Pemberley

I am one of the many women I know who swoon at the thought of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Mr. Darcy has been my literary crush for decades. I loved Pride and Prejudice, early feminist literature where Jane and Elizabeth know what they want and have high expectations from the men in their life. It amazes me how it still remains a highly popular book.  

My daughter read it a few years ago and we have watched every version of on the screen. My sister and I attended a theatrical version and we both swooned over Mr. Darcy. I have considered attending the Pride and Prejudice Ball here in Edmonton but I don’t have a period gown to wear nor do I think I want to invest in a ball gown and not have  Mr. Darcy to attend with me. I receive Jane Austen event listings that occur in Edmonton including the marathon in January at the Capitol Theatre in Fort Edmonton Park. I think I will go to that but they sent me a coupon code to attend Miss. Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley. 

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I do realize Jane Austen didn’t pen the play but I wanted to go anyways! My daughter and I looked up tickets for a last minute showing and found two seats in the third row. Obviously, we went. 

I used to attend Edmonton Citadel productions regularly. The sister and I had season tickets one year. I love the theatre but have been spreading my theatre dollar around to other smaller productions to support community theatre and the University productions. I seem to attend one Citadel production a year. Last year I attended Peter and the Star Catchers, the year before was Evangeline, before that was Beauty and the Beast. I enjoyed all of them very much. But Miss Bennett was a dream come true!

Not only was Mr. Darcy there, but you could also see how happy he and Elizabeth were. Jane and Mr. Wingham were adorable. Lydia was as flighty as ever and then there was poor Mary.  The play was humorous and thoughtful. Often stories wain by the second act but I was engaged for the entire production and never once felt like I needed a break. When it ended I wanted to see it again and thought if I stayed in my seat, could they really force me out of the building? 

The lobby was decorated as Pemberley and I had never seen the lobby take on the theme of the play before. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling and masterpiece paintings scrims covered the windows. The Shoctor Stage was elegant and stunning. It felt Christmasy and cozy. I want this play to be my new Christmas tradition, but I fear it won’t be in production every year.  It’s playing until December 9th.

Go get your tickets.

You’re welcome. 

Freewill Players: Shakespeare in the Park

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Summer nights in July and my first thought goes to warm evenings. So why wouldn’t I want to sit in the middle of Hawrelak Park and watch a play? Can you think of a better way to spend the evening?

It rained for most of the day and I was feeling cold but eager to head to the Heritage Amphitheatre for one of my favourite festivals of the year. We left the house at 6:30 because even when you pre-purchase tickets for a particular night if the place fills up, you risk having to sit on the grass. It sounds fun, but grass isn’t as soft as I remember as a kid. As it turned out, we were able to secure second-row stage left. The gates opened at 7:45 pm and they scanned our phones, technology is cool. My daughter bought tickets for last night’s performance in the car on the way. I found myself telling her an old-person story, “I’m from a time when you didn’t pre-purchase tickets except for Rock Concerts, and then you had to camp out at the box office to have a chance to see anyone decent.” Buying in the car is still amazing to me!

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I had the forethought to bring a quilt and a scarf. I regretted not bringing my winter jacket and gloves. It was damp and 16C felt very cold for me. I bundled up and snuggled in with the program while my companions decided to take in the preshow Puppet version of the play. We were seeing Comedy of Errors but Shakespeare isn’t written in a style that makes sense without having studied it and focusing on the cadence of the language. You can get the gist of it by watching the show unfold, but having the background is helpful. The Freewill Players have a short 10 minutes synopsis preshow to help people following along. It makes it a better experience if you understand the show.

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The Hubs and Chatterbox went to the puppet tent and had a great time. They both commented on the way back to the car they commented without the puppet show they wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on. I admitted I had no idea what the prologue was about until the final scene, then it all made sense, but I had no trouble following the storyline. I did study Shakespeare for three years in high school (Julius Ceasar, Macbeth and Hamlet) and in University (A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Romeo and Juliette, Taming of the Shrew, Othello, King Lear and The Merchant of Venice). I felt confident I could follow along.

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There were several concession tents, one for food and one for beer and wine. There was also a souvenir tent selling shirts, squirrels and pins. Two different contests were going on, a 50/50 draw (I didn’t win) and a survey that enters you in for a dinner to Chanti’s (I didn’t win that either but the gal behind me did). I did have some popcorn at the intermission because the scullery maid ran across the stage chasing Dromio. She paused and said, “this will take several minutes, so why don’t you go get a beverage and some popcorn?” That sounded like a great idea so I gave $5 to Chatterbox and off she went.

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Not to give too much away, but one of my favourite things about the Freewill Player comedy productions is the Bollywood ending. Its fun and kitschy. Watch for no other reason than to see Jesse Gervais and Hunter Cardinal dance with their partners. They were hilarious.

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Comedy of Errors plays odd dates and Hamlet plays even dates. Pay what you will is Tuesday night and I think I might go see Hamlet or at least catch it on the weekend. I hear it is the best of the two productions and I thoroughly enjoyed Comedy of Errors so Hamlet might be worthwhile for me to head back out.

