Garbo Talks - Garbo Laughs - Jennifer Lines - Plays The AccordionThursday, May 17, 2012
Her mother had warned me not to provoke her and to play it cool. My usual theatre companion is my fair wife but she had suggested that Cole Porter might do our Rebecca some good. I wasn’t sure.
The evening began wrong. I arrived at Rebecca’s house at 7:20 and found her barefoot on the sofa exercising her twin thumbs with her portable communications device. “Papi, you are early,” she said. “No,” I retorted (ah so gently!) because we have to pick up our tickets by 7:30. In the car she applied lengthy finishing touches to her face and was cross when we arrived on Granville and 12 in short order.
And before I continue this account (will it be favorable?) I must point out that I am such a Cole Porter fan that I have the out-of-print cassette tape Cybill Does it to Cole Porter. But then I am also a fan of Shepherd as nobody who usually wears satin and pearls can do any wrong.
Also, while I like Katherine Hepburn I was always madly in love with Grace Kelly. Could Jennifer Lines do either of them?
And finally one of my favourite angst-ridden Vancouver actors is Daniel Arnold. How could he sell out to a musical?
And before I forget, I cannot stand the sight or sound of the accordion.
In spite of all those warning lights the evening began with tickets on the third row dead center. Seats cannot be any better than that. I knew these were good seats because Dal Richards and wife were on our row, two seats away. Richards is a bit deaf so he sits where he can best hear. That was good.
The evening began better when I noticed the startling inclusion of Cameron Wilson on violin in the orchestra which also had Graham Boyle on percussion (I was a fan of his when I first heard him a million years ago at the Classical Joint) Henry Christian on trumpet (who sometimes polishes up and plays that wonderful flugelhorn), Tom Colclough on clarinet, Ken Cromier on keyboard and Neil Nicholson on trombone.
We knew we were in for a fun night when Jennifer Lines (playing the high society Tracy Lord) and Bridget Esler (playing Lord’s younger sister Dinah) did a number together. It was an over-the top performance that included excruciating French, bad ballet and some efficient accordion playing by Jennifer Lines (who could have possibly have known that a woman who is handy with handling asps could also play this instrument?). This scene performed in the presence of Daniel Arnold (playing Mike Connor) and his photographic and sometimes mate Liz Imbrie (played by Lauren Bowler) brought down the house in laughs and I let go and relaxed as I watched Rebecca laugh to tears.
As for the rest of the cast I can assert that Mother Lord (Nicola Lipman) was as funny as could be and I would like to see her purported and famous impersonation of Topol’s Tevye, and Todd Talbot can dance just fine when he jumps over a small sofa with what seem to be impossibly long legs.
But if there was going to be anybody competing with our Jennifer Lines, it wasn’t a gin fizzed Norman Browning playing Uncle Willie (sometimes and sometimes not and funny either way), or Steve Maddock who could have been my Rebecca’s father’s older brother he looked so much like him. No, competition came from Lauren Bowler’s Liz Imbrie. Kudos to whoever did her hair. It was gorgeous as was her voice. But the high moment came when during a dance Bowler noticed a stray black lace handkerchief on the floor. What to do? Leave it? Would someone trip? She deftly picked it up and stuffed it between you know what! And she did not lose a beat.
At the end of the show I discussed with Richards the sounds of the orchestra. We loved the violin and in Just One of those Things the sound of the trombone, clarinet and the violin combined was sheer pleasure. In fact when we weren’t laughing I was enjoying a little orchestra that could and did play with class. As for that fine clarinet player (Tom Colclough) you must all know that Dal Richards's first instrument was never the sax but the clarinet. So he knows.
Watching Daniel Arnold (as a commie-leaning idealist who convincingly sang Who Wants to Be a Millionaire) convert to capitalism with the help of generous imbibing of Vive Clicquot made me realize why indeed that other commie, played by Greta Garbo did indeed laugh in Ninotchka. But at the end of a splendid night there was one fact that lingered in the air and that is that Jennifer Lines indeed did play the accordion. And not too badly.
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