Blind date is a particularly unique type of theatre. It is a world premier every evening in that the circumstances and the cast change. An improvisational adventure that involves a somewhat randomly selected cast member for each individual performance insures that no one knows exactly how the play is going to unfold.
There have been some remarkable musicals already this early in Ottawa’s theatre season. We had the remarkable Jonathan Larson biographical musical Tick Tick Boom kicking off for Orpheus in the studio theatre at Centrepointe and the clever, innovative Ordinary Days at GCTC. We are now into the Christmas season and the more traditional musical formula is upon us.
Shrek, the classic story of ogre gets girl, ogre loses girl, ogre gets girl wrapped up in a message of inclusion and be true to yourself comes to the Centrepointe theatre from the dedicated and talented community of Orpheus. Oops, I forgot the spoiler alert. Oh well, I doubt that there would be more than two percent of the public that isn’t already familiar with the original DreamWorks animated film of the same name. (Continue reading » )
The annual radio show at the Gladstone theatre returned to Ottawa this week. This year we were told that the radio play would be somewhat different and it was. The timing of the production coincides with the week of Remembrance Day and commemorates the centennial of the battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. Much of what is liked about this production is still there. Set designer Ivo Valentik has the familiar pieces of the radio station CGLD all there, decorated with adornments of the era tucked into the corners: A vintage cigar box and a soldier’s helmet inform us that this is war time. (Continue reading » )
Some times we think our lives are pretty ordinary. Maybe they are but this insightful play reminds us that is no reason not to celebrate them. Ordinary Days playing at the GCTC focuses on 4 people in New York, but it captures the spirit of everyone that feels alone or trapped while surrounded by people. It is minimalist theatre at its best. It needs so little to create atmosphere: some stairs to create levels a few benches, chairs and you have a set. Add some light applied in just the correct way and any landscape you need is created to move a story along. In Ordinary Days at the GCTC, Seth Gerry’s set and lighting design embody this principle of creating simple perfect landscapes out of almost nothing at all. (Continue reading » )
Ottawa Little Theatre’s second play of it’s 105th season is the enduring classic, Arsenic and Old Lace. If there is a better play to stage around the Halloween season I don’t know what it would be. It is dark and creepy enough, but peppered with humour and spiced with a little bit of romance. It is the pumpkin pie of theatre; both a trick and a treat.
The characters are already well known to fans of the the classic 1944 Frank Capra film with Cary Grant. The sweet little old ladies that bury lonely gentlemen in the basement have a nephew that thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, another that is a menacing international criminal and a third that is a theatre critic in love with the preacher’s daughter. Add in some dim witted police officers and sure fire one liners and that’s how to construct a near perfect black comedy. Written by Joseph Kesselring in 1939 it first premiered on Broadway in 1941 and was a welcome distraction from the war that was occurring in Europe at the time. (Continue reading » )
Martin Sherman’s Bent is a story that examines the persecution gay people in Nazi Germany. It is also a story of the importance of love and how it can continue to endure in the most horrific and challenging of circumstances. It is an acclaimed piece since it’s premiere in London in 1979 and has continued to be recognized for its powerful sensitive understanding of the evil of fascism and the strength of the human spirit in subsequent incarnations. It is a brave choice for any theatre to tackle and explains why ToTo Too is recognized as one of the finest community theatre companies in Ottawa. Bent is not an easy play to watch much of the time, but it is an important play that will always be relevant to people, unfortunately made more timely because of the resurgence of hate groups attacking Muslims, Jews, the LGBTQ community and anybody that is perceived as different. (Continue reading » )
The first play in the studio series this year at NAC is Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion. It is also the first commissioned work for Artistic director Jillian Keiley. The play is about an indigenous man’s quest to retrieve his grandfather’s medicine bundle. When all conventional efforts fail he has to resort to a bold act of resistance: Steal the bones of John A MacDonald and trade them straight up for the medicine bundle. I was intrigued by the idea of making a comedic social satire out of such a story. (Continue reading » )
Mothers & Daughters; World premiere shows much talent but the mother/daughter relationship not sufficiently explored.
We are full throttle into the Ottawa Theatre season with Performances at Ottawa Little Theatre, Kanata Theatre, Central Square and of course the N.A.C. with the GCTC season just around the corner. I chose to attend Mothers & Daughters Friday evening. It is the world premiere of a new musical penned by S. Oscar Martin with music and lyrics by Jeff Rogers, Rich Rankin, Eric MacIntyre, Andy Ladouceur, Zach Martin and S. Oscar Martin. (Continue reading » )
I was very intrigued to attend the Orpheus production of Tick Tick Boom. It would be my first time seeing a production in Centrepointe’s more intimate studio theatre. The play is an autobiographical tale of Jonathan Larson’s early years as a struggling artist attempting to write the great American musical while toiling as a waiter and watching his friends prosper in more conventional professions. He would succeed of course, in writing the monstrously popular Rent, but tragically dying a sudden death of aortic dissection caused by Marfan syndrome before he ever got to see a single performance. The spectacular 12 year run on Broadway, was awarded a plethora of awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Larson, sadly posthumously. (Continue reading » )
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