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Posts Tagged ‘OSSD’

the War of the Tractors

In Theatre on April 25, 2013 at 8:29 am

Still behind on my reviews here, it’s getting bad folks.  Not even gonna bother trying to do my usual PRIX RIDEAU AWARDS writeup…but let’s face it, I shouldn’t even have gone without my perma-date Nadine Thornhill to dance with.  I was all grumpy and lonesome…should’a gone to Burlesque instead.  Ah well.  Loved the hula-hoop bit, tho.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of actual theatre to go and see, which is keeping me hopping.  After catching Algonquin Theatre’s FLYING SOLO show on Monday (and hopefully I’ll have time to write something about that soon), last night was my first chance to run over to my soon-to-be Alma Mater at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, for the last of three public shows from the graduating Ottawa Theatre School class.  They’d previously done the Greek classic THE EUMENIDES and Lawrence Aronovitch’s world premiere FALSE ASSUMPTIONS, and now, as is appropriate, it was time for something completely different.  An apt description, I think, for the great Canadian staple THE FARM SHOW.

A collective creation, spearheaded I do believe my one Miles Potter for Theatre Passe-Muraille in Toronto back in the 70’s, FARM SHOW is an amazing piece that feels part verbatim, that provides an incredible opportunity for the OTS kids to really stretch out and show what they can do. Entering the Studio with a rousing victory cheer and introducing themselves, the gang soon launches into a series of vignettes and stories collected from Clinton, Ontario about the great highs and terrible lows about rural farm life.  Comparable to UNDER MILK WOOD from two years past, this show is a brilliant showcase for the talents of the graduating class, and they hurl themselves into the challenge immediately, transforming themselves into chickens, tractors and cows as the scene requires.  Director Andy Massingham, a lad who knows a thing or two about physical theatre, is just about the perfect helmsman I can think of for this piece, and it shows.

postfs

Every actor gets a chance to shine in this show, from Nick Fournier’s harrowing account of baling hay to Alis Rainier’s cautionary tales about the darker side of farm living.  Holly Griffith and Dilys Ayafor have a mightily memorable over-the-top battle as a pair of clashing tractors at a Farm equipment show, huffing and snarling with a gusto that brought me back to pro wrestling in the 80’s (honestly, they should have had someone taking bets in the audience).  Tiffani Kenny steals a beautiful moment as eccentric collector of oddities Harry Thompson, and Alyssa Gosselin makes merry as aging matriarch Alma Lobb (lots of Lobbs in this show…lots and lots of Lobbs, oh yes).  Hannah Gibson Fraser gets a marvellously manic monologue as a struggling Farm Mom, Alexis Scott as yet another Lobb gives an epic retelling of a cavalcade of town weddings, and Karina Milech gets a couple of memorable turns both as a travelling preacher and Clinton outsider Charlie Wilson.

This is a terrific joy of a show, with some especially impressive physical teamwork, mirroring the collective origins of the show itself.  Toss in a few musical numbers, some from the original script, some added by director Massingham, and some amazing insights and windows into the realities of rural farming life that every Canuck needs to see, and you have just about the best all-around theatrical bet in town right now (and that’s saying something).  I’d see this one again in a second, and I just might have Saturday night free, so we shall see.  Kudos to Andy and the gang for a dynamite show (and yes, it’s fun for the whole family, even..!) that ends this OTS season with a bang.  Or at least, a resounding Moo.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Hell Hath no Furies

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

It got a bit messy this week at my day job drudgery….I’ve whined about it already here and elsewhere, you’ve likely had your fill.  Well, so had I, and a night off with some good theatre was just what Doctor McHate-Your-Job ordered!  Luckily for me, it was that magical time of year when the graduating class at the Ottawa Theatre School begins putting on their slate of public performances, and ya know I love me my OTS gangsters.  A quick trek out to Westboro to my old alma mater at the OSSD brought me to the lovely Natalie Stern Studio, where the evening’s show, THE EUMENIDES, was going up.

Technically part three of Aeschylus‘ classic Greek trilogy (do I even have to mention it was a tragedy?   Come on, it’s Greek) The Oresteia, following the hilarious events of AGAMEMNON and THE CHOEPHORI…think lots of war, murder and revenge, and you’re getting warm.  Our story picked up with Orestes (Nick Fournier) on the run after having murdered his Mother Clytemnestra (Hannah Gibson-Fraser).  Sure, she’d killed his Father, and Sun-God Apollo (Alexis Scott) totally made him do it, but it turns out matricide is kind of a bugaboo with the Furies, a cabal of nightmare women from the bowels of the Earth who you do NOT want to get on the wrong side of.  The lot of them (Dilys Ayaforq, Karina Milech, Alyssa Gosselin, Alison Rainier, Hanna Gibson-Fraser again, and Holly Griffith, who also does double duty as a priestess in the opening scene) relentlessly pursue Orestes to Athens, where he appeals to the Goddess Athene (Tiffani Kenny) for justice, whatever that may end up being.  Athene, not being a small thinker, decides to invent the modern legal system right then and there to settle the dispute.

It was great to finally see this class of kids in action, and in such a cool beans show to boot.  Director Jodi Essery, a new and welcome addition to the OTS, put the gang to pretty solid use, and made a highly engaging spectacle out of Aeschylus’ well-aged work.  Right off the bat, I have to applaud the gaggle of Furies, who quickly became probably my fav’rit ever onstage chorus…they were ultracool and scary as Hell, and I had a hard time taking my eyes off of them anytime they were about.  Dilys Ayaforq was especially impressive as the head Fury, and Milech and Gosselin also did great work, slinking around joined at the arm.  Terribly creepy and fun, folks.  And wow, Alexis Scott makes for a bloody fantastic Apollo, swaggering about the stage like Han Solo after he’s just nailed Princess Leia.  It’s a great performance, and one of several…Griffith’s opening monologue is a stunner.  This is a terrific show that still holds up after, what, a thousand years?  Depending on what part of the world you’re looking at, the arguments in this show about Justice vs. the Law are just as important as ever.

Also? Kickin’ beard, dude.

Essery’s direction is spot-on, making sweet use of the cozy studio space.  The costumes are WICKED cool (the program only mentions a costume ‘consultant’, Deborah Hoeberg, but all props to her!), and really help sell the mood.  And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention stage manager Jodi Morden, herself a former OTS kid come back to help guide the talented new crop.  If you want to support new, exciting theatre (you do), and especially show some love to the great Ottawa Theatre School program (you REALLY do), then you need to get yourself out to catch this show while it’s here.  You’ve got until the 24th…don’t miss out, or the Furies’ll getcha (sorry, cheesy ending…sometimes I just can’t help myself)!  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in November 2012

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2012 at 6:57 pm

THIS is the month, folks.  If you don’t do at least six cool things this month, you should probably shout harder for help, as you’re almost certainly trapped under something heavy and need assistance.  Are you ready for it?  Here we go…

GLACE BAY MINERS’ MUSEUM at the National Arts Center, until the 3rd.  Last chance to see the Canuck classic, beautiful set and all.
THE DEATH OF DRACULA at the Gladstone Theatre, from Phoenix Players.  Until the 3rd, vampire fun from the good eggs at Phoenix!

JULIUS CAESER at Centrepointe Studio, from the Ottawa Shakespeare Company.  Also until the 3rd, see what some of the biggest buzz in Ottawa theatre is all about!

YOU NEVER CAN TELL at Elmwood School Theatre, from Linden House.  And still until the 3rd, terrific GB Shaw piece with wee Jenny David knockin’em dead.

IF WE WERE BIRDS at Academic Hall, from the Ottawa U Drama Guild.  Still again until the 3rd, probably the starkest piece of theatre O-town’s gonna see this year.  Daring stuff from the guildsters!

THE HOLLOW at Ottawa Little Theatre.  Until the 10th, Agatha Christie done fun.

FLY ME TO THE MOON at the Irving Greenberg Theatre, from the Great Canadian Theatre Company.  From the 1st thru 18th, the dynamic duo of Margo MacDonald and Mary Ellis get the John P.Kelly treatment, and the result is a must-see.

