Written by Thea Gregory
It was hot. Impossibly hot. But, the heat only served to heighten the evening’s excitement. The English-Language Arts Network (ELAN) and the Quebec Drama Federation (QDF) had joined forces to celebrate English theatre and showcase the QDF’s Fall calendar launch. The walls of the Mainline Gallery were covered in sketches showcasing costumes and sets — elements of theatre that are often denied their space in the limelight. The energy in the room was palpable, and the venue was packed, with the crowd spilling out onto the sidewalk. There were going to be 12 previews of theatre productions.
The first to take the stage was the Rocky Horror Show (MainLine Theatre.) Performing the iconic song Damn It, Janet, the group engaged the audience who were more than happy to lend their voices to the song. This was one of the evening’s highlights, as I haven seldom seen so much enthusiasm by any theatre audience, much less for a one song preview.
Afterwards came HAMalot (Acts to Grind Theatre), a comedic version of Hamlet, the Shakespearean classic. Seeing Hamlet flash the king and his mother was one of the evening’s defining moments.
I’m a Stephen King junkie. I love my fiction dark and scary. I was excited to see Stephen King’s Misery (d2 Productions) featured. The preview nailed the eerie creepiness of King’s work, sending shivers down my spine. It had the perfect horror movie vibe to it—the need to look away, yet forcing you to remain transfixed on the action.
I’ve been long fascinated by the classics.
To my delight, An Iliad (Chocolate Moose Theatre) was brilliant. It’s a one-man act that presents the Homeric epic in a format palatable to modern audiences. The powerful imagery and tremendous stage presence will make this a must-see.
Maritime myth Jerome of Sandy Cove (Persephone Productions) will appeal to fans of Canadiana. Chlorine (creature/creature) has its English language premiere. The Great Gatsby (Hudson Players Club) stood out, with beautiful 1920s period costumes and dancing.
The finale was Hair (In the Wings Promotions), a rock musical about hippies in 1967. The crowd was wild. The company performed the iconic song Hair. It was energetic, hilarious, and moving.
With that, the evening was over. The crowd milled out, taking the party to the street. I lingered, taking one last look at the vernissage before setting out to do my evening’s interviews. Now that I’ve experienced a theatre preview, I can wholeheartedly endorse the concept. I can now say with confidence which productions are for me, and which shows are not a good fit.
In conclusion, it was one hell of a night.