Tag Archives: Belle Soeurs: The Musical

Final Countdown at the Festival

Confederation Centre is proud to present one more week of the touching new musical Belles Soeurs: The Musical — the closing production of a very memorable Charlottetown Festival season. Crackling with electricity and performed by a powerhouse all-female cast, Belles Sœurs plays the Homburg Theatre until Saturday, October 1.

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For a limited time, the Centre is offering 35% off theatre tickets for this heartfelt rags to riches story. To obtain this special discount – for Tier 1 & 2 seating only – patrons should contact the box office, quoting promo code ‘belles35’.

This promo ends on Monday, September 26 and for more information or tickets, visit confederationcentre.com/charlottetownfestival or contact the box office, toll-free, at 1 (800) 565.0278.

In Belles Soeurs: The Musical we meet working-class housewife Germaine Lauzon, played by Canadian treasure and Dora Award-winner Lisa Horner (Little Mosque on the Prairie; Kinky Boots; Wizard of Oz; Les Mis). Germaine wins one million department store stamps – the Jamie Oliver stamps of the 1960’s – and invites her Montreal family and friends over to celebrate. But pride + greed = envy! The women complain aggressively, overshare shamelessly, and fantasize freely while secretly coveting Germaine’s precious stamps.

Richly textured and outrageously fun, Belles Sœurs will sweep you through joy and drama, laughter and tears, all resonating through the medium of the modern musical. Audiences will fall in love with hits such as ‘I Want it All,’ ‘Johnny,’ and the incredible ‘Ode to Bingo,’ leaving them humming for days.

This touching musical is based on Michel Tremblay’s internationally­-celebrated play and is produced by Copa de Oro and the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts. Adapted and directed by René Richard Cyr in collaboration with the award winning duo Neil Bartram and Brian Hill, Tremblay’s tale takes on a whole new dimension in this musical Opening Night Reviews calls: “Hilarious, a landmark piece of theatre…a quiet riot of piety and a cautionary tale of commercialism.”

The Charlottetown Festival is presented by CIBC. Confederation Centre wishes to recognize the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support. Media sponsors are The Guardian, Hot 105.5, Ocean 100, and CTV.

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A Quiet Riot

The English musical theatre adaptation of Les Belles-Soeurs, originally written by Michel Tremblay (his landmark piece of theatre, Les Belles-Soeurs, has been performed around the world in more than 25 languages), is a fun show to behold, but could also be a cautionary tale of commercialism and the perils of piety.

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When dreary housewife Germaine Lauzon (Lisa Horner, who is debuting at The Centre this year, having played in Kinky Boots, Wizard of Oz, Les Misérables (Mirvish Productions); Fiddler on the Roof, Good Mother (Stratford), & TV/Film credits for Little Mosque on the Prairie, Road to Avonlea to name a few. Lisa has also received two Dora Awards for her work in Wizard of Oz and Grey Gardens) wins one million customer loyalty stamps worth $100,000 of free catalogue items and is betrayed by her God-fearing friends and relatives during a stamp licking party, one has to wonder what they are really worshipping. Is it God, materialism, or both?

The performance runs rampant with religious overtones. Germaine’s favourite exclamation is: “St. Therese!”, a French saint who wants for everything in her childhood but joined a convent to serve God when she was 15 years old. Germaine hands out the stamps to her friends, almost as if they are a sacrament, to paste to redemption cards. The most notable, and entertaining, example is the Ode to Bingo stop action, slo-mo number, in the second act, which ends in a tableau reminiscent of da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

The play starts off with a bang amidst an invigorating performance of “I Want It All” with an all-female cast of jealous homespun ladies spanning the generational spectrum trickling in, drooling over the prospect of new furniture, reversible dresses, & 4-slice toasters. It takes place in the working class community of Plateau-Mont-Royal, Montreal, in 1965, in the midst of the Quiet Revolution, a time of cultural introspection for Quebec. The time period is after schools are no longer administered through the Catholic Church and before Expo 67, when French president Charles De Gaulle declared “Vive le Quebec Libre!” on the balcony of Montreal city hall.

The word ‘Free’ is a recurring theme in the script. Germaine and her party guests crave things they don’t have to pay for but also wish to be liberated from their dreary lives. They steal their host’s stamps, diminishing their respective portrayals of piety, leaving Germaine to question her own belief system.

