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

Suzart’s “The Music Man” spreads a glow of excitement.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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Sign for the production.

The Suzart slogan of “If you can dream it, you can do it” is a partial explanation of the reason that the company is successful in mounting ambitious, large-cast musicals that aim to entertain whole families on stage and off.

In the case of Meredith Willson’s 1957 musical The Music Man, director Kraig Paul Proulx, supported by musical director Mark Allen, the always resourceful set designer Elaine McCausland and costume designer Ingrid Hunt, brings a delightful warmth to the story of con man Harold Hill.

Hill’s goal of cheating the townsfolk is tripped up by romance, while he promotes the “think system” to develop a band. Strange to tell, after a summer of dreaming it, the band members find they can do it.

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Glorious: when life is stranger than fiction!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Carnegie Hall 2 Photo: Maureen O’Neil.   Janet Uren as Florence Foster Jenkins at Carnegie Hall.

We know this is supposed to be a sendup so it’s perfect community theatre material. We know it seems too ridiculous to even bother suspending our disbelief but the shocking thing is that this is based on a true story and that is what makes this play a lot more complex than one would suspect. Janet Uren plays Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy, most cuddly, warm, delightful human being who is adored, mocked, sought after, teased, and who either refuses to face the truth or who cultivates an extraordinary fantasy world all her own.

As we see in the play, Madame who lives in a lush apartment in New York towards the end of the war, is a former coloratura soprano who can no longer hear properly so she is tone deaf, has no sense of rhythm or timing and certainly can’t follow music but continues giving her little private concerts to a very select set of society people. . These concerts are avidly followed by people like Irving Berlin and Cole porter who send her flowers and say ambiguously nice things about her, in spite of the fact that when she opens her mouth she sounds like a hyena being tortured. It’s so unbearable it’s hilarious. But are we the audience laughing with her or at her? Well, I suspect it’s a bit of both. And Janet Uren maintains the ambiguity all the way through, sometimes betraying a slight nervousness at the thought of those people “laughing at the back of the hall” but then completely convinced of her own great talent. .or is she?

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Radium Girls: a production that qualifies as a treatment for insomniacs

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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The mystery behind Radium Girls is how such a fascinating piece of history could be turned into such a boring drama. Yet, according to playwright D.W. Gregory’s website, this is her most performed play and it has received a number of awards.

In recounting how a group of female factory workers were poisoned by the radium-based paint they applied to watch faces to make them luminous—they were forced to lick the paintbrushes into fine points—Gregory replaces dramatic opportunity with short sequences, lack of meaningful characterization and multiple doubling.

The reality is compelling. Five of the radium girls brought suit against their employer, the U.S. Radium Corporation, eventually winning some financial compensation and payment of their medical bills for the remainder of their much-shortened lives.

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Love, Valor, Compassion – Toto Too Theatre Does Itself Proud

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

LoveValourCompassion-2773 (photo-Allan Mackey)

Photo:Allan Mackey

There was one unfortunate aspect to TotoToo Theatre’s recent production of Love! Valour! Compassion!

It deserved a longer run. Although focusing on the lives of eight gay men over three holiday weekends at an Eastern seaboard farmhouse, Terrence McNally’s award-winning play touches on universal truths that can resonate with a broad cross-section of theatregoers. That certainly happened on Broadway where it left many audience members in tears. And it was also a virtue of Chantale Plante’s sensitive, discerning production at Academic Hall.

McNally, whose output also includes the book for the hit musical, Ragtime, and Frankie And Johnny In The Clair de Lune, is a seminal figure in late 20th Century American theatre — a gay playwright who has managed to avoid ghettoization despite dealing with subject matter, that in earlier generations, and in a different cultural climate, deterred dramatists like Tennessee Williams and William Inge from confronting matters of sexuality to the degree that McNally does.

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