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Tickets and Showtimes available here. Remember to bring a blanket. Shakespeare in the park ends July 15th.

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Edmonton Tourist: The Music Man

I love community Theatre. Any time you can support activities that involve creativity, kindness and fun, I think you should do it. Now, not all community theatre is good. Some is actually very terrible. But for the most part, these are people who have day jobs and want a forum for their creative outlet. Not everyone needs to have a career in the arts but arts as a hobby is what helps fulfill people and make their day brighter. I am for that. So I like to support it, and its fun for me….usually…

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Photo by the Edmonton Tourist
Thursday night I had the pleasure for going to the Trinity Players rendition of The Music Man. I brought my dad because it is his all time favourite musical. It is essentially the feel good story of the power of positive thought. If you think you can succeed, you will.

A friend of mine Tim Lo, who is the company’s Assistant Director, Barbershop Quartet member and all-round good guy, suggested I come see the show. I had never been to a production of the Trinity Players before and was hooked when he told me it was The Music Man. My dad often showed us the movie as kids and on car trips we sang the complicated musical pieces for pure entertainment. Now that I am an adult, I realize just how complicated these are. Think of it as the ground roots for rap – early Hamilton? Well…Not quite but fun to listen to!

The stage is at the Trinity Church 10037 84 Ave, Edmonton. The seats were less than comfortable being wooden pews, but had a licensed intermission in the basement and there was something strangely naughty about drinking beer in the sanctuary, that part was fun too. I am not sure where the actors come from or how they came to be part of the theatre troupe, but I do know there were auditions in September, so its not a group of pals saying “You be him, You be her and I’ll sew stuff” It might be that way actually, but it didn’t feel that way.

The Music Man was preformed in an over-the-top fun and kitschy way. But it worked and I sat with a smile on my face for most of the evening. Harold Hill played by Kyle Sanscartier, was slick and smarmy, the way Harold Hill should be played. His character development evolved into a guy with a conscience. I wanted him to be Robert Preston who portrayed him in the film, but as soon as the opening scene was done, this guy was Harold Hill to me. He masterfully pulled off Ya Got Trouble and 76 Trombones, his rendition had me singing in my seat. The show needed a strong lead because Marian Paroo played by Christina O’Dell would have carried the show off on her own without that balance. Her skill and musical talent had won our hearts from the first moment she sang on stage. My dad remarked that he enjoyed her rendition far more than than that Shirley Partridge, or Shirley Jones who portrayed Marian the Librarian in the Movie version. The two worked beautifully together although lacked real heat during the love scene, but that kept it family friendly.

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Photo by @Nancpricephotography
There were hidden gems throughout the show, such as the hen party singing Pick-a-little/Talk-a-Little/Goodnight and the Wells Fargo Wagon, I won’t divulge any spoilers, but that was my favourite scene of the night. The Barbershop Quartet gets a big shout out too because Barbershop makes everything more fun and the scene they sang with Christina O’Dell was complicated and their skill made it so fantastic. Hats off to Producer/Director Morgan Kunitz who brought together this community theatre and created something fun and enjoyable.

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Photo by The Edmonton Tourist
Tickets are available at the door and eventbrite.com for tonight’s show and tomorrow night. This production was great enough for me to become a regular patron of the Trinity Players. Next week I will be at Jesus Christ Superstar because I bet they will create a fantastic version.

Go give them watch.

Photo Credit Nance Price @nancpricephotography

Trinity Church 10037 84 Ave, Edmonton

March 23-26, 2017 @ 7:30 PM
March 25, 2017 @ 2:00 PM
$18 Holy Trinity Edmonton

The Village of the Fringed opening night with #YEGprov

I attended the Village of the Fringed opening ceremonies yesterday for my birthday. This is another new thing I have tried. While I am a long time fringer, I usually wait until the reviews start popping up to pick and choose what I want to see.

I think a little back story is necessary. Fringe is a noun or a verb. Basically it is a collection of venues that host a play/improve/theatrical experience that you go and watch. The old days, one would fringe by standing in line for a mystery venue and taking a chance on a show. You bought your tickets at the door. Now you buy your tickets at the box office ( a tent in front of the Strathcona’s Farmer’s Market) or purchase them on-line. They still sell tickets at the door, but don’t hold as many. Edmonton hosts Canada’s largest Fringe Festival. This year is the 31st Fringe here in River City. I started going in 1988 when I was making cash and could pay the open shows or the closed venues.

My first show I saw in 1988 was with my sister. I took her to see The Arrogant Worms. We are still fans and have passed their comic genius down to our children. Everyone has the Worm’s music on the rotation in their iPods. My favorite is Canada is Really Big or Let’s Go Bowling. I knew The Pirates on the River Saskatchewan before Captain Tractor did it and actually, The Worms wrote it. I haven’t seen the Arrogant Worms in YEARS they have to be old like me and perhaps the Fringe Tour is just exhausting. Fringe performers are basically homeless and live out of their suitcase. It would be a tough gig year after year. Yet I see the same performers came back for a few years in a row!

