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Alidor Aucoin

On Second Avenue Celebrates Theatres Yiddish roots.

By Alidor Aucoin on June 25, 2012

New York’s Second Avenue looms large in the mythic landscape of Broadway Theatre.  A century ago the East Village  neighbourhood  was the ghetto for Jews from Central Europe where Yiddish Theatre In America was born  and flourished.  It  became  “americanized,”  and went on to influence not only the Vaudeville stage but Broadway itself, On 2nd Ave,  playing at the Segal Centre until July 1, is a revival of the show that was staged at the Segal in 1998. . It pays homage to  Abraham  Goldfaden  who is said to have started the first professional Yiddish theatre company in Romania.

Haunted Billy: toe-tapping, ass-slapping country shenanigans

By Alidor Aucoin on May 23, 2012

haunted_hillbilly.jpgDracula meets  Dogpatch in  Haunted Hillbilly, the  honkey-tonk  black comedy at the Centaur until June 3. The show is based on Derek  McCormack’s  book  which is centred around  a hapless  backcountry buck,  Hyram Woodside,  who  sells his soul to the devil to win acclaim as a singing sensation known as  “The Lonely Boy.”   
The premise has been around for centuries:  Luc Plamondon  did it in his musical, La Légende De Jimmy, in which  movie  hearthrob James Dean sold his soul to the devil for stardom. In this case the Nashville setting is part of the joke.  The play is send up of Hank William’s career -, the  self destructive cowboy singer who was fired by the Grand Ole Opry for his alcohol and substance abuse, and died  in 1953 at the age of 29.


Dying is a laughing matter

By Alidor Aucoin on March 25, 2012

vigil_02.jpgIn the first beat of Morris  Panych’s  black comedy, Vigil, at the Segal Centre until April 1, an overly theatrical,  neurotic  character  bursts into his dying  aunt’s  attic  bedroom  and  off the top says  “Let’s not talk about anything depressing. Do you want to be cremated?”

High and lowbrow antics at the Centaur

By Alidor Aucoin on March 12, 2012

love_chance.jpgThe Game of Love and Chance at the Centaur Theatre until April 1st  is a  deliciously theatrical, interpretation of  Pierre Carlet de Chamberlain de Marivaux’s  18th century piece  Le jeu de l’amour et du hasard.
Adapted and translated from the French into English by  Nicolas Billon and directed with overheated   passion  by Matthew Jocelyn, the artistic director of Toronto’s Canadian Stage Theatre, the co-production is a contemporary reworking  of the classic.

Dead men stalking

By Alidor Aucoin on February 8, 2012

absentia.jpgAs befits a  play  called  In Absentia, a dull sadness pervades the piece at the Centaur until March 4. The world premiere of a minor work by major award-winning Canadian playwright Morris Panych -  it is an introspective,  overwrought mediation on love, grief and mortality.

God of Carnage

By Alidor Aucoin on December 16, 2011

carnage.jpgGod of Carnage, at the Centaur until December 4th, (and probably longer)  is a clever and brutally funny farce  that’s the hottest ticket in town.  A perfect ensemble cast  under Roy Surette’s disciplined and brilliant direction  unleashes 90 minutes of domestic mayhem on an unsuspecting audience. The play explores that  razor thin line between civility and savagery, love and hate.  What we have here is reminiscent of Who is Afraid of Virgina Woolf  without  Albee’s bite.


By Alidor Aucoin on November 8, 2011

the_castle.jpgThe Play’s the Thing  at the Segal Centre until  Nov. 20  is a delightful  revival of  Ferenc  Molnar’s  1920’s period piece,  Play at The Castle,  (Jatek a Kastelyban),   a silly  farce adapted by P.G. Wodehouse  in which sexual hi-jinks  inspire a word play-within- a-play.   Set in a Mediterranean villa, the parlour comedy is based on a real life incident in which the Hungarian playwright arrived in his hotel suite with one of his friends  and overheard his wife in the next room, apparently in the throes of passion,  exclaiming, “I love you, I love you, I shall die of love for you!” 

