Cast and director, The Leisure Society
Musical Shows Aplenty at QDF Spring Calendar Launch
By Byron Toben
Friedrich Nietzsche quipped that “Without music, life would be a mistake”. Had he been channeled to the 8th quarterly Quebec Drama Festival Calendar Launch at the Rialto last night, he would have been in a quandary. The 18 forthcoming local productions showcased featured 7 that were musical, no mistake, but the famous woman-hating philosopher would have had to observe that dozens of talented ladies that made up the bulk of the ensembles.
Anyway, this is all hypothetical because God has announced that “Nietzsche is dead.”
The indispensible Calendar has been streamlined into an even sleeker new look. It's a bit bigger - 7cm x 4.5 cm - than previous editions ( 6 x 4 ). I figured this out with my high tech dimension estimator (formerly called a ruler). It's got more colour and logos for each entry. Emily Skahan's photo in Shakespeare in the Park garb on the back outside cover had a good run for many issues, but has been dropped for third
The Calendar, brainchild of former QDF head Elise Menard, has flourished greatly under current head Jane Needles, who started these quarterly launches to showcase some of the pending shows. In the coming quarter, 39 shows are listed with details. 2012 is also the 40th anniversary of the QDF and it looks likely to survive another 40 without being in a cultural desert.
CBC “Radio Noon” host Bernard St-Laurent acted as M.C.
Here are some of the highlights;
The Hudson Music Club opened the program with a key excerpt of the classic. "42nd Street”, namely “Lullaby of Broadway”. This ensemble’s ages range from 17 to 91and publicist Janis Kirshner and I tried to figure out which of the lively crowd was the 91 year old gentleman. (Never did find out).
The ever popular Lyric Theatre Singers closed the program with an announcement of its return to a full scale musical after 15 years of concert versions with Kander and Ebb's “Curtains”. K& E also wrote “Cabaret” and “Chicago” so this is on my do not miss list.
In between these book ends, The Montreal West Operatic Society's excerpt of can-can man Jacques Offenbach's lush “Orpheus in the Underworld” featured a superb male soprano.
WISTA ( West Island Student Theatrical Association) proved talented students can sing and cavort with the best with Tony award musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
The McGill Player's Theatre bypasses these golden oldies with its “Songs for a New World” a “song cycle pushing the boundaries of commercial musical theatre”.
The Centaur Theatre is mounting “Intimate Apparel”. I would go to any show featuring Ranee Lee, Tamara Brown, Lucinda Davis or Patricia Summersett. Here you have all four of them! For the launch, only Lucinda showed up and captivated the crowd with a brief monologue of her character, an illiterate fashion designer.
The Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre is at it again with Joseph Shragge's "The Heretics of Bohemia" which involves a star studded local cast of ten plus another ten puppets. At the launch's allotted 5 minutes, only Dan Jeannotte showed up with a puppet, but the clever synopsis devised by director Alison Darcy brought the house down.
Infinitheatre also has a local, but smaller, star-studded cast of four in its “The Leisure Society”. A giant screen video substituted for the physical appearance of the actors, who are prepping for the opening tomorrow.
Shadowbox Productions has the fast rising director Mikaela Davies directing a two hander “Blackbird” about an encounter after 15 years between a then 40 year old man and a 12 year old girl. Producer Jack MacDonald managed to shill the show amusingly, considering its dark subject.
Ms. Needles announced and showed excerpts of a film in progress on the 40 year history of the QDF,with interviews of such as Elsa Bolam, Alison Darcy, Dean Fleming and Walter Massey
Cool-headed Kathy Cleveland managed to keep the launch running smoothly, despite the odd glitch. Ample supplies of McAuslan liquid nutrition kept the packed house - 250 theatregoers - happy.