By John Swartz
“Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage,” words of wisdom spoken by Feste (Kevin Scharf) in Twelfth Night.
You don’t have to like Shakespeare to get enjoyment out of Mariposa Arts Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night now running at the Leacock Museum.
Unless I’ve just read it, like many of you, I can’t follow a Shakespeare play. But if you latch onto one character after you’ve figured out why they are in the play, you can begin to understand what’s happening. You’ll even get some of the jokes if it’s a good production. So much rides on an actor’s ability to physically make the portrayal go with the words.
I caught the dress rehearsal earlier this week and this cast is so into what they are doing they even stayed in character and made light of a minor breakdown. I laughed at that, and in many other places.
The great thing about this production is not so much the script and acting, but how it’s staged. The house, the grounds, the gardens, even Brewery Bay – the shoreline part – are used as staging area. One moment you have actors entering by way of Stevie’s front door, the next from the North side of the house, then the south side, then from the garden. It makes the flow of scenes go a little faster and director Randy White had so many options to choose from.
The gardens, you aren’t going to get a scene with an actor standing among almost waste-high flowering plants as you’ll find at the museum (densely growing, with many varieties of flowers) in any theatre – even with a 7 figure budget (because that will just get blown on a pyrotechnical effect anyway). I think this was the most inspiring part of the production for me, it was magical.
I did noticed an outhouse smack dab in the middle of the north side garden and wondered what the museum folks were up to, what Leacock story it figured into, and why it was in that location – until it came time for it to serve its purpose as a set piece serving as a jailhouse for Malvolio (Daniel Coo).
The story has two plotlines, one centered on Viola (Caitlin Robson) who was shipwrecked and who thinks she lost her twin, Sebastian (Noah Hollinshead), in the wreck. She comes to work for Orsino (Stephen Dobby) and falls in love with him. Problem is, he is supposed to be in love with Olivia (Olivia Everett). All the rest of the main characters are related to, or have some connection to Olivia.
You might consider Twelfth Night to be the forerunner of the madcap comedy genre, the kind of thing the line, ‘madly off in all directions,’ attributed to Leacock, illustrates. There are so many characters plotting and scheming, even in modern day English you’d need a scorecard to keep track.
If you are not all brushed up on Shakespeare, pay attention to the similar costuming of Viola and Sebastian, this device is used to confuse identities for the characters – and those in the audience who need a little time to catch up.
And this brings to mind the other thing about Shakespeare and how it’s usually performed, the pace. It isn’t slow. I never watched Shakespeare live that hasn’t been a struggle to digest what you just saw before the next thing happens. A part of that is the time taken doing the translation from English to English. Eventually you’ll find a rhythm and then the funny lines will make more immediate sense.
When you go to see this there are a few things to take into account. You need to bring your own lawn chair. At halftime put on some Bug Off™. Don’t sit too close to the walkway, you want to be back a bit to catch all the unusual character entrances, you also won’t have to swivel your head so much to catch the action happening to extreme stage right and left. Bring your own mug – and put some coffee in it – coffee. And pay attention to the trumpet playing of Neil Barlow, it’s very good.
The play runs to September 5 with afternoon and evening showtimes. Get tickets here.
Matchedash Opera House
Lance Anderson’s Matchedash Parish performed at the Opera House Sunday night. For a first live music event post you-know-what this was just the thing to rejoin life with.
A dozen musicians, among the best in the biz, playing several different styles of music for an hour and a half, a set list of tunes, which even if you didn’t know them well you’d get into quickly and enjoy was just what the doctor ordered.
Many of the tunes employed a musical groove you’d have to be the whitest of white to ignore; you know, the kind who can’t clap in time or on the right beat. I still haven’t connected all the song titles to the tunes I really like because normally I set the album to play while I’m putzing around with other things, but I do know When The Rains Come and Where Is the Love and St. John’s Matchedash Parish Hall were fantastic to hear live. Also the covers, Lady Madonna was the most liked by the audience –until they unveiled their cover of Gimme Some Lovin (which no one saw coming because they backed into it from a conga feature); that one set the audience on fire. They closed out with an encore of Come Together (Beatles).
What is interesting about the three cover tunes is Lance does it right. Instead of trying to duplicate the original recordings, he tore them apart and re-imagined them, without losing the bits people would instantly recognize. Hence when the band kicked into the first verse of Gimme and the audience recognized how they were lead down the garden path and right into it they responded accordingly with great applause.