AGNES OF GOD at the Irving Greenberg Studio, from 9th Hour.  Playing from the 1st to the 10th, rising stars 9th Hour have been putting out good shows, and I doubt they’re stopping now.

KASPAR HAUSER at Old City Hall, from Anthropos Theatre.  Glen Williamson’s one-an show comes for one night only, on the 2nd.  I caught his FAUST, and the dude knows his storytelling.

CINDERELLA at Arts Court Theatre, from Opera Lyra.  An abridged, family-friendly operatic version of the classic tale, on the 3rd, 4th and 9th!

THIRSTY at the National Arts Centre Studio.  From the 5th to the 17th, and featuring the great Andrew Moodie, Jackie Richardson and more!

MARY’S WEDDING at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, from Kanata Theatre.  From the 6th to 17th, a cool sounding show set on the eve of WWI.

WHERE POPPIES BLOW from Salamander Theatre. Publicc performances of this special show at Beechwood National Memorial Centre on the 7th, then at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama on the 10th, then touring schools across the reegion.  Don’t miss out!

PADRE X at the Canadian War Museum, from Looking Glass Productions.  Playing the 8th (7:30), 10th (1:30 and 7:30) and 11th (1:30), the award-winning one-man Fringe drama from Marc Moir returns!

THE EUMENIDES from Ottawa Theatre School, at the OSSD.  From the 12th to 24th, the first show from this years graduating class of OTS gangsters hits the stage, and I can’t wait!

TONGUE AND GROOVE at Collected Works Bookstore, from Chamber Theatre.  From the 21st to Dec 1st, exciting new stuff from Chamber, in a cool new venue!

NOVEMBER at the Gladstone Theatre, from SevenThirty Productions.  Starting on the 21st thru next month…John P.Kelly is back already, and he’s bringing Todd Duckworth as the president along!

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at the National Arts Centre Theatre.  Starting on the 21st…Alix Sideris is back, Alix Sideris is back!!  Yay!!

FOOTLOOSE at Centrepointe Theatre, from Orpheus Musical Society.  From the 23rd thru Dec 2nd…it’s a musical about Footloose!  That’s all I know!

DAVID’S REDHAIRED DEATH at the Vanier Community Centre, from Suspension Theatre.  From the 27th to Dec 1st at 8pm (plus 2pm matinee on the 1st), ginger fun from some raucous newcomers!

THE NUMBER 14 at the Irving Greenberg Theatre, from GCTC and Axis Theatre Company.  Frm the 27th thru Dec 16th.  One of the most anticipated shows of the season!

7 STORIES at Saw Gallery, from Red.Collective.  from the 22nd to 25th, the Reddies are back with some Morris Panych for y’all. *UPDATE*  This show has sadly been cancelled, but is being replaced by a show from Red.Collective the following month.

MR.PIM PASSES BY at Ottawa Little Theatre.  Starting on the 27th, the centennial season marches on, courtesy of AA Milne.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Glebe Community Centre, from the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group (GNAG).  From the 29th to Dec 2nd, Xmas musical fun from director Eleanor Crowder.

Also, from the 16th-17th, 23rd-24th, and 30th-Dec 1st, Ottawa U will present WORKSHOP II – 4TH YEAR ONE ACTS in Studio Leonard-Beaulne, featuring plays directed by cool beans grad students (is that right..?), for FREE!  How can you say no??

…And that’s not all!!  Here’s what’s coming up locally in THEATRE FRANCAIS:

SOUS-SOL A LOUER at Theatre de L’Ile.  Playing all month long, a really fun sounding show in the prettiest little theatre around!

LE VENTRILOQUE at Studio Leonard-Beaulne.  From the 8th to 10th, Larry Tremblay’s play in one of my fav’rit spaces.

ABC DEMOLITION at La Nouvelle Scene, from Theatre de la Vielle 17.  from the 14th-24th, and featuring the great Paul Rainville! And Annick Leger, who I don’t know, but I bet she’s great too!

UNITY MILLE NEUF-CENT DIX-HUIT (Unity 1918) at Academic Hall, from Comedie des Deux rives.  From the 20th to 24th, and directed by doctor Joel Beddows himself!
INVENTION DU CHAUFFAGE CENTRALE EN NOUVEAU FRANCE (14th to 17th) and LA SCAPHANDRIERE (28th to Dec 2nd) at the NAC, from NAC French Theatre.  Still haven’t caught any of the NAC French productions…hoping to correct that soon!

ZONE at la Nouvelle Scene, from Theatre la Catapulte and Theatre Francais de Toronto.  From the 28th to Dec 1st, from the companies that just brought us the amazing ALBERTINE EN CINQ TEMPS!

…But wait, there’s more!  IMPROV more!!

CRUSH IMPROV has a stellar month planned, starting with a workshop on Nov 5th at the Hintonburg Community Centre, with Kirsten Rasmussen, who seems to have REALLY pretty eyes. *sigh*  Following that is the monthly ‘BOUT TIME battle at the Elmdale Tavern, featuring returning champs TWO AND A HALF WOMEN taking on GRIMPROV (who will still be hosting their own shows the first and last wednesday of the month at the Imperial on Bank street!).  Crush will also be returning with their SPOTLIGHT ON… show at the Gladstone, this time on the 24th (following that evenings performance of NOVEMBER) and guest-starring Nicole Milne!   And hey ho, THE BRAD MACNEIL is returning, the show AND the man himself!  The latest installment of the live chat show will take place on the 22nd at Mercury Lounge, and he’ll also be hosting a workshop of his own at Arts Court Library on the 24th.  He’ll also be joining in the Spotlight fun, so don’t miss him!

This isn’t even mentioning the Dance stuff going on..like Ottawa Dance Directive‘s ROAD TRIP from the 1st to 3rd at Arts Court,and POLITICAL MOTHER and 2 AND 4 from NAC dance.  Plus there’s THE CASE OF THE PEKINESE PEREGRINE wrapping up from Eddie May Mysteries in the Velvet Room, courtesy of Scarlett’s Dinner Theatre.  Or the GLADSTONE UNPLUGGED benefit concert/variety show on the 10th!  Or the UNDERCURRENTS launch party on the 15th at GCTC!  Or RAG AND BONE puppet theatre for the kids..!

Seriously, folks, I am SO TIRED from writing this post.  Just go out and support some local theatre, all right?  From the  length of this entry, you’d have to try pretty hard NOT to see some cool shows this month.  Don’t let me down!  And let me know what I missed (I know there’s SOMEthing).  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Fringe-terview #4 – THE SUICIDE

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Back in April the Ottawa Theatre School put on a show called THE SUICIDE, at their home in the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.  It was a funny, subversive gem, written by forgotten Russian Playwright Nikolai Erdman, and directed by Ottawa Theatre legend Pierre Brault.  I got an invite from stage manager supreme Hilary Nichol (thanks Hilary!) to sneak into the OSSD a week or so ago to chat with Pierre and some of the cast…present that day were Jonah Allingham, Victoria Luloff, Drew Moore, Mitchel Rose, Nick Fournier and Hannah Gibson-Fraser.  Here’s what Pierre and the gang had to say about their show, about to be remounted in Cafe Alt for the Ottawa Fringe Festival:

THE SUICIDE original cast and crew, courtesy of Andrew Alexander. That’s Pierre Brault up at the top right.

Visitorium – What drew you to this piece in particular?

Pierre Brault – I first did this piece almost 30 years ago in Toronto, and it’s quite a popular piece that had been done at the Shaw festival, sort of rediscovered by a company in England and brought over.  In fact, I believe it was Derek Jacobi’s first NY appearance in this play.  Then it was adapted for the Shaw Festival which is the translation we’re using.  I think what really attracted me to it was how funny it was. I always appreciate good satire when done well…I think things like that are cyclical and They can be effective at one point, but maybe 9 years later they seem stale, but then suddenly it comes back in again and I think this is the case with this kind of play.  What drew me also were the characters and how richly drawn they were, and how a good satire can sort of…satire is not the same as comedy, it packs a punch.  The laughter carries a message with it and that’s what I think is very obvious in this play.

V – You’re mostly known for your writing and performing, is this your first time directing?

PB – Not my VERY first time, but I’d say it’s certainly one of the first times, absolutely.

