1. Another new musical from Angelwalk theatre starring you! Tell us about this one.
Thanks! I am thrilled to be working for this company. I Love You Because is a modern musical love story told through the eyes of six New Yorkers. It is your classic romantic comedy about mismatched couples falling in and out of love... kind of like "When Harry Met Sally" the musical!
2. Who is your character in the show and what part does she play in the story?
I play Diana- the pivotal "best friend" character. In every romantic comedy there is always a best friend or side kick who always seems to get the hero into some kind of trouble. In my case, I am an actuary who, while helping my best friend get over her ex, tells her to find a guy that is completely wrong for her... and decides to try this theory out for herself too. Obviously these oh-so wrong guys end up being the ones we fall for and Diana is forced to take a closer look at herself and how she lives her life.
3. A beef I have long held against a lot of love stories is that they present an unrealistic interpretatoin/ideal of love and relationships. How does I Love You Because present love and relationships?
I agree! What I love about this show is that there is no love at first sight and there is no grandiose romance. The love that forms in this show is based on real people. Of course these people are heightened slightly... I mean come on- this is a musical after all, but I think everyone can relate to these characters which doesn't always happen in these types of stories.
4. Learning to love someone's faults isn't easy; can you share a time when you learned to love someone's faults or someone learned to love yours (assuming you've got some!)
Well, in my past relationships I have dated musicians... pretty much exclusively. I guess that's what bonded us right away which is why it worked at first but they were never really right for me. My current boyfriend is a sports guy. I'm not saying that being a sports guy and not a musician is a fault, but I certainly learned that he balanced me out so much better than anyone else I had ever dated. And he has taught me so much about the truly important things in life. And we have been together for almost 2 years! Imagine that! As for my faults... Come on, everyone knows I am perfect. :)
5. If you could write a greeting card message about love, what would it be?
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I can't actually express how I feel about you on a card so just come here and kiss me.
6. What's next for you in the world of musical theatre?
Well, I am returning to Drayton Entertainment for my third season to be in their productions of The Sound of Music and Perfect Wedding. That will take me to August. After that, it's up to the Theatre Gods!
I Love You Because opens tonight and runs until April 15 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, Studio Theatre (5040 Yonge St.) For tix, click here or call: 1-855-985-5000.
"Think of something that makes you happy. Think happy thoughts."
So goes the mantra of Margaret (Barbara Gordon), the widow and matriarch of a small, dysfunctional family.
Unable to confront, cope or even intervene in any issue that resembles negative, Margaret chooses to live in her own cheery reality, free from awkward unpleasantries, and, as you'd expect, any semblance of real-life.
We've all met people like Margaret - individuals who are so uniformly high-spirited that it goes beyond the spread of good karma to sheer annoyance and pity. I see these people and think "How do they get through life?!" And therein lies the rub.
As the play unfolds we learn that the cheerful sins of the mother are visited upon the children. Christian (Martin Happer) has taken on the deluded avoidance tactics of his mother, to his detriment, and Cassie (Maev Beaty), unable to honestly communicate with her family, acts out in sexually explicit and sometimes cruel ways in order to shock and be noticed.
All of these family values are played out around the strife of Christian's fragile wife Stasia's pregnancy. Stasia (Ingrid Rae Doucet) is obsessively convinced there is something wrong with her unborn child, and goes so far with her belief that she refuses to see the baby when it's born and is instead, checked into the pysch ward of the hospital.
Naturally, all of these scenarios are played down, ignored or glossed over by Margaret and the only truthful insight we're given into the entire familial mess is from BellaDonna, the gossipy neighbour, with a caring heart (an excellent Maria Vacratsis).
Cullis' play has some real depth to it; she asks the question as to whether happiness and honesty can indeed co-exist, and also effectively demonstrates how powerful a tool the human mind can be in manufacturing truths and in convincing one's self that these truths are reality and always have been.
I wish that the play had stuck to these ideas. They are simple, authentic, widely understood and relevant.
