Sunday Matinee

Today was our last show and probably our best. We had a 1:00 matinee. Today the audience was much more enthusiastic. It sounded as if perhaps more of them were from the States as they seemed to get the inside jokes a little better. Roslyn tried to watch the show and even recognized her "daddy," but then got a little impatient and Junel had to take her out.

Afterwards we struck and I met up with Junel and Roslyn at the James Joyce Bistro on the corner of Douglas and View. They had really good food and I sampled one of their stouts. Soon it was time to head back to the hotel and pack for the journey home.


Saturday Night Late Show

Saturday after breakfast Junel did her usual workout. We then did some shopping downtown. Since our show wasn't until 10:30 that night we had plenty of time.


Tea at the Empress

The show last night had good energy. Unfortunately we only had about 20 people in the audience and they didn't seem to know it was permissible to clap. Today we had a day off between shows.

Junel went to work out after breakfast, so I watched Roslyn a while. She actually got a nap in. I had reserved a time at 4:30 for high tea at the Empress Hotel. Sharon was kind enough to come over and look after Roslyn, and so Junel and I took off for the Empress.

Junel and Mark at the Empress. Photo © 2008, Bacigalupo/Williams.

We had tea and their very special sandwiches and desserts of which unfortunately I can't recall the names. There was a guy playing jazz piano and the whole ambience was very relaxing. They also sent us back with some tea samples which was nice. All in all it was a great time.

I had rented a movie for us to watch when we got back, but I think I slept through most of it. Some of the cast and myself are fighting off colds. Hopefully we can finish the run without getting too sick.


Audience reviews at Fringe site

The Fringe website has a few audience reviews online at:


Monday Magazine review

Lysistrata’s War

* * ½

I hate to harp on technical issues, especially when it’s the first staging at the Fringe, but the sound levels of the ambitious Lysistrata’s War were quite out of whack and detracted from the overall production. Hopefully that’s all sorted by the time you read this. There are a few strong performances, particularly Stephanie Grigsby and Sharon Kerrigan and most importantly, it’s nice to see a classic work whose message is still relevant today.


Venue 2: Thursday 6:00, Saturday 10:30, Sunday 1:00

Click here for link.


Wine tours and Roslyn and I

Ethel, Nikki, and Junel went on a tour of 5 local wineries today. Maybe I can get Junel to write a little more about it.

My day wasn't quite as interesting other than I got to spend it with this cute girl. She and I hung out in the room, napped, went to WalMart, and watched Finding Nemo.


Errands, Undersea Gardens, the Harbor, and Chinatown

Today was another day off and we needed some groceries, so Junel, Roslyn, and I took a drive to the health food store up the street on Douglas. After dropping the groceries off back at the hotel. We took a little drive. I put up a poster at Venue 6 and then we went and got some outside pictures of Craigdarroch Castle. After that we went down to the harbor, parked the car, and walked over to the Undersea Gardens.

Roslyn enjoyed their presentation. A diver would bring examples of the different kinds of sea life by the windows so the audience could see them up close. Roslyn was a little scared of the octopus though.

Then we walked by the Empress Hotel and checked it out. I am going to try to make reservations for high tea for Friday. I put a few posters up on the poles on Government Street. Then it was back to the car and over to Chinatown. We found a real cute silk Chinese outfit for Roslyn and then decided it was time to refuel.

We ended up going back to Swan's. I had their brew sampler and some fish and chips. Roslyn was getting real tired, so afterwards, we went back to the hotel.

I decided to see a show, so I joined up with Kurt and Nikki, and went over to Venue 3, which is around the corner from the Metro Studio where our show is, to see Les Ms. The two women performing were a non-stop tour de force of parody. They crammed practically the entire show into an hour including a hilarious tribute to Moulin Rouge.

Afterwards I dropped by the Fringe Club for a beer and got to talk to two of the Fringe Volunteers who commented that they had really liked our show. We chatted a while and then I talked with Meg, Stephanie, Jeff, and one of the Fringe Board members for a while.

Soon it was 1:00 am and time for bed.


