Tag Archives: cynthia hicks

Fringe Holdovers 2014

There were several held-over shows that I hadn’t seen, but I had other commitments midweek, so I went to three shows on the holdover weekend.  The Westbury lobby fills up fast with people who were too busy during the Fringe to see everything they wanted.  Nobody’s wearing Artist or Volunteer badges any more, but probably a lot of them were last week.  I should mention that a few volunteers and staff are still around making things run smoothly at the box office, concession, and lobby-filling ramen-noodle-block of a queue, and I’m always in awe of them.

My companion and I saw Mike Delamont’s solo show God is a Scottish Drag Queen II, and the two dance shows of Jake Hastey’s Toy Guns Dance Theatre.

It was my first time seeing Mike Delamont perform.  His persona wore a “lady’s power suit”, a floral two-piece with wrap blouse, with bare feet and a sensible bobbed haircut.  This was not really what I picture when I hear “drag queen”, but it fit the character, and made me think vaguely of photos of Queen Elizabeth visiting Scotland.   I kept forgetting that he was supposedly speaking as God, because he was just making funny observations as a person.  And I actually have no idea why he was in drag, or whether his persona was supposed to be male, female, or not conventionally gendered.  Maybe that was covered in his original show, and it wasn’t very distracting either.  His performance had a few improvised bits and responses to audience questions or reactions, but mostly he went through a list of several topics that people had asked to hear more about after his previous show – mostly stuff about Christianity and Biblical stories.  I appreciated the deft way he acknowledged a suggestion to talk about pedophile priests by stating immediately that sexual abuse is not funny.  Apparently he plans to return to Edmonton with a third show, for which people can submit more suggestions and questions on line.

The two dance shows were Red Wine, French Toast, and the Best Sex You’ve Ever Had, on the Friday night, with a cast of six (David Clennin, Robert Halley, Dylan Parsons, Tia Kushniruk, Amber Bisonnette, and Richelle Thoreson), and Propylene Glycol, Maltodextrin, Retinol Palmitate, and Other Words I Don’t Understand Like Love on the Saturday, with eleven dancers (most of the above plus Richard Lee, Dario Charles, Cynthia Hicks, Katie McGuigan-Scott, Jemma Robinson, Valerie Rodriguez) , an opera singer (Elizabeth Raycroft), and an occasional narrator (Christine Lesiak).  I enjoyed both of them and I will make a point of watching for more productions from this company.  People I met during Fringe who had seen one or the other described them as “the one with a scene of eating cake” (Red Wine) – it was surprisingly amusing to watch the cast members all eat cake in different ways, especially Tia Kushniruk – and “the one with the pillows” (Propylene Glycol).  In both shows, I was immediately captivated by the overwhelming playfulness of the performers and the choreography.  I also loved the approach to sexuality seen in many of the pieces, joyful and open and not limited to exclusive opposite-sex pairs.  I was impressed by the athletic and evocative dance skill of Robert Halley and Richelle Thoreson, and by the distractingly-flirtatious stage presence of Dylan Parsons.  I don’t really see how the titles fit or distinguish the work, and I noticed that the Propylene Glycol show actually mentioned both red wine and French toast.  But that didn’t bother me.

Rent, Borderland, and other stories: Fringe 2013

On Sunday I arranged to take a night off from working backstage at God on God, because that was the only way I could see RentGod on God’s VUE review has three stars, by the way, and is running every night at 8 pm and Friday and Saturday at 10pm too.

Of course, I fitted in a few more shows as well.

Borderland – Izad Etamadi’s one-person show about a gay man leaving Iran, one of the eleven countries where homosexuality or sodomy is a crime legally punishable by death.   The performer plays three characters – Navid the would-be refugee, Zia who helps him escape, and Leila, a woman who takes care of him after he moves to Turkey and gives us glimpses of her own story as an “ugly woman” in a patriarchal culture.  His portrayal of Leila, and his transformation to the female character by turning his back and flirting his hips while donning a headscarf, were amusing without quite crossing into ridicule.  I wanted to hear more of that character’s story.  The performer also sang unaccompanied, both in Persian (I think) and in English.  The English material was original and in the musical-theatre idiom, and it reminded me somehow of local musician Joel Crichton.

