The prices the Citadel is charging are its standard professional theatre ticket rates, but the majority of the performers are what are optimistically and encouragingly called "emerging artists."
The 14 young professionals — and it must be said that the depth of experience most of these in-training performers has is impressive — are performing here because the Citadel's artistic management has chosen them from dozens of theatre aspirants from across Canada and perhaps beyond to hone their acting craft. All of the young actors have worked professionally, some of them even in establishments like Stratford and the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto, and each of them has an impressive academy credential from a good Canadian theatre program, including the University of Alberta's and the National Theatre School's. There are lots of folks from Windsor's BFA in this group.
|Director Tom Wood|
So the question is, 'Will you get your money's worth from this professional production?', which is directed by consummate professional Tom Wood and designed by undeniably professional Bretta Gereke? Will you feel like you're coming to a student production that feels too much like a show pivoting on talent that is still some distance from prime-time ready?
Well the short answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT!
The opening scene in which a young man donning a stage beard and pretending to be a mature aristocrat creaked a little. But by and large, no actor made me feel like I had to compromise my normal audience expectations and simply endure, and most of them demonstrated convincingly that they deserve to be paid to entertain the ticket-buying public. The fairyland look Gereke has conjured and Wood's deft direction of the idyllic and frenetic aspects of the action are unequivocally top-quality Citadel production value.
|Rose Napoli plays Hermia|
The acrobatic Jonathan Purvis, completing his second stint in the Citadel program, literally took over the stage whenever he appeared, swinging from a rope, climbing walls and flipping through the air forwards and backwards when a mere stage leap might seem too pedestrian. He demonstrated what having total control of the actor's full instrument can look like in performance. He clearly revelled in his role as Puck.
Edmonton's Opera Nuova program develops emerging opera singers in a month to six-week boot camp like the Citadel/Banff intensive program for actors, and the opera camp culminates in two full-length opera productions at the end of the training period each year. Over the years that I've been going to those productions, I have noticed a sustained improvement in the performances of all the singers, most of whom don't have the breadth of stage experience the young actors bring to the Citadel. The singer who looks quite unsuited for the performance profession has been a rarity in the past few years.
My conclusion is that the selection process has become so assured that folks like Citadel artistic director Bob Baker are able to discover high-potential talent that is genuinely worthy of a critical audience's attention.
You don't have to believe in fairies to see the magic in this Midsummer Night's Dream.