Ann Arbor Theater Vixen: Jenn McKee's Blog

{August 4, 2009}   Back from Canada

Yes, after four days of biking to vineyards for wine tastings (wine bottles fit perfectly in those “water bottle” holders that you attach to bikes, FYI), seeing professional productions of plays (part of the annual Shaw Festival), and being completely “offline,” we’re back – and I miss Niagara-on-the-Lake already.

Seriously. This Ontario town is one of those places where, as soon as we arrive, I feel myself relaxing. Joe’s parents made the five hour drive, too (they’d offered their “nannying” services to us), and we all stayed at the Butler Creek Bed and Breakfast, since they have a suite with three bedrooms, a living area, and two bathrooms. It was a perfect set-up for us, and if we manage to get back to NOTL again next year, we’ll make the same arrangements.

The shows we saw this year, though – Eugene O’Neill’s “The Moon for the Misbegotten” and Garson Kanin’s classic comedy “Born Yesterday” – varied in quality.

“Moon” featured a powerhouse performance by Jim Mezon as Phil, but when he wasn’t on stage (beautifully designed by Christina Poddubiuk) – which was sadly often, since the primary “action” takes place between his daughter Josie and his landlord Jim Tyrone – things got pretty dull. I also quibbled with casting petite, attractive Jenny Young as Josie, when O’Neill very clearly indicates that the actress playing the role should be physically large and, well, not beautiful. On the surface, this may sound pithy, but the truth is that the physicality of the character makes a huge difference in O’Neill’s complex, unhappy romance.

“Yesterday,” though, was a joy for almost every minute of its three hour running time, with Deborah Hay masterfully charming the audience as former showgirl Billie Dawn. The ensemble in general is top-notch, but Hay is the center of the show’s universe, and Kanin’s celebrated, comedy classic script couldn’t be in better hands.

Of course, if you asked Lily for her reviews of this vacation, she’d just give a thumbs-up on the town’s fountain in the park (she played in the water for about an hour and had to be dragged out), hits of ice cream, and the aviary near the Falls, where she got to pet a baby alligator and see turtles and scarlet ibises, among other things. Generally, another great NOTL trip.


I’m dying to get there. I also love Born Yesterday. I hope it’s still running for a bit.

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