Wednesday 25 March 2015

Segal Centre for Performing Arts unveils blockbuster 2015-16 season schedule

While the Segal Centre for Performing Arts has not yet completed its present season, Artistic and Executive Director Lisa Rubin opened the curtain for the media and the VIP crowd on March 25 for what’s in store in 2015-2016.

It has been a great year for the Segal so far on stage, highlighted by blockbusters Les Belles Soeurs and Forever Plaid. Still to come, of course, Mordecai Richler’s landmark coming of age novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz will  be getting the all-star musical treatment in a world premiere musical adaptation   from June 7  to 28.   Duddy Kravitz has an original score by Alan Menken, the Tony- and Oscar-winning composer of Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and The Little Shop of Horrors. The legendary composer is responsible for some of the most beloved songs and musical scores of our time. But here is our first look at next year and what a lineup it is, with no less than seven  spectacular Montreal premieres .

Funny Girl,  the poignant musical rags to riches story of Vaudeville sensation Fanny Brice made famous by Barbra Streisand in film, will kick off the new season (October 11 to November 1, 2015) in an 18-person song and dance spectacular under the direction of  Peter Hinton. Multi-talented Canadian musical performer Gabi Epstein will hold down the  titular role immortalized by Streisand in the classic 1968 movie.

“I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world,” Epstein actually sang out in a video message recorded from Toronto where she is performing for Mirvish Entertainment.

Next up  (November 29 to  December 20, 2015) will be British playwright Nina Raine’s internationally-acclaimed play Tribes, a powerful look at the meaning of language, love and what it means to be understood. Jack Volpe (Seeing Voices Montreal) makes his professional theatre debut as Billy, the only deaf member of an eccentric, intellectual family.  Volpe, who works by day at the Mackay Centre School in NDG, is deaf. He attended the press conference and delivered words of appreciation for getting the role via  sign language interpreter.

Jack Volpe at the press conference

 “When Jack completed his audition, the electricity in the building was palpable,” said Rubin. “This show will be done with American Sign Language. We are very excited to see how the deaf community can be involved and see what the story can bring to them.”

From January 31 to February 21, 2016, The Secret Annex will invite audiences  to use their
imaginations of what life would have been like for beloved historical icon Anne Frank, had she survived the war. In what is being described as “a stirring and romantic new play out of Winnipeg by young playwright Alix Sobler and directed by Marcia Kash,”  Sara Farb will take on the lead role. She will soon be starring in the Stratford Festival’s Diary of Anne Frank. In Montreal she will portray the same title character as a 25-year old coming of age in New York City. Farb expressed her joy with the role via a video message. “Doing the Secret Annex is something I am really excited about,” she said.

Gemini and Dora Award-winning performer Rick Miller (MacHomer, Venus in Fur) will explode  on to the Segal stage (March 20 to April 10, 2016) with his newest one-man, tour-de-force Boom. This Kdoons & Wyrd production will be co-presented by Copa de Oro Productions, the folks behind Les Belles Soeurs and Forever Plaid. Part explosive performance, part riveting documentary, and part nostalgic trip, Boom is expected to capture the defining historical and musical moments of the baby-boom generation. 
In what promises to be a comedic highlight of the season (May 1 to 22, 2016), Joshua Harmon’s breakout hit Bad Jew will  ask the biting question: what do you choose to believe, when you’re chosen?  It will focus on three cousins gathered in a cramped Manhattan apartment to mourn the death of their grandfather and fight over a precious family heirloom. Rubin herself will direct this  critically-acclaimed exploration of faith, family and legacy that has had North America abuzz since its Off-Broadway premiere in 2013. “I always thought my directorial debut would have been a musical,” said Rubin, whose golden pipes blew away many an audience during her performing career.

Also co-produced with Copa de Oro, will be a new production of Tony Award-winner Joe DiPietro’s laugh-out-loud musical comedy  I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (May 8 to 29, 2016), directed by Wade Lynch. Witty and whimsical, this incredibly popular Off-Broadway musical sensation deftly lampoons the stages and stumbling blocks of romantic relationships.
Lisa Rubin, Anisa Cameron, Aron Gonshor, Anthony Housefather, Mitchell Brownstein and myself.
The lights of Broadway will also shine brightly on the explosive final production of the season,  the world Yiddish-language premiere of Mel Brooks’ record-breaking musical The Producers, winner of twelve Tony Awards. The hysterically-funny tale of scheming showbiz producers Bialystock and Bloom will be revived in Yiddish by the esteemed Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre (June  19 to July 10, 2016).  The company is proud to be associated with the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society and director Anisa Cameron for their most ambitious production to date. “Mel Brooks is on Twitter so we will all be harassing him to come to this show,” says Rubin.

A very proud Mitchell Brownstein, my colleague on Côte Saint-Luc City Council who created the Dramatic Society with Cameron from scratch only three years ago, was pinching himself. Ditto for Mayor Anthony Housefather, whom by the time this show hits the stage hopes to be the Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal.

Beyond the stage the Segal will  welcome Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre film series. 
Audience Engagement plays a vital role in the Segal Centre’s mission. To complement the productions being presented on stage, the Segal offers the ever-popular Sunday @ The Segal pre-show lecture series, an opportunity to explore the history, themes and ideas behind each production, and Monday Night Talk backs a post-show chat with the creators of the play.

New next season, as part of the Segal’s Beyond the Stage programming, will be Shakespeare`s Globe on Screen film series, presenting critically-acclaimed performances from Shakespeare’s home, London’s World Famous Globe Theatre. Screenings will take place in the intimate 77-seat CinemaSpace and be preceded by a pre-show discussion hosted by Repercussion Theatre, Montreal’s home for Shakespeare in the Park. Official programming to be announced soon.

Finally, the Segal continues to be an artistic resource and hub for Montreal’s independent, emerging and community artists and organizations to play, explore and grow. Next year they will  welcome  back such diverse guest theatre companies as Teesri Duniya Theatre (State of Denial by Rahul Varma: October 8-25), Tableau D’Hôte Theatre (Angélique by Lorena Gale: November 30 – December 13), Youtheatre (Dreaming Now: January 11-15, 2016 & P@ndora: February 2-5, 2016) and Les Productions Pas de Panique (Le Visiteur by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, in French, March 20 – April 3, 2016).

Six-time Grammy nominated American jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton will launch the Segal’s Power Jazz   music Series in October. The eighth season, always as rich and diverse, also features the Jason Rosenblatt Quartet, Laila Biali, Piano Chameleons (John Roney & Matt Herskowitz) and a concert in partnership with the Consulate General of Israel.

Also as part of the Segal’s additional programming: Broadway Café, an intimate open mic night for musical theatre aficionados to sing or simply enjoy their favourite showtunes; the Segal’s own performing arts Academy. with unique after-school courses for aspiring performers running from October to May, and many more guest events with such valued community partners as the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre, the Hebrew Theatre of the Jewish Public Library and The Communauté Sépharade Unifiée du Québec (CSUQ).

Segal subscribers enjoy world-class theatre plus many outstanding benefits, including free indoor parking, up to 30 percent off ticket prices, free ticket exchange and exclusive savings.

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