September 26, 2013

Segal Centre presents stage classics

By STEVEN HOWELL Press-Republican

---- — MONTREAL — A magical musical revue, a newly adapted Shakespearean tale and a Chekov classic take to the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts stage this season.


The season begins on a musical high note with “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” a revue featuring five actors and five musicians that pays homage to New York City’s Cotton Club-era and the music of Fats Waller.

“It’s a Harlem Renaissance,” Segal Centre artistic director Paul Flicker said. “There are some incredible voices on that stage.”

The work won the 1978 Tony Award for Best Musical. An added coup to the Segal production: show creator Murray Horwitz will be on hand for an informal talk at the season’s first Sunday at the Segal.

“That’s really exciting,” Flicker said.

Horwitz is also well-known as the creator of the NPR radio program “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.”

“I’ve had the chance to speak with him on the phone a few times,” Flicker said. “He’s a real riot. He enjoys this crossover between comedy and jazz and even had his early beginnings in the circus.”

The Sunday at the Segal event will be hosted by Patrick Hansen, the director of opera studies at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University.

“Patrick is such a character himself that him interviewing Murray should be a great day at the theater,” Flicker said.

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” is presented Sept. 29 to Oct. 20. The Sunday at the Segal is at 11 a.m. Sept. 29.


Next is “Othello,” a co-production with Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre.

“They’re the next up-and-coming English theater company in town,” Flicker said. “We’ve got a really solid cast for this one.” 

The work is directed by Alison Darcy, who enjoys her own Segal ties. Her father, Maurice Podbrey from South Africa, produced last year’s Segal production “Waiting for the Barbarians.” 

“He cast her in one of his plays, and now she’s returning the favor,” Flicker said with a laugh.

“Othello” is presented Nov. 17 through Dec. 1.


In the New Year comes “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov.

“Yes, ‘The Seagull’ at the Segal,” Flicker quipped.

“The Seagull” is about a group of artists spending time at a country estate.

“It’s sort of the play where everyone’s in love with someone but not the right person,” Flicker said. “If they all just took one step to the left, they’d all be happy.”

Peter Hinton, the former artistic director of English theater at Canada’s National Arts Centre, adapts and directs a new version of this stage classic.

“He’s updating the text to make it more accessible to a 21st century audience,” Flicker said. “He’s certainly one of the finest directors in this country. It should be pretty extraordinary.”

“The Seagull” comes to town Feb. 2 through 16.


Rounding out the season, Flicker employed a twist of programming genius with the final two works, which both offer a slice of the iconic 1980s. Presented are “Glengarry Glen Ross” by David Mamet and “Top Girls” by Caryl Churchill.

“One’s a play for seven men set in Reagan’s America, which is followed by a play for seven women set in Thatcher’s England,” Flicker said. 

“Glengarry Glen Ross” is a dark comedy set in a Chicago real-estate office that explores the art of the deal, while “Top Girls” follows main character Marlene on her way up the corporate ladder. The first act of “Top Girls” shows Marlene hosting a celebratory dinner complete with a cast of famous women from history and literature in attendance.

“It’s like a crazy, dreamlike dinner party,” Flicker said.

By act two, Marlene is well-established in the firm.

“It tells of how she treats other women on her way to the top,” Flicker said.

The work concludes showing Marlene with her family in the north of England.

“It explores the choices she’s made and what she had to give up to become the top girl,” Flicker said. “It’s a beautiful play.”

“Glengarry Glen Ross” is presented March 16 through 30. “Top Girls” runs April 27 through May 18.


Finally, the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre presents a musical production of Mordecai Richler’s classic “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” June 8 through 29.

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

IF YOU GO The Segal Centre for Performing Arts is at 5170 Chemin Cote St. Catherine, Montreal. Season subscriptions and individual tickets are now available. Call (514) 739-7944 or visit for more information.