Theatre in Ottawa and the region

Educating Rita, a Production which emphasizes the class struggle

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Educating Rita, Photos Maria Vartanova


Educating Rita by Willy Russell, Ottawa Little Theatre, Directed by Sterling Lynch

Educating Rita always brings back memories. Not only do visions of Julie Walters and Michael Caine in the 1983 movie version or outstanding performances in previous stage productions of Willy Russell’s 1980 Pygmalion-like tale come to mind, but I flash back to thoughts of Janet — a classmate of mine, briefly, in the UK in the 1950s.

Like Rita, Janet was exceptionally intelligent and from a working-class background. After passing her 11+ examination, (taken at the age of 10 – don’t ask) she was accepted in a prestigious out-of-zone grammar school. Before the end of her first semester, she withdrew and entered a mediocre school close to home, where, she said, she had friends and felt she fitted in with her own kind. (more…)

Tick, Tick Boom! Intimate and Powerful!

Reviewed by James Murchison

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.  (more…)

A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester: The Show Must Go On.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester
Photo. Kanata Theatre


A Year in the life of  Eddie Jester by T. Gregory Argall,  Kanata Theatre, Directed by Stavros Sakiadis

A Year in the Life of Eddie Jester  underlines the dictum that the show must go on, however extreme the situation. And in the case of stand-up comedian Eddie Jester, lying comatose and near death in a Toronto hospital room, the situation is about as extreme as it can be. Yet, he keeps his act alive as his wife and girlfriend (both pregnant), his incompetent agent and randy doctor and nurses check on his deteriorating condition. (more…)

Onegin: a talented cast but an adaptation that faulters.

Reviewed by James Murchison

Onegin. thanks to the National Arts Centre, Ottawa. Daren Herbert (Onegin), Hailey Gillis (Tatyana).

The launch of Ottawa’s new theatre season started for me on Friday night at the National Arts Centre, with a great deal of anticipation, excitement and angst. Opening night brings out the eager cheerleaders for the arts and live
performance: people like me.
This year the renovations and restoration of the N.A.C. are complete making the journey easier, now bereft of the obstructions and detours that we have had to sidestep for months. The complex is beautiful and easier to navigate.
As you enter the newly christened Babs Asper Theatre, Denyse Karn’s set design takes you to a huge Russian country house with mile high windows. Books and vodka bottles are spread about the mantles and the large limbs of grand powerful trees reach across from either side of stage evoking a feeling of nature’s Gothic arch. It sets a mood of an aristocratic country estate as a retreat and a temple.

Onegin’s portrayal of young love conquers despite some missteps

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Article first published in

Pity the rich boy with too much time on his hands. His heart entombed as though by a Russian winter, he drifts through life bored, disconnected, emotionally somnolent. And if his name is Evgeni Onegin, he manages, through indifference to all but his own wants, to hurt deeply those who reach out to him and, in the end, to become the victim of his own glacial persona.

Onegin, in other words, isn’t the kind of guy you’d choose to hang with. But, as the titular character in the new, spirited musical by west coasters Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille — who based their show on the early 19th century poem by Alexander Pushkin and the subsequent Tchaikovsky opera — he is someone to whom you pay attention. (more…)

Onegin : This tribute to 21st century sensibility moves musical theatre far beyond the box!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Photo Rachael McQuaig

First of all do not read Pushkin’s work before seeing this.  Although the show is apparently set in Russia, it includes the main characters in the novel, it moves from Saint Petersburg to Moscow and back and there are references to Byron which one  finds in Pushkin’s text.  However,  a knowledge of this  early 19th century romantic novel which has become one of the great works of Russian literature will only confuse you. Just arrive at the NAC with no great expectations, think of what we are told that this is not an opera, relax, forget the ballet,  and you will probably enjoy this very much because it is clearly geared for a 21st century sensibility where existing operatic, theatrical , pop music and musical theatre conventions  have all been thrown to the wind. (more…)

Zones théâtrales: Les beignes, une comédie grotesque, pétillante et captivante!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Les Beignes: toute la compagnie
Théâtre populaire d’Acadie

Le festival Zones théâtrales, évènement biennal qui met en vedette les spectacles issus des communautés francophones des régions, est de nouveau parmi nous.  Désormais sous la direction artistique de Gilles Poulin-Denis, le festival comporte sept spectacles, six  lectures publiques ainsi que des Zones « chantiers » soit des laboratoires de recherche où le public est invité à assister aux répétitions et à découvrir les technologies les plus récentes intégrées à la création scénique. (more…)

Awoken: excellent performance but the material faulters…

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Dave Amott

Awoken created and performed by Nicholas Dave Amott

A monologue  which becomes a sleepless delirium , bringing  together  sounds of familiar voices , a nightmarish confusion between illusion and  reality, and a clear sense of a character  performing himself in front of an audience , opened last night at the Gladstone Theatre for a  5 day run.

This very talented young man with a beautiful voice, enormous stage presence and an excellent sense of theatre,  plays out his delusional world of the insomniac as it shifts back and forth from his contacts with the doctor, his conversations with his mother, his need to express himself through music, and his flights of confused fantasy into the world of popular culture where batman, ironman and many more appear and disappear. He is suffering from an incurable form of sleeplessness and there is nothing anyone can do for him.  He uses points of light created by lamps not only to transform his face into multiple theatrical masks but also to bring the audience into his semi-hypnotical state of dizziness and exhaustion as he winds down to the inevitable ending. (more…)

Burn: a good natured horror mystery that keeps us glued to the stage!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Zoe_photo by Lawless

Photo:  by Venetia  Lawless. Zoe Georgaras

An evening that begins in Geoff Gruson’s cozy sitting room design with enormous wooden bookcases, a warm fireplace, posters and paintings coming to life under David Magladry’s soft lighting that heats up the room in its friendly glow. A writer’s paradise. Three friends, David, (Michael Thompson), Sam (Tahera Mufti) and Robert (Chris Torti) are gathered in Roberts sitting room discussing the life and death of Paul, a successful writer friend, author of horror fiction who recently passed away. Robert also laments the death of his own wife Tara Waters, a talented writer whose memorabilia is spread out over the walls and around the house and whom, according to Robert, is not really dead! What kind of presence does he sense in the room?


I’ll Be Back Before Midnight : this set-up of the “thriller” genre succeeds

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Poster: I’ll Be Back Before Midnight

I’ll Be Back Before Midnight By Peter Colley. Classic Theatre Festival, directed by Laurel Smith

The big question surrounding I’ll Be Back Before Midnight is whether the audience is screaming with laughter or in terror as the packed story of this comedy/thriller unfolds.

Either way, playwright Peter Colley has been laughing all the way to the bank since Midnight premiered at the Blyth Festival in 1979. The play has been dubbed the most produced (and profitable) Canadian thriller in history. (more…)

Past Reviews