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

Annie not Suzart’s finest hour

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

 Annie, Book by Thomas Meehan, Music by Charles Strouse

Lyrics by Martin Charnin, Suzart Productions

Directed by Kraig-Paul Proulx

 Success is elusive, especially when the product seems simple but actually requires a great deal of subtlety and skill to make it more than a sickly sweet vehicle for kids looking cute on stage.

Annie, the 1977 musical inspired by the Orphan Annie cartoon strip of the 1930s, is such a product. While the musical, with book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, has its share of catchy tunes and even a near-classic number in Tomorrow, it drips with sentiment and requires a massive suspension of disbelief to become even mildly credible.

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Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Photo Maria Vartanova




Tick…tick BOOM, book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, Script adaptation by David Auburn,  Orpheus Musical Theatre Society

The countdown on the chance of success as a composer is near. Jon (aka Jonathan Larson) sees his thirtieth birthday as the deadline for delivering a hit musical or leaving theatre for a lucrative alternative.

Therefore, anxiety and anger have equal time in his autobiographical chamber musical tick…tick…BOOM! Originally written as a solo rock monologue mourning the fact that the workshop of his musical, Superbia, did not progress to full production, David Auburn (author of the play Proof) turned the show into a piece for three performers after Larson’s death: the anxious composer, his girlfriend, Susan, and his best friend, Michael. (Continue reading » )

Tick, Tick Boom! Intimate and Powerful!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo Maria Vartanova

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.  (Continue reading » )

Ghost of a Chance: Production offers some uneven pacing

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo courtesy of Rural Root Theatre Company

Ghost of a Chance
By Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus
Rural Root Theatre Company
Directed by Valerie Jorgensen

The three most annoying things about Ghost of a Chance are: its heavy borrowing from the Noel Coward classic Blithe Spirit early on; the unreasonable return of one thieving character, simply to engineer a happy ending; and the misdating of deer hunting season by a character who is supposed to be a hunting/shooting/fishing macho type.

There is also an issue with the 1996 comedy by husband-and-wife writing duo Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus being cluttered with too many complications and silliness. Even so, this ‘spirited’ sit-com includes a number of funny lines. But, unless a production of this type moves at a consistently fast pace, it stands more than a ghost of a chance of falling flat. (Continue reading » )

Naked Boys Singing Struts Its Stuff at Live On Elgin

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Naked Boys Singing Conceived by Robert Shrock , directed by Sean Toohey, musical Director: Gordon Johnston

Would you believe there’s even a moment of fugal joy in Naked Boys Singing?

It surfaces in an ensemble number with the title of Members Only — and yes, there’s no doubt about the subject matter. But as you listen to the performers moving nimbly through the contrapuntal intricacies of an amusing song, you’re again conscious of the wit and imagination that have gone into the preparation of this musical revue.

You’re also conscious of the affection. There’s no doubt of the primary audience for Naked Boys Singing, but this a show that seems ready to extend its embrace to anyone who goes to see it. And its long runs in major cities suggest that, in its own disarming, sweet-natured way, it is knocking down more than a few barriers.

There are ample displays of naked flesh on view at Live On Elgin. But there is no narcissism. These seven guys are definitely not aspiring to a Chippendales gig. There is a bit of philosophizing about nakedness being a window to the soul, but it’s leavened by moments of self-deprecation. Similar philosophies about nudity were expressed in Hair more than 40 years ago, but Naked Boys Singing seems blessedly immune from the self-referential nonsense of that grossly overpraised musical.

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Naked Boys Singing: engaging fun, sophisticated parody, exciting music and a good healthy romp in the altogether!!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Naked Boys Singing : The international hit musical review. Originally conceived by Robert Schrock. Written by Stephen Bates, Marie Cain, Perry Hart, Shelly Markham, Jim Morgan, Daivd Pevsner Rayme Sciarni, Mark Savage, Ben Schaechter, Robert Schrock Trance Thompson, Bruce Vilanch, Mark Winkler. Directed by Schaun Toohey

Seven naked gay male characters on stage might sound like an evening of peek abo and sexual titillation but this show has very little to do with that. In fact director Shaun Toohey calls this “ a light hearted romp where the actors did not at all have to be naked and you would still have a good show.” It certainly is not about the nudity because the men involved are not supposed to be Greek gods with perfect bodies  But that is the point. The show is a series of sketches about aspects of life…the frustrations, the sadness, the happy moments, the positive and negative experiences which open one’s eyes, which show the difficulties of relationships with some very funny parodies involving male genitalia that is the centre of a lot of attention here. The nakedness becomes a symbol of men’s desire to open their souls and not hide things anymore. They are vulnerable but they are trying to reach the essence of their beings and the unclothed body is the best symbol of that achievement.

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TotoToo Delivers A First-Class Hosanna

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Photo: Maria Vartanova

It’s the most famous scene in Michel Tremblay’s contemporary classic, Hosanna.

It comes at the top of the second act when the title character, an anguished Montreal drag queen, unveils a chronicle of disaster in telling us what really happened when she showed up at a Hallowe’en costume ball, dressed as Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra.

It’s an extraordinary moment of theatre and a high point of this new TotoToo production. But we shouldn’t really call it a “moment,” not when it consists of a monologue lasting more than thirty minutes and taxes the resources of actor Barry Daley to the utmost.

The scene proves to be an emotionally compelling tour de force, its intimacy heightened by the production’s venue — the new Live On Elgin space. There’s pain here, also slivers of corrosive humour in the glimpses Daley’s performance gives us into the human comedy as it exists in one particular underground culture.

It’s a fading culture because events over the last four decades have turned Tremblay’s play into a period piece. But Daley’s monologue, an extended journey into Hosanna’s troubled psyche, still proved a show-stopper the other night. Daley harnesses the urgency and — importantly — the joual rhythms of the still serviceable English translation by Bill Glassco and John Van Burek in laying bare some messy emotional realities and in probing the shifting nature of identity (Continue reading » )

Anne of Green Gables. The Young Girl from Prince Edward Island Charms Once More.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

casr12279166_954428337936580_1230455766227086717_n Photo. The cast on the Orpheus facebook

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know the story of Anne of Green Gables — the girl who was sent to the Cuthbert household instead of an orphan boy as requested?

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic novel, adapted for the musical stage by Don Harron and Norman Campbell, has been running in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island each summer for the last 50 years.

It was a hit in Ottawa when the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society presented its version in 1999 and it deserves to be a hit once more in the current production, as directed by Joyce Landry with musical direction by Terry Duncan and choreography by Debbie Guilbeault.

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