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Posts Tagged ‘dave rowan’

Ottawa FRINGE-COMA 2014 – BY ANY OTHER NAME

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 25, 2014 at 8:17 am

Well it had to happen, a rainy day at the Ottawa Fringe…wouldn’t have seemed right without at least ONE downpour, and somehow apt that it fell on the midway point in the festival. But a proper Fringer is immune to weather, and I made the modest sprint through the raindrops to a BYOV I hadn’t been back to in a while, the cozy Café Alt on Ottawa U campus (they have couches!) for some theatre to warm my chilled bones

My show there was BY ANY OTHER NAME, a new work written and directed by Owen Walker. A clever twist on Shakespearean identity-swapping romps, the story follows Ashley and Connor, two 20-somethings who accidentally ‘meet’ via a misfired e-mail one day, which leads to a long and increasingly intense correspondence. Finally deciding to meet, but without ever actually having exchanged pictures or even last names (a bit of a stretch in the age of social media, but just roll with it), Ashley starts to get nervous and hatches a plot and enlists kindly Patti to pretend to be her, and see if Connor passes muster. A salient plan…except Connor hatches almost the identical plot with HIS pal Robert. And the romantic comedy hijinks, they are thus commenced.

Downstage-Productions-Web1

The show stars Madeleine hall and David Rowan as Ashley and Connor, and Bruce Spinney and Ellen Manchee as Robert and Patti (aka the fake Connor and Ashley), with Tiffani Kenny popping in from time to time as the waitress. There’s some smart dialogue and well realized characters at play here, even if the script never quite lives up to the potential of its own plot. The whole show felt like it needed to be moving about 25% faster, as a few of the exchanges started to drag unnecessarily. First time Director Walker stages the scene simply, and has a good crew of actors to help bring the action to life. Hall and Spinney are especially memorable as overly analytical Ashley and laid-back Robert, respectively. A few solid laughs, zingers, a likeable cast and an unexpected resolution make for a sweet and enjoyable show that should at least put a good smile on your face. Bonus Tip: the lovely paintings adorning the set walls are by Walker himself and Michele Beauregard, and are indeed for sale! Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

That was a Real Nice Clambake

In Theatre on June 4, 2013 at 12:30 am

I always get a little nervous when going to see a ‘classic’ play that I’ve never seen or read before.  Especially when I have to write about it afterwards..?  Can’t help but worry I’m gonna come off like a total rube, like an Amish dude writing a critique of the Indy 500 or something.  Although three years on in this blog (I just missed my anniversary, yay!), I think I’m somehow still riding that ‘I’m new and fresh-faced’ vibe as part of my charm, so hopefully I can get away with one more dull-witted take on a classic.

And musicals don’t come much more classic than Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CAROUSEL, getting put up here in Ottawa by the unflappable masses at the Orpheus Musical Society.  This was only my third time out at an Orpheus show, after INTO THE WOODS a couple years back and DROWSY CHAPERONE earlier this season.  This time it was my intro to the legendary show from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (Holy shit, Rodgers and Hammerstein have FIRST NAMES..!), over on the lovely Centrepointe Theatre stage.  A sparse set from designer Jenn Donnelly, complete with compartmentalized and hand-worked Carousel, created the late 19th century scene nicely, and I settled in to a perfectly bloody lovely seat (seriously, it was literally a double-wide, SO sweet) to see just what this classic was all about.

The tale follows a sharp-tongued young lass name of Julie Jordan (Bianca Pietracupa), a factory worker who prefers side trips to the local carousel with her bestie Carrie Pipperidege (Susanna Atkinson) than a life on the loom.  It’s at the Carousel that she meets handsome barker Billy Bigelow (Brennan Richardson), a rough type who she seems to think has a roguish, early Han Solo quality that’s worth taking a chance on.  After they both lose their jobs in rapid succession, they move in with a lady name of Nettie Fowler (Laura Burk) who runs a sort of restaurant/Inn/I don’t know what, but whatever it is, Nettie seems a friendly sort.  Unlike Billy’s new pal Jigger Craigin (Dave Rowan, reuniting with Richardson after their turn together in last year’s Fringe show DON’T MAKE ME ZEALOUS), a sneering, strutting villain who wants to rope Billy into his latest get-rich-quick-through-violence scheme.  Despite some interference from Billy’s former Carousel boss Mrs.Mullin (a ferocious Barb Seabright), Billy ditches the local clambake to try and make some much needed quick cash, and that’s where everything goes pretty epically wrong.

carousel

CAROUSEL really isn’t what I was expecting from a musical ‘classic’…sure, there are songs aplenty, including one or two I even recognized from other sources.  But our ‘hero’ Billy Bigelow is anything but…he struggles mightily, but more often than not gives in to his base instincts, much to his regret.  Brennan Richardson does nicely as the tragic lead, as does the very wonderful Bianca Pietracupa as Julie. Susanna Atkinson as her pal Carrie has some great moments too, along with her comically straight-edge suitor Enoch Snow (Kodi Cannon).  Very much loved Dave Rowan as the cutthroat Jigger, especially good’n’nasty when taunting Mrs.Mullin with growls of ‘common woman’, or dancing a merry whaling jig with his fellow sailors (Is that why they call him Jigger..?) .  As for the supernatural twist that happens in the last act…fuck me, am I the only one who didn’t see that coming at ALL?  Because it took me a few minutes to adjust.  For reals.

