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by | Sep 4, 2019 | Review | 0 comments

Vancouver Fringe 2019: Ingénue

Ingénue promises to tell a story but doesn’t deliver — on that front at least. (Photo of Melanie Gall from Melanie Gall Presents)

Melanie Gall can sing, but she doesn’t know how to tell a story, so what starts out as a recital with some great insider dish devolves into a recital with narrative interruptions.

The program promises an exploration of the relationship between Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin, who was the bigger star in the 1930s. Gall clearly establishes Durbin’s importance as a cultural icon: fan letters from soldiers in WWII movingly situate her as an ideal of innocence and kindness. But the script’s central conceit — that a reporter from The New York Times is interviewing Durbin about her relationship with Garland shortly after Garland’s death — doesn’t hold: this show is about Durbin; Garland is barely mentioned and the supposed friendship between the two women is only superficially developed.

No other relationships are credibly established either. When one of Durbin’s marriages breaks up, Gall sings Frank Loesser’s lonely “Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year”, but Gall has given us zero reason to invest in that marriage so its failure means nothing.

Still, there’s the voice. Gall has a rich, crystalline soprano and, when she sang Luigi Arditi’s “Il Bacio”, I got goosebumps.

At the Firehall Arts Centre on September 6 (6:30 p.m.), 8 (6:30 p.m.), 9 (5:00 p.m.), 13 (11:00 p.m.), 14 (2:15 p.m.), and 15 (5:30 p.m.) Tickets

This review is based on a performance at the Victoria Fringe.


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