Review: Burning Bluebeard

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a good ghost story.  Luckily, I had the good fortune of finding one while in Edmonton this past weekend.

Burning Bluebeard, written by Jay Torrence and directed by Dave Horak, is a tale unlike any I have seen in recent memory.  The creepy part is that the story and characters center around the Iroquois Theatre fire that occurred on December 30, 1903 which claimed over 600 lives.  If you are at all familiar with that disaster, you would know just how gruesome this play could be.  But it’s not.

The presentation of this play is also made even more suitable as it is being produced by Theatre Network’s Roxy on Gateway.  The reason this is so interesting is that the Roxy burnt down in January of this past year.  Could there be a better way for a theatre that had a fire to close out its year with a play about a theatre fire?!

The characters include a fine small cast of clowns, a stage manager and a faerie queen which bring the Christmas pantomime together in a wonderful display of witty humour, cheap jokes, tumbling and more.  I can honestly say, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time (that’s what kind of a show it is) and thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.

Amber Lewis did a tremendous job as Fancy Clown.  Her mix of dry wit without missing a beat what fantastic and slightly scary.  I never knew what she was going to do next and it was genuinely fun to watch her performance. I also thoroughly enjoyed watching Eddie Foy, smartly played by Vincent Forcier. He brought an amazing level of humanity to the stage for someone I had originally thought a simple clown.

The epic presence of Braydon Dowler-Coltman on stage was hard to miss as he played the roles of Henry Gilfoil and Bluebeard.  Watching him move about as Bluebeard was mesmerizing, grand and at some points, horrifying.  In addition, Richelle Thoreson’s performance as the silent Faerie Queen was nothing short of magical.

In the end, it was the performances John Ullyatt playing the role of Robert Murray the Stage Manager and Stephanie Wolfe playing the role of Nellie Reed that brought tears to my eyes.  Ullyatt’s performance was emotional, heartfelt, haunting and held true the whole way through to the heartbreaking finale when coupled with the story of Nellie Reed.

Everything from the amazing set design, costumes, sound and lighting left me with a sense of wonder, imagination and dread.  While dread usually isn’t synonymous with Christmas, I would strongly suggest you watch Burning Bluebeard to find out exactly what its all about.  With shows remaining December 9 – 13, it is one show I recommend you do not miss!  You will laugh…..you will cheer……you will shiver…..and you will cry.

“We wanted to make moonlight,” the Stage Manager said sadly.

If only I could let the characters know…. “You did!”

Tickets and show info are available here: http://theatrenetwork.ca/shows/season/season41/burning-bluebeard/






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