PLAYBILL: The Sterling Awards before the storm

It’s obviously now OK to say the f-word in polite company – because the Edmonton production of a play called Stupid Fucking Bird swept the 2017 Sterling Awards.

Honouring the best in Edmonton theatre among polire company at the Mayfield Theatre Monday night, there were seven awards given to this spin on Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, including outstanding director Dave Horak, outstanding lead make actor Mat Simpson and outstanding independent production. It is not known if anyone played a drinking game every time the title of the play was mentioned.

Horak says, “I’m feeling overwhelmed by being recognized by the Edmonton theatre community. As a small, independent production that relied heavily on a lot of help from a lot of people, it warms my little artist’s heart that the Sterling jury gave the show a few nods of recognition.”

Also in the victory box is Chris Craddock’s Irma Voth – a tale of a Mennonite girl who wants to leave the clan – with four awards, including best lead actress Andréa Jorawsky, and the overall outstanding play of the year. “I was honoured to be nominated at all, and to win was a thrill in this old man’s heart,” Craddock says. “This community gives and gives and I am a proud member. But we can’t be complacent. We can do even better and be even better.”

The musical Crazy for You at the Citadel is one of the other multiple winners, with three awards, including outstanding musical and costumes. In the Fringe categories, The Fall of the House of Atreus: A Cowboy Love Song also took three awards.

The full Sterling list is on Liz Nicholls site,

It’s time now to ease into the less hectic summer theatre season, a relative calm, but not really, before the storm that is the Fringe.

Freewill Shakespeare Festival

Some people say that maybe William Shakespeare is overexposed, and that maybe his work shouldn’t be taught in schools at the expense of other worthy or more modern playwrights. Would you kids would prefer Hemingway? The sun is up. The sun is yellow. The yellow sun is over the house. It is hot out here in the sun.

Let’s stick to Shakespeare.

Summer theatre in Edmonton is at its best in the Freewill Shakespeare Festival, outdoors at the Hawrelak Park’s Heritage Amphitheatre from June 20-July 16.

There are two plays on alternating nights. We have the Bard’s fluffiest work The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which Shakespeare’s favourite character Falstaff tries to put the make on two married women. It doesn’t go well. Set in the disco era, the whole thing is as subtle as a pie in the face. On the serious side is The Merchant of Venice, said to be Shakepeare’s “problem play,” dealing with antisemitism in Europe during the Middle Ages. In 2017, the Freewill players have set this work in 1939 Europe – an edgy setting that gives this 500-year-old play a more powerful impact.

Read review of The Merchant of Venice

Read review of The Merry Wives of Windsor

But Hark, A Voice!

Looks like Shakespeare in the park has a warm-up act with this roving family show running on the off-day Mondays July 3 and July 10 at 5 pm and 7 pm. The adventurous take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream populated by fairies and “rude mechanicals” begins at the Heritage Amphitheatre and promises to take patrons on a fantastic adventure through Hawrelak Park. Four shows are left, admission is limited, information on this and other Freewill sideshows is here.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

The title pretty much says it all about romance, doesn’t it? Such is the dependable 1990s-era off-Broadway musical at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre – in fact a series of “musical vignettes” that explore every aspect of love from dating to being very married. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change will play until July 30.

Read review

Going, Going, Gone!  

Also going strong into the summer, Teatro La Quindicina is presenting an all-new original world premiere for the second play of its season: Going, Going, Gone!, a lively comedy of misunderstandings written by Jana O’Connor, whose work can be heard on CBC’s The Irrelevant Show. Set in the 1930s en route from New York to Boston, the play stars Andrew MacDonald-Smith as an antiques dealer who gets caught in a romantic triangle, with Celine Dean and Davina Stewart, with Mark Meer a stand-out playing dozens of other roles. Meer was also one of the hosts of the Sterlings on Monday. Savoir Faire is everywhere!

Going Going Gone! plays until July 1 at the Varscona Theatre.

Read review