August, 2013

Spelling Bee at the 1000 Islands Playhouse is Fun and Funny

Reviewed by Connie Meng

Photo: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The Thousand Islands Playhouse, 2013. Photography by Mark Bergin                          spellingPutnam(12)

A very entertaining and fast moving production of the musical THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE has opened at the 1000 Islands Playhouse. With music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin, Rebecca Feldman and Jay Reiss, the format is that of an actual spelling bee with six young contestants plus four volunteer contestants from the audience. It’s the only show I’ve ever seen where using audience volunteers really works. There’s also a female organizer, the Vice Principal as the judge and Mitch, who’s working out his community service sentence by offering comfort to those eliminated.


The Drawer Boy. An OLT Production For The Top Drawer

Reviewed by Iris Winston


Photo by Maria Vartanova. Left to right: Brian Cana and Mike McSheffrey

The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey has been likened to John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. A one-set, small-cast show, set in 1972 rural Canada, it has won numerous awards as it expands on themes that explore the value of friendship, the line between fact and fiction and the part that the stage plays in uncovering the truth.

This quiet drama has been performed many times — and therein lies a problem. Not with the script itself, but with the fact that it has become somewhat stale after popping up so often since its premiere in 1999.


Arms and the Man : Massingham’s exciting and disconcerting production is a mixture of performance styles that shows something is changing in Strathcona Park!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Photo, courtesy of Odyssey Theatre.

George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man (first staged in 1894) is a parody of war, with certain character “types” you might find in the Commedia, while the title is taken from  the opening sentence of Virgil’s Aeneid, glorifying the heroic feats of war: I sing of arms and the man”. This decidedly mischievous Shavian spin on the Balkan Wars could justify director Andy Massingham’s attempt to locate this play in a tradition of masked popular theatre.

However, the challenge for a director is daunting because the situations are complex and the characters do not necessarily correspond to the types that one would expect from masked Commedia performance . Still, it turns out rather well, because Andy has the company thrusting ahead with a lot of energy and they get to the essence of this comedy by moving from silly histrionics, comic mime, to deep-seated and biting satire, spewing out what appears to be a contemporary take on current politics, on human foibles and war heroics that no longer have any place in our society.


The Ottawa Acting Company : New Theatre School in Ottawa

News from Capital Critics Circle


 THE ACTING  COMPANY  opens its doors

See their site :

Call: 613.744-5353

Information on instructors:


Located in the heart of Ottawa’s Glebe, our studios are housed in what was once the historic Avalon Theatre (one of Ottawa’s first movie theatres), recently renovated to showcase two distinct studio spaces. 

​ Our principal work space, the Avalon Studio , has dramatic 30ft. ceilings and a balcony which doubles as study space and Green Room. With its high ceilings, hard wood floors, lighting and sound capabilities, the Avalon makes for a perfect rental space for intimate events, workshops, and productions.

Past Reviews