This time we watched the Fringe Parade of Stars. I have no idea if that is what it is called but you lineup along the alley/gravel road behind the main venues and watch the performers walk in costume handing out handbills and sometimes cookies, all in an effort to entice you to see their show.I met a Hippo that spoke with a French Accent, luckily I also can speak with a French accent so there was no language barrier. I met a very excited dude from Orlando Florida who was excited that he saw snow twice while flying over the mountains from Vancouver. He was jumping and so excited to be here. I met a guy from Brooklyn and another who just said New York, a fellow with a Russian accent from Edmonton and a drag queen who kept saying it felt like a protest not a parade. I met sister wives for a polygamist show and weird creepy dudes from a show called Suicide a Love Story.

I was offered free tickets to see the shows by some performers so I could review and promote their shows. Sadly I had pre-purchased tickets for the family so I couldn’t take up the actors on these freebies! I needed to carefully select the show my family was seeing. When you Fringe, you never know what you might get, from blood and guts to nudity and actually sex on stage. The Edmonton Fringe  does not jury or censor artists’ work in any way and selects performances using an unbiased lottery system. Therefore there is risk involved. I would ask the performers if it was suitable for my kids, The Syphilus show guy was honest and said there was no nudity or swearing but the content was obvious. The Beef lady was also honest and said it may not be appropriate but I was welcome to see it without them. That is the plan. Go Fringing without children…maybe. But then I got them hooked on Improv.

After the Parade of Stars, complete with a Flag barer (it was just like the Olympics!), we walked from the Fringe site to a BYOV ( Bring your own venue) site down on 109 street. BYOV means the show finds their own venue, arranges a price (usually free) and sells tickets to their show. Often there isn’t an extra site charge and the Fringe has student pricing! (FYI I love being a student for this reason!) We were seeing #yegprov, a twitter improv experience.

While waiting outside for the venue to open, I recognized a fellow – or thought I did. I asked him if we met in the park over the summer. He said wait…. pulled out his phone and gave the details of our meeting. It made my family crazy because I know everyone. Being opening night, the audience was sparse, people like to wait because we all have a limited budget for shows. $13 is reasonable but it starts to add up quickly if you see everything!

We sat near the front because improv is all about engaging the audience. We provide the non-geographical location, a famous monument, the name of your first crush and so forth. The spin on this improv was twitter. There is an at home game you all can participate in this week just follow #yegprov. The audience was asked to tweet their suggestions alternating with shout-outs. As with all improv, the stories can go south pretty quickly but for the most part this show was seriously fun! Genetic Offspring is a improv vet and participates in NAIL (Northern Alberta Improv League) He was please to have learned two new games to bring back to his improv team. We laughed hard and sometimes groaned, but all agreed this was tremendous fun. We plan on checking Rapid Fire Theatre group for their take on improv and perhaps see if we can find another improv group or two. Better yet, go back and play with the #yegprov group again, or at the very least, playing the home game.

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Ok Mr. DeMille, I am Ready for my Close up

My 12 year old says to me: Look at all this room! I could get pregnant – but I won’t – and I would STILL have room.

WHAT?!?!?!

She bought new pajamas, women’s size large and way to big for her. Normally she is a size zero. 5’2″ and a size zero with gorgeous long blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes with a bubbly personality to match. So joking about getting pregnant is not what I am wanting to hear. I nearly had a heart attack.

I can see it now, dead from a heart attack at 43. No positive female role model for my daughter. Her whole world falls apart. Suddenly she becomes a statistic of teen pregnancy. THOSE JOKES AREN’T FUNNY CHATTERBOX!

Not that long ago she was telling the stupidest Knock Knock jokes ever. I would always drone on with a “whose there” and end with a fake laugh “ha ha”. Then she would ask if it was funny. I would always answer with an emphatic No. Then I would laugh for real.

When she was a little girl of 6, she always said, “no offense mommy, but I don’t like kids. Don’t expect grandkids from me.” I always thought that was adorable. Who knows at the age of 6 what they are going to be when they grow up? I was going to be an artist. She was going to be a STAR.

At Christmas she decided she needed a plan of action. How was she going to be a STAR with a fairly normal family. Chatterbox decided she needs dysfunction in her life so she can play the part of leading lady not leading lady’s best friend or sidekick. Over Christmas dinner we discussed the different ways we could traumatized her so she could be a STAR. Various suggestions came up like parents divorcing, locking her in a closet, forcing her to eat meat ( she is a vegetarian at heart). None of these dysfunctional suggestions appealed to her. Now we don’t know how she will be a Star. She has an audition coming up soon for a play in a theatre company’s theatre season. She has read the script, she will learn her lines and I am sure based on enthusiasm and personality she has a decent shot. We have talked about rejection and how that will feel when it happens. It will happen eventually. Chatterbox doesn’t care because rejection is part of the process. She may or may not be a STAR but it is still her dream and I will help where I can. I will try to be more dysfunctional than usual to speed the process. This may or may not help, we will have to see what the future holds.

After what she told me about her pajamas, I know I am traumatized enough to become a star. I can channel my inner Carol Burnett and be a mighty fine Norma Desmond.

I’m ready for my close up Mr. DeMille…