HicksBiz Blog

Category: Performing Arts

Performing Arts

Vigilante sends Jonathan Christenson in new directions: Citadel Theatre review by Graham HIcks

Vigilante - written, composed and directed by Jonathan Christenson World Premier, Citadel Theatre (Mclab Stage), Edmonton, Canada A Catalyst Theatre production March 7 to 29, 2015   Review by Graham Hicks It sure is fun, and fascinating, to watch the evolution and growth of an artistic genius in our backyard ... like watching your immensely talented kid brother slowly reveal his extraordinary potential. This review is about Jonathan Christenson’s latest rock-opera Vigilante, playing on the Citadel’s Maclab Stage in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, through March 29. But before we get there, the artist and the show need context. Christenson, born, raised and resident in Edmontonian, is playwright, lyricist, composer and director of his own shows. He’s written musical theatre most of his adult life. House of Pootsie Plunket (1999) and Blue Orphan (2001)brought Christenson a national profile with his collaborator at the time, Joey Tremblay. But it was when Christenson went solo - writi ... Read the rest of entry »

Playing With Fire, The Theo Fleury Story at the Citadel Theatre: Jocks and their artsy girlfriends will both love this show - Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Playing With Fire – The Theo Fleury Story Maclab Stage, Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Through Feb. 15, 2015 Tickets, starting at $30 Review by Graham Hicks,  hicksbiz.com Relax. Playing With Fire – The Theo Fleury Story – is not going to subject you to scene after scene of the grim sexual abuse story of Fleury’s adolescence that finally sent his hockey coach tormentor Graham James to prison. In fact, this one-man show on the Citadel’s Maclab Theatre is surprisingly cheerful and funny, given it’s a detailed autobiographical account of the famous and diminutive Calgary Flame's ascent and then descent into a living hell of drug, alcohol and gambling addiction, then, one hopes, back to an addictions-free life.  (Who knows? The play is based on Fleury’s autobiography, published in 2009.) It’s also innovative, played on a mini-hockey rink, with top-notch multi-media enhancements to the story, beautifully acted with Shaun Smyth taking hi ... Read the rest of entry »

Venus in Fur at the Citadel Theatre - whooo hoo! A review by GRAHAM HICKS

Venus in Fur – A HicksBiz.com review by Graham Hicks Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage 9828 101A Ave., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Through February 8, 2015 Tickets start at $30 What’s this? A little foreplay?  Black corsets? Whips? Legs that go on forever? At The Citadel Theatre? Yes!  But, this being the theatre, we’re not talking pornography. And, if it was a film, Venus in Fur would likely have a “G” rating. But you wouldn’t take your kids. Venus in Fur is based on a wildly creative idea and is executed on the Citadel’s Shocter stage in wildly creative ways.  The plot’s straightforward and needs explanation before writing about this production. A struggling director/writer (Jamie Cavanagh) is holding auditions for the female lead in his new play, based on a 19th century erotic novel, Venus in Furs by the original Mr. Sadomasochism himself, an Austrian writer by the name of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. This is historic fa ... Read the rest of entry »

The Citadel's One Man, Two Guvnors - is it humanly possible to laugh this hard? Review by GRAHAM HICKS

One Man, Two Guvnors Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage Through Sunday, November 16, 2014 Tickets $30 and up, www.citadeltheatre.com Review by GRAHAM HICKS In One Man, Two Guvnors, Francis (John Ullyatt) splays away with a metaphorical comedic machine gun, shooting off humour in every which direction, at every which moment, within every which comedy device ever devised since the first playwright walked on his or her back legs. Lord, this is one great screwball comedy that Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre has used to brighten up its 2014/15 season – up there with previous productions such as Monty Python’s Spamalot, Noises Off, the Noel Coward runabouts and Tom Wood’s initial adaptation of The Servant of Two Masters – on which this show is also based – back in 2002/03. As the program notes usefully point out, British playwright Richard Bean is a worthy heir to the brilliant line of British physical/spoken humour that stretches from Spike Milligan to Peter Sellers, John Clee ... Read the rest of entry »

Kim's Convenience: Citadel Theatre season-opener is lightweight, charming and one-dimensional: Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Kim’s Convenience Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage through Oct. 11, 2014 Tickets $30 to $84, www.citadeltheatre.com (Touring show, produced by Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company) Review by GRAHAM HICKS I’m not sure what Kim’s Convenience says about the current state of Canadian theatre. It’s a lightweight, superficially charming, one-dimensional, 90-minute piece of theatre that I most closely relate to lightweight, superficial, lame CBC-TV  sitcom comedies like Little Mosque on the Prairie, i.e. paying lip service to “Canadian” themes without any semblance of artistic, philosophical or emotional depth. Yet Kim’s Convenience has been a hit in Canadian theatrical terms, starting as a Toronto Fringe Festival star show in 2011, winning a pile of Toronto theatre awards, touring the country, and being optioned for a TV series. (If it’s not the CBC, I’ll eat my hat.)  Is there such a lack of contemporary Canadian play competition that this ... Read the rest of entry »

