Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Medea in Manitoba

Between now and December 13, Winnipeg audiences can Seana McKenna and Scott Wentworth at the Manitoba Theatre Centre.

Medea is "Euripides' great drama of romantic obsession, the most searing of Greek tragedies, tells the tale of the princess Medea. For the love of Jason, an ambitious adventurer, she has betrayed her father and her people, murdered her own brother and gone into lonely exile in an alien land. Now, casually dismissed by the arrogant man for whom she has given her life, she plans a terrible revenge."

This Mirvish co-production, directed by Miles Potter, will reach Toronto audiences January 9, 2009, for a four-week run at the Canon Theatre.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Interview with the Feores

From Richard Ouzounian at The Toronto Star:

"It's rare that the entertainment gods allow both partners in a marriage to step into the spotlight at the same time, but that's just what's happening this coming week to Colm and Donna Feore, the 'first couple of Canadian show business.'

"Tomorrow night, Colm makes his first appearance as a regular character on 24 in a special two-hour TV movie prequel, Redemption (Global/Fox at 8 p.m.), while on Thursday evening, musical comedy stage veteran Donna will debut as the director of a straight play when It's a Wonderful Life opens for the Canadian Stage Company at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

"They're both riding the crests of incredibly successful careers these days, but a double play like this is still cause for celebration, so they are marking their good fortune with dinner at Nota Bene.

"You might think a duo as glamorous as the Feores do the fast-lane restaurant number all the time, but nothing could be farther than the truth.

"'The first question I always ask myself about every job,' insists Colm, 'is how much time I'm going to have to spend away from home.'

"Home is a gorgeous house in Stratford – literally, a stone's throw from the Festival Theatre – where they live with their three children.

"'I know it would be easier if we had all moved to Los Angeles years ago,' Donna concedes, 'but we both decided that Canada is where we wanted to raise our kids.'

"Most of their lives are spent juggling their respective calendars around who's going to be home, who's working in New York or Europe, who's making dinner (usually Colm) and who's ferrying the kids to their various sporting events (usually Donna). With all that, you can understand Colm's answer to the question, 'What did it feel like when you were offered a role on 24?'

"He raises one eyebrow. 'I told my agent, I don't know how to tell you what I feel until I check with Donna.'

"So he called her from London, where he was shooting a movie, and said, 'This is a stupidly good opportunity. I don't think I can pass this up, but it will f--- up our lives.'

"Luckily for all concerned, Donna's answer was: 'Go ahead and do it. We'll make sense of this when we get a chance to.'

"The part is a fascinating one. Colm was asked to play Henry Taylor, the husband to Allison Taylor, the first woman president in American history.

"The fact that two-time Tony award-winner Cherry Jones would be playing his wife made the deal even more attractive.

"'I don't know if they knew what they were getting when they hired Cherry,' quips Colm. 'Not only is she the best actress in New York, but she can be presidential just standing there.'

"Discussing details of 24 with a cast member is always a tricky business because of the cloak of security the producers insist on wrapping around everyone.

"'Our one rule in the house,' Donna says with mock gravity, 'was that no 24 scripts were to be left out.'

"'Because you're weak,' Colm taunts.

"'Okay,' Donna admits, 'I looked at one. I love that show. It makes my heart race.'

"Colm is surprisingly forthcoming, however, about some details concerning his character.
"Cherry and I have had a tragedy in our lives,' he reveals. 'Our son has died, but we have differing opinions about why and how it happened. I become fixated on finding out the truth and everyone else tells me I'm being delusional. But, somehow, it all dovetails with the stories about Jack Bauer and the big guns and world terror.'

"Pausing with a piece of pasta close to his mouth, he adds, 'Oh, and by the way, Tony Almeida isn't dead,' referring to Jack's right-hand man apparently slain in Season 5.

"'Colm!' chides a shocked Donna.

"'Oh, everybody knows that,' he says with a grin. 'It's all over the Internet.'

"Sunday night's two-hour movie is meant to set the stage for the January debut of Season 7 of 24, which was delayed a full year owing to both the Hollywood writers' strike and internal problems relating to script and budget.

"'I think, originally, they wanted to shoot a lot of Season 7 in Africa, but it was just too expensive,' Colm explains. 'But, now, they put it into the prequel and, I tell you, it's very timely, very politically charged stuff. I'll be curious to see how much makes it to air.'

"Getting on the air is also the theme of Donna's current project, because the adaptation of Frank Capra's classic 1946 film, It's a Wonderful Life, which she's directing, is set as a radio play of the period.

"'I don't know how else you could do it,' she admits. 'It's such an episodic film and such an iconic one that if you tried to duplicate any of its scenes totally, people would always just compare it to the movie.

"'This way, they get a certain amount of distance and novelty, which makes them look at the material in a different way. It's really a simple story and doing it as a radio play removes all the excess fat and lets us concentrate on the story.'

"The original film, with its tale of how a seemingly prosperous town suddenly totters on the edge of bankruptcy thanks to problems at a savings and loan company and the machinations of a greedy banker, has some scary echoes in today's headlines.

"'I'm shocked at how relevant it is and I'm always surprised by how much it still moves me,' Donna says.

"'It's about one individual asking what his whole life has been worth, which is something we're all doing a lot more of these days.'

"This summer brings the Feores back to Stratford, where Colm is playing Macbeth and Cyrano, the latter directed by Donna. After that, will there be another year of 24 for Colm?

"'I only signed for one season,' he hedges. 'I don't know if they have any further use for me or not.'

"When asked if that means he's alive at the end of Season 7, he tries to shove the words back into his mouth.

"'Oops, that's plot. Can't tell you that.' Then he smiles wickedly. 'I will say one thing, though: This is one program where you really don't know from week to week whether or not your head is going to blow up.'"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Caesar Coming to Big Screen

"Stratford Shakespeare Festival's production of Caesar and Cleopatra, starring Christopher Plummer, will be hitting the big and small screens.

"A film version of the stage production will premiere as one-night gala screenings at up to 80 Cineplex theatres across Canada, according to a report by the Globe and Mail on Saturday.

"The partnership with CTV-Bravo also means the production will eventually air on television.

"'It's lucid, it is very very funny [and] it's got a real sense of interplay between the audience and the players,' the festival's general director Antoni Cimolino told the Globe.

"The Stratford adaptation of the George Bernard Shaw play involves sumptuous costumes and a highly visual staging which should lend itself to a screening, according to Cimolino.

"Funding for the project has come from CTV and a private donor.

"The venture follows in the footsteps of New York's Metropolitan Opera, which has been broadcasting its productions, in real time, to cinemas across the world. The only difference is that the Stratford model isn't a live experience.

"'It's partly brand extension. It's putting bums in seats. It's making people embrace Stratford as a national institution,' said entertainment lawyer Michael Levine, who helped broker the deal.'"