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Tom McCamus: Ground Control

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Glenn's Pets [Sep. 1st, 2007|04:04 pm]
Tom McCamus: Ground Control

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Glenn's Pets, Part One and Two fit Gould celebration, exploration

DANIEL ARIARATNAM
RECORD STAFF

STRATFORD

There are some works that just don't fit nicely into boxes or categories.

Such is the case with Glenn's Pets, Part One and Two, written by Bill Richardson for Stratford Summer Music, performed on Thursday and Friday mornings in City Hall Auditorium.

Richardson, who won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour in 1994 for his book The Bachelor Brothers Bed and Breakfast, has essentially created a hybrid work, occupying a space found somewhere between a radio play and live theatre, borrowing from each form.

Both parts of Glenn's Pets involve two actors reading Richardson's scripts, which are interspersed with musical selections chosen and performed by the young pianist Stephen Runge, who recently completed his Doctorate of Music at L'Universite de Montreal.

The work was commissioned by Stratford Summer Music as part of a larger four week long celebration and exploration of Glenn Gould, to commemorate the legendary pianist's 75th birthday and 25th year since his passing.

PART ONE

Gould was enough of a fan of the singer Petula Clark, who popularized the song Downtown, that he crafted a print and radio piece devoted to the prolific recording artist.

With excellent performances by Lally Cadeau as a hard-core Gould fan, and Kyle Blair as a cross-dressing Petula Clark fan, Part One explores fandom through the intersection of the lives of the two characters at the gravestone of Gould.

Musical selections included Bach's Aria and Variation 1 from the Goldberg Variations, Strauss' Klavierstuck opus 3, No 1 and Barhms' Intermezzo in B minor, opus 119, No. 1.

Clark inspired selections, performed with a musical theatre flair by Blair, included Tony Hatch's A Sign of the Times and Don't Sleep in the Subway by Hatch and Jackie Trent.

Although Richardson's characters go to bizarre lengths in their idol worship -- Cadeau's character was inspired by Gould to visit Russia and Blair's character goes as far as dressing up as Petula Clark -- they ultimately come through as harmless, likable and multi-dimensional.

Both admit to not having met their heroes, nor wanting to, for fear of crashing the fantasy.

PART TWO

Although the premise of telling a story from the viewpoint of a dog and a budgie seems far-fetched, the execution in both writing and performance gave this idea charm, character and an appealing playfulness.

Growing up with a dog named Nick and a bird named Mozart, Gould remained a dedicated animal lover throughout his life.

With Tom McCamus playing the dog and his wife Chick Reid playing the bird -- both are longtime Stratford actors -- Part Two has the animals talking about what it's like to grow up in a house with a prodigy, thereby conveying insights into the early years of Gould.

Richardson's writing for animal characters is colourful, mixing the low with highbrow in the opening sequence, when the pets speak in Shakespearean-inspired meter, with a rhyme scheme worthy of a Dr. Seuss book.

McCamus singing as a dog to made-up Richardson lyrics for Bach's Minuet in G major, was a creatively comic moment that was as offbeat as it was surprising.

Other musical selections included Schoenberg's dark Kleines Klavierstuck and the third movement of Chopin's sonata No. 3, performed as a eulogy number when one of Gould's four gold fish dies.

GOULD'S PETS: ALTERNATIVE ENTERTAINMENT

If you're not a fan of Gould, Clark, music, or even animals, that's OK. Richardson has created a work that transcends its subject matter. There's plenty of fun to be found in both the crafting of language and the performances. These are also four out-of-the-ordinary characters that you enjoy spending time with.

Like many great works of humour, Glenn's Pets is effective as a collective experience. Everyone laughs together and it happens often.

dariaratnam@therecord.com

GLENN'S PETS (PART ONE)

Written by

Bill Richardson

Who

Lally Cadeau

Kyle Blair

pianist Stephen Runge

Where

City Hall auditorium, Stratford

Cost

$32

When

11:15 a.m., today (Saturday)

Phone

519-273-1600 or 1-800-567-1600

GLENN'S PETS (PART TWO)

Written by

Bill Richardson

Who

Tom McCamus

Chick Reid

pianist Stephen Runge

Where

City Hall auditorium, Stratford

Cost

$32

When

11:15 a.m., tomorrow (Sunday)

Phone

519-273-1600 or 1-800-567-1600

Taken from: http://news.therecord.com/arts/article/230069
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