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Posts Tagged ‘richard gelinas’

Undercurrents 2015 Part 2: Much Ado about Feckin’ Punch-Ups

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm

Pardon the somewhat lateness of this one, real life does intrude like the violent pest that it is. But this post starts on the day of Valentine, the Patron Saint of lovers and the Antagonist Saint of Whiny, Lonely Losers…I won’t say which camp I belong to, but let’s just say it’s the second one and distracting myself with sweet and funky theatre seemed like the right thing t do (it almost always is, really). So it was off to Arts Court for my second visit to Undercurrents 2015, and more rollicking theatrical action.

Feckin Pirates (cred Pascal Huot)

A pair of Feckin’ Pirates (Pic by Pascal Huot)

First up that night was a return trip to the high seas as an Ottawa fav’rit show got itself back onto the stage. After a successful slot in the Gladstone’s season lineup last year, Parry Riposte’s MUCH ADO ABOUT FECKIN’ PIRATES was ready to make its assault on Undercurrents. Pairing Ottawa Theatre royalty Margo MacDonald (back in Undercurrents after helping kick it off years ago with the great SHADOWS) and Richard Gelinas as two squabbling pirates, bound and confined to the crow’s nest for fighting over the fate of a parrot, the show (directed by AL Connors) takes a very unique approach to its storytelling. Following a structure, and yet also mainly improvised based on suggestions the audience votes on ahead of time, Margo and Richard are practically immobile for 95% of the show, relying solely on their improvisational wits and fake pirate accents to keep the audience rapt with attention. Thankfully, watching these two bicker and snipe and make up nonsense about prates is something I could watch for hours on end. They even managed to seamlessly weave tentacle porn into the show I caught, so clearly I can die fulfilled anytime now, I don’t know about you. All I do know is that you’d be a right knave if you missed your chance to see these two ridiculously gifted comedians do what they do best…argue like pirates. They should bring this show back EVERY year.

An intermission then, during which I happily caught another performance of Trevor Copp’s wordless physical theatre show AIR, and I greatly benefitted from a repeat viewing (oh, he was making a FIRE! Got it, Stag Hunter, got it) no to mention catching a new short piece, FLIGHT, that he hadn’t performed when I first caught his show. Very brilliant and inspiring.

Soon after it was back into the Theatre for Theatre Brouhaha’s much-acclaimed PUNCH-UP by writer/director Kat Sandler. Starring Caitlin Driscoll, Colin Munch and Tim Walker in a King of Comedy-esque misadventure of hilarious proportions. Lonely schlub Duncan (Walker) falls head over heels for ‘the saddest girl in the world’ (Driscoll), and makes a bet that he can make her laugh…and if he can’t, the consequences are dire indeed. To help him on his bizarre quest, he kidnaps down-on-his-luck comedian Pat (Munch) to teach him how to be funny. We quickly learn, however, that Duncan is completely unable to understand even the most basic rudiments of comedy, and the simple desire to make someone laugh becomes an epic, Herculean task, and might just get a few people killed.

broupu

This show deserves all the hype its gotten and a few barrels more…Kat Sandler is clearly a mad genius, and she’s assembled a perfect cast for one of the funniest shows you’ll ever see. Improv mainstay Colin Munch is viciously funny as the glowering, bitter Pat, paired magnificently with Tim Walker’s inhumanly inept Duncan, who only seems to be able to make people stop laughing at him when he’s actually trying to make them do just that. And Caitlin Driscoll’s tragic Brenda is the walking, talking example of one of the points about comedy Pat tries to explain to Duncan…the sadder her life gets, the more we in the audience can’t help but laugh. Maybe we’re all just awful people, but we’re awful and laughing, so I’ll take it. As I write this there’s only one more showing of PUNCH-UP in Undercurrents, and whatever you have to do to make it out to that show, DO THAT THING.  This is dark and funny at its darkly funniest.  Rather perfect for Valentine’s Day, really…

I’ll be back at Undercurrents on Wednesday myself, to catch two more new shows (and maybe taste some beer from them Dominion City folk in between)…hope to see some of you folk there. Get on out and support the brightest spot in a cold, cold February! Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Two Pints of Bitter

In Theatre on January 21, 2015 at 8:28 am

Starting off with an apology…I was slated to see Jim Cartwright’s TWO at the Gladstone Theatre this past Saturday night, but thought I’d be a clever little specimen and catch the absolute last possible bus to make it to the show on time. And then some even MORE clever fellow decided to have some sort of medical infarction/episode/whatever on said bus, necessitating the arrival of a half-dozen emergency personnel, a few police, and absolutely no chance of me making it to the show on time. Way to go, human frailty. You win AGAIN.

Slow clap, mortal weakness.  Slow clap.

Slow clap, mortal weakness. Slow clap.