The ‘holier than thou’ attitude of the party goers is most evident when Germaine’s sister Pierrette (played by Geneviève Leclerc in her debut at The Centre, having appeared in: Guys & Dolls, Lies My Father Told Me (Segal Centre); Les Misérables (US and Canadian tours), a club hostess and social pariah, makes an appearance at the end of the first act. Everyone seems scandalized and are hesitant to exchange words with her, even if they see her regularly at the club. Germaine’s daughter Linda (played by Elise Cormier, also debuting at The Centre, appearing in Les Misérables(Le Capitole, La Place des Arts) & Little Women (La Bordée) is anxious to speak with Pierrette about her lifestyle and how she was able to escape the drab existence that plagues the other characters.

One of my favorite numbers included a song of jealousy called ”It’s A Dull Life” featuring some unusual, yet surprisingly delightful percussion choices (by Peter Colantonio with pit credit for Belles Soeurs: The Musical (National Arts Centre) including pots, pans, a washboard & even a kazoo! Another song featured the use of a rocking chair & of course, there’s no other way to describe it other than to say It Rocked! Aside from the music & a story that I think a lot of people can relate to (6/49 & Chase the Ace wishlist fantasies have never been hard to come by around here), the use of gossip & perfectly timed passive-aggressive name-calling kept the laughs rolling throughout this kitchen party of a tale that surfs on the cusp of rags to riches.

This show is excellent and will give audience members a lot to talk about. The creative and technical aspects are all very well thought out and executed. The 1960s kitchen and costumes (Costume Designer: Mérédith Caron who has contributed to more than 150 works & is considered a leader in the field of costume design, having worked at the Stratford Festival & Cirque du Soleil: Criss Angel Believe (Las Vegas) & Amaluna since the beginning of her career in 1978) were brilliantly done, along with the second storey balcony where the characters could sing and emote without having to be on the stage proper. Audience members familiar with the story will recognize Pierrette almost immediately.

Eagle-eyed viewers may also recognize Lisa Horner (Germaine) as the Ikea Start the Car lady, from the iconic commercial (which, oddly, has similar themes to this play). In this show, Horner looks more like Jean Stapleton’s Edith Bunker, which is a testament to the skills of the makeup and costume departments. I enjoyed the costumes of Linda most of all. They were bright, fun, and fit the period; and were a stark contrast to the other ladies’ outfits. Germaine’s party dress is also a showstopper.

Any acting troupes looking for a fun musical with 12 strong female roles, an entertaining book and lyrics (Book and lyrics by Director René Richard Cyr & Music by Juno Award winner Daniel Bélanger), should take a look at Belles Soeurs: The Musical.

Belles Soeurs: The Musical runs from September 13th to October 1st, 2016 at the Homburg Theatre.

Review by Kimberly Johnston and PL Holden, Used by permission. Originally posted on http://www.onrpei.ca.

A Captivating Union

A Captivating Union of Comedy, Music, and Family

Michel Tremblay’s tale of the hilarious misfortunes of one lady’s fortune is set to make its East Coast debut this month. Belles Soeurs: The Musical, a comedic and touching English musical performed by an all-female cast, opens at Confederation Centre next week, previewing September 13 and 14, before officially launching September 15.

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Presented in partnership with Copa de Oro Productions and the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, Belles-Soeurs: The Musical comes to The Charlottetown Festival after two wildly successful runs at the National Arts Centre and in Quebec. Almost 50 years after its first publication, Tremblay’s celebrated story, following 12 wounded but willful women in 1960’s urban Montreal, continues to resonate with translations in over 20 languages and productions all over the world.

“I know I personally connect with these ladies. Even though it seems to be specifically French-Canadian, I see my grandmother and my mother in them, and they were these fascinating, complicated ladies who wanted something so much more than they had,” reflects Brian Hill, of the award-winning creative duo (Neil) Bartram & Hill, who are behind the English book and music adaptation for Belles Soeurs: The Musical.

Directed by René Richard Cyr, the central story zooms in on the life of Germaine Lauzon, a wife and mother, who feels stuck in a life of dull domesticity. Her luck finally changes when she wins 1 million trading stamps from the local grocery store – the ‘Jamie Oliver stamps’ of their day, coveted and tradeable for a treasure trove of goods. Feeling on top of the world, she invites family and friends over for a stamp-licking party to help her redeem her many prizes. The evening quickly becomes clouded by the realities of jealousy, neighbourhood gossip, and scheming between the 12 women. So distracted by what she’s won, Germaine must re-gain sight of all she stands to lose.

