Prairie Voices – Tasting Notes

Spring time is in full swing here in Winnipeg, and with the arrival of spring various arts groups are winding down their seasons and are also entering fundraising event season. Last weekend I attended Theatre by the River’s, Wine and Words, thanks to a ticket from Mel Marginet TBTR’s artistic director. Then, last night I was out at Tasting Notes, the annual dessert concert fundraiser for Prairie Voices.

Before I get into last night’s concert I want to mention to upcoming events. Next Friday and Saturday, Horizon, the other choir in the choir in the Prairie Voices family, will be holding their fundraiser, Lyrics and Lager. I went last year and it was  a lot of fun.

Then, on Saturday, afternoon June 9th, at 3:30 pm, both choirs will be presenting Summersing, a free choral event being held at Coronation Park.

Praire Voices Pistachio

The Pistachio Mousse, one of the many fine desserts available at the Prairie Voices Tasting Notes Dessert concert.

Prairie Voices is an award winning choir for singers between the ages of 18-25(though in typically modest, Winnipeg fashion, none of those awards are listed on their website). The choir was founded in 2000 by Elroy Friesen, who is currently the director of choral music studies at the University of Manitoba. There have been several conductors since then, with the group’s current conductor being Geung Kroeker-Lee.

I’ve known Elroy for years, attended the inaugural Prairie Voices concert and have continued to attend their concerts off and on ever since. I run into Geung every so often at Fools & Horses, my coffee hangout, where his partner Lauren is one of the owners. In the past couple of years I’ve also had another connection to the choir, as St. Philip’s, the parish where I serve as priest, has been used by both Prairie Voices and their alumni choir, Horizon, as a rehearsal space, when they need somewhere to practice, on short notice.  Continue reading


So Long and Thanks for All the Fringe

Well, it’s been two days now since the 2012 version of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival ended.  My fringing actually ended a couple of days before that, but with a series of other activities to keep occupied and amused, (OK, only occupied), I’m just getting around to offering a few final thoughts.

The one thing that impressed me the most this year was the high quality of shows that I went to see.  By that I mean, that in the main, the shows I went to see delivered on what they promised.  The silly were silly and the dramatic were dramatic.  As well, the acting was almost uniformly well-done, and none of the exceptions were of such a nature that they made an otherwise good play, bad.  The acting highlights for me were Derek Leenhouts and Mel Marginet in Lungs.  Toby Hughes in The Courier, Melanie Gall in More Power to Your Knitting Nell, Ken Brown in Minding Dad, and Evelyn Wong and Carl Kennedy in She Has a Name. Continue reading

Fringe Review – The Man Who Wasn’t There

Last night, I took in what was for me, the last show of the Fringe.  After doing a Fringe schedule that was heavy on topical, and thought provoking shows, my last choice was made strictly on expected entertainment value. I chose to go see The Man Who Wasn’t There by Marc A. Moir, and the play more than lived up to expectations.

The play is done as a radio play, complete with sound effects.  The stage is set up as a radio studio, and all the equipment is set on a table so you are able to watch as well as listen to the sound effects as they are created by Garry Moir, whose character is the aptly named Mr. Foley. Continue reading

Fringe Review – Breaking Rank

At the conclusion of this play, Howard Petrick, writer, subject and actor of the play Breaking Rank, delivered a fairly impassioned plea for people to become more aware of Private Bradley Manning and the punishments he is facing as a result of his role in the WikiLeaks scandal.  When we were leaving the theatre, the person I was watching the play with commented to the effect that Petrick’s request showed far more emotion than the play did.

That comment, to me, pretty much summed up the play.  The story, which is autobiographical, tells of Petrick’s own attempts to question the purpose of the Vietnam war, while serving as a soldier at Fort Hood. Continue reading

Fringe Review – The Poor Fools present Tutti Fooli: A Commedia dell’Arte

After going to see She Has a Name, I finished my evening of Fringing off with some Commedia dell’Arte, going to watch The Poor Fools present Tutti Fooli.  After a very intense show, this was a great counterbalance. The show is staged by the Poor Theatre Company out of Morden, MB.

For those that aren’t familiar with this form, it is explained very well in the little Fringe Show advertisement that is in the Fringe Festival program:

Commedia dell’Arte thrived in Renaissance Italy and now you can experience it today, contemporized, with all its classic fixings including masks, physicality, improv, audience interaction, slapstick and lazzi. Continue reading

Fringe Review – She Has a Name

Warning: May Contain Spoilers

Some plays take your breath away.  She Has a Name crushes the breath out of you.  From its violent opening to its violent conclusion She Has a Name pins you down in your chair, compelling you to watch even when you want to leave.

This sense is helped by the set.  Which, while the stage is quite large, only occupies a small part of it, bringing a greater sense of intensity to the action taking place.  The background of the stage contains a screen on which is painted the scene of a family in the doorway of its home.  The rest of the set contains a bed, two chairs and a table.  This set is place on a large bamboo mat which sets the parameters for most of the action. Continue reading

Fringe Review – The Holy Land Experience

Warning: May contain spoilers

Fringe viewing tip:  Do not go see plays when you are in need of a nap.

This is a play I wound up at largely because when I had earlier looked at the big board in the Exchange, none of the plays that were starting in the near future, really appealed to me. Plus, when I had been at the Canwest Theatre the previous night, Martin Dockery the playwright and performer of the Holy Land Experience has been working the lineup and from what he had said, I thought it might be worth a go.

The set for The Holy Land Experience was even more sparse than the one for Minding Dad.  This time around there was simply a plain, wooden chair and Dockery brought with him a bottle of water which along with keeping his throat moist for storytelling, served effectively for changes of scene. Continue reading