Posts Tagged ‘shakespeare in the park’

The Comedy of Bears

In Theatre on July 9, 2013 at 4:01 pm

July means two things in Ottawa…intermittent rain, and Shakespeare in the Park!  Okay, and Bluesfest, but what am I, a dirty hippie?  Nay, I am in dire need of some proper cultural refinement this summer, and my first bit of theatre in the great outdoors was just the ticket.  I had a plan for my post-drudgery evening, but an emergency trip back to my place across town necessitated a change of scheduling.  So instead of catching the Company of Fools show in the Glebe (soon guys, soon!), it was off to Iona Park in Westboro to check out what relative newcomers Bear and Company had cooked up for their out-of-doors extravaganza.

The Bear gang has picked THE COMEDY OF ERRORS for the summertime fun, featuring many faces familiar to their fans, and directed by company member Anna Lewis.  Transplanting Zombie Bill’s farcical classic quite successfully into an old west setting, the action is set in the round, and we lucked out with great weather for the show.  We begin as the town Mayor (Will Somers) is bringing in a defeated looking old fella named Egeon (Tim Oberholzer, in one of several splendid characters guises) who has been sentenced to death for debt, or being a foreigner or something.  At any rate, he unfolds his tale of woe to the Mayor, explaining how he and his wife had just become parents to identical twins 33 years ago, and then immediately adopted ANOTHER pair of identical twins (don’t ask), only to lose track of one another in a shipwreck.  Egeon and his split set of twins, Antipholus (Michelle LeBlanc) and Dromio (David Benedict Brown) are now scouring the west looking for their other relations.  Unbeknownst to them, Shakespeare stacked the coincidence deck by having the other Antipholus (Michelle LeBlanc again) and other Dromio (David Whiteley) living comfortably in the very town they now all found themselves in.

Naturally, some identity-confused merriment ensues, as the visiting Antipholus runs afoul of the other Dromio, and gets unexpectedly wooed by his brother’s wife (Alexis Scott), even if he only has eyes for her sister (Rachel Eugster).  Along the way there’s some very hummable singing courtesy of Bear and Co’s ace musical director Rachel Eugster, lots of rope swinging and knock-down brawling, and even a proper Shakespearean farting contest (I mentioned the cultural refinement, right?). This is a terribly fun piece of theatre in the great outdoors, with as good an ensemble cast as you would ever need.  David Benedict Brown and David Whiteley as the twin Dromios are comic gold, ever beaten down and bemoaning their fates.  Alexis Scott got some spontaneous applause from the audience on my night while delivering one of Adriana’s more impassioned speeches towards the visiting Antipholus, and for my money she earned it…Rachel Eugster likewise made a vivacious Luciana. Will Somers, Anna Lewis and Leslie Cserepy (trading off the odd show with Brie Barker) round out the killer cast, pitching in as various nitwit sheriffs, washing women and uppity nuns.  But the bulk of the show rests on Michelle LeBlanc’s capable shoulders, and she delivers like nobody’s business, managing to convincingly play two versions of Antipholus (complete with ever-so-slightly different country accents and swagger) and deliver the requisite mountain of dialogue, baffling amount of exits and re-entrances, plus the occasional rope trick, and lookin’ good doing it.  Once again, Miz LeBlanc reminds us why she’s one of the best in Ottawa.

Just don't get her mad.

Just don’t get her mad.

As a big CALAMITY JANE fan, I was all looking forward to this western spin on Billy Shakes, and the gang did not disappoint. Bear and Company’s take on the Shakespeare in the Park gig is proving to be a very fun one, and I’d advise you to check their website for when their show moseys your way…personally, I have every intention of returning with my nieces when they hit Kanata and I’d love to see ya there.  Peace, love and soul, y’all,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in July ’13

In Theatre on July 3, 2013 at 8:23 am

Fringe is over, but Theatre marches on!  And happily, there’s still a good lot of stuffs going on in July to ease those post-courtyard separation anxieties:

NOISES OFF at the Ottawa Little Theatre.  Supposedly the funniest thing in the history of ever, the OLT’s 100th season barrels on with this comedy by Michael Frayn.  From the 2nd to the 20th.

