It happens every year at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, for many reasons some shows fall below the radar and are not as talked about as much as others early on. Usually by this point (with 3 days left to go), word has gotten out that these productions are very much worth seeing.
Here are a few of these below the radar shows:
White Noise: Created by Margaret Evraire and Christina Bryson, White Noise tells the story of Nadia Kajouji, a carleton university student who committed suicide in 2008. The play is largely a movement piece and recounts the last days of Nadia’s life. Originally I was going to give this production a pass. Plays based on relatively recent true life events can be very challenging to handle with appropriate sensitivity. The buzz in the beer tent, however, was positive so I decided to go. I’m glad I did.
After the performance ended, the audience (myself included) was very slow get up and leave the theatre; obviously very moved by the play. I was also very impressed by the sophisticated staging and sound design. Make sure you see this one!
Gametes and Gonads: This one man show created, by Jeff Laird, is a high energy whirlwind of a show in which he takes on a multitude of characters (seriously there are like a couple million sperm alone!). Laird skillfully handles all these roles and the show never loses its coherence. Gametes and Gonads is billed as Star Wars meets your genitals. It’s clever and fun. The last show is at 11:00 p.m on Saturday (June 23). Go see it!
Trashman’s Dilemma: Set in a dystopian future this play by (Bruce Gooch) delves into complicated themes revolving around language. Can agency/freedom exist without the words to express it? As an interesting twist, the three member cast rotates the roles for each performance. The last chance to catch this show is 3:00 p.m. on Saturday (June 23)!
There are only three days left in the festival! If you haven’t done so already, buy a fringe pin ($3) and check out a play(s) for ($10/ticket).
The 2012 Fringe festival is well under way. This is definitely my favourite festival of the year. It’s a chance to see some great theatre, dance, and story telling at a bargain price. It’s also an opportunity to meet new friends, catch up with old ones, and drink plenty of beer outside under the open sky! What could be better?
This year, I intend to see approximately 30 shows and I will tell you about my adventures over a series of three articles featuring brief postcard reviews.
At Fringe, I spend a lot of time in the beer tent and this year is no exception. As a reviewer, I get asked this question a lot: “What are your top picks for the festival so far?”
While I haven’t seen everything everything yet (I’ve attended 11 shows so far), here are two must see shows:
1. Little Orange Man- This is a brilliantly whimsical one woman show, created by Ingrid Hansen and Kathleen Greenfield. It’s about Kitt, a high energy 12 year old girl who likes to recount folk tales told by her Danish grandfather. Kitt uses puppets in variety of different forms, some of them are even made out of her lunch, to tell her stories. It’s a really special show. Go see it! I recommend getting there early and sitting as close to the front as you can since the sight lines in her venue, St. Paul’s Eastern United Church, aren’t the best.
2. Heterollectual: Love and Other Dumb Ideas - This is a contemporary dance piece by an emerging Toronto dance company (Pollux Dance). Artistic Director Leslie Glen describes her show this way “It makes fun of love; it exposes sadness; it impersonates the irrational ways in which human beings behave.” It’s a special treat to be be able to see such a talented group of dancers for $10. I was impressed by this company’s athletic ability, grace, and skill.
Another show I really enjoyed, but that won’t have as broad appeal as the two shows mentioned previously, Is Garkin productions’ Lonely Bear. Written by Ray Besharah, this one is dark, quirky, with a sense of humour. Smart, sharp, eccentric writing. Very much worth seeing.
So there are three shows to get you started.
Check out ottawafringe.com to read about the rest of the shows featured in this year’s festival.
Thursday, May 24, was the opening night for the GCTC’s production of Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation at the Irving Greenberg Theatre. Baker’s script has received high praise from critics and won an OBIE award for best new American play in 2010. I was curious to see what all the fuss was about so I set off on opening night to check it out.
Baker’s play takes place in the small town of Shirley,Vermont, at a creative drama class for adults. Those who have ever played drama games, will be able to get the jokes where Baker pokes fun at these exercises. Many will be also able to relate with one character’s frustration when she asks “are we ever going to do any real acting?”
The play unfolds in short quick scenes that span a five week run of classes. Over this period, many details are revealed about the characters lives. Unfortunately, in Baker’s script these revelatory moments are for the most part fairly banal and the narrative unfolds in a very predictable fashion. Even when Baker attempts to deal with a very serious issue (sexual abuse), it is handled in such an offhanded manner that it trivializes rather than explores the issue. I was very disappointed in the script and its trajectory. Baker has very little to offer her audience and after awhile the drama game gags wear a little thin. I found the whole thing two dimensional and rather trivial, but it had a few funny moments.
