Capital Critics' Circle
Le cercle des critiques de la capitale

Reviewing Theatre in Canada's Capital Region
La critique théâtrale de la région Ottawa-Gatineau

The Shadow Cutter- a suggestion of real-life drama that is never realized in this story of obsession

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  


A note in the program explaining that The Shadow Cutter is a fictionalized rendering of magician Dai Vernon’s life and that it is not authorized by his estate or biographers red flags the contents before the show begins.

But the suggestion of real-life drama or intrigue is never realized in this story of obsession. Episodic in nature, this world premiere, as directed and with dramaturgy by Brian Quirt, captures a few interesting moments and encounters — too few — but they do not build into a memorable drama.

The sketchy style of the script leaves a shadowy impression of an unappealing man who patched together a living by cutting out silhouettes, while chasing a pipedream of conquering an elusive card trick — the centre cut — and allowing his marriage and parenting responsibilities to collapse around him. So, while it becomes clear why the estate and biographers have dissociated themselves from The Shadow Cutter, the play does not provide a convincing picture of a whole man. Rather than a warts-and-all portrait, it seems to be little but warts.

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One Touch of Venus: Kurt Weil Developes a More Sentimental Touch

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

On Saturday night, March 8, I attended a production of Kurt Weill’s One Touch of Venus at the Boston Conservatory.  Before proceeding with this review, I should note that I taught at the Conservatory for many years.  Since I left, change has come to the institution in the form of new and renovated performance and classroom spaces, which were inaugurated in the 2010-2011 academic year. The mainstage facility has finally gained an orchestra pit; its proscenium stage was widened and deepened; and the ceiling raised, allowing for a rigging system.  Other improvements include a control booth, new lighting, and comfortable seating with excellent sight lines.  Conservatory musicals have always attracted a sizable public; now the shows and the students’ talents can be set off to better advantage. 

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Into the Woods gets a Decent Treatment by the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

As disquieting as it is funny, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods gets a decent treatment by the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society.

There are some real highlights in the not-so-happily-ever-after story that cobbles together bits of various Brothers Grimm fairy tales with a new, central plotline about a baker and his wife and their quest to have a child. Skye MacDiarmid as Cinderella and Shaun Toohey as the penurious baker are the vocal standouts: sung in two, widely separated pools of light, their big duet No One is Alone closes the show with a bang.

Nicole Milne lends a crusty touch to her role as the witch, and her Our Little World duet with her daughter Rapunzel (Julia Barry) blends poignancy and humour in haunting proportions. Orpheus newcomer Mackenzie Salhany makes a spunky Little Red Ridinghood.

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Orbo Novo: choreographer Sidi Larbi Charkaoui at the NAC.

Reviewed by on    Dance  

Choreographer Sidi Larbi Charkaoui has become the undisputed darling of the international dance circuit with his contemporary movements based on a highly dramatic and explosive forms of physical contortion that are extremely original. Of Moroccan and Flemish origin, he grew up in Belgium and studied with Anna Maria de Teersmaker all the while feeding off Hip hop, Modern jazz and a desire to express through dance the multicultural flow of human beings that is in the process of transforming Europe.  He has danced with les Ballet contemporains de la Belgique and has gone on to work as a choreographer for the Saddler’s Wells Ballet; He has also choreographed for the Ballet de Monte Carlo, the Royal Danish Ballet. Among his many works he created a startling study of corporeal defiance with 15 Shaolin Monks that was performed at the Avignon Festival before a stunned audience. Later we saw it at the National Arts Centre in the 2008-09 Season.

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