Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever). Follow @bffs613 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
It’s been two long years, but a Company of Fools is back with its Torchlight Shakespeare in the Park summer tour. Until mid-August, audiences can catch The Tempest at more than 40 local parks throughout the city and beyond.
The Fools have set their version of The Tempest in 1920s New Orleans and have added some jazz ditties to build a fun ambiance and get the audience into the groove. In case you forgot from high school English class (or, like us, never read it!), this is the story of Prospero, a former Duke, who has been exiled and is plotting his revenge against his brother, using his magic to conjure a storm to shipwreck his enemies. The incredible cast with their animated acting and body language helps translate the story to audiences young and old. Think Shakespeare is not your jam? This may be the show to change your mind!
Condensed to 90 minutes, the Fools do what they do best—make Shakespeare accessible and fun. Last night’s audience included all ranges of ages, groups of friends, families and those going solo; this is the definition of a show for everyone. The colourful costumes and set, the humour, the music and energetic movements all make for an enticing show that you laugh and clap your way through as it flies by.
The cast members each play more than one character, defined by costume changes and different voices/accents. Sarah Finn, who stepped in as Prospero only days before the season began, nevertheless knocked it out of the park (pun intended) delivering a captivating and engaging performance from beginning to end. That’s the incredible thing about live theatre—anything can happen! And highly talented understudies, swings and actors are there to swoop in on a moment’s notice to help save the day. Sarah was in good “company” (see what we did there?) as the entire cast was excellent. Micah Jondel DeShazer who plays Caliban and Ariel was superb, and we got absolute joy from Jon Dickey’s performances as Ferdinand and Gonzalo. Kate McArthur, Geoff McBride and Cara Pantalone were all on point as their various characters, proving as always that the Fools bring a fantastic ensemble.
Not only are the Fools bringing live theatre close to everyone, the shows are pay-what-you-can, meaning more people can get out and see it. Pack up your lawn chair or picnic blanket and head over to your local park to catch a production. And stay tuned for the second half of their season when they’ll present Hamlet in early fall. It’s such a wonderful way to spend an evening at your local park, as the sun sets, with your neighbours and community, experiencing live theatre. We are so thrilled they’re back.
The Tempest runs until Aug. 13 as part of the Torchlight Shakespeare Festival in parks throughout Ottawa and beyond. Visit a Company of Fools website for the schedule and location information. Tickets are pay-what-you-can with a suggested donation of $20.