Cote St. Luc Dramatic Society Spring production of Cabaret

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May 10, 2019

The Montreal Times, by Stuart Nulman, EntertainmentTheater

For this year’s edition of their annual spring production, the Cote St. Luc Dramatic Society (CSLDS) will present an acclaimed Broadway musical with a more somber, adult twist to it, as it takes place in Berlin circa 1931, during a time when Germany and the rest of the world were in the grip of the Great Depression, was facing the steady, violent rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party, but at the same time was enjoying a thriving – yet decadent – entertainment scene.

“Cabaret”, which was originally produced on Broadway during the mid-1960s and became an Oscar-winning film in 1972, will run for 21 performances at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium, 5801 Cavendish Boulevard, from May 29 to June 16.

Based on the stories of Christopher Isherwood, “Cabaret” focuses on Sally Bowles, an expatriate American singer who is the star attraction at the Kit Kat Club, which is the focal point of her world during these turbulent times in Berlin.

“Cabaret is one of my favorite shows. I love the club scenes and the musical numbers there. However, I felt compelled to produce the show since 2017 in the wake of what happened in Charlottesville,” said Anisa Cameron, the CSLDS’ longtime director who is helming this production. “I find Cabaret more relevant right now because it answers the question of what I can do as an artist to make much more sense in today’s world. This is the perfect show that illustrates what can happen in the face of the apathy and willful ignorance that affects events which are swirling around us.”

Cote St. Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who also doubles as a producer for the CSLDS, will not perform onstage for the first time in a long time, as was his custom. This time, owing to the serious nature of the historical context of “Cabaret”, has engineered a partnership with the Montreal Holocaust Museum to help create more awareness of the events in Germany that led to the rise of Hitler, and the start of World War II and the Holocaust.

“The Montreal Holocaust Museum will set up an exhibit in the front of the lobby with photos to show what really happened in Germany during the period that Cabaret takes place in,” he said. “We are also having high school and CEGEP students attend performances of the show, in which they will also get the chance to meet with Holocaust survivors following each show. Cote St. Luc has always been a leader when it comes to protecting human rights, because we believe that diversity creates a better world. And education is very important to reach out and show people what lessons history can teach us.”

Ms. Cameron is quite impressed with the overall feel of “Cabaret”, especially the musical numbers that are performed by the eight women, three men and one non-gender binary transgender man who make up the club’s chorus. “The numbers will definitely knock your socks off,” she added. “And to really help create a genuine feel for the Kit Kat Club in Berlin during the early 30s, audience members will have the option of purchasing special tickets that will give them access to actual cabaret-style seating, which will include beverage service and an opportunity to interact with the cast during the show.”

To create a buzz for “Cabaret” before opening night, members of the troupe will be performing a selection of musical numbers from the show at certain senior residences in the area, including Maimonides, as well as special preview mini performances at the Beth Zion Synagogue on May 21 and the Cote St. Luc Men’s Club.

And on May 29, the CSLDS will kick off its run of “Cabaret” with a Gala evening that starts at 6 p.m. at the Cote St. Luc Council Chamber. The opening performance of “Cabaret” will be preceded by a presentation of live musical numbers of certain songs from previous CSLDS productions, as well as a screening of a video featuring 96-year-old Holocaust survivor Margaret Newman, who will be present at the Gala to answer questions following the screening. Tickets for the May 29 Gala are $150, and proceeds will be used towards the cost of bringing high school and CEGEP students to see “Cabaret” during the run of the show. To purchase tickets to this event, go to bit.ly/CSLDSTickets, or call Ryan Nemeroff at 514-485-6806, ext. 2022 or via email at rnemeroff@cotesaintluc.org.

For information about “Cabaret”, or how to buy tickets, go to www.CSLDramaticSociety.org.

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

 

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.

No plans for new CSL auditorium: Brownstein

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No plans for new CSL auditorium: Brownstein

A performance of the Côte St. Luc Dramatic Society’s production of Hairspray.

There are no plans for Côte St. Luc to proceed with a city hall project that would have included a new state-of-the-art theatre-style auditorium, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told The Suburban.

“We have no plans to move the project forward in the future,” the Mayor said Friday.

