Art Attack is the source for a variety of arts news in Halifax: Nova Scotian visual arts, theatre, dance, comedy, literature and more. Contact email@example.com to send a tip.
While I may not be an out-and-out opera buff, I am eternally grateful to Halifax Summer Opera Workshop for introducing me to the delights of some accessible works over the past few years. And as of now, their latest production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, has risen to the top of my “favourites” list.
The opera, written by Benjamin Britten, is pure magic. Britten’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Dream focuses primarily on the machinations within the fairy world, and his music seems intrinsically right for that world.
And while this is show filled with high points, but I’ll give you three just to whet your appetite: Oberon (played by Andrew Pickett) is delightfully perverse and his queen Tytania (Allison Nicholas) is sensuous and exotically beautiful. The pair, along with the fairy crew, close the show with the most haunting and lovely piece of music. Shilpa Sharma as Hermia and Ashley Buckhout as Helena bring down the house with their height-based cat fight. And the mechanicals… well what can I say except funny, funny, funny.
I’ve seen many productions of Dream, but I know this will always stand out for me.
There are two more chances to see this show (one with this cast, one with another) as well as opportunities to see HSOW's two other offerings Carmen and One Act Operas.
Check out http://halifaxsummeroperaworkshop.com/ for dates, times and prices.
Theatre Arts Guild did a brilliant job a couple of years ago with their production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men, and now Halifax has another opportunity to see the classic courtroom drama. Lion’s Den Theatre (the newish company that recently revived the hilarious Arsenic and Old Lace) opened the play at The Bus Stop Theatre last night to a full house. The caliber of acting was, to a man, exceptional. Daniel Gervais is a powerful and persuasive Juror 8. He puts his own stamp on the role, coming off grumpier than I remember Henry Fonda being in the 1957 movie version. Jesse Robb is perfect as the petulant Juror 7, and Ira Henderson simply shines as the brutish Juror 3. At 80 minutes, this production is brief and brisk, but all the salient points that lead to the unexpected verdict are still there. Go, even if you’ve seen this play before, and certainly go if you haven’t.
See it at The Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen St, Halifax.
Thursday August 2 - Sunday August 5 8PM
Saturday August 4 - Sunday August 5 2PM
Tickets are $15 General and $12 Students/Seniors/Artists
For tickets or information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ve probably been following Wit’s End Theatre as they blog here at The Coast about the birth and growing pains of their company. You know Wit’s End is dedicated to putting on shows that will make you laugh, and their fourth production Science Inaction: A Love Story is very successful at that.
It’s the story of two science nerds from different disciplines—-sociology and neurobiology, who meet and fall in love, or at least lust. The audience watches their story unfold in different styles and “realities” evoking plenty of laughter.
There’s no doubt that actors Liz Johnston and Lewis Wynne-Jones have a remarkable comic chemistry. This piece showcases their charm and impeccable timing to a T.
The play itself, written and directed by Griffin McInnes, explores interesting ideas in interesting ways, however, it lags in spots and is ultimately dragged down by a too-serious conclusion for a brainy romp.
A cool set by Brian Riley and some brilliant film and projection by Nick Bottomley make this show visually memorable. Oh, and did I mention, you’ll laugh, A LOT.
Science Inaction: A Love Story
Written and directed by Griffin McInnes
Starring Liz Johnston and Lewis Wynne-Jones
The Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street)
June 28th, 2012 to June 30th, 2012: 8:00 pm, admission of $20/$15 for students and underwaged
July 1st, 2012: 2:00 pm, admission of $10
It seems fitting that Little Women, a story fueled by loving relationships and plucky, can-do attitudes, is being used to raise funds for as worthy a charity as the Metro Non-Profit Housing Association.
The Broadway Musical version is a little disjointed in its retelling of Louisa May Alcott's tale of a tight-knit family living through the American Civil War, but it hits all the high points I remember from the story. Tia Andria nails the pivotal role as the strong-willed Jo, and she is supported by a uber-talented young cast. The choreography is polished and the singing (for the most part) very professional.
