Monday, 30 May 2016

ONstage Openings for the week of May 30

ONstage Opening in Southwestern Ontario
Macbeth at Stratford Festival
Ian Lake, Krystin Pellerin
Photo by David Hou
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Toronto

Jun. 2, The 11th Annual InspiraTO Festival at Theatre Inspirato
Jun. 4, The Last Dinosaur at Solar Stage Children's Theatre
Jun. 5, Hansel & Gretel at Solar Stage Children's Theatre

In Central Ontario

Jun. 2, Four Play: A Showcase of Play Readings at South Simcoe Theatre (Cookstown)
Jun. 2, On Golden Pond at Port Hope Festival Theatre
Jun. 3, Aladdin: The Panto at Drayton Entertainment: King's Wharf Theatre (Penetanguishene), with previews from May 31

In Eastern Ontario

Jun. 2, The Music Man at Belleville Theatre Guild, with a preview on May 31
Jun. 2, 9 to 5: The Musical at Studio Theatre Perth
Jun. 2, Jane Eyre - A Musical Adaptation at Bottle Tree Productions (Kingston) 
Jun. 3, The Who's Tommy at Orpheus Musical Theatre Society (Ottawa)

In South Central Ontario

Jun. 2, Opening Night at Studio PAVAS (Mississauga)
Jun. 3, Buying the Moose at The Curtain Club (Richmond Hill), with a preview on Jun. 2

In Southwestern Ontario

May 30, Macbeth at Stratford Festival, currently in previews
ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Wichita Lineman: The Music of Glen Campbell
Leisa Way, Aaron Solomon
May 30, Breath of Kings: Rebellion at Stratford Festival, in previews
May 31, A Chorus Line at Stratford Festival, currently in previews
May 31, Breath of Kings: Redemption at Stratford Festival, in previews 
Jun. 1, All My Sons at Stratford Festival, currently in previews
Jun. 2, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Stratford Festival, currently in previews
Jun. 2, The 39 Steps at Simcoe Little Theatre 
Jun. 3, As You Like It at Stratford Festival, currently in previews
Jun. 4, Shakespeare in Love at Stratford Festival, currently in previews


For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Friday, 27 May 2016

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters

Jamie Hunt in Northumberland Players'
production of Boeing Boeing from
Theatre Ontario Festival 2016

Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


TO Toasts

  • ... to Young People’s Theatre who received the Toronto Arts Foundation’s “Arts for Youth” Award.

In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Celebrating Learning Opportunities for Community Theatre Practitioners at Theatre Ontario Festival

Theatre Ontario Festival features a variety of educational events for the passionate, dedicated community theatre practitioners. Highlights included:
Plus… catch-up on all of the social conversation from Theatre Ontario Festival 2016 on Storify

Highlights of the Detailed Adjudication of The Drowning Girls at Theatre Ontario Festival 2016

By Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Highlights of the detailed adjudication by Mimi Mekler of The Curtain Club’s production of The Drowning Girls by Beth Graham, Daniela Vlaskalic and Charlie Tomlinson (representing the Association of Community Theatres—Central Ontario—ACT-CO)

