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Festive theatre: Four English-language plays to enjoy in Brussels this winter
BLOC: Crazy for You (23-26 November)
First up is Gershwin's musical Crazy for You, from the Brussels Light Opera Company (BLOC). Directed by Rachel Bateman, this is a story set in the 1930s, about a young banker from New York called Bobby Child, who is sent to a small town in the Nevada dessert to foreclose on a theatre.
However, while there he falls in love with the local postmistress Polly Baker, whose father is the owner of the run-down theatre. Pretending to be someone else, he decides to help the town produce a show to save the theatre. When the person he is pretending to be arrives in the town, his disguise is revealed, and he fears he has lost Polly forever. However, Bateman assures us that "the story ends with them putting on a wonderful show, they save the theatre and they live happily ever after".
Wim Lefebure, who plays Bobby, was so dedicated to his part that he learned how to tap dance specially for this show. "In fact it’s the first time for BLOC where we’ve had the entire chorus tap dance their way through a show," says Bateman. Some of the most famous songs from Crazy for You are Someone to Watch Over Me and I’ve Got Rhythm, sung by the talented Emanuelle Vergier, who plays Polly Baker.
Crazy for You, 23-26 November, Auderghem Cultural Centre
ATC: Picasso at the Lapin Agile (30 November-9 December)
Also taking place this November is the American Theatre Company's production of Steve Martin's comedy Picasso at the Lapin Agile, directed by Jeremy Zeegers.
"Picasso and Einstein, both in their 20s and not yet famous, walk into a bar," says Zeegers. "When two of the most inspired minds of the 20th century meet by chance, sparks fly, but is it genius igniting or egos flaring when they size each other up? This comedy is about art and life, time and history, and how meaningful or beautiful – or maybe just plain silly – it all is."
Picasso at the Lapin Agile, 30 November-9 December, Warehouse Studio Theatre, Rue Waelhem 69A, Schaerbeek
ECC: Snow White (19-21 January)
Ringing in the New Year is the English Comedy Club’s pantomime, Snow White. There is no doubt that the political events of 2017 will provide director Conrad Toft with a vast array of material to ensure that the theatre will be bursting with jolly laughter, disapproving hissing and playful booing, as the evil Queen of Snowmania, in the grip of an eternal winter, tries to stop Snow White from meeting the handsome Belgian Prince Leonidas, whose true love’s kiss could ensure the return of spring to the kingdom.
"The acrobatic snow mice, singing dwarves and usual host of panto characters are all making our rehearsals great fun but also hard work," says Toft. "We’ve scraped the barrel to bring the worst jokes and the craziest antics to make sure that there is fun for all the family."
Snow White, 19-21 January 2018, Auderghem Cultural Centre
Brussels Shakespeare Society: A Midsummer Night's Dream (22-27 January)
The first production of the Brussels Shakespeare Society for 2018 is one of the bard’s most popular and, probably, most comedic plays, A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It has been adapted for film and television many times with a scene from the play also having been performed by The Beatles in 1964.
Emily Bowles, in her debut as director for Brussels Shakespeare Society, first experienced this play in school at the age of 10, when she played the role of a fairy and has been in love with it ever since. Bowles is very familiar with the play’s four interconnecting plots and an array of characters centered around the wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens and Hippolyta the Amazon Queen, which is set in a wood in the realm of Fairyland.
A Midsummer’s night Dream is a very funny play about love, unrequited love, and love at first sight, where at the end you are led to believe you may have been looking at someone’s dream. "The dream narrative is an important feature, it feels like a dream, is it a dream, are we sure about what we are seeing or not?" says Bowles.
She encourages everyone to come see the play because "the plots are very accessible and there are common themes that most of us in our modern society can relate to, for example: a father not approving of his daughter’s first love; going against the wishes of your parents; and trying to pretend to be something that we are not".
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 22-27 January 2018, Theatre Mercelis, Ixelles