The Woods and Gadfly

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Live Art and the contemporary dance gods that be are back in Dalhousie’s Dunn Theatre with a double bill comprised of Halifax’s own dance group The Woods and Toronto-based Gadfly. The result is an hour of redefined, innovative dance that simmers and burns to various degrees.

The Woods opened up the night with a slow-burn performance entitled _______Interrupted, a moving and dramatic set that explored both mental and physical health. More specifically, The Woods explore how the two systems interact within us, and what can happen when they fall out of sync. Fusing together various dance moves with pulsing, rhythmic musical numbers from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Drake,  _______Interrupted is a slower affair than I expected. It’s also more cryptic and abstract than other dance shows I’ve been to. Unless you read the program’s writeup, you may be left scratching your head while trying to decipher the message The Woods are trying to convey. With seamless transitions and sequences that lacked neither popping nor locking, _______Interrupted was a skillful, if winding, marvel that successfully fused hip-hop dance styles with a contemporary edge.

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The Woods and Gadfly

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Cinderella

I can’t say I was chomping at the bit to see Cinderella, the latest of Neptune Theatre’s holiday offerings. Albeit a holiday show bereft of holiday feels (you’ll have to see A Christmas Carol for that), this fairytale adaptation proves to be a disarmingly zany experience. Defining itself as a British-panto with a sprinkle of audience participation, it’s also replete with covers of popular songs, ranging from Great Big Sea to Carly Rae Jepsen to Imagine Dragons to Cyndi Lauper. In doing so, Cinderella avoids being cliche dinner theatre and instead revels in its success as musical theatre enjoyable for all ages.

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Cinderella

The Mellotones

Maritime R&B darlings The Mellotones were booked for a weekend of Motown fun at Neptune Theatre. Celebrating twenty years on the road together, this well-oiled, octet powerhouse plucked the finest gems from their catalogue for a night of funkadelic revelry. Cooking up a batch of some delicious “soul stew” (their words, not mine), the Mellotones pull out all the stops, moving through the decades and giving simmering tastes of musical legends who’ve inspired them during their career. Brandishing a solid twenty-track setlist, the night offered up great renditions of songs by Al Green, Edwin Starr, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder – the latter of which deserves a special spot of praise for actually making me like “Superstition.” So for that, bravo.

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The Mellotones

Playing With Fire

In Playing With Fire, a one-man-show set on an ice rink, actor Shaun Smyth sets out to tell you the life of NHL superstar Theo Fleury. Now if you’re me, and know squat about sports, you’ll assume that Fleury is a famous athlete you’re sure you’ve heard of, who played hockey. So for all those sports-squares out there I gotta hip, Fleury was a Métis NHLer, hailing from Manitoba, who rose to fame in a Calgary Flames jersey. Fleury’s rise to bladed glory is inspiring: the son of an alcoholic father and a pill-popping mom, hockey was Theo’s obsession and escape. A prodigy, young Fleury rose through the pee-wee leagues as a shorty scrapper who never shied away from a fight. It’s a reputation that followed him through his professional career and one that he bore proudly.

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Playing With Fire

The Little Years

Matchstick Theatre closes out its season with its sixth and best show to date, John Mighton’s The Little Years. Better balanced and more accessible than its predecessors Bone Cage and The Woodcutter, and just as captivating as 59 Minutes and Bitter Rose, The Little Years holds your attention from start to end. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, Matchstick Theatre is gaining traction, and the proof is in the proverbial pudding with the talent reeled in for this show.

For full review, visit: The Little Years

 

Shakespeare In Love

There’s a good chance you’re going to enjoy Neptune Theatre’s take on Shakespeare in Love. Directed by Jeremy Webb, the play features a host of local Halifax actors, all of whom work to make this play a more comedic venture than I recall the movie being.

Sarah English as Viola and Allister MacDonald as Will in Shakespeare in Love. - NEPTUNE THEATRE

Allister MacDonald nails down the role of William Shakespeare, a writer toiling in relative obscurity. Fresh off a tepidly received performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Shakespeare is in the midst of a stressful predicament: He’s sold his next unwritten play, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter to two different people. Things are complicated further thanks to a crippling case of writer’s block—he’s unable to write anything of substance unless its spoon-fed to him by his friend and contemporary Christopher Marlowe (a charming Wayne Burns), or has a dog doing tricks. Toss in the extra stressor that his ragtag group of actors are less than impressive and Shakespeare’s a big ole ball of nerves. It’s not until he meets a prodigious acting talent named Thomas Kent (a wealthy elite named Viola de Lesseps in drag), that the curse is lifted. After quickly discovering Viola’s true identity, the two begin an affair, thus rekindling Shakespeare’s passion and giving birth to Romeo and Juliet.

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Shakespeare In Love

Thorgy Thor and the Thorchestra

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Thorgy came to slay Halifax— and slay it she did. Having just recently crushed the only two seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix, former two-time contestant Thorgy Thor quickly became a favourite of mine. Funny, empowered, and creative, she exemplified a lot of the greatest elements drag has to offer. (I haven’t seen All Stars yet — so no spoilers, please.) In the finale of Season 8, Ms. Thor stated that performing in a touring orchestra was a long-standing dream of hers, so suffice it to say that seeing her flaunt her fierce self onstage in Halifax (of all places) felt slightly surreal. 

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Thorgy Thor