The Second Act drags, mostly due to its heavier subject matter and too-frequent songs, but ends on a happy note that stresses the value of friends and family.
June 21 to 24 at 7pm at The Neptune Studio Theatre.Tickets are $15 for children/seniors and $20 for adults and are available online at www.neptunetheatre.com or at 902 429 7070
Angels & Heroes’ Domestic Train Wreck is a deceptively cozy piece of performance art that explores the role of memory and mammaries in one woman’s life. The woman is Melanie Bennett, an actor/playwright who based the show on her unorthodox upbringing by a mother who was obsessed with Harlequins and Soaps. Bennett weaves together fragments of memory, audience participation segments, folksy chatter and a high-tech soundscape produced on stage by musician (and game show host extraordinaire)Aaron Collier. The show, which is directed with energy and fine pacing by Richie Wilcox, covers a lot of territory in a little over an hour. And while it may tell one woman’s specific story from self-described “train wreck” to empowered woman, it speaks volumes about the way society views and values women. Go for the laughs, enjoy the cheese dreams, and know that you’ll be thinking about this show long after it is over.
June 6-June 10 at the North Street Church, 5657 North Street, 8pm (2pm Sun), $20, 420-6909
A new Nova Scotian myth has been born, thanks to the creative talents of Artistic Director Christina Murray, Movement and Scenography Designer Claire Leger and the Camerata Xara Young Women’s Choir. They have brought to life an original piece of choral theatre set on Brier Island Nova Scotia that blends together the stories of real-life, legendary sailor Joshua Slocum and of mythical Sirens. The young women of the choir portray the Sirens, creatures who have been transformed from birds to women and grounded on the island. Actor Alan Slipp reads adapted excerpts from Slocum’s diary that tell the tale of the sailor as a young lonely boy befriending (and ultimately betraying) the Sirens. But it is the music more than the spoken word that tells this story, and what glorious music it is. The choice of songs is eclectic, ranging from the traditional “Briar and the Rose” to the primal and haunting “Raising the Wind”. At times, voices cascade from the mezzanine and blend with others that are rising from below. The singers dance and move with effortless grace, making this a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Don't miss this amazing opportunity to be present at the birth of a legend.
Maritime Museum of the Altantic, May 12 8pm
Even if a relentless diet of Titanic anniversary fare has filled you to the brim with tragedy, I urge you to go see December 1917: The Halifax Explosion. This beautifully constructed piece of theatre has been brought to Halifax by the members of the new graduating class of the Sheridan-UTM Theatre and Drama Program in Ontario. The class (along with director Meredith Scott) adapted facts and survivor accounts from two books to create a lucid and lyrical retelling of the tragedy. The first half of the play forms a kind of introduction to a large cast of characters and sets up the facts of the tragedy itself. In the second, post-explosion half, the fates of the characters are revealed. Movement and music are used to great effect, bridging scenes and beautifully representing the inconceivable death and devastation. I was also most impressed by the costumes and especially the makeup (Something I don’t notice often!). In the first half, the pale faces and accentuated facial plains were reminiscent of silent movies and in the second they became ghoulish, zombie-like death masks. Brilliant!
May 10th-12th at 8pm and May 12th at 2pm at the Alderney Landing Theatre
I think it’s likely that a large portion of last night’s The Whimsy State audience rushed home to look up the Principality of Outer Baldonia on Wikipedia. (I know I did!) That’s because this tale of three men who formed a micro nation off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1948 is supposedly based on a true story, but is so far-fetched that it’s hard to believe. Well, apparently you can believe it. And veracity aside, it makes a charming play filled with characters who you’d love to raise a pint with. Graham Percy as the American lawyer who is the mastermind of the plan plays good-natured optimism to a t. David LeReaney and Sheldon Davis are the two grizzled Nova Scotia fisherman who get behind the dream. Their hilarious turns of speech were one of the many highlights of the show. The cast is rounded out by Karen Johnson-Diamond who does a memorable job as both a tempestuous Russian diplomat and a frosty secretary. Whimsy State is a lovely marriage of comedy and history. Highly recommended!
