Saint Joan”, new (& improved) version by SHAW Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
            The last time this scribe reviewed a SHAW offering of GBS’s iconic ‘SAINT JOAN’ was ten years ago almost to the day. That iteration was under the Festival’s then artistic director Jackie Maxwell herself. Our O.A.R. banner-head read in part “slightly flawed”. The present version under Tim Carroll’s guiding hand is totally different. The modernistic and imaginatively (but simplistic) creative set forces the audience to focus on the characters, dialogue and timeless political machinations that are intrinsic to the playwright’s autobiographical interpretation of the Maid of Orleans. Wiser scholars than yours truly have consistently noticed that both the heroine & GBS were individualists.        Photo by David Cooper

Sara Topham as a charismatic St. JOAN meeting a pseudo Dauphin More…

“The Madness of George III”; SHAW’s kindly take. Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin 

George Fredrick Hanover, King George 3rd, ruled Great Britain for the 60 years between 1760 & 1820, a 6-decade run.  That certainly outlived the Alan Bennett 20-year film depicting him before going into reruns. Poor George III & his military minions won the 7-Years War but lost the American colonies, so a 500% ERA statistically isn’t too bad.  SHAW’s director Kevin Bennett has staged a rather sympathetic interpretation of the movie by emphasizing the horrific medical practices of the time plus the political shenanigans within his court. His son & heir, the Whig/Tory battles; and the struggle for influence are all highly focused.    Photo by David Cooper

Tom McCamus & Chick Reid; aka HRH’s George III & Charlotte

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“PopOpera”; a panacea for us aficionados Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

An evening of operatic aria selections, especially differently chosen from the ‘same old, same old’ fare of the most familiar, is a palliative for those of us unable to zip down to the Glimmerglass festival (this year – Porgy & Bess plus Oklahoma) and that other Cooperstown icon. Boris Brott’s N.A.O. enlisted the talents of ten professional vocalists to interpret sixteen compositions ranging from eighteenth century to 1966. Some choices were well-known and proverbial but most were new to us scribblers … a nice personal anniversary (54th) gift.

All the soloists (& audience) singing “Libiamo”

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Trudeau Sr. reigns in SHAW’s “1979” Reply

Review by Judith Robinson
            Michael Healey’s play, 1979, now playing at the Shaw Festival, takes a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted approach to a turbulent time in Canadian politics. On the eve of Joe Clark’s fatal budget vote on Dec. 12, 1979, which ultimately brought down his minority government, the Prime Minister faces perhaps the most important decision of his life. Several visitors to Clark’s office give the Prime Minister dire predictions about his chances of staying in office. Clark’s wife, Maureen McTeer, several cabinet ministers, Brian Mulroney, Stephen Harper and Pierre Trudeau all pay Clark imaginary visits, on the fatal day, begging him to reconsider going ahead with the vote.

Talwar & Wong in a scene from “1979” Photo by Andrew Alexander

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Soulpepper’s Canadian history sizzles Reply

Review by Judith Robinson
            Playwright Michael Hollingsworth’s cycle of Canadian history plays are a national treasure. He’s as deserving of accolades as Pierre Burton for his undying determination to preserve our nation’s colourful past. VideoCabaret/Soulpepper’s Scandal and Rebellion, now playing in at the Young Centre in Toronto is perhaps his best work so far.
As in Confederation & Riel, the first half of this dramatic segment, Richard Clarkin stole the show. The tall, mercurial actor has a strong stage presence that emanates right out to the audience. Not only was he brilliant as Sir John A. Macdonald, but his role as Cree War Chief, Wandering Spirit, was stunning and magical.

A scene from CONFEDERATION Part 2

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A ‘Death Trap’ in Scarborough Reply

Review by Michael Piscitelli
As I sit in my friend’s apartment contemplating the show I had just seen, while listening to her talk endlessly about how cute her dog is, I try my hardest to think about community theatre to drown out her incessant songs of her precious little boy to the tune of “My Favourite Things” from the Sound of Music. There is a certain performative aspect that one gets from improvised show tunes in one’s kitchen, that reminds me of the small things you see in community theatre that make it so personal to those involved.

      The cast of DEATH TRAP – –  Photo by Erin Jones

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