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Posts Tagged ‘nac english theatre’

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

Coming Up in February 2016

In Theatre on February 1, 2016 at 7:03 pm

It’s back!  It looks kinda sorta diff’rent!  It’s…oh, who cares, let’s look at all the cool stuff coming to Ottawa Theatres this month!!  We’re talking Undercurrents, the return of La Nouvelle Scene, and the theatrical rise of Live! on Elgin, among many other great things…

Twelfth Night at the NAC Theatre, in collaboration with Old Trout Puppet Workshop. Shakespeare good. Shakespeare with Old Trout…better. Until the 6th.

Love Letters at the Gladstone, from Plosive Productions. AR Gurney’s disarming and affecting look at a lifetime relationship through letters. Until the 6th.

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Asylum at Live! On Elgin, from NW9 Collective. 4 Men raise a glass in their fav’rit pub, and I already like this new play from Doug Phillips (and director Jodi Morden, hooray!). The 4th to 6, and 11 to 13th.

A New Paradise at the Ottawa Little Theatre. From Ian Stauffer and director Kathi Langston, a new play and fundraiser for the Ottawa Mission. The 3rd to 6th.

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Cat’s Cradle at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, from Kanata Theatre. A whodunit mystery from Leslie Sands. 2nd to 6th, and 9th to 13th.

Cabaret at the Kailash Mital Theatre (Carleton Campus), from Carleton Musical Theatre Society. Singing and dancing! From the 3rd to 6th.

Romantic Poetry at the Gladstone, from Black Sheep Theatre. More singing, and possibly some poetry..? Definitely an amazing cast. The 10th to 20th.

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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Live! On Elgin, from Suzart after Dark. Suzart returns with the greatest play about spelling bees that ever there was! The 18th to 20th.

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest at Ottawa Little Theatre. The Kesey classic gets the OLT treatment, and it should be a gooder. The 23rd to March 12.

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Anton in Show Business at the Gladstone, from Three Sisters. Some of Ottawa’s finest gal-actors storm the Gladstone for this highly anticipated followup to their debut last year with Marion Bridge. The 24th to March 5.

BOOM at the NAC Studio. The 24th to March 12.

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The Proposal at Studio Leonard-Beaulne, from Red Carpet Theatre Society. A little Chekhov is just what every winter needs.  The 25th to 27th.

Rope at the Kailash Mital Theatre (I think), from Sock’n’Buskin. A little Hitchcock to sharpen your winter nerves. The 25th to 27th.

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24 hr Theatre at studio 311 (Ottawa U campus). A one-day adventure in new creation, with a Shakespeare theme this year! On the 27th.

Equity in Theatre Reading Series at the Gladstone. A Free evening of play readings from Darrah Teitel and Adrienne Wong, on the 28th.

Undercurrents at Arts Court (and the NAC 4th stage). From the 10th to the 20th, it’s the wintertime festival that puts the yay! In Februar-yay. Check their website for all the showtimes, but here’s thee rundown of what to expect at the 5th incarnation of this dynamite theatre showcase:

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-Mouthpiece from Quote Unquote collective. ‘Harrowing, humourous and heart-wrenching’…sounds good to me.

-A Man Walks into a Bar from Circle Circle. The Smash Toronto Fringe hit from Rachel Blair takes Ottawa.

-Getting to Room Temperature from the Room Temperature Collective. Arthur Milner and Robert Bockstael team-up for a comedy about assisted suicide. Ya heard me!

-Particle from 100 Watt Productions. Kristina Watt on stage, Martha Ross directing…you don’t need any more information that that. Go.

-Moonlodge from NAC English Theatre. Margo Kane’s lauded one-woman show returns with a new star and production…this ones at the 4th stage, folks, don’t forget!

-Monstrous, or the Miscegenation Advantage from Calalou. Sarah Waiswisz stars and Eleanor Crowder directs in this tale of a woman’s search for identity in the modern world, with the weight of history all around.

-Forstner and Fillister from F&F Theatre. The Fresh Meat fav’rit returns! Watch for flying sawdust.

-Macbeth Muet from Fille du Laitier. Macbeth, silent, with 2 actors and a tableful of found objects, and 30 minutes. Unmissable, say I.

