Thursday, June 29, 2006

Shows to See

I have realized that reserving this blog exclusively for content which pertains to Antony & Cleopatra isn't paying off. My A&C brainstorms aren't coming often enough to justify its existence. And besides, I chose the name "Stage Whispers" so I could comment on anything theatre related (with particular focus on Walterdale's upcoming season, which has the same name). If I'd wanted an exclusively A&C-related blog, I would have called it "Salad Days."

So here are notes about a couple of other shows in town which anyone who happens to be reading ought to see..

First, the last show of my first season at Walterdale is running until July 8...and it's fantastic! Actually, it's The Fantasticks, the smash hit Broadway musical that ran for 45 years or some insane length. My beloved Grade 8 Language Arts teacher introduced me to this play, and it feels like a weirdly satisfying personal achievement to have been instrumental in bringing it to life. It's a very sweet, charming, high-spirited and good-hearted play, and this production (directed by Martin Galba) has a lot of lovely touches, including some big show-stopping numbers where so much is going on all over the stage that you want to be able to hit rewind and watch it again.

On the other end of the comic-tragic spectrum, I went to the opening night performance of Free Will Players' Hamlet in Hawrelak Park. John Kirkpatrick plays Hamlet, and he's one of the most energetic and accessible Danes I've seen (and I've seen plenty in my time). I also loved the costume design, especially Julien Arnold's Ghost costume -- he's a bronze statue come to life (well, not quite life...he is a ghost, after all). The first half of the production took H's line "Time is out of joint" literally: the clock above the stage kept spinning and skipping, and several scenes involved "time jumps," with the actors "rewinding" and playing snatches of lines again. It was an inventive device (reminded me of Donnie Darko), and I wish they'd found a way to make use of it in the second half too (imagine sword-fighting done backwards!).

I recommend both shows--although I have to give preference to The Fantasticks, of course, since it's my baby.

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