Plank Magazine review

Lysistrata’s War - a tragedy

By Mike Vardy

Fringe shows are typically driven by a small number of people, with fairly small casts and fairly light technical demands. Some even attempt to make some form of statement. Lysistrata’s War has a cast of twenty-five and kept the venue technician very busy. As for the statement it tries to make, it’s basically a political allegory gone wrong.

In the tradition of the story of King Arthur being adapted into the musical Camelot or Pygmalion into My Fair Lady, you can see what David Hamilton (director and lyricist) and Mark D. Williams (composer and musical director) were going for. What they ended up with was their very own Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The main problem with this adaptation of Aristophanes’ Greek comedy is the statement it tries to make. This may play well in Lake Tahoe, where this show originated, but it just doesn’t work here. The program claims that the play is not specifically about the war in Iraq, but when the Governor does a George W. Bush impression mid-song, it’s hard not to think otherwise. When you see pictures of Uncle Sam and a bald eagle flash across a large screen during Lysistrata’s solo “Why Must This Go On - I am Athenian”, it’s hard not to laugh and wonder if she doesn’t mean to sing “I am American.”

The technical demands of this show also cause some major problems. The cast really needed to be miked and they also needed monitors to allow them to keep in time with the musical score. In addition, the score is too loud and overpowers the cast. With numerous shows at the same venue, it’s hard to blame the technician for this; there’s very little tech time as it is and with a show this demanding, it’s going to be very difficult to get it right before the run ends.

The best part about a musical is the music itself; it’s why they are so popular. Lysistrata’s War follows the tried and true method of reprisals and dueling songs but the music is weak and clichéd. In addition, it is so heavily computer-synthesized that it becomes distracting and comes off as amateurish. It doesn’t help that some of the cast cannot sing very well, with the strongest singer being Lysistrata (Sharon Kerrigan). The lyrics were repetitive and seemed forced. I don’t know how many times I heard the words “stop” and “top” bundled together into a rhyming couplet.

The play runs almost 90 minutes but it feels longer. They go back and forth between the men and women in different settings, all the while we hear the shuffling of the set pieces and the jingling of the costumes. There were some funny moments that quickly got buried with some not-supposed-to-be-funny-but-funny moments. As the play went on, you could clearly hear some snickering and muffled laughter from the audience. Not good if you’re trying to make a statement.

By the end, I was hoping I’d hear another “top-stop” rhyme to close the show. Instead, Jesus came on the stage, yelled something and stabbed Lysistrata. Then the lights went out.

Lysistrata’s War; presented by Lake Tahoe Community College. Part of the 2008 Victoria Fringe Festival. Remaining shows at Venue 2 (The Metro Studio) on the following dates: Sun 24 9:30 • Thu 28 6:00 • Sat 30 10:30 • Sun 31 1:00. For more information join the crowd and shuffle over here.

Click here for link.

Butterflies, Butchart, and Jazz

Last night's late show at 9:30 went even better in my opinion. We were able to get the monitor speaker and check some sound levels before the performance. I even cracked open the door to the house at the back of the audience and thought it sounded pretty good. Afterwards I met up with Meg and Denise at The Mint, a bar on Douglas between Pandora and Johnson, and had a Chocolate Porter. Johnny, Corey, Brandon, and Michael all joined us, though I left fairly early.

Today after checking in with Diane Rosner about the tax situation with our box office, Junel, Roslyn , and I drove out to Butchart Gardens. Before you arrive, there is a Butterfly Gardens on the left. We stopped and walked through. Junel took lots of pictures. It was real humid and hot in there. They were maintaining a tropical climate. There was quite a lot of different species of butterflies there. A few Atlas Moths also had just emerged from their chrysalises. They even had a pink flamingo. Roslyn enjoyed it a lot and we got her a little butterfly T-shirt for a souvenir.

We then proceeded to Butchart Gardens. We had a quick lunch at their Blue Poppy Cafeteria and then started the self-guided tour. Almost as soon as we had headed for the Sunken Garden we ran into Kristin, Liz, Sharon, and Stephanie who had all taken the bus out. Roslyn was showing everyone how to sniff the flowers and we all got a kick out of that as well as some pictures.

