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

Office Hours: McCabe’s cast and crew keep the tone light and entertaining!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Office Hours
Poster. Courtesy of Phoenix Players

Office Hours By Norm Foster. Directed by Jo-Ann McCabe. Phoenix Players

It’s Friday afternoon at the office, or, more accurately, at six offices, and a regular day of preparing for the weekend away from the city.

The busy week included firing a couple of employees, having a sycophantic encounter with an alcoholic film director out of original ideas, dealing with a couple of potential suicides, a pushy salesman, a self-centred psychiatrist, a domineering mother who believes herself responsible for her son’s sexual orientation, an overweight jockey, a steamy novelist and a dead racehorse. (Continue reading » )

Orpheus strikes gold with Shrek: The Musical

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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. (Continue reading » )

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

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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. (Continue reading » )

Shrek the musical:Orpheus lands a show of stunning quality and great visuals!

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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. (Continue reading » )

Kanata Theatre’s Shatter collapses with a thud

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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. (Continue reading » )

Sir John A Macdonald the Musical. Much to admire in the book, the music and Andrew Galligan’s fine performance in the title role.

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“History has a voice.”

The line from the world premiere of Gord Carruth’s latest work, Sir John A. Macdonald, the Musical, is the core of the show that recounts key points in the life of Canada’s first prime minister in words and music.

The man — consistently ranked as one of the most successful prime ministers in Canadian history — is an ideal subject to mark the 150th anniversary of the country he was instrumental in founding, particularly given some recent negative comments about Macdonald’s policies. In his carefully researched and historically accurate musical, Carruth has chosen to present the man, his demons and some of his speeches, as recorded in Hansard, without judgment or analysis. (Continue reading » )

Bent: Heartfelt , Passionate Theatre.

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Martin Sherman’s Bent is a story that examines the persecution gay people in Nazi Germany.  It is also a story of the importance of love and how it can continue to endure in the most horrific and challenging of circumstances. It is an acclaimed piece since it’s premiere in London in 1979 and has continued to be recognized for its powerful sensitive understanding of the evil of fascism and the strength of the human spirit in subsequent incarnations. It is a brave choice for any theatre to tackle and explains why ToTo Too is recognized as one of the finest community theatre companies in Ottawa. Bent is not an easy play to watch much of the time, but it is an important play that will always be relevant to people, unfortunately made more timely because of the resurgence of hate groups attacking Muslims, Jews, the LGBTQ community and anybody  that is perceived as different. (Continue reading » )

Bent : excellent performances in this ground-breaking play

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Bent photo Maria Vartanova

 

Bent by  Martin Sherman, directed by  Josh Kemp. a TotoToo Theatre Production

Arbeit macht frei (Work sets you free.)

The horrible irony of the slogan above the gates of  Dachau  and other concentration camps in Nazi Germany where millions died deepens with the demonstration of the futility of the type of forced labour imposed on the two prisoners at the centre of Martin Sherman’s 1979 award-winning drama Bent.

For 12 hours each day, they must move rocks from one pile to another and then move them back again, all the time under threat of death from an armed guard.  It is clear that the most likely escape from the mind-numbing and pointless repetition is death. But, along the way, Sherman aims to show that the human spirit and love survive in the face of cruelty and subjugation. (Continue reading » )

Mothers & Daughters: a light-hearted musical that relies on stereotypes!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Mothers and Daughters
Photo Maria Vartanova

 

Mothers and Daughters: A Musical,  Book by S. Oscar Martin, Music and lyrics by Jeff Rogers, Rich Rankin, Eric McIntyre, Andy Ladouceur, Zach Martin and S. Oscar Martin

SOME Theatre Company, Salt Dining & Lounge

Directed by Maureen Welch

The locker-room humour featured in Mothers and Daughters elicited a fair amount of laughter from the few men in the audience at the performance I attended. There seemed to be little shared hilarity from the female majority. Perhaps this is because they could not identify as easily with the onslaught of crude remarks and gestures, sexual innuendo and detailed references to body parts. In my experience, women rarely (if ever) talk this way, so forced humour of this type falls to the ground with a heavy thud.

(Continue reading » )

Mothers & Daughters; World premiere shows much talent but the mother/daughter relationship not sufficiently explored.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Mothers & Daughters
Photo Maria Vartanova

 

We are full throttle into the Ottawa Theatre season with Performances at Ottawa Little Theatre, Kanata Theatre, Central Square and of course the N.A.C. with the GCTC season just around the corner. I chose to attend Mothers & Daughters Friday evening. It is the world premiere of a new musical penned by S. Oscar Martin with music and lyrics by Jeff Rogers, Rich Rankin, Eric MacIntyre, Andy Ladouceur, Zach Martin and S. Oscar Martin. (Continue reading » )