Instead the play was bogged down with other ideas, ones I felt were placed on the play rather than coming from somewhere within it.
The term "gratuitous technique" was offered to me by a friend and I think it's the most apt description of what happened. The characters would deliver dialogue straight to the audience, then suddenly turn to each other and talk, or they would be having what appeared to be a monologue, indoors, but another character who is outdoors, would comment on their words. There was no context or uniformity of space.
Then there was useless movement - oddly timed standing or moving from point A to point B with no seen/heard motivation to do so, and there were distinct lighting techniques that seemed extraneous to the story and were distracting.
I felt like it was a contest in directorial techniques and Kelly Thorton wanted to see how many she could include in one play and none of them seemed to enhance the story.
Following THE PENELOPIAD, a play where the direction was paramount to the effectiveness of the storytelling and a challenge that Thorton rose to with appropriate panache, it seems bizarre to me that the direction of her next play could seem so heavy-handed here.
I guess you can't win 'em all. But don't tell Margaret.
THE HAPPY WOMAN is on until March 24 at the Berkeley St. Theatre (26 Berkeley St). For tickets click here or call: 416-368-3110.
With the amount of hype behind the Mirvish production of WAR HORSE, the show needed to be pret-ty spectacular to live up to it. Fortunately, it is and it does.
To me, there is nothing more invigorating than a theatrical production that uses the conventions of a theatre (set, lights, props, sound and actors) to effectively tell a story. By that, I mean that the artifices of a theatre are capitalized on to not only enhance the story, but are used in the actual telling of the story so that the plot and the theatrical componants are inseperable.
WAR HORSE embraced this philosophy and I loved it.
Take the horses. Without exaggeration, I can honestly say that they are works of art, and the actors manipulating them portray the nuances of a horse with fantastic accuracy. The horses are a showstopper when they’re moving (running, jumping, etc) but it’s in the smaller, more minute movements, where the real magic happens. The ears twinge, the tail swishes, the head shakes – all incredibly life-like and always simultaneously executed by three different actors, giving the impression that in addition to sharing the same horse costume, the actors also share the same brain.
The amount of rehearsal behind this had to be exhausting. But so worth it. I felt real compassion for those horses even though I could always see the human legs underneath them.
The set = simplisity. So much so, that when I walked in, I was initially disappointed. It's a black stage with a piece of distressed-looking white material hanging half-way down the proscenium archway, looking like it’s been ripped from a book (a theme that ties in with the play). But this non-descript white material immediately became a versatile backdrop for projections to establish settings, time, action and was easily one of the more ingenious ideas in the production. A-mazing.
The props, along with the horses (which are also, arguably props) were my fav. Venues, places, town, were easily established with the slight change of props. One minute you're in a livestock auction, the next you're at a farm and the only things that changed were the placement of some sticks. (ok, and a couple more things but, really, barely anything!) It's all just so clever.
The actors, overall, were also dynamite. Although I think the lack of personal mics caused some of the actors to overcompensate for volume. Alex Furber, who plays the lead Albert, was a bit… yell-y.
I kept wondering if he’s going to sound like Brian Johnson from AC DC before the show’s run is through. The O.T.T. voicework detracted from some of the actors’ dramatic range and the heavy cheese factor of the script unfortunately compounded the melodrama effect. (How many times do we need to hear Albert dramatically yell “JOEEEEEEEYYYYYYYY!!!” to know that he loves his horse.)
But the cast is really fabulous. They work HARD throughout this show and it's evident in the precise execution of almost everything they do.
WAR HORSE is a beautifully directed play. I felt like those who created it love and appreciate the artform, and that came through in all its innovative glory. It made me proud that the cast was all-Canadian and to know that the abundance of talent on stage is homegrown. Yelling and awkward songstress entrances aside (an idea that probably worked in theory but not practice), WAR HORSE is a theatrical experience for the history books.
WAR HORSE is on now at the Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King St. W.). For tickets click here or call: 416-872-1212. #WarHorseTO
Gasp! "Did you see that?!" "Oh! That was something!" "Well, I've never seen that before!"
