O.A.R.’s “THE TOP TEN”, 2013 Reply

Selected by Staff & Admin.

Lucky13th time; the ninth as our own publishers,  acknowledging those events of 2013 that – to our minds were paramount. Selections are based on impact- whether amusing, educational or thought-provoking to the audience.  This past year, illness reduced (for the 1st time) the number of events attended to just under 200. Herewith our editorial team’s selections in calendar order

the cast of THE PYJAMA GAME

the cast of THE PAJAMA GAME

CRAZY FOR YOU’;  It’s been skilfully done at both Shaw & Stratford, but to see a community group –perform it equally well makes it a worthy ‘Top Ten’er. Meadowvale Music Theatre and directors Danny & Erica Harvey were as professional as it gets and gleaned laughs & applause as well as unabashed sing-alongs for the most familiar arias. Leads and support cast gave full measure and it showed. A definite warmer-upper for a frigid February.

‘TOMMY’; even the ‘Who’ would appreciate the CCMP staging of this challenging enterprise, and especially- the directorial grasping of the original’s almost religious allegorical message. Katherine Kormos was a virtuoso selection and her cast choices were equally as skillful. The background orchestra; stage sets; costumes and even the special-effects electronics were non-pareil.

MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG’  to Sheridan’s Trafalgar campus and its renowned Theatre Arts Faculty. Director Richard Ouzounian (TorStar columnist) showed why he’s the dean of us critics by not only writing about but actually DOING the job. The result was totally as professional as anything Downtown could stage and his individual charges should be able to have careers in the real world just based on what they presented herein.

BUDDY HOLLY’, A half-century after ’the music died’ in that famous small plane crash; the story of this young (22) performer,  who died along with Richie Valens (18) & the Big Bopper an older 28, still can attract music lovers and theatre-goers of all ages.  The Lower Ossington Theatre and director Charles Roy pulled out all the stops [financial; locale etc.] to give the play full measure and it certainly showed.  Essence; visual aspect and especially the music came alive as the leads became their role personas. Only disappointment, there was no performance CD’s for sale post-curtain!

THE PAJAMA GAME is the game we’re in, and we’re glad to be ♪…in the audience for SHOOTING STAR’s rendering of this outdated (1950’s & 7½ cent raises) but fun look at union/management shenanigans. With a plethora of memorable songs, most of which are singable even out of context, it’s still certainly entertaining. SSP and twin directors Buffett & Guzzo were able to recall the quintessence of the era and even the social standards of six decades back. Like the score, the show was pure ‘Steam Heat’ from inside the factory to ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’. We should have seen it twice!

BLYTHE SPIRIT’ & ‘MEASURE FOR MEASURE’; a tie finish and both were so well done that our team couldn’t break a deadlocked vote! So, STRATFORD has a two-fer pair of winners! Blythe’s  Seana McKenna; Ben Carlson & Sarah Topham were exquisitely directed by  Brian Bedford with equal measures of thespian perfection and comedic integrity. M4M‘s director gave the play equal emphasis on comedy as well as drama plus red-ting the period to 1949 in post-war Europe. Stratford had a financially successful year and on a recent trip to the Southern U.S. many folks we met admitted to being regulars to the Festival.

ENCHANTED APRIL’ it may have been written in 1922, and the times certainly have changed; but SHAW’s staging of this warm Von Arnim play directed by Matthew Barber made it an enchanted August for our columnist –Judith Robinson. Dreams, aspirations and even the stereotypes of the principal characters were all treated with Shaw’s usual attention to detail and focus. The overall effect:-  something that gleaned word-of-mouth publicity.

POOL’S PARADISE’, a little bias here; we’re something fan-like of stars Dia Frid &Virginia McEwen. Both are multi-talents and their comedic abilities, especially being directed by Yo Mustafa is without equal. We empathized, identified and laughed hard enough to almost pee in the pool. W.E.S.T. continues its amazing run of successful hits.

MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM’ Shakespeare is usually the realm of Stratford but McMaster’s presentation was creative and magical. The effective sets, imaginative lighting and most of the cast were top-quality.  Even though Peter Crockett modernized the tale, it still projected the concept and ingenuity that ‘dreams’ require. The duo Pucks; blocking; and especially the Artisans play were a hilarious hoot. This was certainly a fun effort.

THE WAR SHOW’ Music Theatre Mississauga’s undertaking of the Canadian involvement in WWII as seen through the eyes of enlistees and conscripts recaptured the pathos and occasional humor, took cojones. To go back in time is always a challenge and director Alexander Galant pulled no punches. There’s death on the battlefield; there’s rear-projected newsreels and scenery so that the stage remains almost bare except for props. Yet the whole thing really works. Bravo.

               That’s our TENBUT we had Four close runner-ups.  Opera Hamilton’s “POPERA +” plus “FALSTAFF”, were very enjoyable and well-done; the revised ‘NUMBERS’ dance-interpretation of the Holocaust was worth a four-step trip to Toronto; and the Oakville Chamber Orchestra concert with Daniel Lau were all standouts. Richmond Hill’s Steppin’ Out Theatre gave us ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ and our largest readership response ever.


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