  • Play requires water effects: characters in bathtubs, showers overhead—numerous issues to address (risk of mildew, electrical safety, temperature, hygiene, etc.); operation requires them to work independently of each other; explored different strategies.
  • In original production, raked the stage from 15-feet at the front to 11-feet at the back to drain U.S. into a trough; too complicated to rake the state here, so created a lip.
  • Varied temperature according to needs of actors, as best as possible. They always felt safe performing.
  • Costumes experimented with different fabrics, eventually built the underwear and dresses out of curtain material that was sheer and dried quickly.
  • Strength of production was its simplicity: specific and crystal clear
  • What are the challenges and traps of the play? Director’s concept was of a purgatory. Bessie arrives first, alone until Alice arrives as playmate. Margaret is the new girl who shows up and hast to be taught the games—28 games in total.
  • Props: The newspapers was created, found authentic stories to ground it in reality, and then sprayed (essentially a scotch-guard) so that they were water-safe and could be pulled out of the bathtub.
  • The play has the qualities of a memory play: How do you make them active? Where do the characters make their discoveries?
  • Alice and Margaret each have moments of discovery in narrative, Bessie is more challenging because she constantly forgave him, and gave him the template for his future actions—for her, it is in the gasp after the murder.
  • Characters of Alice’s mother, the landlady are interesting—offered the women help but refused.
  • Margaret’s realization when she is alone and has time to think that she doesn’t really know him—in spite of her background, wouldn’t she be more modest because of that discovery?
  • Is there a moment of discovery that he is the same man? The clang of the prison door suggested something in common, recognized echoes and similarities. Needed clarity of that recognition.
  • Blaming the victim encapsulated in that moment of “How could they be so stupid?”
  • Thank goodness they were funny: the audience wouldn’t be able to take the play without the humour.  (Good example was Margaret pulling out the reading glasses, a moment we all recognized.)
  • Why laughter at the end? Their journey is complete, and they are free from the purgatory. Did the audience reach that same point of sharing that joy?
  • Fog and harmonium set the mood in the opening.
  • Charades executed with great clarity.
  • Crisp and clean calling of cues by the stage manager.
  • Good costume choices: Margaret has buttons in the front because she has no one to help her.
  • Lights had some difficulty balancing the level for the three tubs, in available time.
  • Accent work of other characters was odd (protagonists are to be played without accents), but it grew over the course of the show.
  • Good theatrical magic: props seeming to appear out of nowhere.
  • The “stuttering” lighting effect of the period movie was extremely well-executed: established a convention and mood, but stopped because it would have been too much for the entire scene to be lit that way.
  • The image of the dancing was another clear image: contrasts of varying heights, body types,  blonde/brunette/redhead, etc.
  • Alice giving the pearls to George was a well-executed symbolic moment that clearly communicated scope of what he did.
  • Bessie as the insurance salesman—good vocal work to become much more resonant to distinguish the character.  As the doctor, she took great pleasure in playing a horrible man.
  • The scene with the cleaning ladies is a problematic, long scene. Good use of physical blocking around the tubs to show variety. Tried different accents for the three characters, with the tentative looks above. Would they have benefitted from being more personally affected by the events?
  • Pouring water into the bathtubs—didn’t hear the sound of the water pouring, perhaps pouring from a greater height. Problem is that the water levels are not that high.
  • Strong transformation into and through singing of Nearer My God to Thee.
  • Hard to duplicate lighting effect in home theatre where the LEDs seemed to change the colour inside of the tubs.
  • Production was expected to be a challenge for their audience, but it resonated positively with them.
As always, this is my best effort to record the conversation at the Detailed Adjudication, with a standard apology for any misrepresentations of the ideas of the adjudicator and the members of the company. Corrections and clarifications are welcome in the comments.

Highlights of the Detailed Adjudication of 33 Variations at Theatre Ontario Festival 2016

By Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Highlights of the detailed adjudication by Mimi Mekler of Theatre Sarnia’s production of 33 Variations by Mois├ęs Kaufman (representing the Western Ontario Drama League—WODL)
  • Director’s research process began two years ago; actor handled research of ALS; learned that even research can lead astray (pronunciation correction that came up following their performance in WODL Festival); virtual tours of the places described.
  • Gertie’s German accent involved Skyping with a friend in Germany.
  • Conversation with actors around their goals, objectives, tactics for each character.
  • Is assisted death legal in Germany? If so, why not in the hospital? Company believed character would want it at home.
  • Used projections as required in script; established pre-show with the title of the play and single light on the piano.
  • Opening moment: the pianist behaving as if starting a concert.
  • Good choice in set design to use piano benches as furniture.
  • First audience laugh in the opening scene—line helps us recognize the character and go with her
  • Diabelli’s costume—Could it have told us more about his personality, beyond shabby and worn (needs money), evolves as his status grows.
  • What is the status between Schindler and Diabelli; Diabelli is lower status, trying to grow his company.
  • Katherine was well blocked in the negotiation scene between Diabelli and Schindler: demonstrating she is “immersed” in her work.
  • Brought great clarity of choice to Katherine—there is no other possibility for her than work.
  • The next Diabelli / Schindler scene had a lot of presentational blocking.
  • Mike and Clara at the tech support office: Find ways to “turn up the heat” in this scene between them. Why does she kiss him? A thank-you for a break in the stress of being a caregiver. When we’re feeling stressed, the moment that makes us cry is when someone is nice to us. Explore these significant moments.
  • Beethoven’s hair—he walked on stage and got a laugh, which was not the intention. Went to a place of caricature. They realized at performance that it was bigger than it had ever been before.
  • Found ways to use projection scenes when not projecting by showing images of windows.
  • Gertie’s initial costume made her seem dowdy, but the remainder of costumes were successful.
  • Projection of the archives room was challenging: hard to convey size of the room on the smaller screens.
  • One folio was small and hard to read in projection; may have benefitted from giving up realism.
  • Strong balance of sound, awareness of music.
  • Mike’s tie for the date was a great choice of costuming: he got dressed up, but he clearly has odd taste in clothes.
  • Find ways to bring specificity and focus to the stakes in a scene: Example was the “When will it be ready?” scene between Beethoven, Diabelli, Schindler.
  • Excellent projection at train station; nice intimate bench as set piece to physically force Katherine and Gertie together; great clarity between the two.
  • Disco music—Did they try keeping it going? Experimented at rehearsal but decided to keep it like the other sound cues. The pounding music does reinforce Mike and  Clara’s relationship, similar to the way Beethoven’s music does.
  • X-ray scene was extremely tasteful: brief flashes of light gave us impressions, sound cues were percussive, with actor’s breath over top of it; moment ends with Katherine leaning on Beethoven’s back.
  • Blocking of finale of Act One: Choice made between options of realism vs stylized; carefully choreographed.
  • The walker brought colour onto the stage; fortunate that it fit the colour scheme.
  • Opening monologue—Mike and Clara were not frozen (which had previously been convention), drew focus.
  • Well-executed comedy: humour is not in the line, but in the reaction to the line.
  • Beethoven’s hair—Was it possible for the greying to layer over time? No, given backstage logistics, actor’s own hair.
  • Schindler’s active listening while Katherine is discovering the lies in his biography, example of how you can own a moment without having dialogue.
  • Cafeteria scene was extremely well-blocked with straight line, order of characters.
  • Beethoven wandering while composing—Director wanted him to take up the full-stage; the fugue as struggle in all spaces. Did they ever try the monologue in stillness, with the full stage lx eventually reducing itself to a spotlight? Did his movement convey to us anything we didn’t already know.
  • Clarity of Gertie’s accent was excellent—carried through to the final words of sentences. Emotionally she is withdrawing, theatrically she must keep going.
  • The stakes of the Katherine/Gertie friendship falling apart were high and well-played.
  • Wonderful directorial choice of the wheelchair dance, which was not written into the script.
  • Kyrie was lovely to hear—strong vocal range by the cast.
  • Great contrast of Katherine playing the opposites in the subsequent hallucination scene.
  • Chose not to use the German pronunciation of Beethoven to keep it simple for the audience.
  • The cuddle between Katherine and Clara in the bed was a wonderful, active choice.
  • Minuet steps were historically accurate.
  • Vocal warm-ups included singing Kyrie on piano; had homework and exercises to find their own.
  • Props creation involved significant detail, and read well.
As always, this is my best effort to record the conversation at the Detailed Adjudication, with a standard apology for any misrepresentations of the ideas of the adjudicator and the members of the company. Corrections and clarifications are welcome in the comments.