Life is a cabaret ‘ol friend, come to the cabaret

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What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play!

Another smash hit has reached the stage as curtain’s went up last night on the latest production from the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society: Cabaret.

“The contrast between the over the top musical numbers and the stark reality of the injustices occurring outside the cabaret captivated my attention [years ago] as it still does today,” said Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. “We need to be leaders and speak out in defence of human rights. Cabaret has given us all that opportunity.”

Once again, it’s hard to believe that this is local, community theatre as the entire production, from costumes, set and design, to choreography, acting and live music exceed expectations by leaps and bounds.

Cabaret is not for the light-hearted. The theme is raw with drama and emotion in pre-war Germany. The burlesque-style night club acts are raunchy and lewd. The actors play with your spirits from eccentric to despair, from hopeful to hopeless.

“…There was a city called Berlin in a country called Germany and it was the end of the world…”, wrote lead actor Calder Levine who played the role of of wide-eyed American Cliff Bradshaw. His command performance in portraying his love for the English Berlin nightclub doll, Sally Bowles, played by the extraordinary Jeanne Motulsky, was musical and magical.

Jeanne Motulsky

Speaking of music and magic, the ever so talented Motulsky returns for her sixth show with the CSLDS. The Communications grad from Concordia University is headed towards production in film and television. As I wrote following her stellar performance in last year’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, “her future looks bright.” Motulsky captured the audience with her incredible voice and stage presence, particularly performing “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Cabaret”. Sensational.

The entire show is tied together by the unbelievably talented Craig Dalley who plays The Emcee. Returning for his fourth show with CSLDS, Dalley captivates your attention from the upbeat beginning, singing the well-known, “Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome” opening theme to Cabaret, right to the very end, deep in the darkest places humanity has gone, some 80-plus years ago.

Dalley’s talent, not to mention his sexually provocative leather clothing, profane language and naughty gestures will have you laughing, and then crying. What a job he did with Money Makes the World Go Round! He can sing. He can dance. And he can control the audience and the stage. Fantastic.

Linda Babins (Fraulein Schneider) and John Kovac (Herr Schultz) play an adoring, mature, tentative couple. Babins is a longtime member of the CSLDS team while Kovac returns to theatre after a 40 year hiatus. The two hit it off in song and dance with an air of confidence – she as a stodgy, serious German woman and he as a whimsical, fun-loving older gentleman – a German Jew. You’d never know he stepped off the stage for four decades but thankfully he’s back!

While it was hard to cozy up with Edward Le Vasseur who played the role of red armband toting Nazi, Ernst Ludwig, I’ll admit that he was faithful to his increasingly angry character and the more I despised him the more I realized what a strong actor he was.

Finally, Maria Jimenez deserves praise for her beautiful voice as her back lit profile steamed out from an old fashioned gramophone. Dreamy staging indeed. In the role of Fraulein Kost, a bit of a loose lady (as if any of them was anything less) she was very funny as her many sailor boys sauntered out of her room.

Artistic Director Anisa Cameron with CSL Mayor and CSLDS Founder Mitchell Brownstein

There are so many more praiseworthy cast members who entertained the gala night audience with impressive choreography and delightful musical numbers.

The five-piece live band adds to the experience and really gives the feeling of actually being in a live cabaret. They were great.

A show like this, especially community theatre, doesn’t just come together with a heck of a lot of hard work and incredible talent by the creative and production teams under the direction of the absolutely incredible, dedicated and tremendously talented Anisa Cameron.

(Mini shout-out to backstage crew members Nicole Nashen and Naomi Salama).

“As a theatre director, I felt compelled to produce this show. It seems Cabaret has only become more and more relevant to what is tragically happening in our own province and country, in North America and around the globe. Cabaret stands as a seductive, staggering and stark lesson in the dangers of complacency, denial and willful ignorance in the face of unbridled nationalism and the rise of a fascist tide. Never again is now, said Cameron.

CSLDS partnered with the Montreal Holocaust Museum in providing educational panels to understand the historical context in which Cabaret takes place.

Israeli Consul General David Levy was also instrumental in providing informational panels about diplomats from several countries who went against their orders and laws in doing the “right thing”, in rescuing thousands of Jews from the grips of the Holocaust.

CSLDS’s Cabaret is sure to be another sold-out smash success, worthy of an eventual Montreal English Theatre Award for its production value, quality musical arrangements and its thought-provoking message of using the past to influence the future.

So what good is sitting alone in your room? Come to the Cabaret!!

Cabaret runs through June 16 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium in Cote Saint-Luc City Hall on Cavendish Boulevard. Tickets and information at CSLDramaticSociety.com.

Behind the scenes at CSLDS Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

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Behind the scenes at CSLDS Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

By Glenn J. Nashen 

Sam Boucher, Joseph, in his coat of many colours

The recent stage production of the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society’s (CSLDS) “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was an unprecedented success. Show after show brought in crowds that filled every seat. Additional shows were added on and extra chairs were brought in. Some shows even had standing room only onlookers.

 

The reputation of the seven year old community theatre is solid. This is in large part due to the vision of its founder and the city’s current mayor Mitchell Brownstein, and to the incredibly talented and professional founding Artistic Director Anisa Cameron.

 

I caught up with the two of them since the show closed last month to ask about the wild success of Joseph, the CSLDS and what lies ahead:

Mitchell Brownstein with actor Brandon Schwartz

Nashen Notes (NN): Tell me about success of this show in terms of seat sales, revenue…?

Mitchell Brownstein (MB): The Gala brought in a lot of money to sponsor entire elementary school grades to come see the show as well as Senior Citizens from our local residences and special needs adults, many in wheelchairs.  The revenue, from the Gala and 25-plus performances, brought in a big profit to allow us to continue to improve our offering of Arts and Culture to the Community.

NN: What was it about Joseph that lead to this success?

MB: It’s a story we all know from the Bible and a show that has been around for 50 years.  It appeals to people of all ages. The cast ranged in age from 8 to 80 and the audiences ranged in age from very young children to seniors well into their 90s, one whom told me she was 98 and looking forward to next year’s show.