-Listen to Me from Resounding Scream Theatre, A personalized theatre experience, as the audience goes speed-dating with the cast of this one-of-a-kind show.

– Theatre Francais

Un Vent se Leve qui Eparpile at the NAC studio. The 10th to 13th (English surtitles on the 12th)

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Le Lilas Africaine at Studio  Leonard-Beaulne, from Theatre de Dehors.  French adaptation of Pamela Gien’s The Syringa Tree. The 10th to 14th.

Du Domaine des Murmures at La Nouvelle Scene, from la Caraveille DPI, Mala Noche, and Theatre du Trillium. 12-13.

Avant L’Archipel at the NAC, rehearsal hall A. The French adaptation of legendary Mi Casa hit Countries Shaped like Stars, directed by Joel Beddows! On the 19th only.

Le Long de la Principale at La Nouvelle Scene, from Theatre la Catapulte. 25 to March 4.

– Improv and Other Stuff

Crush Improv continues their epic Bout Time Tournament, with a show on the 1st featuring Reunion tour taking on Bros before Shows. Then semi-finals for all the winning teams thus far take place on the 15th and the 22nd, in anticipation of the final round!

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The Improv Game Show at Live! On Elgin. From Experimental Farm and Trevor Comedy, a game show for you to test your improv chutzpah for fun and profit!  On the 8th.

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Eft-Up Valentine Improv Duo Show at Pressed Cafe, from Experimental Farm Theatre. On the 11th.

Let’s get Toasted at Live! On Elgin, from Toasted Theatre Company. Launch party and fundraiser for Toasted Theatre, Ottawa’s newest and spunkiest theatre company! On the 14th.

Heart-On at Live! on Elgin, from Elgin St.Improv. Valentines comedy for you to laugh your loneliness away!  You’re probably lonely, right?  On the 14th.

Smut Slam at Clocktower Brewpub in the Glebe, from Cameryn Moore. The creator of Phone Whore and Slut Revolution brings her patented open-mic slam night to Ottawa!  Bring yer smut and get slammed. On the 25th.

That’s it for now!  Let me know what I missed, and I’ll hopefully be back at the blogging sooner with an update on Strange Visitations, Fringe, and probably not much more!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

S*** Happened

In Theatre on February 9, 2015 at 1:51 pm

It was a trifle bananas at the National Arts Centre this past Saturday night. Shows in every theatre, fancy parties in dress mask, Winterlude nonsense, the Rosetta Persons band (that’s their name, right?), a goofy DJ in the lobby even…the joint was jumpin’, and no mistake. It took some maneuvering for myself and my uber-talented (if somewhat fragile) Fringe collaborator Madeleine Hall to make our way into the theatre for the latest entry in the NAC’ English Theatre season. But we done it, and without a moment to spare!

The latest show on the big stage is David Hare’s STUFF HAPPENS, a dramatic retelling of some of the worst offences of the infamous George Dubya Bush administration…and boy, do they have a lot to choose from. It was one of the things I’d been concerned about heading into this one…that the show would merely be taking potshots at a group of politicians so infamous and damned by history already that it’d be like lobbing beach balls at a barn door. How could you possibly miss?

But Hare has more depth in his storyline than that, offering a meticulous blow-by-blow look at the event’s of 9/11 and the ensuing ramp-up to war in Iraq. Director David Ferry puts the hefty NAC ensemble to good use, with a few talented add-ons to flesh out the massive cast of characters. It reminded me a little of their recent ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS in sheer scope, and like Alice, we’re definitely down a rabbit hole here. All the more spooky because this one was real.