V – Was it an enjoyable challenge, doing the show with this gang?

PB – Absolutely.  It’s been an incredible experience, and I think that the real enjoyment for me is to take all that I’ve learned from acting, from playwriting, from stand-up comedy and everything else that’s informed my career and be able to apply it to this kind of setting.  Because when I started doing this it wasn’t simply as being a director, but to a certain extent being a mentor as well.  So I’ve tried to give every opportunity to the students (who are no longer students but actually graduated actors), to give them the opportunity to use and abuse me and any sort of font of knowledge I claim to have.  I have been in the business for a couple of decades and I certainly know it well, so it was challenging for me in that I had to put myself into a different mindset.  As a performer I’ve done a lot of solo shows so I’ve directed myself a lot…to have a company to work with, that’s the most exciting part.  And to see individuals blossom as it were, because I’ve seen these guys go from 1st year, 2nd year…I haven’t watched their entire trajectory but I can certainly can see the growth.  And what’s exciting for me is asking myself what is gonna come next for them. So that’s kind of the excitement of being a director.

Pierre Brault in BLOOD ON THE MOON

V – BLOOD ON THE MOON was your first Fringe show?

PB – It was my very first fringe show at the 1999 Ottawa Fringe festival…it was a solo show, so a very different show than this.

V – A fairly successful show, as Fringe shows go (note: this is an understatement)…is it fun being back in the Fringe, in this capacity?

PB – Yeah, I’m really excited to be back in the Fringe, and also excited to be back as a director as opposed to being a performer because as a performer I remember just how excited I was to be surrounded by so much theatre.  And I think that’s one of the most amazing things about being in the Fringe festival is you get to go to the tent and talk to other performers who…you’ve just seen their show, they’ve just seen yours, and it’s a great petrie dish of creativity where it’s all sort of mixing together, and sometimes people talk to each other about their shows, and sometimes people complain about things.  I have a real love for the Fringe Festival.  I don’t always get to be in it, because I’m often doing other things but I certainly always try to see it and one of the things I’ve really enjoyed the last few years was being a judge at the Fringe festival.  Because then I was assigned things to see that ordinarily I would never see.  And some of them were absolute nuggets, beautiful diamonds in the rough that were surprising.   And it’s great to bring this show in in its full run (because this is a 90 minute show, Fringe shows are usually an hour) and to be able to present it to the public, give it a second chance, give THESE guys a second chance to refine what they’ve learned.  And not just do it in a studio presentation but to bring it out to the public as well…I think it’s a very good transformative point to them as actors.

V – Has anything changed since the original presentation of this play two months ago?

PB – Well, we have a couple of different cast members. (Note: Hannah Gibson-Fraser and Nick Fournier have taken over in the production for original cast members Jazmine Campanale and Adam Pierre, who have departed on other, cool-sounding projects of their own, and good luck to them!)…they have really responded very well to being plugged into the situation, so that has changed.  Obviously where we’re going to present it has changed, we’re going from a small studio to a bigger venue.  But I think the biggest advantage we have is that we can tap into a much larger audience

V – Are you going to continue working with the OTS?

PB – This is my 2nd year working with the school and I’ve had a real enjoyable experience, because when you teach or direct even it reminds you of why you’re in the business.  Because As a young actor you’re starting out, you do one show, another show…sometimes you can become, dare I say it, jaded by the business.  And so when you’re back with young actors, you remember how YOU felt about it.  To watch them light up creatively is really a wonderful experience for you as a teacher.  SO yes, come back as a teacher as a director, to come back instructing, it’s a great experience.

V – What excited you most about this play?

Drew Moore – The first time we looked at it was very dense and text heavy…scary, very fast and we knew we had to really, really bring it for that reason

PB – Certainly when I chose the play..I had seen the class had done mostly movement-based theatre, which is terrific but only a small component of what goes on in Theatre.  So that was one of my decisions to bring in a fairly text-heavy show…not just text, but there’s no long monologues, it’s all one line right on top of another, which is the biggest challenge for the newcomers, to try and find that pattern that goes together almost like cogs.

Victoria Luloff – The new and exciting part for me was, because it is so text heavy and because of the way the lines fall into each other and the way it’s written as a farce, it’s really easy to see the characters’ archetypes.  Pierre has been fantastic in helping us find the real depth that all of those characters really do have…none of them are just one-sided, there’s so much to them. But part of the challenge of a farce, because it’s so fast paced and so funny, is to find those little nuggets and gems and little bits and places where you have the opportunity to show a different side of your character, and pinpointing the right one has been an exciting challenge.

Nick Fournier – I personally am very excited to be working with a group of graduated actors, and it’s very interesting coming, as a new cast member, into a show that’s already been created and formed.  It’s really interesting trying to find my place in an established show as a new gear in the machine

Jonah Allingham – I personally love the energy of this show.  Because not only is it so fast-paced, but it’s all one-liners: joke-joke-joke-joke-joke-satire…it’s very snappy, and I really like that about the piece.  I find that it’s got a very different energy about it than the other two shows we did this year (which were also wonderful shows) and it’s just a totally different breath of fresh air.  It’s cool.

VL – I think it’s been nice to hear the audience laugh.  They had a very different tone to them, the other two plays we did (note: IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS and WE WANT LIFE), so it’s been nice to hear them laugh.

JA – Well, when we were working with Andy (Massingham) and we still didn’t know what our third project was gonna be, Andy said ‘Well, you’re doing two tragedies, so I really hope it’s a comedy for you guys’.

PB – One of the challenges with doing any kind of comedy is you have to be very serious about what you’re saying.  That’s where the comedy results, it comes from that person believing what they’re saying.  So even when you’re watching stand-up you’ll watch someone say a joke, and they’re not saying it AS a joke, they’re saying it as real as possible.  And the more they believe it, the funnier it actually is.

Dyna Ibrahim, Victoria Luloff and Drew Moore in THE SUICIDE

DM – Pierre taught us that the line between comedy and drama is pretty much the same thing, and that’s when it became a lot clearer to me.  When I thought, personally, I’m not going to look at it like a satire, I’m in a tragedy!  It’s funny how I started getting more laughs when I turned that way more.

V – How do you think the themes in the play resonate today (if at all)?

VL – I don’t follow politics closely enough to make any huge observations on this, but I know there’s definitely some  interesting political air going through Canada right now, and so I think so much comedy can be found in that.  One of Semyon’s lines is ‘I don’t believe in factories, I believe in people’.  Some of what’s going on right now is people aren’t being looked at by the government as people, they’re being shifted around to see where the money can be made.  People are now unemployed, not at all unlike Semyon (Drew’s character in the show, and the protagonist of the play).  It does resonate a little bit.

PB – I think there’s a great mirror in that Semyon is an unemployed, unemployable man and that resonance has really sparked in the just the last couple of weeks with changes to EI and demands of what you are supposed to do now.  And I think really the marginalization of the unemployed.  On that theme, on that level, it works.  The fact that it is virtually unheard of to try and  question the government, for fear, that is part of the basis of this play…our feelings about the present government in general.  And Semyon does have some wonderful lines, for example he says ‘I don’t believe in a factory of slogans’ and that kind of is what we’ve become in many ways, even in our ‘Twitterverse’.  Very often it’s a very quick slogan, a status update…these are our lives now.  They don’t extend for a long period of time.  That’s one of the beauties, and I think resonances of this play.

THE SUICIDE plays at Cafe Alt in the Ottawa Fringe Festival from June 14th to the 24th.   Check the Festival Website for showtimes, map and prices.  Then check back tomorrow for yet another Fringe Interview! 

 

A Factory of Slogans

In Theatre on April 25, 2012 at 12:37 am

So I was TOTALLY supposed to go and check out the new Ottawa Theatre School show last Friday, but found myself delightfully sidetracked on the night in question.  Although I have to admit I’ve been chomping at the bit to catch this show, for a few reasons.  First, their last show WE WANT LIFE was one of the high points of the theatre year.  Also, it was directed by Pierre Brault, easily a de facto member of Ottawa Theatre royalty.  Plus, any excuse to hit up my alma mater at the OSSD is good news to me.

