This week I took in the 2 Citadel Young Company productions. On Tuesday, I went to the Dress Rehearsal of The Inspector General. The Inspector General is an adaptation by Michael Chemers of the Nikolai Gogol play. It was directed by Dave Horak and featured the 13 members of the 2013/14 Young Acting Company. It was so much irreverent fun. Set in the fictional town of Edmoronto it was chock full of topical references to Canadian political corruption. It tells the tale of an incredibly corrupt town run by idiots and crooks, who hear that an Inspector is coming to check them out. They mistakenly identify a visitor as the Inspector and much bribery, flirtation, and other deals ensue to try to secure his good report. The cast embraced the ridiculous and played this full-tilt. Eric Smith, as the Rod-Ford-like Mayor, seemed born to play his role. I was also very impressed with Niko Ouellette as the mistaken-for Inspector General. Ouellette has an incredible charisma that I can see serving him well onstage in the future. The other stand-out for me was Eva Foote, who had so many wonderful little subtle moments. However, the whole cast did a great job. They worked very well as an ensemble, not afraid to make the big choices and understanding that those were what the piece needed. It was nice to see a young group like this so tight onstage with no weak links.
Then, on Sunday evening, I took in Wonderful Town presented by the Young Musical Company with Direction by Bridget Ryan and Musical Direction by Sally Hunt. It was also very well done, but couldn't have been more different a show. Its origins fundamentally come from the collection of autobiographical short stories by Ruth McKenney published in The New Yorker three years following the incidents portrayed where she and her acting bound sister seek out success from their basement apartment of New York City's Greenwich Village. Set in the 1940s, it's songs by Leonard Bernstein are bright and chipper. There's a variety of styles and the cast play multiple characters that populate Greenwich Village. As the sisters, Eileen and Ruth, Sydney Williams and Zia Mizera are excellent. Williams channels Grable and Monroe as the younger wannabe actress that all the fellows fall for. Mizera is a born comic as the wise-cracking writer. Both have superb voices that seem so well suited to this 1950s musical. Again, the entire cast is tight and cohesive. It's hard to pull out any one in particular because I had so many favorites. Adam Houston is fabulous as the Irish Cop and the awkward Walgreen Manager; I found myself looking forward to the Skiddely-Bops of Bryce Stewart's nightclub owner, Valenti; Michelle Diaz is a fire-cracker as the landlord/painter Appopolous; and Roland Meseck as romantic lead, Robert Baker, has a baritone that recalls Sinatra. I look forward to hearing him sing onstage in the future. All in all, a Wonderful Time!
Photo Credit: EPIC Photography