This is what I heard from the people seated behind me during DARK MATTERS on Wednesday. The latest work by Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite is on stage at the Bluma Appel Theatre until March 3 (tomorrow!). While I am an avid fan of dance, I have to admit the second half of the performance left me colder than the first, but all of it was really very cool. The first half is a gorgeously dark and exciting piece about a puppet creation gone awry. Manipulated by five dancers, the approx. 3 ft wooden puppet comes to life in a way his creator couldn't handle and the relationship between the two, warts and all, was riveting. The music, the dance and the lighting, all seamlessly came together to show the highs and gruesome lows of a relationship between parent and child. The wooden puppet was so realistic I half expected it to come out during curtain call.
In short: it was awesome. Extremely creative, pushed the boundaries of how dance is defined and the story went places I couldn't have predicted. And it was funny.
The second half was also beautiful - let's get that straight. The dancers were unbelievable. The lighting was fantastic. But I couldn't figure out the story. Everytime I thought I had it, I didn't; and while I can gaze in awe at the strength and talent of dancers for quite a while without needing to be entertained by a linear story, I did feel frustrated at my lack of knowledge about the purpose of anything at all on stage. I wish I could provide more insight, but I can't.
I CAN tell you that it was also very cool. If you're a fan of dance or even if you like having your brain challenged by theatre, this could be the stuff for you.
LA FILLE MAL GARDEE, on now at the Four Season Centre, is worth it to see the boyancy of Naoya Ebe. His gravity-defying leaps and his precision in landing are jaw dropping (literally, my jaw dropped). In typical National Ballet fashion, the entire cast isn't far behind him. Every dancer on stage excels and their joie de danse (French grammer beware!) is obvious and infectious. Add into this graceful mix, brightly coloured costumes, a pretty set and loads of satin ribbon, and you've got yourselves two hours of happy feet.
And boy do I wish that were enough for me.
LA FILLE reminds me of a Rogers & Hammerstein musical; at the time of creation it was innovative but now...not so much.
The plot, created in 1789, centres around the blissful love between Lise (Jillian Vanstone in her debut in the role) and Colas (Naoya Ebe in his debut in the role) and the antics the two participate in to be together. Lise's mother, the Widow Simone, (played by Kevin D. Bowles - also a debut - typically played by a man to much comic buffonery) has, however, promised Lise's hand to Alain, the oddball son of the wealthy Thomas. Comedy ensues as the couple play simple tricks on the Widow Simone to be together, frolick where they can, while the town revels in their love and in the general merriment of living in the French countryside in springtime.
So like an R&H musical, LA FILLE is fun and toe-tapping... but that doesn't necessarily mean it should continue to be produced. Like some R&H shows, the content in LA FILLE is so antiquated it's now almost offensive. Forget the fact that the heroine Lise only wants to get married and have babies and doesn't do anything but avoid the chores her mother gives her, and forget the fact that her mother's mode of discipline is spanking and slaps in the face (this is actually done on stage), what is the hardest to take in LA FILLE is that the audience is supposed to laugh at the character of Alain. This character is strange; he doesn't subscribe to societal norms and he has bizarre social ticks. The townspeople are borderline nice to him, but also mock him and cast him off and we, as the audience, are supposed to find this funny and laugh at Alain along with everyone else. This is a central idea in LA FILLE and I couldn't accept it. I couldn't suspend my disbelief and laugh at a simpleton character who shows only emotions of love, who doesn't understand social graces and so doesn't comprehend why he's being mocked. It's just not funny, even if it's under the guise of comedy and no I will not loosen up about it.
Some things just don't translate anymore.
But the split-leaps of Naoya Ebe sure do.
DARK MATTERS is on until March 3 (tomorrow!) at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St. E.). For tix, visit
canadianstage.com or call: 416-368-3110
LA FILLE MAL GARDEE is on until March 4 (Sunday!) at the Four Seasons Centre (145 Queen St. W.). For tix, visit www.national.ballet.ca or call: 416-345-9595