Sputtering rain aside then, I headed over to Westboro and got ready for Nikolai Erdman’s suppressed Russian classic THE SUICIDE, written in 1932 and instantly banned from production by no less than Joey Stalin himself. It was rediscovered in the 70’s, and that’s good news for us.  It’s a darkly satirical look at Socialism, Marxism, life and death…and there’s a tuba.

You didn't believe me, did you?

Starring the current graduating class of the OTS and featuring a finger-snappingly good soundtrack, THE SUICIDE is almost disturbingly hilarious considering the subject matter, but it works a treat.  Drew Moore is our downtrodden hero Semyon Semyonovich, out of work, short-tempered, and harbouring particularly unlikely dreams of becoming a musician.  He lives with his devoted, overworked wife Masha (Victoria Luloff) and her Mother Sarafima (Dyna Ibrahim).  In short order, Semyon’s despondence leads him to thoughts of ending it all, and worried Masha calls on mysterious neighbour Alexander Petrovich (Mitchel Rose) to help them out.  Alexander (and his gleefully wicked galpal Margarita, aka Jazmine ‘Jazz Camp’ Campanale) have other plans, however.

Before long, Semyon is being courted by one after another cloying strangers (James Smith, Caitlin Corbett, and Adam Pierre, all looking great with awesome, scene-stealing turns), each seeking to manipulate Semyon’s forthcoming suicide to their own self-serving, supposedly righteous ends.  It’s actually a pretty wonderfully clever bit of writing that leads our hero  slowly, and quite amusingly, to his inevitable (?) demise, as well as maybe a new way of looking at life.  Rounding out the cast is Jonah Allingham as Yegor, the politically paranoid and permanently hunched Postman, providing more than a few choice comic moments.  Likewise Dyna Ibrahim, especially the bit about the Wiener Dog (trust me).  The whole cast is great, natch…it was nice to see Luloff back in action after being sidelined by illness for WWL, and she shone as Masha.  And can I just say I’m becoming a big fan of Caitlin Corbett and Mitchel Rose?  Because I kinda am.

But I hate to play fav’rits (except when I do), and the whole gang does great in a very smart, very funny, and fast-moving piece that deserved  a WAY bigger audience that it had tonight.  I didn’t hallucinate that huge turnout of so-called theatre lovers at the Rideaus on Sunday, right?  Well, you know what’s even better than giving someone an award for their theatre work a year after the fact?  Actually SEEING their work TODAY.  So no excuses, you lot!  Get on out there and commit to this Suicide (I said it)!  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

PS: All love to Andrew Alexander, for the above photo!

Coming Up in April 2012

In Theatre on April 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm

This list is gonna be pretty dry for now, style-wise.  I just don’t have the will to dress it up any…maybe I’ll jazz it up another day, when I’m feeling peppier.  Please, don’t send me a bill for this post, okay?  Nobody pays me for this shit.

EAST OF BERLIN at the Great Canadian Theatre Company Mainstage, until the 8th.

PENNY PLAIN at the National Arts Centre Mainstage and KING LEAR  at the Glebe Community Centre, both until the 1st..which is today.

SELF HELP at the Ottawa Little Theatre until the 7th.  Plus again on the 10th for the EODL Spring Festival (see below)

THE COMMUNICATION CORD from Seven Thirty Productions at the Gladstone Theatre until the 14th.

OTHER EYES from TotoToo at Arts Court Theatre from the 4th to 7th.

COMMUNION by Daniel MacIvor at the National Arts Centre Studio from the 10th to 21st.

MARY MAGDALENE AND ADVENTURES IN SOBRIETY (with Nancy Kenny, directed by Andy Massingham) and [BOXHEAD] (directed by Alix Sideris) at Arts Court Theatre in a double bill from Evolution Theatre, from the 18th to 28th.  Do NOT miss this show.

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS from Kanata Theatre at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 3rd to 7th.

BEDROOM FARCE from Phoenix Players at the Gladstone Theatre from the 19th to 21st.

MOUVING from Theatre la Catapulte at la Nouvelle Scene from the 25th to 28th.

SHAKESPEARE’S INTERACTIVE CIRCUS at Algonquin College from the 18th to 21st.  Directed by Al Connors!

JULIUS CAESER from the Ottawa Shakespeare Company at Centrepointe Theatre Studio from t6he 18th to 28th.

THE SUICIDE from the Ottawa Theatre School grad class at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama from the 18th to 28th.  Directed by Pierre Brault!

MOMMA’S BOY at…various?  Just check the Bear and Company website.  21st, 22nd and 25th (last by invite only).

THE MIKADO from the Savoy Society at Adult High School from the 26th to 29th.

And at the Ottawa Little Theatre, as part of the Eastern Ontario Drama League Spring Festival:

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE on the 11th.

EDUCATING RITA on the 12th.
THE MOUSE HOUSE on the 13th.
PATHWAYS on the 14th.

That’s what I know of, please drop a friendly line if I missed anything.  Peace,

Kev

Coming Up in March ’12

In Theatre on March 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Uh, yeah, so…there’s a LOT.   Bear with me here, and shout out (nicely..!) if I miss anything.  Here we go…

Starting off, there’s the last few days of Brian Friel’s TRANSLATIONS at the Ottawa Little Theatre, playing until the 3rd.  There follows a break, and then on the 20th SELF HELP starts up, carrying on into April.

At the Gladstone Theatre, Bremner Duthie’s ’33 – A KABARETT continues until the 10th.  Semi-officially part of Black Sheep Theatre’s BLACK BOX SERIES, which also includes these three gems: THE LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE, running in March from the 1st to 3rd, evenings after ’33.  Then from the 9th-10th and 16th-17th, the great Paul Hutcheson brings his THIRD TIME LUCKY to town.  And from the 13th thru 17th, Jayson MacDonald himself will unleash the GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT on Ottawa for the first time since the ’07 Fringe Festival.  Welcome back, Jayson Mac, you’ve been missed.

The hard working kids at Obviously a Theatre Company are back, with a staged reading of THE CORONATION VOYAGE at Cafe Alt on the 2nd and 3rd.  Jacki Brabazon’s in it, what else do you need to know?  Not far off at Studio Leonard-Beaulne, THE JEWISH WIFE plays from the 1st to the 3rd,  and PROVINCETOWN PLAYHOUSE shows from the 15th thru 17th.  And at Academic Hall, MAMAMOUCHI (aka Le Bourgeouis Gentilhomme by Moliere) plays from the 27th thru 31st.

Back at my alma Mater the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, the OTS kids are back with a new show created by Prix Rideau Awards darling Andy Massingham, WE WANT LIFE (formerly known as GREED), playing in the Natalie Stern Studio from the 6th thru 17th, and I can’t wait (fundraiser on the 1st at 8pm at the Westboro Clocktower!).

Back at Arts Court, New Theatre of Ottawa continues it’s season there with THE PLAYER’S ADVICE TO SHAKESPEARE, a one-manner starring the great Greg Kramer, this one you HAVE to go see.  From the 7th to 17th.

At the NAC, Ronnie Burkett’s epic-sounding grown-up puppet play PENNY PLAIN launches on the 14th and running thru April Fool’s Day.  It sounds pretty kinda amazing, folks.  For the kids, MONSTER MAKER has some fun on the 24th and 25th.

At La Nouvelle Scene, ZONE gets a repeat showing on the 3rd, and something by the enigmatic handle of // …yes, those two slanty lines are the title, and it plays from the 21st thru 31st.    Remember, folks, French Theatre is Cool Theatre!
Algonquin Theatre kicks of show #2 of its season with THEATRE OF THE FILM NOIR by George Walker from the 14th to 17th, and if it’s half the fun Walker’s ZASTROZZI was last season, you do not want to miss it.  Meanwhile, over at Carelton U the Sock’n’Buskin gang are staging Steven Sondheim’s COMPANY from the 15th thru 24th.  Tess McManus is in it, what else do you need to know?  There’s also another VAGINA MONOLOGUES going on, for more good causes, at Carleton on the 10th and 11th, tho I’m not sure PRECISELY where.  More when I find out.

