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

Alonzo King Lines Ballet making its début at the National Arts Centre

Reviewed by on    Arts News, Dance  


Corey Scott Gilbert and Meredith Webster in Scheherazade

Photo: RJ Muna

Making its NAC Debut, San Francisco’s acclaimed Alonzo King LINES Ballet performs Scheherazade and Resin at the National Arts Centre on May 4, 2013

OTTAWA, April 24, 2013 — Making its anticipated NAC debut, Alonzo King LINES Ballet presents a double-bill including an innovative reimagining of Scheherazade. Founder, Artistic Director and choreographer, Alonzo King fuses ancient Persian, Sanskrit, and Arabic stories with ballet filtered through a contemporary lens. In Resin, the company gloriously interprets rhythm and melody in a suite of solos, duets, and ensemble dances. 

Alonzo King LINES Ballet takes to the Southam Hall stage at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2013. The matinee was added due to popular demand.

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Big Mama. The Willie May Thornton Story: An experience to be cherished.

Reviewed by on    Musical Theatre, Professional Theatre  


Ninety minutes in the company of Canadian singing icon Jackie Richardson is an experience to be cherished. And her current show, Big Mama/The Willie Mae Thornton Story, offers a seamless procession of memorable high points. You come away from the National Arts Centre still mesmerized by her rendition of George Gershwin’s Summertime, so intense in its yearning, or exhilarated by the jaunty good humour of Hound Dog, a song that Elvis Presley was to claim as his own even though it had been preceded by an earlier groundbreaking recording by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, the fabled blues singer whom Richardson is celebrating in this memorable evening of entertainment.

Supported by Audrei-Kairen’s script and sustained by her own formidable stage authority, Richardson is able to transport us back into a culture of racism and violence, of artistic struggle and achievement against tremendous odds. She is not only telling the story of Willie Mae Thornton, she is also re-connecting us to the origins of the blues, which means the institution of slavery, while also awakening us to the ironies of an Elvis or Janis Joplin getting rich on the ill-paid creative labours of non-whites.

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Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story: a nuanced performance that captures the style, appearance, attitude, the music and punch of the American singer.

Reviewed by on    Musical Theatre, Professional Theatre  


Photo.  Tim Matheson

The most powerful moment of a powerful show is also one of its quietest moments. In the persona of the late blues/jazz singer Willie Mae Thornton, Jackie Richardson delivers a heartrending version of Summertime from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

In an instant, she changes the mood from the poignancy of this black anthem to upbeat to raucous as she tells the story of Big Mama Thornton’s hard-knocks life in a beautifully nuanced performance that captures the style, appearance, attitude and, most of all, the music and punch of the American singer.

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Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story. Jackie Richardson takes us into the realm of legend!!

Reviewed by on    Musical performance, Professional Theatre  


Photo: Tim Matheson

Jackie Richardson as Willie Mae Thornton

This show is several things! First it’s a fabulous blues concert with drums, keyboard, guitar and the wondrous  Jackie Richardson, an internationally acclaimed jazz, gospel and blues singer in her own right. The sounds, the musical accompaniment by the three excellent musicians that fuse with Richardson’s voice, backing up her performance as a singer will send you out into musical heaven because such a powerful concert of this calibre is rare in Ottawa

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Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story: Jackie Richardson connects physically with her Audience.

Reviewed by on    Musical performance, Professional Theatre  


Reviewed Friday, April 26 for the Ottawa Citizen

Photo:Tim Matheson

Jackie Richardson on stage.

There’s never any doubt in this blockbuster of a show about the late American blues dynamo Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton that the lady could handle herself. From slugging an abusive man when she was 14 to mopping the floor with another jerk when performing in a juke joint later in life, Thornton — played with conviction, grace and one mighty big voice by Canadian jazz icon Jackie Richardson — took guff from no one.

At the same time, she had great emotional generosity. That combination of taking no prisoners and a big heart, coupled with her instinctive artistic honesty, made Thornton that rare performer who connects almost physically with her audience……..

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Carte Blanche…dernière édition à l’Espace René-Provost

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre, Théâtre français  


Lissa Léger dans Ciseaux

Carte blanche, une suite de rencontres entre artistes et public qui se déroulent à l’Espace René-Provost. Les auteurs dramatiques nous livrent des extraits, des synthèses, des ébauches, ou des fragments d’une œuvre en cours de développement.

Un concept intéressant!

