Review: Great Canadian Theatre Company's Presentation of THE WALTZ

A distinctly Canadian feel-good story that has the audience laughing for the duration of its 70-minutes, thanks to a great script and high quality acting.

By: Feb. 17, 2024
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Great Canadian Theatre Company’s presentation of Marie Beath Badian’s The Waltz is set under the stars in rural Saskatchewan and tells the story of two first generation Filipino-Canadians. Beatrice Klassen (Ericka Leobrera) and Romeo Alvarez (Tony Perpuse), at first, seem to have nothing in common. Bea is beer-chugging, Metallica-loving, tough as nails teenager. Romeo was the valedictorian of his high school and is on his way to UBC on a scholarship. Perhaps ironically, Beatrice the Rebel comes from a loving family whose parents have a picture perfect relationship (they are so cute, she says it makes her want to vomit). Preppy Romeo’s parents, on the other hand, much like his namesake, fled to Canada to marry against their parents’ wishes, and were disowned in the process. Now, Romeo’s parents fight all the time, to the point where he wishes they would just divorce.

Ericka Leobrera and Anthony Perpuse in The Waltz by Marie Beath Badian. Set & Costume Design by Jackie Chau, Lighting Design by Michelle Ramsay, Photo by Dahlia Katz.
Ericka Leobrera and Anthony Perpuse in The Waltz
by Marie Beath Badian. ​​Photo by Dahlia Katz.

After chatting for a while, Bea and Romeo realize they have more in common than they thought and may even – heaven forbid – like each other. They can also learn from each other; like to remember to take the time to look up at the stars, how to waltz at a debutante ball, how it feels when you have a sense of belonging and how it feels when you don’t. Is home the place you were born or is it where you feel the most comfortable? Can it be both?

When there are only two actors on stage and the play consists entirely of back and forth banter, the actors’ chemistry and the quality of their acting becomes paramount. The chemistry between Leobrera and Perpuse is incredible; they are so at ease with each other and the dialogue flows so effortlessly that it is almost hard to believe the material is scripted.

The set (Jackie Chau) has a unique design that really makes it feel like the events take place outdoors, while simultaneously compressing the stage visually to make it seem more intimate. The costumes (also by Jackie Chau) perfectly reflected the characters’ outward personalities, as well as the play's 1990s setting. The lighting (Michelle Ramsay) was used to enhance the staging, without being overbearing. The choreography (Andrea Mapili) made Romeo appear adorable and goofy at the same time, and had the audience (and Bea), laughing out loud.

Ericka Leobrera and Anthony Perpuse in The Waltz by Marie Beath Badian. Set & Costume Design by Jackie Chau, Lighting Design by Michelle Ramsay, Photo by Dahlia Katz.
Ericka Leobrera and Anthony Perpuse in The Waltz
by Marie Beath Badian. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Directed by Nina Lee Aquino, who also brought us the acclaimed Prison Dancer The Musical last year, The Waltz is a distinctly Canadian feel-good story that will have the audience laughing for the duration of its 70-minutes, thanks to a great script and high quality acting. Part of Badian’s three-part series, The Waltz is sandwiched between 2013’s Prairie Nurse and The Cottage Guest (currently in development). Even though Prairie Nurse is the first part of the series, the shows can be enjoyed independently of each other. After being thoroughly enchanted by The Waltz, I hope that Ottawa gets the opportunity to see all three plays on its stage.

The Waltz is in performances through February 25th at GCTC. Click the link below for tickets or click here for more information on The Waltz, as well as GCTC’s other upcoming shows.




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