Claire Jullien as Irene (centre) proves that gal can never get enough adoration in the Shaw Festival’s hilarious presentation of Light Up the Sky on stage until October 11. Charlie Gallant as Peter (left) and Thom Marriott as Sidney illuminate the comedy in all the right places.
A Funny Spin On Narcissism
For those looking to end the summer on a giggly note, look no further than the frivolous fun at the Festival Theatre for the perfect playgoing fix. This behind the scenes look at insider conduct when opening night doesn’t go according to plan is highly entertaining and delivered with ‘a message for all of us.’
If director Blair Williams wanted to leave a distinctly silly signature on this piece, his efforts pay off with dividends thanks to more than half a dozen comical chameleon performers that truly stick ‘a roman candle in the tired face of show business.’ And that’s no allegory!
It’s one thing for playwright Moss Hart to place his audience in a hotel room just hours before the curtain rises on ‘The Time Is Now’ to observe the immeasurable euphoria in the air but it’s a smart change up to invite us to observe the sniping and hostility when failure rears its ugly head. When the blame game ensues, it’s a total hoot to watch these characters be consumed by selfishness and pettiness.
Charlie Gallant as budding storyteller Peter Sloan is a glowing example of the psychological torture that awaits those with high ambitions. Luckily Graeme Somerville’s proven peer Owen Turner is standing by to put the events in clear perspective for him.
You’re going to adore Kelli Fox as Frances Black. Never before has she sounded as chatty as this in previous roles and with a Boston accent to detail the characters investment loss, it’s like seeing her perform for the first time all over again. Much of this fine form can be credited to scenes she shares with Laurie Paton’s acerbic Stella Livingston. The positive thinking impaired mother scores most of the great zingers in the show with Paton positioning herself as an invaluable asset to any production.
Not enough can be said about Steven Sutcliffe as director Carlton Fitzgerald, Thom Marriott as financier Sidney Black and Claire Jullien as flighty leading lady Irene Livingston. The disciplined performance trio redefine laughable human imperfection with this exploration of the their character’s true colours.
Interestingly enough, Light Up The Sky does initiate curious dialogue as to what constitutes success. Is it measured by the minds of those pursing it or is dictated by the opinion of others?
Don’t spend too much time on that one. It’s an unnecessary distraction to a memorable time at the theatre.
Review by Jonathan O’Neil
LIGHT UP THE SKY by Moss Heart June 25 – October 11, 2015 FESTIVAL THEATRE, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario TICKETS $25.00 – $116.00 www.shawfest.com 800-511-SHAW CAST Fiona Byrne, Andrew Broderick, Colton Curtis, James Daly, Felli Fox, Charlie Gallant, Claire Julien, Thom Marriott, Laurie Paton, Graeme Somerville, Steven Sutcliffe, Kelly Wong, Shawn Wright DIRECTOR Blair Williams SET & COSTUMES William Schmuck LIGHTING Louise Guinand ORIGINAL MUSIC Marek Norman STAGE MANAGER Beatrice Campbell