Billed as an evening of music, mime and clowning, the first annual Cabaret Clownesque was a huge success as every seat was filled at the Park Theatre for an evening of vaudevillian entertainment.
The event was organized by head clown, Sue Proctor, who has 30 years of clowning and storytelling experience. She also served as emcee of the evening in her alter ego of Agnes, introducing the many talented and funny performers.
The clowns couldn’t wait for the show to start and greeted the arriving theatre goers and basically clowned around. Xapa (Manon Ottenbreit) noticed a few of the tables in the lobby needed a wipe so she hopped on top of the round tables and spun around on her belly, while the other clowns such as Sheila Pinkerton, in her elegant top hat, greeted guests and showed them to their seats.
After clown Agnes welcomed everyone, she sent Xapa into the audience to escort the pre-selected volunteer onto the stage. They pre-selected the volunteer to save time but when it comes to clowns, even simple things can be difficult.
Once on stage Agnes sailed a celery ship across the imaginary flooded stage towards the unsuspecting volunteer while she held up an orange and cauliflower.
Next up was Jim Pringle who explained to Agnes the difference between a violin and the viola on which he skillfully played a few songs. It wasn’t too long into his set that he was interrupted by Bernadette (played by his partner, Rosemary Miguez), who brought her own viola and was hoping to learn from the master musician. She certainly played a mean air viola.
Xapa came on the stage with mop and pail to tidy up a bit but ended up getting her foot stuck in the pail. What better thing to do in a situation like that than twirl a couple of hula hoops and spin your hat at the same time.
Humphrey the Clown (Dave Langdon, a founding member of the Canadian Association of Therapeutic Clowns, who has been cheering up folks at the HSC Children’s Hospital for the last 25 years) showed up and pulled someone out of the audience to help him with a couple magic tricks, before he grabbed his guitar for a fun song accompanied by his kazoo.
After a short intermission, where people could buy refreshments, as well as clown greeting cards by Hildi Janzen and flower prints by Karen Johannsson, the hilarity continued.
Agnes introduced world famous mime Giuseppe Condello about whom Marcel Marceau is quoted as saying, “Today there are only a handful of artists left who are qualified to perform and teach Corporeal Mime — Giuseppe Condello is one of them.”
Condello learned the craft in Paris, France from the father of mime, Ettieine Decroux, who also taught Marcel Marceau. Condello was going to perform ‘The Washing’ written by Decroux in 1931 but a recent back injury prevented him from doing the complex piece. Instead he led a Corporeal Mime workshop, with many in the audience jumping at the opportunity to participate.
Dave Langdon’s wife Lynn’s character, Evelyn the clown, came on the stage for her one person act but as she was telling her story, Humphrey barged onto the stage turning it into a hilarious two person act.
Larry Fisher (who developed an Irish Harp and sells many of them in Ireland) and Christine Brandt provided some uplifting music on their concertinas and it was quite nice until Bernadette came on the stage with a bag. You’ll never guess what she pulled out of it — a concertina of her own. It seems she gave up on the viola and wanted to learn how to play this instrument. The only sound she got out of it sounded more like an old siren than a musical piece. Poor Bernadette. Will she ever find the right instrument?
Well, all good things must come to an end. And the closing act, Fred Casey and Nyree Bridgman with the Uke group started off their three song set with a lovely version of ‘Sea of Love’ followed by the happy and bouncy ‘You Are My Sunshine’.
Things were going real good when who should show up on stage with her own ukelele, Bernadette. And you know what, she was rockin’. I think she finally found the instrument that she’s suited for.
By the time they started their last song, the Ringo Starr penned Beatles tune, ‘Octopus’ Garden,’ people in the audience where up and dancing. All in all, a fun night was had by all. Lots of smiles on peoples faces as they left the theatre.
Brief videos of some of the perfomances can be viewed here:
For more info:
Cabaret Clownesque: firstname.lastname@example.org
Clown folks: winnipegarts.ca/wac/event/1326
David Langdon: email@example.com
Fred Casey and the Uke group: www.cfcaseyguitars.com?file=kop1.php
Larry Fisher: www.fisherharps
Christine Brandt: http://acbrandtproductions.com/
Giuseppe Condello will be facilitating an intensive Corporeal Mime workshop August 1 -10 which will also include Hatha Yoga. He also does private and individual training. For more info check out his amazing bio and website at www.corporealmime.com
All photos and videos by Doug Kretchmer