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Rants, Raves and Reviews: Going to the Cabaret

“What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play.
Life is a cabaret, old chum.
Come to the cabaret”

I’m sitting in my car, belting out the lyrics in my customary in-the shower smooth torch-singer style. Mercifully for the people in the car next to me at the light I have my windows closed. Or maybe not.  Perhaps if they heard me they might have come to the cabaret as well.  Or maybe not.

Actually there’s a story (naturally) as to why I only share my dulcet yet sultry contralto tones with the shampoo and conditioner bottles in my shower. It dates way back to one of those suppressed early childhood traumas, long forgotten until I was amidst a raucous chorus of slightly inebriated fellow travelers “singing” Va Pensiero as our van bumped along a road from the Tuscan farmhouse where we dined and imbibed a touch too well. But having, in the space of two sequential columns admitted to gastronomic, wine and puzzle addictions, I will save this tale of psychological trauma for another column.

Cabaret Night at the Playwrights Theatre Centre Studio kicked off the 32nd Annual New Play Festival with playwrights featured in the Festival reading excerpts of their works. It’s interesting how a few strategically placed tables and an accomplished trio of musicians can change the black box / director chair ambience of the PTC studio into a club-like atmosphere. The music of pianist (Dorothy Dittrich), bassist (James Forrest) and saxophonist (Karen Graves) kept the audience mellow as we waited for the show to begin.

Martin Kinch, PTC Executive Director introduced Jerry Wasserman, PTC Board President, who confided that he had been at the first New Play Festival 32 years ago and that Ryerson professor, Sheldon Rosen, who was about to read from his new play 11places@once or Inheriting Madness, had a play presented at that first festival.

Cabaret Night of course provides a sampling of the works to be staged later in the festival and is intended to tantalize you with a fragment of a play so you are enticed back to see the complete work. Highlights for me included the readings by Sherry MacDonald, Lisa Codrington and Anita Majumdar.

Performing from her new play, The Duchess of Alba, MacDonald was most entertaining, vocalizing from Bizet’s Carmen as she revealed with a flourish, a large pineapple, small kumquats, a knife and other props for Carmen the pineapple seller and Pedro, her campanero.

Codrington and Majumdar were both great to listen to, switching effortlessly between their normal speech patterns and accents to the accents of Barbados and India respectively. Majumdar, as a rebellious, 17 year old girl, made by her mother to study Indian dance, was both lovely to watch and very funny, at the same time.

Driving home afterwards (can you believe the Aquabus doesn’t run to David Lam Park after 9 pm?) I was thinking about the whole ‘”new play development” issue. So don’t miss the next Rants, Raves and Reviews.

Anyway I was glad I’d “put down the knitting, the book and the broom” to head over to PTC. The rest of the week should be very interesting.

OK I admit I don’t knit, but I do sweep occasionally and I read a LOT.