“The Changeling”, a challenge to stage & witness Reply

Review by Danny & Terry Gaisin
            The seventeenth century play THE CHANGELING by Middleton & Rowley is arduous to stage, difficult to perform and grueling to watch. Despite the foregoing and being dated, Changeling is still popular enough for TV repetitions; radio broadcasts and – of course -stage representations. Stratford’s (& always SHAW’s) Jackie Maxwell has re-dated it to the pre-WWII practice-session Guerra civil- the Spanish Civil War. However, neither Franco’s right-wing forces nor the Falangists, anarchists, Fascist or Nazis involved in the struggle would have incorporated ‘thou’s or ‘maiden’ references into their vocabulary, even their Spanish substitute. So, time & lines seem anachronistic.

another on-stage tense dialogue moment in “THE CHANGELING

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“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!

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“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

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“♫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”

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“Toronto FRINGE 2017” – truncated Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin  (7/17/17)

For the past decade, The ARTS REVIEW has endeavored to cover at least ten percent of the ‘TorFringe’ offerings; using our own protocols or selection process to choose presentational offerings. Alas, the caprices that accompany the aging process have made it too onerous for us to undertake such a large task. Standing, waiting and travel distance have become arduous. However, we DID manage a day’s worth of ‘fringing’. God, & nature willing; we’ll do a better job in 2018 for the thirtieth Festival anniversary. Here’s our impressions on 3 closing-day performances.

A idealistic portrayal of Algonquin – NOT by the “Group of Seven”

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“Vimy” captures fractured Canadian psyche Reply

Review by Judith Robinson
Soulpepper’s production of Vern Thiessen’s play, Vimy, is about conflict – not just the one referred to in the play’s title between the Allied powers (Canada, Great Britain, France) against the Central (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire) during WWI. There are almost too many conflicts in this play for the audience to digest – French versus English – gay versus straight – Indigenous versus Caucasian. The list is endless. The question is can all of these issues be navigated effectively in one production? Although only one of many story lines, the Anglophone/Francophone conflict at The Front was by far the most compelling.

The famous Vimy battle scene painted by Richard Jack, April 9/12th 1917

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