Tall Tale Theatre Company is a relatively new player in Windsor theatre community, but the actual people behind the organization are seasoned performers, writers and coordinators. That experience shines through in every production they do, and there’s no reason to expect their up-coming one-night fundraiser, called Building Blocks, will be any different.
In a special media-only performance earlier this week, Tall Tale performed the three short plays that comprise Building Blocks in a full production at Rockstar Music Hall. Each one of these original works was written by University of Windsor alumni and will be getting their theatrical debut at the Tall Tale event being held on Sunday, March 15 at Rockstar at 4pm. The show also includes a meal and silent auction. As of Friday, Tall Tale has confirmed the show will go on.
First up is Aaron Hrastovec’s “You’re Invited”, a fun and touching story about an excited and uptight Thomas William Francis Green who is celebrating his birthday. Hrastovec’s character is an obsessive-compulsive who has everything prepared for the party and the audience is invited to the celebration. He’s created a loveable character who audiences will instantly fall in love with.
Using plenty of birthday props like balloons, birthday cards, streamers and presents, the setting is perfect for the party, but there’s one very special guest, a mail delivery person named Grace, who Thomas waits patiently for.
It’s a lovely show that tugs at the heart and pulls at the streamers.
Elena Reyes Sanchez’s “Reloj, No Marques Las Horas” leaves the young actress speechless. Literally. The clever play uses commedia dell’arte – an old form of Italian theatre performed by masked actors who silently bring to life exaggerated characters told in short sketches. In this one, she tells the story of an 80-year-old Italian man who goes through a ritualistic routine of remembrance for his dearly departed wife, using just actions and some minor moans and groans. Throughout the show, the character is being swayed and controlled by numerous alarm clocks that are set to go off at different times to bring about different actions.
Sanchez is absolutely delicious as the 80-year-old man – she captures his aging and loneliness with charm, grace and a dash of humour. This isn’t Tall Tale’s first attempt at commedia dell’arte, but it may be its most historically accurate. Sanchez really brought out the Italian flavour for the old man in true 16th century style, using pantomime and exaggeration. This is expressed best during a scene where the man awkwardly removes his shoes and socks to reveal hidden goodies locked away for safe keeping and in a tremendously touching scene involving exercising with a stool.
È uno spettacolo fantastico! It’s a show filled with emotion, comedy and class.
If this was a concert, Brian Taylor’s “ADR” is the headliner. ADR or Automated Dialogue Replacement is what movie and television makers call the process of re-recording dialogue in a studio to replace the dialogue audio that was recorded on a set.
Cast over a series of multiple ADR and voice-over sessions, the play tells the story of Guy (Eric Branget) and Ella (Daniela Piccinin) who meet for the first time at a voice-over session for an adult film. Ella had no idea what she was doing, but somehow got through the session and impressed Guy and the producers enough to give her more work. As the story develops, Guy and Ella build a mutual relationship of both respect and friendship as they go through commercial and cartoon recording sessions, leading to a dramatic ending.
Branget is, as usual, captivating and such a great storyteller in this one. He reminds me of a cross between Drew Carey and Steven Page when he’s in front of the microphone. His character is a lovable and friendly chap who, despite having to deal with family health issues, looks at the brighter side of life. He commands your attention during the voice-over scenes and wins your heart the rest of the way.
Piccinin is delight to watch and really made her character come to life. Any actress willing to use a French accent and moan during a voice-over session for a pornographic film deserves props all around. As her character develops, we get to see her toss out straight reads and some impressive characterizations.
The absolute highlight of the show is the script reading for a cartoon which brought out impressive vocal characterizations and over the top facial expressions from both actors. If you don’t laugh when they perform this scene, you are not human.
Underneath all the fun and frolicking during the voice-overs lies a very human story of family, friendship and love. The only thing that would have made this show better would have been a little further development into the relationship and hidden passion that we just never got see.
Money raised from the Building Blocks fundraiser will go towards Tall Tale’s future productions and education efforts. Catch Building Blocks at Rockstar Music Hall in Windsor on Sunday (March 15) at 4pm. Tickets start at $35 and include the meal and show. For more, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/753281128502679/.