Vanessa Imeson impresses as always with a dizzying array of costumes that seem to never run dry. And big thanks to Lisa L’Heureux, whose English translation of the script runs constantly over the stage, making this French production as inclusive as anyone could hope. No excuses, Anglos!

LES PASSANTS marks an exciting milestone in local theatre, and hopefully not a one of a mind event. I’ve long touted the wonders of French Theatre and the dazzlingly different sensibilities they bring to the theatrical table, and this show is as solid a proof of that as any. Check it out while you can at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, then check out something else! Ottawa U is presenting LE CHANT DU DIRE-DIRE next week at Academic Hall, and I’m calling that a good next step. Heck, I’ll be there. Allons-Y au theatre! Peace, love and soul,

Kevin R

PS now, back to our regularly scheduled funk:

Coming Up in February 2017

In Undercurrents on February 3, 2017 at 10:54 am

Sorry I’m late! Already 3 days into the month…that’s, like, half of February! Let’s get it started already!

COLONY OF UNREQUITED DREAMS at the NAC Theatre, until the Feb 11th. So many dreams they formed their own colony!

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEPEOPLE from Eddie May Mysteries, at the Velvet Room downtown every Saturday night. Superheroes and dinner, what more do ya need?

A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM from Taboo Productions, at Academic Hall until the 4th. An LGBTQ retelling of the Bard’s most fantastical outing. So get out there!

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AT HOME AT THE ZOO at the Carleton Tavern, from Chamber Theatre, from the 1st to the 11th. Albee’s Zoo story with its prequel Homelife get the Chamber treatment at Ottawa’s coolest theatre…order a quart and some wings and strap yourselves in!

SCHOOLHOUSE from Kanata Theatre, at the Ron Maslin Playhouse from the 7th to 18th. Will this Schoolhouse rock? Only one way to find out..!

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CRIMES OF THE HEART from Three Sisters, at the Gladstone the 8th to 18th. A gritty drama about the grizzled, veteran cops who tackle to toughest crimes of all…Heart Crimes! Probably.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the Ottawa Little Theatre, from the 15th to March 4th. Get a Little Harper Lee in yer February, people!

PHANTOM OF THE OPRY from Brett Kelly Entertainment, at the Gladstone Theatre from the 22nd to 25th.

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SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET from Suzart after Dark, at Centrepointe Theatre the 23rd to 25th. The brutal killer with the silly name is back!

UNDERCURRENTS at Arts Court, the 8th to 18th. Hosted by the Ottawa Fringe Festival, the mighty undercurrents festival is back with another sweet, sweet lineup (and also me). Check it out, and plan your month accordingly:

 

THE ELEPHANT GIRLS from Parry Riposte

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TOMORROW’S CHILD from Ghost River Theatre

UN-COUNTRIED from Theatre 4.669

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BROTHERHOOD: THE HIP-HOPERA from b current and Sebastien Heinz.

BURNT from Norah Paton

VOVK from Lana Kouchnir

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FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING from Strange Visitations (that’s ME! And Jodi Morden and Madeleine Hall, too) Pay What you Can, PLEASE COME SEE OUR FUNNY LITTLE SHOW!!

– …plus the INDIGENOUS WALKS walking tours (bundle up!), New Play Tuesday, panel discussions, talkbacks, opening and closing night parties, and all the fun you can handle. Go go go!  Check out the full schedule HERE.

– THEATRE FRANCAIS

FUCKING CARL from Theatre du Trillium, at La Nouvelle Scene the 4th and 5th. Sold-out Fringe hit is back for a limited engagement!

LES PASSANTS from Theatre la Catapulte, at the GCTC from the 23rd to March 12th. A french show at the GCTC? Allons-Y!

– IMPROV AND OTHER STUFF

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CRUSH IMPROV continues their ‘Bout Time tournament thru February, at Mother McGintey’s. Check the calendar HERE!

GRIMPROV, you lads still good for some funny the 1st and last Wednesday of the month at the Cock’n’Lion? Here’s assuming!

THE IMPROV EMBASSY has their usual full roster of events, and their own calendar to boot. Check it out!

More to come!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin R

Coming Up in January 2017!

In Theatre on January 4, 2017 at 5:56 pm

            Updated Jan 15 – Added AMERICAN IDIOT and MARY POPPINS

Righty-right-right, let’s get this Theatre year in Ottawa off to a good start with a nice list of shows to check out! And okay, there’s the usual not too much going on this month, but give theatre a break, it’s cold out!