Jennifer Overton’s Spelling 2-5-5 is a fast-paced, funny, informative play that’s staged with flare and creativity by the Carousel Players of St. Catharines, Ontario. It boasts a cast of adults who, for the most part, are playing children and who brilliantly capture that youthful essence. The story centres on twelve-year-old Simon (Ryan Bondy) and his conflicted relationship with his autistic younger brother Jake (Aaron Stern). Kerry Ann Doherty plays the boys’ overworked but loving mother and Tiffany Martin plays a wide variety of roles, including a gut-busting, scene-stealing turn as an entire classroom of spellers. While this play is aimed at children in Grades 4 to 8, the writing, acting and staging is so sophisticated and clever that there’s no reason that you need a kid in tow to see it…although kids will certainly love it, too.
For a complete listing of show times and ticket prices visit http://www.easternfronttheatre.com/index.php/supernova-theatre-festival/
I often think of those Amanda Marshall lyrics “Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart” when someone pisses me off. I mean, we don’t know the whole story of the people who are closest to us, much less the strangers and near-strangers that move through our lives. And they’re not very likely to share those stories with us…
Unless, of course, they are members of Halifax’s intrepid DaPoPo Theatre Company, two of which basically laid their souls bare in front of a packed house at The Bus Stop Theatre last night.
The event was called The Drinking Game, and it was staged as part of MayworksHalifax, the festival that celebrates International Workers’ Day.
The Drinking Game is a piece of theatre that places two actors, armed with the alcohol of their choice, in front of an audience and subjects them to a series of questions about everything from sex to money to ethics. The idea is that as the evening progresses and more alcohol is consumed, the participants will get less inhibited and the answers deeper.
In reality, the alcohol seemed rather moot. The two “actors” (I put the word in quotes, not because Ann Doyle and Gina Thornhill are not both remarkable actors, but because there appeared to be very little acting and much genuine sharing involved) were forthcoming from the start. They shared heartbreaking stories about family and hilarious stories about sex with utter candor.
Various techniques such as projecting the participants’ words on a screen and having them be sung or delivered as a political speech were entertaining and enlightening. And although there were points where the show lagged, these allowed periods of introspection brought on by some very interesting questions.
While this particular incarnation of The Drinking Game was a one-night event, there are plans to stage it again in the future. Watch for it. It’s fascinating.
Music makes me happy and happy, bubbly, harmony-filled music makes me really happy. I’m pleased to report that I left the North Street Church last night feeling—-yes—-very happy.
The occasion was [title of show], put on by a new theatre company called TheatreSpeak who’s mandate is to produce musical theatre with local artists.
[title of show] only requires four chairs, a keyboard, clever choreography and lighting and oodles of chemistry to make it sing, making it an affordable option for a start-up company.
The storyline may seem a simple as the set—-two young New Yorkers struggle to write a show about two young New Yorkers struggling to write a show—-but the convenience of the plot and the self-awareness of the characters makes it appealingly funny. And while the obscure theatre references wear a little thin, perusing the glossary at the back of the program helps.
Andrew Chandler, Ann Doyle, Kyle Gillis and Kristin Howell provide a beautiful blend of voices and a nice friction of characters.
This show has very short run, so here’s hoping to a remount in the future.
Where: North Street Church, 5657 North Street
When: Through April 29, 8 p.m. and Through April 29, 2 p.m.
Phone: 220-3932 or email@example.com
One of the things I’ve learned while searching for the perfect occasional chair for my home office is that the phrase “Our furniture is Canadian-made” actually translates to “This costs three times what you’d reasonably expect to pay.”
The reason I bring this up in relation to the Shakespeare by the Sea production of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is that the play is a condemnation of the human cost of producing the high tech gadgets that make our world go round. It basically challenges you to open your eyes as you leave the theatre and consider whether a smaller price tag is worth knowing someone suffered to produce your tools and toys.