Last week I mentioned guitarist Mackenzie Jordan couldn’t make it because his wife was having a baby and Wayne Deadder filled in. Well, it also turned out sax player Gene Hardy and drummer Shamakah Ali had to miss the gig. I was kind of surprised to see Simon Wallis (Lighthouse) sax in hand and day of concert Lance got Kevan McKenzie (Moe Koffman, David Clayton-Thomas, Rob McConnell, Doctor John, Robert Palmer, Spencer Davis, Manteca and dozens more) to fill in. Lance told me Kevan listened to the Matchedash Parish CD, Saturday Night on the way here from Toronto, rehearsed the show one time and then played the gig as one of two drummers (the other Ben Rollo of Danny Michel’s band) and a percussionist (Art Avalos of Manteca) without it sounding like three squirrels fighting on a metal roof. That’s freaking incredible.
You have to be in awe here in Orillia is the kind of musician who can write and orchestrate music like we heard, fill out a band with the best players, and at a moment’s notice make a call and get a replacement like Kevan McKenizie to do the gig.
This concert was one for the ages, and if you missed it (there were 184 people on hand) you can watch it tomorrow night right hereat 7:30 p.m.
OMAH Cornucopia Of Art?
Metis artist Tracey-Mae Chambers will be at OMAH all day Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. constructing a version of her Hope and Healing art sculpture. OMAH is one of 30 galleries she’s bringing her art to. Each piece uses a single red string to create something unique to each gallery. You can see what she’s already created at other galleries on her Facebook page.
OMAH has a new exhibit called Welcome Home to Orillia. It tells the story of 11 people who now call Orillia home, but didn’t always. It’s fascinating to read each person’s story and to see some of the things they included in their exhibit space. Also see Will McGarvey’s exhibit, Sticks and Stones. You can also check out the opening with Will and Jill Price online.
OMAH also has some outside things you can do. A Friday night tour for families is open for registration, and they have a Saturday morning outdoor program for kids. They’ll be on the street Friday nights with activities. They also have an interesting tour called Gangs, Guns and Grog: True Stories of Orillia’s Wild West Days Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. Register online. Looking ahead, OMAH’s Speaker’s Night September 15 is with Dr. Chris Decker who will be speaking about the life of Dr. Norman Bethune. It’s on Zoom, so you have to call, 705-326-2159 to register and get the link to the event.
Mostly Online Distracters
Zachary Lucky beat his Kickstarter goal of $11,000 by 845 bucks needed to manufacture the CD’s, posters and t-shirts for his new album, Songs For Hard Times. He recorded it on a trip to Algonquin Park and it’s just him and his guitar Congratulations.
Ayden Miller and his band, New Friends, have another new pop new tune called Purple Candy which premiered last Thursday during Global TV’s series, Private Eyes. Check out other tunes by the band on their Youtube channel. You watch the video now.
Blue Moon Junction, on Highway 11 at Sparrow Lake Road has the Jazz Standards (Randy Hoover, Ian Thurston, Bruce Rumble) playing Dixieland Jazz every Sunday in August starting at noon.
Mike Bailey created a poster of the Hippy Vans people can buy. It’s available in two sizes (24×36 – $65, or 16×24 – $55) and you can order one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org You can also get the booklet Streets Alive publishes each year which has images and information about the artists, the sponsors and the art. They are numbered and you can get the book and a ballot to vote on your 3 most liked vans at Jack & Maddy A Kids Store. Votes will be counted and three of the 29 artists are going to win cash prizes ($10k, $5k and $2,500). You return your ballot at Jack and Maddy or OMAH.
The first big community event of the new era is the 171st Orillia Fall Fair September 11. Unlike other years it will be for one day only, but they are packing a lot into it like the Demo Derby (you can register the family sedan here) and truck and tractor pulls. Email email@example.com to get tickets ($10 adults, $5 kids, free for those under 4).
The pipe organ at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian is 100 years old this year. The anniversary is actually at the end of September. Marshall Martin, who gets to play the thing all the time, said it’s too soon to be able to say whether there will be an event to mark the occasion. With 5,000 pipes it’s one of the largest organs in Canada.. There’s a video the church has produced that shows all the workings and Marshall explains what all the parts do.
Nate Robertson has some new music to listen to. A drummer, he also can play other instruments and his latest work is more of an exploration of sound. You can listen to the music from his Synchronized Stratification EP (and buy it) on his Bandcamp page. You’ll also find his previous recordings there too.
Aaron Mangoff has put out 5 EP’s and 3 singles in the last year and you can hear them here.
Check out Stuart Steinhart’s excellent new album, It’s About Time, on Bandcamp.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Ted Powers, Kevin Scharf and David Evans in MAT’s Twelfth Night (photo by Deb Halbot)