BLIZZARD OF OZ at the Gladstone from the 4th to 8th. As I write this it’s opening day, and there’s a blizzard out, so…good omen?

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KNIFE 3: SUMMER OF BLOOD a live preview from Morning Person Theatre, on the 6th at the ODDbox (Arts Court). It’s no Knife 6: 3D 2, but it’s not half bad.  Pay what you can!

SOUTHERN DIS-COMFORT from Eddie May Mysteries, at the Velvet Room byward market (on the 14th) and in Kanata Centrum (7th and 21st). A little murder to start the year off right…you know, except for the victims.

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Brooke Johnson in TRUDEAU STORIES. Pic by Kelly Clipperton.

TRUDEAU STORIES at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. Brooke Johnson reminisces about that time she beat PET in an arm wrestling contest…or something. Just see the show!

LE DIRE DE DI at the NAC Studio, the 11th and 12th. This is all the French Theatre I could find for January…any leads out there that I missed?

OTHER DESERT CITIES at the Ottawa Little Theatre, the 11th to 28th. Because there’s more than just Cairo.

COUNTRIES SHAPED LIKE STARS from Mi Casa Theatre, at Arts Court Theatre the 19th to 21st. The legend returns as part of the #Fringe20 series, and that is news both marvellous and spectacular!

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THE GHOMESHI EFFECT at the Gladstone Theatre the 19th to 28th. A new show about hard-hitting radio journalism, I presume. Unless I missed something..?

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AMERICAN IDIOT at Academic Hall, from the U Ottawa Musical Theatre Society, the 20th to 22nd. The modern smash featuring the ‘punk rock’ (yeah, right) tunes of Green Day. You can always listen to Iggy Pop on your headphones while you watch it!

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COLONY OF UNREQUITED DREAMS at the NAC Theatre, the 25th to Feb 11th. Jillian Keiley’s contractually promised dose of Eastern Canada hits the big stage, and it looks as fun as always!

BIZET’S CARMEN  from the University of Ottawa Opera Company, at Huguette Labelle Hall (Room 112, Tabaret Hall) the 26th to 29th. Some opera back in town at last, thanks to Uottawa and Artistic Director Doreen Taylor-Claxton! Performed in French with English dialogues.

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GOD OF CARNAGE from Sock’n’Buskin, at the Carleton U Art Gallery from the 26th to 29th. Yazmina Reza goes back to college in this latest production from the sockies!

MONKEY QUEEN: JOURNEY TO THE EAST from Ottawa Storytellers, at Arts Court Theatre on the 27th.

MARY POPPINS at Centrepointe Theatre, from Ain’t Seen Noth’n Yet Theatre from the 27th to Feb 4th. Will it include that bit where she fought Harry Potter in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Wait and see! Speaking of which…

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THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEPEOPLE from Eddie May Mysteries, at the Velvet Room downtown, starting the 28th. Brand new super-murder adventure, with what had best be some sweet, sweet spandex getting all bloody.

     -IMPROV AND OTHER STUFF

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‘BOUT TIME TOURNAMENT from Crush Improv. It’s back! Crush takes their beloved 3 on 3 improv battle show into the thunderdome, with teams competing against one another towards a final confrontation…for MONEY! Starts on Monday the 16th at Mother McGinteys in the Market and continues every Monday thru February. And the classic Crush gang will be performing at Yuk-Yuk’s on Elgin on the 29th as well!

THE IMPROV EMBASSY has a bunch of shows going on in January, including appearances from Quest Friends Forever and the return of the Improv Game Show (plus workshops and classes)! Just gonna link to their full calendar right here.

THE SENTIMENTALISTS at the Gladstone, 11-14. Magic and illusion and other mindgames that might make a Trump presidency make more sense.

GRIMPROV are still (I assume) at their usual haunt the Cock and Lion, the first and last Wednesday of every month!

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OUTTAKE IMPROV, formerly Elgin Street Improv, formerly Make Up Your Mind Improv, also have their sci-fi themed FINAL FRONTIER show on the 8th at Live on Elgin, and likely more stuff to come. Those crazy mixed-up kids.

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A rare musical entry for the Visitorium, but when it involves theatre heroines RHYTHM AND BURGUNDY as well as Zoe and Robin, I’m happy to list it!  At Bar Robo on the 9th.

That’s all for now…hopefully more to come! Peace, love and soul,

Kevin R

Big Stoopid End of Year Post 2016!