Last week, The Suburban reported that demerged Montreal municipalities were left out of this round of federal-provincial grants for communities, while numerous off-island municipalities did receive sizeable grants. The grants are decided on by the Quebec government. This was revealed by Montreal West Mayor Beny Masella.

Grants were denied for a new recreation centre in Montreal West and the Côte St. Luc project in this round of funding.

“We will definitely keep on top of all government announcements to ensure we are first in line to submit a funding request when a new program opens,” Masella told the late August town council meeting.

The Côte St. Luc project, Brownstein explained last week, was for “an extension to the city hall complex which would have added a theatre-style auditorium and other community spaces for programming and offices.

“The grant opportunity between federal and provincial was up to 90 percent and the other 10 percent would have been raised through private sponsorship and savings regarding the plaza renovation required in front of city hall which is estimated to cost around $1.5 million and will need to be done in the not too distant future,” the Côte St. Luc Mayor added last week. “The plaza renovation was part of the grant application.”

In the meantime, Côte St. Luc mayoral candidate Robert Libman reacted to last week’s Suburban story about the grant refusals, saying residents cannot afford to build and support an $11-$15 million theatre.

“The city’s three year capital works budget (PTI) identifies $11 million for the project —complicated projects of this nature always go over budget,” Libman said. “The sitting Mayor is a producer and actor in the CSL Dramatic Society (CSLDS) productions, so I understand that he is enticed by the project.”

Libman also contended that the current Harold Greenspon Auditorium at city hall is adequate, and the English Montreal School Board’s Wagar Auditorium can also be used —it was for the CSLDS’s Fiddler on the Roof. The candidate also called on the city administration to “confirm that the $11 million in funds allocated in the Capital Works Budget will not be used for this purpose now that the grant has been refused.”

Brownstein replied that, indeed, “now that the grant application was refused, the three-year capital expense and associated grant revenue projections have been removed from our capital plans.”

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

Little Shop of Horrors – A Deviously Delicious Musical in CSL

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Looking for a fun and entertaining outing this weekend? Don’t want to go downtown? Want free parking too? Then head over to the Harold Greenspon Auditorium at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall for “A wonderful twisted and vibrant Broadway-quality horro-comedy musical”.

The CSL Dramatic Society is back for another wildly entertaining show until June 25.

Little Shop of Horrors is a horror comedy rock musical, by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The musical is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film The Little Shop of Horrors. The music, composed by Menken in the style of early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown, includes several well-known tunes, including the title song, “Skid Row (Downtown)”, “Somewhere That’s Green”, and “Suddenly, Seymour”.

The musical premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1982 before moving to the Orpheum Theatre Off-Broadway, where it had a five-year run. It later received numerous productions in the U.S. and abroad, and a subsequent Broadway production. Because of its small cast and relatively simple orchestrations, it has become popular with community theatre, school and other amateur groups.[1] The musical was also made into a 1986 film of the same name, directed by Frank Oz.

 

“Dazzling! Musically delightful and wickedly funny.”
– Pat Donnelly, Arts Writer

“A deviously delicious musical.”
– Stuart Nulman, Montreal Times

“A wonderful twisted and vibrant Broadway-quality
horro-comedy musical.”

– Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

Directed by Anisa Cameron and produced by Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, the CSL version is hilarious with an all-local, amateur troupe that is so ridiculously talented that this show could easily be Off-Broadway. In fact, I’m thinking of proposing that we change the name of Cavendish Blvd. to Broadway so that every show that Cameron and Brownstein put together is Off-Broadway!

Brownstein stars as the nerdy aging shop owner ready to throw in the towel on his failing florist outlet until his nerdy n’er-do-well sales boy, the nerdy Seymour (Benjamin Warner) comes along with his wacky plant creation that turns everything around. The singers and dancers are as outstanding as their past amazing performances. Hampstead actor Brandon Schwartz is back from his performing arts studies in Toronto for an appearance.

Photo Diane Dupuis

Justin Johnson – Skip Snip and Shaun Nishmas – Mr. Bernstein are back with the CSLDS. Justin previously played Seaweed in Hairspray, while Shaun is a long-time veteran, having performed in Our Town, Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can, and many others.

