By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
Girl Brain, the sketch comedy troupe that zigzags through the lively minds of three smart and funny women, is being lured downtown for a weekend next season at the Citadel.
Alyson Dicey, Caley Suliak and Ellie Heath, who perform their sketch comedy regularly at the tiny Grindstone Comedy Theatre & Bistro in Strathcona, will join the Citadel’s new House Series November 8 and 9. New sketch comedy like Girl Brain, new cabarets from favourites like John Ullyatt, Patricia Zentilli, Kate Ryan, Steven Greenfield, music from such burgeoning musical talents as Audrey Ochoa, are part of this debut six-show Citadel series next season — along with the big-draw L.A. a cappella pop group The Filharmonic.
Formerly known as Beyond The Stage, the House Series happens with one exception in the Citadel’s smallest, most intimate theatre space, the Rice, formerly known as the Club (formerly known as the Rice). Its entertainment sibling series in the Citadel 2019-2020 lineup (already announced) is Highwire, a new three-production alternative theatre series that also takes place mostly in the Rice.
The idea, says Citadel artistic director Daryl Cloran, is to present plays from the challenging, immersive, innovative end of theatrical spectrum under the Highwire banner, and to cluster experiments in comedy, cabaret and music in The House Series.
“I grew up with Much Music’s live shows, where you’d go in person and find yourself sitting on the bass player’s amp,” says Cloran.“It’s that kind of intimate, casual feel….” The House Series, he says, “is a chance to connect our audiences with that kind of experience, and to highlight the work and amplify the reach, and national profile, of local talent….”
John Ullyatt and Patricia Zentilli, favourites with Citadel audiences have devised a new cabaret to celebrate the evergreen music of hit-spinning composer Burt Bacharach. What The World Needs Now (Oct. 17 through 19) assembles such iconic songs as Always Something There To Remind Me, Walk On By, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head…. The list is long and memorable. Ullyatt and Zentilli are joined by a jazz quartet led by Jason Kodie. We’ll see Ullyatt in the Highwire series, too: he stars in the solo play Every Brilliant Thing (Feb. 1 to 23) directed by Dave Horak.
Kate Ryan, artistic director of The Plain Jane Theatre Company, whose production of Fun Home has just closed, joins forces with the multi-talented actor/ singer/musical director Steven Greenfield, a fellow musical theatre obsessive, to create a new cabaret spun from stories of travel and adventure. Café Wanderlust runs in the Rice Jan. 10 and 11.
The run of Broadway-bound Hadestown at the Citadel in the fall of 2017 brought to the attention of theatre audiences the startling talent of rising Canadian jazz star Audrey Ochoa. The trombonist wrapped her supple stylistic wits around the jazzy/folky Anaïs Mitchell score in a notable way. The composer/performer, who’s about to release a third album, is onstage in the House Series March 20 and 21 in Audrey Ochoa and Friends.
The series opens Sept. 27 and 28 with Diyet and The Love Soldiers, an alternative folk-roots-rock-country band with traditional Indigenous credentials. “Their star is taking off,” says Cloran of the wife/husband duo from the Yukon.
The grand finale, which takes the series to the 700-seat Maclab May 8 and 9. is The Filharmonic , a five-member Filipino -American a cappella group with “a huge international following” for their blend of hip hop, pop, and ‘90s nostalgia. They’ve been in movies (Pitch Perfect 2); they’ve been on The Late Late Show.
Cloran says he got the idea from the Citadel executive director Chantal Ghosh, who connected with The Filharmonic in her previous job with Spirit Airlines in the U.S..
The Citadel, says Cloran, has commissioned a new musical-in-progress, Prison Dancer, with Filipino characters, planned for a premiere a couple of years hence. “And this is a way to start the conversation with Edmonton’s Filipino community.
House Series subscriptions are available at 780-425-1820, citadeltheatre.com.