Thursday, 23 August 2012

If You Only See One Show This Year, See Aleck Bell!

From Left To Right...  Allan Gillespie, James King,
Stephan Cullen, Danielle Leger, Jordan Probst, Tricia Black,
 Shawn Hurford, Jacqueline Martin, and Emily  Nimetz

    For those of you who are regular readers, let me start by saying THANK YOU!  To my regular readers it may seem like I LOVE everything, but honestly that is not the case.  I am in fact an insane perfectionist, who is highly critical of myself and others (just ask my poor husband what it's like to live with me).  I only include things on my blog that I really like, because I am a terrible liar, and ridiculously honest.  When I see an ugly baby, the kind thing to do is to tell that poor mother that her baby is cute.  I will NEVER do that!  I am not so cruel to tell that mother that her baby is ugly, instead I try to find something positive to say about the baby.  I have been known to tell a mother that her baby has "lots of beautiful hair", "adorable outfit", "he seems like such a happy baby", but at no point will I lie to her, even if she asks "Isn't he beautiful?" (it has happened, trust me.  I have had to pull out some of my most creative work for them).  It's a curse to not be able to effectively lie.      
    If on my blog I recommend something, you can know that it is something that I truly do like / love.  To me it would be too embarrassing to recommend something and have it turn out to be a dud, I would never do that.  If on my blog I recommend something, I want you to know that I am putting my name behind it.  If I tell you that I LOVE something, I truly do LOVE it, and want you to try it.  It would be very rare for me to blog about something that I did not like, unless I had a real bee in my bonnet, it just seems like a waste of my time to waste my words on anything that is not positive.  Now that all of that has been said...

    Last night Christopher and I went to The Stirling Festival Theatre to see Aleck Bell.  Aleck Bell is based on the life of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, among other things.  The musical was all set to mainly Canadian rock hits that spanned a few decades.  This was a musical that Christopher and I had really been looking forward to seeing.  The day before had been our 19 th wedding anniversary, and Christopher had to work that night. We celebrated it last night.
    It was a treat for us to be childless.  We walked holding hands in the lobby, like a couple of teens.  As we entered the theatre it barely filled.  What a complete and utter crime!  I wanted to cry.  This was opening night.  The IANA Theatre is a Canadian company that helps support young Canadian talent.  They are something of an enigma, because they write their own musicals, in today's Canada, this is rare.  IANA was founded by Tim Porter, a young local man, who is in my humble opinion a genius!  Here is what my fear is, if we don't use it, we will lose it.  If we do not support this amazing company, we contribute to it's down fall.  By coming to see IANA productions, you are not committing an act of charity, you are in fact giving yourself an extraordinary experience. I have personally seen all of this year's productions, Stalkyard Hurts, Godspell, and now Aleck Bell.  Tim only employs actors with superior talent.  If I could say that this team excels in one area in particular, it would be their vocal talents.  I dare you to see any professional production in the city, and pay hundred of dollars, then come and see an IANA production for less than a quarter of the cost.  I can guarantee that they are easily equal in talent.

Tim Porter and Joel MacMeekin
a.k.a. The Dream Team
    Aleck Bell was written and directed by the talented team of Tim Porter and Joel MacMeekin.  They have written a fascinating look at the life of Alexander Graham Bell.  I personally knew that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, but I had no idea that he was born in Scotland, lived in Boston, taught the deaf, and in particular knew Helen Keller.  He's a Canadian hero, we all take credit for his nationality, but who among us knows anything other than that he invented the telephone?
    The musical features such classics as Weighty Ghost, Ain't Seen Nothin Yet, I Believe, When you're Gone, Fare They Well Love, Fire Up Ahead, Fast Train, Good Mother, If You Could Read My Mind, You Don't Know What It's Like, Comlainte de la Butte, Perfect, For the Nights I Can't Remember, American Psycho, Hallelujah, 1234, Life, If Today Was Your Last Day, Lies, All I Really Want, Avalanche, Where Have All the Good People Gone, and Wake Up.  I really dislike "If You Could Read My Mind", perhaps hate would be a more accurate description of how I feel about this song, especially in it's original form by Gordon Lightfoot (I really hate Gordon Lightfoot, well not the man, I don't know him, just his music).  Having said that, I LOVED the way Steven Cullen, and Jacqueline Martin sang it as a duet.  Steven Cullen played the main character of Aleck Bell, and really in my opinion stole the show.  He had such a likable face, and such a gorgeous voice.  Jacqueline and Steven had excellent chemistry, you could really believe that they loved each other.  Although for me Steven Cullen stole the show, Jordon Probst, was hot on his heels, this is a young actor to watch for sure.
    If you went to see this show for nothing other than the music, you would have gotten your moneys worth.  When the cast sang Fare Thee Well Love, I actually wept, it was beautiful.  The rendition of Hallelujah (I really love this song to begin with.  Unlike Gordon Lightfoot, I really like Leonard Cohen) sent chills up my spine, and set all the hair on my arms an neck on end.  This is an insanely talented group of actors.  I laughed (thanks to the ever dependable Danielle Leger, Tricia Black and James King), I cried, I didn't want the show to end.  As usual I made an ass of myself.   After the show  I ran up to Tim Porter and told him that he was a genius and that I was proud of him (my husband stepped back a few feet and shook his head). I am proud of Tim Porter.  He has, with help, created an amazing piece of Canadiana.  He has created a piece that should tour the country to sold out shows!
    Christopher and I have done nothing but talk about Aleck Bell.  There was certainly no dead silence on that car ride home.  The word genius was thrown around a lot.  There are not enough nice words to describe our evening out.  We LOVE Aleck Bell.  Not only do we LOVE the musical, it has triggered our curiosity to learn more about this amazing man, Alexander Graham Bell.  If we could, we would attend every single show both in Stirling, and then chase them to Toronto's Papermill Theatre.
    Thank you Tim Porter, don't be discouraged.  You have created a fantastic play, we just have to get the word out, so that others can see what a genius you are.  I feel like I should be going door to door telling people the good word about Aleck Bell.  I feel like strong arming people and threatening to rough them up, if they don't go and see this amazing production. You need to go and see this show!  I think our sentiment was best summed up by a fellow patron that we overheard.  He told the person that he was sitting with "I would have gotten my money's worth, even if I'd left at intermission.  What a fantastic show!"  
    Aleck Bell will be playing for two more weeks at the Stirling Festival Theatre.  It then moves on to Toronto's Paper Mill Theatre.  It really is a pittance to spend on such high quality entertainment.  Your will get your money's worth from the singing alone.

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