We are full throttle into the Ottawa Theatre season with Performances at Ottawa Little Theatre, Kanata Theatre, Central Square and of course the N.A.C. with the GCTC season just around the corner. I chose to attend Mothers & Daughters Friday evening. It is the world premiere of a new musical penned by S. Oscar Martin with music and lyrics by Jeff Rogers, Rich Rankin, Eric MacIntyre, Andy Ladouceur, Zach Martin and S. Oscar Martin.
There was a palpable buzz at the Gladstone as the near full house arrived to take their seats in preparation for the start of the show. That in part, was likely due to Steve Martin a.k.a. S. Oscar Martin’s popularity and his contribution to the theatre community in Ottawa and in particular to the Gladstone Theatre as a producer and a performer. It is also a formidable achievement to write a play while experiencing the personal pain of a devastating loss and Martin wrestled with that as he had to deal with the recent passing of his son.
The first impression of course as you sit down is the Emily Granzotta Martin’s wonderful set tastefully decorated by Melanie Martin which thankfully looks like a real lived in home. The furnishings and the layout tell you about the meticulous nature of the owners. There are entrances left, right and centre. There is also a long staircase stage left, with an automatic stair lift device to help “Nana” negotiate her comical entrances.
The premise of the story has great potential. It takes place in the family home at the 50th birthday of a mother who has had difficulty with her relationship with her mother, daughter, sister and husband. There will clearly be tensions as Janet cleans and prepares with little help from anyone else for her own milestone celebration.
There is considerable talent on the stage. They all have fine voices and they sing with heart. In fact I enjoyed a lot of the songs but the cardboard caricatures of people irritated me. I found the set ups for the gags predictable and mundane. The conflicts between the mothers and daughters are not explored. They seemingly exist to set up jokes and to lead into songs that are in fact better than the play itself. My feminist friends would no doubt have difficulty with the out dated stereotypical portrayal of women and feminism in this play.
The play wraps up in a nice tidy bow. Everything resolves because a happy ending is needed, so cue the facade of understanding and have everyone hug and go to the final happy song. The robust partisan crowd gave a wild ovation and the word of mouth will probably ensure a profitable run but I am left unsatisfied.
book by S. Oscar Martin music and lyrics by Jeff Rogers, Rich Rankin, Eric MacIntyre, Andy Ladouceur, Zach Martin and S. Oscar Martin
Director Maureen Welch
Musical Director Jeff Rogers
Choreographer Steve Martin
Set Designer Emily Granzotto Martin
Set Decorater Melanie Martin
Lighting Designer Franco Pang
Costume Designer Maureen welch
Properties Bekah Fay
Master Carpenter Tim Welch
Janet Jaqui Cadieux
Charlene Irish O’Brien
Florence Barbara Seabright-Moore
Jessica Alyssa Blasak
Angel Shareno Campo
Norman Steve Martin
Dave/Piano Jeff Rogers
Guitar Zach Martin
Drums Jamie Holmes and Darian Moghaddam