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Following the rise in power of Dubya (Stuart Hughes) and his manipulation of world events to achieve his aims, the show uses a variety of POV’s to tell the labyrinthine story. Of course, we follow the main players on their respective paths…Bush is backed by his cohorts Donald Rumsfeld (Greg Malone, who masters the classic Rumsfeldian nonspeak of talking at length and saying absolutely nothing), Dick Cheney (Paul Rainville, snarling it up), Paul Wolfowitz (Andy Massingham) and Condoleeza Rice (Karen Robinson), as well as his chief ally in the push to war, British PM Tony Blair (Christopher Morris). Along the way he’s hampered by various parties, like French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villlepin (Peter James Howarth) and weapons inspector Hans Blix (David Warburton) who wants nothing to do with all the politicization of his efforts. In the middle of it all, in a sense, is the altruistic Colin Powell (Andrew Moodie in a sensational turn), a staunch advocate of doing things the right way who slowly but surely lets his principles slide by the wayside in one of the most engrossing arcs in the whole story. Some of the more effective moments in the lengthy show are actually random moments from lesser players and ordinary citizens, offering their commentary on what is happening in the world around them, most memorably for me Natasha Greenblatt as a Palestinian scholar and Amy Matysio as a British woman in New York. But other great moments abound, like Bush and Blair scheming and plotting amidst a living forest comprised of the other members of the ensemble.

This is a helluva show to see, a lot thanks to some sweet set and light design from Gillian Gallow and Glenn Davidson. The story is presented inn a very documentary-style format, which could lead to a few spots of lag in the daunting 3+ hour runtime…but thankfully (or woefully, depending on how you look at it), the Bush administration has no shortage of dire events to fill it all to the brim and more. A clever framing sequence with Herbie Barnes as a Janitor, sweeping up the neverending debris and offering prophetic words, works beautifully. Strong performances and important subject matter throughout in a strong show that is a fitting final showcase for this year’s ensemble. I’d let myself forget a lot of the horrorshow that this time in history entailed…this show is a fantastic reminder that we can’t let ourselves do that. The next Iraq War is always looming, just around the next corner. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Coming Up in February 2015

In Theatre on February 1, 2015 at 10:07 am

Good old February…short but always sweet for us theatre types, weather be darned. Who worries about freezing half to death when there’s awesome theatre to be had? Some kinda jerk, I bet.

MOSS PARK at the GCTC. Still time to catch the latest bit of George F.Walker in this 2-hander from . Until the 8th.

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NIGHT SKY at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, from Kanata Theatre. The 3rd through 14th.

STUFF HAPPENS at the NAC Theatre. A little walk down memory lane, George W.Bush style, with the NAC ensemble as our guides, from the 3rd to 21st.

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MARION BRIDGE at the Gladstone Theatre, from Three Sisters Theatre. A new company brings us some classic MacIvor…who could ask for more? From the 11th to 21st.

SCHOOL FOR LIES at the Algonquin studio Theatre N112 (Building N), from Algonquin Theatre Arts. The great Catriona Leger directs the kickoff play of the Gonq’s new season! From the 11th to 15th.

THE QUEEN OF PARADISE’S GARDEN at the NAC 4th Stage. Andy Jones doing puppet Theatre for kids, which should be about as memorable as it gets. The 16h and 21st.

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SABRINA FAIR at the Ottawa Little Theatre. The classic tale (best known courtesy of Audrey Hepburn and Hollywood) gets some OLT lovin’ to brighten up your winter. From the 17th to March 7th.

MARAT/SADE at Academic Hall, from Ottawa U. I’m not writing out the whole actual name of this play from Peter Weiss (directed here by Third Wall’s own James Richardson, en route to his MFA), so go see it and I’m sure it will be on the program. From the 24th to 28th.

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BANKRUPT at the Gladstone Theatre, from Plosive Productions. New Semi-Musical featuring Ottawa superstars the Peptides! From the 25th to March 14th.

ZOO STORY/IT’S WHAT DR.JENKINS WOULD HAVE WANTED at 241 Residence Commons (Carleton Campus), from Sock’n’Buskin.  A One-Act Double Bill from the Sockies for a mere 5 bucks!  The 25th to 28th.

GAME OF BONES at the Velvet Room, from Eddie May Murder Mysteries. The popular dinner theatre romp continues every Saturday…based on the classic fantasy teevee show MANN AND MACHINE, I think.

Don't have an image file for the sexy new logo, sorry.  Old school it is!

Don’t have an image file for the sexy new logo, sorry. Old school it is!

February means the return of Ottawa’s sweet Independent Theatre Festival UNDERCURRENTS, this time making its Arts Court debut as a satellite of the Ottawa Fringe Festival. And as usual , a might fine lineup to look forward to. The fest runs from the 12th to 21st…check the website for full schedule info!

Balcome and McBride, finding themselves.