But I would not deterred, by cracky, so once Tuesday rolled around I tried again and this time successfully managed the task of catching a city bus, making it to the Gladstone in plenty of time. The show, as mentioned, was TWO from 100 Monkeys Productions and directed by the man himself, John P.Kelly. Set in a typical English pub over the course of a single evening, the show stars two of Ottawa’s greatest, Richard Gelinas and Michelle LeBlanc. They appear as both the husband and wife landlords who anchor the whole story, as well as a flurry of guests, from belligerent rageaholics to tired old ladies and gents enjoying their one spot of joy in a dreary day. Through it all we witness the simmering rage between the pair behind the pumps, and slowly but surely the reasons behind it all comes out. Nothing like a night at the pub too spill some secrets, after all.

Michelle LeBlanc and Richard Gelinas in TWO (pic by Lois Siegel)

Michelle LeBlanc and Richard Gelinas in TWO (pic by Lois Siegel)

Cartwright, who writes dialogue so eerily real at times I’d be tempted to believe this show was a verbatim piece, pens some marvellous characters and scenes in this show, which LeBlanc and Gelinas dig into with wild abandon. The first act is highlighted by a wonderful and hilarious courting dance between a would-be lothario and his meek but wily galpal. Act two hits some graver notes, starting out with a scene of an abusive husband that will set your teeth to grating in its quiet but all-too-honest brutality. Happily, it gets balanced later on with a beautifully serene moment of two goofy old retirees visiting the pub just to watch some telly.

Two

TWO is hysterical at times, and painfully sad as well, and thanks to masterful work from Richard and Michelle it never rings false. Intimate in nature, I strongly advise the bolder among you to take advantage of John Kelly’s sneakily brilliant staging to grab a table on the stage itself, turning the audience into the pub patrons (and yes, you can bring your actual drinks onto the stage with you…how authentic is that??). I’ll leave it to more well-travelled folk than myself to say if all the myriad of local accents at play in the show were spot-on or not, but they sounded good to me. I could have watched another hour or two of these two actors delivering this caliber of work with a smashing director at the helm, and wouldn’t mind at all coming back for another night out.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

Ottawa FRINGE-COMA 2014 – WUNDERJAMMER

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 26, 2014 at 8:48 am

Still trucking along at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, and managing to keep up. I’m somewhere in the 20’s as far as show viewings go, which is respectable I feel. But there’s always room for one more, and having just come from a pretty dark drama, it was time to lighten things up with some laffs. And I had a pretty good idea where the best place was to go an find me some of those.

Off to Academic Hall, then, for Punchbag Playhouse’s WUNDERJAMMER, a brand new sketch comedy show written by Richard Hemphill, who also penned last years ultra-mega-boffo hit DIE ZOMBIE DIE. Dragging that show’s director Stewart Matthews kicking and screaming along, they’ve assembled the ace comedy squad of Richard Gelinas, Victoria Luloff, Jordan Hancey and Allison Harris to knock about the stage as 60 characters in 20 odd back-to-back sketches. Featuring bits ranging from the very silly (ask Mr.Science!) to the very, very silly (Flatulent Cat Farm!), this is clearly a show with something for everyone. Well, everyone who thinks farting cats are funny. That’s everyone, right?

wj2

Matthews eye for physical theatre is put to excellent effect here, and this whole wacky show runs like a well-lubed machine, from the imaginative opening glow-in-the-dark sequence through every goofy moment to follow. The cast is brilliant, and have multiple standout moments. From Jordan Hancey’s first skit as an increasingly flustered shopkeep, he gets effortless laughs with just some perfectly timed glares. Richard Gelinas as a grumpy flower pretty much made my year. Alli Harris is a clowning comic goldmine, delightfully hamming it up as a dubious scientist, oddball duchess, and once operating in seamless tandem with Victoria Luloff as little girls unwisely interrupting a Monster at work. Luloff scores huge as a brilliantly dim supermodel (of the world!), working to eradicate children’s literability, in a sketch that highlights Hemphill’s clever comedic wordsmithery, something at work throughout. This is smartly silly and very hilarious show, and I was grinning like a little kid on his first trip to Bunny Town the whole time. See it and make with the laughing, already. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

Blood, Rum and Diddling

In Theatre on March 15, 2014 at 8:11 pm

This is a show that’s both a delight and an impossibility to review.  One I’ve been looking forward to ever since it was announced, as of course have all well-informed citizens of good taste.  I was sorry as Heck to miss opening night of this show, but how could I legitimately resist a one-night only show of actors reading anonymously donated but true masturbation stories, called JERK IT?  On a side note, nice job with the evening, May Can Theatre, ya done good.

But that’s another post, that never happened!  This one is all about the long-awaited MUCH ADO ABOUT FECKIN’ PIRATES, taking place at the Gladstone Theatre courtesy of Parry Riposte Productions, aka Richard Gelinas and Margo MacDonald.  Richard and Margo, two of THE best actors in this city hands down, have been working on this piece of pirate performance for several years now, along with their collaborator/director AL Connors.  It’s wonderful that they’ve finally managed to bring their work, which originally begun as some back-and-forth pirate banter backstage at a Company of Fools show, to the stage, and we lucky viewers, at last.