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR from a Company of Fools. Torchlight Shakespeare enjoys its 10th anniversary with this lesser-seen bit of Billy Shakes with a killer cast, and directed by Catriona Leger!  Starts on the 2nd, check the Fools Website for a show in a park near you!

A COMEDY OF ERRORS from Bear and Company.  The new touring company in town is back with a western spin on the bard, directed by Anna Lewis.  Starts on the 4th, and the Bear and Co. website has all the goods on where they’ll be showing up next!

Victoria Grove in SAPPHO...IN 9 FRAGMENTS.  photo by Robert Piwko

Victoria Grove in SAPPHO…IN 9 FRAGMENTS. photo by Robert Piwko

SAPPHO…IN 9 FRAGMENTS at Arts Court Library, from Troupe de la Lune/10th Muse.  The Fringe smash is back for a short return engagement, and you do NOT want to miss this powerhouse performance from Victoria Grove in a play by Jane Griffiths and director Jessica Ruano.  The 4th to 6th only!

THE ST.LAWRENCE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL is back with another doozy of a double bill out Prescott way. Featuring HAMLET and the original comedy MAID FOR A MUSKET, as well as a bunch of extra programming peppered throughout the runs.  MAID kicks off on the 12th with HAMLET debuting on the 16th…check the SLSF website for all the details!

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

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

ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL at Arts Court Theatre!  Nancy Kenny’s one-woman wonder of a show is headed on cross-Canada tour, and she’s bringing it home to us for one night only to get ready.  July 13th at 7:30, advance tickets available HERE.

ARMS AND THE MAN in Strthcona Park, from Odyssey Theatre. Some Geroge Bernard Shaw, masque-style, for your parkbound entertainment pleasure!  Directed by the man Andy Massingham.  Starts on the 25th!

IDOMENEO at the Church of St.John the Evangelist, 154 Somerset West, from Boutique Opera.  A little class in your July, with some classic Opera on the 18th at 7pm!

The Gladstone Theatre’s ONE NIGHT ONLY SERIES continues after its June debut, running every Thursday thru Saturday this month with a variety of music and theatre each evening.  Full rundown at the website, but here are some of the Theatrical highlights for July:

SUMMER OF ‘34:REDUX from Backpack Theatre.  An expanded version of the play Jonah Allingham debuted at last year’s FRESH MEAT festival, this slice of Canadiana hits the Gladstone on the 4th, then moves to the Happy Goat Coffee Company for the 5th thru 7th!  Facebook event page HERE.

2 WOMEN IN A 1 WOMAN PLAY by Silvia Kindl and Rachelle Todd.  Double billed with SUMMER OF ‘34 on the 4th, and featuring Todd with Lina Vilskid!

HELVETICA BOLD’S HOSER BURLESQUE (a variety show tribute to Canadian content) on the 5th, and featuring a solid roster of local improv and burlesque talent!

THE LARAMIE PROJECT: TEN YEARS LATER from Red.Collective.  Following up on their presentation lst year of the stunning verbatim theatre piece, this follow-up shows us the divided town of Laramie a decade after Matthew Shephard.  Plays the 11th.

BUBKUS from Jesse Buck.  A one-man clown show from a man who knows how to clown.  Last seen in Ottawa as Puck in A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE.  Plays on the 12th, and double billed with Artbeat Theatre’s musical BARELY EVEN THERE, recently seen at the Ottawa Fringe Festival!!

NAAN BREAD by New Ottawa Repertory Theatre.  Doug Phillips’ tale of an immigrant-run convenience store in Ottawa, directed by Paul Dervis.  Plays on the 18th, double billed with FROM THE COMIC AND THE BIZARRE…TO THE ROMANTIC – ITALIAN STORIES AND FOLKTALES by Christina Kindl!