Angst and Anning: an awry comedy.

By Alidor Aucoin on October 26, 2011

true_nature_02.jpgColleen  Curran’s  True Nature, which opened the Centaur ‘s Theatre season, is really an academic lecture about Mary Anning, the obscure 19th century fossil  hunter,  disguised as a play.  
It is also a sophomoric variation on an increasingly familiar theme involving neurotic baby-boomers torn between romantic commitment and a career. True Nature appears  to have grown out of a series of focus groups  that came up with a cross-section of characters  designed to  appeal to as broad an audience as possible.


Brassy Brisket and Ham: Schwartz’s The Musical

By Alidor Aucoin on April 21, 2011

swartz_001.jpgNo matter how thin you slice it, Schwartz’s the Musical at  the  Centaur  Theatre  until April 24  is as appetizing  and as satisfying  as a smoked meat sandwich.  It is as effervescent as a   Cott’s black cherry coke chaser.  (Burp).   It’s a ludicrous treat, even though bits of it might be hard to digest.  The daffy burlesque of a show  was  inspired by Bill Brownstein’s  history of the landmark Montreal deli on The Main published five years ago by Véhicule Press, but the script which went through dozens of rewrites,  alters some of the detail in the book,  and takes on a life of Its own.

Shrug! Trudeau Stories at the Centaur until June 6.

By Alidor Aucoin on May 12, 2010

Keep  a diary long enough,  no matter how inconsequential,  and  it  might  end up keeping you. 

Brooke Johnson met Pierre Trudeau at a dance at the National Theatre School in 1985 when she was a 23-year- old  aspiring actress.  He danced with her, took her out for a drinks a few times, invited her for a walk in the country...

Macabre Madonna

By Alidor Aucoin on April 23, 2010

TMP8.jpgThe Madonna Painter, The Birth of Painting at the Centaur, is a richly imagined, sacrilegiously macabre, exercise in which playwright Michel-Marc Bouchard delves into long-discarded French-Canadian Catholic ritual and rural ignorance, “the way a flea market hawker displays sacred objects that have been stolen and disguised for resale.” 

Bunny Good Time

By Alidor Aucoin on April 23, 2010

The good news about the Segal Centre’s revival of Harvey, the play about an absentminded man who befriends an imaginary  a six foot tall rabbit is that it is a hare brained  delight.
The not so good news, is that it only runs until until May 9th.

Rambunctious “Comedy of Errors”

By Alidor Aucoin on March 25, 2010

Centaur Director Peter Hinton’s totally off-the-wall staging of William Shakespeare’s  The Comedy of Errors  is a rambunctious, gender crossing romp. The pl ay is a  ridiculously complicated  two hour series of fast-paced,  mad cap routines rooted  in the mistaken identities  of two sets of  identical twins who were separated at birth,  Antipholus of Syracuse (Marcel Jeannin) and  Antipholus of Ephesus,  (Andreas Apergis)  and their twin servants, both named Dromio.

Literary connections, plays about writers and writing hit the stage

By Alidor Aucoin on February 11, 2010

Alain_Goulem.jpgImagine, if you will a shoot -out between two of North America’s most famous French-Canadian word slingers, Michel   Tremblay and Jack Kerouac.  George Rideout’s Michel & Ti-Jean, playing at the Centaur until March 7, is an unexpected surprise, a daring, novel  audacious  idea that actually works on stage.  The encounter between the two takes place in 1969, one month before Kerouac drank himself to death.  Tremblay, who was then 27 and anxious to validate himself as a writer, hitchhikes to St. Petersburg, Fla., with a copy of his then as yet unproduced play, Les Belles Soeurs in his knapsack  to give to Kerouac to read.

