Children’s Theatre

Freezing : Canadian answer to the British Panto aimed at a younger audience.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Photo: Courtesy of Matt Cassidy

British Pantos are not unknown to Ottawa audiences. Ross Petty and his super-slick group of dancers, singers, actor’s choreographers and writers of witty dialogue used to bring us their special versions of fairy tales to brighten our Christmas fun. These tales, reworked to fit the contemporary taste for parody, satire, and all kinds of naughty suggestions for the whole family that respected the particular conventions of the Panto, were regular features at the National Arts Centre. Then suddenly they stopped coming and we never understood why.

Now producers Matt and Sarah Cassidy have decided to bring back their version of the family panto to Ottawa and take up the lost tradition which Ross Petty and his collaborators introduced here many years ago. This company is made up of professionals who have been working in Toronto but many of them are originally from Ottawa. They have decided to make Ottawa their home as they work out their vision of what these new Pantos could be. Freezing is an example of this new musical narrative aimed at the whole family but drawn from childhood memories about living through cold Canadian (Ottawa) winters and revelling in the snow, the ice, hockey, and all the winter activities that made life so magical.


Be a Friend, the Musical: Orpheus Musical Theatre Society has produced a playful packaging of serious content that works for young children.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

be a friend 002  Photo: Barbara Boston. Sammy Skunk (Fabian Santos) and Mommy skunk (Donna St.Jean).

Iris Winston’s award winning play for children, based on the trials and tribulations of Sammy Skunk whose physical difference turns him into a pariah of the Squirrel community, takes on some very serious issues about bullying, racism, prejudice and all the things that young people confront in schools and on the streets of our urban society. The audience of 3 to 10 years olds seemed to be listening intently to this musical adaptation as poor Sammy, (an excellent Fabian Santos who had all our sympathy with his fluffy white tail and oily black nose) sung about wanting so much to fit in after he and his mom (an upbeat and wise momma skunk, played with much warmth by Donna St. Jean) had to move to a new neighbourhood.


Be a Friend: A Charming Family Musical

Reviewed by Jamie Portman


Photo. Andrew Simon . Squirrel with Thompson.

Be A Friend, the delightful children’s mini-musical that is Orpheus Theatre’s Yuletide gift to the community, knows how to communicate with its young audiences. It doesn’t talk down to them as it tells the story of a lonely skunk named Sammy and his search for a friend. Without being the least bit preachy, it delivers an effective message against prejudice and for accepting people who are “different.” The opportunity for audience participation is built into Iris Winston’s lively and imaginative book, which is based on her award-winning play, Let’s Be Friends. And a further trump card comes from the songs with their nifty lyrics by Gord Carruth and engaging melodies from Carruth and Bart Nameth.


Same little fellow discovers the set..Photo: Andrew Simon


BE A FRIEND: new production based on the One-act play by Iris Winston.

News from Capital Critics Circle

Coming up for young people during the Holiday season…..

Be a Friend

Book by Iris Winston
Music by Gord Carruth & Bart Nameth
Lyrics by Gord Carruth
Based on the award-winning, one-act play,
Let’s Be Friends, by Iris Winston
Join Sammy the Skunk on his
challenging quest to make new friends.
December 21-22, 2013
1:00 pm & 3:30 pm
General Admission $10
Orpheus House, 17 Fairmont Avenue
108th Season of Orpheus Theatre

For more information or to purchase tickets: or 613-729-4318 or

Playing the role of the Story Teller will be Barb Seabright. Sammy the Skunk will be played by Fabian Santos and Mama Skunk will be portrayed by Donna Castonguay. Seth, the bully Squirrel will be played by Lawrence Mahusky and his nest of fellow squirrels will be more than ably portrayed by Skye MacDiarmid as Sally Squirrel,  Alianne Rozan as Suzy Squirrel and Mary Ellen Vice as Steffy Squirrel.

This delightful mini-musical will be presented over the December 21st-22nd weekend right in Orpheus House and tickets will soon be available. Why not treat the little ones to a special early holiday outing and bring them to see Be a Friend.

Rag’n Bone Puppet Theatre Launches its Season.

News from Capital Critics Circle


Rag & Bone launches
The Family Series, season 3
Let’s Pretend…
We’re excited about this year’s line-up: 28 performances of 7 different shows at 3 venues over 9 months = lots of fun for kids and families!
Buy or reserve tickets now. Our online box office is standing by. . .
From October to June, seven different shows.
Presented at the Shenkman Arts Centre, the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre and Centrepointe Theatre.
Zoom at Sea
Shenkman: Oct. 21, 1:30 & 3:30
The Nightingale
Shenkman: Nov 4, 1:30 & 3:30
Irving Greenberg: Nov. 18, 1:30

The Story of Holly & Ivy
Centrepointe: Nov. 23, 7:00, Nov. 24 & 25, 1:30 & 3:30
Shenkman: Dec. 7, 7:00, Dec. 8 & 9, 1:30 & 3:30
Felicity Falls
Shenkman: Jan. 13, 1:30 & 3:30
Irving Greenberg: Jan. 27, 1:30
The Flying Canoe
Shenkman: Feb. 9, 11:30 & 1:30



Past Reviews