That being said, I was particularly impressed with the performance of Catherine Rainville (Lauren) and I look forward to seeing more of this talented actress in future. Sarah Mcvie (Theresa) had some fine moments as well.
For more information on performance times for Circle Mirror Transformation click here.
For three nights only St. Paul’s Eastern United Church will be taken over by the hottest indie theatre artists in the city!
SubDevision is a celebration of devised, site-specific theatre. Live performances will take place in and around a massive party that unites independent artists and audience members in an immersive experience. Making indie theatre cool and accessible to Ottawa’s audiences, SubDevision features eight unique and concurrent performances specifically created for different subdivided spaces all within one alternative venue – St. Paul’s Eastern United Church at 473 Cumberland.
Each ten-minute performance is unique in that it will be created with an individual performance space in mind – a kitchen, a closet, an elevator, even the sanctuary… Every piece is intimate and reflects the individual identity of the company that creates it. Each show plays over and over, over the course of the night so that audiences have the opportunity to take part in as many performances as they wish.
SubDevision puts choice into the audience’s hands – see all eight shows or one piece again and again, hang back at the bar for a spell and compare experiences with audience members of like or differing minds, arrive and depart whenever you like – you set your own schedule and create your own experience. Along with dj’s and a licensed bar, this is the theatrical event of the season and certainly one not to be missed!
May 10-12, 7:30pm
St. Paul’s Eastern United Church – 473 Cumberland
Rent is Orpheus Musical Theatre’s latest high energy, all-singin’, all-dancin’ extravaganza. Based loosely on Puccini’s classic tragic opera, La Bohème, Rent tells the story of a group of poor artists living in New York City’s East Village in the early 1990s; they struggle with the threat of eviction, lack of recognition of their artistic endeavours, drug addiction, and AIDS (at least half of the characters are HIV positive).
Pretty grim stuff, you might say. After all, this is based on an opera, so you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that the show is not going to be a barrel of laughs. But on that count you would be wrong. With songs that soar, some nifty dance moves, and a truly talented cast, under the direction of Nicole Milne, Rent will draw you in, get you seat-dancing, laughing, and yes, OK, crying.
The story opens on Christmas Eve. It’s 9:00 PM, and aspiring film director and the show’s narrator, Mark (Brennan Richardson) is filming his roommate Roger (Derek Eyamie) for a new documentary. The two find out that their old friend, now their landlord, Benny (Stefan Keyes) is going back on his word and wants the rent for the past year. This leads to the show’s rousing title number where they vow not to pay, and opens up the debate about the artistic life versus the commercial.
This being a musical, it’s not long before love is in the air, with sometime philosophy professor, Tom Collins (Maxim David) being helped after a mugging by the appropriately named Angel (Jeremy Saunders), a street musician/drag queen with quite the wardrobe, including a sassy Mrs. Claus outfit. Roger, shattered by the suicide of his girlfriend and his HIV status, is tempted to try love again by the arrival of neighbour, Mimi, an exotic dancer (Andréa Black). As for Mark, he’s mourning the loss of his fiery performing artist girlfriend, Maureen (Devon O’Reilly) to lawyer Joanne (Rebecca Abbott). Let the wooing begin and the lessons about “Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.”
Derek Eyamie, Devon O’Reilly, and Rebecca Abbott are the vocal standouts, with stirring numbers, “One Song Glory”, “Over the Moon”, and “Take Me or Leave Me” showcasing their talent. Andréa Black displays an athletic litheness, as well as singing chops in “Out Tonight”, while Brennan Richardson and Rebecca Abbott mix humour and some sexy dance moves in “Tango Maureen”. “La Vie Bohème” performed by the entire company is an absolute showstopper, as is “Seasons of Love”, perhaps the best-known song from the production. They do not disappoint.
Act Two is decidedly darker than the first, and the cast makes the transition from the light-hearted cheekiness and sexiness of the first half to more sombre themes. Get your hankies out; you’re going to need them.
The innovative set, designed by Jennifer Donnelly, evokes the squalor of the Lower East Side, and is put to imaginative use by the cast.
One small quibble with the production is that at times, the band, which is terrific (conducted by James Caswell), sometimes drowns out the cast. Hopefully, this was just a glitch on opening night, and will be fixed in future performances.
Orpheus has outdone itself with Rent. Make sure you catch it.