THE GODDESS from Moment-M, billed as an original 1950’s musical comedy!  On the 19th.

CRAZY by Hazel Hutton, double billed with JP Chartier’s 2020 from last year’s Fringe, on the 25th!

And July 26th CRUSH IMPROV hits the Gladstone for their ONE NIGHT STAND…and I’ll tell you what else they have going on this month as son as my computer lets me access their website again (it won’t right now, the darned thing).

All I’ve found so far for Theatre Francais is L’AMOUR A L’AGENDA from Theatre de L’Ile, which I’m sensing is a bit of a rom-com.  Starts July 3rd.  If there’s anything else going on, please, Franco-friends, let me know and I’ll pass it on!

Let me know what else is going on…I’m still a little Fringe-dazed and I know I’ve missed a tidbit or gem here and about.  Take care, and I’ll see you at the Theatre!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Kisses Sweeter Than Wine

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Holy blue freakin’ Hannah, I finally have regular computer access again!  After a trip out to one of them there big-style computer places, I’m the proud owner of a spanking new laptop, whom I have named Magnus (after the famous Robot Fighter, natcherly).  Now at this point, I’m well behind in reviewing stuff that I’ve seen, and some of it may indeed fall by the wayside.  It’s completely too late to write about Obviously A Theatre Company’s excellent A WALK WITH MR.MCGEE, which I caught on the second-last day of its extended run at the Bytown Museum.  Suffice it to say all of Ottawa should be watching to see what they do next.

What it is NOT too late to write about, is the latest offering from sort-of newbies Bear and Company, their touring production of Wm. Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT.  I say ‘sort of’ new, because the company is comprised of a host of seasoned actors, headed by Eleanor Crowder who recently evolved their way out of Salamander Shakespeare and struck out on their own.  I caught their action last week, my appetite having been solidly whetted with their Fringe production ‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE, which sold out its entire run.  And my apologies to the Bear gang for being so tardy with my review, but I promise it isn’t out of a lack of enthusiasm.  Seriously, there’s tons to enjoy in this Will Somers-directed bit of Shakespeariana.

Telling the tale of a pair of would-be lovers, individually exiled from their homelands, and updated stylistically to 50’s-era America (which lends itself to some pretty funky costumes), AYLI stars Zach Raynor as Orlando, the youngest son of a great lord, now put-upon by his domineering older brother Oliver (Leslie Cserepy).  After a spirited match with court wrestler Charles (Nicholas Amott, mugging it up but good), Orlando catches the eye of beautiful Rosalind (Anna Lewis, who also doubled as costume designer), who is about to be cast into exile by a vengeful duke (Eleanor Crowder herself, who digs into her villainy with glee).  With her sister (Dyna Ibrahim), and the court fool (Somers), Rosalind flees into the woods, disguising herself as a beatnik Fonzie to ease their passage (it makes sense when she explains it, trust me).  Things get complicated when Orlando shows up, and Rosalind decides to continue her pretense of masculinity.  Things get even MORE complicated when Orlando finds Rosalind’s Mother in the woods (Crowder again, playing the good mirror to her evil alter-ego the Duke).  Things then get their complicated-est when flighty farmgirl Phoebe (Danielle Savoie) falls head over heels for Rosalind (in her male disguise of Ganymede).  Never let it be said that Shakespeare didn’t like juggling a lot of balls at once.