Soul Sisters: Odysseo by Cavalia, Cirque du Soleil and La Bonhomie Quebecois

Odysseo by Cavalia Under the big top erected east of Fort Road, north of Yellowhead Trail, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Through August 10, 2014 Tickets $25 to $200, at www.cavalia.net  Review/Reflection by Graham Hicks  It’s very interesting, because the world-famous Cirque du Soleil made its original artistic reputation as the first animal-free circus of any stature. Odysseo by Cavalia, with its 64 horses, is as culturally, spiritually and technically as connected to Cirque du Soleil as any show could possibly be. In fact, I would bet dollars to donuts that behind the scenes there is an immense amount of interaction between the two organizations, given Cavalia founder and on-going artistic director Normand Letourelle was a partner with Cirque de Soleil founder Guy Laliberte  in its earlier years.  And obviously somebody had to finance what was obviously an enormous undertaking when Cavalia was founded in 2003. Odysseo by Cavalia is not only a spiritual sister to Cirque ... Read the rest of entry »

Wicked has it all: A magical night of musical theatre at Edmonton's Jubilee Theatre


Normally on Broadway, a “triple threat” refers to musical theatre actors who act, sing and dance.
Wicked is a triple threat of a different sort, so unique as to be almost on its own in the pantheon of active, touring Broadway shows.
Wicked has an extraordinarily creative story line, wonderful songs, and offers philosophical/ethical choices for its audiences to ponder after its shows.
For Wicked is very much, within all its action and finery, a contemplation on the nature of what creates wickedness, of the perception of wickedness. Is it born of circumstance, misunderstanding or simply innate?
This version, currently at Edmonton’s Jubilee Auditorium until Sunday July 20, 2014, actualizes every ounce of the potential within its script, score and lyrics.

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Make Mine Love - Citadel comedy premiere still rough around the edges - review by GRAHAM HICKS

Make Mine Love World Premiere by Tom Wood, directed by Bob Baker, starring Rebecca Northan, John Ullyatt and Julian Arnold Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Tickets May 10 to June 1, 2014 Review by GRAHAM HICKS There are delightful, hilarious, slap-stick scenes in Make Mine Love, in which interactive live-film technology plays a leading role. But those gems are surrounded by long, laborious set-up stuff that just doesn’t quite work in the Citadel’s world premiere of its commissioned Make Mine Love, an original script written by Edmonton actor, director and playwright Tom Wood, directed by Citadel artistic director Bob Baker. Make Mine Love is a huge undertaking, especially with an untested script, 10 actors playing 26 roles, sets with hundreds of moving parts shifting with breathtaking ease across America from Hollywood, to New York City and a train in between, all in 1938 when women were dames, everybody smoked, and wisecracks were the accepted lingo of the day. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hairspray at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre: As close to Broadway as we’ll get – review by GRAHAM HICKS

Hairspray at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre: As close to Broadway as we’ll get – review by GRAHAM HICKS Hairspray – The Broadway Musical Mayfield Dinner Theatre, Doubletree by Hilton West Edmonton 16615 109 Ave., Edmonton 780.483.4051 www.mayfieldtheatre.ca/tickets/ April 18 to June 15, 2014 A theatre review by Graham Hicks Hairspray is as good a musical theatre show as has ever trod the boards of the Mayfield Dinner Theatre – and that’s saying a lot, because the theatre has been open since 1975. It’s a given that Hairspray is an excellent musical to begin with – given the quirky 1988 movie turned into 2002’s Broadway hit musical, which in turn became the smash movie musical of 2007. The songs are the best, the plot actually has some sociological meat of 1960s race relations and an iconic nod to the notion that skinny white socialite girls don’t always win against the outsiders, the Broadway/musical choreography is top-notch. But the wonder, the mag ... Read the rest of entry »

Are the clowns from hell sitting in purgatory? Review of Mump + Smoot in Anything, Theatre Network to April 27, 2014

Graham Hicks review of Mump & Smoot in "Anything" Theatre Network, Live at the Roxy Theatre 10708 124 St., Edmonton, Alberta Canada 780-453-2440 theatrenetwork.ca, Ticket ordering  Call it Mump + Smoot Light. The beloved clowns from hell are back with their ninth show, at Theatre Network through Sunday April 27, 2014, since veteran Canadian buffoon-theatre men Michael Kennard and John Turner invented the characters 25 years ago. But it seems that Kennard, Turner and Karen Hines – the off-stage co-creator and director – have currently relegated Mump + Smoot to the backseat of their creative endeavours. Anything is a set of three Mump + Skit mini-shows or skits, lasting an hour in total, without any particular underlying theme or plot. Let’s back up a second here. In more commercial hands, Mump + Smoot as the clowns from hell could have become an on-going franchise that would have made the Kennard/Turner/Hines trio materially wealthy indeed.  There’s very, ... Read the rest of entry »