Winnipeg is the place to be in Canada when it comes to live performances and theatre, and this December “Canada’s Cultural Cradle” has brought some of their festive best for the whole family.
For starters, who wouldn’t want to go to Wonderland, especially at Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre‘s wondrously rich production of Alice Through the Looking Glass?
Mister and I caught the production last night and from the moment we were welcomed into Alice’s world, which is framed by layers of rich red curtains, we were taken on a whimsical journey, featuring an astonishing set of characters (with many actors playing multiple roles) where the sets are often bicycled onto stage with stunning effect.
For fashion fans like myself, taking in all the eye candy of the seemingly couture gowns of the Red and White Queens is alone worth the price of admission, while some of the scenes had me nearly rolling over in my seat with laughter (much in the way that surely Humpty Dumpty rolled before he met his eggy end — which was perhaps the most brilliant part of the play).
Arne MacPherson as Lewis Carrol (Robert Tinker)
The play, adapted by legendary Canadian playwright James Reaney, brings out the best bits from Lewis Carrol’s 1871 children’s book.
This includes the Jabberwocky poem, as read by actor Arne MacPherson as Carrol that is performed via a fun puppet show. MacPherson also steals another scene as Humpty, played with the sort of verve and staging of John Cleese as the French Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, whereby his lengthy, puppeteered arms (yes, I know that is not a word, but the production is all about wordplay, so why not?) once again brought my mind to Python territory via the fish scene in The Meaning of Life. The Carpenter and the Walrus bit was equally great, with the devouring of the oysters almost being as hilarious as Humpty’s later scramble.
The production also has that nice element of being equally suitable for kids and adults, as us parents appreciated all the wordplay, while ‘Lil peg marvelled throughout at all the rich visuals and silly send-ups.
Alice Through the Looking Glass runs at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre until December 19. You can purchase tickets here.
I’ll tell you one thing about James and the Giant Peach, which runs from December 3-27 at Manitoba Theatre for Young People — unlike the middle of its namesake fruit, it certainly won’t be the pits.
MTYP’s production will be a winner for so many reasons: first is the fact that anything having to do with Roald Dahl tends to be awesome. Second is that this adaptaion is a musical by Pasek and Paul, the dynamic, award-winning Broadway duo who the New York Times have called “theatre wonder boys.” And lastly, is the fact that MTYP always manages to produce heartwarming shows that contain a universal message that both young kids can grasp (James is for audiences five and up) and parents will appreciated.
Plus the characters, aside from James, are all giant insects including a lady bug, grasshopper, a spider and an earthworm — so you know the costumes will be great.
Look for the giant peach atop the theatre across from The Forks Market after you get your tickets here.
This super cool concept will see the WSO performing composer John Williams’ score live, while Kevin sets all his Rube Goldberg-like traps that make for much hysterical pain for those hapless burglars.
I think this is such a great move, as Home Alone is really one of those underrated holiday classics that just doesn’t get the airplay of say, A Christmas Story. And that is an absolute shame, because that “Ralphie, you’ll shoot your eye out bit,” has nothing on a young Macaulay Culkin putting on aftershave. Plus, that scene where the tarantula gets put on Daniel Stern’s face… you just don’t get screams like that anymore.
Next year I hope the WSO does Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, because now that I think about it all I want for Christmas in 2016 is to see bricks get thrown on faces on a giant screen accompanied by a full orchestra.
RWB Dancers Katie Bonnell and Eric Nipp (David Cooper)
Finally, the holiday season is not complete without a legendary performance from Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet of the Nutcracker (December 19-23, 27-28 at the Centennial Concert Hall).
This is the best way to add some cultural capital to your little one’s life by way of the ballet , as this performance of Nutcracker introduces some scenes of Canada that kids will relish. On top of all the graceful dancing they’ll see a pond hockey game at Parliament Hill, Hazel the polar bear with her 12 little cubs, RWB’s mascot Filbert the Bear, along with special Winnipeg celebrity guests.