Saturday, 5 April 2014

Avenue Q - Winnipeg Studio Theatre @ MTC Warehouse

Failed dreams, empty lives, songs about porn, and puppet nudity - Avenue Q has it all. This is not your mother's musical theatre. The hilarious musical, which is a sick twisted love child of Sesame Street and the film Kids , debuted on Broadway in 2004 to rave reviews. It has only been produced in the city once before, by an enthusiastic and talented cast of recent graduates with District Theatre Collective, so Winnipeg Studio Theatre's professional debut of the piece is much welcomed here.

Kayla Gordon and the highly skilled cast of entirely local performers wow and shock us with the raunchy puppets, yet at the same time find the beauty and truth in the appropriate moments. Brenda Gorlick's choreography is some of the best I've seen from this talented lady. The cast are all brilliant, but kudos must go to Dora Carrol for her turn as Lucy the Slut, where we see some of the most fantastic puppet work you'll find. Paula Potofsky is a lovable Kate Monster, and Aaron Hutton seems to just open his voice to speak and brilliant song comes forward as the protagonist Princeton. Lisa Bell's soaring vocals are a treat as well.

This is a show to remind us that theatre is at its very core, entertainment. And it isn't just for stuffy crowds. GO SEE THIS! You have until April 13, and if the opening night crowd is any indication, tickets will go fast.

Photo by Leif Norman. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Subway Stations of the Cross by Ins Choi

This might well have been the least publicized performance in Winnipeg this year. I learned about Ins Choi's performance of his one-man show in a footnote to an invitation to a lecture I received via the University, and jumped at the chance to see this. While Choi's more commercial piece, Kim's Convenience, plays at MTC Mainstage I'm always far more interested in the work the artist creates to feed their soul.

Inspired by an encounter Choi had with a homeless man in a park in Toronto, he creates a character who is a beggar, and a rich man; insane, but a prophet. Touching on themes of faith, consumerism, and pop culture, Choi weaves a non-traditional piece of theatre through the use of song and poem causing the audience to truly introspect as the words circle around them. Accompanying himself on ukelele, and with the odd foot stomp, we see the character weave in and out of lucidity, at once making much sense and none at all. Echoes came to mind of Nietzche's ubermensch, descended from the mountaintop to share the truth, and yet no one listens or believes - so he must hide, in this case behind the mask of poverty and insanity.

A stunning piece of theatre, and one I strongly recommend seeking out. Choi mentioned in the talkback that he is doing a handful of performances in each city Kim's Convenience tours to, so look it up!