In Theatre on January 2, 2017 at 8:04 am

So, 2016! That was a…well, that certainly was a period of measured time, am I right? All the way around the sun, and a few of us are still breathing. And if you hear a distant tapping, that’s me, knocking on wood.

But hey, it wasn’t all bad. Yes, in addition to the beloved celebrity deaths and ill-tempered trolls proving that Western democracy is forever shattered, there was some mighty fine Theatre to remind us why we feel, and love, and fight. I saw a lot of it, I helped make some of it, and I am better for all of it. And or me personally, here IS that all in handy alphabetical list form:

#PigeonsAffames

#staystrong

2 for Tea

Addams Family

Alpha Delta 86

the Amazing Adventures of Pericles Prince of Tyre

Angels and Aliens

Antigone

Anton in Show Business

ArborAmor

Asylum

Attempts on Her Life

Aux.la.more.

the Ballad of Frank Allen (2)

Barefoot in the Park

Bella Culpa

Belles Soeurs

Berlin Waltz

Best Picture

Blindside

Boom

Boy vs.Chair

Burger King Lear

Burn

Butcher

C-

Callaghan

Cardinal

Chocolate Cake

Crow’s Nest

Curious Contagious

the Daisy Theatre

Da Kink in my Hair

Darkness

Desdemona: a Play about a Handkerchief

Dial M for Murder

Dissidents

Does Not Play Well with Others

Drinksitter

Everybody Dies in December

the Exclusion Zone

the Extremely Short New Play Festival

Falling Awake

Fat Sex

Forstner & Fillister present: Forstner & Fillister in: Forstner & Fillister

Frank: to be Frank

Gary

GET LOST Jem Rolls (2)

Getting to Room Temperature

Giant Invisible Robot

the Girl who was Raised by Wolverine

Grade 8

Great Day for Up

Happiness ™

Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas

How to be a Gentleman

I Forgot to Fly Today

Interior Panic

In the Blue of Evening

In the Trenches

the Inventor of All Things

In Waking Life

Jack Charles v.the Crown

Janet Wilson Meets the Queen

Joe the Perfect Man

the Jupiter Rebellion

Laser Kiwi

Last Wife

the Lion the Bitch and the Wardrobe

a Little Fire

Love is a Battlefield

Love Letters

Love, Lust and Lace

Lovely Lady Lump

MacBeth

MacBeth Muet

Magic Unicorn Island

Maltese Falcon: the Radio Show

a Man Walks into a Bar

Matchstick

Monstrous, or the Miscegenation Advantage

Mouthpiece

the Murder Room

My Fair Zombie

Nerdfucker

Novel House

Oh No! Said the Parrot

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

One Man Star Wars Trilogy

Particle

Perfect Pie

Peripeteia

Perpetual Wednesday

Phone Whore

Pierre Brault

Pool (no water)

Rideshares and Rope Swings

Roller Derby Saved my Soul

Romantic Poetry

Romeo and Juliet

Saor (Free)

the Servant of Two Masters

Space Hippo

Space Jameration

SS Lightbulb

Swordplay: a Play of Swords

Tead Talks

a Tension to Detail

Three

the Three Musketeers

Til Death: the Six Wives of Henry VIII

Twelfth Night

Twilight Zone

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

V.R.Dunne

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Wild/Society

Will Somers

Woyczek’s Head

Ze: Queer as Fuck

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Company of Fools 12th Night

Betroffenheit

New Play Tuesday featuring Burnt Out, Wanting, and Finishing the Suit

Just Mingling

Ottawa Theatre Challenge

Mop in the Grid

em, or Me, Mom and Medea (staged Reading)

Aiming to Float (staged Reading)

On the Fringe (movie)

Healing from Heartbreak

Not too shabby, eh? Packing in shows from two separate Fringe Festivals there, not to mention the usual suspects like UnderCurrents and Fresh Meat. And where to even begin culling this mass of amazing theatre into a ‘best of’ list of any kind? In my heart, that list would be almost identical to the one you just looked past. But people do love themselves some listing, so here’s my by no means definitive think back at some of my absolute fav’rit bits from 2016.

THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS. Odyssey Theatre shows they know how to extract gold from Goldoni with this Andy Massingham-directed adaptation of the masque classic, filled with archetypes of farce and funny, romance and madness, and enough mistaken identity for any ten plays.

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PARTICLE / MOUTHPIECE. Two of the several amazing entries at Undercurrents this year, Kristina Watt showed us how it’s done in her clown collaboration Particle (with the great Martha Ross) that was inventive, hilarious and endlessly endearing. Meanwhile, Mouthpiece took the concept of feminist theatre and raised it to a new level, featuring unbelievable timing and performances from its two leads Norah Sadavaand Amy Nostbakken . Two very different, but very extraordinary shows.