Feckin Pirates (cred Pascal Huot)

Richard Gelinas and Margo MacDonald…two feckin’ pirates if ever I saw one. (Photo by Pascal Huot)

It’s a shockingly simple setup as a story goes…two pirates (Gelinas and MacDonald, natch) are tightly bound and consigned to the crow’s nest of their ship as punishment for fighting.  Some dispute involving a parrot. Is at the heart of it, and blood may be spilt…later on.  First, though, they’re both immobile and bored and in need of something to talk about o pass the time.  That’s where the audience comes in…they get the chance to vote, before the show and hopefully while enjoying a rum shot or two, on which topics our pirate duo will converse.  A wide array of topics are provided so that no two shows will ever be the same (although I’d bet several pieces of eight that ‘diddling’ will somehow always make it into the conversation).  And yes, as is implied, the bulk of the dialogue in this show is improvised, a spontaneously devised ongoing pirate-themed argument between two people I am now declaring to be the grandmasters of Pirate Improv.  Which is where the ‘impossible to review’ comes in..after all, rather tricky to review a show that necessarily changes every night, although there IS a structure, and a plan, at the heart of FECKIN’ PIRATES, and Margo and Richard never lose sight of the goal even while they’re threatening to crack one another up with drinking songs, reminiscences of Fake Ireland and her many bogs, and oddly hilarious tales of murder and diddling (there’s quite a lot of that last bit).

But the impossible is, of course my business, so review this show I will.  It’s amazing!  There, see how easy impossible things are when you try?  But for serious, this is such a pitch-perfect showcase for two incredible theatrical talents that to miss it should be at least a misdemeanor offence.  Forget the crow’s nest, if you pass on this wonderful experience it’s the plank for ya! Personally, I hope to make it out for a second tour with the Pirates…if ever a show had replay value, this is it.   Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor, aka Bloody Squiffy (and Winston)

Gladstone 2013/2014 – Launched!

In Theatre on May 27, 2013 at 8:38 am

Wow, the blog has been sleepy these days.  And it’s certainly not from lack of theatre…in the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen the amazing WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT by Nassim Soleimanpur three times (with actors Margo MacDonald, Kate Smith and Richard Gelinas), but I’d decided early on not to publicly review it, as it rather defies traditional review.  Not that my professional counterparts didn’t give it a go, but that’s just my personal call.  And if you missed it, you missed OUT.  Huge thanks to AL Connors and a Company of Fools for bringing this magical masterpiece to Ottawa.

But I gotta justify this paid domain name SOMEhow, so what else is there to talk about..?  Why, the newly announced 2013/2014 season at the Gladstone Theatre, natcherly!  The multifaceted gang that comprises the Gladstone collective have provided a pretty wide and varied mixed bag of shows for the new season, with 8 ‘main’ shows, and no fewer than 4 ‘extra’ shows, and it doesn’t stop there.  More theatre is good theatre, I always say, so let’s take a look at wat they’ve got in store from us!

PRIVATE LIVES by Noel Coward, September 20 to October 12.  From Plosive Productions and director Craig Walker.  Calling it ‘the second wittiest play in the English Language’ (after PEER GYNT, obviously), Plosive gets the new season underway with Boss Coward’s comedy of the manners.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE HANSOM CAB KILLER by Chris Bange, October 16-26.  From Black Sheep Theatre and director Dave Dawson.  A Fringe hit for Bange (last seen in Ottawa at 2012’s Fringe with THE FAT GUY SHOW), I’m very excited to catch this one.  And who doesn’t love Sherlock Holmes these days?

ETHAN CLAYMORE by Norm Foster, December 6-22.  From Same Day Theatre. Same Day returns after a great debut at the Gladstone with IN THE NEXT ROOM, with a slice of Foster for the Christmas Season.

DETROIT by Lisa D’Amour, January 17-February 1.  From Plosive Productions and director Chris Ralph.  A Canadian premiere of the Obie-award winning new play about economic uncertainty in urban America.  Sounds mighty cool.

AGE OF AROUSAL by Linda Griffiths, February 7-22.  From Bear and Company.  Sexiness 80’s style (1880’s, that is) from the prolific Linda Griffiths, as we go undercover at a school for secretaries.  Here’s hoping we don’t have an all-male cast for THIS one.

Underbelly_poster

UNDERBELLY by Jayson McDonald, February 26-March 8.  From Black Sheep Theatre and director Jeff Culbert.  Jayson Mac’s stunning one-manner returns from last year’s Black Box Series, and if you were dumb enough to miss it then, here’s your chance to smarten up!  A pretty incredible theatrical achievement.