NN: What does this say about English community theatre in CSL and the West-End?

MB: It’s some of the best theatre you can find anywhere, professional or amateur, as it really brings joy to its audiences led by a professional team of artists: Anisa Cameron, Artistic Director, Nick Burgess, Musical Director and Alexia Gourd, Choreographer. They really make everyone shine.

NN: What about an enlarged venue in CSL?

MB: We have previously won two METAs (Montreal English Theatre Awards) and hopefully this show will win as well. Traditionally, we remount our successful shows at the Segal Centre or Centaur.

NN: What comments stand out from the feedback you’ve received?

MB: “I saw the Donny Osmond production years ago and this show was better!”

NN: What’s the likelihood of a remount?

MB: Very promising.

NN: How is the CSLDS contributing to CSL as a community?

MB: We value arts and culture as much as sport in the development of the person and in building a community.  Over 3000 people came to see this show from Cote Saint-Luc and beyond, enriching their lives and the lives of our actors and creative team.  By bringing the schools, the disabled and the seniors from residences to see the show, we are building a community where we care for each other and together we bring happiness to all.

Anisa Cameron

NN: Anisa, tell me about the success from an artistic point of view?

 

Anisa Camerson (AC): It’s overwhelming! I knew that Joseph would be a popular show, but I couldn’t believe it was so popular that we sold out our entire run. In the 7 years since Mitch Brownstein and I founded the Dramatic Society, we’ve never experienced this kind of success. We usually sell out in the final week and a half of the production, but to sell out for the full three weeks has been a lovely gift from our audiences.

 

NN: What are you most proud of in Joseph?

 

AC: I’m so proud that we were able to produce an artistically beautiful, funny and poignant piece of theatre. I’m also proud that myself, the cast, designers and production team – particularly Nick Burgess (our Musical Director)  – really pushed ourselves to the limit in terms of how challenging this show is to produce.

 

Joseph, being an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and being sung from beginning to end, is a relentless challenge for our performers (and for those of us creating the look, sound and feel of the show). There’s never any down time. Usually, you get a musical scene broken up by several straight scenes. That’s not the case with musical theatre that is sung right through. It’s constant musical staging: musical and vocal arrangements and choreography that has to flow seamlessly from the first moment the lights go down in the audience to the final bow.

 

NN: What are your thoughts on Sam Boucher’s (Joseph) performance?

 

AC: Sam Boucher is a remarkable talent that we’ve been lucky enough to work with for the past 3 years. His prowess as a performer belies his age. He is only 19! He brought a sensitivity and thoughtfulness to Joseph that was touching to see at every performance. His performance of Close Every Door was nothing short of remarkable.

 

NN: How has the CSLDS helped some of these rising stars?

 

AC: We have been fortunate to attract some of the most talented young people looking to gain performance experience in a professional environment. While we are a community theatre, our production team is made up of remarkable professionals who support our cast. Many of these young performers have this incredible talent that they need to polish and hone.

 

The CSLDS provides an education through experience in that regard. It’s very rare that a community theatre gets the opportunity to have 23-24 shows back to back over a month long run. Usually, you work on a show for anywhere from 6 months to a year and you get anywhere from 4-8 shots at performing it for an audience.

 

The stamina that it takes to perform in our summer musicals is on par with performing in a professional production. There’s a lot you learn about yourself, as a performer, when you are given the opportunity to perform… a lot!

 

Many of our cast members from the past have gone on to pursue careers in the arts, studying at Sheridan College, or Randolf Academy or Ryerson University, or Concordia Theatre. There are still other memorable performers who are already pursuing a life in the arts, but due to a lack of opportunity in the professional world, grace us with their considerable talent!

 

NN: What comments stand out from the feedback you’ve received?

AC: Our audiences are always so kind and supportive. This year they were ecstatic! I think the number one comment I always get and that sits with me heavily is “How are you going to top that?”. Honestly, I don’t know how we will be able to top this one. Joseph is a real milestone for myself and for the CSLDS.

 

NN: Were those little singers too cute? Tell me about this new add on compared to previous shows?

 

AC: Because this is Joseph, I knew we needed to add children to this show in a way we hadn’t in the past. They added so much to our unity as a cast and a sense of import to what we were doing because everyone became responsible for introducing most of these young performers to their first theatrical experience. They were as dedicated and determined to put on the best show they could as all of the adults around them. The sense of family that is created on a production was made that much stronger for having them with us.

 

On an artistic note, the intergenerational aspect of this production was particularly important to me. Joseph is a biblical story that has made its way down through countless generations to reach us here today so that it resonates on a much deeper level when you pay homage to those generations. We spoke a lot about the guardianship of this story and how our older generation hands it down to us in the present and we in the present then hand it down to the next generation. That was the intention and vision behind our choir and how they were linked to our narrators (entrancingly performed by Jeanne Motulsky and Nicole Arrage). Past, present and future all represented on stage together to ensure the story survives.

 

NN: You’re a wonderfully extraordinary artistic director. Are you not itching to move to Toronto or NYC or Vegas? What’s in the future for Anisa?

 

AC: I would love to have the opportunity to work anywhere in this wide world that will hire me, so spread the word! That doesn’t mean that I would forsake Montreal and Côte Saint-Luc. I love this island! As long as the Dramatic Society is here, I will also be here, that’s the beauty of being an artist; your schedule is flexible (to a point)!

 

NN: Anything to add?

 

AC: I’d just like to add that none of this would have been possible without the tireless vision and efforts of Mitchell Brownstein and now Mitch Kujavsky as well as Ryan Nemeroff and Emma Loerick! They are an incredible dream team that support us in all that we do and I am forever grateful to them. It is also a rare occasion when a municipal government recognizes the power of the arts in their community. I am also grateful to the City Council of Côte Saint-Luc for continuing to believe in the dream of the CSLDS.

