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The (Friday) Theater Roundup

As Curtain Up! approaches, the summer theater season continues unabated. This week's theater roundup (apologies for its day-lateness), certainly reflects that.

This weekend marks the final few performances of "All Shook Up!" at Artpark, a musical revue set to the music of Elvis which stars Sally Struthers and Western New York native Chris Critelli. Tonight, the ALT Theatre hosts the final performance of "Unburdened," an experimental theater piece by Toronto-based company Modest Productions, as part of CEPA Gallery's Art of War exhibition.

Meanwhile, two new productions ("The Age of Arousal" and "Serious Money") opened up at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Check out Melinda Miller's review of the former in this week's theater roundup:

All Shook Up lean resized credit Matt Buckley

Chris Critelli and Carey Anderson in Artpark's production of "All Shook Up!"

"All Shook Up!" through Sunday in Artpark's Mainstage Theatre in an Artpark production. From the review: "Struthers makes only occasional appearances in the first act, but every entrance is a gem. She roars at a kissing couple and shows impressive physical comedy ability... The other main actors show off some impressive pipes, with Betti O and Antalan especially hitting some big, clear notes and staying there. Loftin, as Natalie’s pal, and Markowitz, as Miss Sandra, have strong comic presences. Lynne Kurdziel-Formato’s choreography was crisp." --Anne Neville

At the Shaw Festival:

Arousal_0221_DC
The cast of "Age of Arousal" at the Shaw Festival.

"Age of Arousal," through Oct. 30 in the Court House Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. in a Shaw Festival production. From the review: "It is a marvelous ensemble, but the performances of [Kelli] Fox and [Sharry] Flett are most delightful: masterpieces of comic timing, mild slapstick and pointed comment... In this production, desperation can be wonderfully entertaining." --Melinda Miller

"The Doctor's Dilemma," through Oct. 30 in the Festival Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. in a Shaw Festival production. From the review: "...audiences might not agree with Shaw’s opinion. But it’s difficult not to be sucked in by the inherent drama, the wonderfully idiosyncratic characters and the overall charm of this show, which dives headlong into the challenges of the medical establishment in a stratified society." --Colin Dabkowski

"John Bull's Other Island," through Oct. 9 in the Court House Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. in a Shaw Festival production. From the review: "[The production] uses an intelligently and heavily abridged script that, together with Christopher Newton’s sure-handed control of stage action, provides a performance that rolls along purposefully and compellingly, leading the audience by the ear and eye even through the most pontificating of Shaw’s soap-box orations." --Herman Trotter

"Half an Hour," through Oct. 9 in the Royal George Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. in a Shaw Festival production. From the review: "Barrie has packed a surprising amount of humor, hope and tragedy into such a compact package that you may walk out of the theater thinking you’ve seen a full-blown production.... It’s not Shaw, it’s not Shakespeare and it’s perhaps too sentimental for some tastes, but “Half an Hour” may be the most effective piece of drama from concentrate I’ve seen. It is, at the very least, well worth the time." --Colin Dabkowski


Venus 

The cast of "One Touch of Venus at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

"One Touch of Venus" through Oct. 10 in the Royal George Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. in a Shaw Festival production. From the review: "With Weill’s music enhanced by S. J. Perelman’s book, and lyrics by the one-and-only Ogden Nash, the prospect is for top-level music and laughs. And to a large degree that’s what we get. But it doesn’t take long to discover that the joy of Ogden Nash’s lyrics can sometimes be diluted in the transfer from printed page to song... Directed by Eda Holmes, the large cast was given a lot of latitude to exploit the show’s louder, more boisterous possibilities." --Herman Trotter

"An Ideal Husband" through Oct. 31 at the Festival Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., in a Shaw Festival production. From the review"The intricacies of the plot — which, truth be told, is a little tiredly conceived and tends in spots toward the maudlin — all serve one over-arching and worthy point: We are all hopelessly imperfect creatures whose only hope for forgiveness comes through the redemptive power of love. It’s a beautifully simple, almost naive idea, and it’s what elevates the play beyond a chuckle-worthy society comedy. That it was written while Wilde was embroiled in a public scandal over his forbidden homosexuality, and from which he would never recover, lends the play’s storybook conclusion a gloss of wistful fantasy that makes it all the more compelling." --Colin Dabkowski

"Harvey" through Oct. 31 at the Royal George Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., in a Shaw Festival production. From the review: "'Harvey' should be completely exempt from deep analysis. It is about happiness. Its simplicity and gimmicky humor are its chief strengths, a fact exploited by director Joseph Ziegler and carried on ably by his cast. This is the antidote to Chekhov, the perfect cure for world-weariness and a great affirmation of eccentricity that strives to bring out the dreamer in us all." --Colin Dabkowski


GUSTO The 

Cherry Orchard 

Severn Thompson as Varya and Laurie Paton as Lyubov Andreyevna Ranyevskaya in "The Cherry Orchard" at the Shaw Festival.

"The Cherry Orchard" through Oct. 2 in the Court House Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., in a Shaw Festival production. From the review: "This production, featuring Shaw veterans Benedict Campbell as Lopakhin and Laurie Paton as Lyubov among a great many other gifted actors, employs an excellent Irish-tinged adaptation by Tom Murphy. This imbues the script with subtle sense of modern urgency (“How’s tricks?” instead of “How are you?”) and expands it ever-so-slightly beyond the insularity of its rural Russian milieu." --Colin Dabkowski

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