Balcome and McBride, finding themselves.

FAR & NEAR & HERE from Thunk! Theatre. Expanded and reborn from their original run at the Fresh Meat Festival two years ago, Thunk! Is back to make some magic courtesy of Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride.

MARATHON from Aharona Israel. Described as an “authentic process of increasing attrition happening before your eyes, in real time” So, yeah, don’t miss it.

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PUNCH-UP from Theatre Brouhaha. A comic smash at the Toronto Fringe, this Kat Sandler creation is gonna be just as big a hit in Ottawa.

MUCH ADO ABOUT FECKIN’ PIRATES from Parry Riposte. Margo McDonald and Richard Gelinas return as bickering, improvising pirates in a show that basically writes itself. Diddling a likelihood.

LOVE+HATE from the Peptides (image by Bonnie Findley)

LOVE+HATE from the Peptides (image by Bonnie Findley)

LOVE + HATE from the Peptides. A hit at last year’s Ottawa Fringe, you don’t wanna miss this return appearance of the Peppies musico-theatre extravaganza. You really don’t.

SPIN from Evalyn Parry. Because not enough theatre incorporates bicycles, and Ms.Parry is here to solve that problem!

AIR from Tottering Biped. Expansion, Descent, Ascent, and flight…all yours at PWYC pricing!

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JERK IT from May Can Theatre. Anonymous tales of masturbation read aloud, because sometimes theatre really is that Goddamned simple.

UN CABARET TRENDY-TRASH SIGNE LES POIDS PLUMES from les Poids Plumes. I won’t even venture a guess as to what this one-night only French cabaret adventure will consist of, only that you probably want to be there to find out.  And speaking of French Theatre…

– THEATRE FRANCAIS

LA CORNEILLE at Theatre de L’Ile.  Until the 28th.

LES GRAND-MERES MORTES at the NAC Studio. For young audiences, the 14th and 15th.

LE PROJET BOCAL at the NAC Studio. The 18th to 21st.

L’HISTOIRE DU GRILLON EGALE DANS UN SALON at the NAC Studio. 28Th and March 1st.

– IMPROV AND OTHER STUFF

‘BOUT TIME at Mother McGinteys, from Crush Improv.  3 on 3 Improv action!  Monday the 2nd.  And Crush will also be hosting a one-day Improv Workshop with Colin Munch on the 14th.

DJUSTICE UNCHAINED at the Lunenburg Pub, from Hall of Justice Improv. On the 8th.

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EFT-UP COMEDY SHOW at Pressed Cafe, from Experimental Farm Theatre. On the 12th.

First and last Wednesday of the month at the Cock’n’Lion, from Grimprov.

DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB at the NAC 4th Stage, from the Magnetic North Theatre Festival.  Anjual fundraiser featuring MC Pierre Brault and a host of Ottawa’s Finest, plus food and bevvie from the Clocktower Brewpub and Thyme and Again!

FUSE at the GCTC, from Propellerdance. Multidisciplinary and inclusive dance goodness, on the 12th and 13th.

More to come!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Coming Up in January 2015

In Theatre on December 31, 2014 at 6:30 pm

A sparse month so far…which is all the more reason to see EVERYTHING, right?

Lois Anderson and Natasha Greenblatt  in ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS.

Lois Anderson and Natasha Greenblatt in ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS.

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS at the NAC Theatre. A Handful of chances left to see one of the funnest spectacles of the year past. Until the 3rd!

FREEZING at the Gladstone Theatre. Family musical goodness, carrying on into the new year. Until the 4th.

CLYBOURNE PARK at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Ottawa premiere of a seriously acclaimed play. From the 13th to 31st.

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TWO at the Gladstone Theatre, from 100th Monkey Productions. Starring the titanic thespian team of Michelle LeBlanc and Richard Gelinas…I don’t even CARE what the show is about, the cast is all I needed to know (tho John P.Kelly directing is good news as well). From the 14th to 31st.

MOSS PARK at the GCTC, from Green Thumb Theatre. A two-hander from the legendary George F.Walker. From the 20th to February 8th.

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BONNIE & CLYDE: THE MUSICAL at the Kailash Mital Theatre (Carleton U.Campus), from Sock’n’Buskin. Singing and shooting, what could be better? From the 22nd to 31st.