CALLAGHAN / SWORDPLAY: A PLAY OF SWORDS. A one-night-only event that too few people had the sense to make it out for, the mad geniuses of Montreal’s Sex T-Rex busted out all over with this double bill adventure/comedy/fantasy/sketch hybrid that had to be seen to be believed. They’re the best for a reason, gang. Hoping they come back soon.

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GET LOST JEM ROLLS. The fine whiskey (no wine, he) that is Fringe legend Jem Rolls just keeps getting better with age. After the brilliant historical bio INVENTOR OF ALL THINGS the previous year (which made a brief reappearance on Ottawa stages this year as ll), his latest rollercoaster spoken word adventure continued to up his considerable ante. I was lucky enough to catch it at 2 Fringes, and could happily go for thirds.

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FALLING AWAKE / BELLA CULPA. Two different 2-person physical shows from 2 different companies (Ragmop and A Little Bit Off) at this year’s Vancouver Fringe, and both made my heart do backflips with joy and delight. From a tragicomic look at love and loss to a manic battle of servants vs.masters vs.rats, these were two unmissable shows that made me want to be better at what I do. Out. Fucking. Standing.

-Cardinal 1 (cred Aplombusrhombus)

CARDINAL / OH NO! SAID THE PARROT. From Ottawa Fringe and then Fresh Meat, Aplombusrhombus (featuring Madeleine Hall and Mitchel Rose) knocked me out with two magically engaging pieces that should seriously be putting Ottawa’s clown community on the map. Winners of the Emerging Artist award at Fringe for very good reason. Watch out for these two clowns!

Magic Unicorn Island WEB

MAGIC UNICORN ISLAND. My fanboy crush on Jayson McDonald is no secret, and his latest, an imaginative, hilarious heartbreaker about the ultimate rebellion scenario did nothing to diminish my longing. You’re still my hero, Jay Mac! (bonus: his legendary hit GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT also made a welcome appearance in Ottawa this year, huzzah!)

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PERFECT PIE. From Judith Thompson’s great script to perfectly cast and beautifully directed stage production, this show was my fav’rit from the latest Tactics series (with the trippy WOLCZECK’S HEAD a close second). Deeply affecting, unflinching, catastrophic and present. Terrific bloody theatre.

And there’s so much more! Other Vancouver Fringe faves like THE BALLAD OF FRANK ALLEN, TIL DEATH: THE 6 WIVES OF HENRY VIII, GREAT DAY FOR UP and FRANK TO BE FRANK. Or Ottawa Fringe beauties like EVERYBODY DIES IN DECEMBER and RIDESHARES AND ROPE SWINGS. Ow about Ottawa Little Theatre’ grandly theatrical THREE MUSKETEERS? Kate Smith’s fast food breakthrough BURGER KING LEAR? The brilliant nostalgia-fest BOOM? The silent but deadly MACBETH MUET? Or my own record setting 7th viewing of ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL (I’m just about ready to start writing RDSMS fanfiction at this point. Hmmm…) ? Or maybe I could stop talking about other people’s stuff for a second, and start yammering on and on about…

MY STUFF!! Yes, I did some theatre stuffs in 2016, in fact more than I ever did done in a year before! It started early on with my first ever step into the Ottawa Theatre Challenge ring alongside Madeleine Hall in the short piece PARKS AND TREACHERY. We didn’t win, but we didn’t get booed off the stage neither (in fact, I think got my first ever Brian Carroll laff in that show, so I’m calling it a victory).

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Next up was maybe my most ambitious project to date, my first solo Fringe show NORMAN BISBEE GOES TO WAR. With thee great Erin MacDonald as SM, Jodi Morden, Leslie Cserepy and Pierre Ducharme helping out, I was ready to bring this solo drama/adventure/comedy to the ODDbox. Small audiences, middling reviews, money lost, lessons learned. Will Norman be back> Time will tell, but he doesn’t give up easy!

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lux elle imagery is fine art, editorial, and comercial photography, digital editing work and motion work.

I wasn’t done with Fringe yet, and I packed up my bags (as well as Jodi Morden and Madeleine Hall) and headed out to Vancouver to hit the west coast with FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING. My first out of town performance, and it was a treat from start to finish. We didn’t set records but we had good houses and great fun and we’d all love to come back to the finale Fringe ASAP. I still miss it.

