Saturday, November 14, 2009

Theatre is all around us in November!

Last week I wrote of the many theatrical and musical events coming up this week alone; there are plenty still to come, of course, as we continue along to Christmas which is a little over a month away, if you can believe it.

Last evening, I attended one of the events I wrote about last week; Stephen Sondheim's very complex musical A Little Night Music is being staged by students of the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University at the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre. The production opened Thursday evening for four performances, the final performance being this evening at 7:30. Plenty of tickets will be available at the box office up to performance time, I would imagine.

This is a tough musical to stage, as there is so much going on and the storyline is so intricate. But director Virginia Reh has done a credible job sorting everything out while putting her own spin on the musical. The set design by David Vivian, although unwieldy at times due to the number of scene changes, works quite well and is very attractive. It doesn't look anything like any student production you've ever seen before, and that's good.

Now, being Dramatic Arts students, they are still cutting their teeth on theatrical works and finding their way, so we don't have a professional production here as you would have seen a couple of seasons ago at the Shaw Festival. That being said, I thought the students have nothing to worry about here: they all show great promise and managed the intricate plot and scene changes quite well. True, not all of them will become household names in the future, but a few might, and it is encouraging to see them tackle such a difficult piece.

The music, although limited to only one 'hit' song, "Send In The Clowns", of course, is still vital and witty even a quarter century or more after first hitting the stage in the early 70s. Sondheim did some of his best work on this musical, and it deserves another look, so if you have the time tonight, you might want to take it in.

Still to come later this week, I will be attending the opening night performance of Lyndesfarne Theatre Projects' first main stage production of the season: The Beauty Queen of Leenane, by Martin McDonagh. Directed by Donna Belleville, the play dates from 1996 and has garnered numerous awards including the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play.

Along with Belleville, a couple of other Shaw Festival ensemble members are in this production: Graeme Somerville and Jennifer Phipps. Rounding out the cast are Lyndesfarne's Artistic Director Kelly Daniels and Craig Pike. This promises to be a strong start to another interesting season of Lyndesfarne, and that's good to see. We need more winter theatre in Niagara, and they are doing their level best to provide it.

The play opens Saturday night, November 21st, with the opening night performance benefitting the St. Catharines General Hospital Foundation. It runs to December 6th at the Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse Theatre in downtown St. Catharines. For tickets, call the boxoffice at 905-938-1222.

November 14th, 2009.

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