Archives

Entering Eight Worlds a Night: PlayWrights Cabaret 2017

Jeff Culbert and Carolyn Nesbitt-Larking / © 2017 Bob Klanac

When the lights go down on a theatre stage, an audience knows they are going to be transported into a world for a few hours.

That’s the norm.

This weekend, however, those sitting in the McManus Theatre will be transported into 8 different worlds each night.

Eight stories per evening, eight different playwrights, two directors and a handful of actors will transfix audiences ten minutes at a time.

The annual PlayWrights Cabaret was the brainchild of former Grand Artistic Director Susan Ferley and has proven to be a gateway for fledgling playwrights into the world of theatre.

This year for example, London’s Carolyn Nesbitt-Larking makes her playwriting bow with Johannah, a play about the last ten minutes of Johannah (“Black”) Donnelly’s life.

Set in the burning farmhouse where she met her doom, Nesbitt-Larking says it’s about Johanna Donnelly confronting those people who put her down and saying her piece …

The New Grand

At a press conference this morning, the Grand Theatre’s new artistic director, Dennis Garnhum, and a selection of Canadian theatre artists announced the theatre’s new play development program, Compass. Described as an “opportunity for London… to be on the forefront of theatre in Canada”, it currently comprises five new works presenting “our stories on our stages”.

While four of the projects are at a very early phase of conception (two have creative teams attached, and the others are ideas formulated in the last six weeks), one—Vancouver playwright Trina Davies’ Silence: Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell—reveals the first hint of Garnhum’s programming for the 2017–2018 season. Told from Mabel’s perspective as a deaf woman, the play was developed at Theatre Calgary (where Garnhum was previously artistic director) and will be directed by Peter Hinton. The hints dropped about the innovative and modern presentation of this historical piece are …

The 2015 Brickenden Awards

Catharine Brickenden

The winners of the 2015 Brickenden Awards for Theatrical Excellence in London were announced at the Wolf Performance Hall on Monday night in a ceremony hosted by Rod Keith and Matt Loop. Celebrating the 2015 theatre season, the awards recognized productions and performances in a variety of different categories. New this year were awards for outstanding youth actors.

The winners were:

Outstanding Female Actor – Youth
Nadine Cruz, “Ti Moune”, Once On This Island (Original Kids Theatre Company)
Outstanding Male Actor – Youth
Ben Kopp, “Macbeth”, Macbeth (A. B. Lucas Secondary School)
Outstanding Comedy Production
Steel Magnolias (London Community Players)
Outstanding Lighting Design
Stephen Mitchell, Of Mice and Men (By the Book Theatre)
Outstanding Sound Design
Michael James Brown, The Rocky Horror Show (Pacheco Theatre)
Outstanding Youth Drama
Macbeth (A. B. Lucas Secondary School)
Outstanding Youth Musical
West Side Story (Beal Musical Theatre)
Outstanding Set Design
Rob Deman, Of Mice

Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys

Oh What a Night!

Having seen the Toronto production of Jersey Boys three times (touring cast, Canadian cast and once more for fun), I was a little worried that the current production at Budweiser Gardens wouldn’t live up to my memories.

No worries, this is such a strong cast that you forget you’re in an arena with a scaled down touring set. If you want to see this lively show that took the Tony award for the best musical in 2006 and you missed the Toronto production, be sure to take it in at Budweiser.

Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and …

The 2014 Brickenden Awards

Catharine Brickenden

The winners of the 2014 Brickenden Awards for Theatrical Excellence in London were announced at the Wolf Performance Hall tonight in a ceremony hosted by Harry Edison and Matt Loop. Celebrating the 2014 theatre season, the awards recognized productions and performances in sixteen different categories. (The outstanding ensemble performance, introduced last year, was retired, and there was an insufficient number of solo performances to award that category.)

The 2014 winners were:

Outstanding Drama
A Few Good Men, By the Book Theatre
Outstanding Comedy
Noises Off, London Community Players
Outstanding Musical
Evil Dead: The Musical, Iglesia Productions
Chris Doty Award (previously announced)
London Community Players
Outstanding Youth Drama
The Great Gatsby, Beal Drama
Outstanding Youth Musical
The Music Man, Beal Musical Theatre
Outstanding Original Script
Erin J. Walker, Shadfly, Tinkerspace Theatre
Outstanding Director
Mark Killeen, A Few Good Men, By the Book Theatre
Outstanding

Wally Duffield’s 2007 Chris Doty Award citation

The gentleman I’m honoured to introduce to you this evening, on behalf of the Brickenden Awards Committee, is known to everyone who attends almost any arts event in London! And I can tell you that he is loved by everyone. The accolades I’ve heard have been unanimously glowing in praise of his contributions to the arts and also of his delightful personality.

