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 December 2008 - Nr. 12

Merry Christmas and the best of Seasons from Echo Germanica

The Canadian Stage Company – It’s a Wonderful Life

Irena SyrokomlaThe play is based on Frank Capra’s Academy Award-nominated holiday classic film, adapted for the stage by Philip Grecian, directed by Donna Feore and set/costumes designed by Michael Gianfrancesco. Need I say more? Top talent with Stratford or Shaw Festivals experience, providing live theatre in downtown Toronto, appealing to boomers and recalling memories from – perhaps – childhood?

Michael Gianfrancesco’s set takes us back to a 1940 radio station studio, broadcasting a live Christmas show interspersed with live singing commercials. Meanwhile the personnel are putting up decorations and generally fooling around: after all the listeners cannot see them, just hear their voices. The organ music transfers the audience into the past era when the radio was the centre of entertainment and the source of news in the family home. Ten actors have the total of 63 speaking parts. It is an additional bonus to see how the sound effects are produced on stage. This is a holiday tale coming to life with the assistance of such actors as Mike Shara as George, Patrick McKenna as Clarence, Marla McLean as Mary Bailey and Juan Chioran as Mr. Potter.

It is a wonderful opportunity to see a play so fitting for Christmas time played right here in Toronto till December 20. The tickets are available both for evenings and matinees at 416-368-3110 or

The Sound of Music at The Princess of Wales Theatre.

After all the excitement of the TV competition to find the perfect Maria, massive promotion of the production, reminiscences on the original movie including the interview with Christopher Plummer who admitted he was half-drunk most of the time while filming (oh, that schnapps!) – it is time to see the outcome.

The story of the von Trapp family singing success in 1938 in Austria and their escape from Nazi occupied country through the Alps to Switzerland and eventually America is well known. The romantic tale of a very young convent- raised Maria taking the position of governess in the von Trapp family – seven children, seven! – and then falling in love with the father Captain von Trapp as much as it is true – is as sweet as it is idealized.

The revival of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical as initiated by Andrew Lloyd Weber is different from the well-known movie. Some songs seem to be new or perhaps I do not remember them. Jeremy Sams direction, dance and vocal arrangements by Trude Rittmann, and design management of stage decors done by Robert Jones, all are absolutely superb. Obviously much thought and effort went into the production. Singing parts, be it the soloist Elicia MacKenzie or the nuns’ choir are excellent and professionally arranged. I specially liked the Gregorian singing of the nuns in the opening sequence. The von Trapp children are charming, well behaved (ha-ha!) and the centre of the action.

The part of Captain von Trapp was sung by Burke Moses, very well indeed, but why bring an American actor for this role when so much Canadian talent is available? Oh, well.

The Princess of Wales Theatre was really full and it is my understanding the tickets are selling in unprecedented numbers. It is a great Christmas gift opportunity for the family and children especially, so do not hesitate to order and then enjoy it live on stage. The box office number is 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333.

Other Holiday Season events in the Kitchener-Waterloo area:

Yuletide Spectacular
KW Symphony concert with Brian Jackson, December 18 and 19 in Centre in the Square, Kitchener.

(Ballet Jorgen) at Centre in the Square December 28, 2008

Salute to Vienna –
January 3rd, 2009 at Centre in the Square.

Centre in the Square box office 1-800-265-9877.

The Lost & Found Theatre GroupA Lost & Found Christmas December 11,12,13 in Emmanuel United Church in Waterloo, repeated on December 18 and 19 in UW School of Architecture in Cambridge.

And have a great Christmas!

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

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