Musical Theatre: Keren Peles’ “April Fools”: Torn Between Two Lives
by Yanik Comeau (Comunik Média / ZoneCulture)
Since Lisa Rubin has taken over Artistic Direction duties at the Segal Centre, musical theater and musical shows have taken up their fair share of stage time. Some very original shows, some more conventional but all interesting and entertaining in their own way, spanning from quality Broadway fare (Once) to top-notch original musicals (Corey Payette’s Children of God), from pop and folk retrospective shows (The Times They Are A Changin’ and BOOM X) to heart-warming intimate shows like The Pianist of Willesden Lane. With Keren Peles’ April Fools, a “naughty” cabaret show, the Segal falls somewhere between Broadway and le Lion d’Or.
From reading the programme notes, April Fools seems to be a semi-autobiographical piece written out of frustration by Israeli rock star Peles who, despite her perfect life, felt she needed a bit of spice. It started with one song, the title track, and turned into a full-fledged musical which is being downplayed as a cabaret act. But when you have eight triple-threat (quadruple threat actually, because they are also musicians) performers on stage, you have much more than a cabaret act.
Originally created in Israel, the show is smartly and flawlessly adapted by Akiva Romer-Segal. In the North-American adaptation, rock star Eva (played by the talented and charismatic Eva Foote who had rocked the lead character in Once as well) embarks on a love affair with fellow musician Daniel (talented actor Daniel Murphy whose voice blends so well with Foote’s in their duos), an engaged megalomaniac (this reviewer’s non-scientific diagnosis!) who is clearly just looking for fun and doesn’t measure the consequences of charming the pants off everybody. Meanwhile, Eva is juggling her booming musical career and “perfect home life" with Josh (Andrew Shaver on the phone) and baby son.
A bit like the Bible’s seven deadly sins, six musician/singer/actresses embody Eva’s thoughts and feelings, tugging at her from all sides, singing, dancing and playing music while also acting as backup singers for Eva’s musical numbers. Sean Cheesman’s choreography is both original and efficient for the small Sylvan Adams stage and reminiscent of Bob Fosse’s Cabaret work.
Similar to the original youth-oriented, Rent-like musical Hit List created by young lyricists and composers Kyle and Jimmy in season 2 of NBC’s Smash, April Fools integrates social media through a special interactive app for the audience to participate in the show. A fun addition to the experience. Also, when a disillusioned Eva decides to go into the audience to find a date and bring a guy up on stage to chat and dance with her, the audience really gets into the story and Eva Foote’s great bonhomie makes the improvised moment work very well. Since yours truly was the selected date when I attended the first Sunday matinee, Eva joked that I might be in conflict of interest when I told her I would be reviewing the show. I reassured her that I was already planning on giving the show a good review so her bringing me up on stage would not influence my critique!
April Fools is a fun show that does make one think about what happiness is all about. As for the level of “naughtiness”, I for one think the “18+” advisory might be a bit overblown. This show might be a bit sexy and there is some strong sexually-explicit language, but people who might stay away thinking this is a “raunchy” show should not be worried.
April Fools – Musical Theatre
Created by Keren Peles
Adapted by Akiva Romer-Segal
From a translation by Shelly Ben Shachar
Directed by Moshe Kepten
Assistant Director: Lisa Rubin
Starring: Eva Foote (Eva), Daniel Murphy (Daniel), Julia Juhas (Confidence), Dominique LeBlanc (Doubt), Heather McGuigan (Morality), Jamie McRoberts (Libido), Ruthie Nkut (Poet), Zou Zou Robidoux (Music), Rosie Callaghan (Standby) and Andrew Shaver (Voice of Josh)
Musical Direction/Score Supervisor: Nick Burgess
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Assistant Choreographer: Kelly Fletcher
Musical Supervisor/Music Producer: Brian Rivlin
Music Producer (Original Production): Adi Rotem
Set Designer: Brian Dudkiewicz
Costume Designer: Louise Bourret
Lighting Designer: Martin Sirois
Video Designer: VideoCompany
Sound Designer: Sylvin Sévigny
Interactive App Design: FunToad
Interactive App Programmer: Gil Seri
Intimacy Coach: Luciana Burcheri
Casting: Rachelle Glait
Stage Manager: Danielle Laurin
Assistant Stage Manager: Elyse Quesnel
Apprentice Stage Manager; Ava Bishop
A Segal Centre for Performing Arts Production
May 1st to 22nd, 2022, dark Fridays, two shows Saturdays (2pm, 8pm), Sundays (2pm, 7pm), Mondays 7pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays 8pm (Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission)
Sylvan Adams Theatre
Segal Centre for Performing Arts, 5170 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montreal
Box Office: 514-739-7944
Photos: Leslie Schachter