Councillor Mitchell Brownstein's dream of bringing live theatre to our community via the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society has met with enormous success. It all began a year ago with Dining Out, a series of scenes, sketches and songs. That was followed up last fall by the musical Grease - a massive success with sold out performances.
Brownstein, who has a long history in theatre, made the most important move by securing the services of Anisa Cameron as the director. Well known for her extraordinary work running the Bialik High School productions, Anisa brought immediate professionalism to the operation.
The Harold Greenspon Auditorium has served as the venue and this has worked out quite nicely. But after the perhaps unexpected success of the latest project, Norm Foster's dark comedy Office Hours, who knows where they may be headed in the future?
My family and I attended the last of the six shows on May 26 and it was absolutely hilarious. Brownstein is one big PR machine and he the word out via press releases and advertising for weeks. As a result, there was a tremendous walk up crowd. A buzz circulated throughout the community and when people went to our library the morning of the final performance they were told it was soldout.
For Office Hours, Brownstein was joined on stage by his brother Herbert (a Dollard des Ormeaux councillor), Mayor Anthony Housether and Councillor Sam Goldbloom. They even did a special Friday matinee for seniors.
Office Hours takes place in six different city offices at approximately the same time on a Friday afternoon, and the stories that take place in each of these offices are cleverly intertwined. In The Reporter, Herbert Brownstein plays Warren Kimble, an aging TV reporter who is being shunted to the side by the young and pushy news director Pamela Gerard (Danielle Shustack). Herbert's ability to remember such a lengthy opening dialogue must be commended. He makes the immediate connecton of the names Kimble and Gerard as in The Fugitive TV show and movie. So it is not surprising to see a one armed man (Shaun Nismas) enter the scene.
The Pitch has Gordon Blaine (Anthony Housefather) and Francine Majors (Ellen Rabin) with a difference of opinion as whether to work with hot young movie producer Bobby Holland (Ryan Kligman). Our mayor is hilarious as he bickers with Francine, trying very hard to believe Holland's very much Tarazan the Ape Man script for a new movie.
The Agent has Mark (Daniel Harroch) trying to justify his multiple affairs to wife Ellie (Riva Bruck), the latter a District 2 resident who I have known since she is a toddler. Riva has grown into a beautiful teen with a wonderful personality. She studies theatre in school. The chemistry between the two characters here was great to watch.
In The Visit, Richard Penney (Mikey Samra) is a young entertainment lawyer who gets an unexpected visit in his office by mom Rhonda (Hannah Sheffren) and dad Lloyd (Goldbloom). The skit is perhaps the funniest in the entire show, especially the way mom and dad play off of each other. Sheffren had people laughing so hard tears were coming out of their eyes, Goldbloom, who has previous acting experience, showed his talent. As my colleague Glenn J. Nashen mentioned after the show, "Sam, you should be at the Centaur."
The Dismissal had Stan (Kevin Shustack) making it clear to horse jockey Arthur Barnes (Mike E. Rappaport) that he is simply too big to be riding a horse. Shustack unleashes one-liners after another, perfectly timed and his physical expressions represent half the fun.
Finally, The Analyst has Dr. Sharon Freeman (Dafna Regenstrief) trying to talk Neil Penny (Mkey Samra) off the roof. Henry Hatcher (Mitchell Brownstein) enters the scene and trys to make a deal. He will convince Dr. Freeman's patient not to jump if she buys his planning agenda. Rhona and Lloyd Penny (Sheffren and Goldbloom) re-emerge and so does Barnes (Rappaport) in what made for a terrific ending.
Another unique aspect of this show was the faciiities crew (David Benrimoh. Bailey Cohen-Krivchevsky, Cheryl Gabbay, Lia Ollo and Jessica Zylberlcht) who went beyond merely adjusting the stage between each acts. They did so in the form of mini skits.
Oh yes - the door prizes. At intermission Harroch came on stage to announce that the lucky winner would get the chance to spend an hour with the city councillor of their choice undertaking a municipal activity. He was joined by Kevin Shustack, who was impersonating Mayor Housefather. Midway through the kit, we saw the mayor hop out with tape over his mouth and acros his arms and legs. He chased Shustack off the stage and announced that this was a commercial for identity theft.
Next on the agenda for the CSL Dramatic Society will be a few scenes from Grease and Moulin Rouge at our July 1 Canada Day celebrations. We will then wait for news as to what musical Cameron will choose to present in the fall.
Congratulations to technical director Scott Drysdale, stage manager Ariel Sterlin, costume designer Isabelle Boudreau and some of the unsung heroes: Harold Cammy and Ryan Nemeroff of the Parks and Recreation Department; Darryl Levine, Régine Banon, Ruth Farrugia and Lisa Milner, who handled the communications, marketing and facility needs; Dr. Jerrold Rappaport, whose promo videos were very professionally done; and Elaine Yagod Brownstein, the wife of Mitch and one of the most devoted political spouses I know. She was there handling the front ticket desk with charm and patience.
Bravo to all!