MY BRILLIANT DIVORCE by Geraldine Aron, April 25-Ma 16.  From SevenThirty Productions and director John P.Kelly.  Phew, I was starting to WONDER when John P was gonna show up on this list!  And a one-woman show to boot?  Be still my heart!

“ART” by Yasmina Reza, May 23-June 8.   From Same Day Theatre.  Rounding out the main season, Same Day is back with a little something from GOD OF CARNAGE authour Reza about the nature of art, friendship, and all that jazz.

…But wait, there’s MORE!

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by HG Wells, adapted by Orson Welles, October 30-November 2.  From Plosive Productions and director Teri Loretto-Valentik.  The radio play returns, but takes a sharp turn to HalloweenTown, which delights me to pieces.  The classic collision of Welles and Wells gets brought to the stage and I canna wait.

HAL AND FALSTAFF by William Shakespeare, adapted by Margo MacDonald, September 3-7. From A Company of Fools and director Margo MacDonald.  The follow up to the Fools’ Torchlight Shakespeare Summer show, this mashup of all the best Henry and Falstaff bits by Margo Mac comes indoors for what is sure to be an unmissable run.

hedwig
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, April 3-5.  From Vanity Project Productions.  An amazing underground musical sensation comes to the Gladstone, courtesy of the increasingly multitalented Smooth Tim Oberholzer.  Ottawa, I want to see you PACK THESE HOUSES.

MUCH ADO ABOUT FECKIN’ PIRATES! By Richard Gelinas and Margo MacDonald, March 13-29.  From Parry Riposte Productions.  Gelinas and Margo as wacky pirates, with AL Connors thrown in the mix?  There is no lose here.

And did you still want more?  Because the Phoenix Players are back again with a pair for their new season, including Shiri Hendryx’ THE LAST OF JANE AUSTEN (November 7-16) and THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK by F.Goodrich and A.Hackett (April 10-18).  Comedy and Tragedy, both masks get covered. So take your pick or catch’em both!

A pretty exhaustive and impressive lineup…tho I’ll admit it’s a lot of the ‘extra’ programming that excites me the most.  Mind you, DETROIT sounds ultracool, and I’m always thrilled to see Jayson McDonald and Chris Bange back (but will people pay full Gladstone prices for a Fringe show, awesome as they are..?).  Nevertheless, I’ll be there for every damn show you’d better believe, and am once again glad to see the Gladstone thriving and surviving (and more collective than ever)!  Catch you next season, gang, it should be a sweet ride.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

PS Don’t forget the Gladstone’s ONE NIGHT ONLY SERIES, going on every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night between June 20 and August 24!  Full show listing now available HERE! Make sure not to miss my man Jonah Allingham and SUMMER OF ‘34, plus so much more goodness that deserves another post all on it’s own!  Hmmmm…

Rowan, King of Fools

In Company of Fools, Theatre on January 6, 2013 at 10:59 am

New Year!  And that means new seasons to announce, and that means new sovereigns to crown (yes it does, don’t argue), and that definitely means it’s time for the Company of Fools annual TWELFTH NIGHT CELEBRATION fundraiser show at the NAC 4th Stage.  This is my third year attending, and it was a blast the first two times.  If anything, it was even Blastier this year.  Here’s how it went down…

I actually bought my ticket in advance this year, instead of my previously established policy of just sort of stumbling upon one at the last minute (nice trick, but I’m no Nancy Kenny and I didn’t want to push my luck about getting in to sold-out events).  Spent the day doing some much needed laundry, stuffing myself with a little homemade bolognese, then heading out to the show, where the head Fools (Scott Florence and AL Connors) would be mastering the ceremony, and announcing the Fools’ upcoming season for 2013.  I spent a little frantic time hunting around for decent seat for my lonesome self before I was dutifully rescued by the lovely Kelly Rigole (soon to become the first actor to appear in TWO separate shows at the UNDERCURRENTS festival, FYI) to the stageside table she’d secured, along with supahstar Dave Benedict Brown of 411 Dramaturgy (soon to knock Ottawa out yet again with HIP HOP SHAKESPEARE, also at Undercurrents).  I was mightily thankful for the accommodations, as we listened to the pre-show musical stylings of Mi Casa Theatre’s Nick DiGaetano on the gee-tar.  Very nice, as always.