The gardens are incredible. After the Sunken Garden, you pass through the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, and then the Italian Garden. There are gorgeous fountains everywhere. It's definitely a must-see.

The Williams family at Butchart Gardens. Photo © 2008, Baciagalupo/Williams.

We came back to the hotel and tried to get Roslyn to take a nap. No luck. Sharon came over and babysat for us so that Junel and I could go to the Heron Rock Bistro and have dinner and listen to some jazz. The food was awesome and the band was a duo, a guitarist and a fluegelist who tripled on bass and vocals. All in all a fabulous day.


Frequent Fringer Contest leaderboard

Corey Stockton is leading the Frequent Fringer Contest with 9 shows. Way to go Corey!

It's raining....

Today it is cold and wet. Sort of what I imagined the weather would always be like here, though they say summer is the dry season. Uh-huh.

Kurt is working on finding a small amp to rent that we could use to separate the monitor speakers from the mains at the venue. That would sure help us to hear the background music better. Then he's going to try to diagnose what went wrong with the mixer. I am guessing that we'll probably be going without mikes again, but we'll make that call later.

Junel went to work out with Stephanie and Liz is watching Roslyn (the nap rebel), while I am multi-tasking blogging and laundry. The show tonight is a late one--9:30. We'll meet at the theatre at 8:30. Hope the rain stops by then. More later....


Kiddie Fringe Day

The Times Colonist review came out and was not particularly favorable. I posted the web version which interestingly gave us 3 stars instead of 2 1/2. I guess they haven't invented a web graphic for a half of a star and they rounded it up.

We had our usual breakfast in the restaurant at City Center and then went back to the room to get ready to take Roslyn to the Fringe Kiddie Fest down on Lower Johnson at Market Square. She had fun taking in all of the sights and activities, though she was a little to small yet for the inflatable bouncy things that you climb inside. She got a little purple butterfly painted on her cheek and a big red "b'oon" (balloon). We watched a little of the puppet show and then headed to Swan's Brewpub for lunch and an oatmeal stout.

We got back to the hotel, I watched Roslyn for a little while and Junel went to the gym for a short workout. When she got back I met with Kurt, Johnny, and Mike at 3:30 and we went over the sound cues and tried to fix as many of the technical problems as we could.

Our show was at 6:15 so we met in the lobby of City Center at 5:15 for some short notes and then headed over to the venue for the show. Shortly before we were supposed to go on, something happened to the board and Kurt came back stage and told everyone to remove their mics.

So we ended up doing the show "old school" (no mics) and I reminded the cast to "sing out Louise." (See Gypsy if you don't know what that means.) The show went quite a bit smoother than opening, though it was difficult to hear the background music onstage since it had to be turned down. Oh well, that's what makes live theater so exciting.

Junel had stayed at the hotel with Roslyn (who refused to nap all day), so after the show Jeff, Sharon, Stephanie, Liz and I went to the Irish Times Pub for some food and brew. Then home to bed for me.

Times-Colonist Review

Lysistrata's War
Grania Litwin, Times Colonist
Published: Monday, August 18, 2008

Show: Lysistrata's War
Where: Metro Studio, 1411 Quadra St.
When: Tonight and Sunday, Thursday, Aug. 30 and 31
Rating: ***

This wannabe rock opera is based on a Greek comedy from 411 BC about a bevy of babes who refuse to have sex until their partners lay down their arms. Fine fodder for a risqué romp, but this show bombs.

It opens with a strong anti-war statement with projected images of dead bodies, men in the trenches, everything from Chieftain tanks to historic Roman centurions - but later, when it tries to sizzle it just fizzles.

On opening night Thursday the music and percussion were loud and pleasing in places, but the microphones weren't working properly and even aerobics instructors don't wear headsets that big anymore. The lyrics were amusing when you could hear them - ranging from the politics of elections and erections to women who want to be on top - but sadly this amateurish cast of 22 couldn't project their voices and some even looked uncomfortable on stage.

