SN Travel and Arts without Borders’ Nancy Snipper reviews Around the World in 80 Days: ”Geordie’s stage production of this classic story is an ingenious display of theatre at its very best!”
Read on SN Travel and Arts without Borders’ blog: Travel Around the World in 80 Days with Geordie Productions
A WHIRLWIND TOUR DE FORCE OF MOVEMENT AND ACTING
Wow! Director, Mike Payette deserves to win his own trip around the world for masterfully getting his trio of actors to their long-distance destination! Based on Jules Verne’s novel (written in1873), Geordie’s stage production of this classic story is an ingenious display of theatre at its very best! We were treated to a jaw-dropping journey of beat-the-clock time schedules that involved winning a hefty wager – it’s full of herculean travel hurdles, mishaps and ominous obstacles. Great fun for the entire family! The trip was 80 days, but the production took two hours.
Three actors played over 20 different characters, differentiating them all with a prop in hand here, a hat on head there or tossed to another to wear with a coat shoved over shoulders and tons of sleight of hand to make it all happen – all the while rushing around or across the stage to conjure up the people we meet and points – or should I say – ports of entry.
I was a amazed at the cleverest use of fabricated transportation which included trains, boats, (forget the hot air balloon) – though it was frequently suggested), even an elephant whose trunk appeared out of the one of the steamer trunks on stage. Two actors climb on top of the steamer trunk and off they go. How clever is that for stage illusion? In fact, these many steamer trunks had multiple uses: sitting on them, standing on them, hiding in them, holding and concealing stage props that could be pulled out within seconds, sometimes marking the number of days passing.
Above all, the acting was truly magical. Along with all the characters, the frazzled trio had to play and shift into new roles within a split second. I would say that stealing the world stage of this play is Danielle Desormeaux. She created within the blink of an eye, a series of differing people – her largest role being that of Passpartout who serves his master, Phileas Fogg – the main man traveling around his world. Clearly, Ms. Desormeaux is a comic genius; I could have watched her all night. I’m surprised Stratford hasn’t snatched her up.
One of the funniest shticks was the drinking scene she did as Passpartout with Mike Hughes while he played Fix of the Yard – a detective from Scotland Yard. The timing between the two was impeccable; and the laughs from the audience were non-stop. Fix the Yard doggedly pursues Passpartout, but is always one step behind master and servant. He keeps trying to snatch the suitcase holding thousands of pounds that he thinks Mr. Phileas Fogg stole. Trying to resolve this trip of calamities is Chimwemwe Miller. He did a fine job as Fogg who always keeps his cool. Mr. Miller is utterly believable, and his voice is notably commanding – similar to that of James Earl Jones.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the actor, Mike Hughes. He needs to delve into creating more characterization with the nine characters he had to interpret. Perhaps vocal accents would have helped and exploring further facial expressions to distinguish each very different role. Although his movement is sterling rich and awesomely agile, nailing the portrayal of each of those very different characters could be sharper.
Behind the Scenes
What a team of wizards to pull all this off! They included: production manager, Amy-Suzie Bradford, Danielle Skene and Stephen Alaire. Sound director, Rob Denton (great job); Sarah Osmond, head of props; and Sabrina Miller, set and costume designer – a shining star in her field. Multi-talented lighting designer, David Perrault Ninacs wondrously captured just the right amount of shadows and all intensities in between. This effectively enhanced the myriad of moods that came with each journey point. Since each episodic moment cut swiftly into another, each needed lighting contrast, and he did this perfectly.
Take the family to this outstanding production. Reserve now by calling (514) 845-9810. Remaining tickets are for April 28th and 29th, but let’s hope they add another night.
Visit the website. Note the wonderful active surprise it has created for the show itself.www.geordie.ca.