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June 2013 - Nr. 6
Irena Syrokomla

The Barber of Seville
at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto adaptation written by Michael O’Brien, directed by Leah Cherniak

It opens with the famous overture and the audience is full of anticipation: How can this small theatre with a 5-piece band (banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass and accordion) carry on and give you the famous sounds of The Barber of Seville with its charm and grace. The music is there, the story is there - some elements somewhat unexpected –it almost works, but not quite. What is missing are the voices.

This version of The Barber of Seville is a combination of a 18th century Beaumarchais play as adapted by Michael O’Brien and with 19th century classic opera music adapted by John Millard, directed by Leah Cherniak with some modern days add-ons, a piece of Latin music, some Canadian jokes, and at the end a scene coming as if from Les Miserable’s of the French Revolution. Not sure why it is added. If you have never seen the operatic version of The Barber of Seville you may get the idea and some amusement out of it.

Dan Chameroy & Courtney Ch'ng LancasterDan Chameroy is singing the part of Figaro and he is the only one with a good voice. Coming from Stratford, where his talents were underutilized, he is leading well and carrying his role with aplomb. Other actors/singers are not that lucky: Gregory Prest as Count Almaviva is doing his best (somehow there is no chemistry between him and Rosina), Oliver Dennis as well, Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster as Rosina should not be in any significant solo singing role. And I believed there are numerous singing actors available for hire.

Some modern adaptations come out more successful than others.

Have I enjoyed it? Yes, to a degree. Is it not likely going to be repeated like Kim’s Convenience – I doubt it. Soulpepper remains still one of the best theatres in Canada, experimental, well-directed and much admired.

The Barber of Seville runs till June 8 and, by the way, Kim’s Convenience is back running till June 19. If you have not seen it before – this is your chance! Box office phone 416-866-8666 or on line

The Songs of Sinatra at Drayton

Drayton Entertainment, the parent organization, produces a number of comedies shown in seven local theatres giving access of such to large numbers of South-Western Ontarians. When the play completes its run in St. Jacobs Theatre it moves to Huron County or Playhouse in Grand Bend. Individuals residing further from Toronto, Waterloo or London have an opportunity to see a play without a lengthy drive.

The main stage Dunfield Theatre opened in Cambridge in March this year.

Other locations continue and based on my recent experience in Drayton they enjoy full attendance at matinees and evenings.

In The Songs of Sinatra there are actually seven Sinatras. Young singers with good voices (especially worth mentioning is Michael Vanhevel) sing their hearts out through over 80 songs counting from the 40ties to 50ties and 60ties. The dancing styles (large applause to choreographer Adele MacKenzie) vary from decades to decades, so is naturally singing style. Well-known songs sweep the audience and bring back memories: Some are dated; some are still current and popular. There is a Cole Porter collection with such songs as Love and Marriage and I Get a Kick out of You, known love songs like All the Way and Strangers in the Night, travel songs like Isle of Capri, I Love Paris and New York, New York, some songs shared with Dean Martin like Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime and That’s Amore. Final songs from later years brought got most of the appreciation from the audience: Very Good Year and My Way. What can I say: it was worth driving to Drayton.

Unfortunately The Songs of Sinatra will not travel to other theatres, a pity.

If you have not seen and heard it – you missed it.

Other worthwhile plays coming to Drayton: Tuesdays with Morrie in June and later moving to Playhouse II in Grand Bend, and Oliver! in August. The main stage in Cambridge will have Sorry...I’m Canadian in July (again, in Grand Bend in August) Lend me a Tenor in September.

If you are interested in singing legends : Johnny and June is coming to King’s Wharf Theater in Penetanguishene in August. Mr. Mustakas is good at bringing music and songs to the public and putting it skillfully together.

You can always check the schedules of performances at Have a good summer!

Irena Syrokomla reviews arts, entertainment, the performing arts such as theatre, musicals, stage performances.
Email to Irena Syrokomla
Irena Syrokomla, reviews, arts, entertainment, performing arts, theatre, musicals, stage performances, Toronto, Kitchener, Waterloo, Stratford, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

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