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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

News: QDF Winter Calendar Launch

Kirsten Rasmussen in blink, blink, blink

It Is The Very Model Of a Modern Major Winter Launch
By Byron Toben

Just as the Charlebois Post has become the “go to” blog for Montreal area English theatre (and in just one year!), so has the Quebec Drama Federation’s quarterly Theatre Calendar, become the indispensable handy printed guide to local theatre-goers. Started some years ago by former QDF head Elise Menard, it has blossomed under current director Jane Needles. In addition, she has instituted party-like launches where - shades of  Fringe for All - some companies in the forthcoming quarter can strut their stuff with
short excerpts.

The 6th such launch for the Winter 2012 issue took place yesterday evening at the atmospheric Rialto Theatre. Thirteen of the 33 listings showed up to entertain. Five were musically oriented.

Leading off was the Rialto's musical version of A Christmas Carol. It is hard to picture a better production of this classic than Geordie's in 2009 (with David Francis as Scrooge) but this one augers well and anyway, it has music too. Gilbert and Sullivan still rock as they still reverberate now from the late 19th century. HMS Pinafore will be done by the Lakeshore Light Opera and Gondoliers by the McGill Savoy Society. These two groups later will combine in Hail!Unity. For more recent music, the West Island Theatre Association will jam 27 snazzy songs into a 1982 jukebox musical called Show People. It features a lot of dance as well. Dance is not forgotten. Fringe head Amy Blackmore is directing a charming piece called Common Space/L'espace Commun. Nice to see the bilingual title even though the excerpt was silent.

Cutler, l, Watson
Increasingly popular funny gal Kirsten Rasmussen contributed bits of two of her one woman shows. In the award winning blink blink blink and the forthcoming Tough! she puts her clown training to good use. Blink is being revived at the Centaur Wildside, as is Keir Cutler's Teaching Hamlet. In his first two hander after umpteen one man shows,  he and Brett Watson  brought the house down with a key segment.

Two more serious productions that I am especially looking forward to are The Pit and the Pendulum by one Edgar  Allan Poe (like G &S, some of these old guys have legs). Leni Parker scares us with this tale of torture. Everyone is looking forward to Scientific American, written by John Mighton, surely one Canada's top three playwrights. It will be performed by the Sidemart Theatrical Grocery. Long a favorite in the Segal Centre's studio space, they are now crossing the atrium to the main theatre. Two of their stalwarts did not perform at this launch, but just described the play, which involves research into weapons of mass destruction.

Seen in the audience seeking mass distraction were such popular performers as Catherine Kidd, Tristan D. Lalla and Paul van Dyck. Quincy Armorer, new head of the Black Theatre Workshop was the very model of a modern emcee and he never made mistakes. Never? Well, Hardly ever.

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