December, 2016

Kinky Boots, entertaining musical theatre.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo. Courtesy of the NAC.

Kinky Boots, Book by Harvey Fierstein Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell

Think watered-down versions of Billy Elliott, mixed with slices of Les Cages aux Folles and Torch Song Trilogy and you have the theme of Kinky Boots, book by Harvey Fierstein, music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper.

Never a drag, though somewhat simplistic in its call for tolerance, the award-winning musical is based on the 2005 movie of the same name. Claimed to be a true story, it tells of two sons who did not want to follow in their fathers’ footsteps.

Charlie, the son of a shoe factory owner in Northampton, and Simon, the son of a prize fighter from Clacton, tried to escape their small-town destinies, but when their paths cross, they walk down a new road together, creating kinky boots for cross dressers and drag queens.

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TEN – A New Exhibition at the CUBE! Works by 10 of our finest visual artsits/

News from Capital Critics Circle

Coming to the  Cube gallery. Tuesday January 3rd, 2017 to Sunday January 29th, 2017

Vernissage:

Sun Jan 8th, 2017 — 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

TEN Talented Artists at CUBE
Cube Gallery is pleased to kick off 2017 with a curated show of seminal works by 10 of our finest visual artists.
Experience this show of painters and photographers who are shaping and informing the art world here at home, across the country and around the world:

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No Man’s Land: Complex portrayal of memory loss captures much more in the world of Pinter.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo courtesy of National Theatre Live. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart

Those of us who cannot dash off to London, now have the chance to see some of the greatest English language theatrical productions in the world  as filmed theatre comes to our  local cinemas by satellite.  

This version of Harold Pinter’s   No Man’s Land, filmed from the Wyndham Theatre in London’s West End is just one of those wonders. It was originally produced at the Old Vic in 1975   starring the “two sirs” John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson and has since toured and been given numerous productions. 

In this case, the show was followed by an excellent question and answer period which let us see these actors , also two sirs, who are old friends, going  back to their first contact with this play and with the theatre in general. In fact this experience was all the more special for us because it reveals the complicity of the actors, as if it were all taking place in the real home of Patrick Stewart (Hirst), who had just invited Ian McKellen (Spooner) in for a drink and then by accident spilt coffee on his jacket and had to wipe it off with a napkin! “That did happen” said Stewart “but I didn’t think anything of it, I just wiped! “  Of course we  are “pissed” adds McKellen so delicately  but even when we learn that the characters have just met in a pub in upper crust  Hampstead Heath, it doesn’t quite seem possible because of the closeness  they exude along with a slightly playful familiarity that feeds the  naturalism of their performance style. 

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Season’s Greetings from Rosemary Thompson at the NAC

News from Capital Critics Circle

nacimage001 Thank-you to the NAC!!

Nous vous remercions tous!!

The CCC – Les critiques du CCC!!

Seasons Greetings from La Nouvelle Scène: Meilleurs voeux à toute l’équipe du CCC

News from Capital Critics Circle

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Merci à La Nouvelle scène…et tous nos voeux de réussite pour la nouvelle année dans votre nouvelle maison!

Les critiques du CCC!!

Two Versions of A Christmas Carol in Ottawa: Jamie Portman confronts the NAC production with the production at The Gladstone. Much to contemplate!!!

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

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Andy Jones as Scrooge at the  NAC.                   

                                                                        John D. Huston as Dickens

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There’s no doubt that the National Arts Centre has unleashed an intriguing production of something this Yuletide season. And yes, it purports to be A Christmas Carol —   indeed the printed program tells us that  the Dickens classic has been adapted and directed by Jillian Keiley, the NAC’s restlessly inventive head of English theatre.
Before traditionalists go into meltdown over what’s taking place at the NAC Theatre, they may find comfort in the fact  that the arts centre doesn’t hold the  corner on the Scrooge market in Ottawa this December — not with John D. Huston holding court a few kilometres away at the Gladstone with his one-man version of A Christmas Carol. The two shows present a sharp contrast — with Huston unrepentantly drenched in tradition and the arts centre taking, shall we say, a more cavalier approach.

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A Christmas Carol at the Gladstone: Mr. Charles Dickens pays his respects and performs his story! A real treat for the audience

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo: courtesy of the Acting Company.

