Cen­taur un­veils golden line-up for its golden an­niver­sary

Montreal Times - - News -

It’s been nearly a year since Eda Holmes took the helm as the new artis­tic and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cen­taur Theatre. And some­how, as if destiny pre­scribed it, her first sea­son where she gets to de­cide what pro­duc­tions will grace the Cen­taur stage is a rather land­mark one.

The 2018-2019 sea­son will mark a ma­jor mile­stone for the Cen­taur, as it will cel­e­brate its 50th an­niver­sary.

“Mon­treal theatre au­di­ences are pas­sion­ate, in­tel­li­gent and cu­ri­ous, not to men­tion loyal and in­trepid, which is why this sea­son will be a cel­e­bra­tion of the Cen­taur’s au­di­ences,” said Ms. Holmes dur­ing the an­nual launch event to un­veil its up­com­ing line-up, which took place on March 12 at the theatre’s Old Mon­treal lo­ca­tion.

And to com­mem­o­rate the start of the Cen­taur’s sixth decade, Ms. Holmes an­nounced that its al­ways pop­u­lar, crit­i­cally-ac­claimed se­ries of plays, ini­tia­tives and spe­cial events will be re-branded into four dis­tinct the­atri­cal se­ries this sea­son: the Essen­tial Se­ries, the Pre­sent­ing Se­ries, the Guest of Cen­taur Se­ries and the Legacy Se­ries.

Start­ing with its flag­ship Essen­tial Se­ries of sub­scriber pro­duc­tions, the six plays will be fea­tured at the Cen­taur 2 space for runs of three weeks each. It be­gins with the Cana­dian pre­miere of “Choir Boy” (Oc­to­ber 9 to 28), writ­ten by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who won on Os­car last year for his screen­play of “Moon­light”, which won the Os­car for Best Pic­ture of 2016; this com­ing of age story takes place in an African-Amer­i­can boys school and is filled with plenty of gospel and R&B mu­sic. “The Chil­dren” (Novem­ber 6 to 25), a tri­umph in Lon­don’s West End and in New York, makes its Cana­dian pre­miere at the Cen­taur, and deals with the is­sue of what the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion would be will­ing to risk for the good of the fol­low­ing gen­er­a­tion. Cana­dian in­die rock star Torquil Campbell kicks off 2019 with the solo show “True Crime” (Jan­uary 8 to 27), a rather bizarre jour­ney into the dark side of a hu­man be­ing, as he de­cides to slip into the skin of a no­to­ri­ous con man named Chris­tian Ger­hart­sre­iter. “The Last Wife” (Fe­bru­ary 12 to March 3), a hit at the Shaw Fes­ti­val and Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral Award nom­i­nee, tells the story of Cather­ine Parr, the sixth and fi­nal wife of King Henry VIII of Eng­land. “The Shoplifters” (March 19 to April 7) is a rau­cous, bit­ing com­edy that ex­am­ines the dif­fer­ences be­tween the haves and have-nots in to­day’s com­plex so­ci­ety. What will make this pro­duc­tion unique is that Mor­ris Panych, its orig­i­nal play­wright, will cre­ate a new ver­sion tai­lored es­pe­cially for its Cen­taur run, in which two of the orig­i­nal four English-speak­ing char­ac­ters will be­come Fran­co­phone char­ac­ters. “Blind Date” (April 9 to 28) caps off the se­ries, in which Re­becca Northan, as a charm­ing clown, will pick an un­sus­pect­ing mem­ber of the au­di­ence to be her date for that evening. This to­tally im­pro­vised play will also fea­ture spe­cial “date night” per­for­mances for queer and Fran­co­phone au­di­ences.

The Pre­sent­ing Se­ries will fea­ture a line-up of in­de­pen­dent plays and fes­ti­vals that have been fa­mil­iar and pop­u­lar with Cen­taur au­di­ences over the years. “The Tashme Project: The Liv­ing Ar­chives”, Julie Tamiko Man­ning and Matt Miwa’s ac­claimed pro­duc­tion about the in­tern­ment of Ja­panese–Cana­di­ans dur­ing World War II, will be this year’s Brave New Looks se­lec­tion (Novem­ber 15 to 25). “Ur­ban Tales”, the Cen­taur’s darkly de­light­ful Christ­mas hol­i­day tra­di­tion, will em­bark upon its 12th edi­tion of bizarre Xmas sto­ry­telling un­der the theme of “The 12 Days of Christ­mas” (De­cem­ber 5 to 15). The Cen­taur’s “hottest two weeks in win­ter” – aka the Wild­side Fes­ti­val – will be back for its 22nd year with a wide va­ri­ety of brand new works – not to men­tion Fringe Fes­ti­val fa­vorites – from emerg­ing writ­ers and artists from Canada and around the world (Jan­uary 8 to 20).

The Guests of the Cen­taur Se­ries will have the Cen­taur part­ner up with some of Mon­treal’s best known the­atri­cal and artis­tic com­pa­nies for some one-of-a-kind pro­gram­ming. That in­cludes pro­duc­tions by the Black Theatre Work­shop, Imago Theatre and Tohu/Mon­treal Com­plete­ment Cirque. As well, CBC’s Massey Lec­tures will fea­ture Har­vard ex­per­i­men­tal par­ti­cle physi­cist Melissa Franklin, who will ap­pear at the Cen­taur on Septem­ber 19 to talk about “The Width of the World”; and the Cen­taur will part­ner for the first time with L’Opera de Mon­treal to present “Twenty-Seven” from March 23 to 31, as part of the Opera’s Ate­lier Lyrique train­ing pro­gram.

Fi­nally, to of­fi­cially cel­e­brate 50 years’ worth of the Cen­taur’s rich con­tri­bu­tion to the Mon­treal theatre scene, the Legacy Se­ries will re­live two of the Cen­taur’s most mem­o­rable pro­duc­tions through spe­cial live staged read­ings: David Fen­nario’s land­mark 1979 play “Bal­conville” (Septem­ber 27 to 29) and Bowser & Blue’s tasty 2011 mu­si­cal com­edy “Schwartz’s The Mu­si­cal” (De­cem­ber 13 to 15). A third staged read­ing will take place May 9 to 11,

$13.99 and will spot­light a brand new play by an emerg­ing lo­cal play­wright, which will be an­nounced at a later date.

Sin­gle tick­ets for all of the shows that are part of the Cen­taur’s 50th an­niver­sary sea­son line-up go on sale start­ing July 1. As well, early bird sub­scribers (be­fore May 11) will be en­tered in a draw for a num­ber of prizes in­clud­ing a one-night get­away at the Ho­tel Bon­a­parte in Old Mon­treal; re­new­ing, re­turn­ing and new sub­scribers will be able to take ad­van­tage of last year’s prices for 4, 5 or 6-play pack­ages be­fore June 30; and new sub­scribers 30 years of age and un­der can sign up for the com­plete Essen­tial Se­ries of plays for only $150, which in­cludes a Bring-a-Friend Pass.

Eda Holmes with Julie Tamiko Man­ning (cen­tre) and Matt Miwa (left) from the up­com­ing Cen­taur

pro­duc­tion of "The Tashme Project:The Liv­ing Ar­chives".

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