Mitchell Brownstein and Anisa Cameron at the Montreal English Theatre awards gala (Photo credit: Mitchell Brownstein)

My full review on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat can be read here: https://gjnashen.wordpress.com/2018/06/05/review-joseph-an-amazing-musical-entertains-all-ages/

 

Also posted to Montreal Jewish Magazine

 

Review: Joseph, an amazing musical entertains all ages

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From 9 to 90 years old and then some, my family was awestruck by the incredibly talented cast on stage in Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society’s presentation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, now playing at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium at City Hall. Once again, director extraordinaire Anisa Cameron has assembled a team worthy of high praise.

 

As Anisa noted, “Welcome to a time not long after the Bible began! Joseph’s story is from the book of Genesis and comes to life in CSL. We are thrilled to be producing the show for its 50th anniversary. The story of Joseph and his coat of many colours has been handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. We are so proud to carry on this tradition.”

 

“From a small neighbourhood troope, the CSL Dramatic Society has grown to become one of the most successful English language theatre companies on the island of Montreal,” said Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather.

 

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and counselor Mitch Kujavsky, co-producers of the show said, “Over the course of its first seven years, the CSL Dramatic Society has become something that our community is proud to call our own. In every sense of the saying, we are by the community and for the community, while putting an emphasis on the values of inclusiveness and accomplishment. We are thrilled to be presenting this biblical story of Joseph, a truly intergenerational production with the cast ranging in age from 8 to 80!.”

Mitchell Brownstein in the role of Jacob

Brownstein goes on to say, “The story of Joseph has a very special place in the hearts of so many of us. Whether we first learned of the story of Joseph at school or saw the show during our childhood or even later in life, the experience elevates us and leaves us wanting more. If this is your first time experiencing the show, you’re sure to be humming the tunes of Joseph for days to come.”

 

I must admit that Joseph is one of only two soundtracks that I have downloaded on Spotify and I have indeed been humming the tunes since I saw the matinée performance last Saturday.

 

It was a special occasion for my family as we celebrated my mother’s 90th birthday bringing our whole family out to the theatre. Together with my son, age 9, teenage daughters, wife, brother, sister-in law, mom at 90 and dad, days shy of 95, we all enjoyed it tremendously and had a marvelous outing.

George and Phyllis Nashen on a birthday outing to see Joseph

The story begins in the biblical land of Canaan. Joseph is the favourite son of Jacob. Joseph’s knack for reading dreams and his beautiful coat of many colours lead his jealous brothers to hatch a plan to dispose of him. But when Joseph survives the attack, he is sent on a journey beyond his wildest dreams.

 

Sam Boucher (Joseph) is absolutely sensational from beginning to end. A modern-day Donny Osmond (who played Joseph on Broadway and in Toronto), Boucher captivated the audience with his formidable voice, sparkling eyes and facial expressions. No stranger to the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society, Boucher has performed in Little Shop of Horrors, the Producers, Broadway’s Back, and Hairspray. Having just completed his first year of Concordia Theatre, Sam will be leaving soon to pursue a degree at Sheridan College in musical theatre performance.

 

Sam Boucher is spectacular in the role of Joseph

 

Anisa could not have done better in selecting Boucher for the part of Joseph. His performance in Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door is stirring and uplifting. Accompanied by a band led by the talented Musical Director Nick Burgess and three musicians who play the “part” of three of the brothers, the songs are sure to remain in your head for days to come.

 

Narrators Jeanne Motulsky and Nicole Arrage did a tremendous job of tying the entire production together in song and dance. This is Motulsky’s fifth show with the CSLDS. She is currently studying communications at Concordia University and hopes to become a producer. Her future looks bright.

Jeanne Motulsky and Nicole Arrage as the talented and spirited narrators

Arrage is with the CSLDS for a second consecutive year. She is a McGill University Schulich School of Music student in jazz voice performance. She was excellent in telling the tale, full of personality and clearly very talented.

 

Marc Ducusin does a tremendous job in the role of Pharaoh. This is his second outing with CSLDS, following last summer’s Little Shop of Horrors. He is so personable and entertaining, particularly during his solo in the genre of Elvis.

Marc Ducusin plays Pharoah in the style of Elvis

Kenny Stein gets a special shout out not only for performing four previous times with CSLDS but for his tremendous performance as Joseph’s brother, Simeon. His zany antics and comedic expressions, especially during Those Canaan Days were tremendous. Did he really eat that fly? Yuch!

Joseph’s brothers

Justin Johnson (Judah) is a professional performer who starred in Hairspray and Little Shop of Horrors. His dance moves, singing and expression in Benjamin Calypso make it obvious that the performing arts is his true calling.

 

Craig Dalley (Rueben) has a beautiful voice and is very engaging. He sang One More Angel in Heaven, cowboy style, and was captivating to watch.

 

Sean Nishmas, Sam Melnick, Jonah Zoldan, and Eli Rubineau are the other brothers and each one performed wonderfully and was entertaining and engaging. Their theatre careers look promising. The dancers, ensemble, and Jacob’s Wives added to the enjoyment of this incredible, local theatre experience.

 

A special word of appreciation goes to Mayor Mitchell Brownstein who not only played the role of Potiphar but stepped in to play the role of Joseph’s father Jacob on a moment’s notice due to unforeseen circumstances.

 

The choir was made up of some wonderful local talent many of whom have performed in the CSLDS Senior Summer Projects including Hannah Sheffren, Judy Kenigsberg and Ellen Rabin. They were backed up by the absolutely adorable children’s choir including Mackenzie, Rachel, Pailey, Naomie, Abigail, Victoria and Molly. Congrats to each of them for their stage presence and beautiful voices which added tremendously to the Joseph experience.

 

Joseph runs through June 17 and tickets are going fast. You can purchase your tickets online at ShowTix4U.com or by visiting CSLDramaticSociety.com. Prices are $32 Regular, $28 Students and Seniors and QDF Members, $28 Matinees. You won’t want to miss this one! Go Go Go Joseph!

