There’s something about high school productions that is just FUN. The energy and enthusiasm, the clearly talented (that make you think, hey, I knew them when) and the plucky that sell their characters with aplomb, talent be damned. Few musicals are more demanding of talent and staging smarts than Jesus Christ Superstar – but Momma T’s has a history of tackling challenging musicals (past productions include Little Shop of Horrors and Rent).
I took the show in twice – the Thursday opening night and the Saturday matinee. The matinee was much tighter; It was obvious the show had matured considerably in just a couple days. It’s a shame the Cappies reviewers covered opening night – the matinee was a much better show.
The roles were well cast - triply important because some key parts have significant demands on vocal range. While there were moments when these talents might have done more with less, rather than trying too hard, their delivery was impressive nonetheless.
Antonio Pezoules in the lead role of Jesus wisely kept the melody within his effective range by rewriting a couple of phrases, rather than straining. Kayla Bernard as Mary Magdalene nailed every phrase, every note; a superb job. Fabulous work by Andriy Cherwick and Andres Cutillas as Pilate and Herod. It was very satisfying to hear a deep, growly bass from Ryan Spero as Caiaphas and an urgent high tenor from Marco Gioriani as Judas.
One of the fun little moments in the production of I Hate Hamlet by the Ottawa Little Theatre was the ad for Trailburst Nuggets that opens the final scene. Andrew Rally, the television actor who is wrestling with playing Hamlet on stage, is featured in the ad.
The fun is that the ad is as abysmal as the product it hawks (which apparently taste like sawdust dipped in chocolate, with more calories than lard). Opening with a discussion between Andrew and a chipmunk hand puppet, who dissolves into tears when denied a sampling of nuggets – it ends happily with Andrew kissing his head and caving to his craving.
Then follows the ad’s jingle – which isn’t scripted. Director Sarah Hearn only gave me one piece of direction regarding the jingle – “Make it utterly annoying, a tune you can’t get out of your head, like a barbed splinter in your brain.” So here, for your listening – ummm – pleasure, is the Trailburst Nuggets ad from Ottawa Little Theatre’s 2011 production of I Hate Hamlet.
You can download the .mp3 here: TrailburstNuggets.mp3
Trailburst Nuggets - An Anytime Snack
by Mike (Binary Rhyme) Heffernan
Michael McSheffrey as Andrew Rally
Stephen Liddiard as the Chipmunk
People love (chipmunks too!)
a tasty breakfast treat
be sure to start your day
the Trailburst Nugget way
And when you head out on the road
just remember that
are an anytime snack
An ANNYYYTIME Snack!
Some further bits of fun include one of the lighting technicians misunderstanding the lyrics of the opening line. “People Love Chipmunk Stew!” … I’ve never tried it myself, but I’ve made a mental note... and the fact that the cast and crew would stand in a circle and dance giddily in the wings every night when the tune ran. Great fun.
Descends the drape
guillotine of the run
celebrated and mourned
in voices loud and whispers soft
The whine of tools
Passes the set
to bones and vacuum
The cast's final exodus to home
while from the ashes rises
It lives on, the run, immortal
in memory and legend
a thousand moments
and bonds new found or renewed
This poem was written after I got home from the theatre on the closing night of “Inherit the Wind” at Ottawa Little Theatre. As the final curtain fell, it seemed, in a flash, to be an executioner’s implement – bringing a final, irreversible ending. It goes through my mind every time a production closes.