I’ve had the pleasure of seeing The Importance of Being Earnest twice in the past six weeks: once on the West End, in an “historical” production uniting a famous cast, and again last night at Hart House Theatre. I am pleased to say that, as much to the credit of Mr. Wilde as to the director, actors, costume designer, and set designer of Hart House Theatre, our local production was just as delightful as the Brits’.
The first show of this year’s UC Follies season is Woyzeck, a challenging drama. I sat down to talk about mental illness, speaking your mind, and so much more with director Jane Smythe.
I had the pleasure of seeing two wonderful shows at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival yesterday: the musical Crazy for You and the comedy classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They were equally extraordinary, but in totally different ways.
The Black Widow of Laporte
Music and Lyrics by Peter Grant Mackechnie
Directed by Shak Haq
Fri, March 14 8pm
Sat, March 15 8pm
Thurs, March 20 8pm
Fri, March 21 8pm
Sat, March 22 2pm & 8pm
Al Green Theatre
[750 Spadina Avenue]*
*use Bloor St. Entrance
Rayah Ali, Kelsey Crowe, Brian De La Franier, Nicole Dionne, Allyson Foster, Mathew Galloway, Hammer Hordatt, Lanndis De Lallo, Sarah Loveless, Ros Martin, Brett McNeill, Deandra Neretlis, Ashley Olah, Melissa Peters, Christopher Shackleton, Cierra Walker, Lawrence Zhang
Director – Shak Haq
Music Director – Peter Grant Mackechnie
Technical Director – Noa Katz
Set Design – Joe Loreto
Costume Design – Shifra Cooper
Props Design – Lanndis De Lallo
Graphic Design – Jenny Kim
Lighting Design – Stephen Dodge
Sound Design – Shak Haq
Stage Manager – Stephen Dodge
Asistant Stage Manager – Alexandra Brennan
Head of Construction – Noa Katz
UofTTix Box Office
[7 Hart House Circle] – 416.978.8849 – uofttix.ca
Single Tickets: $20 – adult | $12 – student & senior
Group Rates (8+ tickets): available by phone & in person at UofTtix: $20 adult (20% savings) | $8 student & senior (17% savings)
ABOUT THE SHOW:
Belle Gunness: The Black Widow of LaPorte is a new musical based on the real-life serial killer of the same name. With a kill count of over 20 victims including her children, husbands, and suitors, the folklore surrounding Belle Gunness still runs through the veins of mid-western America. Perhaps because she was never caught or perhaps because the number of her victims is continuously rising, the notoriety of her tale is certainly worth telling.
Set in the early 1900s, the production focuses on Belle’s life in LaPorte, Indiana, where she meets the hopeful and optimistic Ray, who she coerces to help her with her plans. The show begins with Belle’s arrival and unfolds as we see her effects on her husband Peter, their children, and the colourful cast of townspeople: Daisy (Ray’s fiancée), Sheriff Smutzer, the women of the Suffragette movement, and the locals.
UC Follies’ ongoing production of Sweet Charity is a rare thing: a challenging show that is also entertaining, even fun at times. The premise is high concept; the influences – Brecht, chief among them – are complex, and the setting is inaccessible to everyone, but the show still rewards even those unwilling to do the work. Let me explain.
Adapted from the pages of Hans Christian Anderson, Once on this Island takes us to the French Antilles, where peasants tell the story of Ti Moune: the girl who appeared in a storm. Ti Moune dreams of living with the lighter-skinned grands hommes at the other end of the island; the gods, intrigued and aroused, test her commitment and her heart. When a grand homme is wounded near the village, Ti Moune nurses him to health, going so far as to offer the god of death her soul instead of the strange man’s. (Death accepts, of course, but chooses not to take her life just yet). Once the man is healed, he and Ti Moune fall in love, but Daniel could never marry a dark-skinned peasant. Rejected, Ti Moune is offered a chance to reverse her previous arrangement, to allow Death to take Daniel and let her live. Pure of heart, she refuses, and dies soon thereafter. The gods turn her body into a tree that grows and destroys the gate between the peasants and the grands hommes, bringing the island together. Now imagine that, but with passionate music and awesome choreography.
Following on the successful heels of last semester’s drama, UC Follies will be producing the legendary Broadway musical Sweet Charity from January 31 – February 8. I had a chance to sit down with director Victoria McEwan, several kilometres away on my laptop, to ask her a few questions about herself and the show.