Sam Boucher, Joseph, in his coat of many colours

 

N

 

In depth: Behind the scenes at CSLDS Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

 

Review: JPPS Theatre’s Little Mermaid Jr. makes a big splash

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JPPS Theatre presents The Little Mermaid Junior

Montreal Director extraordinaire Anisa Cameron made a very big splash in uncharted waters with the very first production from the Jewish Peoples and Peretz Schools (JPPS) Theatre. Talented students from grades one to six took to the stage at Cote Saint-Luc’s Harold Greenspon Theatre in Disney’s sensational production of The Little Mermaid Junior for two sold out shows.

Cameron just brought elementary theatre to a whole new level, far from the awkward, amateurish, can’t-remember-my-lines performances from yesterday’s school kids in goofy costume. This production was sure to impress with official Disney soundtrack, professional looking costumes, great sound and lighting, props and more.

Ariel, Flounder and the Seagulls (Photo courtesy Leslie Solomon Inzlicht)

The lead role went to grade 4 student Sana Clarke (Ariel) who sang several numbers with her very beautiful voice beyond her young years. Her sidekick, Flounder the guppy, was ably played by Zoe Inzlicht, who pranced about with excitement and joy. Matthew Liebman (King Triton) was solid as the ruler of the seas as Ella Pariente (Ursula the sea witch) tried to steal away his powers with song and dance.

Hunter Saraga did a sensational job of Prince Eric, who, in the end, captured Ariel’s heart (although they never did kiss!).

Libby Tsabary, in the role of Sebastian the crab, was lively and humurous. All these lead performers were sensational and have many years of amazing theatre to look forward to at JPPS and Bialik.

Hats off to the entire unsinkable cast for wonderful song and dance.  Although I had no kids in the show (my daughter Nikki was stage manager behind the scenes) I attended with my wife, Judy, and our two other children who attend JPPS-Bialik, Tali and Jeremy, and a few of their friends, and we all had ear to ear smiles watching these adorable, witty and shining school kids.

Hats off to the artistic and production staff for reaching new heights in grade school theatre. And bravo to school principal Marnie Stein for her vision of empowering these young kids and her creative leadership in giving them confidence and a rewarding experience.

Cameron and the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society are weeks away from what will surely be another blockbuster hit, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, playing from May 31 to June 17. Tickets are on sale at www.csldramaticsociety.com.

Great community theatre in the West End, Tuesday and Wednesday night

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One of Montreal’s best community-based theatrical producers will launch a two-day run of the Broadway sensation, Anything Goes.

Anisa Cameron was born to be in showbiz. Born in New York, but raised under the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, her grandmother was a Rockette, her father was the lead singer of the Folies Bergere at the Tiffany Theatre inside the Tropicana and her mother, a dancer, was a chorus girl who worked her way up to company manager. Cameron and her brother, a dancer, were more or less raised backstage at the Tiffany Theatre. Although their parents begged and pleaded, both chose to pursue a life in the arts.

Anisa Cameron

Cameron has been at the helm of the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society (CSLDS) since its inception some seven years ago while simultaneously heading up the burgeoning drama program at Cote Saint-Luc’s Bialik High School. This year, she launched the JPPS drama program with the hit musical, The Little Mermaid.

Originally penned in 1934 with music and lyrics by American composer and songwriter Cole Porter, Anything Goes is a musical comedy that has been updated several times throughout the last century.

Through her many sold-out performances at the CSLDS including Fiddler on the Roof, Hairspray, Catch Me if You Can, as well as exceptional Bialik Theatre musicals, some originals and others from Broadway, Cameron has proven her skills at entertaining audiences both young and old.

This week. Anything Goes should be no exception. You don’t have to know anyone in the cast to come and enjoy local theatre, with live music by Nick Burgess and his accomplished musicians. All this with free parking, cheap refreshments, great seats and tickets at just 15 bucks. Get your tickets now for this Tuesday or Wednesday night’s shows at ShowTix4U or by visiting the Bialik Theatre Facebook page.

Follow the yellow brick road to the CSL Dramatic Society’s production of The Wizard of Oy

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The Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society is staging its third annual Senior Summerworks Production The Wizard of Oy, a musical comedy geared towards senior actors and audiences.
Performances run through Sunday night at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium in Cote Saint-Luc City Hall.
The Wizard of Oy written by Ari Sterlin, who founded Senior Summerrworks in 2015, parodies the classic Wizard of Oz, transforming it into a hilarious and touching story about a woman searching for her youth.
CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, the visionary behind the Dramatic Society, welcomed guests to the opening performance last night. “This production, like all of our presentations, is to bring you happiness,” Brownstein said.
“The CSL Dramatic Society is continually expanding to allow more and more opportunities to the members of our community and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it,” said writer, director and choreographer Ari Sterlin. “Sit back and enjoy the show!”

A satirical and joyful spin on the classic Wizard of Oz the cast followed the ‘yellow brick road’ and even the orange traffic cones in search of Oy.

Six year old Ryan Hill was the precious little star playing the role of Toto while Dorothy was played by returning funny woman Hannah Sheffren. Also returning to the stage was Ellen Rabin in the role of Mayor delighting the audience with her comedic lines and hum-along songs. Shout out to Adena Schnarch with her infectious smile, Helen Gwiazda and Judy Kenigsberg all of whom are veterans of the Summer Workshop.

Ellen Rabin as the Mayor, Hannah Sheffren as Dorothy, Ryan Hill as Toto, Mitch Kujavsky as Henry and the guard, and Melanie Chahine as Em

 

The cast sing nine memorable tunes departing from the traditional words such as in ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, with emphasis on local venues including the Cavendish Mall.

The Senior Summer Workshop strives to pair seniors with young emerging artists ton produce a musical parody with themes and subjects pertinent to senior citizens. Nonetheless my two teenage daughters Nicole and Nathalie, regulars in Anisa Cameron’s Bialik Theatre Productions,  loved the show as did my eight year old son Jeremy. “It’s fun, local theatre for the whole family,” said my wife, Judy Hagshi.

