• Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story

    Ed Kaiser

    He was the man destined to be bigger than Elvis; once his music career exploded he released hit after hit. He was an unstoppable force in the world of rock and roll music in the late 1950’s. However, his musical career only lasted eighteen months. Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, performed at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre, is a production which not only guides the audience through the trials of a young upstart performer but exposes the audience to the wonder of late 50’s rock and roll music, the racial tension, the conservative values, and the downright disorderliness of it all. You experience it all at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre.

    With Jeff Giles playing the role of the infamous Buddy Holly, he guides us through the story with honesty and an impressive vocal strength. His passion for 50’s & 60’s rock and roll was sparked when he was a mere child, and he has always had a passion for playing music. This love of performance blossomed into a love for theatre and drama as a teenager. He is greatly enamored by this production and very happy to be able to combine all three of his passions into this wonderful piece of local theatre.

    All of your favorite Buddy songs, and some you didn't know you loved, are performed live with the full three piece band with no backing tracks. Often the entire fifteen piece ensemble takes the stage and gives the full experience of the beginnings of rock and roll. With live instruments from saxophone, to trombone, to standup bass, the music is truly a delight to experience. Often times the production takes on a very concert like feel as the band breaks the fourth wall and treats the audience as their late 50’s live audience.

    Eighteen months after his first single was released, That’ll be the Day, the life of Buddy Holly was taken as his plane crashed as they crossed Iowa on their winter tour. The crash took the lives of the pilot, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and “The Big Bopper.” This was a tragic day and is commonly referred to as “the day the music died.” However, this production does not mourn the death of these men but celebrates the lives which they lived and the glorious affect they had on rock and roll music. This show, written by Alan Janes, runs through the Christmas season and closes on February 3, 2012. Times and ticket prices vary but all include the full dinner theatre experience.

    Ed Kaiser

  • The Other Side of the Pole

    Rob Nutting

    As most of you have probably already noticed the season of Christmas is already attacking our malls and other places of commerce: Black Friday kicking off the last month of shopping days until Christmas, Advent Sunday ringing in our Christian holiday of remembrance and celebration. We are living in a world where Christmas is all around us, sometimes before we are even ready for it. Christmas has arrived on campus this weekend as a Christmas musical! However, what if we didn't know what Christmas was? What if we lived where Christmas was banished before we were born? The residents who live on The Other Side of the Pole surely know what that is like!

    The residents of Splithoof voted to banish Christmas and have lived without the joy and love of Christmas for many years, that is until a mystery guest comes to town! This heart warming and inspiring musical, The Other Side of the Pole, is written by Stephen Heatley and directed by King’s own theatre guru: Daniel van Heyst. This production is launched by the Drama 202 class and a few Special Projects in Drama students, with live music performed by Shaun Russenholt (the flute playing elf) and David Fraser on the piano. Both these musicians are members of King’s Music Department and bring the production to life with a glittering charm.

    This loving tale follows a young girl Sandy, played by Shalyn Lindballe, and her newfound but slow friend Willy, played by David McIntyre. These two share many a beautiful duet as Willy brings Sandy around to understand what Christmas is and it's redeeming qualities. Willy is confused by the lack of Christmas in Splithoof and wishes to bring the joy he felt elsewhere into this town and into the heart of Sandy. The musicality of this production is quite intimate; it allows the audience to truly engage the voices and the passion that the entire cast shares for their production.

    The playwright, Stephen Heatley, was the Artistic Director of Theatre Network in Edmonton from 1891-92 where he launched many Alberta based productions including this production which he co-produced with Red Deer College in 1984. Our own Daniel can Heyst designed the original production and the popular revivals in ’87 and ’92. The composer, Edward Connell, is also an active member in the Edmonton arts world and a very influential musician across the country. His most popularized credit is probably his position of Organist at The Coliseum (now Rexall Place) during the Oilers Wayne Gretzky glory days.

    This musical production runs November 22, 23, and 24th at 7:30 PM in the N102 Theatre at The King’s University College. It is a project of Drama 202 Introduction to Theatre, offered every fall semester at King’s. Everyone should gather up their friends, family, kids and their neighbours to take in this redeeming production which will fill us all with the love of our saviour, our family, and our community. Tickets are only $10 for students and seniors, $15 general at the door. Tickets may be purchased or reserved in advance at The King’s Bookstore in person or by phone (a service fee applies on bookstore transactions). Phone: 780.465.8306.

    Rob Nutting

  • The Memorandum


    The Memorandum, by Vaclav Havel, spun onto the Timm’s Performing Arts Centre stage in a furry and did not slow down until the curtain call. Havel was a playwright throughout his entire life and eventually the last President of Czechoslovakia (89-92) and the first President of the Czech Republic (93-03). The Memorandum was written in 1968, the same year his plays were banned from being performed in Czechoslovakia and he himself was banned from leaving to see his shows abroad. He passed away late last year and it seems this production was struck with the intent to honour his influence on the performing arts.

    This University of Alberta Studio Theatre production bears a resemblance to the communist tensions present in the 1960s and the pop and flare of the hippy era. Trevor Smith, director, and the entire designing team (including both vocal and movement coaches) worked together to give us the visualization that was necessary to reliably transport us back to the late 60’s.

    The story follows a Managing Director: Gross (Edmund Stapleton), as he is forced through a bureaucratic process put in place by his Deputy Director, Ballas (Lianna Makuch). She has implemented a completely scientific language called Ptydepe. All employees effective immediately must learn and implement this unnatural language to communicate with their colleagues. This transition is intended to remove any miscommunication and any assumptions out of the native languages used in communicating. All Gross wants to do is have his memorandum translated from Ptydepe but there are many bureaucratic hoops through which he is unable to jump. However, the Translation Department cannot translate his memo without the required permit and the Department of Authentication refuses to authorize the permit without the required translation.

    The set is a giant opaque cylindrical tower reaching up and away. It served well as a projection surface and drew the eyes up and above the action on the rotating stage. The playing space transformed as characters shifted from room to room with speed, rotation of the floor, and sharp colour shifts. With two stage doors the pace is triggered by a linear rushing across the stage. The quick entrance, exit rotation of the show drives the excitement. With the bright and engaging colour schemes and impressive costumes the eyes where never lacking in entertainment. The choreographed excitement is enhanced by the communist bureaucracy that seeps out onto the stage.

    The Memorandum addresses the manner in which we communicate in our world; no matter how precise and accurate we think we are being, the nature of language and it’s malleability may present something else. Our words are very delicate and very powerful. It is through our language that we engage with the rest of humanity. It was a thought provoking production and it was just slightly more entertaining then it was long.

    This production closed November 10.


  • Spring Awakening


    Most of us have gone through a strong developmental phase, it has left us confused, taken away our childhood innocence, and sprouted many questions which may still go unanswered. Spring Awakening is a musical which addresses the adolescent confusion and struggles that every person must go through to reach adulthood. It will cause teens to question and adults to remnise. The musical, based of the original expressionist play by Frank Wedekind, was revitalized for Broadway by Steven Sater, and produced by the Theatre Arts department at Grant MacEwan University.

    This production, is directed by Jim Guedo, and is an emotional ride which asks many more questions then it is able to answer. The story is daring, pushes the boarders of the theatre walls, and addresses concerns some viewers would be shocked to see on the stage. With a strong sexual theme present in these teen children, the question of morals is not pondered as the teens are driven by hormones, emotions, and their curious desire for carnal satisfaction. Although the plot is somewhat slow to develop and grasp the viewers heartstrings; sex, death, and failure are sure to eventually give it sharp yank.

    All the students are fully capable of convincing us of their emotional complexities and their innocent and yearning state of development. Most of the voices are quite strong and will manage to cut through the live orchestra with the help of amplification, however not all the voices show us the strong developed techniques of a seasoned veteran, which is unfair to expect when attending a technical school production.

    The visual spectacle of this production is sure to wow and amaze; through bright lights and truly impressive set peaces it is apparent that this is a heavily technical production. However, the cracks are quick to show through the surface. This production is packed full of any and all technical aspects one could expect from a professional production, but it was clear that the students where pushed to their limit and the production stretched slightly farther then they were able to support. The theatrical affluence was the technical undoing of the production. A plethora of vocal cues were missed and slowly faded in after the song had begun with some quick lines missed altogether. It is unfortunate that the show was distracted by this technical overextension; as a simple yet impressive production the viewer would not be distracted from the touching story and the solid acting performances.

    This production runs three hours with an intermission and closes Saturday, November 3rd.

  • Aida

    Bruce Edwards

    Last evening’s performance of Aida, by Giuseppe Verdi, was the kick off show of the Edmonton Opera’s 2012/13 season. This piece, although the fifth time it has been run in Edmonton, is in celebration of the 200th birthday of the master craftsman, Verdi. This piece is an homage to the great composer, although he was met with many failures throughout his life, this piece is an example of his excellent potential.

    Verdi’s Aida, is a tragic Egyptian love triangle. We see an Egyptian commander fall in love with the slave of Pharaoh’s daughter who also is the daughter of the King of the invading Ethiopian army. However, Pharaoh’s daughter also has her eyes set on the commander, Radamès. There is great conflict between military secrets, loyalties, and the driving forces of love.

    This production is blessed to have many wonderful voices, including Angela Brown, in the lead role of Aida. She has been called one of the most promising Verdi sopranos, and our stage at the Jubilee Auditorium is blessed to have her. She has been singing this role around the world from New York to South Africa for the past nine years. All the voices we heard were quite a treat to experience, however, occasionally the voice of Elena Bocharova slipped beneath the many powerful voices around her.

    The set design and construction was truly the epitome of professional theatre. Every scene the curtain raised, we were treated to a new orientation of the giant set pieces on the stage. These visions were accompanied by great vocal exclamation from many of the patrons. The stage was centered by a large Egyptian sculpture which was often dynamically lit to set mood and emotion alight. The set changes were truly awe inspiring and formed sharp lines to fill in the proscenium with Egyptian glory.

    The chorus were a treat to experience as these pieces filled the entire auditorium with strong and full voices. They filled the set up with merchants, slaves, and nobles; their voices and their physical presence really drove the epic experience. Occasionally their inability to synchronize and function as a single unit was distracting from the experience, however the more organic and natural scenes were simply beautiful.

    This production closes Thursday evening and goes to show the Edmonton Opera is something that must be experienced. It runs two hours and forty-seven minutes with a twenty minute intermission.

    Bruce Edwards

  • Typhoon Judy

    Ian Jackson, Epic Photography

    Tuesday evening is the 2 for 1 showing of Typhoon Judy, a Guys In Disguise Production at the Roxy Theatre, their Canadian premiere. This piece, well attended for a Tuesday evening at the theatre, is a final farewell concert to the late and great Judy Garland. Created by Director Darrin Hagen and Christopher Peterson, who stars as the great entertainer herself. It is mostly a simple solo montage of theatre, including deep personal reflection and shining vocal performances.

    The show also stars her strong and silent accompanist, Nicolas Samoil, as Piano boy. His skills as a live pianist will impress and awe as he keeps pace with the often drunk Judy, however his facial acting was severely lacking in his interaction with Judy and her silly and often sexual antics.

    The results of this drag production was quite impressive as Peterson managed to nail and hold a majority of the notes most commonly outside the male expectation, although he did occasionally falter with his clarity in this demanding range. Peterson conveyed the sexuality of this superstar diva while still allowing his male sexuality to be expressed through well timed humour.

    This is an enjoyment piece which has the ability to amuse, amaze and astound the audience. It takes the audience to the edge of risqué and teeters on the edge without letting us fall. The audience of the evening was very well entertained as they often leapt from their seats in applause and giggled in fits of laughter.

    The production was not however all fun and games; it did manage to address the dark aspects of the entertainment industry in the mid 20th century. The drugs, the alcohol, and the sex were all key aspects of who Judy Garland was and who she became towards the end of her career. Her life was ended due to a drug overdose and became quite tragic, but this piece is not a sob story for the late and great but an all encompassing celebration of what was loved and lost.

    The production runs two and a half hours inclusive of a fifteen minute intermission and closes October 28th 2012.

    Ian Jackson, Epic Photography

  • She Has A Name

    Carl Kennedy as The Pimp stands with Evelyn Chew as Number 18; Glenda Warkentin, Alysa Van Haastert and Sienna Howell-Holden as Voices in Andrew Kooman's She Has A Name

    This past week She Has A Name, directed by Stephen Waldschmidt and written by Andrew Kooman, made one of its final stops on its cross Canada-tour in our fair city. This ninety minute drama, produced in collaboration by Burnt Thicket Theatre and Raise Their Voice, takes your emotions on a rough ride. We are given a glimpse into the front lines of the human trafficking issue present in our modern world. Saturday afternoon an eager crowd of about 75 people entered this experience at the Catalyst Theatre in Old Strathcona.

    This heart-wrenching production gives us merely one example of the horrible effects of human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution. Through this example we can be pushed and torn out of comfort zones so that we can experience a minuscule amount of pain this industry still causes throughout the world.

    We see a young man, with a wife and two daughters back home in Canada, working for a NGO in Bangkok. He is trying to bring down the pimps and brothel operators by entering the brothels in disguise and talking to the prostitutes to gather evidence. Strong compassion is developed for the man, James, as he is put in this awkward and painful position. We meet one 15 year old prostitute, whom we only know as "Number 18"; she is the brothels star prostitute, earning 10 dollars an hour for her boss.

    The production uses very strong language that makes the audience cringe at its blatant honesty and expression of the pain experienced by the victims. This piece is geared towards the social justice that our world demands for these young girls placed into this position. Clearly this production is very emotionally charged and is capable of opening the eyes of everyone in attendance to the terrible effects of this trade.

    A strong focus on characters and their emotionally charged interactions advanced the plot exceptionally with an ensemble cast. While each actor plays two different characters we can see the duality of the human character. Through on stage costume changes and lit set changes the pace of the show is greatly advanced which is analogous to the pace and urgency of this global disease.

    Anyone interested in causing change in our world can do so at: www.shehasaname.net or www.a-better-world.ca Project: She Has A Name.

    The final stop of their cross Canada tour is in Red Deer from Oct 2-6.

    Evelyn Chew as Number 18, Glenda Warkentin as Marta and Sienna Howell-Holden as the Mamma in Andrew Kooman's She Has A Name

  • A Few Good Men

    Photo by Epic Photography: Charlie Gallant, Kevin Corey, Lora Brovold

    This past Tuesday evenings performance of A Few Good Men, by Aaron Sorkin, kicked off the Edmonton Citadel Theatre's 2012/13 season with a spectacular performance which was exemplary of Edmonton's excellent theatre. Although somewhat of a smaller attendance for the seasons premiere production, the audience was drawn into the dramatic tale of a lawyer assigned to represent two men under military review for the accidental murder of a fellow marine.

    This tale may bring up memories of a film you once saw, this may in fact be a real memory. The 1992 film starring Tom Cruise is the popularized version of the original Broadway production of this play. Although this production was identical to neither the original Broadway production nor the Tom Cruise film, what this reviewer enjoyed was a conglomeration of both productions of which were scripted by Aaron Sorkin himself. The audience enjoyed the high tension court room drama with scenes reminiscent of JAG, but also was treated to a few lines and moments which the film popularized including the iconic "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"

    Although the cast, in their opening dialogue lacked some sincerity and engagement with their characters, they very quickly the cast fell into a gallop and we where whisked away on a wonderful ride. Very quickly Charlie Gallant, starring as LT. J.G. Daniel A. Kaffee, USN, got under his role and reminded us of the romanticism of the live theatre. He forced the audience into laughter when we were already crying, but we were also allowed to feel his insecurities and his loss. Gallant presents LT Kaffee as the underdog lawyer we hate to love but inspires us to succeed.

    The stage design by Michael Gianfrancesco was quite flexible as we where transported between offices, prison cells, and court room, all without letting the stage go black. The rotating stage floor assisted with these transitions and added much more space then was conceivable, however it occasionally made the transitions less then transparent as some of the cast struggled with balance and coordination whilst attempting to traverse this wonderful technique.

    This two and a half hour production runs until Oct 7, 2012 in the Shoctor Theatre.

    Photos by Epic Photography: Cole Humeny and Lora Brovold


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