I am Woman, Hear me Roar--With Laughter! Just For Laughs to Have Strong Female Lineup for Theatre Folk
Just for Laughs (et en Français, Juste Pour Rire) is the institution that put Montreal on the map as the Mecca for comedy. The annual summer festival not only features innumerable performers propelling their careers, but it turns our streets and theatrical venues into bustling hubs for proud Montrealers and tourists alike.
Over the past decade or so, the Just for Laughs lineup has branched out from the classic scene of funny comics with microphone in hand; audiences can also enjoy humorous theatrical presentations as well. Aside from the plethora of impressive comedians and celebrities that are part of the festivities (and there are A LOT), JFL will be showing us its feminine side with some theatrical offerings that promise to be hilarious!
Headlining in her upcoming new one-woman show is the infamous Margaret Trudeau. Yes, the mother of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, national icon, and mental health advocate will be onstage for Certain Woman of an Age, a surprisingly candid autobiographical piece. Developed by Second City, this live memoir explores Mme. Trudeau's flower child days, her life in the spotlight as the Canadian "First Lady", as well as her personal pitfalls. "Diane and I started working on it twenty years ago" Trudeau revealed to me, referring to the show's Producer, Diane Alexander. "The project was interrupted by the death of my son, among other events. We picked it up again last year. There were so many stories, it was hard to decide which to tell!" she laughed jovially. Certain Woman of an Age will be at the Gesù Theatre for just three performances and is certain to be the talk of the festival.
Another Second City import is She the People, an all-female SNL-style comedy show that involves sketches, choreographed songs, and some light improv. In these sensitive times when comedians (and comediennes) have to tread the fine line between being funny and being offensive, this six member troupe brings biting satire to today's hot political topics. Speaking to Co-Writer and Director, Carly Heffernan, about how the troupe deals with the controversies affecting women's rights, she explained "We're always punching up. We make fun of those people already in the spotlight, and never any underdogs or minorities." Regarding the intended audience for this piece, Heffernan clarified "She the People is by women but for everyone" and went on to describe one performance when the estrogen-laden cast had a bachelor party crowd in hysterics! The show will have multiple presentations at Centaur Theatre this July before returning to Toronto to be part of an upcoming Mirvish season.
Musical theatre enthusiasts will also be excited to hear that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Rachel Bloom will be doing a solo show as part of JFL's Club Series. The Golden Globe Winner will be singing songs from her hit TV show as well as showcasing some stand-up and original material. Performances will be at the Gesù Theatre July 22 to 27, 2019.
Of course, those Broadway buffs looking for a full stage show at the annual festival, can see the jukebox musical Mamma Mia. Yet another example of strong female personalities in comedic roles, Mamma Mia follows the story of how 20-year-old Sophie invites her three possible dads to her upcoming wedding, much to the chagrin of her mother, Donna. The Juste Pour Rire production features French dialogue, but ABBA purists will be pleased to know the original songs will remain in English. The St. Denis Theatre is buzzing about this musical, boasting 40,000 pre-sold tickets before their June 5th opening.
The 37th Montreal Just for Laughs Festival kicks off July 10 - 28, 2019 with a smattering of events happening in June. Tickets for most shows are on sale now. Check out www.hahaha.com for full details.