As is my way, I had a very busy calendar this weekend. I had my sister in town from Toronto, a Theatre Alberta Board Meeting, Rehearsals and TWO SHOWS to see! It all worked out well for me as I had it all carefully scheduled, but I must say, the shows offset the busy because they were a delightful release of laughter!
On Saturday Night, my sister and I had a fabulous dinner at Normand's Bistro in the Citadel before catching the first Preview of Spamalot. The dinner was wonderful and a nice prelude to the show. I had seen the show a few years back when it came through with Broadway Across Canada and the cool thing is that the Citadel Production was clearly it's own interpretation as I could not really remember much about the other production. So, it is worth it to see this production if you were hesitating. The choices are their own, but they still give proper homage to the Monty Python aesthetic. This is the show for the Monty Python fan or fanatic. I think you'd also enjoy it if you weren't really up on the genre, but it is doubly entertaining for those who are in on the jokes. There are a few jokes that don't quite sell because the show was written specifically for Broadway, but this is not the fault of the production. The transplanting means some Broadway in-jokes are lost on all but musical theatre fanatics. There aren't that many of those references and overall it's still terrifically funny.
My sister and I had a great time laughing at the show and we were both very impressed by Laura Krewski's outstanding choreography. It's sharp and clever and in top form and thoroughly entertaining. In terms of the cast, they work best as a an ensemble. There were solid performances from John Ullyat as Lancelot and Julian Arnold as Sir Robin and we both loved the long locked and oh-so-handsome Kevin Aichele as Sir Galahad. I particularly liked Cliff Saunders as the dutiful and over-looked Patsy. The show stealer for both of us, however, was Farren Timoteo as the Not Dead Yet and Prince Herbert. I had never seen Timoteo in a musical before and he lights up the stage every time he's on. His dancing and singing is outstanding and he hits every comic moment perfectly.
It was the first preview so I think that they do have a few tweaks to be made before opening. Some of the actors need to relax a bit as they come off stiff in comparison to the others and some fine tuning of the mics needs to happen. It was the first preview so I am sure that they will get that all sorted out and they will all fell more comfortable as they run it more and more. Even with these few small challenges the show is great fun and I cannot see anyone not enjoying it. It is the kind of show that you leave happy and singing...
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT... (see what I did there?)
On Sunday afternoon, I checked out Rabid Marmot's All The Devils, a new drag/horror show by Zachary Parsons-Lozinski and Jenna Greig playing at Azimuth Theatre. I wasn't sure what to expect, because it's that kind of show. It was irreverent, campy, totally out there and hysterical (particularly if you have a very twisted sense of humour - which I do). Parsons-Lozinski is someone who will do anything onstage. He has a good sense of showmanship, but in terms of taboo subjects, I do not believe those exist for him. It makes for an adventure. Now, this show is not for everyone, and it is the kind of show that you either love or hate, but I had a blast. It's fascinating to watch Lozinski-Parsons as Lilith Fair, bad actress on the downward slide holed up in an apparently haunted and remote cabin. This is not your typical drag queen - she is a veritable mess at the beginning and it's all downhill from there. It's rude and raunchy and made me wish I knew a little bit more about H.P. Lovecraft for the horror aspects. I knew enough to keep up so that's alright. Now, this is new work and the script probably needs a bit of tightening. There are some very well-executed lip-syncs that could afford to be shorter and which probably would work better in a bigger theatre and the script overall could be tighter, but all in all, I was entertained. If you appreciate irreverence and shows that cross the line (multiple times), this is the show for you.