Russ Hunt's Reviews

Death: The Musical
(Karaoke At the Afterlife Bar & Grill)

Neptune Theatre
Halifax, October 1999

[a letter to the editor of the Halifax Daily News, by Jennifer Wyatt]

From: Jennifer Wyatt (852-4431)

Dear Editor,

Neptune Theatre has just staged a wonderful, imaginative, witty production entitled Death, The Musical. I and my father (a visiting theatre critic from Fredericton, New Brunswick) enjoyed opening night more than any production we've seen together in a long while. The play was thoroughly engrossing, from the initial (wonderfully choreographed) train/suicide scene, through the many toe tapping musical numbers to the final curtain call. With its incredibly varied musical repertoire, simple yet functional set, excellent ensemble acting and Monty Python style humour, the play had the entire audience laughing throughout. The play also had several poignant moments which were very moving, just to remind us of the rather serious subject matter. Bette MacDonald simply shone as "Pearl", the bar tender at the "After Life Bar and Grill", but the rest of the cast was equally strong in their bizarre roles. Some of the strangest characters were the "bad guy" who turned out to be Dr. Seuss on roller blades, and John the Baptist, who although headless, managed to steal the show on more than one occasion. The music was incredibly well orchestrated, and the entire cast were good singers and actors, making for a great show all round.

Linda Moore has taken a huge risk in her choice of scripts for this show, considering this was a local play which had never been tried on the big stage before. It takes a lot of courage for an artistic director to try anything new in this day and age when so many things come down to the bottom line of whether or not money can be made, and so my hat is off to her for giving this play a go.

I was therefore extremely disappointed in the review written by Ron Foley MacDonald in last Sunday's paper. I cannot believe that this man was even in the same theatre, and saw the same show. He is, of course, entitled to his own opinion, but the problem is I do not think he gave any thought as to how a theatre review can affect a show, or if he did, perhaps he has a personal problem with someone involved in this production? What right does he have to insult every detail of this play, from the writing to the music, to even the directing? More to the point, why? I don't think there was a single thing he left unscathed, and the result of that will almost definitely show up in the attendance count at Neptune.

Now, I'm not the critic in the family, I leave that up to my Dad, but even I know better than to offer only insults, without at least some constructive criticism. I object to how damaging this review was to the cast and crew of Death, The Musical and to Neptune Theatre in general. They have worked hard to put together a demanding show which seemed to have been extremely well received judging by the rousing cheers and standing ovations on Friday night. If people read Ron's review, they would be very inclined to miss this wonderful show, and it may be a long while before we see any more locally grown talent on the main stage.

I, for one, would like to congratulate Neptune Theatre for putting on a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking production, and for supporting local talent in their choice of plays. I only wish that my thoughts could carry as much weight as the thoughts of Ron Foley MacDonald, but unfortunately, as I mentioned before, I'm not the reviewer in the family... Trust me, though, if you want to enjoy a really good night out at the Theatre, go see Death, The Musical . . . it's a rare treat.

-Jennifer Wyatt
(not the critic)

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