The GCTC launches the penultimate show of their current season with EAST OF BERLIN on the 21st and running into next month.  Directed by multiple-Rideau Award nominated Joel Beddows, dontcha know!  Upstairs in the studio space, the 9th Hour Theatre Company is staging CRIME AND PUNISHMENT from the 22nd to the 31st.  Always fun to have shows running up AND down.

And yes, it sucks that Third Wall won’t be putting on WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? this month like originally planned…but never fear, they’re still active this month with another in the EMPTY SPACE reading series.  This time it’s a return to Chekhov, with Andy Massingham and Kristina Watt back for more stellar storytelling, on the 28th.

What else, what else…oh yeah, Orpheus is making some noise with RENT, starting on the thru to the 11th, over at Centrepointe.  Out at the Ron Maslin, the Kanata Players are showing FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS from the 27th, thru to April 7th.

Back at the Gladstone, 730 Productions returns with THE COMMUNICATION CORD from the 28th thru to the middle of April, and it sounds like sweet fun.   And at the Glebe Community Centre , GNAG is putting on KING LEAR from the 29th to April 1st, just to get it in before the NAC gets there.  Nicely done, Glebe. 🙂

And hey!  Over at the Velvet Room, Eddie May Mysteries presents Scarlett’s Dinner Theatre, now featuring THE CURSE OF THE PEKINESE PEREGRINE, directed by Zach Counsil and featuring a (pardon the pun) killer cast.  Every Saturday until, I dunno, a while now?  Sorry, I’m terrible at research…but definitely for March, and that’s dinner, a show, and some shenanigans afterwards.  A good nite out, folks.

Still more!  On the 27th at the NAC 4th Stage, the OTTAWA THEATRE CHALLENGE has its day, and it should be a lotta fun.  And if you’re one of those COOL people who live in Toronto, then maybe you might wanna (you really do) check out Mikaela Dyke’s incredible DYING HARD at the Tarragon Theatre, from the 13th thru 18th.  Tell’er the Visitor sent ya!

All this plus the DEAD UNICORN INK fundraiser on the 24th at the Fall Down Gallery, the GRUPPO RUBATO fundraiser on the 117th at the GCTC studio, all the usual Improv shows from CRUSH IMPROV, GRIMprov, CRYSTAL BASEMENT, INSENSITIVITY TRAINING, and newbies MI-6…phew!  If you’re bored this month, folks, you’re dead inside.  I didn’t even TOUCH the dance stuff, or the spoken word…sheesh.  Get out there.  See some shows, support some artists, make a little love, do what you gotta DO, folks.  Just do it.  I’m out…off to a couple things this evening my own self.  And if I can do it…boy, you can too.  Peace, love and soul, Ottawa,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in February ’12

In Theatre on February 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Righty-O, it’s definitely a jam-packed February, the little theatrical month that could.  So let’s get straight at it, and once again, tell me if I miss anything (you won’t, I know, but I still have to ask):

Only a few more days to catch the legendary (and deservedly so) BLOOD ON THE MOON at the GCTC, which ends on the 5th.  And don’t forget to buy the book and DVD when you’re done!

Starting off a full month at the Gladstone is Plosive‘s CYRANO DE BERGERAC, starring Richard Gelinas in a goddamned glorious performance.  It runs til the 18th, and you should run to see it.

Ottawa Little Theatre has TRANSLATIONS from the 14th thru March 3rd, and it looks like a blast.

The NAC kicks off CREATION in the studio space, a biblical mashup in the style of last year’s NATIVITY.  Should be a gooder, and that goes until the 20th.

Arts Courts third new resident company, Creations in Vivo (along with Evolution and New Theatre Ottawa) launches their season centerpiece LEGENDES BOREALES from the 8th to 11th, and I’m seriously looking forward to seeing what these wizards have cooked up.

Also at Arts Court, a one day revival of the smash Fringe hit QUESTION PERIOD: THE MUSICAL on the 4th.  A good chance to catch a show that sold out friggin’ Alumni Auditorium last June! (note: as mentioned in the comments, the 4pm show on the 4th is already sold out, so a 2:30 preview matinee has been added, same day!)

Kanata Theatre has A PACK OF LIES running at the Ron Maslin from the 7th-11th, and 14th-18th.

At Academic Hall, Comedie des Deux Rives presents LA CIMETIERE DES VOITURES from the 7th to 11th, and ya know some French Theatre is ALWAYS a good time.  In that vein, there’s also LABORATOIRES GESTES from the 9th-11th and ZONE on the 25th, both at La Nouvelle Scene.

Algonquin Theatre kicks of their 2012 season with a Fringe-style double bill, THE ACTOR’S NIGHTMARE and ‘DENTITY CRISIS, from the 8th-11th.  Anyone else sensing a bit of a theatrical logjam around that time?  And there’s more coming!

Bouncing back to Ottawa U, their new musical theatre gang Broadway Off-Broadway is premiering [title of show] at Academic Hall from the 16th thru 18th.  How’d they know I missed that show at the Victoria Fringe?  Much obliged, BOB!

Over at my old Alma Mater at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, another Fringe hit THE WALK is remounting in the Nathalie Stern Studio from the 3rd-5th and 10th-12th.  Good guy and acting coach of mine Brie Barker is in this one, so run and getcher ticket now!

And speaking of OSSD alum…my scene partner Julie (and loads of other fabulous babes) are putting on THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES at the Bronson Centre on the 24th and 25th, in support of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa.

Back at the Gladstone, the amazing Bremner Duthie crashes Ottawa with his cabaret one-manner ’33 from the 22nd to March 10th, in conjunction with local heroes Black Sheep Theatre.  Black Sheep is also launching their new BLACK BOX series late in the month with Jayson MacDonald’s LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE, running in a late slot from the 23rd-25th, and again from March 1st – 3rd  The Series continues with a couple of jaw-dropping shows the following month.  I can’t wait.

And swinging around to the GCTC, the second edition of the UNDERCURRENTS FESTIVAL is finally upon us! Running from the 7th thru 19th with six amazing shows being hosted:

AND THEN IT HAPPENS from the 8th-18th

BLUE BOX from the 7th-12th

FALLING OPEN from the 10th-19th

HIGHWAY 63: THE FORT MAC STORY from the 11th-18th

LIVE FROM THE BELLY OF A WHALE from the 7th – 14th

WEETUBE 5400 from the 14th to 19th

Plenty for everyone, and there will even be some Foolish company to enjoy in the lobby!  Also, booze.

And just in case you thought we were done, Third Wall theatre has the 3rd of their Empty Space reading series with a tribute to Vaclav Havel, featuring James Richardson, John Koensgen and Simon Bradshaw at the Glebe St.James United Church on the 22nd.  Phew!  Don’t ever say you don’t have something to do this month!  That’s it for me, I have comix to read, food to eat, and a show to see tonite.  Catch you at the theatre, folks.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

2011 – Big Stoopid End of Year Post

In Theatre on December 31, 2011 at 11:38 pm

That’s it!  Another 365 days down, and I seem to have survived with my clinical depression intact, thank Christ.  Theatrically speaking, I’m calling it a great year, and it turns out it was pretty good for me in that sense as well, if I think about it.   Let’s get to the numbers, straightaway…just what did I manage to see this year?  Well…

