Theatre in Ottawa and the region

Orpheus strikes gold with Shrek: The Musical

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Shrek: Poster from Orpheus Musical theatre

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.

Shrek: The Musical will never win a place in the annals of great Broadway shows, but the production it receives from Orpheus is nevertheless an ongoing delight.

Forget the fact that the prime reason for its arrival on the Great White Way was somewhat cynical and opportunistic —  to capitalize further on the enormous success of the Dreamworks animated movie about a misanthropic swamp-dwelling ogre named Shrek and his rescue of a princess from a tower. Ignore, if you can, the readiness of the stage adaptation to remain faithful to a marketing dictum pursued by the filmmakers — that young audiences find flatulence funny. Accept the reality that Jeanine Tesori’s score can be pretty underwhelming. (more…)

Shrek the Musical: Ogre gets girl has some incredible design elements!!!

Reviewed by James Murchison

Poster for Orpheus musical in Ottawa

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. (more…)

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 evokes the words and memories of two world wars

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Voice from the Front. Plosive Productions.

Photo courtesy of Plosive Productions

 

Voices FromThe Front: The Radio Show

Conceived by John Cook and Teri Loretto-Valentik

A Plosive production at the Gladstone Theatre to Nov. 11

On one level, Voices From The Front — the latest entry in Ottawa theatre’s popular Radio Show series — may seem simplicity itself. Yet its impact can be powerful.

There’s a row of microphones along the front of the Gladstone Theatre’s playing area. Behind, there’s a row of chairs for the performers as they await those moments when they come forward to read. And in one corner, there’s a piano and the three singing Gladstone Sisters who will be making their own important contribution to the evening. (more…)

Voices from the Front:Radio format and the written material dont always mesh

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Most years, Plosive Productions’ annual Radio Show takes place close to Christmas with a seasonal or light-hearted theme: adaptations of classics like Miracle on 34th Street or Winnie-the-Pooh, for example.

This time, Plosive has scheduled the show – Voices from the Front – around Remembrance Day and focused on much grittier material: the letters written to family and sweethearts by soldiers serving at the front in the First and Second World Wars.

If you’ve ever read any of these letters, particularly on their original, now-yellowed paper, you know how effecting the words can be.

(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…)

Voices From the Front: A Tender, Moving and Passionate Tribute

Reviewed by James Murchison

source-for-Voices from the Frong

photo courtesy of Plosive Theatre

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. (more…)

Kanata Theatre’s Shatter collapses with a thud

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Kanata Theatre’s production of a play called Shatter is that it’s well-intentioned.

But that’s not sufficient to give it a pass.

It may have seemed an attractive notion to mark the 100th anniversary of the Halifax explosion with a drama that purports to deal with this tragedy. But the people at Kanata Theatre should have first made sure that the script was worth doing.

Dramatist Trina Davies is clearly seeking to bring a note of intimacy to her story and give us a glimpse of ravaged human lives. But in the process, she devalues the impact on Haligonians (and on Canadians) of the largest man-made explosion in human history until the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima 28 years later. (more…)

Enchanted April lives up to its title in Linden House production

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Poster for Enchanted April

There are understandable reasons that Elizabeth von Arnim’s 1922 novel, Enchanted April, is enjoying a renewed lease on life.

Perhaps the most obvious in this day and age is the fact that one can detect early tinges of feminism in this story of four British women of various ages and backgrounds who boldly assert their independence and team up for an idyllic holiday in an old castle in sunbaked Italy.

But other durable factors are also at play here. It is an engaging tale. It is peopled by four interesting and believable female characters. Finally, in its successful transfers to film and stage: the material has offered a bouquet of splendid acting opportunities. (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…)

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