Louis Schiff plays the Cowardly Lion,, Jeff Waxman as the Tinman, Norm Spatz as the Scarecrow along with Hannah Sheffren as Dorothy. All of them did a sensational job singing solos. And of course the adorable Ryan Hill as Toto.

 

Don’t miss the matinée and evening shows this weekend. There are only four performances:

August 24th | 7:00 PM

August 26th | 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM

August 27th | 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM

 

Bravo to the entire cast:

Starring: Hannah Sheffren, Ryan Hill, Christine Dandurand, Dan Sterlin, Norm Spatz, Jeffrey Waxman, Lou Schiff, Toby Clark, Judy Kenigsberg, Bev Silverman, Janet Garmaise, Helen Gwiazda, Melanie Chahine, Mitchell Kujavsky, Ellen Rabin, Adena Schnarch, Phyllis Schnarch

 

Written, directed and choreographed by Ari Sterlin

Produced by Mitchell Brownstein

Musical Director Daniel Witkowski

Stage Manager Emma Loerick

 

Tickets available HERE
Or in person at the Côte Saint-Luc Library or Aquatic and Community Centre

Our unusual Town

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our-town_drama
The CSL Dramatic Society kicked off its 2017 season with an unconventional play called Our Town by Thornton Wilder this week.
Our Town is a serious introspective, a commentary on American society in the early 1900’s. But as CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein explained in his warm, welcoming remarks it could very well have been about CSL in the early 20th century. Or 21st.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein plays Dr. Gibbs, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein plays Dr. Gibbs, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Our Town is about people. More specifically, it’s about the people who make up a community; a small tight-knit and caring community. While based in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire 100 plus years ago, it might as well have taken place last week in CSL. “This is our first drama and comes with a timeless message of the importance of appreciating every moment of life,” Mayor Brownstein said. “Written in 1938, it remains relevant for all time as an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily lives.”
It’s about neighbours and neighbourhoods. It’s about the corner store. The local doctor. The school down the block. The church nearby. It’s about the kindness of the milkman and the informative paper boy. It’s about the cop walking his beat and the local drunk and his silly antics. It’s about boys and girls and puppy love, right next door. Everyone knows everyone and about everyone’s business. If that’s not CSL…?

Ben Warner and Tori Gazin as young and in love, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Ben Warner and Tori Gazin as young and in love, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Our Town is simple on the surface.

The stage is barren and props are few. The stage writer wants you to focus on the faces and movements of the actors, and the relationship between each of them.

What struck me most was the sincerity of each actor. The beauty and smile on Emily (Tori Gazin) was enormous. The wonderment and tears in the eyes of her love-struck neighbour George (Ben Warner) was powerful.

Shaun Nishmas, Jordana Kujavsky and Linda Babins, Cemetery scene, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Shaun Nishmas, Jordana Kujavsky and Linda Babins, in the haunting cemetery scene, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Mitchell Brownstein puts on his best performance yet with a strong persona as Doctor Gibbs, the philosophical yet practical leader of family and patients. Daughter Rebecca Gibbs (Ori Fox) has a bubbly, youthful role and sings with an angelic voice.
Director Anisa Cameron has proven her versatility in skillfully adapting this 1930’s play for the local stage, and for turning something old into something new.

Funeral scene, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Funeral scene, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Mrs. Gibbs (Linda Babins) and Mrs. Webb (Karen Pellat-Caron) are strong, supporting characters. The bumbling Simon Stimpson (Shaun Nishmas) is lovable and pitiful at once and co-narraraters Herbert Brownstein and Sam Melnick deserve a special mention for tying it all together playing multiple characters. Newspaper publisher, Mr. Webb (Matthew Mckeown) returns to the CSL stage in another powerful performance.
The Dramatic Society dedicated the performance to the memory of their dear friend and fellow actor, Seymour David, who tragically passed away last week.
It looks like the CSL Dramatic Society is off to an unusual year, and that bodes well for their local audiences. Five more shows run through this Sunday with ticket sales going strong. Local English theatre is rare in our parts. Take advantage of the excellent talent and free parking just a short walk or drive from home, right here in Our Town.

Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society to present Our Town in January 2017

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our-town_dramaThe Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society will present Thornton Wilder’s Our Town from January 24 to 29, 2017 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium.

Thornton Wilder’s iconic play explores life in the fictional town of Grover’s Corners. Through the everyday lives of the townspeople, audiences experience the joys and heartache of growing up, falling in love, getting married, and losing loved ones. Traditionally presented with no set and few props, Our Town is heartwarming, profound, and sure to move audiences with its timeless exploration of love and mortality.

Our Town is the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society’s first drama, following the enormous success of musicals Catch Me If You Can, and the META-winning Hairspray the Musical, as well as several comedies, including Office Hours and Bedtime Stories. Recently, the Dramatic Society won their second Montreal English Theatre Award, for The Producers, their collaboration with the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre and the Segal Centre for Performing Arts.

“I’ve chosen Thornton Wilder’s masterpiece, Our Town, as our first venture into drama because this beautiful, seemingly simple play is about everything that matters,” said artistic director Anisa Cameron. “Grover’s Corners is our town, mine and yours, and everyone else who has ever lived or will ever live and is beholden to the rules of mortality. Our Town requires us to reflect on our own existence and calls us to appreciate every precious moment we spend our breath on.”

The cast of 18 features many returning Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society members, along with performers joining the troupe for the first time. Montreal actor and producer Ben Warner takes on the role of George Gibbs, having previously starred as Danny Zuko in the CSLDS’s production of Grease. Emily Webb is brought to life by Tori Gazin (Haven’t Got a Clue).

The play is narrated by two metatheatrical Stage Managers, played by Sam Melnick, and Dollard-Des-Ormeaux city councillor Herb Brownstein.

