Kordazone - The Best Man 2023To celebrate its 20th Anniversary milestone, Korda Artistic Productions returns with Christopher Lawrence Menard’s original comedy/drama hit, The Best Man. This story follows two couples, Keith and Courtney (the bride and groom) and Eric and Thom (the best man and his partner). On the night before their wedding at the rehearsal, Monica (the maid of honour and Keith’s sister), makes the announcement during her speech that her brother is “occasionally gay”, and it just so happened to be for his previous longtime boyfriend, the best man. The young bride learns very quickly that her groom and husband-to-be was once very much in love with Eric, whom he walked out on three years ago. Despite this, she goes through with the wedding the following day – almost. Before they say their “I do’s”, the trip to the altar sees vows rewritten, old flames revisited, one very awkward honeymoon and a surprise union no one saw coming.

This is not Menard’s first written production. He is also the writer of The View From Here (2010), the DRAG Trilogy (2010-2012), the short film Gary Blaze: The Devil Wears Product (2008), feature film Whatever it Was (2009), and the poetry collection at the end, beginnings: A Memoir in Poems (2022 from Black Moss Press). On opening night when The Best Man first premiered at Korda in 2007, a historic ceremony took place where two same-sex American couples took to the stage and were wed. This was in celebration of the two-year anniversary of the Civil Marriage Act (which legalized same-sex marriage in Canada). These marriages were significant because they took place ten years before the US struck down bans of same-sex marriage, making them legal and legitimate unions. Though these marriages were not initially recognized in the US, they were official recognized marriages in Canada and other global jurisdictions. Co-director, Joey Wright, was inspired when he attended the show back when it first premiered. In 2009, Wright led a coalition that lobbied the area’s first ever Gay-Straight Alliance in response to bullying at his high school. Now, Menard and Wright are teaming up to bring the newly updated production of The Best Man, back to Korda’s stage and Windsor audiences.

 

In this production, there were no small actors or small parts. The entire cast was phenomenal. A special mention goes out to Joey Wright, who does an incredible job showcasing the internal battle of a person who longs for true love as well as acceptance from his family. He provides the hills and valleys one could expect from a person who tries to do what is expected of them but is unable to shake their true feelings. Lauren Stiers provides an excellent counterpart to Wright while she plays the role of the bride-to-be. She perfectly executes the emotional turmoil one might face when finding out the person they love is in love with someone else. Nikolas Prša is a standout performer. He exhibits how exhausted one might be from being someone’s secret while being madly in love with them. He performs the character of the best man with such ease and shows off the deep pain, confusion and longing one experiences from their first true heartbreak. Christopher Lawrence Menard displays his immense talent and skill in the role of the boyfriend. He plays the character with class, and you can’t help but root for him throughout the story. He flawlessly executes what healthy love should look like and through his performance, you can feel how much this production means to him. Dan Macdonald and Roula Khayat play the quintessential comic reliefs to the story and together they add that extra layer of fun that makes the production that much more loveable.

The design elements of the play are so perfect that you don’t recognize how uncomplicated and effortless they are. With small changes to the set (like the use of a futon to represent an apartment to later use as a hotel bed), the cast quickly changes scenes making no part of the production feel delayed or confused. The lighting is perfectly timed which assists with scene transitions and overall comprehension of the story. There are scenes where pauses and lighting is used to highlight going back in time to specific memories, significant moments the couples face in telling their stories and how everything came into fruition. The costuming was well done and tells you exactly who the characters are, where they are and what the scene is implying. From changes to bridal wear, nothing but towels, and casual wear, the audience can easily follow the changes in scenes and overall progression of the story. It’s also very helpful in clarifying who Roula Khayat is playing because she has four different characters she portrays. Every aspect of this production is masterfully and meticulously crafted to fully immerse one into the story.

To say this production was impeccable would simply be an understatement. I have seen many plays but never has a performance left such a lasting impact on me quite the way The Best Man has. This chronicling will make you laugh, cry, and think. The story is incredibly compelling, well-written, intelligent, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining. The entire cast did a stellar job and perfectly sold the emotional weight this adventure carries; all while providing comedic relief and non-stop entertainment. Now with drag bans being seen in the United States, the marginalization of trans people, and continued violence and hatred seen against the LGBTQIA+ community, it is so important to normalize, showcase and celebrate queer stories. Representation matters and the media we consume is highly influential in shaping public views. The Best Man does an incredible job examining this in a way in which audiences of all demographics can enjoy. I absolutely recommend seeing The Best Man and hope to see it again at the Kordazone Theatre.

This production is especially important because Kordazone lost one of its founding fathers, Robert Godden. Bob Godden, was a beloved local teacher, actor, director, musician, and composer. For the past twenty years Bob and Tracey ran Korda Productions. He acted in and directed countless shows, wrote original scores for musicals, worked with youth at theatre camps, and lead the house band. Bob’s kindness and generosity has touched the lives of thousands in Windsor and Essex County over the past six decades. His inquisitive spirit and goofy sense of humour, shone through right up to the end. Bob was described as a good, dear man and friend and will be deeply missed by many. During opening weekend, The Best Man was dedicated to him.

The Best Man continues this weekend (April 27th-29th). For Closing Night, Saturday, April 29th, the Malta Society partners with Korda for an all-you-can-eat pasta dinner ahead of the evening performance of the show. Tickets for the dinner and a show are $45.00. Tickets are $25.00, and can be purchased in advance at Kordabestman.eventbrite.ca, reserved by emailing kordazone@gmail.com, by phone at 519-944-5800 or at the door if the show isn’t sold out.

Kordazone - The Best Man 2023

Windsor cast of The Best Man, at Kordazone Theatre in 2023.

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