Hockey on the big screen and drunken pickups are part of life at your average sports bar but aren’t usually part of an operatic quartet or a tenor-soprano exchange.
But song was the means of communication in Opera On The Rocks, the Ambient Opera Society’s two-night workshop held earlier this week at Pauper’s.
Clever writing by librettists Leanna Brodie, Dave Carley, Lisa Codrington and Krista Dalby kept the action moving, set to live music by composer David Ogborn that included a guitar played with, among other implements, a set of kitchen knives.
Moving around the bar and interacting with the audience – at opening, writer/performer Marcia Johnson got pulled into the action more than once – the cast got into the rough-and-ready spirit of the show, calling for a line when someone forgot the text.
Tying the show together was tenor Keith Klassen’s wannabe karaoke singer, becoming drunker and drunker over the course of the show and offering the evening’s biggest laugh. When mezzo Jessica Lloyd blew a whistle at his come-ons, becoming the ref to his offsides hockey player, he stopped the show by complaining, “I can’t hear my pitch!”
Rounding out the cast were baritone Alex Dobson and soprano Carla Huhtanen, the latter especially impressive as a rhyming server who kept delivering arpeggios to a customer who didn’t want to leave at last call.
Another highlight in the evening’s eight brief episodes was the face-to-face confrontation of two people who met through Lava Life. After finding that each has lied online about their appearance, they discover that reeling off a litany of Maple Leafs team members makes for a torrid seduction.
If you didn’t get to the show, you’ll probably have a chance during next summer’s Fringe. The company hopes to remount Opera On The Rocks as a BYOV, again at Pauper’s.
It’s a great way to bring the beer tent into the theatre proper.
Think you know your Stephen Sondheim? Maybe you can hum a few songs from Anyone Can Whistle, but have you ever seen that early unsuccessful show?
In a rare trip to Toronto, Barrie’s Talk Is Free Theatre presents a concert version Sunday (January 13). Box office receipts from the fundraiser will be directed to the development of Canadian musical theatre writers and productions of new Canadian musicals.
Arthur Laurents’s book deals with a bankrupt town whose corrupt mayor devises a scheme involving a fake miracle to attract tourist dollars. She’s opposed by a practical, upstanding nurse.
The cast is a starry one. Playing the key adversaries are Kate Hennig and Blythe Wilson, with Adam Brazier, Steve Ross, Juan Chioran, Jonathan Monro, Jennifer Stewart and Sam Strasfeld also in the company. The show is directed and narrated by Richard Ouzounian.
The Tarragon opens the fifth season of its Theatre Workspace series of workshop productions with two shows.
First up is Kristen Thomson’s The Patient Hour, with Patricia Fagan, Kelli Fox, Liisa Repo-Martell and Todd Thomson. The plot involves two children whose mother hovers between life and death.
The show reunites Thomson, director Chris Abraham and designer Julie Fox, who last collaborated on the memorable I, Claudia.
Performances are Saturday (January 12), January 18 and 19 at 8 pm.
Next up is The Cape Town Project, the latest instalment in an ensemble work by Theatrefront in co-development with the Tarragon. This workshop is co-produced by Halifax’s Neptune Theatre and Theatrefront. Daryl Cloran directs a cast that includes South Africans Andile Nebulane and Mbulelo Grootboom and Canadians Deborah Hay, Holly Lewis and David Jansen.
Performances are January 26 and 27.