March 6-10 at 7:30; March 11 at 2:00 PM at Centrepointe Theatre
For tickets: 613-580-2700 or www.centrepointetheatre.ca
Article by Élise Gauthier
On Monday,February 27th, the 5th Prix Rideau Awards nominations were announced at an event at Le Petit Chicago, in Old Hull. Both the French and English theatre communities were well represented,despite the snowstorm that hit the city just before the event was scheduled to begin.
Benoit Roy was the host for the evening,welcoming everyone in both official languages, and introducing the members of the Prix Rideau Award’s steering committee. He went on to announce that the theme of this year’s gala would be “Five Years” and “All That Jazz”.
Chanda Legroulx and John Doucet, two local actors, then came on to the stage to announce the nominees. Legroulx and Doucet shared this task with good humour, to the delight of the crowd.
The categories for the nominations included outstanding production, performance, design, directing, new creation and emerging artist, for both French and English productions.
The Prix Rideau Awards were founded in 2006 to celebrate,encourage and promote French and English locally produced professional theatre work and its artists.
The fifth annual Prix Rideau Awards gala will take place:
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Shenkman Arts Centre (Orleans)
Tickets for the event can be purchased at http://www.shenkmanarts.ca/index_en.html
The nominees for English-language productions are:
Strawberries in January, Great Canadian Theatre Company
The 39 Steps, SevenThirty Productions
The Fan, Odyssey Theatre
Twelfth Night, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival
Under Milk Wood, Ottawa Theatre School
Joël Beddows, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre
David S. Craig, The Fan, Odyssey Theatre
Janet Irwin, Under Milk Wood, Ottawa Theatre School
Kevin Orr, Bifurcate Me, Theatre 4.669
Craig Walker, Twelfth Night, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival
Outstanding Performance, Female
Mary Ellis, Dreams of Whales, New Theatre of Ottawa
Annie Lefebvre, Under Milk Wood, Ottawa Theatre School
Rose Napoli, The Fan, Odyssey Theatre
Kate Smith, The 39 Steps, SevenThirty Productions
Beverley Wolfe, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre
Outstanding Performance, Male
Richard Gélinas, The 39 Steps, SevenThirty Productions
Andy Massingham, Exit the King, Third Wall Theatre
Andy Massingham, The Fan, Odyssey Theatre
Andy Massingham, The Shadow Cutter, Great Canadian Theatre Company / Sleeping Dog Theatre
John Muggleton, Speed-the-Plow, Plosive Productions
Martin Conboy, Lighting Design, The Shadow Cutter, Great Canadian Theatre Company / Sleeping Dog
AL Connors, Sound Design, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre
Ivo Valentik, Set Design, Speed-the-Plow, Plosive Productions
Ivo Valentik, Set Design, A Midwinter’s Dream Tale, a Company of Fools
Sarah Waghorn, Set Design, Dreams of Whales, New Theatre of Ottawa
Outstanding New Creation
Tony Adams, Erin Lindsay and Cory Thibert, Sounds from the Turtle Shell, May Can Theatre
Lawrence Aronovitch, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre
Pierre Brault, The Shadow Cutter, Great Canadian Theatre Company / Sleeping Dog Theatre
Nancy Kenny, Roller Derby Saved My Soul, Broken Turtle Productions
Julie Le Gal, Andy Massingham and Kevin Orr, Bifurcate Me, Theatre 4.669
Outstanding Adaptation / Translation
A Company of Fools (Adaptation), A Midwinters’ Dream Tale, a Company of Fools
Henry Beissel (Adaptation), Antigone, Third Wall Theatre
David S. Craig (Adaptation), The Fan, Odyssey Theatre
Mishka Lavigne (Translation), Little Martyrs, Evolution Theatre
Charles McFarland (Adaptation), Hamlet 2011, Ottawa Shakespeare Company / Ottawa Theatre School
Outstanding Fringe Production
Glitch…, Ottawa Theatre School
Playing for Advantage, Black Sheep Theatre
Roller Derby Saved My Soul, Broken Turtle Productions
Sounds from the Turtle Shell, May Can Theatre
THE WALK, Moon Dog Theatre
Emerging Artist Award
Katie Bunting, Actor
Pierre Ducharme, Set Designer
Nancy Kenny, Playwright
Mishka Lavigne, Translator
Tania Levy, Director
The nominees for French-language productions are:
Production de l’année
Adieu Beauté, la comédie des horreurs, Théâtre Belvédère
Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte
Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île
Taram, Théâtre du Trillium
Ti-Jean de partout, Cie Vox Théâtre
Mise en scène de l’année
Caroline Yergeau, Adieu Beauté, la comédie des horreurs, Théâtre Belvédère
Joël Beddows, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte
Isabelle Bélisle, Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île
Pierre Antoine Lafon Simard, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium
Pier Rodier, Ti-Jean de partout, Cie Vox Théâtre
Interprétation féminine de l’année
Geneviève Couture, Feu la mère de madame et Un bain de ménage, Théâtre de l’Île
Jocelyne Zucco, Les Fridolinades, Théâtre la Catapulte / Théâtre français de Toronto
Lina Blais, Les Fridolinades, Théâtre la Catapulte / Théâtre français de Toronto
Marjolaine Beauchamp, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium
Micheline Marin, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium
Interprétation masculine de l’année
Nicolas Desfossés, Autopsies de biscuits chinois, Théâtre du Trillium / Théâtre Belvédère
Alain Doom, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte
Pierre Simpson, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte
Richard Bénard, Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île
John Doucet, Ti-Jean de partout, Cie Vox Théâtre
Conception de l’année
Geneviève Couture, costumes, Feu la mère de madame et Un bain de ménage, Théâtre de l’Île
Brian Smith, décor, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte
Guillaume Houët, éclairages, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte
Julie Giroux, décor, Les Papillons de nuit, Théâtre de l’Île
Pierre-Luc Clément et Olivier Fairfield, environnement sonore, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium
Nouvelle création de l’année
Annie Cloutier, Antoine Côté Legault, Marie-Pierre Proulx, Autopsies de biscuits chinois,
Théâtre du Trillium / Théâtre Belvédère
Diane Bouchard, Dragon glouton, Gestes théâtre
Michel Ouellette, adapté par Joël Beddows et Marie Claude Dicaire, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la
Philippe Landry, Retour à Pripyat, Théâtre de Dehors
Marjolaine Beauchamp, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium
Prix artiste en émergence
Marjolaine Beauchamp, dramaturgie
Mary-Eve Fortier, interprétation
Lisa L’Heureux, direction de production
Frédérique Thérien, interpréation
Caroline Yergeau, mise en scène et interprétation
Derrière le Rideau Award
Mathieu Charette, régie, Feu la mère de madame et Un bain de ménage, Théâtre de l’Île
Julie Grethen, régie, Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île
Lisa L’Heureux, direction de production, Les Papillons de nuit, Théâtre de l’Île
Censorship is the practice of governmental control over what can be printed, published or exhibited publicly. Many books have been banned in the past for reasons such as offending religious beliefs, because they are immoral or indecent, or for being seemingly unpatriotic or obscene.
According to the Book and Periodical Council (the Umbrella Organization for Publishing in Canada):
Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
When it comes to freedom of expression and what we are FREE to consume, who do we want to have the final say? Ottawa Tonite is working in collaboration with the Library Association of the National Capital Region, local writers, singer-songwriters, VerseFest Ottawa, The Gladstone Theatre as well as the Ottawa theatre community to hold a benefit night on Wednesday, February 29th to raise funds for PEN Canada – and celebrate free expression.
The late night event (10pm-12am) will consist of readings from censored works, musical performances of banned songs and scenes from plays that have been deemed ‘inappropriate’ or challenged. There is a cover charge of $10 at the door (or PWYC) and proceeds are going to PEN Canada, an association of writers formed in 1926 to defend freedom of expression and raise awareness of that Universal right.
It will be a night of variety and profanity, so bring your open-mind and prepare to exercise you FREEDOM.
The Gladstone Theatre (910 Gladstone Avenue Ottawa)
$10 at the door (or PWYC)
All proceeds from this event going to PEN Canada
Article by Wayne Current
Last year, the Undercurrents festival launched at the GCTC and was one of the theatrical highlights of the year. The festival’s aim is to promote independent boundary pushing theatre or “theatre below the main stream.” Last year’s line up was terrific and I saw every show. Undercurrents 2012, opened yesterday and I’m once again looking forward to seeing more independent theatre!
In fact, I’m on record, and have been quoted in marketing material, saying this about last year’s festival:
“I hope this festival becomes a regular feature of the Ottawa theatre scene and that the GCTC will sponsor even more independent theatre productions in the future.”
As a strong supporter of this festival, I thought I would take some time to tell you about two of the shows I am particularly looking forward to this year. I think I would be remiss if I also didn’t tell you about the one show I feel should not have been included this year and why, but I will save that for another blog post.
