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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 


theatrepreview 

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 
houses. 

David Johnston 

Opinion Editor 


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 
these kinds 
of shows, 
ami the 
stylized 
feel of the 
production 
will sit exceF 
lendy widi the 
serni-cartoonish 
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 


of tickets. 

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 
enough mystery 
and intrigue 
here to punch 
my ticket. 

The play¬ 
wright of 

Courageous is 
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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