Tag Archives: The Livery

Next to Normal: A play to be talked about

10 Apr

nexttonormalBy Diva Heather Boa

Next to Normal isn’t your normal community theatre production by a long shot.

You’d be hard-pressed to have a few laughs or find familiar lyrics in this production by Goderich Little Theatre, running until April 16. Rather, the rock musical that first hit Off-Broadway in 2008, is a relevant, weighty commentary on the effects of mental illness on a family, also touching on dysfunctional relationships and drug addiction – with no real upside.

It’s the story of a mother (played by Susan Carradine-Armstrong) who struggles with bipolar disorder while trying to hold together her small family, a father (played by Matthew Hussey) who is bound by a sense of duty and forever hopeful that the next treatment will bring a cure, a subtly manipulative son (played by Jordan Henry), and an angry, forgotten daughter (Liv Hussey) who turns to pharmaceuticals for solace. It is a wonderfully sad, raw story in which possibly any of us can find a little bit of ourselves.

In Saturday night’s performance, the cast of six embraces this big script, heavy in lines and music, with an energy and believability that could rival any number of professional theatre performances.

Director Jordan Henry, who also plays the son, delivers an inspiring interpretation of the play, with music by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. His vision is clear and crisp, with well-defined characters that make the story easy for the audience to follow, even with a few surprises thrown in.

In particular, Carradine-Armstrong is spellbinding as the mother, equally believable manically making sandwiches on the kitchen floor as she is eloquently expressing love for her teenaged daughter. At times she is coy and playful, at other times regretful and lost. Always, she makes her character shine.

Two youths (Liv Hussey and Ben Hearn, as the daughter’s boyfriend) who hold their own on stage with veteran actors may be a testament to the strong drama classes in our local high schools.

Cara Stephenson has the challenge of playing various doctor characters that I didn’t find particularly well-written – an issue for the playwright rather than the local performers – but she has a bit of fun in her roles and has a bold singing voice that fits nicely with the rest of the cast.

The set design is intriguing, with broken, wide-set boards in the shape of a house at the back of the stage, a backdrop to the band on risers in full view of the audience. The remainder of the economy-sized stage is cluttered with furniture and props that are simply rearranged as required.

This is a play to be talked about. Mental illness is a topic we should be talking about. As the director says: “…we hope you enjoy this production as much as we have, and, more importantly, that this production will encourage you to feel, think and share.”


 

What: Next to Normal, a presentation of Goderich Little Theatre

Where: The Livery Theatre, 35 South St., Goderich

When: April 14-16 at 8 p.m.

How: Box Office open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Rush seats, if available, on sale 30 minutes before performance. Tickets online at www.livery.ca (may take up to three days to process). Members: $20 adults, $18 seniors, $15 youth under 18, $10 children under 12. Non-members: $25 adults, $22.50 seniors, $15 youth under 18, $10 children under 12.

Mike Janzen Trio delivers fun, sassy evening of jazz

2 Nov

mikejanzentrio3By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – Monster musicians. That’s how Al Mullin describes the Mike Janzen Trio, after their performance at St. George’s Anglican Church in Goderich last night.

I don’t know much about jazz, but I’ll take Al’s word for it that these three guys – a piano player, a bass player and a drummer – are up and coming musicians to watch. After all, Al is a talented trumpet player with The Howlin’ Dogs Vintage Jazz Band and has the credentials to make that call.

Indeed, Mike Janzen on piano, Ross MacIntyre on bass and guitar, and Ben Riley on drums have wedged this Goderich stop into a schedule that will see Mike head into Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio to wrap up his latest CD and Ross and Ben head off to Japan in two days.

Mike Janzen on piano.

Mike Janzen on piano.

From Sunshine Coast, with its upbeat sounds reminiscent of a lazy day under the hot sun, through Broadway tunes, country jazz, swing jazz numbers to an end with I’ve Decided, with its touch of gospel, this trio delivered fun and sassy, clever and brassy music. They were precise and tight at the opening and close of each song on the playbill, but spontaneity caught a hold in the middle, for a wonderfully entertaining adventure.

Ross MacIntryre on bass and Ben Riley on drums.

Ross MacIntyre on bass and Ben Riley on drums.

On a makeshift stage in the sanctuary, set against a backdrop of long stained glass windows under vaulted ceiling, they wrung sound from their instruments in what seemed like a million impossible ways. There were elbows running along keys and steel, sticks tapping every possible surface, and sounds I’ve never heard come out of a guitar before. Watching hands fly over keys, over strings was captivating. My heart raced without moving a stitch during some of the songs, as they reached a near collision of sound. Then they pulled it all back. It was quiet. Calm. Settled into a slower-paced classical / jazz piece or a familiar song from the Broadway musical Annie or Mary Poppins.

Then there were the oven mitts. In a bit of a tribute to his childhood piano teacher, who chastised him for not practising by telling him it sounded as though he were playing with oven mitts on, Mike Janzen donned oven mitts and played a fun little piece – which sounded pretty darned good.

