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

Road Show: Another Stephen Sondheim Work at the Lyric Stage

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   ,

The Road Show,  Photo:Maggie Hall

Spiro Veloudos, the producing artistic director of Boston’s Lyric Stage, has long admired the work of the prolific composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. During his twenty years at the Lyric, he has directed at least eight of Sondheim’s musicals. Veloudos’ latest, Road Show, which he co-directed with choreographer Ilyse Robbins has a somewhat checkered past.

(Continue reading » )

Alice In Winterland Family Friendly? I Think Not!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Jessica Vandenberg as Alice in Winterland!
Photo Dominique Gibbons

Written and Directed by Ken MacDougall
Musical Direction by Wendy Berkelaar
Choreographed by Jessica Vandenberg
Produced by Matt Cassidy and Sarah Cassidy

On a night when Ottawa was the coldest capital city on the planet, I appropriately ventured out to see a local production called Alice in Winterland. It seemed a proper choice of entertainment to bridge the Christmas and New Year festive season. It is a pantomime show which incorporates broad actions combined with music and intended primarily for children in what is described as family friendly theatre.
There are a number of adult jokes sprinkled throughout that were not particularly funny which makes their inappropriateness more offensive. I was left wondering whether writer director Ken MacDougall thought the insertion of campy, raunchy vaudeville was the only way that adults could be inspired to bring their children to the theatre. I again wondered if he figured that it would be okay because the phallic references would be lost on the children. In any event, the crass gratuitous dick humour was anything but family friendly. (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 » )

Onegin: a talented cast but an adaptation that faulters.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Onegin. thanks to the National Arts Centre, Ottawa. Daren Herbert (Onegin), Hailey Gillis (Tatyana).

The launch of Ottawa’s new theatre season started for me on Friday night at the National Arts Centre, with a great deal of anticipation, excitement and angst. Opening night brings out the eager cheerleaders for the arts and live
performance: people like me.
This year the renovations and restoration of the N.A.C. are complete making the journey easier, now bereft of the obstructions and detours that we have had to sidestep for months. The complex is beautiful and easier to navigate.
As you enter the newly christened Babs Asper Theatre, Denyse Karn’s set design takes you to a huge Russian country house with mile high windows. Books and vodka bottles are spread about the mantles and the large limbs of grand powerful trees reach across from either side of stage evoking a feeling of nature’s Gothic arch. It sets a mood of an aristocratic country estate as a retreat and a temple.
(Continue reading » )

Onegin’s portrayal of young love conquers despite some missteps

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

 
Article first published in  Artsfile.ca

Pity the rich boy with too much time on his hands. His heart entombed as though by a Russian winter, he drifts through life bored, disconnected, emotionally somnolent. And if his name is Evgeni Onegin, he manages, through indifference to all but his own wants, to hurt deeply those who reach out to him and, in the end, to become the victim of his own glacial persona.

Onegin, in other words, isn’t the kind of guy you’d choose to hang with. But, as the titular character in the new, spirited musical by west coasters Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille — who based their show on the early 19th century poem by Alexander Pushkin and the subsequent Tchaikovsky opera — he is someone to whom you pay attention. (Continue reading » )

Onegin : This tribute to 21st century sensibility moves musical theatre far beyond the box!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Canada, Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Onegin
Photo Rachael McQuaig

First of all do not read Pushkin’s work before seeing this.  Although the show is apparently set in Russia, it includes the main characters in the novel, it moves from Saint Petersburg to Moscow and back and there are references to Byron which one  finds in Pushkin’s text.  However,  a knowledge of this  early 19th century romantic novel which has become one of the great works of Russian literature will only confuse you. Just arrive at the NAC with no great expectations, think of what we are told that this is not an opera, relax, forget the ballet,  and you will probably enjoy this very much because it is clearly geared for a 21st century sensibility where existing operatic, theatrical , pop music and musical theatre conventions  have all been thrown to the wind. (Continue reading » )

Motown, the Musical allows these hits to shine once more!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Canada, Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Motown, the Musical. Performing the Jackson 5. Photo: Joan Marcus

Motown, the Musical. Book by Berry Gordy; music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalog . Broadway Across Canada in association with Work Light Productions. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright/ Plays Southam Hall, National Arts Centre

The musical legacy of the remarkable growth of Motown speaks for itself through this jukebox musical — which is just as well because the book by Motown founder Berry Gordy is nothing to write home about. (Continue reading » )

Old Stock: A refugee love story. (Artsfile.ca)

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

You may never look at a shipping container the same way after seeing Old Stock. Starring Halifax singer-songwriter-actor Ben Caplan, a luxuriantly bearded lad with a grand voice and a remarkable flair for entertaining, the music-play hybrid opens with a closed shipping container at centre stage.

As blandly anonymous on the exterior as any container, this one swings opens to reveal a four-piece band and the intimate story of two early-20th-century Jewish refugees who fled from Romania to Canada – refugees who are played by a couple of the musicians.

When the show’s over, the container doors close and your own life goes on, richer for what you’ve seen and heard. It’s a wonderful conceit for a set, this shipping container from who knows where. Designed by Louisa Adamson, Christian Barry and Andrew Cull, it suggests everything from foreign shores to life’s transience to the search for a permanent home, all themes in this smartly textured show……..

Read the rest on www.artsfile.ca

Old Stock is a 2b theatre company (Halifax, N.S.) production, co-produced by the NAC. It was reviewed Thursday. In the Azrieli Studio (NAC) until July 15. Tickets: nac-cna.ca

 

Stratford’s Guys And Dolls offers a visual and choreographic feast

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Canada   , ,

Photo: by Cylla von Tiedemann

STRATFORD, Ont. —   When it comes to choreography and visuals, the Stratford Festival’s latest production of Guys And Dolls consistently hits the jackpot.

To be sure the Broadway it offers remains a  place of the imagination: initially the imagination of Damon Runyon, whose short stories about lovable low-lifers provided the impetus for a show that in turn would brilliantly showcase the inventive genius of composer-lyricist Frank Loesser and book writers Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling. (Continue reading » )

Stratford’s HM Pinafore is waterlogged by the direction

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Canada   ,

Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann.

STRATFORD, Ont. — Midway through the Stratford Festival’s production of HMS Pinafore, a character upchucks into a bucket.

Welcome to Gilbert and Sullivan — 2017 style.

The moment is unfunny — and therefore typical of the mindless bits of business that afflict Lezlie Wade’s unfortunate  production. Yet, the tragedy is that there are some good performers on stage. (Continue reading » )

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