Late Summer Theatre Roundup

Some worthwhile shows to quickly catch

By Byron Toben

As the summer days dwindle down to a precious few (autumn begins on September 22), we are reminded of the classic September Song in the 1939 musical Knickerbocker Holiday. Music by my favourite Kurt Weil, lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, it was sung on stage by Toronto born Walter Huston. (He was a leading man type before being immortalized in film as the crusty old gold explorer in The Treasure of The Sierra Madre, directed by his son John Huston).

Click to hear Ella Fitzgerald get you in the mood as we list the waning days of English theatre during the waning summer.

Two Plays Now Ended at Lac Brome Theatre (but we hope for remounting)…

moonlight and magnolias

Moonlight And Magnolias cast

Moonlight And Magnolias, with an all star Montreal cast, dramatized the hectic days of preparing for the 1939 film Gone With The Wind, which to this day is the highest grossing film in Hollywood history, adjusted for inflation. I was not able to get out to Knowlton, but others confirm that you can’t go wrong with Howard Rosenstein, Paula Costain, Jonathan Silver and Don Anderson in the cast, especially as directed by Ellen David.

The same gang of four also appeared in Better Late, also highly regarded.

 Three Plays to End on August 28

Private Lives at Hudson Village Theatre. This classic by quip master Noel Coward is notable in having male actors playing the female roles and vice versa. Following the recent all woman triumph in Repercussion’s Shakespeare in the Park Julius Caesar, this seems to be the start of something trendy.

I can’t resist recalling Coward’s quip, in moving to Switzerland from high tax Britain, “ From my villa in Montreux, the view of the tax concessions is magnificent.”

Contact Hudson Village Theatre at or 450 458-5361, or visit

Bright Half Life at Freestanding Room, is a much-praised play in the USA by a Pulitzer nominated writer, Tanya Barfield. This 70-minute co-production by the established Brave New Productions and the newish Feminist group We Are One was ably acted by Shanti Gonzales and Kelly O’Toole and ably directed by Amanda Goldberg.

bright half life poster westmountmag.caHowever, I found that the script’s suddenly jumping back and forth in time, oft repetitively, over a 45-year relationship too jarring.

Also, the text did not first establish the two characters as particularly likeable or even engrossing to a general audience before launching into their personal agonies over a same sex marriage and divorce, punctuated by job disparities and a Ferris wheel.

Contact or 514 418-1848, or visit

Florida at Harold Greenspon Auditorium in Cote St. Luc (5 performances, August 25, 27 and 28).

This is an original musical parody, orchestrated by the same group that produced the popular Hair Spray, later remounted at the Centaur, as well as most of the chorus in the Yiddish version of The Producers at the Segal Centre recently.

Claims to be inspired by the musical Chicago, this is your chance to brag you saw it before it ends up in New York… or at least Miami.

Contact or 514 485-6800 ext. 2024, or visit

Feature image (Private Lives): ® Michael Green

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club

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