“This is a story about family,” reflects the Centre’s Artistic Director Adam Brazier. “About a daughter struggling to break free from her overbearing mother, and sisters learning to accept each other for who they are, and not who the other thinks they should be. Belles Soeurs is a hilarious and profound musical comedy straight from the heart of the Canadian spirit and we are thrilled to present it on Prince Edward Island.”

Belles Soeurs: The Musical plays select dates until October 1. To book tickets, confederationcentre.com or contact the box office, toll-free, at 1 (800) 565.0278. The Charlottetown Festival is presented by CIBC.

The Centre wishes to recognize the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Government of P.E.I., and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support. Media sponsors are The Guardian, Hot 105.5, Ocean 100, and CTV.

Coming Soon!

When a Montreal housewife wins one million customer loyalty stamps from a department store, her life is turned upside-down in this heartwarming English-language comedy, Belles Soeurs: The Musical, playing at the Homburg Theatre from September 13 to October 1, 2016.

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The musical is based on Michel Tremblay’s landmark piece of theatre, Les Belles-Soeurs, which has been performed around the world in more than 25 languages.

All In, and the Dog, Too

For five decades and counting, The Charlottetown Festival has always been a tight-knit community, and this year’s cast and company is no exception. Several family connections can be found across this summer’s playbill, including Mamma Mia! star Eliza-Jane Scott and her young son, Ducolon Banville, who joins her as a Child of Avonlea in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™. David Cotton, who plays husband-to-be Sky in Mamma Mia!, has enjoyed the summer alongside his actual wife, Sarah Vance in both mainstage productions. The Spoon River company featured two husband and wife teams: new ‘Islanders By Choice,’ Matt Campbell and Alicia Toner, as well as Brendan Wall and Mary Francis Moore.

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The greatest link however, connecting three productions and the summer and fall seasons, is the Guy-McGrath/Phillipson clan. Dora-Award winner Stephen Guy-McGrath splits his time playing Aussie funnyman Bill Anderson in Mamma Mia! and Cecil the Farmer in Anne™. Guy-McGrath is joined by daughter Eleanor Guy in Anne™ who plays his on-stage daughter. Guy-McGrath’s wife Melanie Phillipson also arrived on P.E.I. recently and begins rehearsals this month for the final production of the season, Belles Soeurs: The Musical, opening September 13.

“Coming to the Festival together really strengthens the feeling that already exists of the theatre being a family,” Guy-McGrath offers. “I love walking to work with Eleanor and having a little quiet time before the show. It’s nice to be able to talk to your kid about your work and passion — knowing that they understand it and feel the same way. At the theatre I really try to let her do her own thing. It makes me very proud as a father to watch her navigate a professional environment and display such maturity and discipline. Frankly she’s better behaved then I am!”

Adapted from Michel Tremblay’s internationally acclaimed novel, Belles Soeurs: The Musical is an English-language comedy with an all-female cast and comes to P.E.I. following sold-out runs at the Segal Centre and the NAC. “These beautifully-connected, diverse women share deep bonds rooted in decades of friendship but are also flawed and vulnerable,” Phillipson explains. “It has been so well-received in Montreal and Ottawa and it will be interesting to see how Islanders respond. There is no need to be fearful of anything ‘too French!’ Anyone with a mother, a fondness for storytelling with music, and a nostalgia for Bingo will most certainly enjoy this piece.”

Phillipson is reprising her role as Thérèse Dubuc, a comedic turn that includes caring for her elderly mother, Olivine, and in one unforgettable musical montage, recreating the drama of a Bingo game in slow motion with a giant ball in a hopper. Her past credits include several seasons with the Shaw Festival, as well as Tarragon, Drayton, and others.

“I love that my character is very ‘real’ and not vain or pretentious. I get to channel my grandmother from Saskatchewan who was a very strong-willed, hard-working, stubborn woman who made time for sewing, quilting, gossiping and playing Bingo,” she continues. “I love the aesthetic and era of this piece, 1960’s Montreal, and, truly, the whole 12-member ensemble is incredible.”