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
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra under its current Board, executive director and permanent conductor have proven to nothing if not eclectic. Classical assemblages are usually reputedly somewhat highbrow, but not the HPO. Younger audiences are enticed and welcomed, new and more contemporary works performed, plus other creative genres included. Case in point; last evening’s Literary Series offering,- a reading and musical quartet featuring Gary Barwin’s book – “Yiddish for Pirates”.
Given the intimacy of the First Ontario’s Studio Theatre and its cabaret milieu, the evening was a hundred fascinating minutes – although a familiarity with ‘Yiddishkeit’ was a definite bonus. *
Gary Barwin entertaining with his saxophone
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 Danny Gaisin
We watched the 2002 movie version of the Kander & Ebb musical for one reason only, it was shot in Toronto using the Distillery District, City Hall; Casa Loma ; Osgoode & Canada Life among others. As for the Gere/Zellweger/Zeta-Jones performances, we thought that they were not only two-dimentional, but it wasn’t just the singing that was dubbed – so was their portrayals. Last night we saw Theatre Ancaster’s version and had decided , even by intermission that this is a surefire O.A.R. ‘Top Ten for this year!
Everything about ‘Chicago’ is first rate…the direction; the stage method; the cutaways; costuming and especially the faultless chorus numbers that are an intrinsic part of the show.
Lapsley prepping Pike for her day in court, while chorus & Press folks look on