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LIGHT at Arts Court Theatre.  From Lisa Jeans comes the latest entry in TACTICS, in a show that I think we’re all gonna want to see.  From the 23rd to 31st.  And Help out on their Indiegogo page too if you’re feeling generous this New Years!

GAME OF BONES at the Velvet Room, from Eddie May Mysteries. Dinner theatre based on the fan favourite fantasy television program I DREAM OF JEANNIE. Every Saturday.

TWELFTH NIGHT SEASON LAUNCH AND FUNDRAISER at the NAC 4th Stage, from A Company of Fools. Fresh from a hot run of their terrific SHIPWRECKED collaboration with the GCTC, the Fools are ready to let us know what’s in store for 2015 (and hopefully make enough money to pay for it in the process). On the 5th!

– THEATRE FRANCAIS

LE LONG VOYAGE DE PIERRE-GUY B. At the NAC Studio. From the 28th to 31st.

– IMPROV AND OTHER STUFF

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‘BOUT TIME at Mother McGintey’s, from Crush Improv.  Monthly 3 on 3 improv combat!
IN HIGH RESOLUTION at the Lunenburg Pub, from Hall of Justice. On the 11th.

GRIMProv at The Cock and Lion on the first and last wednesday of the month.

EXPERIMENTAL FARM THEATRE returns on the 15th, at Pressed Cafe!

Crystal Basement at the Atomic Rooster on the last Tuesday of the month.

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ROBBIE BURNS: A MAN’S A MAN FOR A’THAT at the NAC 4th Stage, from Ottawa Storytellers. On the 15th. And the OST’s next (UN)TOLD open Mic night is the 26th at the Black Rose in the Market.

More to come!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

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)

Oil and Water

In Theatre on May 19, 2014 at 8:19 am

Okay….THAT was pretty epic.

This week was the premiere of the last show of the NAC’S 2013/14 season, and Jillian Keiley’s first season as AD. Natural then that she’s direct the show, one she brought over from out East where she directed it the first time with Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland. That’s where she and writer Robert Chafe collaborated to create OIL AND WATER, the show now gracing our stage as a fitting finale to the season…it would sure be a hard act to follow.

Based on a true story, the play tells the long story of Lanier Philips, at two crucial points in his life. First, as a sailor in the US Navy during WWII (played by Anderson Ryan Allen), struggling under entrenched racism as a black recruit; and then as a Father in 1974 Boston (played by Jeremiah Sparks), trying to send his daughter Vonzia (Starr Domingue) to one of the first integrated schools in the city. In both cases, violence and disaster were lurking just around the corner.

Living in cramped quarters with fellow recruit Langston (Mike Payette), and under constant scrutiny from demeaning fellow sailors like Bergeron (Clint Butler), it should almost come as a relief to Phillips when his vessel hits the rocks and starts going down off the coast of St.Lawrence, Newfoundland. Except that his superiors expect him to stay with the ship, but as Phillips himself declares, he’d rather die kicking than waiting.

What’s waiting for him are the people of frigid St.Lawrence, a town with their own intimate knowledge of oppression….instead of racism, their master is poverty, and the local mine. Violet Pike, a local housewife (played by Petrina Bromley) watches in not-so-mute frustration as her husband John (Jody Richardson)’s health deteriorates before her eyes, and nephew Levi (rushes to follow in his late Father’s footsteps down in the depths. They’re a community with precious little to give, but when the shipwreck occurs off their shore, they rally and work tirelessly to save whoever they can…including Lanier Phillips, the first black man anyone in the town has ever seen. What happens next changes the course of Phillips’ life.

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Years later, as his daughter experiences first-hand the kind of hatred Lanier had hoped he’d left behind years ago, only a photograph of St.Lawrence (from excitable local photog Ena, played by a delightful Alison Woolridge) stands as a reminder that things can and should be different, a counter to the constant refrain of bitterness coming from the spirit of his grandmother Adeline (Neema Bickersteth).

