PLAYBILL: Get out – while you can!

That’s “get out,” as in “get out and see some live theatre, ya lazy bums!” And that’s “lazy bums” with present company excepted.

Didn’t mean to scare you. It being Halloweeny season and all, it’s worth checking out a spooky tale being spun by Catch the Keys Productions at Fort Edmonton Park – verily one of the spookiest places around at one of the spookiest times of year. Dead Centre of Town X runs nightly (except Mondays) at 7 and 9 pm.

Be warned! This is one of those “you walk with the action” al fresco theatre experiences. (The throng is limited to 100 at a time.) So dress appropriately or you might catch a chill – that’s chill as in feeling cold, not the scary kind of chill, of which is promised plenty in a story that takes the audience on a historical journey populated with ghosts, cannibals, murder victims and hanged criminals. Edmonton has always been kind of a rough place. Also be warned the show is rated 18A. Not for the kiddies – despite the fact the show is staged at the Ye Olde Midway, and each part of the story is tied to some kind of circus act. Scary! All they need now are some evil clowns.

A Bright Room Called Day

An old saying has come bubbling to the surface in a seething, paradigm-shifting torrent of current events: Evil triumphs when good people stand by and do nothing. Or words to that effect.

The theme is palpable in the U of A Studio Theatre’s treatment of Tony Kushner’s ambitious, somewhat preachy 1985 play about the rise of evil in Nazi Germany and how history tends to repeat itself whether we remember it or not. In a rare move, the playwright (famous for Angels in America) has allowed and even encouraged rewrites. When it came out, Ronald Reagan was the scapegoat. Today, guess who?

Plotwise, A Bright Room Called Day deals with a group of privileged layabouts who see evil coming, and – you guessed it – do nothing. Take heed! The consequences can be dire.

The play runs until Oct. 21 at the Timms Centre of the Arts.


Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project)

Citadel Theatre’s new artistic director Daryl Cloran has worked for more than four years, with three different theatre companies on two continents with 20 collaborators to sum up a simple phrase: “I am because you are.”

The African word for human interconnectedness is more succinct: “Ubuntu.”

The result is an ambitious new play that pushes the bounds of both conventional theatre and international borders as it follows the tale of two people from different worlds haunted by their past, not so different after all. As well as conventional dialogue, there are scenes based entirely in dance, and some in the Xhosa “click” language of South Africa.

Ubuntu plays until Oct. 22.


The Aliens

No, this is not a musical version of the 1986 sci-fi monster sequel starring Sigourney Weaver. The Roxy Theatre’s production of The Aliens is a musical all right – and it deals with something more frightening than acid-blooded xenomorphs: A pair of 30-something hipsters attempt to teach an impressionable young barista “everything they know.” In song! This story “about the humour and heartbreak of growing up” runs until Oct. 22 at the Roxy on Gateway.

A Doll’s House

There’s something creepy about doll houses, dolls in general really – literally hollow mockeries of humanity! Brrrr …

At the Walterdale Theatre until Oct. 21, A Doll’s House was written by the notoriously gloomy Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Like so many of his Victorian peers who suggested that living in Victorian times was probably actually pretty crappy, he spins a grim tale. Here we meet an unfulfilled housewife named Nora who dreams of freedom within the strict patriarchal confines of the culture – and then she starts to go batty in the middle of nowhere in Norway with nothing to do. Sound familiar?


We can let writers into Playbill, can’t we? For without writers, there would be no stories, without stories there would be no plays, and without plays there would be no musical adaptations of Aliens.

In any case, you can think of the events at LitFest, featuring a who’s who of Canadian non-fiction rock stars at until Oct. 22 at various venues, as “staged readings.” After all, someone has to write the musical’s closing number: Leave Her Alone, You Bitch!

Soul Sistas

The Mayfield Theatre, in its quest to mine the pop music canon for discerning dinner theatre audiences, has assembled a sensational line-up of talent to render the lives and music of two of the biggest divas of all time: Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin. The only problem with this show is in which songs to leave out.

In the sensational concert revue Soul Sistas, playing until Oct, 29, Tara Jackson has the pipes to play Aretha, as does Tiffany Deriveau portraying the young Tina Turner. There’s a squad of back-up singers on a glitzy stage, and a live band populated by Edmonton’s elite musicians, including the Mayfield’s artistic director Van Wilmott. It all results in an immensely entertaining gust of soul.