5 Easy Steps (to the End of the World)
the 39 Steps
297 Bayview Clinic
Agokwe
All my Children
All my Day Jobs
Amelia: the Girl who Wants to Fly
Am I Blue
And Slowly Beauty…
the Animal Show (3)
Antigone
Antony & Cleopatra
Avatar
Bifurcate Me
the Birdmann
Burning Brothels
Callaghan!
Canterbury Cocktails
Canuck Cabaret
Charles: a Trip Through the Multiverse
the Circle
Complex Numbers
Curriculum Vitae
Danger Project
the Daughter of the Father of Time Motion Study
Deliver Us From Evil
Dianne and Me
Dirty Bird
the Donnelly Sideshow
Double Yellow Line
Dreams of Whales
Dying Hard (2)
Einstein’s Bicycle
Eurydice
Every Story Ever Told
Exit the King
Exs and Ohs
Fallen: the Book of Samael
Falling Open
the Fan
Five Lies
Fortunate Son
Freres d’Hiver
Fruitcake (2)
Fucking Stephen Harper
the Game and How to Play It
Giant Invisible Robot (2)
Giving Into Light
Glitch
Grim and Fischer
Hamlet 2011
Hard Ways
Hip Bang!
Homechild
Houdini’s Last Escape
the Hysteric
I Do Not Like Thee, Doctor Fell
the Importance of Being Earnest
an Inconvenient Truthiness
In the Eyes of Stone Dogs
Into the Woods
Iphegenie en Tauride
I Remember Mama
Israeli Love Story
It’s Nothing
Jem Rolls is Pissed Off
Kawasaki Exit
Kismet One to One Hundred
the Lavender Railroad
Life
Limbo
Lion King
Little Martyrs (2)
Little Orange Man (2)
Live from the Belly of a Whale
Love Letters for Georgia
MacBeth
Marcel Pursued by the Hounds
Medee-Materiau
the Middle Place
A Midwinters’ Dream Tale
Momma’s Boy
My First Time
My Mother’s Daughter
My Pregnant Brother
Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme
Old Legends
One-Act Comedy Festival
One Man’s Trash
Othello
Padre X
Peter ‘n Chris and the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel
Peter ‘n Chris Save the World (2)
Pick Your Path
Pink Shoelaces
Playing Dead (2)
Playing for Advantage
Pretentious Young Ladies
Pretty Little Instincts
Queen For a Day
Question Period: the Musical
Rambo: the Missing Years
Red
Rerentless
Retour a Pripyat
the Return of Love
la Rire de la Mer
Roller Derby Saved my Soul (3)
the Room Outside the Room
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead
St.Carmen of the Main
Salt-Water Moon
the Search for a Reason for a Murder
Secrets of a Soccer Mom
the Shadow: A Christmas Mysteries Radio Show
the Shadow Cutter
Shadows
Shadows in Bloom
ShLong Form Improv
Sins of the Mother
Smart Arse
Something with Virgins and Chainsaws
Sonnets for an Old Century
Sounds from the Turtle Shell
Sparrow and the Mouse
Speed-the-Plow
Spent
Spitting in the Face of the Devil
Spotlight On…
Stalemate
Strawberries in January
Struwwelpeter
Subnormality
the Suckerpunch
the Summit
Talk
Tara Firm and the Lunar War Chronicles
Taram
That Summer
This is a Recording
This is Our Youth
This is What Happens Next
Three Sisters
A Tour de Morose
Trapped in A Vox
the Troubles
Ukrainian Dentist’s Daughter
Under Milk Wood (2)
Vagabond
the Walk
When Harry Met Harry
Whiskey Bars
Whispering Pines
Wonderbar!
the Year of Magical Thinking
Yichud
Zack Adams: Love Songs for Future Girl
Zastrozzi

Honourable Mentions

Company of Fools Twelfth Night
Empty Space Series: Chekhov
Homegrown: Reading
Ottawa Improv Festival
Stories of Love
Wrecking Ball

…Beat THAT, Langston!  Yeah, I think no matter which way you cut it, that’s a heaping helping of live theatre.  But I had more going on that JUST seeing shows, oh yes.  For instance:

HOLY SHIT, I TOOK MORE CLASSES!  Yeah, I went back to the OSSD well for two more courses, both with the delightful and wise Brie Barker as coach.  I had a blast, learned a lot, and am eager to learn more.  Also did my very first ever workshop, a movement adventure led by the amazing Alix Sideris, put on by the glorious gals of Deluxe Hot Sauce.  I think I’m STILL sore.

HOLY SHIT, I AUDITIONED FOR THINGS!  And from my point of view, WOW. I really did!  Three things so far, starting off with a terrified stab at Nadine Thornhill’s COMPLEX NUMBERS earlier in the year, and just recently with two attempts at the Ottawa Little Theatre (for LOST IN YONKERS and TRANSLATIONS, for the record).  No bites yet, but two callback outta three?  I’m calling that a decent start.

HOLY SHIT, I WORKED ON THINGS SEMI-OFFICIALLY!  Okay, that was an awkward intro, but the point is I did stuff outside of the purview of simple audience.reviewer mode.  Like I made Front of House Manager for Evolution Theatre’s LAVENDER RAILROAD, and had a great time doing it.  I also got tapped to do a mess of research and data mining work for the Ottawa Fringe Festival, for what would eventually become their OFF THE RECORD commemorative book.  And while that book turned out to be, well, what it turned out to be (don’t get me started), I’m still pleased with the work I did, and feel kinda proud I was tapped for it at all.

HOLY SHIT, I WAS IN A MOVIE!  Hells yah!  Specifically, the Ken Godmere written/directed/produced Digi60 short film bur.  And okay, I was only a silent extra in the background who you can’t even see until the last minute or so…but god damn!  2011 is the year I was in a movie, and y’all ain’t taking that away from me!

HOLY SHIT, PEOPLE THINK I’M MEDIA!  Zoinks, do they ever!  First the lovely Natalie Joy Quesnel gets me a shiny-sweet media pass for the Fringe, and then, bafflingly, lots of other people started following suit.  At last check, I’m on over half a dozen media call lists, which is just NUTS.  Oh, and speaking of Fringe…

HOLY SHIT, I DID TWO FRINGES!  Yes, I finally followed through on my age-old threat to do this, and flew out to Victoria for their 25th anniversary Fringe festival this summer.  It was a tremendous, balls-out wicked good time, and I saw terrific shows  I might otherwise never have gotten to catch.  Not to mention late night waffles.  And now Katie Hood knows who I am!

So, there’s all that.  And looking back, it’s really gonna be kind of hard to top all that.  But there were better stories than mine last year…

GCTC LAUNCHES UNDERCURRENTS FESTIVAL:  Yay, a brand-spanking new festival of goodies for me to glom onto!  Even as we gear up for the second edition in a few short months, it’s fun to look back and recall what a success this inaugural two-week showcase was, for all 6 shows involved.  and, really, for Ottawa Theatre in general.

THE GLADSTONE THEATRE RETURNS:  Dormant for what, a whole year?  More?  The dashing Gladstone Theatre off Preston thundered back to life thank to the tag team of Seven Thirty and Plosive Productions, and I couldn’t be happier.  The shows have been zippy and fun, and even community mainstays Phoenix Players got in on the fun.  The Winter season looks fantastic, and hopefully, the Gladstone is here to stay for good.

BRIGETTE DEPAPE STRIKES A THEATRICAL BLOW FOR DEMOCRACY:  Fringe heroine Brigette dePape (She Rules With Iron Stix, one of my first and fav’rit Fringe shows ever) shoved a handmade red STOP HARPER sign in Parliament’s face, protesting the policies of Emperor Steve, losing her position as page, and making National headlines all at once.  And we couldn’t be prouder.

ARTS COURT BUSTS OUT:  Not only did the legendary arts.Fringe venue in downtown Ottawa clinch (it is clinched, isn’t it?  Tell me it’s clinched!) a multi-million dollar redevelopment deal this year, but they also announced three new resident companies (Evolution Theatre, New Theatre Ottawa and Creations in Vivo) would henceforth be calling AC home.  Which means more solid theatre for us, in a great old venue.  Huzzah!

FOOFARAH ARRIVES, MASSES REJOICE:   Trying to remember what your lives were like before the Monday Foofarah arrived?  Don’t.  You wouldn’t like it.

Now, there was bad news this year too, sure.  The great Third Wall Theatre company was forced to cancel their season due to budget concerns, but they promise to be back, better than ever.  And Nancy Kenny finally left town (about which I am still in denial, thank you very much)!  But hey, let’s keep things positive here.  Didn’t I publish, a few paragraphs back, a gigantic-ass fucking list of shows I done seen this past year? What up with those?  Let’s ladle up some PRAISE, yo!  But first off, I’ve kind of decided tyo leave Fringe shows out of htis roundup, if only because I already gushed over those and made my lists and such at the end of each respective festival.  Which is, of course, no reason not to quickly recap some Fringey awesomeness right off the top:

FAV’RIT FRINGE SHOWS!!

