Mar. 13, 2013 - Issue #908: In Your Face
Blue Heaven opens sleepily with a quiet song about one man's dream of simple domestic bliss. The audience quickly learns that the world he belongs to couldn't be further from the reverie. Life on stage in Chester Field's Vaudeville Spectacular begins to unfold as the rest of the cast comes barreling into the dressing room with an energy that remains high throughout the show.
Chester (Mathew Hulshof) runs his production with a desperate and greedy "show must go on" attitude, and the audience constantly gets a view of his slimier characteristics. Chester is engaged to the kind and talented Daisy (Adrianne Salmon), who will be the star of his show until—much to her dismay and surprise—they have their first child. After that, it's off to the realm of housewifery for Daisy, according to Chester. Opposite to her is Mollie (Erica Ullyot) who is desperately trying to steal the spotlight, and lastly we have the sweet and sensitive man who we met at the start of the show played by Byron Martin.
The set consists of two main spaces: onstage and offstage. The action is split between the two, and the stories compliment each other well. Onstage the audience is tickled by the various antics of the players, and offstage we are afforded a deeper look into the characters' lives and motivations beyond their show. The cast works well together: developed characters, excellent acting and fun plot developments all combine to create a very entertaining production.
The show's only major shortcoming has to do with the musical nature of the production. Each cast member is a talented singer, and the piano is played well, but the two aren't partners in the show. Rather, they bump along each other unevenly and never work together to achieve the satisfying combination that the best musicals offer. The acting and overall energy of the show, coupled with the excellent script, combine to make this an enjoyable production, but it would have easily reached for excellence if only the live music and singing had complimented one another more effectively.
Until Sun, Mar 17 (8 pm)
Directed by Amanda Bergen
Capitol Theatre, Fort Edmonton Park, $20 – $28
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