Review: The Big Bang (Civic Light Opera Company)

You’re almost guaranteed to have a light-hearted, good time at The Big Bang, playing at the York Woods Library Theatre. This silly, funny production tells the history of the human race with musical numbers in the same sketch-like format that you’d see on a variety show or on Saturday Night Live.

The cast is comprised of two characters, Boyd (played by David Haines) and Jed (played by Joe Cascone), two men whose on-stage chemistry makes it a delight to watch. They are joined by Aunt Rivka (played by Susan Sanders) at the piano along with the occasional cameo appearance by Schatzi (played by Flicka), the dog.

In a way, this is a musical about a musical. Boyd and Jed are writing an $83.5 million Broadway production and are trying to solicit donations from their audience the entire time. I loved how they addressed the audience like we were the ones who would be supporting their show and it seemed like the rest of the audience was completely taken by these two characters.

Some of the more memorable “moments in history” occurred in the second half of the play although I’m sure that as a historian, this is where my bias comes in since most of my favourite parts of history are in the more recent past.

My personal favorite was the scene called “Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow,” a clever song between Napoleon and Josephine. Josephine stood several heads higher than Napoleon thanks to Haines standing on a stool that was covered by his makeshift dress. Napoleon was wearing a clock from the mantle on his head to stand in for the bicorn hat that Napoleon is often portrayed as wearing, which made for a hilarious result.

One thing that I loved about this production was the use of props. The show begins in an apartment seemingly outfitted with normal apartment furnishings but as the show progresses, the actors use everyday objects to transform themselves into the historical figures that they are portraying. Considering that the set remained unchanged and that the props were so minimal, the two main characters did an excellent job of transporting me back to a time in history where humorous vignettes described certain aspects of life.

Some of my favorite examples of this were when the tassels from the footstool were used to create a lion’s mane and when the window drapes were ripped down to create the robes of Roman senators. Also memorable was Haines’ Nefertiti impersonation; he grabbed the lampshade, turned it upside down and voila! An Egyptian headdress!

I thought that what ultimately made this show so great was that each song, or moment in history, was just long enough to get its point across without ever being boring or being drawn out longer than it should have. The entire show held my short attention span in the best way imaginable and I was surprised when I looked at the watch at the end and saw that two whole hours had already passed. And judging by the standing ovation that the actors received from the audience, the crowd was also quite pleased with the results!

 

Details:
The Big Bang plays at York Woods Library Theatre (1785 Finch W.) until September 22, 2012
– The show runs from September 12 to September 22 with shows at 8pm through the week (with the exception of Wednesday September 19 when it is at 7pm) and matinees on September 16 and 22 at 2pm
– Ticket prices are $28
– Tickets are available by calling 416-755-1717 or online at civiclightoperacompany.com