BWW Previews: MERTON OF THE MOVIES at Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society
With the '20s now fully upon us and the Academy Awards just hours away, one can't help but to think about the evolution of the film industry. At a time when best picture nominees are explosions of colour, action, and dialogue, do the new generations of viewers actually take the time to appreciate the black and white Moving Pictures that started it all? Growing up, I was lucky enough to have been shown classic works starring Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and so when the Oscar-winning modern-day silent film, The Artist, came out in 2011 I was able to appreciate its brilliance. This February, Montreal audiences will be able to get a taste of Hollywood's pre-talkie era through Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society's (CSLDS) production of Kaufman and Connelly's comedic play, Merton of the Movies.
Merton of the Movies follows small town Joe, Merton Gill, as he journeys forth to pursue his dreams of becoming a dramatic silent film actor and of working with America's sweetheart, Beulah Baxter. Enter a variety of quirky characters with similar goals, including the irksome yet interesting Flips Montague; a stunt woman with a heart of gold and a soft spot for Merton.
Portraying Merton is Adam Koren, making his return to CSLDS who last performed with the society in Catch Me if You Can. I recall first seeing Koren onstage as a child actor as Davey Herman in the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre's mamaloshen musical, Lies My Father Told Me. More recently, Adam skillfully directed the musical You're a Good Man Charlie Brown for WISTA. With quite a few musicals behind his belt, I asked Adam what brought him back to do a "straight play" with CSLDS.
"My formal training has been in acting, but I've been on a bit of a hiatus from performing for the last few years to focus on my directing career which has been keeping me busy. Community theatre is how I got my start, so it's been a nice way for me to get back onstage."
As I've only known Adam in the context of the musical theatre scene, I asked him about the transition from performing in Broadway-style shows versus Merton as a non-musical comedy. "It's honestly not all that different. Of course there is the lack of singing, but I talk a lot in the play so there is a fair amount of vocal technique I need to use. But in terms of acting work, I approach this character the same way I would any other to give him some depth." Koren continued to describe his unique take on the lead role of Merton Gill, "Merton is go-getter and a dreamer. He takes himself very seriously and knows what he wants. Merton and I are similar in many ways, so for me, I just need to let my inner Merton come through in my performance."
Adam Koren is among 20 actors who make up the cast of Merton of the Movies, produced by Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Councillor Mitch Kujavsky, directed by Anisa Cameron, with the backstage team headed up by Scott Drysdale (Technical Director), Linda Babins (Lighting Design), Elyse Malo (Costumes), Rachel-Anne Germinario (Set and Props Design), and Wan-Li Gibson (Stage Management).
Merton of the Movies will run for seven performances at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium (5851 Cavendish Blvd, Côte Saint-Luc) between February 12 and 16, 2020. Tickets are $28 General Admission and $25 for students and seniors. They are available at The Eleanor London Public Library, The Côte Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre, and online at CSLDramaticSociety.com, and can also be purchased at the door one hour before showtime.