Also featured are Matthew McKeown (Catch Me If You Can), Karyn Pellat-Caron (The Producers), Linda Babins (Fiddler on the Roof), and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who is also the play’s producer.

“We are very excited to be presenting our first drama,” said Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who founded the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society alongside Anisa Cameron in 2011. “Our Town, which was written in 1938, remains relevant for all time as an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life.”

Tickets are available online at CSLDramaticSociety.com, or in person at the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library or the Aquatic and Community Centre. General admission is $25, and students and seniors pay $20. Tickets are $20 for the preview performance on January 24.

The Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society is a community theatre initiative that began in the summer of 2011 in partnership with the City of Côte Saint-Luc. The goal of the society is to bring together actors, writers, musicians and other artistically minded community members to produce theatrical works in an inclusive environment where emphasis is placed on team work and camaraderie.

Outrageously funny: The Producers is a one-of-a-kind production not to be missed

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The Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society has done it again by producing a smash hit in Mel Brooks’ musical of The Producers – in Yiddish!

The star-studded cast of local talent proved once more that community theatre can rival major stage and musical hall productions. And don’t let the Yiddish part throw a wrench in your plans. With superscript projected in both English and French, and major chunks of the show in English anyhow, this musical is a winner in any language – most of the audience were not Yiddish-speakers to be sure, certainly not the Francophones laughing aloud behind me.

The show is outrageous, preposterous, hysterical and that was just the first act! The singing, acting, choreography, music, costume and stage design are so professional, so entertaining, it’s hard to believe this isn’t Broadway bound.

CSLDS Director Anisa Cameron, Segal Director Lisa Rubin, Yiddish Theatre President Aaron Gonshor and the formidable cast of The Producers

CSLDS Director Anisa Cameron, Segal Director Lisa Rubin, Yiddish Theatre President Aaron Gonshor and the formidable cast of The Producers

Synopsis: A down-on-his-luck Broadway producer and his mild-mannered accountant come up with a scheme to produce the most notorious flop in history, thereby bilking their backers out of millions of dollars. Only one thing goes awry: the show is a smash hit!

“We are thrilled but the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society has joined forces with the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre for this production of The Producers. We believe in supporting arts and culture and we have been lucky to find amazing talents led by director Anisa Cameron. We wish the entire cast and crew the best of luck. The CSL City Council is proud of all of you,” said actor and CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein.

Jonah and Robert Presser with MP Anthony Housefather

Jonah and Robert Presser with MP Anthony Housefather

The cast of over 40 singers, actors and dancers was spectacular. Too numerous to mention them all I would highlight the cameo appearance of DDO Councillor Herbert Brownstein and his brother, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, the father and son team of Robert and Jonah Presser, The incredible Brandon Schwartz, amazing actress Alisha Ruiss, the hysterical Ryan Kligman and the incredibly talented, energetic lead performers Mikey Samra and Sam Stein.

Brandon Schwartz and Anisa Cameron

Brandon Schwartz and Anisa Cameron

Kudos to Segal Centre Artistic and Executive Director Lisa Rubin for teaming up the Yiddish Theatre and the CSLDS. What a masterful “shiduch” (Yiddish for matchmaking) to end off a sensational season. I am so pleased to have purchased season tickets and already have my subscription for next season.

Thank you to Mayor Mitchell Brownstein for giving a 93rd birthday shout-out to my dad, gave a shout out

Thank you to Mayor Mitchell Brownstein for giving a 93rd birthday shout-out to my dad, George Nashen

Last night’s VIP Opening Night show was attended by community leaders, including theatre namesake Alvin Segal, Abe Gonshor and his bride Annie Young, city councillors Michael Goldwax and Sam Goldbloom, Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather and Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg. I was so happy to have my parents join my wife and I on this special day with my father celebrating his 93rd birthday.

Thank you RBC and all the sponsors for bringing exceptional theatre right into our community.

The producers of The Producers are campaigning to get the original producer, Mel Brooks, to come to Montreal to see the show for himself. If you happen to be friends with Mel Brooks, or see him on a plane or beach in the coming days, please put in a good word.

The show runs through July 10. Tickets are available online at SegalCentre.org or by calling 514-739-7944. This is a show you will not want to miss.

 

 

Hairspray set for remount at Centaur

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The Côte St. Luc Dramatic Society’s successful production of the Broadway musical Hairspray is ready for its remount at the downtown Centaur Theatre, (453 St. François-Xavier) where it will be presented from Jan. 21 to 24.

The remount comes very soon after the production, which deals with the struggle for racial equality and the tolerance of differences in the early 1960s, won the Montreal English Theatre Award for Outstanding Community Theatre Production.

“We were nominated for a META for Catch Me If You Can, and then we were nominated and won for Hairspray,” CSLDS artistic director Anisa Cameron told The Suburban in a recent interview. “It was very special to us. We believe in the show so much, it has an amazing message and our cast is phenomenal, so we really felt like winning was just the icing on the cake for what was already a really sweet production.”

“It’s certainly a big honour to have won,” said CSL Councillor Mitchell Brownstein, who is also the producer of Hairspray and is in the cast as well. “Four and a half years ago, we started the Dramatic Society with a goal of providing arts and culture for the community and for people to be able to participate, and to see that it’s evolved to this level and so quickly, of course it’s thanks to our brilliant artistic director, Anisa Cameron, who has done such wonderful work. By providing such high level theatre for audiences and participants, it enables the community to really get an opportunity here in Côte St. Luc to see amazing theatre, and then take what we do here in Côte St. Luc to the community at large — the island of Montreal — and let everyone enjoy what we’re doing.”

Brownstein also credited the Côte St. Luc council with enabling all of this to take place. “It’s going to be quite the production,” he added.

The CSLDS is organizing a contest for free tickets to the remounted production. Participants should submit a video of 30 seconds or less on the subject of tolerance and acceptance. The winning videos will be posted at www.csldramaticsociety.com.