The evening was a combined effort of the Riverview House Concerts, which has hosted Mike Janzen at a Toronto venue in the past, and The Livery LIVE series, bringing live music to Goderich. The next Livery LIVE concert is the East Pointers, a freshly formed trio of seventh generation Prince Edward Island musicians, performing on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. at The Livery. For more information, visit online.

 

Theatre so silly you have to roll with it

12 Jul
Lisa Justine Hood as, um, the balcony, Ben Van Osch as Juliet and Shawn Van Osch as Romeo. Photo courtesy of Devin Sturgeon.

Lisa Justine Hood as, um, the balcony, Ben Van Osch as Juliet and Shawn Van Osch as Romeo. Photo courtesy of Devin Sturgeon.


By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – If you’re looking for high-brow culture in summer theatre, then The Livery Theatre is probably not where you want to be.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for some well-over-the-top rollicking fun, then this is precisely the place to be, in order to catch a showing of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), directed by David Armour.

Relying on a script that gives the impression of being written by a pre-pubescent male for all its cheap sexual innuendos, cross-dressing and fixation on bodily functions (specifically, puking), the trio of actors – Lisa Justine Hood, Shawn Van Osch and Ben Van Osch – take to the stage with all the gusto of neighbourhood kids playing make-belief long into a summer’s evening.

I’ll tell you straight out that this play is uproariously funny if, and only if, you give in to its persistent silliness.

It might seem a little weird that Ben Van Osch really relishes his roles as Ophelia and Juliet, with massive wigs and long dresses, but then again, there was a time when women’s parts were exclusively played by men. And this is the season of community reunions where more than a few men will inevitably dress in skimpy women’s lingerie and plaster on makeup for shirt-tail parades. So best to just roll with it.

When you accept that its entirely appropriate for Ken and Barbie dolls, an inflatable dinosaur, a few lines from The Time Warp, and the Van Osch brothers’ mother to be woven into the production, then you’ll have a grand time.

In this play, the 37 or so tragedies, comedies and histories spun out during Shakespeare’s prolific career are turned into a series of quickies strung together over two hours. They are irreverent, raunchy and sometimes swollen with bad puns. Oh yeah, and definitely not appropriate for a young audience.

Last night, it was a very friendly audience. Perhaps a quarter of the people were related to the Van Osch brothers, and a number of producers and directors from other plays staged at The Livery were there.

You can still catch a performance of this play on July 16, 17 or 18, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online or by calling 519-524-6262 on Thursday or Friday, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 (adults), $22.50 (seniors) or $15 (youth). Livery Members: $20 (adults), $18 (seniors) or $15 (youth). Seating is by general admission.

Unnecessary Farce draws necessary laughs

9 Apr
The cast takes a much deserved bow at the end of the dress rehearsal.

The cast takes a much deserved bow at the end of the dress rehearsal.

rachellynnBy Diva Rachel Lynn

GODERICH – Tuesday evening, I attended what’s referred to as the soft opening of Unnecessary Farce, the final “practice” before opening night of this Goderich Little Production on April 9.

There were many in the audience and the cast treated it as a true performance.

Written by Paul Slade Smith and directed by local Goderich-ite Nina Reynolds, Unnecessary Farce is being staged at The Livery Theatre in Goderich. The play is about two cops who are undercover in a cheap motel, trying to catch the mayor in a $16-million embezzlement scheme with the help of one “HOT” accountant. Add in Agent Frank (Jordan Henry), and “Big Mac,” you have one perfect recipe for suspense and laughter.

But it’s so much more than that. From the beginning, I was laughing and sometimes covered my

Confusion leads to hilarity in Unnecessary Farce, which opens tonight, April 9.

Confusion leads to hilarity in Unnecessary Farce, which opens tonight, April 9.

mouth I was laughing so loud. A word of advice, don’t cover your mouth. Laugh out loud. For me, it’s one of the best sounds on this planet. Now and then, the actors had to wait until the laughter died down to deliver their next line. Officer Dwyer (Eric Lubbers) and Sheraton (Shawn Van Osch) have a great back and forth banter as the incompetent cops who keep messing up. Ms. Brown (Jenna Leifso), the accountant, keeps taking her clothes off, but it’s not what you think. Agent Frank arrives to protect the mayor and search the room for “bugs”. Is Agent Frank who he says he is?

By the end of the show, I was laughed out and my cheeks hurt.

Bring a friend or family to see this wonderfully hilarious comedy.

A caution, there is some mild swearing so it may not be appropriate for a younger audience.

“The Livery itself has a grand history. Records indicate that the rear portion of The Livery was erected

The audience can watch events at The Livery in added comfort, now that the new seats are installed.

The audience can watch events at The Livery in added comfort, now that the new seats are installed.

during the 1840s as a harness shop by Samuel Seegmuller, trader in hides and whiskey along the Huron Trail between Guelph and Goderich.” In 1978, the building was almost demolished but, with the help of council and a private citizen, The Livery was saved. For more information on the history, please visit online.

Unnecessary Farce opens tonight, Thursday, April 9, at 8 p.m.