The Bear & co. gang do a bag-up job of presenting this, one of the bard’s funner romps.  Anna Lewis is a positively shining Rosalind, giddy in her love and wholeheartedly engaging every time she graces the stage.  Likewise, Raynor’s Orlando is a stalwart and human hero, and especially shines in his scenes with his elderly servant Adam (a wonderful comic turn by Victor Pokinko).  Music fills thee air in this production, with a host of classic tunes performed by the cast (smooth Tim Oberholzer lives up to the legend his karaoke-mates have raved to me about, belting out several songs in a variety of roles). Mention must also be made of the wonderful Robin Guy as a roving member of Rosalind’s mothers band, and Danielle Savoie’s very hilarious scenes as the scene-stealing Phoebe.  Everyone in the cast is solid from beginning to end, and Somers’ direction serves the material extremely well.  This was a funny, lustrous AS YOU LIKE IT, and I expect most anyone who checks it out will like it just fine.  It still has a few days of park shows left, then ends up its run at Arts Court Theatre.  That’s it for me for now…still getting the hang of Magnus here.  But if you’re reading this, then I guess we’re off to a good start.  Peace, love and soul ,Ottawa,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in July 2012

In Theatre on July 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Well, Fringe is over, and post-Fringe depression is making us ALL question our reasons to go on, but there IS light growing on the horizon.   This of course can only mean more theatre is on the way, even if it isn’t of the five-shows-a-night variety.

ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL by Nancy Kenny.  If you really and truly need another hit of Fringe, look no further, as Ottawa fav’rit Famous Actress returns for a one-night remount of her Rideau Award winning show on July 2nd at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama before she takes it on the road.  Space is limited, and tickets are going fast, so strap on your skates and get going!  (Above photo credit: Richard Gilmore!)

HENRY V by William Shakespeare and A Company of Fools.  Kicking off Ottawa’s Theatre in the Park season, the Fools are back with a girl-centric retelling of Billy Shakes’ epic tale of love and war, starring Margo MacDonald herself as Henry. Absolutely unmissable, folks.  Starts on the 2nd at Strathcona park and travels from there…check their website for a location near you!

AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare and Bear & Co. Joining in the Park fun, the crew responsible for the completely sold-out Fringe run of ‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE are back with one of Billy’s lighter romps, directed by good guy Will Somers.  Kicking off on the 4th at Billings Estate and wandering from there…again, check the website for deets.

THE GAME OF LOVE AND CHANCE by Pierre de Marivaux and Odyssey Theatre.  The grandaddy of Ottawa theatre under the stars, Odyssey’s latest kicks off at their home in Strathcona Park on July 26th.  Directed by Andy Massingham, so you know it’s gonna be amazing.

ST.LAWRENCE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL presents OTHELLO and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.  If you’re up for a wee road Trip, Prescott is ready for ya with this double-bill of goodness.  I’m still working out the logistics of a visit myself…if you’re planning a drive out, I may just want to chip in for gas and join you.

A WALK WITH Mr.MCGEE by Talish Zafar and Obviously, a Theatre Company.  A very cool new bit of Canadiana, hosted in the supercool new theatre venue of the Bytown Museum, down by the locks.  I can’t wait.

BOEING, BOEING by/par Marc Camoletti and/et Theatre de L’Ile.  Starting on July 4th over Gatineau way, I’m determined to make my first trip to L’Ile for this fun-sounding production, weak French skills be damned.

SHORT SKIRT BUTCH by Lee-Ann Poole.  One night only on July 5th at Venus Envy, this show comes highly recommended from Al at Blunderrated, among may others. I hope to see you there!

BLACK COFFEE by Agatha Christie and Ottawa Little Theatre.  July 17th to the 28th, OLT presents this Hercule Poirot whodunnit for your summerly entertainments, and this is a good thing.

STITCHES IN TIME by John Hardie and Theatre Wakefield.  Starting July 25th in Ottawa-Gatineau’s ‘Piggyback’ home of Wakefield, at the Maison Fairbairn House Museum, and playing Wednesdays thru Sundays for two straight weeks.  A local production with roots almost literally at the venue where it’s being staged (out of doors, so bring a chair if you please).  2 shows a day, at 2 and 4 pm!

I could have sworn there was some cool dance happenings (and after HETEROLLECTUAL and MACSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM I am now obsessed with awesome dance happenings) , but I’ll have to track that info down again, if it existed at all.  Oh, and there’s also This Thing, which you probably already have a ticket for.  Fuckin’ Broadway.