The show is too long, the music is repetitive and there are no naughty bits. With a plot this thin, you need a little more skin.

Link for review and comments.


A day of rest--sort of

Since we didn't have a show today we were able to have a bit of rest. I still got up somewhat early and tried to catch up on the blogging. I also contacted Ginger Janssen to see if she could send me the digital files for the postcards. We have been giving them out all over town.

Junel, Roslyn and I went to Craigdarroch Castle this morning. It is a famous Victorian mansion built in the 1890s for the coal baron Robert Dunsmuir. It was amazingly beautiful. It was almost completely covered on the inside with oak paneling and had lots of turn of the century antiques.

After that we popped downtown and did a little shopping at a Christmas store. Junel likes to buy a Christmas ornament from every place to which we travel. I haven't seen the ones she picked. I held on to Roslyn outside--too many breakables.

We got back to the room in time for Roslyn to take a nap and I went to the Site Office to collect the box office receipts. It turned out we had 32 people for the first show. We hope if we get good reviews that that will increase. I also decided to go ahead and have the flyers made. So I spent a couple more hours walking back and forth between shops and then to the hotel.

We had dinner at The Black Olive. They had excellent Italian and Greek food. Roslyn was a hit with the table next to us. She's already a little flirt. When we got back a group of people were leaving the hotel to go see The Dark Side.

Roslyn was getting tired so we put her to bed and I caught up some more on the blog. All for now....


Times Colonist Preshow Blurb

Nothing Complex about Fringe
Get a button, decide on a show and buy tickets

Steve Carey, Times Colonist
Published: Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival is one of the largest and longest-running festivals in town, but still, some people don't know what it is or how it works. If that's the case, read on--you don't want to stay at home because all of your friends are Fringing.


1. You need a Fringe button to buy Fringe Tickets. They cost $5, and are valid throughout the festival.
2. Find a hard-copy Fringe program or check out victoriafringe.com for program and schedule information.
3. Get tickets--you can buy them at venues up to an hour before the start time (cash or Fringe munchcard only), or get them in advance at the Fringe Ticket Centre, open noon to 7 p.m. daily at 1420 Broad St., inside the A television building. You can also buy tickets, buttons or passes online until the night before the show.
4. Venues might only open 10 minutes before showtime. Be prepared to wait in line and be ready for the elements.
5. Do not arrive to shows late. Latecomers will not be admitted, even if they have tickets.
6. Many shows at the Fringe are adult-oriented--be sure to check the listings online at victoriafringe.com.
7. Find out what's hot by talking to people in line or online at timescolonist.com or victoriafringe.com. Daily reviews wil appear in the Times Colonist by Steve Carey, Sarah Petrescu, Grania Litwin and other reviewers throughout the festival.


1. The Sputniks. A play about a family of Soviet eggheads escaping the Iron Curtain. A one-woman show, it has received high praise for its rich story and excellent performances from lone actor Elison Zasko.
2. Lysistrata's War. A modern rock-opera take on the Greek play Lysistrata, in which women stop a war by withholding sex. The show has a cast of more than 20, and should be extravaganza at its finest.
3. Les Ms. Lisel Forst and Robyn Lamb perform an abbreviated version of the epic musical Les Miserables, complete with songs, wigs and shouting in place of gunshots. Suitable for ages 10 and older.
4. Swimming to Cambodia. This epic Spalding Gray monologue was at the Uno Festival a few months ago. It's a frantic performance that holds the audience rapt with its high energy. There is no nudity in this show--that was a mistake in the Fringe brochure.
5. The History of Everything (Billed in the program as The Misadventures of a Time Travelling Detective). Written by various members of local cabaret theatre group Atomic Vaudeville, this physical comedy focuses on a couple who are always breaking up, searching throughout history as to why. Should be funny.


Monday Magazine Preshow Publicity

War and Peace at the Fringe

The Face of Jizo and Lysistrata’s War offer two takes on war

If you missed it at the Metro in March, there is also a re-staging of The Face of Jizo (Venue 1), a modern Japanese play about a young woman who survived the Hiroshima bombing and is haunted by the ghost of her father.

