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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

News: Geordie Season Launch

Daniel Brochu in Geordie's Little Prince 
(photo: David Babcock)

the company has rebranded itself as theatre for all ages
joel fishbane

Some years ago, a little company named Pixar issued a challenge to anyone interested in the business of family entertainment. With their army of criminally talented writers, the folks responsible for Toy Story, Wall-E and Up showed that family-friendly films did not have to be full of treacle and cheese: they could be irreverent, whipsmart and emotionally riveting entertainments with an appeal that spanned the generations. Here in Montreal, this call to arms has been routinely answered by Geordie Theatre who, under the direction of Dean Patrick Fleming, has rebranded itself as theatre for all ages.

With this in mind, the Pixar of Montreal theatre has hit the ground running with the launch of their 2011 – 12 season, an exciting amalgamation of classic literature, innovative theatre and Montreal’s most exciting talent. The press conference - held in the lobby of Centaur theatre, Geordie’s new home – was a decidedly casual affair, with Mr. Fleming trading wisecracks with several members of the crowd before unveiling his season with the “Aw Shucks” demeanour of a man almost embarrassed by the spotlight. 

Mr. Fleming seems much happier behind the scenes and I’d suggest that we’re all the better for it. His new season will launch with a remount of The Little Prince, a show Geordie first performed in 2008. Reuniting the original cast and team of designers – which includes Harry Standjofski, Chip Chipulka and Danielle Desmoreaux – the adaptation of Antoine Saint-Exupery’s classic will crash land in the Sahara desert (hopefully designed once again by Ana Capalluto) in October.

This will be followed in February by the one-woman wonder that is I, Claudia, Kristen Thompson’s popular tale about a lonely adolescent (who’s exactly 12 and 3/4 years old and won’t let you forget it). Directed by Chris Abraham of Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre, the show will presumably recreate the quirky wonder of Thompson’s original show, which was seen at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2004. 

The season ends with a new adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio by Harry Standjofski, which promises to be nothing like the Disneyfied version that abused the story so wilfully almost seventy years ago. At the press conference, Standjofski recreated the first chapter of Collodi’s novel all by himself and if the show is as entertaining as his performance, Montrealers have something truly marvellous to look forward to. 

...their theatre routinely features top notch talent, concise storytelling and clever scripts...

Equally exciting is the school tour, which will be developed by Micheline Chevrier and Paula Wing. Touching on the story of Sadako Sasaki, who survived the bombing of Hiroshima only to die of leukemia ten years later, the production promises to use her tale as inspiration for two completely different plays – one aimed at the elementary school crowd (tentatively titled The Story of Sadako) and one for the older set (tentatively called The Weapons of Peace). 

To launch the season, Fleming and Co. handed out 3D glasses, which are a necessary prop if one hopes to enjoy their cleverly designed brochure. But Mr. Fleming promised to use the same technology Geordie has used for thirty years in order to bring sophisticated entertainment to audiences of all ages. It would be easy to pigeon-hole Geordie as “children’s theatre”, but this would be doing them an injustice. As seen by the recent wonder that was Möcschplat, their theatre routinely features top notch talent, concise storytelling and clever scripts that should introduce the green eyed monster into the heart of any theatre producer in the country.  

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