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Citadel Theatre toasts the golden age of Hollywood

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Saturday, May 17, 2014 06:00 am

SCREWBALL COMEDY – Make Mine Love is a Citadel production that runs until June 1. The cast includes Rebecca Northan, Julien Arnold (back) and John Ullyatt.
SCREWBALL COMEDY – Make Mine Love is a Citadel production that runs until June 1. The cast includes Rebecca Northan, Julien Arnold (back) and John Ullyatt.
DAVID COOPER PHOTOGRAPHY/Supplied photo

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Review

Make Mine Love
Runs until Sunday, June 1
Citadel Theatre
Tickets: Start at $35 Call 780-425-1820 or purchase online at citadeltheatre.com

The new screwball comedy Make Mine Love playing at the Citadel Theatre is a valentine to the golden age of the film world.

It's a fond reminiscence of the 1930s, a bygone era where gun-toting gangsters were a dime a dozen, showgirls were the Miley Cyrus of their age, and young women flocked to Hollywood by the thousands hoping to become the next Greta Garbo.

Make Mine Love is an equal opportunity farcical romp that takes pot shots at everyone. It is hilariously raunchy in places, yet sweet, nostalgic and loving.

Playwright Tom Wood's romantic comedy delivers a narrative framework that is paved with kooky characters, fat egos, disguises, mistaken identities and a dizzying car chase.

In a word, the tempestuous Hollywood legend Lily Arlen just fired all the key creators of her new film and has flown to New York to find a new script.

Outside her hotel, Lily's ex-husband Hale Lane is receiving a beating from mob enforcers for an unpaid debt. In a panicky moment he hijacks Lily's limo starting a giddy car chase through the streets of New York while hit men fire submachine guns.

As the ex-lovers dodge exploding bullets, their suppressed emotions erupt and the male-female dynamic turns combative.

But when Hale follows Lily back to the west coast in masquerade looking for a job, he infiltrates himself into her world. Hale is now in his ex-wife's stomping grounds, and unwittingly discovers why his marriage ended in divorce.

What sets this production apart is how director Bob Baker has incorporated high-tech visual projections – after all, this is the era of the silver screen – with traditional theatre.

Projection co-designer and filmmaker Jordan Dowler-Coltman and animator Owen Brierley have joined forces to create a series of short videos. With sleight of hand precision, they flip back and forth between the on-stage theatrics injecting a movie mogul varnish to the production.

The short black and white videos, shot with 1930s graininess, perfectly recreate that era of innocence. And the Technicolor projections magically display a stunning backdrop of sets.

However, it's the remarkable cast that gives Make Mine Love its essence.

Rebecca Northan never holds back while playing the chain-smoking, booze-swilling Lily. Dubbed Queen Kong by movie studio employees, she is the original diva: tempestuous, dramatic, emotional and angry.

Northan's Lily has spent years climbing to the top and doesn't suffer fools gladly. However, the vulnerabilities of a woman hurt by the man she loves quickly surface.

John Ullyatt as Hale is the perfect foil, a chameleon-like amorous ladies' man. Ullyatt's Hale is the ultimate rogue, an ultra-charming serial canoodler. However, Hale's monologue of contrition, a critical scene where the lovers reunite, fell slightly short of believability.

Julien Arnold, familiar to many as Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, turns into an ulcerated Nervous Nelly as Adolph Apex, the movie studio head. Mark Meer puts in several terrific performances as Leland Caine, an oversexed director always copping a feel and Moroni, a gay costume designer.

St. Albert's own Sarah Machin-Gale as Fred, Adolph Apex's right hand man, borrows a leaf from Mary Wickes (White Christmas) an actress from the grand old school of wisecracking. Using salty language, Machin-Gale's Fred is a commando with an abrupt, tell-it-like-it-is attitude that is endearing.

The 1930s golden movie era movie salute is packed with nostalgia and a romantic way to ease into spring.


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