This was a fun show…I’ll admit, I enjoyed CHAPERONE more on the whole (that ‘clambake’ song I pinched this blog-title from felt like musical filler if ever I heard it), and sometimes wished there was more going on direction-wise, but the Carousel gang still performed hardcore.  When Laura Burk belts out the classic ‘Never Walk Alone’, it’s a show stopper.  I heard many a voice singing along with the tunes all around me from my double-sized perch, as good a sign as I need that musical fans should enjoy what they saw.  Orpheus finishes off this season in good form, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I’m looking forward to LEGALLY BLONDE in November.  Which is weird, since I’ve never seen the movie.  Research night, anyone?  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

A Fest of Us

In Theatre on December 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Is there a better way to spend a cold, slushy evening than in the company of friends, enjoying some live theatre and drinking between each show?  I’M THINKING NOT.  And luckily for you, Ottawa, the Red.Collective crew share my thinking, and decided to make it happen.  After a couple of sadly cancelled shows over the last few months, the Reddies have returned to cheer up the holidays with some rapid-fire, cool beans theatre under the banner of RED FESTIVUS, deep in the cozy nook that is the Saw Gallery.  They’ve lined up 4 shows (only 3 a night, and if you weren’t there last night you already missed one of them!) with a might kick, in what I definitely hope becomes a new holiday tradition.  The Radio Play can’t have ALL the fun, right?

Red Festivus

After a stop off at the bar, and some welcome palaver with lovely Team Visitorium alumnus Danielle Savoie (who totally needs to write some more reviews for this site in the new year, I’m just saying), the festivus kicked off with Floyd Dell’s ENIGMA, directed by Maritie Lord and starring Dan DeMarbre and Allison Harris.  The show features Dan and Allison as Paul and Helen, a couple breaking up before our eyes, and all the emotional suckerpunch stops are being pulled about for thee occasion.  It’s a gutwrencher, and DeMarbre and Harris deliver the goods.  I won’t go into much detail, as it’s a pretty short piece.  But there was more to come!
A quick trip after that show to an adjoining space (passing the bar on the way…the Reddies planned this well), where the players were already set up for show number two, SPANISH FLY by Maureen Medved, and directed by Fraser MacKinnon.  Featuring Dave Rowan and Mekdes Teshome as another couple on the verge of a particularly harrowing breakup , even as they’re locked inside together five stories up in a somewhat hardcore attempt to quit smoking.  Threats, emotional torment and knife-fights ensue in a pretty sweet little show that mixes sexy, funny and hysterical into a fun package.  Dave and Mek do good work, and Fraser’s job at the helm has me anticipating his full-length debut next month with REASONS TO BE PRETTY even more than I was before.  And that was kind of a lot.

My last show of the Festivus was one I’d caught before, from the good lads at May Can Theatre, doing a little emergency subbing-in work for the evening.  I’m not sure exactly why the third scheduled show, THE ANGER IN EARNEST AND ERNESTINE from director Shelby Fairbarn, couldn’t make it that evening, but it promises to return on nights 2 and 3.  In its place this time was Cory Thibert’s THE ROOM OUTSIDE THE ROOM, a one-manner starring Tony Adams as Thomas Tills, a slightly off-kilter young man waiting for an audition call, and with a few things to get off his chest.  Tony’s Thomas is an endearing weirdo, who illustrates his abusive upbringing in a bittersweet but hilarious series of acted vignettes.  Tony is really, really good in this show, especially as Thomas’ aggressive, dimwitted Father (and in a wonderful bit where he takes us through his process of getting into a character called ‘the Birdman’).  A great end to thee evening I must say.

But it wasn’t over!  The Reddies kept the bar open a little longer, Dave Rowan played us some songs, followed by Caitlin McNamee and the May Can boys, and we all just hung out and enjoyed the groove til it was time to cal it a day.  A great night out for any self-respecting Ottawa theatre buff, and for goddamned well sure the sort of DIY action we should be supporting the Hell out of.  Get on down to the SAW, have a few drinks, and see what the new kids are up to. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)