A refreshing, educated Rita

By Alidor Aucoin on December 3, 2009

EDUCATINGRITA.jpgTaking a cue from last year’s successful Centaur Theatre production of Willy Russell’s crowd pleasing Shirley Valentine, The Segal Centre at the Saidye has countered with an invigorating production of the author’s one other popular play, Educating Rita.

Segal’s “Inherit the wind” succeeds

By Alidor Aucoin on November 4, 2009

Inherit the Wind. Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee’s dramatization of the 1925 Scopes monkey trial, is a timely old chestnut of a play, especially now that the fossil skeleton of Ardi, a 4-foot tall female primate who died 4.4-million years ago, is making headlines. 

Piazza San Domenico

By Alidor Aucoin on November 4, 2009

A kiss is just a kiss but in Steve Galluccio’s overrated romantic farce, In Piazza San Domenico, a lip lock has toxic consequences.  Galluccio’s play, held over at the Centaur until November 15, is a crowd pleaser in the same way that mindless B-movies have a following.  The playwright claims Feydeau as an inspiration, but Feydeau enlarged human foibles; Galluccio combines the improbable with the predictable, then exploits human nature in crude and unrealistic fashion. 

TREMBLAY’S TRIUMPHANT SEASON. Michel Tremblay, that is.

By Alidor Aucoin on October 1, 2009

Michel-Tremblay-bw.jpgIf there’s any doubt that Michel Tremblay is a national resource, all you have to do is look around .  He’s everywhere.   Tremblay’s latest play – his 30th– Fragments des mensonges inutiles, is at the Theatre Jean Duceppe until October 17.  His  fifth novel,  La Traversée des sentiments, comes out  in November, and a  musical based on his classic, Les Belles-Soeurs, (lyrics by René Richard Cyr and music by Daniel Bélanger) will  be staged next spring at Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui, and  is already a box office hit.  Tremblay is also doing the French translation of Steve Gallucio’s farce, Piazza San Domenico,  which opens the Centaur season  Oct. 6 , Michel Tremblay is also a character who banters with Jack Kerouac  in George Rideout’s play, Michel & Ti-jean, at the Centaur in February.  A production of Albertine in Five Times is at the Shaw Festival until mid October, and next year,  Stratford will produce For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again.

Wasserman’s Yiddish festival a North American first

By Alidor Aucoin on July 2, 2009

It was touch and go whether the troupe from Poland would make it; translating two dozen Yiddish plays into French and  English proved to be a bit of a headache  and the logistics of meeting the specific requirements of eight theatre companies and 200 actors, artists, musicians and scholars from around the world was an enormous challenge. Still, in spite of a few last minute glitches, and some anxious moments, all of the world’s major Yiddish players came together under one roof in Montreal for last week’s opening  of the International Yiddish Theatre Festival which wrapped up Friday June 25. “We’ve learned a lot, and I think we’re going to put that knowledge to use,” said  Bryna Wasseman,  artistic director of the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts who came up with the audacious idea...

The other side of Beijing (DATE DE PARUTION 21 AOÛT 2008)

By Alidor Aucoin on June 18, 2009

So you thought the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games were as thrilling as they were chilling?...

Two theatres: Two kinds of family portraits

By Alidor Aucoin on May 6, 2009

MichaelSutherlandYoung.jpgFamily values are at the heart of Over the River and Through the Woods, Joe DiPietro’s heartwarming intergenerational comedy at the The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts until May 10. It’s a slight play, normally dinner theatre fare, but, like a plate of delicious pasta, the Segal’s production is hugely satisfying.  It appeals to anyone who has ever found themselves caught between the demands of their increasingly dependent childish parents and grandparents, and their own, ever demanding professional obligations.


By Alidor Aucoin on May 6, 2009

amadeus.jpgBenoit McGinnis fait une impression inoubliable sous les traits de Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dans la brillante adaptation qu’a faite René Richard Cyr de la pièce Amadeus, de Peter Shaffer. La pièce est à l’affiche du Théâtre Jean Duceppe jusqu’au 21 mai prochain.

