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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

So Much Seen and Heard... No Time to Write...

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind!  Between shows and rehearsals I have been hard-pressed to write.  Some of the things I saw are done, so sadly you cannot still see them, but some are still running so make the time, if they interest you!

In Reverse Order!

Most recently I saw The Last Five Years, the first show in Theatre Network's season and in their new space. L5Y is one of my favourite musicals and I have also directed it before so it was very cool to see it staged by someone else in a very different way.  Jeremy Baumung (Jamie) and Patricia Zentilli (Cathy) are lovely singers and well-suited to their roles in this show which is a series of monologues about a relationship.  His is told from beginning to end and hers from end to beginning, all set the beautiful music of Jason Robert Brown. Director Bradley Moss staged the show in an alley which was interesting and helped take me out of comparing it too much to my own production. For fans of this show, you won't be disappointed and for newcomers, I think it's an excellent introduction to the piece. I would recommend sitting on one side or the other instead of the middle as we found the mics a bit high being right under the speakers, but those who were on the ends of the rows said they found the sound really good.

Last Thursday, I saw Opening Night of Evangeline at the Citadel (full disclosure - I work there). It was a fantastic evening! The show has being fabulously received by audiences and critics alike. I alsoreally enjoyed it.  I teared up quite a few times as the show took us through the 40 year long journey of Evangeline, Gabriel and the rest of the Acadian people who were ejected from Canada by the British. Josée Boudreau as the title character is a powerhouse vocal performer.  Her voice is both strong and gorgeous and she sings Ted Dykstra's music like she was born to do so.  When she and Jay Davis (Gabriel) sing together it is electric. I am going back to see it again this next weekend and taking the family.  Evangeline runs until November 22nd at the Citadel. Just a head's up - ticket sales have been incredible.  This is one to buy early rather than risk buying later. You do not want to be disappointed.

I also took in Shadow Theatre's The Best Brothers by Daniel MacIvor at the Backstage Theatre. I'm an uber MacIvor fan and hadn't seen or read this show before and this was a great way to be introduced to it.  As two brothers dealing with the death of their mother, Andrew MacDonald-Smith (Kyle) and Garrett Ross (Hamilton) are wonderful contrasts on the stage. It's a comedy that deals deftly with grief and the complicated and varied relationships that children have with their parents. There's also a third, furry sibling, who complicates things between the brothers. It's a really nice piece, well-presented and well-acted. I think if you are a dog person it might be even more. The Best Brothers runs until November 15th.

I caught the cabaret performance of Ted Dykstra and Friends in The Club at the Citadel as part of the Beyond the Stage Series a few weeks back.  It was a thrilling night of music. That space is so terrific and it was hard to believe that we were sitting there so close to the caliber of performers that were up on the stage.  It was a terrific preview of what we'd be seeing later in Evangeline. It was all terrific but Brent Carver blew me away.  He is similarly amazing in Evangeline as Father Felician, but up close in The Club was so incredible. This was a two night only performance, but you can check out other Beyond the Stage events for the rest of the season.  There are some great shows coming.

I had never been to Dead Centre of Town before, although I heard a lot about it.  I wasn't really sure what it was. I think I thought it was just a haunted house, but this was actually quite a bit different.  It was in Fort Edmonton Park this year and it was an interesting immersive theatre experience. This was a good thing for me, because I was a little stressed about going as I don't do scary well.  But the presentation was more macabre than jump-out-at-you scary and I could handle that better.  There were terrific special effects and lighting and they used the old fort really well in their tour.  It also opened my eyes to the fact that there is  heck of a lot happening at Fort Edmonton Park for Halloween that I had known nothing about.  We're hoping to go back next year and bring the boys!

Edmonton Opera's The Merry Widow was also on my list of things I've seen.  It was delightful and beautiful both aurally and visually. Lots of cool cinematic references that the old move buff in me really appreciated and none of it felt pasted on. I loved the throw-back to Marilyn Monroe from Diamonds are A Girl's Best Friend (the younger peeps will think Madonna in Material Girl), and the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers moments. The music was also wonderful. I do have to say, Jason Hardwick practically steals the third act. He was absolutely hilarious every time he was onstage! The use of humour was so engaging and the pace did not lag.  I had so much fun. See, opera doesn't have to be so serious!  It can be a lot of fun too!

Well, that was the last couple of weeks.  In between shows I have been in rehearsal for Wind in Her Sails. I have really enjoyed working on this project and with so many new people. It's also for such a good cause and it is great to make art that is also doing something more beyond telling the story. Whether it makes people more aware of MSA or raises more money for research, I'm glad to have been a part of the project for that reason alone. We open tomorrow and we've had a great couple of days adding the lights, sound and costumes to the mix. I'm hoping to see you all out for that!  It runs November 12-21st in the PCL Theatre.

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