There’s a lot to love about improv musical One Night Only: The Greatest Musical Never Written
You’re given a setting, a few anecdotal tidbits of information and a general direction for the plot. Create an entire storyline on the spot with an entire theatre of eager spectators hanging on your every word. Now imagine doing this while also having to sing in time and on key accompanied by a full music section. No pressure, right?
One Night Only: The Greatest Musical Never Written, now playing at Factory Theatre, achieves this feat of mental gymnastics each and every performance. The best part is – like any true improv show – no two shows are ever quite the same.
There’s a lot to love about this production, but all of it can be summed up in just one word: polished. From the way the comedic ensemble riffed seamlessly off each other to the legitimately talented five-piece band that accompanied them without missing a beat, One Night Only is an on-stage demonstration just how spectacular a show can be when all of its elements fall perfectly in sync.
Unlike other types of productions that can feature both weak and strong performances and still be called a success, improv really is the sum of all its parts. One weak link is all it takes to bring down the vibe of the entire show. There was none of that here, however, as each improviser was a master in his or her own right. I mean, this isn’t surprising considering the fact that the bulk of the cast features esteemed Second City alum who each have several notable credits to their name. Here’s a quick rundown.
Ashley Botting had the best vocals of the night. Botting shows a depth and range in her singing that would give any professional singer a run for her money. Her harmonizing skills are legit.
I absolutely adore Jan Caruna’s randomness and commitment to following through with her physical comedy moments. It’s kind of silly, but my favourite moment of the night was when her character was involved in a conversation about smoking cigarettes, and then out of nowhere she riffs something about smoking a ham. While that in itself may not be all that funny, Caruna then went on to pantomime the actions it takes to actually smoke a ham for a least a good five minutes. Even when the topic had already completely changed. Now that’s commitment, and we as the audience ate it up.
When Carly Heffernan plays it straight, you can’t help but laugh. You definitely need somebody who can pull off the serious and sarcastic contrast to the otherwise over-the-top and out there antics of her fellow cast mates.
Reid Janisse reminds me of the guy back in high school who was friends with everybody. He has an infectious likeability in the way he performs that has a certain Mike Myers quality to it. Maybe it’s because they both pull off the stereotypical ‘Canadian accent’ so well.
A lot of Alex Tindall’s jokes really make you think long and hard at what you’re doing with your life, in particular, why you’re probably not reading as many books as you probably should. And I mean that in the best possible way. Tindall uses a lot of specialized scientific knowledge as the setup for his punchlines, which is actually quite refreshing in this superfluously silly slapstick genre. I mean, before the show I didn’t know that bitumen was a hydrocarbon by-product of the oil refining process, but now I do. And that’s info I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
Ron Pederson as a classical mime making love to an imaginary woman on stage. I’ll never look at white gloves the same way ever again. Pederson is a comedic ninja who enters the scene, kicks butt and leaves you wondering: did I really just see that?
And while I’d love to gush about the rest of the cast, musicians and crew, I’ll keep it short by saving that the production values for this show are top-notch all the way, and all those involved should take a moment to be proud of what was accomplished on that stage.
If you love improv, go see One Night Only: The Greatest Musical Never Written. If you love musicals, go see One Night Only. And if you’re like me and can’t get enough of both genres, you’ll probably end up seeing it at least twice.
- One Night Only: The Greatest Musical Never Written runs until February 14th at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street)
- One Night Only: After Dark, an elevated improve experience with live visual art and music, runs January 27, 28, 29, and 30th as well as February 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13th
- Click here for a detailed listing of show times.
- General admission ticket prices range from $45 to $55 or $30 for students and seniors
- You can also buy a More Nights Pass for $99 that entitles you to admission for any 3 shows. (Available in person or by phone only)
- Tickets are available online, in person at the Factory Theatre Box office or by calling 416-504-9971.
Photo by Robyn Bacon