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 April 2009 - Nr. 4
Happy Easter - Frohe Ostern

Irena Syrokomla

Murder on the Nile – adapted from Agatha Christie’s novel – at The Fergus Grand Theatre

The Fergus Theatre has been in operation for 80 years, initially as a motion picture theatre, then as the cable TV station and since 1992 as a live theatre. Over the last several years every March the local community presents another Agatha Christie play. The community effort can be sensed in the air, the producer Fred Morris is the local financial advisor; the actors and technical staff are local residents. Mayor Joanne Russ-Zuj greeted the audience. They all participated in stage design and carpentry, organized the costumes and enthusiastically applauded the performance. I have seen two or three previous productions - this one is the best.

Murder on the Nile is the adaptation of a 1937 book and was filmed in 1978 with Peter Ustinov, David Niven and Mia Farrow in the main roles. Originally it featured Hercules Poirot. In the current adaptation Poirot has been removed and replaced by Canon (John Bigelow) who acts as an investigator and solves the murder. Other characters are portrayed enthusiastically by Aaron Male (Simon), Amy Johnson (Kay), Dean Dunbar (Smith), Rachel Behling (Jackie), Michelle Sanders (Christine) with a very Scottish accent, and the memorable Terry Wilson as Miss ff. It is amazing what a group of enthusiasts can do under the skilful hand of Julie Wheeler Bryant, the director.

The stage design and construction were convincingly authentic and the use of both props and costumes to fit into the late 40s setting worth mentioning. The opening night was a success – many thanks to the sponsoring local businesses – and the substantial donations to the local food bank gratefully accepted. There were many long-time theatre lovers, recognizing each other, having a great time and promising to come next year. Mr. Fred Morris assured me that there will be a next season and more Agatha Christie plays to come. It was fun and a confirmation that community spirit is alive and well in Fergus. Thank you for that.

Jazz at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener

On March 21st there was an overflow audience of jazz enthusiasts at the Registry. That night it was the Andriy Tykhonov Quartet performing. Andriy has been building his career for a number of years, playing at the local Music Room in Waterloo, also appearing at some other venues – like the appreciation for the volunteers at The Kitchener Public Library.

This time he had the whole stage to himself and his quartet performed some known melodies, some from his native Ukraine, some his own creations. The crowd filled every last seat and asked for an encore.

The jazz series is in its second or third year (why have I not discovered it before?) and the next concert is scheduled for April 4th – the Barbara Fulton Quartet, this time with a singer from the Stratford Festival. The 2009 Spring Season will end with Larry’s Jazz Guys on May 8th. Larry is Larry Larson, a horn-player from The KW Symphony, well known and admired. With the audience so involved it will be a great night. General tickets $20 at the door.

Shirley Valentine
- The Canadian Stage Company, Toronto

Martin Bragg, Artistic Producer of Canadian Stage Company has done it again. Another success, the theatre filled to the last seat, the audience laughing and cheering. It is Shirley Valentine, written by Willy Russell, directed by Roy Surette, Nicola Cavendish as Shirley Valentine  [photo: Yanick MacDonald - Canadian Stage Company]with Nicola Cavendish in the title role. Some years ago it was a movie, now it is on stage downtown Toronto.

It is a one actor play, a two act monologue of a 46-year old British housewife re-discovering herself, debating over her marriage and her life, making some impulsive decisions and discovering the world and herself all over again. What has become of her, her husband, their relationship, where is it going – if anywhere – and what can be done about it? The decision to go on a 2-week vacation in Greece is initially an escape, then the opening to new horizons, new experiences and finding happiness. After all isn’t it what life is all about? Finding yourself and finding out what makes you happy?

Yes, it is a comedy, but a comedy with depth and thought. It is very positive, not just entertainment, but uplifting and hopeful. The play at first glance would appeal primarily to the female audience; to my surprise I found the audience to be evenly balanced and men equally involved and interested. Searching for oneself is not just a female prerogative; reflections on one’s past, looking for answers, pondering over an existing marriage and how it dried up is also of interest to men.

Happy EasterThe acting of Nicola Cavendish was absolutely captivating, her mimics and appearance adding to the persona. She has played this role several times before - perhaps her maturity and familiarity completes the role.

And the audience appreciated it.

Shirley Valentine continues till April 18 in Toronto. The web site is, phone 416-368-3110. Try to get tickets and count yourself lucky if you can still get them!

And have a Happy Easter!

Email to Irena Syrokomla
Irena Syrokomla reviews arts, entertainment, the performing arts such as theatre, musicals, stage performances

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