“I first read this play in a textbook in high school [in Japan] and it was so interesting,” says Futarikko Theatre’s Ayumi Hamada, who is playing the lead role. “When I came here and had to do a play, this one was on my mind.”

Futarikko’s Aya Walraven says the play portrays the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath in a way Canadian audiences might not be familiar with. “It is presented [in Canada] in a very textbook way: cities were destroyed, people died,” she says. “But the emotional damage can’t be shown in a textbook.”

For director Judith McDowell (Pitch Blond), the most important thing was communicating that message in a way Canadians would understand. “I wanted to bring the play to Canadian audiences in a way they could respond to. It’s a different culture, a different perspective and a different view of history,” she says. “That was one of the very fascinating challenges of doing this play.”

This will actually be the fourth mounting of the play; in addition to the show at the Metro earlier this year, Walraven and Hamada have done the play twice in Japan—in English with Japanese subtitles, no less. “I wanted to show what I learned here and I thought it would be neat to see an English play for people who don’t know English.”

For Walraven, seeing the show’s several incarnations has been an interesting experience. “We’ve done this play with different directors and cast members and it has been different every time,” she says. “The motives of the characters change.”

War, what is it good for?

When leafing through this year’s Fringe lineup, there were many shows that caught our eye. One of them was Lysistrata’s War (Venue 2), a rock opera version of the classic Greek play done by the Lake Tahoe Community College. Set during the Peloponnesian war, Lysistrata leads the women of Athens in withholding sex from the city’s men until the war is over.

“Dave Hamilton, who wrote the lyrics and did the adaptation of the story, he and I were both big fans of Jesus Christ Superstar,” Mark D.Williams, who wrote the play’s music, says of the idea to adapt the classic. “It’s something I was interested in doing just for the musical challenge of writing a theatrical piece that would be music all the way through. Every once in a while there’s a couple lines of spoken dialogue, but basically it’s all music.”

It’s an odd duck on the Fringe circuit not only due to the size of its cast—25 in all—but also because of the background of its performers: a mixture of college students and community members.

“It kind of gives them an opportunity to travel to these places as opposed to just doing it some place in the United States,” says Williams of touring the show. “Several of the actors are of professional quality, but they’re mainly students and community people.”

The play received a four-star review at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2005, proving that this show is no slouch.

Pick up the current issue or visit our Contests page for your chance to win a Fringe Festival prize package.


Tech rehearsal and opening

We had a cast meeting schedule for 1:00 for some quick notes and then we were all to head over to the venue. Many of the cast were late or didn't even make it which torqued me to some degree and I let them know that later. 

However, we got there about 1:30 and Kurt, Johnny, and Holly (the Venue 2 tech), got the lights set and programmed, and that unfortunately took most of the time. The girls got to practice the flop in "On Top." And we got to practice a few block shifts. 4:30 rolled around and we had to stop and clean up the theatre and get ready to open the house. Then we all got into our costumes, makeup, preset our props, let in the audience, and hit the stage running.

The show went fairly well considering Johnny had not run it before and we were missing Denise. The main issues were technical ones of wrong music and light cues, and the balance between the background music and the singers. Reviewers from the Times Colonist and Monday Magazine were there. I spoke to one who mentioned the tech issues, so I imagine we may get slammed for that. We'll see on Saturday.

Afterwards, Sharon, Stephanie, Meg, Junel, Roslyn, and I went to Spinnaker's for dinner. They brew some real nice microbrews and are right on the water, so good atmosphere. It was a well deserved finish to a long, but satisfying day.


Fringe Preview Night

The Fringe had several events organized for today for publicity and promotion purposes. I generally refer to it by the technical term, "schmoozing." (Yiddish is so descriptive.)  Jeff Whitt and I walked over to the Fringe Site office on Fisgard at noon and I checked in with them and got our packet for picking up the box office receipts as well as some additional information.