I’ve known Wally Duffield since the early ’70s. Back then Nonie Jeffery and Barbara Ivey held a meeting at Barbara’s house with plans to form a support group of volunteers for Theatre …

The 2014 Fringe Awards

London Fringe Festival 2014

The 2014 Fringe Awards were announced at tonight’s Fringe Fried awards ceremony. The “TiLees” baseball caps, featuring a new logo designed by Walter Sayers, were presented in eight categories; the first five, selected by Theatre in London.ca’s team of volunteer reviewers, went to:

Outstanding Show
High Tea
Outstanding Individual Performance
Jayson McDonald (World War Three)
Outstanding Cast (tie)
Concrete Kid
Judy: Stonewalled
Most Daring Show
I Hate Bill Pats
Funniest Show (tie)
2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Private Dick
God Is A Scottish Drag Queen

The Impresario category of awards is based on the highest ticket sales (i.e. actual dollar amount) at each venue. This year’s Impresario TiLees were presented to:

Venue 1
2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Private Dick
Venue 2
Ladies Room
Venue 3
God Is A Scottish Drag Queen
Venue 5
The Deception Hour
Venue 6
High Tea

The final two TiLees were presented by the Fringe …

London Fringe 15: Opening weekend reviews

London Fringe Festival 2014

As we’ve done for the last several years, Theatre in London will have a team of volunteers reviewing every show in the 15th London Fringe Festival over the opening weekend. Each review will initially be posted to the Fringe website, and they’ll all be archived here after the festival ends. Keep an eye on @theatreinlondon and the #ldnfringe hashtag on social media.

June 4: Due to a glitch in the Fringe website’s comment system, I’ll post the first few here. June 6: Comments are working on the Fringe site again. Go forth and have your say!

Academia Nuts

Academia Nuts is a well-acted piece about sexuality and academia that unfortunately falters thanks to a script too weak to stand.

Elements of the show were appreciable. It was good to see programs printed in Braille and diversity among cast members. The performances were good, or as convincing as they could …

Fringe Binge

London Fringe Festival 2014

To my knowledge, Wally Duffield and I are the only people crazy enough to have seen every show in a given year’s London Fringe Festival. (I’ve only done it once, despite trying for four years; Wally did several times.) It’s not necessarily the best way to see the Fringe—it’s surprising how tiring being entertained for ten straight days can be—but for those who are foolhardy enough to try, it is possible.

Bryan McLennon has come up with one way to see everything this year, and still have time left over:

Wednesday/Thursday
all shows at Venue 6
Friday/Saturday
all shows at Venue 5
Sunday/Monday
Venue 2
Tuesday/Wednesday
Venue 1
Thursday/Friday
Venue 3
Saturday
Site A/B

Plus The NO Show each night. You could even fit in the two “bring-your-own-venue” sites on Saturday/Monday and have June 14 entirely free to experience the Dundas Street Festival and Nuit Blanche.

Nicely done, Fringe organizers!…

The 2013 Brickenden Awards

Catharine Brickenden

The winners of the 2013 Brickenden Awards for Theatrical Excellence in London were announced at the Wolf Performance Hall on Monday night in a ceremony hosted by Matt Loop and Jeff Werkmeister. Celebrating the 2013 theatre season, the awards recognized productions and performances in seventeen different categories. New this year were awards for outstanding ensemble performance and outstanding makeup design.

The winners were:

Outstanding Comedy Production
Vigil (A Missing Link Theatre Company)
Outstanding Lighting Design
Karl Goffin, Dream (Paradoxa Theatre Collective)
Outstanding Sound Design
Teighlor Thomson, Dream (Paradoxa Theatre Collective)
Outstanding Youth Drama
Flowers for Algernon (London District Christian Secondary School)
Outstanding Youth Musical
Monty Python’s Spamalot (Original Kids Theatre Company)
Outstanding Set Design
Rachel Dotterman, Ryan Cole, and Sarah Vitali, Dream (Paradoxa Theatre Collective)
Outstanding Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Jessica Ducharme, “Puck”, Dream (Paradoxa Theatre Collective)
Outstanding Original Script
Swing Dance, Lynda Martens
Outstanding Costume Design