La Cage aux Folles Nov.21st, 2014

Originally posted on Theatre and me:

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I can die a happy woman now. Not only have i been treated like the queen of England – or maybe even better – and kissed not only by Simon but by Todd and the producers, the creative directors et al, I was also lucky enough to see the absolute best version of La Cage aux Folles to date. (There might be a better one in some distant future, but actually I don’t even believe that). 

The seemingly easy interaction between Georges and Albin, the frigging talent of the Cagelles, the sweet, helpless innocence of The Son Jean Michel (Robert Tripolino) that makes him vulnerable… it all adds up to an amazing show that is both gripping and funny and hilarious and heart wrenching. Leave it to Simon Burke to have me sniffling more than once, esp when pointing out how much Albin had sacrificed for him(look over there)…

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La Cage aux Folles Nov.21st, 2014

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I can die a happy woman now. Not only have i been treated like the queen of England – or maybe even better – and kissed not only by Simon but by Todd and the producers, the creative directors et al, I was also lucky enough to see the absolute best version of La Cage aux Folles to date. (There might be a better one in some distant future, but actually I don’t even believe that). 

The seemingly easy interaction between Georges and Albin, the frigging talent of the Cagelles, the sweet, helpless innocence of The Son Jean Michel (Robert Tripolino) that makes him vulnerable… it all adds up to an amazing show that is both gripping and funny and hilarious and heart wrenching. Leave it to Simon Burke to have me sniffling more than once, esp when pointing out how much Albin had sacrificed for him(look over there) or throughout the truly heartwrenching rendition of song on the sand. I loved how they use flashbacks with young actors to show the solid fundament on which their love is built – all within a few takes of the music. Leave it to Todd McKenney to make me feel the real anger during his rendition of I am what I am, no frills, no sugarcoating, just pure human anger. And I absolutely adored the sweet unassuming last scene behind the curtain, in the dressing area, after the Dindons are gone, that made their kiss so much more than just a kiss!
It is a bonus of course that Rhonda Burchmore is part of the ensemb!e as well as Marg Downey as Mrs Dindon – repressed by her overbearing husband – and Gary Sweet as right wing politian. An honourable mention goes to Aljin Abella as The Maid – hilarious as s/he should be.

And the best : I’ll be able to see it again and again and again… Lol

Stage door – yes, definitely. Bar: hell yeah! The woman’s face when she printed out my tickets? Priceless!! All in all a marvellous experience!!!

midsummer night’s dream, a chamber play Sept.12th, ’14

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It’s four amazing actors playing with most of the parts of Shakespeare’s midsummer night’s dream. I was glad I was familiar with the play, as otherwise it would have been a lot less interesting. Dion Johnston, Mike Nadajewski, Sarah Afful and Trish Lindstroem were absolutely fabulous.

And that’s all the good things I’m able to say about the thing. It was shown in what appeared to be a dirty basement with 12 rows of seats. An installation by an artist seemed to me as if everything that had been stored in there was now tucked to the ceiling, but hey, that’s art. Also, I had ordered my ticket in November, when they hadn’t even known yet what venue to use. And then I was seated in the second to last row, and basically didn’t see a thing. I admit I raised a stink and the marvellous stage manager sat me and 3 others in row b.

Unfortunately the directing – by Peter Sellars! – consisted mostly of turning down the lights on the dark coloured stage. It was a bit tiresome. So not really a huge win, this one.

The Beaux Stratagem Sept.11th, ’14

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A restauration comedy, it says. This means that in the disguise of pretty dresses and opulent scenery there come razor sharp wit, sarcastic critique of social misgivings and still very current depictions of flawed characters all enrolled in brilliant dialogue. It’s a laugh and so much fun to enjoy even though it tells of a time when women had no rights at all, notably not if they wanted to escape an abusive relationship.

Hay Fever Sept. 10th, ’14

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It’s Noel Coward. It’s supposed to be brilliant. To think he wrote this over one weekend, no rewrites, makes it even more impressive. He based the play on a famous American actress (she was the first Blanche in streetcar named desire) – and after seeing the play she reportedly never spoke to him again. He seemed to have created a very accurate portrayal of her highly disfunctional family.