Additional dates: April 10,11,16,17, 18 at 8 p.m.; April 12 at 2 p.m.

For tickets, please visit The Livery’s box office at:
35 South St, Goderich or phone (519) 524-6262.

The Livery is also a venue for live music, film festivals and rentals. For more details, visit online.

Kruger Brothers: Like being at a kitchen party

13 Mar
The Kruger Brothers concert at The Livery in Goderich was presented by the Celtic Roots Festival.

The Kruger Brothers concert at The Livery was presented by the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival.

By Diva Claire Carter

GODERICH – I am always amazed by the quality of entertainment in Huron County.  I had the pleasure of attending a Kruger Brothers concert at the Livery in Goderich on Wednesday night.  This event was presented by the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, a group that has a history of bringing fantastic talent to the area every August.

I brought my dad along, as we have a tradition of attending the Celtic Festival together.  This was the third time we’d heard the Kruger Brothers preform. The group, born in Europe and now based in North Carolina, has a very loyal following.  The group’s sound is described as bluegrass-acoustic-roots.  Their sounds make me feel like I’m at a kitchen party on the east coast or in Ireland.

Jens Kruger was recently awarded with the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo, and it is easy

The Livery, Goderich.

The Livery, Goderich.

to understand why.  The show featured both instrumental songs (many from Appalachan Concerto) and vocals.  There was a good mix of original and cover music.   It seemed the group really knew the audience, as I heard many times at intermission and after the show that they’d played someone’s favourite song.  The song I liked the best was Carolina in the Fall.  The band interacted with the audience after the show, autographing CDs and talking about their love of Huron County.

The Kruger Brothers won’t be attending the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival this year.  The band flies to Switzerland next week, and will be performing and delivering workshops throughout Europe and the United States for the next few months.  The festival attracts different performers each year from around the world.  The lineup for this year has just been released, and it is fantastic!  The full lineup can be found here.

I’m most excited to see the Great Lakes Swimmers and Dave Gunning.  As usual, there is a great balance of North American and European musicians.  There are four different stages, and a fantastic food area.  I’m really looking forward to discovering new music while enjoying a delicious ice cream cone in Lions Harbour Park.  After things wind down on stage, I’d suggest heading to the Park House, where the live entertainment continues.

Tickets can be purchased for the full three days of the festival ($70 for adults, $65 for seniors), or for single days ($25-$35 for adults, $20-$30 for seniors).  Concerts begin at 11 a.m., and end at midnight on Friday and Saturday, and at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information on the 2015 Celtic Roots Festival, visit online, or call (519) 524-8221.

Loving I HATE TODD and the Fermented Oranges at the Livery

29 Jun
Headliners I HATE TODD. Pictured are Nelson Sobral on guitar, Troy Larabie on percussion, Kev Carney on bass and local musician Capucine Onn on violin.

Headliners I HATE TODD. Pictured are Nelson Sobral on guitar, Troy Larabie on percussion, Kev Carney on bass and local musician Capucine Onn on violin.

By Diva Calista Powell
Since I have moved back to the county in March, I have been absolutely amazed at the talent that this area has to offer. I have always been a local music fan and enjoy checking out new artists so I was pretty excited to see I HATE TODD perform live at the Livery with special guests the Fermented Oranges.

The fellas from Fermented Oranges (whom I have had the pleasure of working with before with Blyth 14/19’s HuronSound Festival) rocked the house with their original songs and never cease to amaze the crowds they play for. Their punchy rock/funk riffs were striking, and that carefree beachy vibe was captured especially as they jammed out barefoot and in board shorts. It’s never a let down to see these guys play.

Cappy Onn’s violin school kicking off their set.

Cappy Onn’s violin school kicking off their set.

Next up was the headliner, I HATE TODD, the indie-alternative rock band out of Toronto. It intrigues me to see how a variety of instruments and musical styles can collaborate to make a unique sound-and they nailed it. Capucine Onn, local violin virtuoso had her Suzuki violin school start their performance with a beautiful symphonic rock piece and it was great to see kids of all ages showcase their talent. Then the party started as eccentric frontman Todd Preston came out with the rest of the band members to play their popular hit, “Zombie Love”. Their performance was theatrical and captivating to say the least, and their genuine good-time attitude was contagious. After watching their set, I came to the obvious conclusion that there are very few things cooler than a zombie-loving, violin-shredding, pop-rock band. It’s basically a scientific fact.

Thank you Cappy for setting up this unforgettable show!

To check out I HATE TODD’s tunes and lineup check out their website at http://www.ihatetodd.com/ For Fermented Oranges http://fermentedoranges.bandcamp.com/

The guys of Fermented Oranges. Aaron Voskamp on lead guitar, Dylan Bellinger on drums, Adam Wendler on lead vocals/guitar and Dean Reynolds on bass.

The guys of Fermented Oranges. Aaron Voskamp on lead guitar, Dylan Bellinger on drums, Adam Wendler on lead vocals/guitar and Dean Reynolds on bass.