“PICTURE THIS”, Soulpepper’s silent movie shenanigans Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
Picture This, now at Soulpepper, is like a Hungarian strudel: crafted with expertise and love, sweet but not saccharine, a bit flaky, and containing a filling that is both delicious and nutritious. The play, adapted by Morris Panych and Brenda Robins from Hungarian writer Melchoir Lengyel’s 1937 script, The Battle of Waterloo, is a “love-letter” to motion pictures, theatre, and all the arts.  Clever dialogue, brought to life by Panych’s insightful, well-paced directing, an excellent cast, and a creative set, combine to make this an enjoyable evening in the theatre.   Robins, part of the Soulpepper ensemble since 1999, also acts in the play, in a double role as film director’s assistant and wardrobe mistress.   Photo by  Cylla von Tidemann

the cast in a scene from “PICTURE THIS”



Me and my Girl” a great SHAW date opportunity Reply

Review by Danny  & Terry Gaisin
                        Noel Gay’s “ME AND MY GIRL” may be dated and certainly not the most (With some exceptions) musically memorable. But given its creative re-writing; imaginative directing and extremely talented cast- this is sure-fire entertainment. The SHAW Festival’s rendering, given the somewhat popular premise, has made a unique take on the story seem almost contemporary.  Granted, British snobbery and rigid caste systems are supposedly passé; wealth and prestige still resonates with us unwashed masses. The concept of a lower class individual wanting or having to elevate levels is nothing new. G.B.S. incorporated it in his Pygmalion, and NATURALLY the original Pygmalion utilizes the idea.

Photo by David Cooper

 Therriault & Frank dancing ‘formally’, rather than “Lambeth Walking”


“HMS Pinafore” – all the ‘♫Whys & Wherefores ♫’ 1

Review by Danny & Terry Gaisin

The first time we saw Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1881 operetta ‘HMS PINAFORE’, it was presented by a community theatre group that considered the lyrics remedial for folks with some speech challenges, and certainly singing was more fun than reciting tongue-twisters! The play has a strong but subtle message and denigrates ingrained British snobbism and oligarchic political attainment (think today’s White House). Stratford’s Lezlie Wade meticulously underscores the play’s comedic bent with impacting visual images; a creative and functional set, plus acute physical activity. Her choreographic utilization of the set’s two curved staircases will remind older individuals of the Busby Berkeley routines from the late fifties.

Admiral Laurie Murdoch chastising Captain Steve Ross before the crew & all those sisters/cousins/aunts!


“TWELFTH NIGHT”, a convoluted five-some affair. Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
            Shakespeare’s four century-old comedy still manages to interest audiences and undergoes innumerable incarnations…even at Stratford. Folks still remember the musical version with Brian Dennehy as ‘Toby’. The present version also has music and sung dialogue with accentuation via bell-like crystal emphasis which is occasionally aurally hurtful. The major plot deals with separated siblings and a necessitated transsexual disguise. She; as a he, loves her boss – a duke; he adores a countess who falls for the girl thinking she’s a male, and finally, the villain of the piece, aptly named Malvolio. For our viewing, the intricacies were exacerbated by five casting replacements.

E.B. Smith & Sarah Afful arguing before Shannon Taylor & other cast members


“♫GUYS & DOLLS ♪” an almost perfect Stratford musical Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

Frank Loesser’s interpretation of a couple of Damon Runyon short stories has become a Broadway standard. Every song of the show’s twenty is not only memorable but sing-able even out of context. Under Donna Feore’s direction & her choreography; “♫ it’s better than even money ” that folks will remember it fondly for years to come…we certainly will and I’ve lost count of the times we’ve seen it.
The two plots deal first with a hustler, his illegal crap game, and his long-suffering showgirl fiancée. The other story is about a gambler and a Salvation Army-type naif. The support characters are just that –  Characters!
All  our published Stratford photos by Cylla von Tiedemann

Steve Ross ‘nicely-nicely’ exhorting the gamblers to “sit down, SIT DOWN, they’re rocking the Boat”


“Androcles”- Some Aesop, a lot of GBS, & SHAW’s version. 1

Review by Danny Gaisin

Theatre attendance for a critic is supposed to be work, i.e. a chore, an obligation and a duty. Watching SHAW’s director Tim Carroll put his own slant on the 1600-year-old fable is such fun that the concept of being ‘work’ never enters the equation. From the pre-opening intercourse between audience and performers this is eponymous farce and except for two moments of serious didactic dialogue, sniggers chortles & full giggles are the Courthouse Theatre atmosphere. The action takes place on the thrust stage, but commentary; opinion and interaction are all solicited from the spectators. The action actually goes right up into the aisles.

Jeff Irving restraining Michael Therriault while Patrick Galligan and the others watch