New Musical Could Benefit by Better Direction

I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the Warehouse to see the new musical written by local young artists Quinn Joseph (music) and Connor Joseph (book and lyrics). I liked the music immediately – the four piece band began the show, giving the audience a taste of what was to come. Some of the lyrics were hit and miss but there were definitely more hits than misses, and there were enough gems in this 90-minute show to convince this reviewer of the writer/lyricist’s obvious talent and potential. For example: “Before she cuts your head off, I’d better head off…” was one of the more subtle play on words that made me smile. The show’s comedic component was somewhat juvenile, and it definitely could have benefitted  from tighter direction, which would have given the musical more focus and a better flow. Having a choreographer also may have been helpful . When you have five characters on stage, it’s difficult to control the action and achieve a healthy balance. As well, the set could have been simpler – thereby avoiding the lugging of furniture on and off the stage. But there were also many standouts, like the melodic duet between the two men, Where are you now? In fact, much of the music was interesting and memorable. While the show needs considerable work, it got its point across, and...

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A New Look at an Old Trump

What can you say about Donald Trump that hasn’t been said before? That hasn’t been discussed, debated, disputed, asserted and fought over on practically every major news show in the free world since “the Donald” became the republican candidate and went on to win the presidency? This is the question District Theatre Collective started with when they chose to do a show about Trump. They wanted to provide an insightful, entertaining, unique piece of theatre that was not simply a rerun of what we’ve all been subjected to for far, far too long. And that’s exactly what the Winnipeg-based company succeeds in doing. This historical, hysterical exploration of how Donald the boy became Donald the man is centred around a game night; the game being played is the Donald Trump board game (which uses money stolen from Monopoly – then adds six zeros to each denomination). In other hands, this hour-long collection of monologues and sketches about Trump’s early years, influences and experiences, could have turned out to be a pedestrian effort at best – but thanks to a well-written script (adapted by District Theatre Collective from a monologue by Mike Daisey), a cast of first-rate actors – Elliot Lazar, Julie Lumsden, Connie Manfredi, Aaron Pridham and Anjali Sandhu – and Tatiana Carnevale’s even-handed direction, the Trump Card rises to a level of professionalism that is becoming more prevalent...

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The Incredible Journey

In Periscope, writer and performer Megan Phillips is on a journey of self-discovery, and whether that journey includes taking mind-altering drugs seems to be up for debate. In her search for happiness, she makes the wrong decision at a comedy party and experiences some undesired effects of MDMA. For those of you unfamiliar with the drug (this reviewer included), MDMA is a “synthetic drug that alters mood and perception of surrounding objects and conditions”. Phillips goes on to describe how the night went and it’s clear this “happy pill” brings her nothing but grief. While I found the script somewhat disjointed, Phillips has an honesty and enthusiasm about her that is endearing. She seems to be truly searching for answers, invariably coming to conclusions that are at best, unsatisfying and at worst, disastrous. But don’t get me wrong – this show is not a downer. There is some very funny stuff and equally clever writing – particularly when she talks about her kinship with Cinderella (“It’s not a complex for no reason!”). And while I couldn’t personally relate to a lot of Phillips’ existential baggage, the mainly 20-something crowd appeared to be hanging on her every...

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Almost a Stepmom

Compelling Irish Tale Well Told   It is talent – not luck (o’ the Irish) – that makes Almost a Stepmom a delight from beginning to end. The aforementioned talent belongs to Vancouver-based Keara Barnes, writer and performer of this autobiographical, one-woman show. Within one fast-moving hour, Barnes relates her travels to Ireland for a six-month stay that turns into three years, when she falls in love with an Irish fellow and his daughter. One of the traits of an exceptional actor is her/his ability to assume a host of characters while shifting seamlessly from one to the other. Barnes does this so well, using only voice and body language, that one can almost see the broad-shouldered Irishman, his precocious five-year-old daughter and the vicious, yet striking, ex-wife. Not only is this tale well-executed – it is also a compelling tale – one of the hallmarks of good storytelling. And the characters’ Irish accents do not deter Barnes – in fact, she is spot-on in her delivery (and though she may have picked up the accent from her time spent in Ireland, Barnes is consistent in moving back and forth from the Irish accents to her Canadian one). While this play is advertised as a drama, there are many hilarious moments that yielded genuine belly laughs from the Saturday night close-to-capacity crowd. If you’ve ever wanted to visit Ireland,...

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Josephine

Talented Young Performer Becomes Josephine Josephine is this year’s must-see Fringe show simply because, for an hour, the audience is treated to the haunting voice and commanding presence of Tymisha Harris. Harris begins the show in a stunning, black-sequined, full-length skirt and black top – a lone figure standing in a single centre spotlight – displaying a combination of elegance and vulnerability. This is one of the many sides of Jospehine Baker, the first African-American international superstar, who married twice before she was 18, spoke out for human rights throughout her life and, during the war, was a spy with the French resistance. Harris’s provocative dance moves and attention-grabbing outfits show the star’s willingness to defy the conventions of the time and reveal all. Yet her throaty blend of jazz and blues aptly evokes the pain and passion of Baker’s early years. Shunned by Americans, who called her “too black” for the stage, Baker found fame in France, becoming an overnight sensation in Paris, a city that celebrated her immense talent and versatility. Billed as a “burlesque cabaret dream play,” Josephine is much more than that, rising to the top of its form under the skilled direction of Michael Marinaccio and a smart, well-balanced script by Tod Kimbro. Sunday night’s sold-out crowd gave Harris a rousing standing ovation, which I’m sure will be one of many, in this ridiculously...

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Patron Ratings

(2 votes minimum)
  1. Prophecy
    Rating: 9.4. From 5 votes.
  2. The House of Yes
    Rating: 9.1. From 8 votes.
  3. Josephine
    Rating: 8.8. From 9 votes.
  4. On Love
    Rating: 8.8. From 4 votes.
  5. The Standoff
    Rating: 8.7. From 6 votes.
  6. The Time In-Between
    Rating: 8.7. From 6 votes.
  7. Comedy is Funny Again
    Rating: 8.7. From 3 votes.
  8. A Fatal Step
    Rating: 8.7. From 3 votes.
  9. The Bald Soprano
    Rating: 8.6. From 5 votes.
  10. Hotter Than Potter
    Rating: 8.5. From 4 votes.