ONEGIN

Arts Club Theatre Company, Granville Island Stage, until December 31st

Meg Roe and Alessandro Juliani in the 2017 production of Onegin. Photo by David Cooper

My Two Pence

My Two Cents

My Two Pence

My Two Cents

By Penny Warwick

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It is hard for me to write about Onegin because I loved the first incarnation so much and feel that my view is tainted by that. This version is quite different, now in a more traditional theatre space and has a much more presentational feel than the initial run, which felt deeply intimate and uniquely personal. So for that reason my experience this second time round was a little heartbreaking. Of course, it is completely understandable and unavoidable – as Tatyana (Meg Roe) reminds us so painfully “You cannot have the past”. The work and staging will continue to develop and change as this show gains popularity and tours/performs in ever larger spaces to fit with demand, and it will continue to translate into grander theatres than this I have no doubt. The work will always stand up, no matter where you put it. Veda Hille and Amiel Gladstone have created a masterpiece.

 

The original cast look like they are clearly having fun in the production. There was an easy looseness sometimes in the performances which resulted in more of a fluctuation between more naturalistic acting and seemingly play-acting or ‘acting up’ for a response, however this is most likely a response to the overwhelming familiarity and energy of the opening night crowd.

 

Onegin was, and still is, the best thing I have seen on a Vancouver stage. It is dramatic, beautiful and deeply touching. Do not miss it.

By Lillian Jasper

 

There isn’t much you can do to prepare yourself for Onegin. The cast, musicians and creative team have assembled a work of art that belongs to the ages. There’s such heart, vitality and passion in this story of a man who is bored with life. It's a story that has been retold many times, but never like this. 

 

Veda Hille’s music is driving and refreshingly modern, while at the same time evocative of the bygone era in which Pushkin’s poem was written. Amiel Gladstone and his team have crafted each detail of Onegin with genius and creativity. Even before the first notes are sung, we have been swept into a world of theatre magic. With energy and momentum the performers welcome and include us in every step, kick and clap of their journey. There is not a weak link among them - Alessandro Juliani is so charming as the rakish Evgeni, that, despite his arrogance, we feel for him in his many self-made messes. Meg Roe is exquisite as Tatyana, delicate and formidable all at once. Her “Let Me Die” is the highlight of the show. Together, their chemistry permeates the entire theatre. The talent and stamina of the cast and musicians is truly admirable - the show works so well because they are giving it their everything. 

 

One of the lines in the opening/introduction sequence is “we hope to break you open”. They have succeeded, in the best way. For the love of Love, see this show.

My Two Pence

My Two Cents

By Liz Gloucester

 

Conceived by the brilliant Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille, after Pushkin and Tchaikovsky, this through-sung indie/folk musical is brimming with the ennui and lost opportunity that is so prevalent in much of Russian literature. Do not be intimidated by the thought of the intellectual tomes it emulates, for there is vodka and you are guaranteed a bonne soirée.

 

From the offset we are greeted by the performers quite informally as they descend the two aisles – and this precedent continues throughout the performance, which is very dynamic and audience aware. We are made to feel very included in the space - stage asides, winks and participation are encouraged. The company are also in very familiar territory with each other and their delight and interplay is unmistakable. While vibrant and truthful they could have pulled back a tad on the joking-about as it stole any sense of subtlety from the piece. Most noticeable for me was an absence of Onegin's promised melancholy character, a discrediting of the death of Lensky and also how much less outrageous Andrew McNee's french flirtator seemed, being surrounded by such a kooky crowd, in spite of his admirable leg work. But tish and pish. It's bloody good fun.

By Kelly Moncton

 

Watching Onegin reminded me of seeing one of my favourite relatives at a family gathering. You know, the ones who are warm, kind, and a little bit eccentric? This is a musical that’s not afraid to give some audience members a drink, but also has the good taste not to have an open bar. There were so many moments where the performers interacted with the audience, but it was done in good taste, and helped draw us into their story. I particularly appreciate that while Onegin is not a traditional ‘happy ending’ love story, I still walked away feeling comforted and fuzzy.

 

I was impressed by the look of the show, combining modern and period dress, choreography, and sets. Nearly every cast member, all talented singers and actors, also joined the band at one point or other, seamlessly adding richness to the score on various instruments. Moments of the music felt like Sondheim writing pop/rock, with repeated motifs and lines adding beautifully to the meaning of the story.

 

Some stories and movies get too much attention and praise, and when I finally get a chance to experience them myself, I find myself underwhelmed. Onegin is filled to the brim with intensity and warmth, and can stand up to quite a bit of hype. Go see it!