It’s a staggering show, for as many reasons as you’d care to count. Performances rock across the board, with both young and elder Lanier’s providing strong leads throughout. Petrina Bromley is terrific as uneducated but unwavering Violet, and holy Hell, the power coming out of wee Starr Dominique could keep the lights in the NAC running until the next century. Keiley and Chafe have made something just astonishing here, starting from his fantastic script and running from there…designer Shawn Kerwin’s sextant-set works beautifully, and the musical score by Andrew Craig and Kellie Walsh, a melding of Southern gospel and Newfie folk music, is gorgeous down to the last note. I learned plenty of history in this show…some I’m warmed by, some I’m goddam furious about…but the beating heart about the nature of humanity is impossible to ignore. A powerful piece of work that’ll stay with me for a long, long time. Much thanks to Keiley and the gang for bringing this one inland. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Sacred Gifts from Creator

In Theatre on May 2, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Keeping a busy week busy last night, with a third show in as many days. Thank goodness I had the smarts to load up on pierogies and pinball at the awesome HOUSE OF TARG beforehand with the squinky Rebecca Laviolette…gotta keep that theatre energy amped up somehow, am I right?

It certainly did the trick, and we scooted our way down to the NAC for a lively opening night crowd, ready and waiting to see the Ottawa premiere of Cliff Cardinal’s HUFF in the studio space. Directed by Karin Randoja and featuring Cardinal himself as multiple characters, Huff has already toured around to Summerworks, Winnipeg Fringe, PuSh festival, Ode’Min Glizis Indigenous Arts festival and more, loaded up on awards and acclaim, and had itself a nice buzz well before landing in the capitol. The story lands us right smack dab in the middle of Canada’s own dirty little secret, the forgotten and marginalized lives of First Nations youth on the rez, huffing Lysol and gasoline for kicks, burning down the occasional motel out of sheer ennui, and flirting with suicide rates that are way, WAY too high. We follow a group of boys in a typically broken family, alcoholic Mother long gone and an abusive Father who parents with the back of his hand. There’s some dark stuff in here, from a show whose first image is a boy with a plastic bag duct taped over his head.

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And yet the amazing thing about HUFF is that, despite all the bleak imagery and crushing events, it’s so damn FUNNY. Cliff Cardinal is a canny performer, expertly balancing the horrors of his story with the innate humour of boyhood and recklessness. He gets the audience on his side pretty quick, and the story builds up a solid head of steam heading into its harrowing second half. There’s moments in this show you’ll never forget, cringes and eye-openers aplenty, but somehow I never felt preached to of smothered (unlike Cardinal himself on a couple of occasions throughout the performance…it got genuinely disturbing more than once, which is a good thing). Cardinals shifts between characters are subtle but perfectly effective, never losing me…his portrayal of wise and grumpy Grandma is particularly wonderful, and a welcome refresher anytime she makes a hunched-over appearance.

Gotta make mention of the set and overall design, a really, really cool environment created by Elizabeth Kantor that’s somehow simple and complex at the same time. HUFF is a complete package..informative, heartbreaking, hilarious and very real. Cliff Cardinal knows how to tell his story, and it’s one that kinda needs to be heard, folks. So go and give it a listen, you’ve got until the 10th of May. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in May 2014

In Theatre on May 2, 2014 at 9:39 am

A day late with this post, but still time to see lotsa stuff!  But now you might have to hurry, so read fast, okay??  Let’s do this!!

 

MY BRILLIANT DIVORCE at the Gladstone Theatre, from Seven Thirty. Divorce, comedy style! Until the 17th.

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CORPUS at Arts Court Theatre, from Counterpoint Players. Counterpoint brings the premiere of this hugely anticipated drama from Darrah Teitel, and director Bronwyn Steinberg. The 1st to 10th.

HUFF at the NAC Studio. Cliff Cardinal’s justly celebrated one-manner about life on the Rez, until the 10th.

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MAURITIUS at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Thrills, chills and postage in a strong showing from OLT. Until the 17th.

YOUNG LADY IN WHITE (a reading) at Arts Court Studio, from Evolution Theatre. The Evolution gang hosts a free reading of their next production by Dominick Parenteau-Lebeuf and translated by Maureen Labonté. See what they’ve got in store! 5 pm on the 3rd.

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THE WEDDING POOL at the Avalon Studio, from Boxed Wine Theatre. Marital hijinks from some new kids on the block! Plays the 2nd through 4th.