We then stopped by the Information Kiosk and they allowed us to tape a poster to their counter.  Around the corner from there on Broad Street is the Ticket Kiosk, so we stopped there as well and I decided to contribute some comp tickets for our show to the Fringe Volunteers.

After that we headed back to the hotel to pick up the sandwich boards I made. Along the way we taped some of our posters to the poster cylinders that are on many of the downtown street corners. 

When we got back to the hotel, Jeff and I taped the laminated posters we had to the boards and then I decided to make Jeff, Matt, and Brandon the Sandwich Board Committee whose job is to make sure the sandwich board gets out in the morning and in at night. Shortly before that I appointed Krissy and Liz to the Programs Committee. They both folded the new programs we had made and were storing the posters and sandwich boards in their room.

At 2:30 I had a short meeting with Kurt, Michael, and Mike to figure out a tech plan if Johnny couldn't make it on time. As I mentioned before, Denise had been denied admission into Canada and Johnny had gone back to Seattle with her to try to help her get it straightened out. 

At 4:00 we had a cast meeting to organize for the promo events that evening. While the men went to Adriana's Cocina Mexicana for the Fringe Eve artist & sponsor fiesta, the women were planning to rehearse for their performance at 8:15 at the Fringe Eve Preview.

Junel, Roslyn and I joined the men at Adriana's. There was supposed to be an optional "secret parade" afterwards and we had planned to march with our T-shirts and spears. (No relation to Britney.) This was to be a "guerilla" event because the Fringe did not have a permit (It would have been turned down.) As it turned out the parade was cancelled due to intrepid weather--some slight sprinkling in my opinion.

We drove over and parked in a ramp near Venue 5 where the Preview was happening. The ladies performed "On Top" and the number went over quite well with the already semi-tipsy Fringers in the audience. We were hoping that the Times-Colonist photographer would show up. (He did not.) They had promised us a front page picture on the Arts section for the next day.  However we did get some videos by a kind gentleman who was out on the street with his camera. Those are at victoriafringe.blip.tv. Dog, check it out.

Junel and Roslyn left. (It was way past her bedtime.) I stayed a little longer with some of the cast and saw the rest of the previews.

We walked back to the hotels after a very busy day. 


Off to Victoria

We left today for the Reno airport around 9:00. I dropped off Junel and Roslyn, got our bags checked in and went to leave the car with Emily and Jed. Caught a cab back to the airport and got there in plenty of time to have a Quisno's Sammy and get boarded for our flight to Seattle.

Roslyn did real well on the flight, though she was a bit squirmy. We tried everything to get her to take a nap, but to no avail. We arrived in Seattle about 2:30 and got our rental from Alamo and then headed up the 5 to the border. Traffic was nasty for an hour or so, but then it lightened up and we got to see some nice scenery.

The border crossing was fairly uneventful for us, but unfortunately not for some of the rest of the group (later on that). We got to Tsawassen and made it in time to catch the 7:00 ferry. Roslyn had fun playing in the kids' play area.

It started to rain as the ferry reached Swartz Bay. We returned to our vehicle and drove off the ferry and South to Victoria. We reached the Traveller's Inn about 9:30 and checked in and that was about it for us for one day.


Benefit at the Duke

Last night there was a benefit performance at the Duke Theatre to offset some of the production costs for the Victoria trip. There were approximately 70 people there who responded very enthusiastically (lots of parents). The show went quite smoothly other than a few technical glitches and some sound and microphone issues. There was a party for Dave afterward at the Blue Water Bistro behind Timber Cove where we all picked up our Tshirts for the trip. The cast is eager to get underway.


Rehearsals progressing

Rehearsals have been progressing nicely for our production of Lysistrata's War at the Victoria Fringe. We will also be doing a benefit performance at LTCC before we leave. More on that later.

On a sad note, David Hamilton will not be coming with us as he has accepted a Dean's position at Folsom Lake College and will be starting his new job. Hats off to him for all of the extremely hard work he has done over the years to build LTCC's Theatre Arts program. He'll be greatly missed.