Tag Archives: Ken MacDougall

Freezing Seasonal Theatre @The Gladstone

An edited version of this review was published by APT613.ca
Warm temperatures haven’t put a thaw on unbridled icy enthusiasm as Freezing  returns to Ottawa “Bigger, Bolder… Colder” for its second seasonal run at The Gladstone Theatre.

From the opening parody song and dance number “No business like snow business” the stage is set for a performance both professionally polished and alive with playful humour.

FreezingWill Lamond

Will Lamond delivers a devilish Hans in Freezing

Appropriately for a pantomime the show never takes itself too seriously, convivially embracing the fine tradition of on-stage slapstick coupled with audience participation. Freezing ticks all the boxes of the traditional Christmas panto; parodying an – albeit new – classic, incorporating rollicking song and dance, bringing nonsense and groaner comedy alongside current political references to the fore and including the controversial yet iconic cross-dressing pantomime dame – finely played by Constant Bernard. The dame, facing politically correct challenges, will hopefully survive as the newly-acquainted learn the form springs from the anarchic tradition of carnival subversion at the heart of good panto, but only time will tell.

Set in an icy kingdom Princess Adele (Jessica Vandenberg) is a winter sport enthusiast while sister Hanna (Émilie O’Brien), the bashful bookworm smitten, is by iceman Krisco (Chad Connell).  Matriarch Queen Gerda (Bernard) sits at the helm of this small family and though frequently at comical odds with her daughters a fine stream of girl-power permeates the piece; after all, “it’s 2015”.  Enter the devilishly mischievous Hans (Will Lamond) keen to launch a temperature control app and bring an end to winter unless he can wed Hanna or Adele. Will Hans’ evil plan see him take the hand of one of the two Princesses? With a playful talking Beaver, a subservient Troll and tornados a tap away expect the unexpected.

The audience at the weekend matinee was fully engaged and keen to participate. The crowd that day enthusiastically joined in; booing the villain, cheering the heroes and letting all know if a monster was “behind them”.  At times the unbridled energy made way for a witty adlib.

Festive costumes reinforce the kid-accessibility of the characters while timely political commentary keeps the performance up to date and adult. Musical numbers and choreography are strong and confident– even a duet with a moose is surprisingly winning.

Contemporary political humour was more refined this year; the Justin Trudeau song and dance number and transit message from Jim Watson who “feels our pain” were hilariously executed.  The production, partly funded by donations from Little Italy businesses, did away with heavy-handed plugs integrating a tremendous #ShopLocal homage in a delightfully innovative scene.

Sarah & Matt Cassidy have returned with a refreshed and winning p

FreezingMiniCritics

MiniCritics& Cast

roduction; a panto that deserves to become a new local tradition.

Don’t take my word. In closing I offer the opinions of two 7yr olds “I didn’t like it… I loved it!” and “Double awesome thumbs-up”.

Freezing
The Gladstone Theatre 910 Gladstone Ave.
until January 3, 2016
Click here for showtimes & tickets

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A “Freezing” Night of Fun

An edited version of this review was also published in Apt613.
“Freezing” at The Gladstone theatre, steers far enough from the movie echoed in the title to breed familiarity and anticipation – queue many young girls in their finest Anna and Elsa gear – while Ken MacDougall delivers an original storyline guaranteeing a unique and uproarious night out for all ages.

Freezing1Set in the troubled land of Snow Globe Queen Gerda (Gab Desmond – in a stellar cross-dressed performance) is keen to marry off Princesses Hanna (Esther Vallins) and Adele (Jessica Vandenberg) to preserve the icy kingdom. Enter Hans (Will Lamond), the winter-hating villain of the piece, who threatens endless summer if not granted a royal wedding and all measure of comical action ensues with an eager beaver, a troll with low self-esteem, a handsome ice-man, a tornado and many twists and turns.

To the unacquainted a pantomime is “British theatre traditionally performed at Christmas incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, cross-dressing, in-jokes, topical references, and audience participation.”  Audience members cheer the heroes, boo the villain and in this instance some young one’s even had a hockey shoot out.

Costume and styling connect the younger audience with accessible characters while the fresh and fun writing hold that engagement. The cast is charming with particularly strong comic performances from Desmond, Lamond and Shelley Simester as Rubble the troll. The music and choreography are wholly successful as the cast deliver wonderful, rousing song and dance numbers.

Freezing’s is well-paced with seasonally whimsical moments. The music and adventure keeps kids entertained while tongue-firmly-in-cheek asides on everything from the Red Blacks to the LRT and talented performances secure adult amusement. Despite a few not altogether successful jokes, such as the 3-pigs / Senator scandal and an unfortunate commercial break in the proceedings, producers Sarah & Matt Cassidy deliver a winning panto which should well become Ottawa newest holiday tradition.

Freezing
Dec 18- Jan 4th
Evenings 7:30PM, Matinees 2:30PM
The Gladstone, 910 Gladstone Ave.