Review: On The Rocks (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Louise Pitre - On THe Rocks

Louise Pitre’s one-woman autobiographical musical, On the Rocks, is playing at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille

On The Rocks is Theatre Passe Muraille’s season opener. It’s also Louise Pitre’s first play. It’s an autobiographical one-person musical. As well as writing the play, she wrote the lyrics. W Joseph Matheson wrote the music.

This was a highly anticipated show; opening night was sold out so I went on the second night. Opening nights are fun, there’s a definite buzz, but second nights are good because the audience isn’t as weighted with family and friends so the reaction is less biased.

Tonight’s audience really liked the show.

And really, what’s not to like. Pitre is a wonderful singer. My favourite song was the final one – On The Rocks. Some of the songs were less than memorable but they contributed to the story and helped move it along which is what songs in a musical should do.

I went with someone who hadn’t seen Pitre in anything. He said that he really enjoyed her singing but that her story didn’t resonate. I’ve seen Pitre in three or four things and have enjoyed her work.

I don’t think it’s fair to tell you parts of her story here; her story is her show. I will say that she doesn’t spare herself or paint an unrealistic picture of herself. She owns her mistakes – and her successes. The show is at times funny, sweet, and touching.

Pitre and I are roughly the same age and had some similar childhood experiences, something I found interesting given that she grew up in Montreal speaking French and I was in Saint John and Toronto speaking English. The road trips – piling the whole family in the car and going somewhere. Being car sick.

Pitre didn’t really start her stage career until she was about 30 which is pretty late. It’s a tribute to how talented she is that she did so well so fast.

Pitre was accompanied by Diane Leah on the piano which was on the stage, something I liked. The set was fairly plain but the decoration was effective. Three large metal trunks with a show name and theatre name stencilled on the side. It was a nice touch and served to remind us of the shows that Pitre is known for.

Another lovely touch were blow-ups of pictures she drew when she was a child. They were great.

If you’re a Pitre fan – or a theatre fan – and want to see the show get your tickets now. They are selling quickly and it’s a short rum.

Details:

  • On The Rocks is playing at Theatre Passe Muraille ( 16 Ryerson Ave) until September 29th.
  • Performances times: Wednesday to Saturday at 7.30 pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm
  • Ticket prices range from $20.00 to $37.50 and the Saturday matinee is PWYC at the door
  • Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-504-7529 and at the box office

Photo of Louise Pitre (Front), Diane Leah (Back) by Michael Cooper