“We’re very proud that the themes in Hairspray deal with tolerance and acceptance of individuals of different cultures, different ethnic backgrounds and different body types,” Brownstein says. “We think that’s something we should promote as a municipal council. We can work with different schools on this. The City of Côte St. Luc is very proud to be able to do productions that also send a message — it’s not just about having fun and enjoying yourself, but also learning something. And if they can do a project like this, it’s even better.”

Anyone interested in participating should post their video to YouTube and send the link to csldramaticsociety@gmail.com. Along with the link, write a short introduction to the video and provide your name, age and phone number and return email address. Winners will be contacted by email no later than Jan. 15 and will be announced publicly in The Suburban’s Jan. 20 edition.”

For show reservations, call the Centaur at 514-288-3161.

Another smash hit in CSL: Broadway is Back

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CSL Dramatic Broadway is Back

Hot on the heels of the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society’s big win with a Montreal English Theatre Award comes “Broadway is Back”.

Broadway is Back is a tribute to all the artists who have participated in Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society (CSLDS) shows since its creation four years ago and to artistic director Anisa Cameron.  This production reflects the very purpose for which the group exists: Allowing actors and audiences from our community and beyond to enrich each others lives through theatre.

Madanna Calix-Antoine, Brandon Schwartz and Amber Jones command performance in Hairspray: The Musical

Madanna Calix-Antoine, Brandon Schwartz and Amber Jonas – Command performance in Hairspray: The Musical

I also consider this production as a tribute to our outgoing Mayor and newly elected Member of Parliament, Anthony Housefather, for his vision and encouragement.  There have been so many accomplishments that Mayor Housefather has achieved on behalf of all of us over the last 10 years. But among his many accomplishments he holds special regard for the creativity and passion emanating from the CSLDS. Thank you Anthony for the encouragement, support and friendship you have shown to all the performers. And please do come back to perform on stage, once again!

Emotional performance by veteran actor Sam Stein in Fiddler on the Roof

Emotional performance by veteran actor Sam Stein in Fiddler on the Roof

“I felt that the creation of a dramatic society would be a benefit to both our artists and those interested in working behind the scenes in theatre as well as those who wanted to attend excellent shows close to home,” said Anthony Housefather, in his first public message as MP for Mount Royal. “I am so proud of how far the society has progressed.  It has become one of the top amateur theatre groups in the Montreal area,” Housefather said.

The ever talented crooner Brandon Schwartz plays Frank Abignail Jr. in Catch Me If You Can

The ever talented crooner Brandon Schwartz plays Frank Abignail Jr. in Catch Me If You Can

“Arts and culture are fundamental to a healthy society and must always be shared and supported,” said D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum. I fully agree with David and encourage you to come and see Broadway is Back, presented at the Greenspon Auditorium at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall through this Sunday, and support community theatre.

Dramatic Hairspray 2 2015

The show highlights the best of musicals and plays presented by the Dramatic Society over the last four years. Ryan Kligman acts as the very funny emcee who introduces each act with humour, song, dance and more.

CSLDS founder, Councillor Mitchell Brownstein gave a passionate introduction to the evening in stressing the importance of community theatre and thanking supporters, sponsors and especially the theatre-goers. Brownstein’s love for community theatre was readily evident as he danced his way across the stage with lead singing roles in Fiddler and Grease.

Amber Jonas is a dynamic, energetic and funny Tracy in Hairspray: The Musical

Amber Jonas is a dynamic, energetic and funny Tracy in Hairspray: The Musical

Director Anisa Cameron can be proud that her professional talents and creative efforts have grown year after year over the innaugural four seasons of the CSLDS. And the next season promises to be as busy as ever with Hairspray: The Musical set to return, this time to the Centaur Theatre from January 21 to January 24, 2016, an original production of The Producers, in English and Yiddish at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts next spring and Little Shop of Horrors next fall.

I hope you enjoy the show.

CSL’s Hairspray wins award

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CSL Dramatic Society's Hairspray wins big award

The Suburban | Oct. 28, 2015 | Click to enlarge

 

Congratulations to actor, producer and councillor Mitchell Brownstein and artistic director Anisa Cameron for bringing home a Montreal English Theatre Award for this year’s outstanding CSL Dramatic Society musical production, Hairspray.

This may be the first award for the CSLDS but I can assure anyone who hasn’t been lucky enough to see one of their productions over the last four years that each of them have been winners!

Hats off as well to the cast, dancers and production team of Hairspray. This was such an energy-packed, toe-tapping experience that I still hum the tune to Good Morning Cote Saint-Luc, errr Baltimore. Here’s my review and video clip from the performance in Cote Saint-Luc last May.

The star-studded cast of 32 performers, included Amber Jonas who brought an ebullient optimism that was a delight to experience in her role as Tracy Turnblad,  the talented cross-dressing Mike Melino, playing Edna Turnblad and local crooner extraordinaire Brandon Schwartz, playing Link Larkin along with incredibly gifted members of The Montreal Gospel Choir and The Jireh Choir.

Be sure to catch the upcoming Broadway is Back performance highlighting the last four year’s of CSLDS musicals.

Hairspray the Musical hits the stage in Cote Saint-Luc

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Hairspray the Musical opened tonight in the Greenspon Auditorium at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall. This is the latest in a string of sensational stage presentations by the incredible cast of the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society under the leadership of the indefatigable Councillor-Actor Mitchell Brownstein and Artistic Director extraordinaire, Anisa Cameron.

If the opening scene is any indication, this action-packed, high-energy, foot-tapping and hand-clapping musical is set to break their own record and seats are sure to sell out very fast. The stage was packed with singers and dancers in their 1950s get ups, big hairdo’s, white socks and  iconic saddle shoes.

Hairspray the Musical. CSL Dramatic Society opening night. Photo by Diane Dupuis-Kallos.

Hairspray the Musical. CSL Dramatic Society opening night. Photo by Diane Dupuis-Kallos.