Nashville Hurricane – I missed seeing Chase Padgett’s 6 Guitars at last year’s Fringe, so I was curious about his 2013 show.  This year’s solo performance reminded me of a short story, the kind of short story that’s an affectionate sad portrayal of characters in the rural South and in the music business.  He spoke as four characters, each with his or her own mannerisms and accent.  The eponymous character was a young musician who was probably autistic, and the others were various adults in his life.  The show I attended was sold out, and I didn’t look at my watch once.  Chase Padgett was so good that for a little while I felt like my own storytelling aspirations were futile.

Capital City Burlesque’s Elvis Odyssey – This show had solo pieces and group numbers, loosely tied together with the themes of Elvis Presley music and a global survey of cultures.  Along with nine or ten burlesque dancers, all talented, attractive, and seeming to enjoy themselves, other features of the show included Tim Mikula (of Rapid Fire Theatre and Doctor Jokes) as master of ceremonies, an impressive troupe of belly dancers called Les Trois Femmes, and costumed support staff – the Panty Zamboni and the Merch Girl.  I hadn’t seen this troupe before and I definitely want to watch for their shows in future.  An interesting note is that their Sunday-afternoon Fringe shows are “covered”, meaning that the dramatic finish of an act usually involves sparkly pasties on top of a bra.  This is a bit odd, but probably a nice touch to expose them (ahem) to a wider audience.    The show started a little late and ran a bit later than scheduled, which was frustrating to me at a satellite venue during Fringe when I had another show elsewhere to get to shortly afterwards.

Excuse Me … This is the Truth – This well-done story gently poked fun at the culture of contemporary enthusiastic Christianity, as backdrop to the sweet tale of a boy (Jessie McPhee) caught between his bossy longtime girlfriend (Joleen Ballandine) and a new friend (Lianna Makuch) who appreciates his interests and makes him notice that his girlfriend has been making all his decisions for him.   Also, they throw candy into the audience.  Really good candy.

Rent:  the Musical –Strathcona Alumni Theatre, the Linette Smith company that did Spring Awakening last year, is doing a production of the recent Broadway musical Rent, about a group of struggling artists in New York City’s Lower East Side.  Many of the characters are HIV positive.  As the story starts Christmas Eve they’re all unhappy for various reasons, including the threatened eviction alluded to in the title.

There’s a cast of 14 and four musicians, squeezed onto the small stage along with a couple of scaffolding fire-escapes.  But they use the space well (and look more comfortable than the audience squeezed onto risers).  I haven’t seen other productions of the live show, just the movie, but in this production I was immediately captivated by the story of Collins (Hunter Cardinal) and Angel (Jordan Mah), rather than focusing on Mark and Roger (Cameron  Kneteman and Maxwell Theodore Lebeuf) and their parts of the story.  Hunter Cardinal stood out for me because he projected his character’s emotions so powerfully.  The scene in which Angel dies in thrashing agony as Collins tries to comfort him and himself was particularly effective.  Cynthia Hicks was also delightful to watch, portraying Mimi with a mix of allure and loneliness.  Maureen (Emmy Kate Devine)’s defiance and performance-art show, Joanne’s and Benny’s (Morgan Melnyk and Christopher Scott) uptown discomfort with the bohemian crowd, and the minor characters’ contributions to the plot and strong musical support (especially from Gabriel Richardson and Lauren Derman).  It’s a long show (two hours ten minutes plus a short intermission), but it is well-paced and everything moved smoothly.  (As a brand-new stage manager, this impresses me more than it used to.)  The musical accompaniment was well balanced, allowing all lyrics to be heard in the small space but still sufficiently powerful when needed.

I believe that it’s sold out for the remainder of its run.  This is no surprise, with the cast list full of names to watch in musical theatre, and a production worthy of them.   Sometimes for BYOV shows there are a few tickets at the door, though.