Prof. Sehdev Kumar
TORONTO: A visit to the Shaw Festival in the beautiful environs of Niagara-on-the Lake is always filled with rich experience of theatre at its very best.
Two plays, Peter and the Starcatcher and the musical Sweet Charity, both until at the end of October, are most inviting and sumptuous.
First, Peter and the Starcatcher: It is not for nothing that we human beings, of all primates, have the longest childhood. It is during this period – through exploration, wonder, mistakes and bewilderment – that we begin to be sculpted into who we become – physically, psychologically and spiritually.
As such, the stories we hear from our parents or grandma, the books we browse through, the films we see, songs we sing, the forests we wander through all shape us in mysterious ways. The story of ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ and its most wondrous presentation at Royal George Theatre at the Shaw Festival, transports you to that world. It takes you on a journey over sea, through battles with pirates, past mermaid sightings and to the island that would later become Neverland.
With imagination and ingenuity, and a little stage magic, it transforms the ropes and pulleys of the theatre into ships, waterfalls and island mountaintops. The play is based on a 2004 novel by the same title and before the boy became Peter Pan he sails out from London on a ship headed for unknown shores, as one of the three terrified lonely orphans.
There are battles between ships but there is one magnificent adventure after another that rivets the audiences, whatever their age.
Based on the book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, Sweet Charity is a classic musical that has enchanted audiences all over the world for years. Originally conceived, staged and choreographed by legendary Bob Fosse, at the Festival Theatre at Shaw it is presented by Morris Panych with imagination and enchanting effects.
The story of a girl who wanted to be loved is endearing with eternal themes of love, sex, gender equality, work, and dilemmas of choice, and empowerment.
With sets that evoke 1960s New York, and the music that is as haunting as ever, Sweet Charity is indeed sweet and most endearing.
(Prof. Sehdev Kumar lectures on “International Films and the Human Condition.” His forthcoming book is entitled, “7000 Million Degrees of Freedom”)