Here are two recommendations:
At the 2011 Ottawa Fringe Festival, Luna Allison premiered Falling Open in a very original venue(her bedroom.) Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to catch this one at Fringe. Her home was a little off the beaten path and, to be completely honest, the play’s subject matter (one family’s experience of sexual abuse) scared me off a little too. That being said, those who saw it raved about this show. I’m told Allison treats the subject matter with appropriate sensitivity and puts in a powerful performance. While I’m sure this one will be challenging,
Falling Open is top of my list to see at Undercurrents 2012.
Highway 63: the Fort Mac Show, looks like an interesting piece of verbatim/documentary theatre, bringing to life the stories of the people who live in Fort Mac, Alberta. I love when communities use theatre to tell their stories. I’m also a fan of the verbatim movement so I’ll definitely be checking this one out.
So if you don’t know what to see, those are the two shows in the festival that I am most excited about.
Get your tickets soon!
GRAMMY AWARD WINNING BROADWAY SMASH HIT
IS COMING TO OTTAWA & OPENING TUESDAY MARCH 13th AT THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE!
The tour of the smash hit Broadway revival of WEST SIDE STORY is coming to Ottawa. WEST SIDE STORY will open at the National Arts Centre on Tuesday March 13th. Tony Award-winning librettist Arthur Laurents’ Broadway direction will be recreated for the tour by David Saint, the Associate Director on Broadway. The original Jerome Robbins choreography is reproduced by Tony Award-nominee Joey McKneely (The Boy from Oz, The Life).
The new Broadway cast album of WEST SIDE STORY won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album on January 31, 2010. The Bernstein and Sondheim score is considered to be one of Broadway’s finest and features such classics of the American musical theatre as “Something’s Coming,” “Tonight,” “America,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere.”
The new Broadway production began previews at the Palace Theatre on Broadway Monday, February 23, 2009, opened to critical acclaim breaking box office records at the Palace Theatre on Thursday, March 19, 2009, and recouped its $14 million investment after running only 30 weeks. The Broadway production played its final performance January 2, 2011. The musical played 27 previews and 748 regular performances, making it the longest-running production of the groundbreaking musical in Broadway history. The original production, which had held the record, played 732 performances on Broadway.
WEST SIDE STORY features scenic designs by James Youmans (Gypsy), costumes by Tony Award nominee David C. Woolard (The Farnsworth Invention, The Who’s Tommy), lighting by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley (Gypsy, Jersey Boys), sound design by Tony Award nominee Dan Moses Schreier (Gypsy, A Catered Affair) and hair by Mark Adam Rampmeyer (The Farnsworth Invention).
WEST SIDE STORY is written by three theatrical luminaries: two-time Tony Award winner Arthur Laurents (book) and multiple Tony and Grammy Award winners Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) in his Broadway debut.
WEST SIDE STORY is produced by Kevin McCollum, James L. Nederlander, Jeffrey Seller with Terry Allen Kramer, Sander Jacobs, Roy Furman / Jill Furman Willis, Robyn Goodman / Walt Grossman, Hal Luftig, Roy Miller and Broadway Across America.
Performances times of WEST SIDE STORY at The National Arts Centre are as follows: Tuesday March 13th through Friday March 16th at 8pm, Saturday March 17th and 2 & 8 pm and Sunday March 18th at 2 & 7:30 pm.
Ticket prices for WEST SIDE STORY range depending on performance date and time, seat location and date of purchase. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday January 30th at 10 am at The National Arts Centre Box Office, via phone at 1.888.991.2787 or on line at www.ticketmaster.ca.
American Express® Cardmembers have access to some of the best seats in the house for all WEST SIDE STORY performances. Advance tickets are available through Front Of The Line® by American Express January 18-24, 2012.
WEST SIDE STORY is a part of Broadway Across Canada’s 11-12 subscription season.
About Broadway Across Canada:
Broadway Across Canada: Owned and operated by British theatre producer John Gore (CEO) and entertainment industry veteran Thomas B. McGrath (Chairman), Broadway Across Canada, in association with Broadway Across America, presents first-class touring Broadway musicals and plays, family productions and other live events throughout a network of 43 North American cities. Broadway Across America is also dedicated to the development and production of new and diverse live theatre for productions on Broadway, across America and throughout the world. Current and upcoming productions include the Broadway premiere of Irving Berlin’s WHITE CHRISTMAS, Tony Award-winners BOEING BOEING and SPAMALOT, 13 A NEW MUSICAL, WEST SIDE STORY opening on Broadway in 2009, and DORA THE EXPLORER on tour. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent go to BroadwayAcrossCanada.ca.