Friday, April 23, 2010

At last - the show!

My sister convinced me this week that I simply had to get myself to Montreal for the premiere of Totem. And with a lot of scrambling, we made it happen! I lined up a battalion of babysitters, helpful family members and friends to watch my kids, and get them to and from activities, for full days Thursday and Friday. On Thursday I caught a train up to Boston, and then Erin and I drove the rest of the way to Montreal.

We arrived at the hotel with barely enough time to change clothes before catching a cab down to the tent. The artists are staying in the city center, about a 15-minute cab ride away from the waterfront. We tried to get some Canadian cash from the ATM in the hotel, but it was broken, and we really didn't need it... everyone seems to accept American cash here, which is worth just slightly more than Canadian.

At the tent, everyone was buzzing with excitement, opening night!

Greg says this is called the "soft opening". It's called the premiere in Montreal, but somehow the show isn't considered firmly launched until Amsterdam. I don't quite get what this means. In any case, the mood was celebratory! In the merchandise tent there were free sandwiches, and people collecting donations for One Drop, and passing around red noses.

In the tent, the "animation" was just beginning, where the characters are mingling out in the audience. I got my first sight of Greg in his costume - though not close enough for me to really examine it.

We had excellent seats - third row - and spent the next couple of hours fully immersed in Robert Lepage's vision of Totem. It's an amazing, energetic show, full of color and sparkle and drama. It is still a little rough around the edges though - an occasional stumble, or sometimes an act does not have its applause points perfectly worked out - and it's actually lovely to see the genuine concentration on the faces of the acrobats, as they try to remember just-recently-created choreography and explore their connection with the audience. Many of them have not yet established the mask of performance that they'll grow with time, the perfectly set expression that betrays nothing unintended.

At first viewing, my favorite acts (besides Greg's of course) are the doubles trapeze and the rollerskaters. (perhaps I'm just in a romantic state of mind, as these are the two "love stories" in the show). There are lots of other wonderful moments. There are many human characters in the show, and easy-to-understand mini-storylines and laughs, and animals - all things which are going to make my kids love it.

Greg told stories of some of the special events of premiere-night. Little notes and cards left on the artists' dressing tables by creation-team members. Someone in the cast made a "yearbook" with photos of all of the cast members, and made copies for everyone. Dinner in the cafeteria tent was lobster! with ice sculptures! And after the show was over, Guy himself brought bottles of champagne to the artistic tent and had speeches and celebration.

It is a wonderful energy, and now it really begins - every night Greg will be performing the full show now, 10 to 12 times per week.

More news to come in the next few days... I'll have photos to scan in from the program book, and possibly some more updates on the tour schedule, which seems to be ever-changing.


  1. You are very fortunate to have a loving and perceptive sister. The Totem descriptions are thrilling and as a professional your insights and comments are like an insider's view of things. Well, I guess it is an insider's view-after all you did get lobster and ice sculptures. You'll be pleased to hear that the first Chrysalis show was a hit with a full house and everyone was fabulous and the audience was completely satisfied and thrilled. You'll see for yourself when you see the tape.

  2. So glad you made it up there for opening night!!! Sounds so awesomely awesome. I can't wait to see it myself someday.