TOM MACKAN’S PICKS
What’s looking good for this theatre writer in the 2013–2014 season ahead, what am I looking forward to, right here in Hamilton, where the parking’s cheap, even free, tickets are 1/10th the price of T.O., the talent is here, and everybody knows your name? All the good stuff in the whole spectrum of the line–ups from our local companies, that’s what: at Aquarius there’ll be Fulcrum Theatre in the Studio, and Jo Skilton on the main stage in “Mousetrap”, “Anne Frank” in Burlington, Smith and Boudreau directing at The Guild, “Falsettos” at H.T.I., murder and thrills in Waterdown, comedy, history, and drama in Dundas… from Aldershot to Binbrook … dinner theatre and laughter. And for really good news, listen to this: R&D Productions is coming back to life with the return from Asia of its missing half, Ryan Trepanier. He’s teaming up again with Duncan Thompson (the D of the outfit) for a double bill of Canadian playwright genius, Hannah Moscovitch.
R&D will mount an evening of two of Moscovitch’s one–act plays,” Mexico City” and “The Russian Play”, at The Staircase Theatre for December 5, 6, 7. Stage–wise and ready is Robert K. Brown to direct the latter, while Trepanier will take on the former. They worked together in 2011 in a piercing and honest production of the playwright’s “East of Berlin”, Trepanier directing, Brown acting, an impressive premier of Moscovitch for Hamilton audiences. It featured shining performances from Gregory Cruikshank and Crystal Jonasson. If we get the same excellence in this season’s values and casting, you and I, dear readers, are in for something very special. So if you’re asking me, I’m cranking up my expectations for R&D and Moscovitch. Join me.
ROBIN PITTIS’ PICKS
Fall is a fantastically rich time for theatre as the summer seasons are still winding down, and the urban theatres are just getting fired up.
In Hamilton, the hot ticket will undoubtedly be Sondheims’ Assassins directed by Gary Smith and Willard Boudreau. These are directors with several decades of theatre tricks up their sleeve, and Sondheim’s musical is a subversive and ironic examination of American culture as sung from the imaginary lense of Presidential assassins.
Before then, however, there is still so much to be seen at Shaw, in particular, that you’d be cheating yourself to miss. Lady Windermere’s Fan is an exquisite and almost cinematic production – director Peter Hinton allows period drama to breathe essential youthful energy with surprisingly note–perfect pop–music. A great show for a Downton Abbey Fan to share with a Katy Perry fan. The famous Frank Sinatra vehicle Guys and Dolls has a fantastic cast and an extended run, and Enchanted April really will enchant anyone who has been in love, or in Italy. You could give your right arm, eye teeth, and more besides, and still not get a ticket to Stoppard’s Arcadia, sadly, but here’s hoping they do it again next year.
And you can never go wrong with the pros at Stratford. Judith Thompson’s right–to–die love story The Thrill, starring Lucy Peacock and Nigel Bennet sounds like a very very powerful work indeed, and the original R&J, the Bedford Merchant of Venice, and the Johnstone/Jillard/Abbey Othello, are unlikely to be less than glorious. The world–class festival has really gone to some very interesting places this season, examining issues of mortality, disability and citizenship and inaugurating the Stratford Forum. Much like a festival of TED–talks, the forum aims to join leaders like Adrienne Clarkson, Stephen Lewis, and Shawn A–in–chut Atleo, with Shakespeare. The most important innovation since the thrust stage, I’d say. And there’s a bus from Toronto now, too! V