A decade ago, the last job had before I quit having proper jobs forever, was as the marketing director for a children’s theatre company. We did nutritional shows, and not fables, but I’ll confess – a great deal of my interest in The Show Must Go On was in understanding to what fates I had been sending those poor jugglers for that miserable period. Jeff Leard, a dynamic and skilled player who must be the envy of all the other children’s theatre companies, has filled me in.
Leard, lithe and energetic, has a variety of tricks up his ruffled purple quilted sleeve and he uses every one of them – his facility with voices and characters, his masculine grace, his well-projected voice, his peculiar ability to make mouth noises – all of them add to this show.
He tells us a variety of tales from his time on the road – some funny and some harrowing and one distinctly lewd – with verve. Leard is a great storyteller, and it’s easy to imagine how many free drinks he’s been bought in his life by people who are hoping to keep him out a little later because he’s such fun to be around.
I hesitatingly, because Leard is so talented and so likeable, must admit that the material is a little thin. I wanted some of the stories to just be… more interesting. Leard is able to wring 55 minutes out of his year on the road, but only just. I’d love to see him do an hour of theatre school. Or another hour after five years of being on the road with this children’s show.
There’s one really magnificent and quite unexpected place where two story arcs collide and turn into a truly surreal and yet perfectly realized night in Alberta, and it shows what Leard can do with material worth his talents. I’m sorry that there aren’t more similar stories to enjoy yet.
This show is rehearsed and well-polished, with none of the I-was-revising-until-yesterday feeling that Fringe shows sometimes have. The piece itself may not be quite fleshed out, but you’d never know it from Jeff Leard’s energetic and professional performance. I feel confident that we’ll be hearing more from Leard before too long, especially if any casting directors catch this show.
July 05 07:00 PM
July 06 11:00 PM
July 08 02:45 PM
July 09 07:00 PM
July 11 09:45 PM
July 12 01:45 PM
July 13 11:30 PM
- Tickets for all Mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only.
- Advance tickets are $11, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062 ext. 1), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West)
- Money-saving value packs are also available; see website for details.
- LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.