There were a lot I loved..I do love me some Fringe…but a few from both Ottawa and Victoria still stand out in my mind as the kind of awesome you can only dream of.  Shows like brilliantly unique ALL MY CHILDREN and ZACK ADAMS: LOVE SONGS FOR FUTURE GIRL.  The heartwrenching FALLING OPEN (due for an Undercurrents relaunch as we speak!) and powerful SPITTING IN THE FACE OF THE DEVIL.  Another Undercurrents returner LIVE FROM THE BELLY OF A WHALE was joyous to behold, and the gloriously masqued GRIM & FISCHER left audiences cheering.  Nancy Kenny (denial!) rocked many worlds in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL, and Jayson MacDonald crushed whole cities in GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT.   The brilliantly talented Mikaela Dyke and Ingrid Hansen positively floored me with DYING HARD and LITTLE ORANGE MAN, respectively.  And, a special shoutout to the one wee lass who managed to make my list of fav’rit Fringe shows (with the same show) in two damned provinces…

I'm still waiting for my copy of this poster, Hood.

If you missed it (or any of these shows), you’re a sucker.  But I forgive you.  Winston does not.  Speaking of which, it’s time for the first award of the evening.  Oh yes, there are awards!  The Visitorium is a posh operation, dig?  And we have to start upping the ante around here, so it’s time for the first ever WINSTON THE CAT SCENE-STEALER AWARD!
We here at the Visitorium are big fans of any thespian versed in the fine art of scene theft, and there were some beauts this year.  And there were some beauties for consideration…Ross Tundo’s hilarious Polonius in ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, for instance, or Tom Charlebois’ Ferapont in THREE SISTERS.  Hell, Jackie Richardson almost stole the entire show in ONE scene in ST.CARMEN OF THE MAIN.  Likewise, Katie Bunting nabbed whgole chunks of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA this summer with naught but a comic glare.

Still and all, I think I have to go with my gut on this one.  So the award goes to:  JACKIE BRABAZON as the maid in THE PRETENTIOUS YOUNG LADIES.  She had me in stitches with the one-two punch of shuffling and mumbling, and half the show I was just keeping an eye on her to see what she’d do next.  That, my friends, is scene-stealing.  Well done, Ms.B, and you’ve won a slightly-used dvd copy of Jodorowsky’s film classic EL TOPO, should you choose to accept it.

Should we whiz thru the technical fav’rits now?  I still tend to think of myself as too ‘layman’  to decide such things properly, but I guess if people are treating me like honest-to-gosh media now, I should at least put in the effort, right?  And hey, it’s not like I didn’t notice some amazing work that the geniuses out there put in.  For example…

COSTUMES: I really, really don’t do fashion, but there was some fine accoutrement going on this year.  Like the fine duds on display in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (Andrea Robertson), IPHEGENIE EN TAURIDE  (Genevieve Couture), ZASTROZZI (Judith deBoer), or Eo Sharp’s primary-themed ST CARMEN OF THE MAIN.  There’s lots more, I’m sure, and I luv ya all.

SOUND AND LIGHT:  Oh, I REALLY am an idiot when it comes to these two.  But looking back, I have to bow to Al Connors, for his soundwork in shows like LITTLE MARTYRS, LAVENDER RAILROAD, and probably about a dozen others.  Seriously, dude, I want an MP3 of that CARS slowdown from LM.  I’ll buy you beer and everything.  Also, Clement and Fairfield invented whole new zones of cool with their soundwork in TARAM.  And lights?Shit, most of the time I’m lucky if I even notice they’re ON.  I honestly have tgo pay more attention to this, and could probably use a few good conversations in that area.  I’ll just say Pierre Ducharme and Jock Munro, and we’ll move on.

HAIR AND MAKEUP:  Annie Lefebvre. Moving on!

SET DESIGN:  Ok, THIS I notice.  And I love me a good set.  Like Benoit Brunet-Poirier’s industrial labyrinth for MEDEE-MATERIAU, or Anna Lindgren’s working-rainfall-and-all set for the wunnerful EURYDICE.  Or even the simple, slapstick setup for BIFURCATE ME (Jon Lockhart, I think?).  But if we’re calling ‘winners’ here, of fav’rits (better), I’m torn.  Ivo Valentik designed so many insane gorgeous sets, from ZASTROZZI to SPEED-THE-PLOW to MIDWINTER’S DREAM TALE.  But Pierre DuCharme designed my fav’rit set EVER, for LITTLE MARTYRS.  So, fight it out amongst yourselves, dudes.  There’s no actual prize here.  There IS however, for this next one:

Yeah, Winston’s not the only one who gets an award named after him!  What of it? I’m cool too!!  Fuck you!
…But time for that later.  First, we gotta give this thing away, and as to what it IS, exactly…it’s whatever.  It’s to who I think is as excited, or rather ten times MORE excited about theatre, than I am (which is, quite frankly, a lot), and who shows it, and who I notice, and…you know what? This is getting complicated.  Let’s just give the award to out two recipients…yes, in this inaugural award year, it’s a tie!  Because I’m a noncommittal fuck, as my ex could surely tell you.

The first winner is…MAY CAN THEATRE.  Comprised of good guys Cory Thibert and Tony Adams, the May Can Boys have demonstrated a love of performing that borders on the ridiculous this past year.  Besides their highly endearing Fringe show SOUNDS FROM THE TURTLE SHELL, they put up the insane DANGER PROJECT in the backroom of the Avant-Garde bar, and spent 2 days showcasing 2 original works, 297 BAYVIEW CLINIC and THE ROOM OUTSIDE THE ROOM (among a great variety of other acts) during their anniversary celebrations at Cafe Alt.  They showed that, whether you have a gig or a venue or not, it doesn’t matter too much…just go out and find that shit for yourself, and you’re good to go.

Pictured: A faceful of Motherfucking ACTING!

And recipient number two..?  None other than ANDY MASSINGHAM, also known as FOR FUCKS SAKE WHEN DO YOU SLEEP???  Here’s what this cat appeared in this year (that I saw): BIFURCATE ME.  THE SHADOW CUTTER.  EXIT THE KING.  HAMLET 2011.  THE FAN. IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS.  And the EMPTY SPACE reading of Chekhov short stories from Third Wall. And how many of those was he amazing in?  Oh yeah.. ALL that shit.  And he’s already got about half a dozen project on the go in 2012…again, that I know of.  Congrats, Mister Massingham, you’re the goods.  And you and the May Can boys can politely decide which among you want my used directors cut of THE WARRIORS, my burned disc of SPACED, or if you just want me to get you all drunk some day.

I really have to get moving on this…it’s already, like, the longest thing in the history of long (Your Mom told me the same thing, by the way), and there’s miles to go.  So let’s get fav’rit-ing!
FAV’RIT ENSEMBLES!!

This is just me loving gangs of actors doing some acting on stages, and wow, there were lots of them!  And while some were visiting troupes, like the swell gals from the Missoula Oblangata who treated us to the amazing FATHER OF THE DAUGHTER OF TIME MOTION STUDY, or the dynamite One Yellow Rabbit trio with their challenging but brilliant KAWASAKI EXIT.   Then there’s the amazing group assembled for AND SLOWLY BEAUTY at the NAC, or the hysterical gang from I DO NOT LIKE THEE DOCTOR FELL.  More fine trios?  How about McManus, Downey and Savoie in the lovely QUEEN FOR A DAY, Watt, Lyford-Wilson and Capogreco in THREE SISTERS, or Quirk, Skanks and Phillips in DIRTY BIRD?   Third Wall’s EXIT THE KING had just about as good a gang as you could beg for, as did A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE from a Company of Fools.  SPENT’s duo was a sheer delight, and the onstage radio players from THE SHADOW really made me wanna come back again.  And I’m gonna single out a particular fav’rit of mine…the Ottawa Theatre School gang.  Not the new grad class….tho they showed their chops just fine in IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS and I’m looking forward for more.  But I’m thinking of the cats from UNDER MILK WOOD, GLITCH and HAMLET 2011.  Diego, Greg, Henry, Kaitlin, Jodi, Kyla…you’re the goods.  Hope to see you ALL up on stage again soon (and new gangsters…the bar has been set!  Cant’ wait to see you top it!).

