Glimmerings of live theatre
amidst April events
Spring finally brings some live shows to Montreal audiences
By Byron Toben
This week has seen a glimmering of renewed live theatre in Montreal. For that, we thank the Centaur Theatre, which remounted MOB, the popular French play in its first English translation that was forced to close after a few performances in March 2020 due to the pandemic crisis. I did get to review it at that time.
The remounting opened on March 26 and will close on April 3. Seats in the 241-seat house are spaced so only 36 persons can see it at a time. Nevertheless, it sold out for the rest of the run. Devotees can contact the box office in case of cancellations. Prepare to wear masks during the show. I wonder what the ancient Greek playwrights would make of this when it was the actors who were the ones wearing masks?
Prepare to wear masks during the show. I wonder what the ancient Greek playwrights would make of this when it was the actors who were the ones wearing masks?
Not to be outdone, the Segal Centre has announced a two-week run (May 1 to 16) of Every Brilliant Thing, a one-man show starring one brilliant actor, Daniel Brochu.
Directed by Hudson Theatre’s Dean Patrick Fleming, it is slated for the Segal’s studio space so no details yet as to how many audience members can visit per performance. In the ever-changing pandemic environment, keep your fingers crossed that this show will not be postponed.
I am still awaiting notices from the smaller venues but note that the Mainline Theatre and the recently enlarged Freestanding Room have made their premises available for rehearsals (as has the Segal) at a low cost.
Streaming choices for April
Colleen Curran’s Kitty Calling continues to churn them out. Episode 4 of Season Two again features mostly housebound Bernice (Lorna Wilson) looked into by pandemic do-gooder Kitty (Debra Hale) and various pets and guest cameos, with lots happening in a mere 3 minutes or so each. Past episodes can also be viewed freely (12 in 2020) and now 4 (so far) in 2021.
Join the growing ranks of Kitty Calling watchers so you can have bragging rights that you were an insider who discovered them way back when.
Irish Repertory Theater
The Irish Rep is one of my favourites. Its digital offerings have been praised by the Wall Street Journal and others. I have plugged its fine recent Theater at Home Winter festival, followed by an Aran Islands special and a Yeats/Gonne discussion. (Those two may still be available on demand.)
‘Mr. Cullum has appeared for years with many famous actors and actresses but his name is not known widely. Here he has many backstage tales to tell.’
As we ease into Spring, the Irish Rep features John Cullum: An Accidental Star. This co-production with Vineyard Theatre can be seen live stream (PWYC) twice – on April 8 at 7 pm and April 17 at 2 pm. Otherwise, it can be viewed on-demand from April 8 to 22 for $25.
Mr. Cullum has appeared for years with many famous actors and actresses but his name is not known widely. Here he has many backstage tales to tell.
Reservations at vineyardtheatre.org
The Irish rep also has 64 free one-minute bits on its The Show Must Go Online site, with its actors and crew performing from their homes songs, recitals, etc.
The Mint Theater continues its silver lining streaming revival of newfound lost plays with Women Without Men by Hazel Ellis, set in a 1930s girls school. Ms. Ellis was an actress with Dublin’s Gate Theater before turning playwright. This free streaming play (no password required) is online until April 18.
New York’s Bedlam Theater, which has streamed some terrific plays over the past few years culminating in its Do More series recently with a percentage of the voluntary donations going to various non-profit good causes, has announced a wild mash-up of several Shakespeare plays later this Spring (no dates yet). King Lear meets the Merry Wives of Windsor is one hint. Can’t wait…
Red Bull Theater
The Red Bull Theater, which had been streaming Jacobean plays with modern significance, now takes a turn with a new short play contest, deadline April 5. The entry fee is $10. The winner will receive a development grant and inclusion in a new short play festival (details later).
‘The Red Bull Theater, which had been streaming Jacobean plays with modern significance, now takes a turn with a new short play contest, deadline April 5.’
In addition, John Milton rides again! Viewers who may have enjoyed his classic 1663 Paradise Lost in Paul Van Dike’s wonderful one-man version or the spectacular group version by Erin Shields can enjoy a two-part series by Red Bull. Part One streams on April 12 with filmed replays until April 16. Part Two streams on April 26 with filed replays until April 30. Registration for Part One automatically registers you for Part Two.
Stratford Festival (Ontario)
The renowned Canadian Shakespeare Festival at Stratford Ontario continues to offer films of many of its past productions as well as a new portal, stratfest@home.
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.