Press-Republican

October 10, 2013

3 world premieres grace Centaur Theatre stage

By STEVEN HOWELL Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — MONTREAL — The curtain has risen for the new Centaur Theatre season.

‘ST. LEONARD CHRONICLES’

First up, Montreal playwright Steve Galluccio plus the Centaur equals theater box-office gold.

Galluccio, the author of “Mambo Italiano,” the Centaur’s most popular hit, offers a new play about life, love and moving to the suburbs with “The St. Leonard Chronicles.”

“And it’s almost completely sold out already,” artistic director Roy Surette said. “That’s just the popularity of Steve Galluccio.”

The play tells the story of Terry and Robert, a young couple who want to escape the Montreal conclave of St. Leonard, a “very Italian” neighborhood.

“They want room, and they don’t want their parents breathing down their necks,” Surette said. 

Not so fast. Enter an Italian family who will do everything they can to keep Terry and Robert put.

“It’s sweet and funny with a little bite,” Surette said.

“The St. Leonard Chronicles” has been extended through Sunday, Nov. 3.

‘SEEDS’

Next is “Seeds,” a stage work based on an actual court case.

“It’s sort of a David and Goliath story between Monsanto and a Saskatchewan farmer,” Surette said. “It’s kind of a docudrama, but not dry at all.”

The play explores the case of when farmer Percy Schmeiser was sued by the food giant for using their genetically modified seeds. Schmeiser claims they blew onto his land courtesy of Mother Nature.

“It’s compelling and full of intrigue as to who is telling the truth,” Surette said.

“Seeds” runs Tuesday, Oct. 29, through Monday, Nov. 4.

‘BOOK OF BOB’

Next is a contemporary retelling of the Book of Job with “The Book of Bob,” a two-hander about a professor dealing with an ailing father and an overburdened work life.

“He’s trying to teach Dostoyevsky to 20-year-olds,” Surette said. “He’s being tested in small ways and very large ways.”

Ron Lea plays Bob, while Lucinda Davis plays a slew of characters, including God.

“It’s very poignant and very funny and a great vehicle for these two actors,” Surette said.

“The Book of Bob” is performed Feb. 4, 2014, through March 7, 2014.

‘MOTHERHOUSE’

The drama “Motherhouse” by acclaimed Canadian playwright David Fennario is next.

“This is in acknowledgement of the First World War,” Surette said.

The play is based in the Montreal working-class neighborhood of Verdun, where Irish immigrants have arrived at the turn of the century to work in a munitions factory. Fennario’s mother worked in one such factory.

“It mythically travels through the century,” Surette said. “And it’s actually theatrically funny.”

The play stars Holly Gauthier-Frankel, whose real-life Montreal burlesque stage persona is known as Miss Sugarpuss.

“So her theatrics and David’s political but passionate stance should make for a dynamic plan,” Surette said.

“Motherhouse” plays Feb. 25, 2014, through March 23, 2014.

‘4000 MILES’

Following is Amy Herzog’s dramatic comedy “4000 Miles,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist for 2013.

After a cross-country bicycle trip, young Leo shows up at the Greenwich Village doorstep of his left-wing 91-year-old grandmother.

“But Leo suffers a devastating incident along the way,” Surette said. “It’s a touching, gentle, beautiful play.”

“4000 Miles” runs March 25, 2014, through April 20, 2014.

‘2 PIANOS 4 HANDS’

The season concludes with “2 Pianos 4 Hands.”

“This has been a great Canadian success story,” Surette said. “It’s about that passionate dream of becoming a concert pianist. It’s that world of: are you good, but are you good enough?”

The work was created by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt. Greenblatt returns to direct this version with a new pair of actors.

“Who play everything from Chopin to Billy Joel — and really well,” Surette said.

The duo portray a cast of different characters along the way — playing their younger selves, their parents and music teachers.

“And at the same time, you’re hearing these magnificent piano pieces played live onstage on two baby grand pianos,” Surette said.

“2 Pianos 4 Hands” plays April 29, 2014, through May 5, 2014.

Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.

IF YOU GO WHAT: Centaur Theatre WHERE: 453 St. Francois Xavier St. in Old Montreal. WHEN: Most performances are at 8 p.m., with some Wednesday and Sunday performances at 1, 2 and 7 p.m. Check with the box office for times. CONTACT: Season subscriptions are now available. Call the box office at (514) 288-3161 or visit www.centaurtheatre.com for more information.