NUNSENSE A-MEN at Academic Hall, from TotoToo. A restrained and sober look at sisterly life, I’m sure, from the 7th to 10th.

THE FULL MONTY at the Russell High School, from RAPA. Okay, further out than my usual purview, but my man Alex is in this musical adaptation of the sleeper hit movie, so ROAD TRIP! From the 7th to 10th.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE at the NAC 4th Stage. Sendak’s beastly classic, up close and personal. Roar! The 9th and 10th only.

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INHERIT THE WIND at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, from Kanata Theatre. Evolution vs Creationism, round 1! From the 13th to 24th.

OIL AND WATER at the NAC Theatre, from Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland. Boss Jillain Keiley directs this true Newfie tale, closing out the 2014 mainstage season! The 14th to 31st.

THE ARRANGEMENT, THE MARRIAGE AND ME at the NAC 4th Stage, from Ottawa Storytellers. Sexuality and culture clash in a one-woman show from Kalyani Pandya…the 15th only.

EMPTY SPACE SERIES: CLASSIC OTTAWA II at St. James Church – 650 Lyon Street South, from Third Wall Theatre. Readings of works from local writers…why the Hell not? Only on the 14th.

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‘ART’ at the Gladstone Theatre, from Same Day. Fresh off a smashing win at the Rideaus, Same Day returns with Yasmina Reza’s hit to entertain y’all. From the 23rd to June 8th!

9 TO 5 at Centrepointe Theatre, from Orpheus Musical Society.  Musical theatre, Dolly-style, from May 30th to June 8th.

Nancy in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL.pic by Richard Gilmore.

Nancy Kenny in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL.pic by Richard Gilmore.

ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL at Arts Court Theatre, from Broken Turtle Productions. A one-night only fundraiser performance of Nancy Kenny’s hit one woman show, before embarking on a major cross Canada tour (during which she’ll be filming a full-length documentary about life on the Fringe circuit that you can contribute to HERE!). Come out and show your derby pride! On the 30th.

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LIFE IN THE WAR YEARS at Billings Estate, from Ottawa Storytellers. A travelling tent show with stories and music about the soldier’s life and more…only on the 30th!

ROALD DAHL’S LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD at NAC Southam Hall. May 31st only for two performances, an orchestral journey for the family.

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WOLVES>BOYS at MacDonald Gardens Park, from May Can Theatre.  Around 745 on the 31st, or whenever it gets dark-ish, a one night only site-specific performance of Cory and Tony’s Fringe hit before they go on summer tour!  Head on over to their hose for a farewell party afterwards!  Good enough for me.

DIAL M FOR MOUNTIE at the Velvet Room, from Eddie May Mysteries. Every Saturday, Scarlett’s dinner theatre brings you some fun murder mystery theatre, plus food. This one directed by the man Andy Massingham himself!

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The YOUTH INFRINGEMENT FESTIVAL at Arts Court Theatre. A week of shows written, directed by and starring the most perilously awesome kids of Ottawa Theatre! Featuring CLASSIC HORROR MOVIE MISTAKES, THE EVER-PRESENT WITNESS, THE ANOMALY, LOVE AND WAR, LUCY, and BLAZER. Always fun, always fresh, and thiss year featuring a curated art presentation to boot! Everything runs from the 13th to 17th!

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The OTTAWA INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL featuring shows like FROGZ, THE CITY AND IRIS, UNDER THE STARS, PINOCCHIO IN MY SUITCASE, KAPUT, I ON THE SKY, DINOSAUR ZOO and much more, from all over the world (plus local faves like 100 WATT will be around)! Everything unfolds at Lebreton Flats from the 9th through 14th. Definitely bring the kids.

     – THEATRE FRANCAIS

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ALBERTINE EN CINQ TEMPS at the NAC Theatre. Classic Michel Tremblay, until the 3rd.

Heloise Drouin et Chantal Tokarsky dans LE PROJET TURANDOT.  Photo: Martin Cadieux

Heloise Drouin et Chantal Tokarsky dans LE PROJET TURANDOT. Photo: Martin Cadieux

LE PROJET TURANDOT at Studio Leonard-Beaulne, from le Theatre Tremplin. A superfun retelling of the Turandot legend, until the 10th.

