By STEVEN HOWELL Press-Republican
---- — MONTREAL — Montreal’s summer-theater season offers a Hollywood star, avant-garde Fringe Fest fun, a gangster tale in Yiddish and a Shakespeare-in-the-Park milestone.
The Montreal Fringe Festival comes to town Monday, June 3, through Sunday, June 23, and features original and eclectic stage works of full-length theater, cabaret, burlesque, sketch comedy and imaginative dance. In all, some 100 independent-theater companies and more than 500 performers converge on Montreal’s Plateau district for a magical mixed bag of theater genres.
Here’s a feel for what you’ll find at this year’s Fringe Fest:
Uncanny Theatre Company presents “Crossdressers and Criminals: 3 Ways to Lose Yourself,” a collection of solo pieces that intertwines a beard-wearing biker chick, a modern-day mermaid and a vigilante in women’s clothing. It runs Thursday, June 13, through Sunday, June 23, at the Freestanding Room, 4324 St. Laurent Blvd., suite 300.
Scotty’s Boys Productions presents “Elvis is Water,” a musical exploration of the early Sun Records sessions. It’s performed Saturday, June 15, through Saturday, June 22, at Cabaret du Mile End, 5240 Avenue du Parc.
The events are held at 10 venues located mostly in Montreal’s Plateau district. Fringe Central plays host to a beer tent, box office and free events at Fringe Park (Parc des Ameriques), located at the corner of St. Laurent Boulevard and Rachel Street.
Paid-performance individual tickets cost $10 (plus a $2 service charge). A six-show pass costs $55, a 10-show pass costs $85 and an unlimited pass costs $250. For more information, visit www.montrealfringe.ca, or call the Fringe hotline at (514) 849-3378.
Next, Place des Arts presents “The Giacomo Variations,” starring acclaimed actor John Malkovich as Casanova in a “seductive, sensuous, dramatic ... and funny” Canadian premiere that combines theater and opera, according to a press release. The show also boasts a 35-musician orchestra. It runs Tuesday and Wednesday, June 4 and 5. Tickets range from $50 to $157. Call (514) 842-2112 or visit www.laplacedesarts.com for details.
Rounding out the Segal season is the annual — and immensely popular — Yiddish-language production. This year’s offering, “Tales from Odessa,” explores the world of legendary Jewish mob boss Benya Krik inspired by the work of Russian writer Isaak Babel. The work adds a modern twist with music and lyrics by Josh Dolgin, also known as Socalled, who uniquely combines rap music with traditional Yiddish klezmer music.
Segal Centre artistic director Paul Flicker said the season has literally come full circle this year.
“We began with gangsters,” he said of the season opener, “Guys and Dolls.” “And we’re ending it with a brand new gangster musical, this time in Yiddish.”
“Tales from Odessa” is performed Sunday, June 16, through Sunday, July 7. The Segal Centre for Performing Arts is at 5170 Chemin Cote St. Catherine. Adult tickets cost $24. Call (514) 739-7944 or visit www.segalcentre.org to learn more.
Hudson Village Theatre, a small regional theater about 45 minutes from downtown Montreal, begins their summer season with “Harvest,” a comedy about a retired couple who rent their farmhouse to a “nice young man” who turns the property into a marijuana-growing operation. It runs Wednesday, June 12, through Saturday, June 29.
Rounding out the season is “Summer of Love,” a 1960s-inspired play with music, Wednesday, July 3, through Sunday, July 14; “On a First Name Basis,” a lighthearted tale about a novelist and his maid, Wednesday, July 24, through Tuesday, July 28; and “Peggy and Grace,” the story of two retirees on a road trip in a Winnebago, Wednesday, Aug. 7, through Sunday, Aug. 25.
Tickets cost $27. The theater is at 28 Wharf Road in Hudson. Call (450) 458-5361 or visit www.villagetheatre.ca for details.
Repercussion Theatre returns to the great outdoors to present their annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park series. This year, the company celebrates a milestone 25th anniversary with the production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which was the play that Repercussion presented during their first summer season in 1988.
The work is presented for 23 performances at 19 Montreal-area parks Sunday, July 7, through Sunday, Aug. 4. Parc Lafontaine’s Theatre de Verdure in the Plateau hosts the play on Sunday, July 21. Admission is free or by donation. Visit www.repercussiontheatre.com to learn more.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.