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Back home, it was time to get personal. Longtime Visitorium mainstay Winston the Cat transubtantiated to Valhalla in 20116, and he needed him some immortalizing, Theatre Style. That came at Fresh Meat with UNZIPPING THE CAT, my storytelling debut. Even Patrick Langston had to grudgingly admit it was pretty good.

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I figured I was done acting for the year, until Eddie May came calling, and drew me into the madcap mystery that was HAVE YOURSELF A SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS out at the Kanata Velvet Room. After a year of DIY theatre, it was a nice change to end the year with a collaborative production (great working with Andy Massingham as director, plus sharing the cozy little stage some swell kids), tight alleyways, loud audiences, fake bloodstains and all. A great time being introduced to a whole new way of guerilla theatre-making for me, and a great way to close out 2016.  And huge thanks to EVERYONE who came out and saw one of the abovementioned shows…it means the world, as you all do know so well.

GETTING PERSONAL. As mentioned above, my roommate and best pal Winston the Cat had to be put down many months back. It was a rough bit, and I still miss that fuzzy little guy (tho I’m still finding enough of his leftover fur that I could likely construct a replacement Winston if I saved properly). As was truly said, Winston was an Ottawa Theatrical Institution, and he will always be missed, loved and remembered. Goodbye, my dear pal. I love you.

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There’s one more friend I ALMOST lost in 2016, but was blessed beyond my worth to get back. A few months ago, I almost threw away the best thing to ever happen to me, because I didn’t even realize how much she meant to me. After the worst and best night of my life, she helped me break through a lifetime of damage and bad wiring to see things more clearly, and I’m ecstatic to say that I am still very happily in a relationship with Caitlin Oleson, my beautiful, smart, sexy and ridiculously goofy girlfriend. She makes me happy, she makes me better, she puts up with my nonsense and shares this made-up life of mine in a way I never imagined anyone doing. Thank you so much, Otter, for sticking with me and smiling the way you do. You make things worth doing. I love you.

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That’s just about it, folks! 2016 saw lots of big theatre doings in Ottawa that I didn’t even touch on…the continuing redevelopment at Arts Court, NAC renos, the end of arts coverage in the Citizen (leaving our theatre reviewing state in such a sorry state I’ve already started doing a little of my own again…to be continued). 2017 promises some exciting things to come, hopefully a little extra theatricals from the 150 celebrations, and the return of Magnetic North. I’ve got some behind the scenes work coming soon with a local production, plus the Ottawa return of FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING in this years Undercurrents festival, hooray! After that..? Well, I punked out on the Fringe lottery, so who knows? Working on a few projects, but isn’t that just artist code for masturbating? We shall indeed see, folks. In the meantime, I DO hope to be writing a little bit more than recently usual about local theatre on this blog, because I goddamned LOVE local theatre and I want to see people getting excited about it. S o get getting excited, gang, and I’ll see you in 2017.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin R

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.

on-the-fringe

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?

avengersageofultronposter

“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!

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“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

Burn Baby Burn

In Theatre on November 18, 2016 at 5:17 pm

So as readers of this blog well know, there really isn’t much of a blog here to read anymore. In fact, why are you reading this..? Okay okay, I’ve been slacking off, devoting my so-called time to pursuing the actings and what not. I wasn’t sure what to do, exactly, with this old webspace of mine, but I’d figured my days of theatrical blogging were kind of behind me.

Then the Citizen gutted its Arts section, and let old Patty Langston out to dry (and hey, Citizen…if this was retribution on my behalf for that ‘not always successfully’ line, you shouldn’t have done it, I was totally gonna get him back on my own!). And then Drumpf got elected as Grand Wizard of the Confederacy, and we’re all basically fucked, forever. And I suddenly felt like I wasn’t doing anywhere near enough. Just in general. Not enough.

Then good guy and Acting Company co-czar John Muggleton gave me a shout out of the blue, offering me a review ticket for his nearly sold out show BURN, enjoying a two-weekend run at the Avalon Studio. I wanted to see the show, I thought that writing a little bit of theatrical pressage might be much needed good vibes, so I jumped at the chance. And here I am, belting out one of those ‘Visitorium’ reviews that used to make me so much more beloved than I ever, ever will be as a performer! Ah, memories. At least the pressure’s off, since this run is already sold out and basically over and…

…what, they’ve added new dates? Shit. Time to remember how to write!