Sam Boucher, Patrick Park and Brandon Schwartz – are the three Doo-Wops and all return to the Greenspon stage. Sam has been seen in Hairspray and The Producers, while Patrick recently starred as Lionel in Fancy Nancy. Brandon Schwartz has previously played Link Larkin in Hairspray and Frank Abagnale, Jr. in Catch Me If You Can.

Photo Diane Dupuis

The list of talented and creative entertainers goes and and can be found on the CSLDS Facebook page.

Tickets are inexpensive and seats are still available for the last week of this 20 show run.

The kids have finished their last exams? Treat them to a family-funny theatrical performance. Looking for that last minute Father’s Day Gift? Wow him with high-level entertainment right around the corner. Click here for tickets and information.

 

 

Read more:

Montreal Gazette

Côte St. Luc Dramatic Society to stage Little Shop of Horrors

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The award-winning Côte St. Luc Dramatic Society is once again demonstrating how diverse its offerings are, this time by presenting the horror-comedy rock-musical Little Shop of Horrors from June 8 to 25 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium, 5801 Cavendish Blvd. in Côte St. Luc.

The CSLDS’s other productions have ranged from ensemble comedies to classic Broadway musicals to straight drama.

Little Shop of Horrors is the story of a plant named Audrey II that offers fame and fortune to a meek floral assistant, in exchange for blood. It was first an ultra-low budget horror black comedy movie in 1960 featuring a young Jack Nicholson.

It became an off-Broadway musical in the early 1980s, then a high-budget 1986 Frank Oz-directed movie musical with Rick Moranis and the voice of Four Tops singer Levi Stubbs as the killer plant, and then a full Broadway musical. The music is by Alan Menken and the book is by Howard Ashman.

The CSLDS’s artistic director Anisa Cameron directs again, and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein is producing and has a role in the musical as well.

Cameron said she has wanted to direct Little Shop of Horrors for a long time. She first saw the 1986 movie at the age of nine, and was captivated by its music, cast and script.

“Like all of our shows, I had to wait for the right people to come into my life to be able to produce the show,” she told The Suburban. “I have my amazing production team back —David Terriault, my musical director; Alexia Gourd, my choreographer; and Mitchell Brownstein, the most amazing producer ever.” A five-piece band will be playing the music.

Brownstein says the show, with its cast, special effects, and set design, will be very special.

“It’s going to be very exciting, visually,” he adds. “It’s a little different from what people have seen before in Côte St. Luc, a satire of all the horror movies of the past put into a musical — every song is really fun. I think it will have island-wide appeal.”

Tickets are available online at CSLDramaticSociety.com, or in person at the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library (5851 Cavendish Blvd) or the Aquatic and Community Centre (5794 Parkhaven Ave).

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.

August Council meeting rap up – Free Press

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August 8 city council meeting highlights:
Gilfix learns there’s little the city can do
about pesky, yard-squatting wildlife

by Isaac Olson – Free Press

At the start of the August 8 Côte St. Luc
council meeting, Brian Gilfix learned
there’s little the city can do about pesky
skunks, groundhogs or squirrels because
provincial law severely limits the amount
people can intervene in the lives of wild
animals.

Gilfix said he wanted to bring to the
council’s attention the increase of skunks,
groundhogs and squirrels in the area.

“There is quite a proliferation of these
animals in the area,” he said, noting he
has discussed the issue with pest control
companies and neighbours. These types
of animals can be a hazard as they can
carry diseases like rabies, tear up gardens
and chew through power lines, he added.
“I’m just wondering what the city can do?”

Councillor Dida Berku told Gilfix there
is little the city can do because of provincial
law. The councillor reiterated what is on
the city’s website – residents can contact
the Montreal SPCA to report wild animals,
but not much can be done as animals cannot
be caged unless they are trapped in a
ceiling, roof, shed or enclosed balcony
area. Even then, the animals are released
in the area, most often on the property,
and then residents are encouraged to repair
whatever route the animal used to get
trapped.

Councillor Glenn Nashen said the animals
just return to the property, he said,
and moving them a limited distance
doesn’t get rid of them. Nashen said he
has had a skunk on his property for the
last three year and he has explored all of
his option, but he’s discovered that he is
virtually “powerless” when it comes to getting
rid of the animal. The SPCA can, the
site notes, recommend techniques and
products to deter these animals, but animals
are only removed if they are sick or
injured.