25-27 avril, 2013


Une création de Lisa L’Heureux, interprétation de Lissa Léger et Marie-`Ève Fontaine, mise en scène de Lisa L’Heureux avec l’appui de Catriona Leger.

Il s’agit d’un condensé d’une œuvre en voie de création. La forme raccourcie n’était pas trop réussie parce que l’absence des transitions brouillait les pistes mais la première scène entre les deux femmes a révélé une écriture qui repose sur une poésie urbaine d’une cruauté toute particulière. On a hâte de voir la suite de cette voix scénique émergeante…Nous avons aussi remarqué l’excellent travail des deux comédiennes

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Fool for Love: Un travail bouleversant!

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre, Théâtre français  

Posté le 26 avril, 2013 dans

Fool for Love  de  Sam Shepard, traduction de Michèle Magny, mise en scène de Kevin Orr.

Fool for Love   foolgetattachmentDans une chambre de motel minable, les  quinze spectateurs sont pris comme des rats voyeurs entre ces murs qui suintent le sexe, en compagnie de ces  deux personnages enfermés dans leur couple autodestructeur.  Le lieu choisi par la compagnie Les Cybèle est parfait:  ambiance crue, espace étouffant et bien adapté à cette rencontre entre deux êtres qui s’aiment et se détestent  avec une passion égale.
Il l’avait quitté pour une autre femme. May s’est enfuie  et  il l’a rattrapée: ils se retrouvent  maintenant dans cette chambre, après un long voyage à travers le désert, et les voilà en pleine fable western, où les bons et les méchants ne sont pas du genre évident et où la violence ne tarde  pas à se déclarer.

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The Farm Show: A Student production at the OTS that passes with flying colours

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Photo. Andrew Alexander

Minutes after the lights go down in the Ottawa Theatre School’s small studio theatre, a cow is milked on stage. Well, not literally, But our disbelief is put on hold as an enterprising bunch of graduate students assemble themselves into the essential shapes of the cow and its milker while also providing some appropriate moos as part of the background noise.

Given that seconds, before some of these same students have twisted themselves into the shapes of clucking chickens, you’re already getting solid evidence that anything is possible on a bare playing area whose occupants include nine impressively versatile young performers and a few simple props.

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Fool for Love: Animal lust and mysterious family ties illuminate this exciting performance in a Vanier Motel.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.   ,


Photo. Julie Laurin

The grungy, gritty, hyper-realistic combat of a doomed couple in a seedy motel room in Vanier is a must see! Even if you can’t understand French, read the play (it’s not long) or get a short summary on line, and get a ticket. It means 70 minutes of sitting on a chair facing that huge bed where Yves Turbide (Eddy ) explodes in rage and jealousy, where Nathaly Charrette (May) buries her head in her body and releases her torment as she is pulled between her violent attraction for Eddy and her hate for the man who abandoned her. It all plays out under the strange gaze of the mysterious father (Paul Rainville) who watches them as he plucks on his guitar. He appears to know them but he remains invisible until the past is revealed and he appears to drift into Eddy’s vision of the world as the past tells us of the “other” family Eddie discovered when he was young. Even this near mythical father figure from the past learns about the death of one of his wives, and as the truth about his links to the transgressive relationship between May and Eddie comes to light, we understand their feelings of being trapped like animals in their own uncontrollable instincts for the rest of their lives. Sam Shepard takes us into a Wild West cowboy world that is fraught with all the complexities of contemporary human relations.

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Come Blow Your Horn: An early play by Neil Simon that can still demonstrate charm and vitality

Reviewed by on    Community Theatre  

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Photo: Maria Vartanova

More than half a century has passed since Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn landed on Broadway and launched a remarkable writing career. Simon went on to write more substantial plays — among them, The Odd Couple, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Lost In Yonkers — but his 1961 debut piece still still can demonstrate a lot of charm and vitality.

One of the virtues of Sarah Hearn’s production for Ottawa Little Theatre is that she respects it as a character piece and not just as a vehicle for a succession of verbal gags and comic situations. Therefore, she looks for some solid contrast between Alan Baker, the feckless playboy brother struggling to escape his own family culture, and younger sibling Buddy who arrives, suitcase in hand, at Alan’s bachelor pad in the hope of experiencing a more hedonistic lifestyle. And she recognizes not just the comic potential of the generational conflict which erupts between them and their parents but also an underlying pathos.

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