Also, on July 7th at SAW Gallery, Red. Collective is having their season launch fundraiser, and everything about is sounds fucking amazing.  I’m very excited to hear what this mob of rabble-rousing theatre gangsters has planned next…so I’ll see you there, ya?

And hey Toronto!  I’m going to move Heaven and Earth to make a short but sweet pilgrimmage to the TORONTO FRINGE FESTIVAL sometime during your run, so be ready for that!  Jem Rolls, Zack Adams, Kirsten Rasmussen and Morro & Jasp are ALL on my must-see list!

So that’ s what I’m doing this month.  What about you?
Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)


In Company of Fools on July 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I’m not actually that big a fan of the outdoors.   There’s no air-conditioning, bugs everywhere, and that giant ball of fire in the sky is constantly trying to cook you, or give you cancer, or whatever it does (ESPECIALLY in summertime!  And you can’t even keep your eye on it, or it’ll blind you! Fuckin’ sun).

But every now and then, there comes along a reason good enough to lurk cautiously out of my Visitorium and into the harsh light of fresh air, and that now and then is now, friends, because it’s Theatre in the Park season here in O-town.  Actually, it has been for a few weeks now, but as I’ve mentioned in the last few posts, I’m slacking off something awful these days.  But I did my level best to cut that shit out last nite when I ventured into the wilds of Centrepointe Park, risking life and limb and a possible ant bite or two to check out A Company of Fools and their annual Torchlight Shakespeare show.  Last year it was the dee-liteful MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, which I adored, so expectations were high and happy for this year’s entry, ANTONY & CLEOPATRA.

It looked solid as solid could be from the outside…Richard Gelinas and Catriona Leger starred as the titular lovestruck power couple, with the other roles being filled as need arose by Katie Bunting, Cari Lesli, Geoff McBride and Stewart Matthews.  And once the show got underway, well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the fools don’t fool around with their Shakespeare (HAVE I said that before?  Maybe not…not bad tho, eh?).  Well, all right, they DO fool around with it, quite a bit actually.  But that’s kind of the point of a Fools show, turning the potentially dry and stodgy Shakespearean productions of yore and making them something that literally the whole family can squeal with delight to.  There were a pair of red-nosed little girls seated next to me on the grass during the performance who couldn’t have been more into it if they’d been on stage (which I’m sure they wanted to be).

The story itself, based on real events (much in the same way, no doubt, that your average episode of Xena is rooted in historical accuracy ), tells of the manliest of men, Marc Antony, who has abandoned his duties to make time with foxy Queen Cleopatra down Egypt-way, and who could blame him?  Until he gets word summoning him back to Rome (dead wife, impending war and other pesky nonsense), where he has to marry Caeser’s sister to placate the Roman ruler, which irks Cleo to no end, ant then there’s that WAR, and then, well, things start to get complicated.

Gelinas does his usual smashing job as Antony, and is especially good at jibing with the audience during the performance.  And Cat Leger goes from Beer Tent Goddess to just regular old Goddess (Cleopatra is pretty much close  enough to a deity, in history’s babe-loving hindsight), vamping and camping it up with a wicked gleam in her eye all the while.  The others, as said, switch between a variety of roles, but some fav’rits of mine are:  Cari Lesli as the dread(-locked) pirate Pompey, rocking a toy xylophone like you only wish you could; Geoff McBride racing from one unlucky messenger to the next (and as a mush-mouthed Snake salesman); Stewart Matthews’ shrill Caesar, ever striving for the upper hand against Antony; and Katie Bunting as the perpetually sneering Agrippa, stalking around the stage like she’d love nothing better than to kick ALL our asses, just because they’re there.