Age of arousal

By Alidor Aucoin on April 9, 2009

Arousal.jpgSexuality is turned up full throttle in The Centaur’s lavish production of Age of Arousal, a stylish, often outrageous and sometimes tedious take on how women relate to one another, and how a man can poison that relationship.  Linda Griffith’s feminist play about a group of sexually repressed  “new age” women in Victorian London, is inspired by George Gissing’s The Odd Woman, the 19th century novel which deals with the fate of emancipated women in a male-dominated society...

Regurgitating the 60s

By Alidor Aucoin on April 9, 2009

It will be 40 years in May since John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their bed -in for peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. Apart from 60-something fans wrapped in the reassuring womb of nostalgia, why should anyone care?  Lennon has been in his grave for almost 20 years and at the age of  75, his moody widow’s  contribution to peace is to run around the world handing out pretentious little rubber stamps that bear the message, Imagine Peace...

So just how Irish is Quebec?

By Alidor Aucoin on March 19, 2009

St-Patrick-Society-logo.jpgSo Irish, in fact, that people with names such as Aubrey, Charest, Sevigny, Beaudoin, Duceppe, Bourque, Sylvain and Dore can claim to be sons and daughters of Erin. A new exhibition that opened this week at the McCord Museum illustrates how Quebec has been shaped by the blending of the Irish and French identities...




By Alidor Aucoin on March 19, 2009

St-Patrick-002.jpgCan there be a more dazzling art exhibition around than the Claude Tousignant retrospective at the Musée d’art contemporain? 





Let us Prey: One Twisted Sister.

By Alidor Aucoin on March 19, 2009

You’ve got to have doubts about a  production of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt at the Centaur until March 29 that reduces a complex, engrossing 80-minute play to little more than a war between the sexes...

Compelling “Tryst”

By Alidor Aucoin on March 19, 2009

British playwright Karoline Leach’s unsettling romance, Tryst, running at the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts until March 29 is a compelling , heartbreakingly  superb evening of theatre.  It’s the story of a Edwardian gigolo, a charming rake with the rather suspect name of George Love (C. David Johnson)...

Buried Child was best of Segal series so far

By Alidor Aucoin on February 26, 2009

DSC_6619.jpgThe National Art Centre’s production of Sam Shepard’s loopy nightmare, Buried Child at the Leanor and Alvin Segal Theatre was a thriller that walked a tightrope between  the real and the surreal...



Shirley Valentine

By Alidor Aucoin on February 5, 2009

Shirley_valentineBW.jpgShirley Valentine, at the Centaur Theatre until February 22, is a harmless feminist fantasy about a middle-aged housewife who skips out on her husband on two week Aegean holiday to find her self...




The Inaugural Inspiration

By Alidor Aucoin on January 15, 2009

All US presidents eventually reveal their flaws, but the ones who are remembered in spite of their flaws are those who inspire Americans -  and by extension all free people - to serve and make a difference...

King Jack

By Alidor Aucoin on January 15, 2009

As  one of Canada¹s richest industrialists and media barons, a biography of John Wilson McConnell, the President of St. Lawrence Sugar Refineries who once owned Holt Renfrew and the Montreal Star newspaper is certainly  long overdue...

The Thousand Words: Michael Ignatieff addresses Liberals on December 10, 2008

By Alidor Aucoin on December 18, 2008


Habs 100th

By Alidor Aucoin on December 18, 2008

The Habs observe their 100th birthday, next year, but the centennial celebrations got off to a head start earlier this month...

Titanic sails again

By Alidor Aucoin on November 13, 2008

A touring exhibition of artifacts from the Titanic opened this week in the old fourth floor cinema in the Eaton Centre in downtown Montreal, where they will remain until April...

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