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So, BURN. Written and directed by Johnny Muggs himself, and featuring a sweet cast of four performers ranging between well-seasoned to brand spanking new the story centers around Robert (Chris Torti), a former novelist still mourning the mysterious disappearance of his wife, a far more celebrated authour, years earlier. As we begin, Robert’s lifelong friend Paul has just passed away, and his long-estranged daughter Eve (Megan Carty) has asked to meet with Robert and his friends Samira and David (Tahera Mufti and Michael Thompson)to give them…something. They all gather at hiss apartment, musing over what Eve has to tell them, settling in for a pleasant evening with their pleasant new arrival. Until things start to get weird…and disturbing…and downright nasty.

Here are the 2 things that stood out and stuck with me about BURN. One, this is a smart script, that lets the mystery reveals itself cleverly and engagingly. The characters feel real, the tension is dense and palpable, and the unease is well-earned.

The second thing is the cast, and the terrific performances that director Muggleton brings out of his ensemble. I was almost dumbstruck by how naturalistic the whole affair felt, and the sense that I was peering in on a group of old friends whose lives were slowly being turned upside down for reasons they didn’t understand was wonderful, and more than a little unsettling. Chris Torti continues to impress, having clearly blown well past me since we did a few workshops together years ago. Megan Carty is always terrific, and shines as the impossible to pin down Eve. Stage newcomers Thomson and Mufti are rock solid too, supporting Robert’s world while slowly being drawn into Eve’s web.

This is a terrific homegrown slice of mystery and psychological mayhem, and it’s wonderful to see an original local show performing so well. It may also be testament to how much the Acting Company had ingrained itself in the communities, both Ottawa Theatre and the Glebe, and not a moment too soon. As mentioned above, they have just announced new show dates to this sold out run, coming near the end of December (the 28th to 30th, check the Burn website for details). Just make sure the lights are working at home before you check it out…this one may very well leave you with an awesome case of the creeps. Although, considering who just won the election, maybe horror is suddenly rather relative. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

Coming Up in November 2016

In Theatre on November 1, 2016 at 11:07 am
  • Updated Nov 8th – Added The Three Musketeers, Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas, Equivocation, the Addams Family. Updated info for Undercurrents launch party.  Nov 10th – Added Fringe 20 Hot Ticket Trivia Night and MacBeth*

Hey, it’s November!  That’s  NO-vember…as in, NO more local arts coverage in the Ottawa Citizen! Or so goeth the rumour mill this morning. Whoops-a-doodle!  Guess it’s time for me to start this up again…I’ve been meaning to rave more about local theatre anyhow.  Let’s see what’s coming up this month on your local stages. Welcome to YES-vember, folks.

DA KINK IN MY HAIR at the National Arts Centre until the 5th. Still time to get Kinky!

ATTEMPTS ON HER LIFE from the Ottawa U Drama Guild, playing at Academic Hall the 1st to 5th.  Written by Martin Crimp, Directed by the dynamite Peter James Howarth!

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JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL…AND LIVING IN PARIS from Bear & Co., playing at the Gladstone Theatre from the 2nd to 12th. Jacques Brel fans will be glad to hear he’s fine, I’m sure.

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LAST WIFE from Belfry Theatre and the Great Canadian Theatre Company, playing at the Irving Greenberg Theatre from the 1st to 20th.  I don’t know this show, but Mahalia is in it, and she’s supercool, so go see it.

IMAGINARY LINES from Linden House Theatre, playing at the Elmwood Theatre (261 Buena Vista, Rockliffe Park).  More good stuff from Janet Uren and the gang!

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BURN at the Avalon Studios from the 4th to 13th. A new play from John Muggleton with a seriously cool cast. Selling out fast!

EQUIVOCATION from Kanata Theate, at the Ron Maslin Playhouse from the 8th to 19th. Shakespeare vs.Guy Fawkes! Or something like that…it sounds right cool.

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UNDERCURRENTS launch party on the 15th at Arts Court studio, between 5 and 7. Be the  first to hear the 2017 lineup, yay! Also, don’t miss out on the FRINGE 20 HOT TICKET TRIVIA Night on the 21st at Arts Court, 730 start. Fun and prizes (and I may have contributed a trivia question or three)

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WILL SOMERS: KEEPING YOUR HEAD from Pierre Brault,at the GCTC Studio from the 9th to 19th.The onus is now on Will Somers to remount his play Pierre Brault if he wants to remain competitive.

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GRL PWR a Theatre-y doule bill at Live!on Elgin on the 24th and 25th. Toasted Theatre Company pairs their Fringe hit CHOCOLATE CAKE with the musical stylings of local fav’rits Rhythm and Burgundy for a couple of nights you don’t wanna miss!

THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE from Indie Women Productions, playing at the Gladstone Theatre from the 15th to 19th. For fans of spelling, I’ve cleverly inserted a typo into the next sentence. Can OUY find it?

THE ADDAMS FAMILY from Orpheus Musical Theatre, playing at Centrepointe from the 18th to 27th.  Ooky-spooky theatre for the whole family!

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HAVE YOURSELF A SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS from Eddie May Mysteries, at the Velvet Room starting the 19th. Interactive original murder mystery dinner theatre every weekend at the Velvet Room downtown (and starting in the Kanata location in December)!

EMPIRE OF THE SON at the NAC Studio from the 22nd to Dec 3rd. Tetsuro Shigematsu’s much lauded one-manner comes to the Capitol…can’t wait!

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MACBETH from Sock’n’Buskin, at the Kailash Mital Theatre (Carleton U campus) from the 24th to Dec 3rd. The story of a brutal madman who steals the highest office in thee land….thank goodness that couldn’t REALLY happen.

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WELFAREWELL from Phoenix Players, playing at the Gladstone Theatre from the 25th to Dec 3rd.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS at the Ottawa Little Theatre, from the 30th to Dec 17. One for all and all that jazz!  Swashbuckling!

I kind of threw this together at the last minute…more to come!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

Unzipped!

In fresh meat festival, Theatre on October 24, 2016 at 12:38 am

It’s been a day now since the 5th annual FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL closed its two-weekend run with what, I assume, was a kick-ass party. Sorry, the wind and the rain did indeed scare me off, and I stayed home all snug and watching bad superhero teevee. Maybe not my best choice ever, but I’m owning it.

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Made it to the opening night party tho! Here’s me with a couple of strange girls I met there. Did’em a solid and let them get a pic with me (photo by Matt Helm)

But I did manage to catch almost all of the programming that Emily Carvell, Madeleine hall and Mahalia Golnosh Tahririha put together, along with tech team supreme Katherine Dermot and Conor Price-Kelleher. Sadly I did miss Mado Manseau’s 7 Minutes in Heaven, weekend two’s sneaky closet show, but other than that i got the lot in! And what a swell lot it were…

Darkness with John Doucet and Julie Le Gal, a supercool and short theatrical experiment in the dark for adventurous souls.

Space Jameration from good guy Greg Houston, a nostalgia-fueled and very funny standup comedy story about the most important movie in the world.  Which I still have to watch.

SS Lightbulb from Second Step, a funny and visually fantastic adventure comedy from three talented and joyous performers. Don’t forget to smile.

Burger King Lear from Skeleton Key, with the amazing Kate Smith performing the impossible feat of a one-person, fast-food themed retelling of King Lear in 20 minutes (and making it look easy). Loved the retro commercial spots.

Three from Plants, a structured improv bonanza with Jordan Moffat, Hayley Robatteau and Christian Glas simply bowling folks over with their talent. Are they still waiting for that salad..?

Pierre Brault by Will Somers, a piece perhaps initially inspired as a reaction to Brault’s coincidentally named show Will Somers, but that Will took and made so beautifully his own with story, song and heart.

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Madeleine Hall and Mitchel Rose of OH NO! said the Parrot. Photo by Log Creative.

OH NO! said the parrot from Aplombusrhombus. Continuing on the incredible work they started with Cardinal at the Ottawa Fringe with this surreal and achingly funny comedy about a most curious air BNB indeed…

Crow’s Nest from Rapscallion Diversion, the true story of an amateur who tried to sail around the world in record time, and a show that deserves (and really, needs) to be expanded to a fuller length. Jake Smith is great as always, and Danielle Savoie shows great 1st-time chops as director!

Tead Talks from Deborah Ring, a very funny and inventive multimedia one-woman sketch comedy, another that almost begs to become an hourlong Fringe experience. A lady with talent to spare.

Boy vs.Chair from Two Kind Boys, with Matt and Matt following up their Fringe and Prix Rideau success with this inventive and merrily silly assault on theatre of the absurd. Beware the chair!