In this production Lucy Peacock is the famed actress who fights getting older by terrorising the guests that are lured into their mansion in the country. Stage star Judith Bliss, her novelist husband and their two grown children have each invited houseguests for the weekend. But as the Blisses indulge their artistic eccentricities in a hilarious whirlwind of flirtation and histrionics, the guests begin to wonder if they’ve landed in a madhouse – and if they can survive the weekend with their own wits intact. The family is dangerously  witty, sharp tongued and intelligent and they have no scruples to bring their guests in the worst possible situations. A harmless kiss leads not only to immediate engagement but also to mother Bliss dramatically giving her children away. 

When the guests abscond early in the morning, the family is again happily quarreling about streets in Paris and if they lead to a certain place. Their guests certainly feel lucky that they escape unseen!

The audience is lucky, too. The cast is amazing, Cynthia Dale brilliant as the demi monde, and Lucy Peacock is grand as always. It’s fast paced fun, cleverly unmasking the eccentricities of the rich and famous. A must see in this season in Stratford!

Alice through the looking glass Sept.10th, ’14

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Honestly: just to see the great Tom McCamus dressed in a school girl’s summer dress and later on as a hare is worth the ticket.

 

It’s a kids’ play and as such it’s fun, it’s loud, it’s full of energy and has great costumes. I saw it midweek which meant there were less kids and more pensioners as school has already started. To follow Alice on her quest to become a queen even though she has to start out as a pawn is fun and the poems and dialogues are both witty and clever. I didn’t catch any of the jelly beans they threw into the audience. :( it’s hilarious even for grown ups.

I especially loved the very creative way they had designed the set. It’s a colourful display of trees, stars, there’s books and horses with hoarse voices (see what I did there?) and even without knowing the books it’s huge fun to watch that particular game of chess unfold. Trish Lindstroem is a brilliant Alice who depicts a seven year old incredibly believable. I already wrote how much fun Tom McCamus was in his flowery dress (to think the day before he was a psychotic king… LOL) and Cynthia Dale as the Red Queen was amazing as always. To think that she was on stage AGAIN for the evening performance of Hay Fever makes me really envy her stamina. She was great in HF as well, btw.

King John Sept.9th, ’14

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It’s a seldom played drama that centres around one of the less fabulous kings in English history. John Lackland is often depicted as not very brave, accused of giving in too easily to French demands. With him the reign of the Plantagenets ended. But he was a younger son, and instead of landing in some convent or other, her managed to not only rule England for more than a decade but also signed the Magna Charta (or was forced to signing it – historians differ there), which is the base of modern law.

In the play king john is confronted with his nephew, a boy whose mother – with a little help from the French – wants to push him onto the throne. And it is really the women who are the driving force of the events that follow – at least John makes it look that way. Because his mother opposes the very idea.

And there’s also Philipp the bastard, who – instead of getting the land from his albeit legitimate younger brother – accepts a title as Plantagenet and enthusiastically follows John to war. His sarcastic wit and fighting skills secure him his king’s friendship as they lay siege to a town in France. Because John does go to war against France and Austria (and they even found a guy who eerily looks like one of our less attractive rulers lol) 

And while king John is excommunicated and claims to have won the war, in the end it is a marriage that seals a contract between France and England. Only that king John can’t enjoy the peace that hopefully follows: a monk has poisoned him, he dies.

 

Now the cast. Tom McManus as king John. He adopts an almost singing, lisping voice that makes his orders to kill his young nephew all the more scary. He says outrageous things with a smile a and a wink. He is, as always, very good.

A pleasant surprise is Graham Abbey as Philipp, whose acerbic one liners are to the point and provide the lighter counterpoint to the dramatic story. He has great comedic timing and he gets better every year. Yes, he plays to his female audience, but hey, he has something to play with! If you got it, flaunt it. 

Oh, I booked a second performance for me. I figured I deserve it. ;) and this time it’s going to be stage door!!