THUNDER BAY, ON ---- March 14, 2010 --- Few artists attain excellence without first making sacrifices. A life dedicated to their art is a something most regular people would never understand. Surely there must be an easier way to earn a living! What makes it all worthwhile is when you begin to be appreciated for your talent, not just at home but on distant stages also. During the twenty or more years since we have attended Lakehead Universities Music department, Jo-Ann has methodically nurtured and developed a career as a professional actress. She has performed and explored the limits of her talent on stages across Canada. It is encouraging that such talent can be nurtured here in Thunder Bay.
The Current production “The Blonde, The Brunette, and The Vengeful Redhead” by Robert Hewett is a bit of a departure for city residents used to seeing Jo-Ann play one of her well known “Ivanka” rolls. Hewett writes a great story line for this play. Actually there are several smaller stories that each describe an incident from an individual point of view. Hewett uses the short stories to effectively tell a much larger tale. They are all interconnected brilliantly.
Hewett’s approach works well on stage since each of the stories can be played by a different character, and being a one person show, Jo-Ann Waytowich plays all of the characters. I am wary of one actor productions, I often see them as a budget production, but this is not the case with this show. While there is only one actor on stage, Waytowich has the entire team at Magnus backing her up. The lighting and set design of Tim Rodrigues and Noéme Avidar deserve special notice. Their work gracefully adds to the show without distracting from the performance on stage.
One person shows work best when you have a great actress, a great play, and a great company. When all three things come together you can reach a stage of theatrical excellence. Now that Jo-Ann has made a name for herself with her Ivanka plays, she is also being recognized for her formidable talent as an actress as we can see in this month’s production at Magnus Theatre.
Robert Hewett is an award winning Australian playwright. His present play also shows that he is a keen observer of human nature. If you plan to attend the performance thinking that this is another Ivanka like comedy with Jo-Ann Waytowich, you might be disappointed. This is a serious story, and the clichés over hair colour are mostly in the title of the play. On the plus side this play has the best story line of the season. It is not a political play, and the production at Magnus is superb.
What I like the best in this play is the visitation of the murdered women’s blind daughter to the red-head in prison. At fourteen she was smart enough to realize that forgiveness and atonement can cure a tragic past, and allow people to walk away from the bad gifts in live that keep on giving. This is a powerful play, and we will all know someone who is a little bit like one of the characters that Jo-Ann so admirably performs.
The show runs until March 20th.
Arts Editor: LakeSuperiorNews.com