Opinion by O.A.R. administrators
Dec. 22, ‘ 18
Can’t fight progress, so this year there will be a major change… a Toronto Fringe offering is to be included, even though we previously relegated these 1-hour efforts to the ‘Honourable Mention’ category. However, the criteria for overall inclusion remains unchanged- memorable; educational; entertaining and definitely professionally staged!
HAMILTON PHILHARMONIC. This superior orchestra under the direction of Gemma New offered a full series of superlative concerts whose eclectic selections ran the gamut from the seriously classical to fun pops and contemporary compositions. Given the high caliber of the HPO, choosing just one as a standout proved too difficult; so, a 4-way-tie.
A dramatic on-stage interrogation moment in JOURNEY’S END
Review by Danny Gaisin
Disclaimer- I’ve never been a fan of Capra’s 1946 movie starring Jimmy Stewart. Actually, same can be said about The Greatest Gift’, the story on which the movie was based. That said, staging it at this particular time of year is [almost] engraved in the U.S. Constitution (34th Amendment). The story about an average guy and how much effect he’s had on others seems syrupy treacle. Like the metaphysical butterfly causing tornadoes, or the aphorism about even the smallest pebble making a ripple; – my opinion – “Bah, Humbug!”
That said, W.E.S.T.’s talented cast and production team have made the best they can of the situation.
The Bailey family having a ‘Happy Ending’
Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
“THE MESSAGE” a bold new play by Jason Sherman, now in its world premiere at the Tarragon Mainspace, is a must-see theatrical experience – whether or not you are familiar with Marshall McLuhan’s work. R. H Thomson is outstanding in a tour-de-force piece of acting showing great depth, power, and beauty. Walking away from the theatre on opening night, I felt I had seen McLuhan himself. Amazing, as he died in 1980.
McLuhan, born in Edmonton in 1911 and raised in Winnipeg, taught at the University of Toronto for most of his career, at the Centre for Culture and Technology. Photo by Cylla von Tidemann
Orenstein, Lancaster & Thomson in a dramatic on-stage moment
Review by Terry Gaisin
Carole Freshette’s allegorical play about searching – a lost piece of jewellery but symbolizing something far deeper and philosophical, has become an iconic Canadian standard. Often performed with one or two actors, the Cdn Rep Theatre and director Ken Gass utilizes three superb ladies all of whom interchange the lead or support roles. Akoua Amo-Adem; Zorana Sadiq & Helen Taylor take turns as a middle Eastern cab driver; bereft mother; disillusioned construction worker and the eponymous ‘Helen’. Their ability to transition between portrayals is seamless and Gass’s direction makes it easy for the audience to follow the flow and progress on stage. Photo by Michael Cooper
Amo-Adem; Sadiq & Taylor in HELEN’S NECKLACE
Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
In reviewing a play about historical events, we can ask: 1) what is the play’s relationship to historical events: how ‘accurate” is it? (2) what is its point of view? (3) how well does it work as a play onstage? I put “accurate” in quotes because “history” changes depending on who is writing it, and also in the face of changing information . These questions come to mind after seeing The Story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, produced by Teatron Jewish Theatre and playing at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. I recommend this play as an opportunity to see the human side of a historical and political situation * The events took place in 1950-53 during the fear-laden atmosphere of the Cold War, with the investigation of suspected Communists by the House Un-American Activities Committee and Senator Joseph McCarthy. The episode still has repercussions today.
Actual booking photos of the Rosenbergs
Review by Judith Robinson
As Donald Trump and many politicians worldwide strive to strip workers’ of their rights,
Subversive Theatre in Buffalo has picked the perfect time to produce a musical celebrating
labour organizer Mother Jones. Playwright/composer Si Kahn’s Mother Jones In Heaven (and
Hell) is a rollicking exposé of economic exploitation and an example of what can be achieved
through perseverance, dynamism and inner strength.
Kahn is no stranger to labour organizing. The award-winning North Carolina native has been
training community activists, writing songs and performing concerts, alongside well-known
figures such as Pete Seeger, for more than 50 years. Kahn’s play centres around a compelling scenario
Ms. Jones and her friendly barrista