The show proper began as Scott and AL  took to the stage to a) encourage us to buy AS MANY RAFFLE TICKETS AS POSSIBLE, and b) introduce the spiffy cast who would take the stage a moment later to perform a not-even-a-little-bit rehearsed staged reading of TWELFTH NIGHT.  Alongside themselves, they were joined by Geoff McBride, Catriona Leger, Margo MacDonald, Chris Ralph, Simon Bradshaw, Melanie Karin and Richard Gelinas, a seriously talent-heavy who’s who of Ottawa Theatre that would be hard-pressed NOT to entertain an audience.  The show was a hit as expected…major props to Geoff McBride for managing so much scene-stealing on  a stage that packed with incredible performers.  Also, fine legwork from Gelinas.  Many laffs were had, and the audience was primed and ready for the second half and the announcement of the Fools’ 24th season.

fools-logo-small

First off, of course, is the Fools annual SWEETS AND SONNETS DELIVERY, wherein you can hire your very own Fool to deliver a Shakespeare sonnet to your loved one, in person, on Valentine’s Day (OR Mother’s Day this year!).  Tell your sweetheart how much they mean to you by embarrassing them at their place of work!  To accompany this announcement, it was time for the annual crowning of the new King or Queen of Fools!  With last years departing Queen in attendance, the torch was passed to Rowan, who proved a generous monarch indeed when he appointed his Mother (Fools alum Virginia West, last seen inn HENRY V) to receive an onstage sonnet from AL Connors himself.  Hail Rowan, wisely may he rule!

Next up was announcement of the OTTAWA THEATRE CHALLENGE in honour of World Theatre Day on March 27.  We were treated to a performance of last years winning piece by Melanie Karin, which I’ll just call LIP SMACKERS in lieu of actually knowing the title.  Good stuff!  The multi-company battle (with 48 hour prep time to keep things interesting) will happen again this year at the 4th Stage, for the coveted Rubber Chicken Award!

The next proclamation was an exciting one indeed, a the Fools make their first venture into non-Shakespearean territory.  From May 7th to 25th, Ottawa will be witness to Nassim Soleimanpour’s hit show WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT at Arts Court library.  A play like no other from the sounds of it, the show will feature a different lead actor EVERY NIGHT, for a total of 18 performers over the run…and none of them get to see the script until the moment they get on stage!!  I’m so stoked for this  I can’t tell ya…apparently the show killed at Summerworks and Edinburgh Fringe, and I’m already making plans to see it at LEAST twice.  And the ticket price?  Well, you might be delighted to hear that the Fools, fools that they are, have made the official decision to take their pass-the-hat, pay-what-you-can pricing model from their outdoor shows, and apply it to their INDOOR shows as well.  So yeah, no excuses for missing this one, Ottawa.

And the big show of the year, the touring TORCHLIGHT SHAKESPEARE park show that will be celebrating its tenth (give or take) year this year?  The Fools have tapped directorial juggernaut Catriona Leger, who will take the reins of THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR from July 3rd to August 17th at parks across the region.  A short excerpt from Billy Shakes’ goofy comedy was performed to our giddy amusement, and Catriona’s excitement about the show was pretty infectious.  Oh, and opening day, July 3rd?  That will also, by proclamation of the Mayor, be pronounced officially as COMPANY OF FOOLS DAY in Ottawa.  Yeah, I think our little Fools are starting to make people notice them.  Good news.

An Andrew Alexander pic of last year's amazing Torchlight Shakespeare show, HENRY V.

An Andrew Alexander pic of last year’s amazing Torchlight Shakespeare show, HENRY V.

But wait, there’s more!!  A second Shakespeare joint (call it TORCHLIGHT TOO) will follow WIVES up in September, this one directed by the Queen herself, Margo MacDonald.  Her show, appearing indoors at three different theatres in town, is HAL AND FALSTAFF, an adaptation featuring all the good Falstaff bits from HENRY IV I & II, and a little bit of HENRY V.  I think it’ll probably be along the lines of Orson Welles’ classic CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT…but probably with more foam swords.  Both shows will star the Fools’ new acting company:  Chris Ralph (who will play Falstaff in both shows, too), Simon Bradshaw, John Doucet, Melanie Karin, Geoff McBride, and Katie Ryerson.  A sweeter lineup you’d have to be a fool to hope for.

I’d call the night a great success…fun was had, great shows were announced, the Company reached their fundraising goal and then some, and I even won some swag in the raffle!  This swag might be turned into contest-fodder on this blog in the next week or so, so stay tuned!  And start planning your summer now, gang…it’s a great year to be a Fool in Ottawa.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor

The Dogs of War

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Decided to slack off a bit this week after all, and only see five shows instead of six.  Apologies all around, especially to the good folks at Tale Wagging Theatre, whose CRACKERS I ended up missing.  I just couldn’t talk myself into that kid-packed 95 bus ride back from Orleans on a Friday night.  Brrr.  Feel free to remount any old time (that doesn’t require time, planning or money, right..?).

But Bloggery blogs on, and I had a ticket booked for show #4 of the week last night.  And, when I finally managed to rather painfully extricate myself from the drudgery (note to every cook ever: if you’re slow on prep, I HATE you today), I hopped on the 95 (there’s no escaping it!) and headed on over to Centrepointe Theatre.  This was opening week for the second ever Ottawa Shakespeare Company production, and a long delayed one at that, JULIUS CAESER.  There was some serious buzz about this particular production heading in…it sounded like director and company co-founder Charles McFarland was pulling out all the stops to make this an evening to remember.  And in the end, it’s hard to argue with that.

