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

Rita is still being educated!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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. (Continue reading » )

Ottawa Little Theatre: Pardon Me, Prime Minister. Good performances out of weak material.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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Pardon Me, Prime Minister, directed by Josh Kemp. Photo: Maria Vartanova

Should you think about going to see Pardon Me, Prime Minister, currently playing at Ottawa Little Theatre, be warned.

This weak and dated farce by Edward Taylor and John Graham, first performed in 1979, is not connected to the fine television comedy series Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister — except by trying to force a link through its title.

The plot — if that is not too strong a word for the creaking storyline — is transparent and the climax (again too strong a word for something that is more fizzle than sizzle) is discernible well before the end of the first scene.

In the tradition of British farce, cast members rush through assorted doors and females strip to their underwear, on at least one occasion for absolutely no reason. Sadly, the OLT production features some of the ugliest and most unflattering undies that do nothing to enhance the appearance of the three young women who must wear them. And, while considering the costuming, it might also have been a good idea to spring for three similar dresses in three different sizes, instead of making do with one, for the three actresses of different body types, who must wear them. Along the way, this would also set up an amusing replication of outfits for the curtain call.

(Continue reading » )

OLT does itself proud with Norm Foster’s Old Love

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Photo courtesy of Ottawa Little Theatre

Of course there’s comedy in Norm Foster’s 2008 play, Old Love, What else should we expect? After all it is a Norm Foster play. But there’s also wisdom and gentleness here — qualities that are abundantly present in Venetia Lawless’s thoughtful and beautifully modulated production for Ottawa Little Theatre.

It’a not quite right to suggest that Old Love is about a 30-year infatuation or even an obsession. Such words cheapen the emotions that the aging Bud has long nursed for Molly, the inaccessible — but, for him, mysteriously enchanting — wife of his boss. (Continue reading » )

Ragtime: An effective production!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

I went to see Ragtime at the Centrepointe theatre. The darkness of
evening had not yet fallen and it was gloriously free from the
incessant rain that we have all become so accustomed to. It was a
glorious greaat evening to go to the theatre.
The story of Ragtime is as familiar as time. There are the wealthy
people of New Rochelle who never need worry about anything and
are blissfully unaware of the strife that besets most of the nation.
There are the new Eastern European immigrants struggling to start
a life in America fully believing the myth that everyone has an
equal path to prosperity and happiness. Then there is spirit of the
freewheeling ease of the black clubs of Harlem. (Continue reading » )

Old Love: Just the right mix of heart and humour

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo courtesy of Ottawa Little Theatre

Old Love
By Norm Foster
Ottawa Little Theatre
Directed by Venetia Lawless

For two friends in their 60s who just celebrated their third wedding anniversary and say that love in later life is especially rewarding, Old Love is a play to identify with and enjoy.

Probably one of the most charming of Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s 55 scripts, Old Love, while containing many of his signature one-liners, is more romance than comedy. First performed in 2008, Old Love traces an undeclared love that has lasted for 30 years, unspoken until he — now divorced — invites his former boss’s widow to dinner at the funeral reception. (Continue reading » )

Sister Act: Suzart Productions Puts on an Entertaining Show

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Photo: Suzart Producttions

Book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Suzart Productions
Directed by Ellen Seguin

From gangster’s moll to cop’s heartthrob, Deloris leaves seedy discos and bars for the peace behind convent walls — almost.

Based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, Sister Act is set in 1970s Philadelphia, where nightclub singer hopeful Deloris Van Cartier sees her gangster boyfriend commit murder, so putting her own life in danger. Her police officer admirer arranges for her to spend time in protective custody in a cash-strapped convent — a location as uncomfortable for her as it is for the Mother Superior who must keep her under wraps. But, as the sisters soon discover, the Lord works in mysterious ways, especially when Deloris turns the catastrophic chorus of nuns into a powerhouse choir worthy of performing for the Pope. (Continue reading » )

TotoToo’s Priscilla a transport of delight

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Photo: Maria Vartanova

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (The Musical)
Book by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott
Musical arrangements and orchestrations by Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy
Developed for the stage by Simon Phillips
Based on the movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
TotoToo Theatre
Directed by Michael Gareau

In a way, Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert revels in its own ramshackle, cheeky improbability. That’s what made it so endearing back in 1994 when it lumbered onto cinema screens as a delightful road movie. (Continue reading » )

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Offers Thoughtful, Flamboyant Fun

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Photo: Maria Vartanova

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (The Musical)
Book by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott
Musical arrangements and orchestrations by Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy
Developed for the stage by Simon Phillips
Based on the movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
TotoToo Theatre
Directed by Michael Gareau

It’s camp, caring, charming and costumed — Oh boy! Is it costumed!

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (The Musical) is a highly entertaining jukebox musical that shoehorns 27 pop and disco favourites — especially drag performance favourites — from the 1970s and 80s into a rickety bus (Priscilla) traveling across the Australian desert from Sidney to Alice Springs. (Continue reading » )

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: Brilliant production of an important play

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Toto Too never  stops outdoing itself  and this ultra-energized performance under the direction of Michael Gareau proves it once again. It all  glows and glitters with the marvelous costumes of the  drag Queen world,  (created by designer Lu-Anne Connell ), the stunning  singing voices , the  excellent acting  and Paddy Allen McCarthy’s all-encompassing choreography,  take over  the original  music and lyrics that transgress  the established codes of  the musical world.  Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a brilliant monument to a shifting world where every human individual is given a space of one’s own.   (Continue reading » )

Kanata Theatre’s Treasure Island turns to dross

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Photo: Kanata Theatre

“I don’t do nuance,” George W. Bush once famously observed. Neither does Kanata Little Theatre when it comes to bringing Treasure Island to the stage. The people involved in this noisy, strident, generally unsubtle offering seem to think it’s being mounted in the cavernous Canadian Tire Centre just down the road rather than in the intimate Ron Maslin Playhouse. Too often, Wendy Wagner’s production seems more of a shouting match rather than a proper performance with both the Robert Louis Stevenson
novel on which it is based, as well as Ken Ludwig’s stage adaptation, often perishing in the din.
To be sure, there are some good things about the production The design factor is spectacularly successful. Karl Wagner’s set works wonderfully both as the Admiral Benbow Inn and as a vessel in search of buried treasure. Wagner is also responsible for the atmospheric lighting, while Maxine Ball deserves credit for the outstanding costumes and Robert Fairbairn scores with the show’s soundscape. Fight choreographer Aaron Lajeunesse has come through with some nimbly executed swordplay. And the scene changes are fluidly managed. (Continue reading » )