Monday, June 13, 2016

Theatre Update

Alright, it has been awhile since I touched base on the performance side of things.

shakespeare in love 

Like a long time! I am trying to think what I need to recap you on.

I left half-way through a production of If/Then because neither the music nor the plot and characters grabbed me.   I did enjoy seeing Anthony Rapp, though

The Judas Kiss was a brilliant adventure for renowned actor Rupert Everett: who embodies Oscar Wilde in a warm and funny way.  The contrast between the Wilde of the first act and subsequently the Wilde of the second, post-incarceration, is remarkable and displayed in Everett's tone and body language.  Perhaps the most alluring aspect of this play, to me, was the way it incapsulated the language and wit of a Wilde play, appropriating it to tell his story. The rhythms and nuances were quite deft and wonderful.

Theatre-adjacent and performance wise, I had the opportunity to hear Kathleen Battle two weeks ago through a cycle of Negro Spirituals and backed by a marvellous choir.  Roy Thomson Hall was the perfect setting for her resplendent voice and she was a performer on my bucket list.  She has a haunting away of wrapping her instrument around haunting metrics. I loved it.

Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is one of the smartest, funniest shows I have ever seen. I am actually going back I liked it so much.  It is based on the British black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets and features Monty Navarro: an impoverished man mourning the death of his mother who learns she is a distant relative of a wealthy and titled family.  He picks off his relatives in rather ingenious and hilarious ways to climb to the top of the pecking order.   The staging is  wonderful and the Gilbert and Sullivan-esque musical numbers pay homage to the Edwardian music halls with perfect musical setting.

I was in Stratford this weekend ( I hope to return again this summer)

A Chorus Line is a passion project of famed Stratford choreographer and director Donna Feore.  Stratford's production is the first time Michael Bennett's estate has allowed a professional company to perform the show on a stage that is not a proscenium arch.

A Chorus Line is familiar to me as is its music, but I have never seen it performed live. A complete contrast to the opulent mechanics of a show such as Gentleman's Guide, the stage is black with only lights and mirrors to create the world of a Broadway theatre on one day of audition eliminations.     It is one of the best musicals I have seen at Stratford, mostly because there were no weak links in the cast. Everyone was talented vocally and in dancing with a few stand-out solos. The orchestra was also amazing.     It is a very effective piece: highlighting vignettes of auditioning dancers and digging into their backgrounds, only to have them fade into one seamless and un-indvidualized line at the end.

(note: if you haven't seen the documentary Every Little Step it is worth the watch for anyone interested in Broadway).

Yesterday afternoon, I went to Shakespeare in Love at the Avon (which I prefer to the Festival Theatre, sorry ).  Tom Stoppard ( a brilliant playwright) also dabbles in Hollywood and the film made for sensible theatrical pursuit.  Unfortunately, despite the costumes, staging, music ( extra points for the troubadours and performers on stage ) the two leads failed to have any chemistry at all which undercut the smarter and more alluring parts of the feminist historical tale.  I, of course, love the trope of a woman dressing as a man in order to pursue a man's world but I didn't buy the two leads as really grasping the mouth-dropping and unexpected and blatantly forward story they were telling.

It did, however, remind me how wonderful Stoppard is: interweaving Two Gentleman of Verona and Romeo and Juliet with his own lines--their cadence and exposition worthy of the Bard.

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