A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

Evgeni Onegin & That Bond Girl
Wednesday, March 23, 2016



Marina Hasselberg in The Dress


This last Sunday my Rosemary and I attended a matinee performance of Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hill’s Onegin at the Arts Club Theatre Company’s (Shared with Bard on the Beach) new digs called the Goldcorp Stage At The BMO Theatre Centre (that name is not Twitter friendly!).

Right off the bat I was confused. The actors on stage (all consummate actors) did not seem to talk. They only sang. At the interval I decided to consult with an expert who was on the other side (in this configuration and I believe that it could also be transformed into a theatre-in-the-round) of the stage. This was my friend Peter Birnie former theatre critic of the Vancouver Sun. Off the bat he told me (with a twinkle in his eyes), “I am the Theatre Critic Emeritus.” I asked him why it was that in this musical the actors did not talk. His answer was succinct, “You have Onegin in the wrong classification. This is an opera.” Knowing what to expect I settled down to enjoy the opera.

I was not too sure of the play's resolution as my last experience with Onegin was in 2008 when I saw the Vancouver Opera’s Eugene Onegin (the one with music by composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky). I did not know the victor of the duel that is central to Pushkin’s story.

There was another wait and see factor (and yes suspense) for me. Hanging with a couple of assorted string instruments by orchestra percussionist Barry Mirochnick was a balalaika. Was he going to play it? He did. When? Towards the end.


I could write a rave review on how much fun I had and how catchy and wonderful the music was. That was so and I won't. But what hit me hard with complete amazement was the versatility of the actors who acted, sang, danced and played various musical instruments. The orchestra, Veda Hille on piano and keyboards, Barry Mirochnick percussion and Marina Hasselberg (more on her later) cello “only” had to play and sing!

When one of the actors was dispatched at the duel he stayed at the keyboards for the rest of the opera. I was amazed to see Meg Roe (she has never been seen as a tall girl) strap on a large electric guitar and sing at a mike. Caitriona Murphy who plays Madame Larin (and others) was a most efficient violinist, too! Just about every actor had to play a set of vertical bells at least once.

The audience was asked to participate as a 19th century Russian postal system (which obviously had Sunday delivery) and a few lucky blokes on the front row were given glasses with booze (vodka?).

It took this Latin American some time to adjust and learn to like musicals. I never understood the concept of talking and then suddenly singing. Thanks to years of attending Arts Club Theatre musical productions I am now well-versed in the musical. I remember fondly some years ago when that actress of actresses Jennifer Lines in an Arts Club Theatre play pulled out an accordion that was hidden under a sofa and played it superbly. She was definitely ahead on this actor-versatility-sort-of-thing.


In the beginning of the opera Alessandro Juliani (not yet wearing that handsome top hat) was on my side of the stage standing on the isle. The opera had not begun so I told him I knew the cellist. His immediate comment was, “That Bond Girl.”

I cannot end this review without mentioning the real star of the opera. This has to be Costume Designer Jacqueline Firkins. Her costumes were very good.

But the one Marina Hasselberg was wearing (and the costume jewelry) was superb (one word will have to suffice as there is no room here for all the superlatives in my head). My only regret was the dress was too long to show off Hasselberg’s trademark fishnets and Marlene Dietrich legs.

Marina Hasselberg is perhaps ample proof that versatility is in the air. She plays the classic cello and its classic repertoire. She plays the baroque cello (no end pin) with a repertoire of early 17th century music. And she also plays new music and has just about every local new music composer creating music for her. That was a good call Veda Hille.

Warning: Should you want to take the elevator up to the Hamilton Lounge or to visit either the Bard on the Beach office or the Arts Club Theatre one I would take the stairs. A plaque by the elevator says "This elevator supported by Mr. & Mrs...."

More Veda Hille






     

Previous Posts
The Wonders Of Restrictive Limitation

Murray Newman - Smart Fish - R.I.P.

My New Muse?

Bass For Bach & A Manly Apollo

The Perplexing Redness Of Its Red

Cherry Pink & Hosta Blue

A Light Exists In Spring

The Lady Dare Not Lift Her Veil

Jean Stilwell - Mezzo-Soprano

The General Incognito In Civies In My Hood



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5/15/16 - 5/22/16

5/22/16 - 5/29/16

5/29/16 - 6/5/16

6/5/16 - 6/12/16

6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16