Brownstein touts upcoming play

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, a staunch
supporter of and participant in the Côte
St. Luc Dramatic Society, touted the
group’s upcoming presentation of Florida,
an original musical parody slated to hit
the stage later this month. The play will
be put on at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium
on August 25, 27 and 28.

According to the Dramatic Society’s website,
the play “is written and directed by
Ari Sterlin. Inspired by the award-winning
Chicago, Florida features 15 seniors from
Côte St. Luc and tons of fun and exciting
song and dance numbers.”

Senior drop-in centre coming to the ACC

The council approved a partnership
agreement between the Cummings Centre
and the city to provide a senior drop-in
centre in a fully renovated room with an
accessible bathroom in the Aquatic Community
Centre.

The city, said Brownstein, spent about
$10,000 on creating a space for this program,
which caters to seniors with health
problems such as dementia and Alz –
heimer’s. The service gives caregivers a
break, he noted, as they can leave the
seniors in the care of professionals.

The drop-in centre will replace that
which was closed earlier this year after
government funding was pulled.

Excavation draft by-law approved

The council approved a draft by-law that
prohibits the excavation of any lot or land
without written permission issued by the
city’s director. It also requires that completely
opaque construction fencing be
erected around excavation sites.

New chairs

Côte St. Luc’s city hall has all-new, contemporary
seating. The chairs were installed
over the summer in both city hall
and the Harold Greenspon Auditorium,
said Brownstein, noting the more comfortable
seating may encourage more attendance
of council meetings.

 

 

Free Press | Aug. 16, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Free Press | Aug. 16, 2016 | Click to enlarge

“Florida” hits the stage in Cote Saint-Luc

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Florida CSLDS 2016

The latest musical parody swept into Cote Saint-Luc last night at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium in CSL City Hall as the CSL Dramatic Society presented Ari Sterlin’s “Florida”, a take-off on the Broadway musical hit production of Chicago.

Star of stage and council meetings, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, opened the show saying, “Providing members of our community with the ability to exercise their passions while bringing arts and culture to the community is a core value and fundamental reason for which the City of Cote Saint-Luc decided to establish a Dramatic Society. Actors and audiences benefit alike creating a better quality of life for all to enjoy.”

The chorus of Florida, a Seniors Summerworks Production

The chorus of Florida, a Seniors Summerworks Production

The fast-paced humour, dancing and singing highlights the talents of many returning local actors. Notably, senior performers Judy Kenigsberg (Roxie Hartkovitch), Hannah Scheffren (Velma Cohen) and Councillor Sam Goldbloom (Moe Sunshine) kibbitz and cajole in a fun-loving way as youngster Jordana Kujavsky (Mama Moses) returns to the CSL stage and wows the crowd with dimples and gusto.

Hannah Scheffren (left) and Judy Kenigsberg, and all the jazz

Hannah Scheffren (left) and Judy Kenigsberg, and all the jazz

 

Rookie CSLDS actor Louis Schiff (Amos) does a funny solo number, Cellophane Rabbi, while another first-timer Dan Sterlin puts on an impressive sleaze-bucket lawyer performance as Billy Schwartz.

Based in Cemetery Village in South Florida the parody pokes fun at Bubbies and Zaides. Florida tells the story of a past-her-prime vaudeville star and a new hopeful on the scene who will find themselves locked up together in Florida’s finest penitentiary after having committed horrible crimes toward their men. Ari Sterlin does a fine job at  writing, directing and choreographing this spoof production.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Councillor "Moe Sunshine" Sam Goldbloom

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Councillor “Moe Sunshine” Sam Goldbloom

This show is a Senior Summerworks Production pairing senior citizens with emerging young artists. The artistic director is none other than the incomparable, talented and energetic Anisa Cameron.

If you wait you’ll miss it so go get your tickets before it’s too late. Last night’s opening performance was sold out. There are just four performances this weekend: two afternoon matinees and two evening shows, this Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 27 and 28). Visit www.CSLDramaticSociety.com for details or get your tickets at the Aquatic and Community Centre or the Public Library.

CSL Mayor on first 100 days in office

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Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein gives a quick update on his first 100 days in office and on latest developments on Fleet Road, Cavendish extension, CP Rail, city events and staying in close contact with constituents.

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.

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