August 7th, 2006

Mark!

Pacing in the Field

Stamping Unwitting Victims

The key to picking volunteers out of the audience is to look for the people with the "ooh, ooh, pick me!" look in their eyes, and then avoid them like the plague. And that's precisely how Train Your Man's Shirley Kirchmann pulls off her foray into the Men Are Dumb line of comedy. It's one thing to see a lapsed psychologist turned alcoholic brought to life in a centre stage spotlight; it's entirely another to watch a sergeant-major with both her fangs and midriff bared drag up hapless gentlemen and teach them the dance of the jilted housewife. Laugh-out-loud funny the whole way through - although I couldn't shake the feeling that the women on either side of me were laughing a bit harder than I was. Exceedingly ominous.

I Guess It's Musical Season

I've seen no less than three musicals in the last two days. Montreal improv crew Uncalled For throws down a musical every second night; you should arrive early just to watch Mike Hughes play guitar. He told us to mingle, but we just couldn't. It was too captivating to watch him layer individual guitar parts on a time-delay pedal, layin' down some wah-wah and some homegrown beats, and then finishing it off with a mad display of prowess on a Fisher-Price record player. That's just oldschool no matter how you wanna slice it. Oh yeah, and there was a show too. A musical so improvised, they even knocked out the lights halfway through. (...Or rocked out? Only the stage manager knows for sure.) And they actually got the plot, the whole plot, to fit together at the end, which is damn tough to do from an improvised perspective. I think I personally managed to pull it off once in high school. Maybe one and a half if you count the time we totally ignored the end-of-lunch bell.

Working my way back to Broadway, I caught Saskatoon locals BSide Productions doing Caberlesque!, a cabaret/burlesque revue of various time periods. Really, I was there for the singing! The hott ladies were just an added bonus. Much kudos to Jeff Pufahl for not only creating the show, but also for his nonstop set as the musician of the bunch.

And then, after another fantastic production of Aphrodite's Turn, we headed over to We Is Blunderstruck! You've heard of rock operas? Well, this was a rock funeral. I absolutely must stress that all fans of Alice Cooper, The Ramones, AC/DC, and Motley Crue (both of you) need to see this show. Heck, you could be more of a Gordon Lightfoot type and you'd still love the tragic retelling of Mel Sanders' untimely demise. It's right up there with the Edmund Fitzgerald and all.

A Little Late, Okay

Never did mention that I caught another of Keir Cutler's great teacher shows in Toronto: Teaching As You Like It, also known as "Teaching Shakespeare 3" in Saskatoon. The eternally turmoiled teacher is now reduced to substituting for high school classes, but he's hit new heights of dereliction. Truth be told, it made me a little uncomfortable; the subject matter, a high school teacher's relationship with one of his students, kind of hit home for me, the guy whose dad really is a high school teacher. But that doesn't distract from the power, the sheer emotion, that Keir's put into his performance. You can always tell the best theatre by the way it makes you dig in, because then you're really feeling it, not just watching.