FAUSSES RUMEURS at Theatre de L’Ile. Neil Simon, translated for Franco-fun!  The 14th through June 21st.

LE PROMENOIR . Starting at the NAC studio, this walking tour show will take you all over, with stories and song along the way! From the 14th to 17th.

GRETEL ET HANSEL at NAC Studio. A retelling of the classic fairy tale, from the 24th to 25th.

     – IMPROV

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CRUSH IMPROV has a busy month planned, starting with their regular ‘BOUT TIME show on the 5th at the Heart and Crown in the market (Mother McGintey’s stage). Then there’s a workshop with focus on long form work on the 23rd at Arts Court, to be immediately followed by the first ever CRUSH IMPROV SHOW, which should be as awesome as it sounds.

GRIMPROV as always will be performing at the Cock and Lion the first and last Wednesday of every month, so check out THAT good stuff for sure.

CRYSTAL BASEMENT performs at the Atomic Rooster…what is it, the last Tuesday of every month?  I’ll refresh my memory on that one, but I’m pretty sure.  I’m so professional.

More updates to come!!  In the meantime, get on out and see all the stuff, okay?  Okay.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Sowing the Seeds

In Theatre on April 4, 2014 at 3:57 pm

A few days late to the newest show at the NAC…sorry about that, but even the National Arts Center takes a distant second to my Nieces Brynn and Clara when they’re performing in the church play, which I just HAD to check out last week. You’ll be happy and relieved to know they killed it, and they absolutely owned that production of HURRY ON DOWN, the touching story of some trivial bit character from the bible that you’ve never heard of. Zachias? Something like that. They took the material and ran with it, is what I’m saying.  My nieces are the most amazing people EVER.

But eventually, the pull of the NAC managed to bring me back, and with the amazing Nancy Kenny as my galpal for the evening, we made it in for the start of week two for SEEDS, Annabel Soutar’s documentary/verbatim show about the (in)famous court case of Monsanto v. Schmeiser. Percy Schmeiser, that is, portrayed in this most excellent production by the legend Eric Peterson, notable in Canada for his Gas Cornering and Street Legalling. Coming from Porte Parole outta Montreal and directed by Chris Abraham, SEEDS follows both Percy (Peterson) and the playwright herself, played by Christine Bealieu, as she conducts interviews and examines court transcripts to turn this story into a piece of theatre. Not that it needs much of a push…the real-life battle between Schmeiser, a lifelong canola farmer in a tiny town in Saskatchewan, and bipolar corporate giant Monsanto, as successful as they are despised, is plenty dramatic by itself. Monsanto insists that Schmeiser has stolen some of their genetically modified seeds for use on his farm, while he insists that he has no idea how any of them made it onto his land. As the case goes on and on, the battle turns less into an infringement issue, and becomes a global ethical dilemma about the nature of life itself, with Percy becoming something of a folk hero on the farmers’ rights frontlines, much to Monsanto’s annoyance.

The cast is excellent across the board, and yes, Peterson himself is just goddamn splendid as pigheaded Percy, refusing to back down an inch from his stand (even when doubt about his claims start to creep in in act 2). He has many great moments, especially a great speech about the attraction of farming, and the singular wonder of the seed itself:

Okay, I don’t actually have the right clip, but you get the gist. The rest of the troupe (Bruce Dinsmore, Mariah Inger, Alex Ivanovici, Tanja Jacobs and Cary Lawrence) fill out the sprawling storyline as a half dozen different characters each, from aggressive Monsanto lawyers to research scientists, farmhands, Percy’s wife Louise, and a particularly enthusiastic nun. It’s a dynamic and fun show to watch, making great hay out of the rich material at hand, including an ethical dilemma or two encountered by the playwright herself during the process. It’s as educational and eye-opening as it is entertaining. Video projection backdrops are used to great effect throughout, amid a sprawling multi-use set from Julie Fox. A lot of people will just come to see this show for Eric Peterson, and that’s just fine…but they’re going to come away with a whole lot more. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

PS Shoutout to the lone Monsanto booster in the audience the night we attended, who would applaud all by his/her lonesome anytime something went well for the corporate giant in the play. Nice to see that, even in theatre, someone out there is rooting for the overdog.