It’s a fantastic and fun show, with all the attendant risks that come with performing an outdoor show with plenty of kids about (which is even MORE of the fun).  Director David Whitely done good…love the inclusion of the ancient Roman Can-o-Phone into the proceedings.  The show continues into August at a park near-ish you, with a pass-the-hat donation system footing the bill.  It’s as good a time in a park as you’re gonna have, folks, so get going already.  Unless you’re some kinda fool…the bad kind, not the good kind.

Peace, love and soul, Fools,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Foolish Dreams

In Company of Fools, Theatre on July 23, 2010 at 1:44 am

I almost didn’t go out tonight.  SO close to just giving in to a case of grumpiness, sitting at home, watching my brand-new box set of SUPER ROBOT RED BARON…

…but somehow, I managed to rouse myself from this obviously wicked cool temptation and bike my lazy ass out to…where was it?  Right, Clare Gardens Park, somewhere in the wilderness of westboro.  Yes, it was finally time to get my fool on!  Specifically, A Company of Fools summertime production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by Bill something-or-other, which has been doing the rounds of area parks for a few weeks now.  I’ve been neglecting them, and I’m sorry.

Though it certainly seemed like they hadn’t been missing me, as the park was right packed by the time 7 o’clock rolled around tonite.  I was apparently the only genuine fool in the audience, ie: I was the only one not packing a chair, and had to settle for leaning back on some freshly returfed hillock, like a proper bophemian boy oughtta.  Don’t tell me I’M not keeping it real.  I also forgot to bring any bug spray, but it proved unnecessary.  Enough folks in my immediate vicinity were spraying the stuff on themseves in half-can shots at a time that insect life nearby stood little chance.  I’m not sure just what these people were expecting, really.

But enough of the unwashed masses, of which I was most definitely one, it was showtime!  The lights went down, the curtains rose…ok, none of that happened.  I had new rules to learn for an outdoor performance, but anyways, the show began.  A small sectional stage and a tent for quick changes (of which there were plenty) were the set, a cavalcade of colourful costumes from Sarah Waghorn, and six fools were all we had for ninety minutes.  Okay, sorry…ninety AWESOME minutes.  I was more familiar with the fellas in this production than the ladies (Oh, for shame,Visitor, for shame) and it was great seeing David Whiteley doing something besides clawing the eyes out of the local theatre scene in THE BEER TENT Fringe series.  And he was a delight.  Quick, funny as all get-out…well, that describes the whole company, really.  Everyone partook of multiple roles in Shakespeare’s most fairy-filled comedy, and probably as perfect a fodder for an outdoor summer performance as you could hope for.  Richard Gelinas was on fuckin’ fire throughout the show (which is maybe why they kept dousing him with cold water..?), deftly bantering with the audience on occasion, which given the amount of children in attendance was no mean feat.   

But as I say everyone…Gelinas, Whitely, Brad Long, Stephanie Iszak, Katie Ryerson and Cari Leslie, they ALL shone, no weak spots in the bunch.  Al Connors, also with Crush Improv, directed the merry heck out of this play, giving it just the right amounts of sexy and funny, adding a few modern touches along with the classic and the fantastical.  Maybe not enough of the fantastical for the two little monsters I got stuck next to for half the play, who kept moaning aloud about ‘when they donkey-man was gonna show up!’  But, hey, unwashed masses, right?  This is how it was DONE, son, in Bill Shakes’ day, and the Fools are keeping the tradition alive right here in O-town. 

Now as I said, I’m a little late to the Fools’ game this year, so there’s only 9 performances left.  But on the other hand, THERE ARE STILL 9 PERFORMANCES LEFT.  Go see one!  Click that link up there, see where it’s playing (Hintonburg’s Reid Park tomorrow night!) and get out for some great entertainment.  It’s a pay-what-you-can deal, the company is suggesting ten dollars a person, but would it kill you to kick in a few bucks more?  I think not.   Get a tee-shirt while you’re at it, be the coolest kid on your block.  Fool it up a little.

Thanks for shooing away my mean reds, Fools.  Have a killer run, and I’ll see you next year,

The Visitor