A Little Night Music Sept. 16th, ’16

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It’s great to see Ben Carlson on stage in a comedy. His timing as the clueless husband of the too young trophy wife was just irresistibly funny. The story is I think well known (also I saw it before on Broadway so you can find it in my own blog. It’s about a husband finding out he married the wrong woman (girl, in this case), about a successful actress realising she needs more than another fling outside her profession and a child watching the night smile three times – once for the young, (as the young wife finds love with her husband’s son and two servants indulge in a fling) once for the adults, (the actress (Yanna McIntosh) and the married man(Carlson as Fredrik)  coming together for good this time, the married lover (Juan Chioran) getting back to his understanding wife(Cynthia Dale)) and once for the old(Rosemary Dunsmore), who smile over long gone stories while they slip into the last sleep.

With a great cast and an incredibly elegant choir the Avon also outdid itself with a lavish stage design. Sondheim’s songs never sounded better (I’m absolutely certain that this is not a musical but something so much greater) and “Send in the clowns” brought me to tears. It’s a wonderful production with lavish costumes.

An absolute winner, unless you sit next to a continuously farting man who stank to high heaven. Sigh. Oh well.

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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.