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BWW Reviews: DUDDY KRAVITZ Comes Home to Montreal

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz has been a long time coming, but it has finally arrived.

Closing off the Segal Centre's 2014-2015 season, this classic story follows young Duddy Kravitz (Ken James Stewart), a kid who's grown up in the ethnic ghetto of the post-war St. Urbain Street in Montreal. Duddy is eager to escape his dead-end neighborhood and be somebody. After being told by his elderly, Jewish grandfather (Howard Jerome) that "a man without land is nobody," Duddy employs his boyish charms and underhanded nature as he sets his sights on acquiring the land around a lake in the Laurentians.

Based off of Mordecai Richler's famous coming-of-age novel of the same name, a musical adaptation of Duddy has been trying to find a place on the stage for nearly four decades. The show has been attempted twice before, once with Richler collaborating in 1984, and again a few years later with the current director and composer. In both instances the money dried up and the shows ultimately flopped. But no one can call Duddy a quitter; featuring music by Alan Menken and lyrics by David Spencer, this timeless story takes another stab at making it.

Unfortunately though, if Duddy Kravitz is going to be a show that lasts, there is going to have to be some serious changes made. The show is ultimately crippled by its length and pacing issues. Content could have been cut to counteract the lull the story lends itself to, as well as to shave some time off of the total running length.

The overall narrative of the show is also somewhat two-dimensional. Duddy wants to be someone, this is made abundantly clear, however the other characters are left somewhat flat to make way for Duddy's exposition on wanting to be a "somebody."

Despite its flaws, the cast is a talented ensemble that boasts both superb acting and vocal skills. Stewart brought admirable energy that never faltered in the full three hours as Duddy. He was complemented by the crystal clear vocals of Marie-Pierre de Brienne, who played Yvette, Duddy's Quebecois girlfriend.

The sets aesthetically please, switching between a grungy St. Urbain bar and the tranquil quiet of the shimmering lake.

The show ultimately comes off as unpolished and inevitably could use a few more revisions before it is ready for the big leagues.

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz runs at the Segal Centre (5170 Ch de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine) from June 7-July 5. Tickets start at $50.

Photo credit: Maxime Côté

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From This Author Meghan Pearson

Meghan Pearson recently completed her undergraduate degree in Journalism at Concordia University in Montreal. She has been reviewing theatre for over a decade, and has (read more...)