THE gateway • volume (; number I
The plays the thing: deconstructing a theatre season before it hits the stage
Aspiring thespian and resident theatre guru David Johnston sizes up the Citadel Theatre s complete 2009/2010 season
The Citadel Theatre
First show opens September 5
(9828-101A Avenue NW)
The Citadel Theatre's 2009-10 season kicks off
on September 5, and we've gotten our hands
on the advertising brochure that's been floating
around the city all summer. If you don't have one,
don't fret: we're here to preview the season, page
by page, comparing past history and making
solid guesses as to what looks like a showstopper
and what'll be left treading the boards to bare
The ad-page for The Drowsy Chaperone feels lie
is was artificially injected with so much excitement
and glamour that it’s bursting at tlte seams with
sparkles and glitter. In otlier words, the Qtadel is
upholding their usual level of subtlety and restraint.
I suppose the silliness is to lie expected, given tlie
subject is dapper-era broadway musical theatre
parody (I hope it's parody, otherwise I’m gonna
need an aspirin), but the message is clean opulence
alert ahead- I'm not complaining, though. My ticket
is already purchased.
So Rock 'n' Roll is not a musical — that's emphat¬
ically slated, because heavens forbid anyone should
expect the Qtadel would do a musical — but it's _.
a play alxitit music.’ With singing? Or something?
I do love tlae part of the description where it says
that the play is about rock 'n' roll because the title
didn't really make dial dear. Joking aside, this one
looks pretty good, actually. I’m normally not one
for overt politics in my theatre, but this looks to lie
about the best way to communicate them.
Oh, Ron Beattie's back in Wingfield's Lost and
Found. I really need to get into this series at some
point, since it doesn't look to be stowing down any
time soon. But the description, enumerating such
memorable moments as "a high-tech cattle drive,
a battle with ground bees, a feud with a red-tailed
hawk, an eccentric Line-up of water witches ...
I'd say that the Beatties are scraping rite bottom of
the quirk-barrel, were it not for the feet that these
things are secredy completely awesome and deserve
immediate staging, like, now.
Sweeney Todd is a perfect tit for the direction of
Bob Baker — he very' well handles the
choreography of bodies and die
movement patterns needed for
feel of the
will sit exceF
lendy widi the
look they've been
slowly perfecting for
the last couple of years. I
have to note, though, that this
is the third poster out of four that has the same-
size circle dead centre. Way to be innovative with
your graphic designs, folks. Also: nudity warning!
That'll bring out the kids.
They’re doing The Glass Menagerie.’ In the
Shocior■ That theatre is many things, but intimate
Isn't in the top ten. Can tltey avoid using the cliches
“sliattered dreams and broken hearts" right next to
each other and twice on the same page ? Tom Wood
is directing —and Pride and Prejudice earns him
a lot of credit. 111 say that right now — but every¬
thing about this one is screaming warning bells.
Fiona Reid as Amanda Wingfield is great, but I just
don’t know about this one, folks.
1 really, really feel like As Tou Like h was selected
for that "all the world’s a stage” line that they're
using for everything promotional this year, and
that’s not a good sign. Once again, the filler writing
on the side doesn’t do justice to tlie madcap struc¬
ture of the play. It's a very fun script — it’s hard
to go wrong with a Shakespeare play — and tlie
poster suggests a general air of silliness, which is
terrific Thai fake moustache is going to sell a lot
On the other hand. 1 have no clue if it’s good or
not, but tlie design and tlie publicity for Blackbird
might possibly be the best of the season. The use
of absence and darkness suggests good tilings. The
esteemed Wayne Paquette is directing, which sug¬
gests terrificness right from the get-go. Tlie story
seems a linle questionable — "a horrible secret
about a past relationship” — but there’s
here to punch
acting in it. I’m
hazarding a guess he
isn't playing a walk-on.
I’m hoping this doesn’t
end up a vanity piece,
because tlie description makes
it seem like it could go either way.
Tarragon Tlieatre is always bringing these plays
to the Citadel that feel like ... well not the Citadel's
trademark brand of over-the-toppiness, ( Half-Life.
Scorched), and that's something valuable, it's caught
my attention at least. I just don't know if it's viable.
Tlie poster looks like it’s trying to be charmingly
quirky, and I think it's succeeded.
Well, tills is interesting. The Drowning Girls
feels a little like the Qtadel s attempt to reconnect
with Edmonton audiences with some homegrown
talent, but it's weird. They're marketing this one in a
very similar style as Sweeney Todd, with black-and-
white macabre imagery, shadowy murders, the
tantalizing language and tlie suggestion of nudity.
(Girl stepping out of bathtub! Woo!) I’m not sure
there's much overlap in the target audiences, but it's
interesting to consider.
All, now The Jungle Book is tlie scope of play
tliat does well in tlie Shoctor; the large depth and
space are absolutely terrific for the broad allegories
and masked symbols who’ll be running rampant
and wild. It’s also been tong enough since die
Disney version that a new update shouldn’t suffer
too many comparisons. And the mask work looks
pretty awesome. I’m sure il’H all come together
in something silly and family-friendly and shiny,
which appears to lie the mandate of the Citadel this
year. Not dial there’s anything wrong widi that.
Case in point: A Christmas Carol is back. For
the tenth consecutive season. At tills point, book-
ies have to be taking bets on what will finally bring
this show down. The leading possibilities include
angry rimberwolves attacking Tom Wood’s SUV,
an aggressive strain of the Ebola virus, or an iron¬
clad copyright lelterfrom the Charles Dickens estate.
Otherwise, it’s gonna lie up again, and don’t try to
pretend like they won’t fill those seats with warm
bodies. It’s Christmas!
So they’re bringing back Beaut) - and t he Beast
as well? Um. okay. 1 enjoyed it the first time. It's
bright, it's flashy, it’s spectacularly done, but it’s all
been done before; it's worth one took, sure, but how
much repeat business are they counting on? 1 know
they can keep die incoming costume budget low
this way, but tliis just seems kind of lazy. As lazy
as a snperfun nuisicalstravaganza can be, ot course.
More power to them. T guess.
I often rag on the Citadel for lieing too opulent
and cheesy, but they do that style of theatre so well
tliat it's hard to be angry with them. It's interesting,
though, liecause this season seems to lie going to
the extremes; you’ve got over-the-top plays like
Chaperone and Beauty and the Beast paired with
some smaller, seemingly character-driven things
like Blackbird and Glass Menagerie. There's not a lot
of middle ground, wltidi suggests they're at least not
playing it safe. And that can only be a good thing.
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