Muse 9 Production’s new show Bon Appétit: A Musical Tasting Menu couples three short operas about food and was, appropriately enough, presented at Merchants of Green Coffee on Matilda Street. Perhaps “opera” isn’t the right term as, although each piece was fully staged, they featured only one singer each. “Opera” or “staged song”? I don’t really care as they were fun.
First up was Danika Lorén’s The Secret Life of Vegetables in which soprano Katy Clark extolled the virtues, and the seamier side, of cabbages, onions, carrots and lettuce. Anna Theodosakis’ staging had a largely hidden assistant presenting the veggies and waving flags from behind the serving counter. I had no idea carrots did that. In any event it was presented with great aplomb by Katy and revealed yet another side of the outrageously talented Danika who is clearly a complete lunatic, but of the very best kind. Keyboard accompaniment was, as in all the other pieces, was provided by the incredibly versatile Hyejin Kwon.
Peter Tiefenbach’s Chansons de mon placard riffs off that quintessentially Canadian thing, the bilingual label. Miss Clark, clad in lab coat, declaimed the properties, virtues and uses of seaweed, cornstarch, steak spice and Aspirin, in French, while a similarly clad Victoria Borg brandished placards with the English translation. Hyejin’s keyboards were augmented by a lab coat wearing Brad Cherwin on clarinet. Both pieces benefitted enormously from Katy Clark’s impeccable diction and deadpan presentation.
After the interval we got Lee Holby’s musical skit about Julia Child making a chocolate cake, Bon Appétit. Mezzo Victoria Borg sang Childs own (slightly adapted) text while making the said cake. Flour was sifted, eggs separated, egg whites enthusiastically whipped, batter “folded in”. Besides actually making a cake, Ms. Borg managed a spot on Julia with just the right air of obviously knowing more than her dumb audience (us!). This time Katy Clark was the not-quite-invisible assistant endemic to cooking shows.
And there was actually cake. And it was rather good.
Unfortunately last night was the sole Toronto performance. There are shows in London on Saturday and Sunday but they, alas, are sold out. I hope they find a way to remount this show. It deserves to be seen by more than the handful who packed into a very sticky Merchants of Green last night.
Photo credits: Anna Theodosakis