Broadway World Montreal’s Andee Shuster reviews Around the World in 80 Days: “A great lesson in geography (with a light-up map) and a fun adventure for young and old”.
Andee Shuster – April 21, 2018
Walking into the D.B. Clarke Theatre to see Geordie Productions‘ “Around the World in 80 Days” felt a lot like a bustling family reunion. Well-attended by the who’s who of the arts scene, with a slight turn of one’s head you could spot four local artistic directors, two stage directors, a sound designer, and countless veteran actors all sitting with their friends and families. Why? To pay homage to the company that’s been a springboard for Montreal talent for more than thirty years, and because there’s nothing quite like the magic that happens at a Geordie play.
Admittedly, I was not overly excited about Geordie Artistic Director, Mike Payette‘s choice of Jules Vern‘s Around the World in 80 Days. I recall being a bit bored as a child by the original David Niven film and I wondered, despite the book being revered as a classic, would the play appeal to today’s families? My reservations were immediately put to rest moments after the house lights went down. Setting the scene for our action-packed adventure, the audience is privy to a cleverly staged bank heist.
Quickly we are transported to London in the year 1872 where we first encounter the dashing and mysterious Phileas Fogg (Chimwemwe Miller) interviewing his soon to be trusty sidekick, Passepartout (Danielle Desormeaux). The story leaps forward when Phileas wages an extravagant bet with his stuffy Reform Club associates that he can travel across the globe in 80 days or less. Assisted by the sidesplitting Passepartout, Fogg sets out but the pair are soon tailed by the amiable Inspector Fix (Mike Hughes) who is profiling our hero.
It’s actually unfair to list actors Miller, Desormeaux, and Hughes as being affiliated with three roles. In fact, these talented performers play a plethora of different characters in the blink of an eye, with the help of Sabrina Miller‘s versatile set pieces and costumes and the clever use Sarah Osmond’s period props. The highlights were the masterfully choreographed comedic scenes between Desormeaux and Hughes, which resulted in boisterous laughter from adults and children alike!
Mike Payette‘s direction incorporated a delightful physicality that allowed us theatre-goers to awaken our imaginations; Payette‘s crafty details also resulted in charming unexpected moments that added to the play. Nods of appreciation go to David Perreault Ninacs (Lighting Design), Rob Denton (Sound Design), Dayane Ntibarikure(Assistant Direction) and the rest of the team who all contributed to the lively onstage spectacle that truly resonated with the audience and was on par with the successful classic Geordie mainstage shows of yesteryear.
Of note, Toby Hulse‘s playful script darts at lightning speed; a bit too fast for my seven-year-old to adequately follow. I recommend going over the plot with your elementary school-aged theatre companions as you take your seats. A great lesson in geography (with a light-up map) and a fun adventure for young and old with the sentimental reminder that “our world is shrinking as our knowledge grows”. Recommended for children seven and up, you don’t need to be accompanied by a child to enjoy this refreshing theatrical romp!
PERFORMANCES: April 20 – 29, 2018 | Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm ASL INTERPRETED PERFORMANCE AND TALK-BACK: April 28 at 2pm VENUE: D. B. Clarke Theatre – 1455 de Maisonneuve West, Montreal TICKETS: $13.50 children; $15.00 teens; $17.50 students/seniors; $19.50 adults; group rates available, AGE RECOMMENDATION: Children 7 and up & adults of all ages | 75 minutes plus a 15-minute talkback BOX OFFICE and INFORMATION: (514) 845-9810 or www.geordie.ca