And then there’s that one other show…

Unzipping the Cat from Strange Visitations. The little show I blurted out in 12-minute form only two days after the departure from this realm of Winston the Cat 6 months ago, that I never expected to survive beyond its sudden appearance at the ‘Mop in the Grid’ fundraiser way back then. Except that I got such good feedback from the very tiny audience at that affair that I decided to enter it into Fresh Meat 5. And then I got IN, and it expanded to 20 minutes, and had some very emotional rehearsals before it came time to unleash it in front of a proper, full-scale audience. The results were wonderful, and I was (and still am) blown away by the positivity of the reception. So much so that my plans to put the show to permanent rest following this run have been, if not cancelled, then at least put into question. Not that I have any plans to bring it back anytime soon, and I don’t really want to expand it any further so Fringe is unlikely to see Winston’s furry face anytime soon. But, this show was also my tentative experiment in storytelling as an outlet, and I’m calling it a successful test. Maybe people CAN stand listening to me talk. Next year’s Fringe audiences might have the option of seeing me stand relatively still and tell them a story yet…I’m officially beginning scriptwork on a piece called ‘Fanfiction’ even now (note: shopping for interested directors, gimme a shout!). I hope ol’ Winston would be proud of me…or at least not actively annoyed. Cats, am I right?

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Unzipping the Cat – photo by Stephanie Godin

But for now, we have the Fresh Meat afterglow, and a whole bushel of thanks to the gang for putting on such an amazing festival once again. It was especially great to see fest co-founder Jonah Allingham there on week two, filming a documentary on the shindig for his new Toronto endeavours. I’m already looking forward to Fresh Meat 6…which I will not be entering into, by the by. After two stints in FM, I don’t feel like Strange Visitations is particularly ‘Fresh’ anymore. Tho if anyone wants to cast me in THEIR next Fresh Meat show, I’m all ears. And as for Strange Visitations itself..stay tuned for some exciting announcements in the days to come. Fresh Meat or no, there’s still theatre to be done, and I feel like doing some of it. Peace, Love and Soul,

Kevin Reid

Unzipping the Cat

In Theatre, Uncategorized on October 3, 2016 at 3:01 pm

So with Ottawa and Vancouver Fringe done for this year…what’s next? What does a ragamuffin bumpkin of a DIY artist like myself do to keep himself busied and out of trouble? Shlepping back to my dreary kitchen job, I suppose, ho hum.

Well, true…but happily there’s one other gig I have to delve into straightaway, and while it’s not kitchen related, it does involve a nice heaping helping of FRESH MEAT. Yes, I’m fortunate enough to have been selected back into the roster for the 5th annual little Festival that didn’t give a fuck! It’s the second time Strange Visitations has made the FM grade…first was back in 2014 when I teamed up with Madeleine Hall and Jodi Morden to create FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING, which just went out West to Vancouver Fringe. So what could I possibly do to follow up that madcap, fast-paced clown adventure?

How about…talk for 20 minutes about a cat?

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Basically 20 minutes of this. Photo credit: LOG Creative.

No, wait, come back..! Not just ANY old cat, now, come ON. I mean the legend, the icon, the furball, Winston the Cat his own dearly departed self! Back in April, I was slated to appear in a small fundraiser event, hosted and organized by good guy Nick Amott. I had a piece all set to do, when 2 weeks before hand, the worst happened and poor old Winston had to be put down. A few days after, while drowning my sorrows at the Carleton Tavern, I pulled out my laptop and out poured a 12 minute monologue about our time together, Man and Cat. With a small bit of tweaking, I performed that piece, titled Unzipping the Cat,  on stage at Live on Elgin just ten days later. Now, I know this is a technical violation of the Fresh Meat edict that every piece must be a world premiere, but gimme a break, there were only a dozen people in attendance that night and I’d only had a grief-stricken week to rehearse!

I’m happy to be given the chance to put this piece back onto a stage and give it the time it deserves, and that Winston deserves too. And other than Winston, I’m gonna be well and truly going this one alone. No director, dramaturge, nothing. My tech rehearsal will be a BREEZE. And it’s not that I think I’m so shit-hot I don’t need anybody’s help…my past few Fringe experiences have hammered the exact opposite lesson into my brain, trust me. I just want to keep this piece (I hesitate to call it a ‘show’) as real, and as honest as possible. It’s my own personal experiment with honesty on stage, and we’ll just have to see how that goes. I hope you show up.

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The Ghost of Winston COMMANDS YOU!

And if my self-indulgent cat show does NOT excite you then never fear, I’ll be sharing the stage with plenty of WAY more talented people than myself, including Kate Smith, Hayley Robateau and Jordan Moffat, Prix Rideau Award-winners Two Kind Boys and much more! Check out full schedule, lineup and ticket info at the Fresh Meat website, and we’ll see you out thee for the coolest time around.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston…just this once)