John D. Huston, an actor we have seen many times before in Ottawa and who is in the habit of performing solo, is back in the city with a most beautiful evening of theatre within theatre.  He literally  becomes Charles Dickens, whisks us back to the 19th Century and plays Dickens the actor as he would have performed his own novella. It is a great pleasure to behold this writer who transforms himself into the various voices from his  text. because who more than he, would be so acquainted with these characters?  He  not only imitates them,  he transforms his face and body into those who are talking, he even creates a vocal sound scape: the ringing of the bells, the rattling of Marley’s chains, the howling of the wind, the noises that set the stage for the arrival of those ghostly creatures who scare poor Scrooge to death.

As a fellow who is trained in the melodramatic acting techniques of his day, Dickens makes everything seem larger than life, more intense than realistic thus emphasizing the  underlying gothic horror of the text, even bringing us closer to something that Edgar Allan Poe might have written since they were contemporaries.

This text represents the version that was cut down from the original three hour performance text, but augmented from the hour version we saw several years ago at the Manotick Fringe festival.

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A Christmas Carol at the NAC: beautiful visuals bring a Christmas decoration to life!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Jack Volpe, Andy Jones

Photo Courtesy of the NAC. Jack Volpe and Andy Jones

A clump of sparkling white Christmas trees beckons to us at the entrance of the theatre telling us that the play has become part of the festive NAC landscape in a new way. Not just because A Christmas Carol has become a Christmas staple in Ottawa (gone are those British pantos which I loved so much) but also because this conception of Dicken’s work has a new existence, one that removes all that is dark, miserable, poor, disturbing and psychological. The event about the transformation of mean old Scrooge, the sad story of Tiny Tim and the poor Cratchit family and Scrooge’s frightening visits to his past his present and his future have been turned into a living Christmas decoration all fluffy, beautiful, seductive, dreamy, shiny, bursting with love, good feelings tinted with  the purity of pristine whiteness. Dickens meets Never Never Land!!! Visually, this production is unsurpassable. Glowing white clouds, given unlimited nuances of whiteness by Michal Walton’s magical lighting effects , reflect the tinges of blue, green and red transformed by  Bretta Gerecke’s set and costumes, as living creatures come to life in white wigs and flit around the audience just before the play begins.

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A Christmas Carol at the NAC: NAC English Theatre finds fresh perspective in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Final Review posted by Patrick Langston in the Ottawa Citizen!!   December 17, 2016.  PatrickLangston  We wish him well.

A Christmas Carol at NAC English Theatre

A Christmas Carol at NAC English Theatre Photographer: John Lauener / –

Bringing Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to the stage is a risky business. The story is as well known as that of Adam and Eve – indeed, there’s something of The Fall and subsequent Redemption in Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey from innocent boyhood to miserly misery and finally into bliss – and finding a fresh interpretation of Dickens’s tale can be tough.

The NAC English Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol, newly adapted by director Jillian Keiley and starring Andy Jones as Scrooge, finds that fresh perspective and does so with élan.

At the centre of the production is Bretta Gerecke’s startling design. She’s cast the set, which is minimal to the max, in a cold, snowy white and done the same with costumes including wigs. There’s little to no colour in this world because there’s none in Scrooge’s wizened one, and Gerecke’s design choices reminds us that we are seeing the world through Scrooge’s chilly gaze. The vitality and warmth of the other characters in the story – and, of course, Scrooge’s own growing humanity as he visits Christmases past, present and yet-to-come – are what give this frozen world colour.

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A christmas carol: A Spirited Tale of How Things Should Be

News from Capital Critics Circle

Guest editor Jim Murchison.

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Photo. Courtesy of the NAC. Nigel Shawn Williams (Bob Cratchit and Andy Jones as Scrooge)

I am a big Christmas sap. I watch all the Christmas shows. Of course there is probably no Christmas tale that has been retold more often with more approaches than Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, sometimes to great effect and sometimes less so.

Artistic director Jillian Keiley has the challenge of adding a twist to a classic without diluting the Dickens out of it. To this end, She brings us in to see, touch, smell and feel Christmas by literally touching fur, feeling the weight of the chains and sharing smiles and chat with the actors. It is a masterful way to bring you in, sit you down and warmly hold Christmas in your heart and hands before a word of Dickens is spoken: it works wonderfully well.

Before you even enter the theatre there are Christmas trees adorned with miniature sets of the familiar places you will be seeing throughout the play. They are places you have seen in your minds eye a thousand times before. The life size set and costumes are various tones of cream and white, not nearly so detailed as the miniatures. Every element is designed to feed and fuel the imagination of the audience so that the spirits and shadows are nourishing your memories simultaneously as they liberate Scrooge from his own cold heart.

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Past Reviews