Eugene Clark’s Caeser takes command.

You may have heard that the ticketing for this production is split into two groups each night…audience, or ‘participant’.  The participants are taken aside before the show  and coached in their roles, mostly consisting of being part of several raucous mob scenes, including the one that kicks the play off.  They later get to watch the stage action from the sidelines, or the balconies overlooking the staging area.  It’s a fun idea, and the gang looked like they were having a blast being part of the show.  It certainly added a pretty unique kind of energy to the proceedings.

The show itself, Billy Shakes’ epic about regicide and its down side (regicide is, like, TOTALLY frowned upon in some places), gets the usual McFarland update, visually setting it in modern times with lots of flair.  Gemini winner Eugene Clark headlines as Caeser himself, coming off nicely larger than life, a rockstar Caeser who rules by sheer force of charm and will.  At his side are loyal Mark Antony (Brad Long, who’s having quite the Shakespearean year after A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM and MACBETH), and slightly not-so-loyal Brutus (Mac Fyfe, a pretty impressive force on stage his own self).  Brutus is led into conspiracy against Caeser by the envious Cassius (Michael Mancini, very earnest in his scheming and lots of fun), along with a host of other plotters.  The bloody coup backfires against Brutus and Cassius, who find themselves at odds with Antony and Octavius Caeser (Diego Arvelo, who has great presence on the stage…glad to see him back up there).  Along for the ride are Casca, played by the ever-wonderful Richard Gelinas, David Dacosta as Cinna, Stavros Sakiadis as Titinius, Spencer Robson as Decius Brutus (Two Brutuses? Really, Shakespeare,  that’s just lazy), and yay, Jonah Allingham as the soothsayer!  Katie Bunting and Sarah McVie are in there as well, as the wives of Brutus and Caeser respectively, and have all too little stage time.  Shakespeare wrote great plays, but not a lot of great roles for women.  Maybe I’ll cast them in the all-female version of HAMLET I have running around in my head these days…

JC is a highly entertaining and energetic production, faithful to the themes of the classic work but adding in just enough updated tweaks to make it feel fresh.  Some of the high-tech effects are VERY impressive,  and I suspect we haven’t seen the last of them in Ottawa.  Kudos to Stage Manager Becca Wiseman for calling this tech-heavy show so smoothly (and sitting in the back row of the balcony as I was, I could occasionally even hear them talking in the both…kind of funny).  Nods as well to Paddy Mann’s costume design, and a typically amazing AL Connors soundscape.

But right, the acting!  There was that too!  And can I just say that good old Brad Long is on a roll these days?  His Mark Antony was seriously impressive…he gives a mean ‘Cry Havoc’ speech, lemme tell ya.  Likewise Mac Fyfe’s idealistic Brutus, who has great interplay with Mancini’s Cassius.  The whole ensemble, many doing double duty as minor characters, deliver excellent work throughout.  And, of course, the eager crowd of participants, proving that Ottawa audiences aren’t always content to just sit and watch.  The show, running until November 3rd at Centrepointe Studio, is only 10 bucks for the first 100 people every night!  If you have an excuse not to see this show, I don’t believe you.  Hail Caeser!  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

a Pocket full’a Stones

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2012 at 12:07 am

Tomorrow night I’m going to the Opera with one of the most beautiful women in the city.  Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would type in a non-fictional milieu.  But I’m actually not making it up and, as such, can only assume that tomorrow night I’ll be living someone ELSE’S life.  So I had better get cracking and write this, one of my first biggie show reviews of the spanking new 2012-13 Theatre season, before Cinderella time chimes and I turn into this suave, opera-going motherfucker I seem destined to become.

Happily, there was no suave-ing on my part tonight…tonight, I was ALL BUSINESS, folks.  Did my day of drudgery (where I’m now finally the dad-blasted kitchen manager, no big), hustled home to Winston for some Pho with dumplings, a quick Podcast-pimping post, and away I went.  Off by the magic of busses to the Gladstone Theatre, for their triumphant return to a full season of programming after a couple of shorter mini-seasons.  Tonight’s premiere was courtesy of 730 Productions, and is part one of what I assume is a fairly unprecedented 2-month double-header of shows, at two different theatres, by two different theatre COMPANIES, from playwright Marie Jones and director John P.Kelly.  I know…awesome, right?  Late next month it’ll be FLY ME TO THE MOON at the GCTC, but tonight it was STONES IN HIS POCKETS at the Gladstone.

