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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Theatre for Thought, March 1, 2011

Coming Attractions 
or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sequel”
by joel fishbane

The rate of movie franchises coming out of Hollywood approached critical velocity recently with the announcement that 2011 would feature the most number of sequels, pre-quels and reboots in the history of film. The trend is clearly contagious and any theatre folks who consider the stage to be immune should think again. We humble theatre folks were infected by this craze long before Hollywood was even born. 

Consider old man Sophocles, spinning out one Oedipus play after another; consider Shakespeare, who aside from two tetraologies, gave us The Merry Wives of Windsor, his answer to the reboot; here, for those unfamiliar, he plucked Falstaff and friends out of the Henriad and dropped them into Elizabethan England. 

The first musical ever to win a Pulitzer Prize – Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing! – received an unsuccessful sequel two years later called Let ‘Em Eat Cake. The show was not only a failure, but also set the stage for seventy years of deplorable song and dance spin-offs. Remember the sequel to Annie? Or the one to Bye Bye Birdie? Don’t worry if you don’t; nobody else does either. 

Centaur’s desperate for another hit, so it can’t be much longer before they reboot one of their most successful shows...

On the non-musical side, there’s Eugene O’Neil’s searing trilogy, Mourning Becomes Electra, while in more recent times, Edward Albee dove into the prequel pool with Homelife, a precursor to The Zoo Story. Nor have Montrealers been adverse to mining their own works for new material. Centaur’s Condoville (2005) allowed playwright David Fennario to return to his Balconville characters while Michel Tremblay and Vittorio Rossi are both renown for revisiting the same characters at different points in their lives. 

With all these franchises routinely taking in the cash, it won’t be much longer before the rest of the MELT community gets in on the action. With this in mind, here’s my top 5 predictions for sequels, prequels and reboots that we’re bound to see:

5) Dance Animal III: The Animals Take Manhattan. 
The Animals find themselves lost in the Big Apple after Dance Tiger gets amnesia, forgets who she is and ends up on Wall Street, where she inadvertently saves the world economy before remembering how to pirouette. And just in time for the big finale!

4) Sexy, Sexy, Sexy, Sexy: The Jeremy Hechtman Story. 
Jukebox musicals are all the rage, so why not do one of our own? In Winter, 2012, all the songs from Mainline Theatre’s various musicals will be repackaged into a bio-play about Mainline’s own artistic director, charting Jeremy Hechtman’s rise from impoverished youth to Lord of the Underworld.

3) Mambo Italiano: The Lesbian Version. 
Centaur’s desperate for another hit, so it can’t be much longer before they reboot one of their most successful shows, this time with a feminine twist.

2) Media II: Jason’s Revenge. 
When Scapegoat Carnivale dropped the curtain on Euripides’ plucky heroine, she had murdered both her own children before escaping to Athens. Director Alison Darcy will reunite her team to tell the next part of the story, in which Jason (Andreas Apergis) dons a hockey mask and travels to Athens to take his own sort of revenge on a cast of nubile young Greeks (played by the cast of the Mid-Life Crisis of Dionysus). 

1)  Uncalled For: The Early Years. 
Does anyone else wonder what Montreal’s ubiquitous improv / sketch troupe was like before they were Montreal’s ubiquitous improv / sketch troupe? A cast of fresh faced Dawson grads could create a whole new franchise with an origin story that would take place when Dan Jeanotte was younger, Anders Yates was shorter and the troupe had the one thing they’ve been missing for years: a really hot girl.

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