Review: Legoland (Atomic Vaudeville/Theatre Passe Muraille)

Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille presents Atomic Vaudeville’s Legoland, prequel to their Ride the Cyclone

Vic-Fringe-production-shots-019Back in 2010 Victoria-based Atomic Vaudeville took Toronto by storm with their quirky hit musical Ride the Cyclone at the SummerWorks Festival and again in 2011 when it was subsequently picked up for a run at Theatre Passe Muraille. The company returns to the Passe Muraille stage to present their follow-up entitled Legoland.

Described as a prequel to Ride the Cyclone, Legoland tells the story of Penny and Ezra Lamb; a sister and brother duo who grew up in a hippie commune outside the town of Uranium, Saskatchewan. When Penny leads Ezra on a road trip across the continent to meet her pop star idol the two are eventually arrested for drug trafficking after selling Ezra’s ADHD medication.

Legoland feels very much like Cyclone’s younger sibling in style and tone. The shows inhabit the same universe. Both shows, written by Jacob Richmond, have the same irreverent, quirky humour and slightly off-kilter delivery and both shows explore similar themes like outsiders, coming of age and the awkwardness of adolescence.

Celine Stubel plays Penny as a precocious sixteen year-old girl with an undercurrent of angst that makes her likable despite how over-the-top and quirky the character is. Penny is our main narrator and much of the delivery of the show rests on her shoulders.

Amitai Marmorstein puts in a scene-stealing turn as Ezra. His deliciously deadpan delivery of the character’s many pithy one-liners throughout the play was definitely a highlight for me.

Even though the show is described as a prequel you don’t need to have seen Ride the Cyclone to fully understand Legoland. In fact, the show may fare better with audience members coming in without preconceived notions from Cyclone. 

Unlike Ride the Cyclone, the show doesn’t feature musical numbers (save for one cute ukulele ditty by Penny), and as a two-hander it feels like an order of magnitude smaller than its sister show and also lacks a bit of the polish of Cyclone’s slick ensemble production numbers.

Richmond’s script is very funny and chock full of witty little nuggets. My show-going partner, fellow Mooney on Theatre writer Sam Mooney, thoroughly enjoyed it and laughed heartily throughout. However, it felt to me like the show was still sort of finding its legs and the performers hadn’t quite found the right rhythm and timing with which to land the jokes so that they’d really pop.

I think with little more work to refine the pacing and timing and maybe some tweaking of the delivery this show will really come into its own, but right now I think it’s being a bit overshadowed by it’s bigger, glitzier sibling.

Details:

  • Legoland is playing from April 2 – 13, 2013 at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto).
  • Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 pm and Saturday at 2:00 pm.
  • Tickets are $15 – $35.
  • Tickets are available in person at the Arts Box Office (16 Ryerson Avenue), by phone at 416-504-7529 or online at passemuraille.on.ca.

Photo of Amitai Marmorstein and Celine Stubel by Barbara Pedrick.

3 thoughts on “Review: Legoland (Atomic Vaudeville/Theatre Passe Muraille)”

  1. I really appreciate Wayne’s candor in this and his other reviews.

    Thank you, Wayne, for giving us both the positives and negatives in your reviews.

  2. Interesting review. I loved the show when I first saw it in 2007, and again in 2008 at the same Toronto Theatre Passe Muraille theatre. I’m not really sure how this is a “follow-up” when it was written / performed before Ride The Cyclone, and is billed as a prequel to Ride The Cyclone. And since the same pair have been performing it for over five years, I’m surprised that “it felt to me like the show was still sort of finding its legs and the performers hadn’t quite found the right rhythm and timing with which to land the jokes so that they’d really pop.” I also suspect that after five years doing the show, “a little more work to refine the pacing and timing and maybe some tweaking of the delivery” is not in the cards. Maybe they are still suffering from jet lag from BC, but I loved the show and would highly recommend it without Wayne’s caveats.

  3. “I think with little more work to refine the pacing and timing and maybe some tweaking of the delivery this show will really come into its own, but right now I think it’s being a bit overshadowed by it’s bigger, glitzier sibling.”

    Wow, what a ridiculous comment. Maybe you just just got into the theater scene in Toronto, but Legoland has been touring all across North America for years. Yes, of course is is not as polished as Ride the Cyclone right now, which is doing a Canada wide tour, rather than as a one off show. This is the first time they performed it in months and before that they had not performed it for years. Feel lucky you got to see it at all.

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