FAV’RIT PERFORMANCES!!

I’ve decided to do away with splitting up the sexes this year, because it just seems silly.  So here’s my smorgasbord of boy/girl/whatever acting goodness, all in one!

There was plenty of greatness going around on Ottawa stages (again, not counting Fringe), and a solid bunch of them stand out in my memory.  Like John ‘Killer’ Koensgen tearing it up as the King in ANTIGONE.  Or Mary Ellis ruling in her PJs in DREAMS OF WHALES.  Or Andy Massingham in EVERYTHING.  Jason Cadieux positively owned Undercurrents in HARD WAYS, and Mackenzie Salhany was the awesomest Red Riding Hood ever in INTO THE WOODS.   Brennan Richardson cut a very memorable MacDuff in Sock’n’Buskin’s MACBETH, Bev Wolfe cut to the quick as the sister in LAVENDER RAILROAD, and Guy Buller nailed villainous Iago in Salamander’s OTHELLO.   But my absolute fav’rits..?
– Chris Ralph in SPEED-THE-PLOW.  Props to his co stars Kyla Gray and John Muggleton, but it was Ralph’s Charlie Fox that really killed it in Plosive’s stab at Mamet.

– Monique Floyd in THAT SUMMER.  I can still almost FEEL her beaming, mischievous smile.  A wondrous performance.

– Tim Oberholzer in ZASTROZZI: THE MASTER OF DISCIPLINE.  The smooth one nailed it into the ground (or as close as one could come to it, in Valentik’s Escher-esque set) with his over-the-top showing as the classic stage villain.  Marvellous.

– Matt Miwa in LITTLE MARTYRS.  In a play filled with great performances, his stood out.  As tortured Jacob, Matt made you feel every pang of conscience like a knife thrust.  BLOODY marvelous.

– Jamie Mac in SALT WATER MOON.  It ain’t easy, owning the NAC stage, but VIMY’s Jamie Mac pulled it off as David French’s rogue romantic Jacob Mercer, with a newfie accent to beat the band.  Very well done indeed.

Which all leaved me with not much time to get this done, and that means the main event…

FAV’RIT SHOWS!!!

This is it…the shows that reached deep, grabbed my heart, and shattered my soul (in a good way).  I’m gonna save my super fav’rits for last, but there’re lots of great ones to go around, like the Fools’ ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, and Third Wall’s absurdist EXIT THE KING.  Or pretty much the entire run of UNDERCURRENTS.  But let’s not forget student gems like Sock’n’Buskin’s wonderfully funny ONE-ACT COMEDY FESTIVAL, and the Youth Infringement gem from Rebecca Garcia QUEEN FOR A DAY.  Plus the Missoula Oblangata’s DAUGHTER OF THE FATHER OF TIME MOTION STUDY, a beauteous DIY gem of a show, and Seven Thirty’s gleeful and high-strung Hitchcock cover 39 STEPS.   But my own, personal, certified fav’rits of the year as of this writing are…

THE PRETENTIOUS YOUNG LADIES from Obviously a Theatre Company.  Yeah, I said it!  I know not a lot of people got to see this free, debut show, and more’s the pity, because it was goddamn fabulous.  Innovative, colourful, and merrily disrespectful to the conventions of theatre. Also fun. Remember fun?

MARCEL PURSUED BY THE HOUNDS from Chamber Theatre.  It might have been the combination of great cast, directing, gorgeous/horrific subject matter and perfect Carleton Tavern venue that drove this one into the hallowed territry for me.  Maybe.  Maybe it just fucking RULED.

A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE from A Company of Fools.  As fun a show as you’re even allowed to wish for, centered around the clown combo of Pommes and Restes (Scott Florence and Margo MacDonald) searching for ice cream in a winter wonderland, and running afoul of Fairies, Jesse Buck, and the audience, this is the joy of theatre served up to order.

UNDER MILK WOOD from Ottawa Theatre School.  Featuring the gangsters along with Todd Duckworth and Annie Lefebvre, and directed by wondrous Jan Irwin, this adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ glorious play was such utter magic to behold that it was only the second play I was all too happy to pay full price twice to see.  The other one?  My narrow victor for show of the year…

LITTLE MARTYRS from Evolution Theatre.  The purest gut-punch of the year, an adherence to the credo of ‘challenging theatre’ so pure that it scared half of their audience off.  And theirs is the pity, because they missed a luminous theatrical experience, the kind that can only come from a dark place.  Not to mention killer performances, amazing sound, brilliant set…I only wish I could see this show again.

And…that’s it!  I suppose now would be the time for any resolutions…I know I ‘d like to hit the Mayfair and Bytowne theatres more in this new year.  And I have one resolution I can’t tell you all about (you’d think it was very sad, and I don’t want to upset you).  So instead, from all of us here at the Visitorium, have a good tomorrow, and try and hold out until the shows start up again.  It won’t be long now!  Peace, love and soul

The Visitor (and Winston)

ETA:  I woke up this morning and realized I’d forgotten a couple of things I wanted to mention…stoopid, right?  But I did want to make mention of another dandy ensemble this past year, namely the dynamite tag team of Jake William Smith and Christine Hecker as the leads in ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, plus Garret Quirk’s pitch-perfect Algernon Moncrieff in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.  And oh yeah, I seem to have totally forgotten about Directing in my whole ‘categories’ thing up there.  They’re not important, right?  Fuck, I’m dumb sometimes.  Happy New Year everybody!

Coming Up in June ’11

In Theatre on June 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

So apologies, I said the last post was to be my final one of the year, but obviously, that was before I remembered that I forgot about this one!  Silly, really.  Hope you don’t mind.  One for the road, eh?  Let’s get to it…what the heck is going on in June??

Well, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT continues at the GCTC until the 12th.  It will end its run as part of the MAGNETIC NORTH THEATRE FESTIVAL, which, aside from all it’s neato-sounding panels and Industry-thingies, also boasts an impressive six show roster.   Along with MacIvor, they will feature: YICHUD, from the 3rd to the 6th at Academic Hall.  5 EASY STEPS TO THE END OF THE WORLD from the 3rd to 6th at Arts Court.    KAWASAKI EXIT from the 5th to the 8th at the NAC Studio.  THE SILICONE DIARIES from the 8th to 11th at Academic Hall.  And KISMET 1 TO 100 from the 5th to 10th at Academic Hall.  Phew!  They all sound spectacular, and it’s nice that we finally get some kind of theatre festival in June.  You know, when nothing ELSE is happening.

Back at the GCTC in the Studio, 3rd Wall’s EXIT THE KING continues until the 11th, and ya know that’ll be fantastic.    And at the Ottawa Little Theatre, their MESSIAH ON THE FRIGIDAIRE goes until the 11th as well.

Orpheus Musical theatre has their season finale, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS from the 3rd -12th.  Do you think Alvina will review this one?  Give it a minute…

At the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, Once Upon a Kingdom is staging THE LITTLE PRINCE from the 9th to 12th in the Natalie Stern Studio.  Also, the OSSD is having their annual awards show at the NAC Studio on the 13th.  Sadly, I have not been nominated for anything, but you should still go if you can.  Also, the folks from Ottawa Sketch Comedy are putting on THE LIVE SHOW at the Mayfair theatre the 7th-9th, which sounds like a blast.

What else?  Well, there’s WESTFEST from the 10th thru 12th…the 11th will feature spoken word performance from the Adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill, as well as Jess Ruano and many talented others.  Oh, and Bif Naked, but she sings her stuff, I think.  Plus the CANADA DANCE FESTIVAL from the 15th to 18th, if’n the dancin’s your thing. Ain’t naught wrong with that, folks.  In fact, there’s a little more of it courtesy of PROPELLER DANCE over at Shenkman on the 16th and 17th too!

And, I think that’s about it.  I’m off for a wee bit of a break, some downtime, you dig?  Someone will gimme me a shout if there’s anything I missed, or…no, no, we’re good.  I’m done for the year anyhow.  *PHEW*  Glad I remembered to get this one last post taken care of.  Time for a nap now.  Peace, Love and Soul, Ottawa,

The Visitor (and Winston)