Capital Critics' Circle
Le cercle des critiques de la capitale

Reviewing Theatre in Canada's Capital Region
La critique théâtrale de la région Ottawa-Gatineau

Adventures of a Black Girl: a fascinating retelling of Black Canadian History that feeds off the multiple elements of oral performance.

Reviewed by on    Dance, Musical performance, Professional Theatre  


Photo: NAC English Theatre.

This exciting coproduction of the NAC English Theatre/Centaur Theatre Company in association with the Montreal Black Theatre Workshop plunges us into a world where   choreographed singing bodies take over the stage and fill the space with a retelling of Black Canadian history.  Filtering the  main moments  into rituals of death fused with  Judeo-Christian and African origin, playwright and director  Djanet Sears has created an all-encompassing performance locating   the characters squarely in Canada but she creates an exciting dialectic by  correcting the ignorance the misconceptions, and the prejudices that  tainted white perceptions of  Black history in this country.

(Continue reading » )

Ottawa Fringe 2013. 6 Guitars

Reviewed by on    Musical performance, Ottawa Fringe 2013  

Actor Chase Padgett presents  six musicians – guitar players ranging from an 87-year-old blues musician to a 20 years old rocker. Chase Padgett is an excellent actor and his impersonations are generally very realistic, although there were some slips. The attempt to adopt a Spanish accent when portraying a Mexican character was not spot on. It ended up sounding more like an Indian than a Mexican one. A 20 year old rocker also ends up looking a lot younger due to characterization.

It is an original idea of how to tell the story about music, entertain and connect with the audience. The entertainment element is definitely impeccable, and Padgett’s very strong command of the stage helps as well. The audience loves it. They laugh and enjoy short and well executed guitar passages and admire the impersonations. 

Unfortunately, it stays at the entertainment level, without an attempt to go deeper, to explore the connections and the power of the music. It can be so much more than individuals falling in love in instruments and expressing that love through different genres. I would like Chase Padgett to dig a bit deeper and try to discover the magic behind the notes. Only that way  can he find that it is not only about main stream sell-outs: sex, sadness, cars and mess-up, but much, much more.

by Chase Padgett and Jay Hopkins, performed by Chase Padgett

Orlando FL.

Rajka Stefanovska

Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story. Jackie Richardson takes us into the realm of legend!!

Reviewed by on    Musical performance, Professional Theatre  


Photo: Tim Matheson

Jackie Richardson as Willie Mae Thornton

This show is several things! First it’s a fabulous blues concert with drums, keyboard, guitar and the wondrous  Jackie Richardson, an internationally acclaimed jazz, gospel and blues singer in her own right. The sounds, the musical accompaniment by the three excellent musicians that fuse with Richardson’s voice, backing up her performance as a singer will send you out into musical heaven because such a powerful concert of this calibre is rare in Ottawa

(Continue reading » )

Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story: Jackie Richardson connects physically with her Audience.

Reviewed by on    Musical performance, Professional Theatre  


Reviewed Friday, April 26 for the Ottawa Citizen

Photo:Tim Matheson

Jackie Richardson on stage.

There’s never any doubt in this blockbuster of a show about the late American blues dynamo Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton that the lady could handle herself. From slugging an abusive man when she was 14 to mopping the floor with another jerk when performing in a juke joint later in life, Thornton — played with conviction, grace and one mighty big voice by Canadian jazz icon Jackie Richardson — took guff from no one.

At the same time, she had great emotional generosity. That combination of taking no prisoners and a big heart, coupled with her instinctive artistic honesty, made Thornton that rare performer who connects almost physically with her audience……..

Read more:

Diana Krall at the Nac: Over production is a concert spoiler

Reviewed by on    Musical performance  


Photo from The Ottawa Citizen. Diana Krall at the NAC

A fine jazz pianist and singer with terrific timing and a great backup quintet. Isn’t that enough for a first-class concert?

Apparently, Diana Krall’s handlers do not think so. Rather than trusting their star, they clutter the show with a constant backdrop of irrelevant, distracting and often ugly visuals. Old movies are fine in their place, but when the sense of relief at the sight of a plain red curtain during the gaps between them is overwhelming, the clear indication is that this is not their place.

(Continue reading » )