Whose opera is it anyways?! is a comedy-improv-opera show from LooseTEA Theatre’s Alaina Viau. Last night saw the second in what is being projected as a monthly series at the Comedy Bar on Bloor West. So how does it work? The “games” and associated players are decided in advance but each usually requires some kind of audience input such as a place or a mood or even the messages on someone’s phone. The team then act out and sing a sketch on the prescribed lines. Natasha Fransblow provided accompaniment on keyboards, though how much of that was planned and how much improvised I couldn’t tell. In between numbers Jonathan McArthur MC’d accompanied by really obnoxiously loud pop music (not helped by the speaker basically being in my left ear).
So let’s take a few highlights. There was a send up of a contemporary opera about brushing one’s teeth that featured extended toothy vocals from Adanya Dunn and brilliantly robotic invocations of toothpaste brands from Amanda Cogan. Adanya (“I’m fluent in Italian”) Dunn also featured in an excruciating send up of a diva masterclass with unfortunate consequences for the much put upon Lindsay Sutherland-Boal as the student. Amanda was back to introduce, Germanically, a typical opera debut album. There were high energy contributions too from Rachel Krehm, Jeff Boyd, Erin Stone and Gillian Grossman (that I remember).
So what works and what, as they say, is an opportunity? I thought it worked best when it stuck most closely to opera; whether as a general theme, like the masterclass, or putting new words to a recognisable aria (there was a neat trio version of Una furtiva lagrima). The humour was sharper and the music more distinctive. The sketches that could have been part of any improv show, bar the singing, tended to end up musically rather dull and musical theatery though some of the jokes were good. Personally I’d ditch the loud inter sketch pop music. Actually I’d exile it to a penguin colony in the Antarctic. If you need something to link the scenes use something vaguely related, say Kill da wabbit. I guess we are stuck with the venue. The performance space isn’t bad and at least there’s beer (sort of) but the bar area where one is corralled before the show is straight out of Dante. It’s packed with loud yuppies and more of the obnoxious music at obnoxious volume.
Anyway, gripes aside I see this as a work in progress with quite a lot of potential. I’ll be interested to see how it develops.
Photo credit: Dahlia Katz