The one-man show stars Jesse MacLean in a riveting performance as a hard core geek who salivates at the thought of anything Apple. It also follows the same geek to China where he struggles to uncover the truth behind the deplorable working conditions that make this technology affordable. (It’s interesting to note that the show’s writer Mike Daisy has come under fire for billing fictitious incidents as actual ones, also calling the audience to ponder the idea of narrative truth versus factual truth.)
The show is informative and funny, but you will leave with more questions than answers.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, I managed to find a nice, Canadian-made chair at 40 per cent off, proving that it's possible to please both your conscience and your cheque book.
When: Through April 22 at 8pm
Where: Park Place Theatre, lower parking lot at Point Pleasant Park
Phone: 422-0295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Price: $15 (Suggested donation)
We don’t get the opportunity to see a lot of musical theatre here in Halifax, and after taking in Wild Abandon’s More Amore — A Cabaret at The Company House last night, I’m beginning to think that’s a real shame.
Vocalists Karen Myatt and Stuart Hiseler delivered an outstanding show on the theme of love using songs, anecdotes and banter that ran the gamut from reflective to romantic to downright raunchy. Myatt and Hiseler simply ooze personality and both performers possess big, bold, beautiful voices and great comic timing. A talented pit band made up of Scott Taylor on keyboards, Fayette Taylor on bass and Stephanie McKeown on percussion provided the perfect accompaniment.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a cabaret performance like this, but I came away feeling that I’d seen an actual piece of theatre that had an interesting story line and characters I could care about. If that’s what cabaret is, I want more.
Friday Mar 23 at 08:00 pm
The Company House, 2202 Gottingen Street
Tickets $20 at the door or online at www.moreamore-auto.eventbrite.com
The year is still young, and already I’ve been wowed by the Halifax theatre scene. Great comedy like the KTS production of Noises Off has made me laugh. Plays like Ms. Right Now, Pageant and Intimate Apparel have made me ponder society’s obsession with appearance. And brave and brilliant works like The Monument and The Men Who Killed Me have made me weep.
The Men Who Killed Me is a piece of theatre created by Dal law student Alayna Kolodziechuk from a book of the same title which contains eyewitness accounts of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. It draws on the talents of six amazing actors who bring to life both victims and predators.
The piece begins by laying out the history between the Tutsi and Hutu people and then moves into the terrifying accounts of the atrocities committed during the genocide. It explores the complex emotions of both the aggressors and survivors during the violence and in the years after.
While some of the piece is staged as direct address to the audience, Kolodziechuk has also heightened the theatricality by weaving in movement, dramatization and music. (The lovely sound of live strings is particularly haunting.)
This is difficult theatre to watch. The stories are horrific. The pace is relentless. But when so many brave people have shared their testimony, are we not required to listen?
Where: The Bus Stop Theatre, 203 Gottingen Street
When: March 12-14 at 8pm.
Tickets: $12 for students and $15 for general admission. Available at Venus Envy or from Chelsey Roy (email@example.com;  223-5748).
For more information visit The Men Who Killed Me on Facebook.
Neil Labute knows how to elicit a reaction. His writing is savage, and his take on the human condition is bleak. Reasons to be Pretty, which is being staged at the Neptune Studio Theatre by the Dalhousie Theatre Society, is no exception.
It’s the story of a hapless everyman named Greg (Henricus Gielis) whose relationship implodes when his girlfriend Steph (Nicole O’Connor) learns that he has referred to her looks as “regular”. Though it hardly seems an offence worthy of the high-octane, expletive-filled tirade Steph levels at him, a more tuned-in boyfriend could have saved the relationship by acknowledging Steph’s hurt.
The story arc is driven by Greg’s growth into a more astute person as he learns to really listen to the people around him, which include a macho ass of a friend (Alex Manuele) and his beautiful but ill-treated wife (Georgia Morris).
This is bare-bones production with simple staging, lighting etc., but in the end that doesn’t matter. For it is the words that take centre stage in this play, and this young cast delivers them very well.
March 8-11 in the Studio Theatre at 8pm
Tickets are $12 General/$10 for Students (with valid student ID) and are available at the Neptune theatre box office and online at: