Last call for Ale House Theatre Co.’s Twelfe Night, or what you will – one night only Thurs, July 16

Twelfe-new-photo-250x250Did you miss seeing Ale House Theatre Co.’s Original Practices production of William Shakespeare’s Twelfe Night, or what you will during Toronto Fringe?

Fear not, gentle theatre lovers! The company is doing one more, very special, performance at St. Vladimir Theatre on Thursday, July 16 at 8:00 p.m.

What’s so special about this performance, you ask? This time, the show will be Pay What You Decide.

What the heck is Pay What You Decide? The good folks at Ale House Theatre Co. explain it thusly:

... recently employed by the ARC theatre of Stockton-on-Tees, England … Patrons will have free entrance to the venue and performance. After enjoying the show, they are
free to leave as little or as much money as they decide. Ale House is calling it the “Ale
House Last Call: Free to enter; Leave what you will!” evening.

Ale House Theatre Co.’s Twelfe Night, or what you will is directed by Joshua Stodart, and features a fine ensemble cast: Hilary McCormack, Tayves Fiddis, Dan Henkel, Mitchell Janiak, Peyton LeBarr, Tim MacLean, Andrea Massoud, Matt Shaw, Kyle Shields, Tal Shulman, Chris Whidden and Jake Vanderham. I saw the production last week during Toronto Fringe; here’s the write-up.

So be of good cheer and get your butts out to St. Vladimir Theatre on Thursday, July 16 for a most delightful production of Twelfe Night, or what you will. In the meantime, give Ale House Theatre Co. a follow on Twitter to keep up with future productions.

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Toronto Fringe: A most delightful production of Twelfe Night, or what you will from Ale House Theatre Co.

Twelfe-new-photo-250x250Finally got to see Ale House Theatre Co. do Shakespeare yesterday. They’re running an Original Practices version of Twelfe Night, or what you will, directed by Joshua Stodart, at St. Vladimir’s Theatre during Toronto Fringe.

An Original Practices production uses the stage conventions and tech that were known to be used in Shakespeare’s time – and this dictates the staging and tone of the play. This production of Twelfe Night features some hilarious physical comedy and characterizations, and keeps the pacing light and quick – which keeps the pranking schemes from getting too mean-spirited, and the sudden decisions about love and marriage from looking too crazy. All nicely book-ended with Feste, who plays recorder at the top of the show (he’ll take period-appropriate requests) and sings at the close.

Stodart has assembled a fine cast for this tale of tragically separated twins, disguise, crazy love and mistaken identity. Stand-outs include Peyton Le Barr, who brings an adorably puckish yet vulnerable quality to Viola; Hilary McCormack (doing double duty this Fringe, also performing in Hanger, directed by Stodart) is striking as the lovely and proud Olivia, her stubborn resolve to cloister herself away melting into a puddle as she falls crazy stupid in love with Cesario (Viola in disguise); Andrea Massoud is wonderful as the saucy and cunning Maria – and she has excellent chemistry with Tim MacLean’s drunken sot of an aging party boy Sir Toby Belch and Matt Shaw’s hilariously awkward twerp of a Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Tal Shulman does an excellent turn as Olivia’s arrogant and snobbish steward Malvolio, who turns to a silly pile of mush himself at the prospect of being adored by his mistress. And Jake Vanderham charms as the sharp-witted, good-natured Fool Feste, entertaining us on the recorder and with a lovely set of pipes of his own.

All in all, a most delightful production of Twelfe Night, or what you will from Ale House Theatre Co. Get yourself out to see some excellent good fun Shakespeare.

Twelfe Night, or what you will continues at St. Vladimir’s until July 12 – check here for exact dates/times. In the meantime, give Ale House Theatre Co. a follow on Twitter to keep up with future productions.

SummerWorks: Powerful, moving & darkly funny apocalyptic musical And Now, The End

HERO-And-Now-the-End-149-620x500A musical about an impending apocalypse by asteroid? Count me in!

Ante Up Productions’ And Now, The End at SummerWorks – by writing team Victoria Hauser, Emily Nixon, Drew O’Hara, Zach Parkhurst and Jake Vanderham, with music, lyrics and music direction by Vanderham, and direction by Esther Jun – is just the thing.

Roxton, a small Canadian town, becomes a microcosm for a what-if scenario of an upcoming global-scale disaster, where we see the practical, social, emotional and psychological effects on humanity. The opening scene between the Doctor (Amir Haidar) and Patient (Zach Parkhurst) sets the tone: the Doctor’s job has become about assisted suicide.

Attempts to stop Asteroid AXS-677’s trajectory towards Earth have failed and citizens have been told that it will collide in a year, in effect ending the world. The news throws society into chaos, forcing people to rely on transistor radios and landlines to maintain communication. Buddies Dan (Paolo Santalucia) and Scott (Jeff Yung) have taken advantage of the situation at the local, now abandoned, radio station where they once worked low-level jobs to start their own radio show, providing news, views and music. Cathy’s (Tamara Bernier Evans) astronaut husband is stranded on a space station and befriends her neighbour’s brother Frances (Troy Adams), who has returned home to find his brother’s family gone. School’s out for high school seniors Johnny (Hugh Ritchie) and Clare (Ruth Goodwin), but these BFFs will never really graduate. And Inez (Kaleigh Gorka) is alone and will give birth within the year.

The score soars and moves, with gorgeous cello arrangements, beautiful lyrics and strong vocals from the ensemble. Full cast choral work book-ends the show with “Beneath Our Falling Sky” to set the scene and the finale “Look To The Burning Horizon,” a bittersweet, hopeful anthem for what’s to come. Santalucia’s and Yung’s scenes provide great comic relief (“Listen To Our Show”). Gorka and Haidar give a lovely performance of the passionate and conflicted love song “Kiss Me;” while Bernier Evans’ moving “Parts of You” is a heartbreaking grasp at the memory of what her husband looks like – and Adams is equally moving as the man who reluctantly stands in for that memory (“Crazy”). Goodwin’s account of an incident from Clare’s past, one that has repercussions today (“Look in the Eyes”), is a beautifully rendered ballad of pain and conflicting emotions. Ritchie’s “Frogs in the Rain,” a song about Johnny and Clare’s childhood adventures, brought tears to my eyes.

These are complex relationships, made all the more poignant by the countdown to impact: One year, one month, one week. One day.

With shouts to Beth Kates’ set design: the sterile white environment, the abandoned personal artifacts, and the moving flats with black light-activated illustrations of the constellations, are starkly beautiful – not to mention eerie.

And Now, The End is a powerful, moving and darkly funny apocalyptic musical with an outstanding cast and score.

Do the Mirvish folks know about this?

There are two more performances for this run, playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille main space: tonight (Sat, Aug 16) at 10 p.m. and Sun, Aug 17 at 5 p.m. You can also follow And Now, The End on Facebook.