Reviewer: Iris Winston

Iris Winston
A writer, editor, reporter and theatre reviewer for more than 40 years, Iris Winston has won national and provincial awards for her fiction, non-fiction and reviews. A retired federal public servant, she has seven books in print and writes regularly for local, regional, national and international newspapers and magazines, including Variety and the Ottawa Citizen. Iris lives in Almonte.

Shrek the musical:Orpheus lands a show of stunning quality and great visuals!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Poster for Orpheus musical in Ottawa

Book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire; Music by Jeanine Tesori/ Based on the Dreamworks animation motion picture and the book by William Steig

Orpheus Musical Theatre Society  directed by Jenn Donnelly

A terrific production can make a believer out of a curmudgeon of a reviewer who has always hated body-noise and bathroom jokes. No doubt about it.

Orpheus Musical Theatre Society‘s Shrek the Musical overcomes the limitations of the script, the generally unmemorable score and assorted loud belches and regular breaking of wind to land a show of stunning quality and great visuals. It also offers a low-key presentation of the message that love and acceptance come in many forms. (more…)

Voices from the Front: the most powerful offering to date!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

source-for-Voices from the Frong

photo courtesy of Plosive Theatre

 By John Cook and Teri Loretto-Valentik

Plosive Productions

Directed by Teri Loretto-Valentik

Annual radio shows from Plosive Productions have become a popular tradition in the National Capital Region. The subject matter of the mock radio shows has varied from tales of Winnie the Pooh to a dramatization of Dashiell Hammett’s Maltese Falcon. (more…)

Shatter: This view of Halifax explosion is a dramatic disaster.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Shatter By Trina Davies, diected by Barbara Kobolak. a Kanata Theatre production.

The Halifax Explosion on December 6, 1917, was among the greatest maritime disasters in Canadian history.

The facts were that a French vessel, the SS Mont-Blanc, was carrying a cargo of explosives (improperly protected) when it collided with a Norwegian vessel, the SS Imo in the strait on the way to Halifax Harbour. The Mont-Blanc cargo caught fire and the resulting explosion wreaked havoc around it, killing some 2,000 people and destroying whole communities. (more…)

Enchanted April: Linden House production is charming and well acted

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Enchanted April
By Matthew Barber
Based on the novel The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
Linden House
Directed by George Stonyk

Would that a month’s vacation in a foreign land, surrounded by flowers, sunshine and ocean, could solve the problems of daily life.

Maybe it did for author Elizabeth von Arnim, whose 1922 novel The Enchanted April was inspired by the month she spent at Castello Brown in Portofino on the Italian Riviera. It certainly spawned two stage plays (1925 and 2003), two movies (1935 and 1992) and even a musical (2010) and is credited with having made Portofino popular as a vacation destination. (more…)

Sir John A Macdonald the Musical. Much to admire in the book, the music and Andrew Galligan’s fine performance in the title role.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

“History has a voice.”

The line from the world premiere of Gord Carruth’s latest work, Sir John A. Macdonald, the Musical, is the core of the show that recounts key points in the life of Canada’s first prime minister in words and music.

The man — consistently ranked as one of the most successful prime ministers in Canadian history — is an ideal subject to mark the 150th anniversary of the country he was instrumental in founding, particularly given some recent negative comments about Macdonald’s policies. In his carefully researched and historically accurate musical, Carruth has chosen to present the man, his demons and some of his speeches, as recorded in Hansard, without judgment or analysis. (more…)

King of Yees: cluttered and confusing.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

King of Yee, courtesy of the NAC

 

 

King of the Yees is not the play that Lauren Yee set out to write — so says the character playing the playwright in the semi-autobiographical work. This is a hint that the comic drama could lack clarity. And it does. King of the Yees is about equal parts amusing and confusing and frequently seems to lack discipline.

The title character is the playwright’s father, Larry, a man steeped in tradition and committed to supporting his community, particularly through the Yee Fung Toy Family Association — a men’s club formed 150 years earlier — in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

(more…)

Some strong performers highlight ambience of gentility in Arsenic and Old Lace

Reviewed by Iris Winston

 

Photo: Maria Vartanova

A small glass of elderberry wine seems an appropriately genteel alcoholic drink for two kindly old ladies to serve potential lodgers — except when it is laced with arsenic and spiced with strychnine and cyanide.

Even those who have never seen a stage production or of Joseph Kesselring’s 76-year-old dark comedy Arsenic and Old Lace or watched the Frank Capra movie (shot in 1941 and released in 1944) are familiar with parts of the tale of the charitable Brewster sisters, who dispatched lonely gentlemen and then gave them a Christian burial in the basement of their home. (more…)

The Phantom of the Opera remains as powerful as the first time round

Reviewed by Iris Winston

 

 

 

 

Photo Alastair Muir.

Lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, Book by Andreaw Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, Based on the novel by Gaston Leroux A Broadway Across Canada presentation of a Cameron Mackintosh production, in association with the Really Useful Group.

In the three decades since Andrew Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster musical began breaking records in terms of box office receipts, audience numbers, awards and longevity — Phantom officially became Broadway’s longest-running showing when it topped 100,000 performances in 2012 — the show has thrilled millions around the globe. (more…)

Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion,:Well executed but wordy!!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

 

Herbie Barnes, Katie Ryerson,
darrell Denis
d

 

The spark for Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion, says playwright Drew Hayden Taylor, was “the Aboriginal equivalent of an urban legend.”

So, with his experience as a standup comic, as well as accolades as a playwright, at the fore, he delivers a road-trip comedy about an attempt to retrieve a medicine bundle now exhibited in a British museum. The method will be arranging an exchange with the bones of Canada’s first Prime Minister — to be dug up from Sir John A’s final resting place in Kingston. (more…)

Bent : excellent performances in this ground-breaking play

Reviewed by Iris Winston


Bent photo Maria Vartanova

 

Bent by  Martin Sherman, directed by  Josh Kemp. a TotoToo Theatre Production

Arbeit macht frei (Work sets you free.)

The horrible irony of the slogan above the gates of  Dachau  and other concentration camps in Nazi Germany where millions died deepens with the demonstration of the futility of the type of forced labour imposed on the two prisoners at the centre of Martin Sherman’s 1979 award-winning drama Bent.

For 12 hours each day, they must move rocks from one pile to another and then move them back again, all the time under threat of death from an armed guard.  It is clear that the most likely escape from the mind-numbing and pointless repetition is death. But, along the way, Sherman aims to show that the human spirit and love survive in the face of cruelty and subjugation. (more…)

Past Reviews