The star-studded cast of 32 performers, includes cross-dressing Mike Melino, playing Edna Turnblad and Brandon Schwartz, playing Link Larkin along with members of The Montreal Gospel Choir and The Jireh Choir.
At opening night intermission, Councillor Ruth Kovac said, “I’m thoroughly enjoying Hairspray. So much energy and talent! Who has to travel to Broadway with such a high-caliber production right here in Cote Saint-Luc? You will love this show!”
By the end of the show, Kovac had this to say: “I thought the CSL Dramatic Society’s Catch Me if You Can was AAA. Hairspray topped it! Fabulous voices. Wonderful choreography. The whole package was outstanding.”
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In welcoming the full-house by-invitation-only audience Mayor Anthony Housefather stated, “Hairspray the Musical is so much like Cote Saint-Luc. We are a tolerant, welcoming and inclusive community. Fat, skinny, white or black, everyone can be comfortable just as they are here.”
Councillor Mitchell Brownstein, who has been acting on stage since the age of five thanked the VIP crowd of sponsors, west-end politicians from Cote Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Montreal West and Outremont, and former MNA Lawrence Bergman for their support and encouragement in helping to spread the word about this amazing show. Also attending were Station 9 Police Commander Marc Cournoyer and his family, former Councillor Joe Panunto, Mens Club past president Sidney Margles, Hampstead mayoral candidate Bonnie Feigenbaum and RESP guru Roz Genis.

Hairspray the Musical. CSL Dramatic Society opening night. Photo by Diane Dupuis-Kallos.

Hairspray the Musical. CSL Dramatic Society opening night. Photo by Diane Dupuis-Kallos.

“I had a smile on my face the whole night,” said my mother Phyllis Nashen.
“Superb!” my father, George Nashen, told me. “The show was professional. The acting, singing, choreography… First Class! My feet didn’t stop moving. It was contagious!” he said.
Hairspray runs May 28 to June 14 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium. Tickets are still available for some shows. Don’t wait till they’re all gone! For tickets visit click here.

Hairspray flashmob hits Gibeau Orange Julep, Opens this week

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Tickets are going fast and you don’t want to miss what will surely be another sensational stage presentation by the incredible cast of the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society.

The Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society has reassembled their 2014 META (Montreal English Theatre Award) nominated artistic team to bring Hairspray the Musical to Montreal!  This larger than life show, Produced by Councillor Mitchell Brownstein, Directed by CSLDS Artistic Director, Anisa Cameron, Musically Directed by David Terriault and Choreographed by Alexia Gourd will star a talented cast of 32 performers, including members of The Montreal Gospel Choir and The Jireh Choir!
“It took us two years to find the perfect cast for Hairspray, and it was worth the wait!”, says Artistic Director, Anisa Cameron. “The awe-inspiring talent that has joined us for Hairspray will render people speechless – I know it does for me, and that is just in rehearsal!”.
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Returning to work with the CSLDS will be favorites from last year’s show, Catch Me If You Can, Mike Melino, playing Edna Turnblad, Mitchell Brownstein, playing Wildbur Turnblad, Megan Magisano, playing Amber Von Tussle, and Brandon Schwartz, playing Link Larkin. Joining the CSLDS for the first time will be Maddana Calix-Antoine, a member of the Jireh Choir, who will bring Motormouth Maybelle to vivid life on stage, Justin Johnson as our charismatic and smooth-as-silk Seaweed J. Stubbs, the vocally voracious Alisha Ruiss, who will be our venomous Velma Von Tussle, Ryan Kligman is our charming and campy Corny Collins, Jeanne Moltulsky is the perfect Penny Pingleton and Amber Jonas brings an ebullient optimism that is a delight to experience in her turn as Tracy Turnblad to the Greenspon stage!

Councillor Mitchell Brownstein with actor Brandon Schwartz

Councillor Mitchell Brownstein with actor Brandon Schwartz

Hairspray, follows the story of the plucky and plump Tracy Turnblad as she pursues her dream of becoming one of the regular dancers on The Corny Collins Show. The obstacles to Tracy’s dreams help to open her eyes to the struggles of the black community, and her fight for herself turns into a crusade against segregation in 1960s America. Director Cameron again, “Hairspray is, at its heart, a musical about acceptance and having the courage to stand up for principles that are universal truths. Hairspray challenges us all to work towards the goal of unity in diversity. Whether it is the stories of cyber bullying that seem to permeate our media, or the struggles that continue for civil rights here in Canada and abroad, Hairspray is much more than a trip to the theatre for a fun night out.  It’s a reminder to continue to stand up for what is right because you can’t stop the beat!”
Hairspray runs May 28 to June 14 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium.

 

For tickets visit click here.

Haven’t Got a Clue murder mystery a hit in CSL

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Havent_got_a_clue_Dramatic_2015_large

I attended last night’s premiere of the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society’s presentation of ‘Haven’t Got a Clue’. It is a fast-paced, engaging whodunit murder mystery with a full stage of local, talented characters.

The theatre is perfectly small bringing the performance up close and personal.

Councillor Mitchell Brownstein is the driving force behind the Dramatic Society and although he’s not in this play his introductory remarks show his intense passion for community theatre as a critical element at outreach and citizen engagement.

Mayor Anthony Housefather along with other invited elected officials and community leaders from CSL and neighbouring towns could be heard chuckling aloud as the performance moved from scene to scene. The actors were serious and funny, calm and ridiculous. They spanned the spectrum of emotions and kept the audience on their toes in trying to figure out exactly who had done it.

Director Anisa Cameron, who makes a brief, dramatic cameo appearance, is a force to be reckoned with in this entertaining performance that clearly transcends what one would expect from community theatre.

Haven’t Got A Clue continues February 12 to 15, at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium ( 5801 Cavendish Blvd). Tickets are available at the Côte Saint-Luc Public Library, the Aquatic and Community Centre or at http://www.CSLDramaticSociety.com. The cost is $23, or $20 for students and seniors.

More: MikeCohen.ca: Haven’t Got a Clue murder mystery a hit in Côte Saint-Luc.

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