Tuesday Evening @ The 66th Annual Sears Drama Regional Festival
This post is also published on www.CKReview.ca
The 66th Annual Sears Drama Festival is under way and the second tier, the regional level is being held right here in Chatham at The Chatham Cultural Centre. There are 14 plays over 5 nights (Monday April 23 – Friday April 27th) Doors open at 6pm to the general public tickets are $10.00 per evening available at the box office, lobby or through CKtickets.com
Tuesday evening we were greeted by three comical representatives of each play; a hysterical girl who can’t stop laughing, a melodramatic shakespearean, and a grumpy old man. Wayne Fairhead the Executive Director of The Sears Drama Festival was in attendance and brought his best wishes to the students.
The Man Who Laughs produced by Grimsby Secondary School unfortunately was rather disappointing. I have always been a fan of Grimsby’s productions, our drama teachers would swoon over the elaborate sets, amazing costume work, intricate dramatic lighting and most of all extremely strong acting. This year something went wrong, in my opinion they took on a challenge that was just too grandeur. The Man Who Laughs is a very complicated story and packing it all in under 50 minutes seems impossible when reading the script. The fact that they needed to cram what should be a two – three hour long production into 50 minutes turned it into a visual spectacle for those on hallucinogens, for those of us on level ground we were left feeling baffled, I wondered if I just didn’t “get it”. I must as did the adjudicator commend the work of Katelyn Hughes and Eve Krogman who took on the daunting role of stage managers, with so many set changes, movement of characters etc this must have been a logistical nightmare, and I’m not surprised if these girls will suffer from sleep terrors after enduring this show multiple times. Now it’s not to say this show was horrible, everything was spot on when it came to the technical aspects, wonderful sound, great use of fog machine and lighting, oh the lighting was so fantastic I have to commend Cam Principi and Zacq Wenzel for their impecable timing and wonderful eye for design. That’s where the good begins to end, I give no fault to the actors as they worked very hard to spit every line out in time, but that was the problem, we had no time to even process what a character was saying or doing before another scene change occurred. I hope to see Grimsby back again next year with a production of their normal standards.
Much Ado About Shakespeare produced by Leamington District Secondary School is a wonderful look at how shakespeare has influenced pop culture. We are greeted by the three witches but this time they aren’t making their normal potions, their mixing up bits and pieces of shakespearean plays. We get to see Romeo and Juliet meet their new age counterparts Tony and Maria from West Side Story as well as a brief appearance by Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. There is a lot of great acting in this production and some fantastic singing as well, although a few choice characters need to work on their projection while singing. The lighting was used minimally but very effectively. Set changes were performed as a scene themselves so there was never a dull moment and blocking was executed very well. The cast tackled the challenge of shakespearean language no problem, they sounded comfortable with the language and communicated the emotions that go along with it pefectly. I am very impressed with this show and I’d love to see it again!
Sunnyside Meadows a Panther Playhouse Production (John McGregor Secondary School)is a look at the last legs of our lives, the residents of an underfunded retirement home share their life stories with us. There are moments of love, compassion, joy, as well as pain and suffering. The comedy of two old men with their crazy games and acts of perversion breaks up the moments that tear into your heart, such as a man driven mentally ill by the loss of his brother during war, or the confused screams of a child hiding from nazi soldiers. The play also touches on death and the loss of loved ones to illness like alzheimers, the subject matter and characters’ age range was a huge challenge to tackle for these young teens and they certainly pulled it off very well. Hair, make up, set, costuming, lighting, sound, direction, stage management all came together for an amazing production. The technical work in this production was also outstanding, lighting was used perfectly to isolate flashback scenes, audio was used minimally but very effectively as well.
Monday April 23
Le Bourreau – Ecole Secondaire l’Essor (Windsor Essex)
The Escape – St John’s College (Brant-Haldimand)
Beyond Tolerance – Chatham Kent S.S. (Lambton-Kent)
Tuesday April 24
The Man Who Laughs – Grimsby S.S. (Niagara)
Much Ado About Shakespeare – Leamington D.S.S. (Windsor-Essex)
Sunnyside Meadows – John McGregor S.S. (Lambton-Kent)
Wednesday April 25
Anonymous – St. Jean de Brebeuf (Hamilton-Wentworth)
Rhinoceros – Ridgeway-Crystal Beach (Niagara)
The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet – Cayuga S.S. (Brant-Haldimand)
Thursday April 26
Never Swim Alone – Park Side Highschool (Hamilton-Wentoworth)
Sophie’s Picture -F.J. Brennan Highschool (Windsor Essex)
Lockdown – Stamford Collegiate (Niagara)
Friday April 27
A Case of the Munschies – Brantford C.I.V.S. (Brant-Haldimand)
Triangle – Westdale S.S. (Hamilton-Wentworth)