The show, set in Ireland on a big budget film set, follows Jake Quinn (Richard Gelinas) and Charlie Conlon (Zach Counsil) who are working as extras for the big production.  The pair become friends, hopeful actor Jake meshing nicely with would-be writer Charlie.  The action start off with some amiable fish-out-of-water adventures, as Jake and Charlie interact with the gruff director, Hollywood crew, and sexy diva starlet, not to mention Jake’s myriad relatives on and off set.  Quite a cast of characters come and go through the scenes, each last one played by Counsil or Gelinas.  And you’d be mightily hard-pressed, I say, to find more talented or wunnerful lads for the job.

Coming off their team-up as the entire supporting cast of THE 39 STEPS last season, Ottawa’s own Dynamic Duo have upped the ante for this one.  The laughs are plenty, and they’re loud, amidst a constant chorus of giggles that I pretty much never stopped hearing from a clearly delighted audience.  If you don’t laugh when Zach Counsil, as the sultry Caroline Giovanni, tries to seduce Jake, you might as well just give up on having fun right now, because you don’t know how to do it.  And when the show takes a dark turn halfway through, it sets the stage for a seriously strong second act.  Richard and Zach are two of the best actors in this town, and they prove it a hundred times over in STONES.

Andrew Alexander Photography for the win!

This is balls-out fun theatre, folks, from seriously talented mooks.  I’ll leave it to the audience to decide how well the lads do with their myriad of Irish accents (tho the Irish Ambassador was in attendance tonight, and loved it, so take that into account), and I’m also curious to know if anyone else thinks Richard Gelinas’ flamboyant assistant director character isn’t just him doing a Stewart Matthews impression.

It was a great night out, and it was good to see many familiar faces back at the ‘Stone, including Kate Smith, Smooth Tim Oberholzer, Will Somers, the ICB…everyone! Glad to be back at the Gladstone, and especially glad it was such a jolly joyful show as this.  Peace, love and slainte,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Gladstone Theatre 2012-2013…LAUNCHED!

In Theatre on May 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm

How annoyed am I with the Gladstone Theatre?  Why, lemme tells ya!  I’d been hearing rumblings and rumours about their upcoming season launch for about a month or so now…I was all psyched up and ready to get the invite for the launch event, head on out, rub elbows with the hoi polloi, and best of all…FREE FOOD!  Ah, I could hardly wait.

But then..!  They figured it out, the terrible secret!  It turns out you can just e-mail that business out to the exact same effect, and then you are no longer obliged to feed do-nothing mooches like me!  Oh, woe…guess I have to go grocery shopping this week AFTER all.

But, but…I wanted crudites!

But there ends my whining,because that e-mail was some of the best news I’ve received in a good long while.  Not only is the Gladstone back next season, this time with a FULL yearlong schedule, but there are now four participating companies on the roster, and the show list is, quite frankly, to die for.  After a couple of shorter seasons, the Gladstone gang seems ready and raring to knock this next one out of the park.  Check it out:

STONES IN HIS POCKETS by Mary Jones, from Seven Thirty Productions.  Directed by 730 kingpin John P.Kelly, and featuring the dynamic duo of Richard Gelinas and Zach Counsil, this Irish play kicks off the new season on September 7th.

HOW IT WORKS by Daniel MacIvor, from Plosive Productions.  Directed by Stewart Matthews, there’s really never anything wrong with more Danny Mac in the lineup.  And I’ve even read this one!  October 5-20.

NOVEMBER by David Mamet, from Seven Thirty.  After Plosive’s raucous take on SPEED-THE-PLOW , John P. steps up to take his own crack at the Mamet, and I can’t wait.  November 21st to December 8th.

MIRACLE ON 34th STREET: THE RADIO PLAY, adapted by Teri Loretto-Valentik and John Cook from the book by Valentine Davies, from Plosive.  Radio Gladstone is back again, with this take on the Xmas classic from director Nicole Milne.  Features some family-friendly matinees on weekends!  December 14-23.

OH yes… (but no, not really, it’s been cancelled. Sorry!)

DOCTOR HORRIBLE, based on Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog by Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon, music by Joss Whedon and Jed Whedon.  Directed by Dave Dawson for Black Sheep Theatre (a gang that know their way around a musical), this just rocketed to the top of everyone’s must-see list for 2013.  Have a friend who claims they’re ‘not into theatre’?  THIS is the show to drag them too and prove’em wrong.  January 16-Feb 2.

*UPDATE* …But not really!  Tragic and long-needed update, there will be no DOCTOR HORRIBLE show in the Gladstone’s season.  Some mukkity-muk about rights and all that, boo.  It has been replaced in the roster with BAT BOY THE MUSICAL, which Katie Hood tells me is a bag full of awesome in its own right, so there.  How dare you argue with KAtie Hood??  I’ll moider ya!

BILLY BISHOP GOES TO WAR by John Gray with Eric Peterson, from Plosive.  From director extraordinaire Teri Loretto-Valentik, and starring the inimitable Chris Ralph in multiple roles, this Canuck classic is gonna be a gooder.  February 8-23.

