I was REALLY looking forward to going to Tales Of A Cocktail at Al Green Theatre, it had my name written all over it. Old timey jazz music? Check. Vintage costumes? Check. Cocktails? Double check! I’m a huge fan of these “story through dance” shows or “dansicals” as some people like to call them. I assumed that Tales Of A Cocktail would be similar to shows like “Come Fly Away” (that’s “fly” not “from”!) or “Contact” and I quickly found out that the choreographer was definitely striving for that category.
The music starts to play and I sink into the warmth of classical jazz music. Frank Sinatra is my “most played” on iTunes, so this feels like home to me. The show starts off “jazzy” and gets more and more “modern” with some post-modern jukebox mashups and a little bit of Radiohead thrown in.
The dancing was good, however there were a couple dancers who really grabbed my attention, the first being Alayna Kellett. It didn’t matter if she was dragging on her cigarette in the background or fan kicking centre stage. My eyes were glued to her. Her movement was smooth and syrupy and completely unique to her character. Josh St. John was also impressive. He attacks every move like his life depended on it.
The choreography by Adam Martino is sleek, sexy and filled with your classic jazz dance fare. Lots of glides, fan kicks and jetés. The choreography matched the energy of the music well, though by the end I found it to be just a tad repetitive. Still thrilling to watch though, especially set against these swingin’ tunes.
A few minutes into the show, Kristina Roberts (the club singer) interrupts the dancing and explains the who’s who and what’s what of this “cocktail bar drama”. I must say…it didn’t help. I found it really hard to follow the story. Fights would break out and I’d have no idea why…I should have been paying attention to the miming going on in the background, but it would happen so fast and there was so much going on, I couldn’t take it in quick enough. About halfway through I gave up trying to decipher the drama and just watched the dancing for what it was.
One other technical thing I should mention was that there were a few (make that a lot) of mishaps throughout this performance. Things like dropping props, leaving props onstage, hats falling off, the wrong song playing etc…The dancers handled the mistakes like champs, but there were so many of them, it got sort of distracting, and worrying!
In the end, Tales Of A Cocktail didn’t disappoint. Sure, it’s a little ambitious and had a few hiccups (especially on the technical side of things), but it’s still, in my opinion, “pretty damn good” for a Fringe show.
- Tales of a Cocktail plays at the Al Green Theatre. (750 Spadina Ave.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: sexual content; audience participation.
- This venue is barrier-free. Note that only certain building entrances are wheelchair-accessible. Accessible seating is in front of the front row.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Friday July 5th, 8:15 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 5:45 pm
- Monday July 8th, 6:15 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 8:30 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 10:15 pm
- Friday July 12th, 2:45 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 12:00 pm
Photo of Alayna Kellet, Alexa Stavro and Adam Martino by Stephen Loban