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

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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Newsies: A Visual Powerhouse.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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Photo: Deen Van Meer

The hottest news about Newsies is the excellent choreography and terrific dancing, closely followed by the striking high-tech design enabling fluid set changes that become part of the action.

The 2011 musical, based on a 1992 Disney movie — and, according to the program, inspired by the book Children of the City by David Nasaw — is a romanticized version of the 1899 newsboys’ strike against the papers owned by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. The poverty-stricken boys were forced to buy the newspapers they then hawked around the streets of New York City. When Pulitzer and Hearst hiked the price to the newsies, they could not make anything approaching a living wage. Their strike, which included forming a human barrier across Brooklyn Bridge, eventually forced the newspaper tycoons to back down and is credited with laying some of the groundwork for future unionization of labour.

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Reviews from Stratford 2015: “The Sound Of Music” Can Still Surprise

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Canada   ,

Sound_of_Music_photos_Principal_cast

Photo. Courtesy of the Stratford Festival

STRATFORD, Ont. — Yes, it can have the texture of syrup. Yes, it is
historically questionable when it comes to the allegedly real-life
story it tells. And yes, in the character of Maria, the convent reject
who changes her world and the world of those around her through the power of song, we have a young heroine who is almost too good to be true. Yet, none of this seems to matter when The Sound Of Music receives as good a production as the one that took confident possession of the Stratford’s Festival Theatre Tuesday night. No matter that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most beloved musical continues to be done to death — indeed Stratford’s previous production was comparatively recent. No matter that it’s by no means Rodgers and Hammerstein’s best show — that honor probably belongs to the dark-hued Carousel, which is also  being mounted at the festival this summer. But this production benefits from Donna Feore’s secure and imaginative direction, a strong visual component and some stellar performances.

Feore seems determined to find some fibre in the sugary confection that constitutes this musical. She wants to give the material more spine. American import Stephanie Rothenberg, who plays Maria, proves to be of prime importance in serving this need. On opening night you were a bit uncertain about Rothenberg at the beginning: her mannered and overly studied rendition of the title song lacked spontaneity and didn’t really jell with the image of the idyllic young postulant, stealing a few heady moments of freedom in her beloved mountains before returning to the cloisters.
But by the time Maria arrives at the widowed Captain Von Trapp’s home to take on the job of governess to his seven unruly children, Rothenberg has relaxed and is taking confident possession of her character. And with that delightfully staged moment when the militaristic-minded captain marches the youngsters on stage, and into the hearts of Maria and the audience, the show’s virtues are firmly taking hold.

 

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