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CONCLAVE: The Musical
Presented by Kiss the Giraffe Productions


Reviewed: 2006-07-23 14:05:05
Rated: 7 out of 10 [3.5 Stars]
By: John Chase (

CONCLAVE: The Musical has some great names behind it, both onstage and off. I did enjoy it, but I was left wondering for a while why I really didn't get "into" a lot of show, in spite of all the talent and energy working onstage.

This show fuses many elements into a truly "on the fringe" musical: from engaging musical numbers, to a dramatic exorcism scene; a loony cardinal who consults an angel in his bedpan and some excellent comic relief provided by Sister Mary Miranda Macnamara (Lisa Tjaden) who may as well have been referred to as The Cussing Nun. There is also a brilliant performance of a demon-possessed Emily (Kami Desilets) given toward the end of the show, which deserves specific mention.

What the show lacked was character depth -- in this case a problem rooted firmly in the script -- which made it difficult for me to make a personal connection to the story. Its pages are filled with characters that for the most part do not grow or change, perhaps with the exception of the principle role of Father Thomas (Shawn Kowalke). I find that every truly good musical -- even if it's a fluff comedy -- has characters that we connect to emotionally as we join them in a journey. In this play, many of the scenes wish only to push the action along to the next song and dance number. Several of the characters experience change only because of the effects of demon possession. The greatest personal development in this script is with the scientist who swears off all religion in the beginning only to finally "see the light" (and who didn't see that one coming?), but the transition is summed up almost entirely in one throw-away line.

Ultimately, CONCLAVE: The Musical is a good show with plenty of talent, zany twists and turns, and some great song and dance. But if half as much thought had went into writing a story with developing characters as went into the choreography, it would have been spectacular.

John Chase
July 22, 2006

This production is part of the 2006 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.
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