Cultural Rendez-Vous: Spring Plays in Montreal

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Centaur springs into action with a “black comedy” set in a suburban family home in the fictional middle-class, Chitown neighborhood of Clybourne, Illinois. American playwright Bruce Norris penned Clybourne Park as a response to Lorraine Hansberry’s iconic oeuvre, A Raisin in the Sun. The bookend play’s first scene predates the action in Raisin, as caucasian protagonist Karl Lindner fails to dissuade an African-American couple from moving into the ‘hood. Act II transpires fifty years later, and this time it’s the black homeowners who are resisting a white couple’s attempt at gentrification. This wacky tale of race, real estate and renos features oodles of side-splitting, razor-sharp wit and garnered Norris the 2011 best play Tony, plus a Pulitzer Prize. Directed by Ellen David. April 4-30.


Dawson College’s professional theatre program recreates Doris Anderson’s autobiography, Rebel Daughter, this spring. Widely recognized as a pioneer in Canada’s feminist movement, Anderson began her career at Chatelaine Magazine, becoming its first female editor in 1957. She disrupted Chatelaine’s hitherto comfortably wholesome agenda of recipes and interior décor tips by venturing into hot-button legal issues like divorce, wage parity, abortion, rape etc. The renowned activist-journalist chaired Canada’s Advisory Council on the Status of Women after losing her bid to become an MP. Under her leadership, women’s rights were enshrined in our Constitution and Charter of Rights & Freedoms. The trailblazer also presided over the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and chaired Ontario’s Press Council. Anderson died at 85 in 2007, but as this new crop of Dawson grads proves, her legacy is still relevant — perhaps even more so today. April 18-29 at Dawson’s theatre, 2000 Rue Atwater.


Vigilante, DBPhotographics

Vigilante, DBPhotographics

A gruesome chapter of Canadian history is resurrected in the form of rock- musical Vigilante. On an icy February night in 1880, five members of the Black Donnelly clan were savagely slaughtered at their Lucan Biddulph farm. The Irish immigrants had left Tipperary, hoping for a better life in southern Ontario, but soon were bitterly battling with neighbors. The Donnelly homestead was also torched, but after two lengthy trials no one was ever convicted,despite a seemingly reliable eyewitness who’d been hiding under a bed at the Donnelly home throughout the grisly massacre. Written, composed and directed by Catalyst Theatre’s artistic director, Jonathan Christenson, this epic tale of brutal vengeance is presented at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre from March 29 to April 15.


Delicious Canadian comedy Bed & Breakfast serves uproarious treats aplenty at the Centaur this May. Toronto condo-dweller Brett inherits Aunt Maggie’s sprawling home in a quaint Ontario town and relocates with his gay partner, Drew. Dissatisfied with their respective careers and eager to eschew their rat-race existence, the couple decides to transform the historic residence into a B&B. They figure their no-brainer, win/win revenue generator will also afford them a ‘simple life’ refuge. Toronto playwright Mark Crawford’s focus is on the local residents; he underscores how the couple effect change in, and affect, their adopted community. Two actors, Crawford and Paul Dunn, interpret a plethora of roles in addition to the very “out” protagonists in this true ensemble piece. A hilarious “tour de farce” —and super trendy in the AirBnB era. Directed by Ashlie Corcoran with revival director Krista Colosimo. April 25 to May 21.


Musical theatre aficionadi will enjoy an elaborate Great White Way revue this season. Montreal’s own Lyric Theatre Singers are debuting Hello Broadway, a creative collaboration of directors Bob Bachelor and Cathy Burns. Augmented by five musicians, some forty performers will showcase their versatility in a wide variety of musical genres. The retrospective mixes it up by featuring old stalwarts like Once Upon a Mattress, A Chorus Line, Chicago and Grease in addition to more recent productions such as Spamalot and current mega-hit Hamilton. A special tribute to legendary composer Jule Styne (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Gypsy, Funny Girl) will surely delight older generations of Broadway fans. The show premieres on June 15th at Concordia’s D.B. Clarke Theatre.


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