Thank you Centaur for 40 Magical Years

By Sharman Yarnell on September 4, 2008

Time for Montrealers to raise a glass and celebrate the theatre that has given our city years of innovative, provocative and classical works.

Let us raise our glasses, then, in 'A Toast of Love'—to the theatre world and all it gives to the nourishment of our souls.

On Tuesday, September 23, The Centaur Theatre is opening up it's 40th season with a fundraiser that promises to be quite the extravaganza.

Among the host of goodies, included are excerpts from Montreal playwright Roger Peace's award winning musical, Piaf: Love Conquers All.

Piaf enjoyed an extended run at The Soho Playhouse, Off-Broadway, and is considered by many to be one of the best written and acted pieces based on the late French diva's life. It was awarded 'Outstanding Musical' at The Fringe Festival in New York last year, chosen above 300 other shows. During it's run there, it played to full houses, rave reviews and standing room only.

The musical is a beautiful gift to the memory of a great songstress by Peace, who concentrates on her life's main passions:


“Every day I thank God for the two most important Things in my life: singing and love...” - Edith Piaf

Centaur showcases a complete staging of Piaf: Love Conquers All, on January 23, 2009. It stars    Naomi Emmerson in the lead role and, as Piaf, Emmerson is truly wonderful and transfixes her audience in total awe.

Obviously, there will be a French theme to the September 23rd evening. French bistro food will be served starting with a cocktail dinatoire at 6:00 PM including fine wines and ice cider. Then, Peace's Piaf excerpts will be shown, followed by an auction of luxury items, including trips, tickets on Air Canada, hotel stays, rare wines, an 18 carat gold necklace and earrings set from Roland Dubuc, Chanel products (it wouldn't be French without Chanel) and so much more.

The Centaur is a first-rate Montreal English language theatre situated on beautiful cobbled-stoned streets in the Old Montreal Stock Exchange building. It is quite appropriate that this special evening focuses on a Montreal play/musical for its fundraiser.

Centaur Theatre is not holding back on this its 40thyear. Under the new Artistic Director, Roy Surette, it is producing a stellar season-long celebration with a wonderfully diverse line-up of plays. There is something for everyone.

Since its creation in 1969 by Maurice Podbrey and Herb Auerback, Centaur has continually provided Montrealers with thought provoking, first-class entertainment. Known for it's presentation of home-grown productions, and translations of French into English shows—Michel Tremblay, David Fennario and Vittorio Rossi have all had their plays launched at Centaur—it also brings to its stages plays that have soared onto the international market.

Included in this season's roster is the one act play that opened Off-Broadway in 2004, moved to Broadway in 2005 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama, The Drama Desk Award and that year's Tony for Best Drama. Doubt, written by John Patrick Shanley is a provocative look at the topic of the priesthood and the abuse of young boys. It is a sharply written play that straddles the fine line between belief and disbelief—it reaches out and grabs the viewer with passion, sucks you in and leaves you stunned.

Centaur raises it's curtains in October with Scorched, by playwright Wajdi Mouawad, winner of the 2007 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play and for Outstanding Director. A tale Variety magazine called, “A universal statement on the folly of race-and-religion driven wars”.

In November, be prepared to see a production that literally flies. Skydive, written by Kevin Kerr, takes place – you guessed it – in the air above the stage. It's the tale of sky-diving gone wrong and covers those horrendously terrifying 30 seconds with “breathtaking aerial choreography, cinematic action sequences” in an extremely imaginative and physical production.

In January, the drama/comedy by Willy Russell, Shirley Valentine, hits centre stage for all those women who think their life 'bland, boring and routine'. Basically a monologue (occasionally spoken to a wall!) by a lonely middle-aged housewife, whose culinary expertise is egg-and-chips for her husband—that is, until her best friend wins a trip for two     to Greece and Shirley Valentine dares to do.

In March, we'll be treated to the Montreal premiere of Age of Arousal—a play written by Linda Griffiths that takes place in the era of the suffragette and focuses on “a modern look at forbidden Victorian desires on the brink of explosion”. It's one of those magical pieces that leaves you laughing and thinking.

Centaur closes it's 40th season in May with a play written by Brydon MacDonald. With Bated Breathis about a troubled gay kid who leaves his home in Cape Breton for Montreal and finds solace for a broken heart in the red light district. He soon disappears without a trace and leaves behind rumours and innuendo – gone but not forgotten.

Centaur doesn't only produce fine plays but also has a marvellous weekend itinerary geared to the young (and the kid in us all). On certain Saturday mornings, it provides an affordable live theatre experience for children, introducing them to what will hopefully become a life-long love and appreciation of the performing arts. For the past twelve years is has housed The Wildside Festival—an event that has grown in popularity with the harvesting of daring, independent plays from near and far.

Thank you Centaur for 40 years of magic. May the sprites be with you and Puck endure.

To purchase tickets for the fundraiser 'A Toast to Love', please call:

514-288-1229, Ext. 240


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