ABSURD PERSON SINGULAR by Alan Ayckbourn, from Seven Thirty.   John P. again, with this comedy from the writer whose play HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES opened the Gladstone theatre a few years back.  March 5-23.

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW by Wm.Shakespeare, from Bear and Company.  Eleanor Crowder’s ubiquitous new company makes its Gladstone debut with one of Billy Shakes’ killer comedies to close out the season.  Crowder knows her Shakespeare, and I suspect this show will prove that all over again.   April 19-May 4.

All that, PLUS we can expect other announcements along the way, from companies like Phoenix Players, and maybe more.  The Gladstone is carving out a very special niche for itself in the Ottawa Theatre scene, and I couldn’t be giddier about it.  Can’t wait for the new season…and while I’m at it, congrats on an amazing season just wrapping up now, with DEATH AND THE MAIDEN.  More power to you, Gladstone, and I look forward to many exciting years to come.

But seriously, snacks next time, okay?  I’m starving over here.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and WInston)

the Ballad of Cyrano

In Theatre on February 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm

It has been a grim couple of days over here at the Visitorium, kids.  Hits are way down, I have MAJOR pancake troubles looming, and for the last few days the only thing keeping me alive (possibly literally) is old comic books.  So it was nice to be able to give comix a break from justifying my existence and letting theatre do the job, with tonight’s much-anticipated premiere of Plosive Productions‘ new rendition of CYRANO DE BERGERAC, courtesy of Director/translator David Whiteley.

Taking place on an arcing, multi-level poetry-bedecked set from designer Nancy Solman (who also handled the flippin’ gorgeous costumes for the show), Edmond Rostand’s classic tells the comic-tragic tale of Hercule Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, a savage swordsman in the King’s guard of 17th century France possessed of a flair for verse, passion for life, and an enormous god-damned nose.  Cyrano (played with perfectly heroic gusto by the amazing Richard Gelinas, in a defining performance) has only one weak spot, and that’s his hidden, unrequited love for his beautiful cousin Roxane, played by the luminous Elise Gauthier (who is MUCH shorter without the stilts).  And before you start kvetching, don’t worry…it was France in the 17th century, it was TOTALLY cool to crush on your cousin, I’m sure.  It’s all good, so let’s move on, right?

Right.  After a few scrapes and tussles to get the audiences blood pumping (including a wicked cool rhymed-verse swordfight with the boasting dandy Valvert ; Smooth Tim Oberholzer in a smashing villainous turn), Cyrano gets the bad news…his beloved Roxane is enamoured of a fair-faced dope in his brigade, newly arrived Christian (Warren Bain, hitting great comedic notes) who has the ‘hair of a hero’.  Okay, so Roxane is coming off a little shallow here, but she DOES insist that Christian must have the wit to back up his looks, or it’s off.  So Cyrano does what he must, and lends his razor-wit and heartfelt longing to Christian, to help him woo the woman they both love.  It culminates at the halfway point in the famous balcony scene (that for my money puts the one in ROMEO AND JULIET to shame), when Cyrano puts it all on the line, pouring his heart out to Roxane in a scene that is guaranteed to make all but he hardest of hearts swoon.   It’s a showstopper, where both Gelinas and Gauthier really bring the characters to another level (Gauthier’s performance  is HEARTBREAKING), and I happily admit I’m madly in love with their rendition of that scene.  It’s worth the price of admission by itself.

Of course, there’s more than just our star-crossed lovers to gawk at…Stewart Matthews excels as Cyrano’s put-upon best pal Le Bret, literally throwing himself into the role at times.  Scott Humphrey has a dandy few scenes as the visiting D’artagnan, 4th Musketeer and all that, and the rest of the supporting cast is an amazing grocery list of scene-stealers: Katie Bunting, Garret Quirk, Chris Ralph, Robin  Guy, Zach Counsil, Tim Oberholzer and Chris McCleod (who also doubled as the fight choreographer, and did a bloody amazing job of it, too).

Whiteley’s newly rhymed translation works, and at many times was so subtle as to be almost invisible to the ear (when it wasn’t, it never got too distracting,  and more often than not was a great boon to the goings-on).  I was hoping for a LITTLE more from the sound and lights, especially during the key ‘Siege of Arras’ scene, but the cool cats onstage more than made up for any imagined shortcomings I may have been dreaming up.  The whole thing is a rousing, raucous joy, and it’s honestly hard not to smile during the bulk of the action (except, you know, for the sad bits).  Plosive’s CYRANO does indeed have Panache, kids…lyrical, fun, feisty, swashbuckling, all that good stuff.    And now that I’m in between theatre outings, I have to dash.  Comic books to read and all that.  Peace, love, soul and panache,

The Visitor (and Winston)

PS: Props to Zach Counsil, not only for nearly cracking up the entire cast with a single line, but for his work on Cyrano’s nose.  Man, that’s an ugly honker.  Nicely done.