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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Marathon - Three Days/Three Plays!

May is a great month for theatre in Edmonton!  The only challenge is getting to everything.  There's simply so much on the docket!

Thursday I started my theatre binge with Kill Your Television's production of The Crackwalker by Judith Thompson.  There are some shows I go to to just have fun and there are some shows I go to for a challenge. This was definitely one of those that challenged me.  The Crackwalker is a dark gritty piece about people on the fringes of society - the outcasts, the working poor, the uneducated, the addicted, the discarded.  It's a harsh look at a world that few of us even come close to seeing.  I'd read the play several years ago and even on the page it's a challenge. It's one of those pieces that is like watching a train wreck... you know that things are bad and going to get worse and all you can do is sit and watch and see it unfold before you.  The inevitability of it is frightening. This is a script, however, that answers no questions and provides no comfort.  That is hard to take and as I sought a message to take away I found I couldn't find one that made me particularly happy. 

On Friday night, I forgot I was old, and went to the Booty Call (11:30 p.m.) presentation of Contractions presented by Northern Light Theatre. It was a very interesting piece about corporate culture delivered with a fascinating contrast by Linda Grass and Nimet Kanji. Grass is delightfully robotic and Nimet as puzzled and disturbed as we are by the situation. The chemistry between the two women was excellent.  It felt very relevant as our culture is very focused on success in work and the idea of balance of personal life with work life.  At what length will you go to succeed professionally and what how much does your work value you as a person?  Very fascinating. I did wish that I had chosen to go to an earlier performance as I learned that staying up late is no longer something I do particularly well.  I wish I could, but truth be told, I had to stop seeing late shows at the Fringe a few years ago because I discovered I just couldn't do it.

Saturday I had a much more cheery outing with the Mayfield Dinner Theatre's presentation of Hairspray.  It was so much fun!  We saw Hairspray a few years ago when it toured through, and although I enjoyed it at the time, I preferred this one.  This production, directed by Tracey Flye, was engaging and fast-paced and had an intimacy that was really fresh.  The whole show is well sung with snappy dances and a sense of fun that bubbles up.  There were several outstanding performances that I want to mention: Stephanie Pitsiladis as Tracy Turnblad anchors the piece with powerhouse vocals and acting chops to match.  Though tiny, she is never small onstage.  Melanie Piatocha as Tracy's best friend Penny is also a delight.  She is terrifically funny and having seen her before in ingenue roles I was blown away by her comedic skills. Her romantic counterpart Seaweed, played by J. Cameron Barnett, is also a treat.  His voice is chocolaty smooth and his approach to Seaweed is sharp and fresh.  He owns it and the already high energy show jumps up whenever he's onstage. And I must give props to Aurianna Angelique as Motormouth Maybelle.  Her performance of I Know Where I've Been (along with the ensemble) literally brought tears to my eyes.  All in all the show was terrific.   It's a sure-fire fun night with a show that has some pretty important messaging about acceptance, but which never lectures!

The first two shows are now closed so you unfortunately can't catch them, however, Hairspray runs until June 15th so you can still make that one.

* I forgot to mention that I was lucky enough to attend all three with the lovely Catherine.  Truly a great theatre companion.  Mark also joined us for Hairspray and we had the pleasure of Trevor's company for The Crackwalker.  It is so wonderful to be able to share these theatre experiences with great people!

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