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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada • Page 26
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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada • Page 26

The Gazettei
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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THF GAZETTE, MONTREAL, FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 1993 est if looks like old times Just Alii other Girl not just at rJorfli alley's Piggery JOHN GRIFFIN GAZETTE MOVIE CRITIC Schneiderman back as artistic director PAT DONNELLY GAZETTE THEATRE CRITIC i 7 another film between wanting to do something and seeing it done. The great strength of Just Another Girl is that Chantel's adolescent problems are so painfully true. As played with kinetic, wide-eyed grace by newcomer Johnson, she has all the answers you'd expect of an over-achieving teenager, but she doesn't know anything at all. Blinding opportunism may lead her to high-school idol Tyrone (Kevin Thigpen) "he drives a fly 1992 Jeep" but all-toc-human young emotions bind her to the relationship. Sure, she knows about the dangers of AIDS and unwanted motherhood, but that doesn't stop her from engaging in risky sex with her man.

When she becomes pregnant, she can't figure it out. "I was using the pill, she says, baffled. "I was even doubling up." Just Another Girl is about how Chantel and Tyrone face the future. Will she keep the child? Can he assume responsibility? How does it affect college and med school? Harris offers the kind of answers that happen in real life. They're often hysterical Just Another Girl takes place at volume 11, like Sassy magazine but they're never preachy.

Kids will relate. The movie has 'tude. Just Another Girl on the I.R. T. is playing at the Cinfrna de Paris, 896 Ste.

Catherine St. W. See repertory listings for schedule. Parents' guide: language, sexual situations and a few harsh images. "People be tripping when they find out how smart I really am," sing-songs Chantcl (Ariyan Johnson) at the beginning of Leslie Harris's funky hip-hop romance Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.

Chantel has to keep reminding herself and everyone else of this fact. She's a streetwise 17-year-old with a big mouth and bigger dreams of escaping the deadend poverty of her home in the Brooklyn projects, but to her teachers, employers and boyfriends she's all attitude and no ambition. Ability isn't this girl's problem. She aces school, dresses "fly" and dances hotter than Brooklyn asphalt in July. She's bright, funny, flip and genuinely fond of her best friend Natete (Ebony Jerido), even if she does manipulate their relationship just a bit.

As a black with Afrocentric views of history and contemporary politics, however, she does not bring that same generosity of spirit to the classroom or the snooty Yup patrons of the Manhattan Upper West Side gourmet shop where she works weekends. "You've got to tone that mouth of yours down," advises her principal. "What's my attitude got to do with it?" she spits. She figures her "parents work from paycheque to paycheque, but that's not going to be me. I'm "A V- I Ariyan Johnson stars as streetwise teenager.

tZZZ going to college and med school. I've got to get out of the Projects." As an ambitious African-American woman herself (this marks the first commercial feature release by a black woman film-maker), Harris understands the land mines that litter the road 1 wK. Is Mason Gamble the new Macaulay Culkin? JAMIE PORTMAN SOUTHAM NEWS BEVERLY HILLS, Cal. It's been a day of doing press for the 7-year-old star of Dennis the Menace. He's back.

Perry Schneiderman has returned to the Piggery in North Hatley. Not that he was ever very far away, or for very long. Schneiderman, 45, who headed the Piggery from 1982 to 1986, has been gradually returning to his old haunt since Greg Tuck, who succeeded him in '87, left for Kelowna, B.C., two years ago. Producer Joe Martek kept the show rolling on his own for one season. And last year, Schneiderman and actor-director Brian Dooley formed a ruling triumvirate along with Martek to run the quaint theatre-in-a-barn.

"I went back to guest-shot for a couple of years, and there was some talking going on, but I wasn't really ready to jump back in until this year," Schneiderman explained in a recent interview. A long-time teacher at the National Theatre School of Canada, Schneiderman was appointed artistic director of the English section of the school three years ago. "I'm going into my fourth year at the theatre school," he said, "and I really feel, from that point of view, everything is on an even keel. So I can take on extra work." And the Piggery board, after two years of uncertainty in mid-recession, was happy to have him home. "It worked out.

The timing was right for both of us." Back to thrres plays Schneiderman may be happy to be back, but his producer is even happier about his return. "It's not that easy," said Martek. "You need that one person to take the lead. There's a lot more to artistic direction than meets the eye." After experimenting with a two-play format last season, the Piggery will return to three shows this year. The trouble with two shows is that if one doesn't pan out, half your box office is in jeopardy.

Last season's thriller didn't go as well as its farce, Bedside Manners, directed by Schneiderman. And attendance figures took a nosedive. This year, the longest run of the season is reserved for the Schneider-man-directed farce, Lend Me a Tenor, a Tony Award-winning hit by American playwright Ken Ludwig. Although this hilarious back-stage-at-the-opera comedy has been produced here in French, the Piggery lays claim to its English-language Quebec debut. Schneiderman calls it "a Rolls-Royce of a farce." Chris Marren will play the tenor.

Like six others in the cast of nine, he's a graduate of the National Theatre School. It's no coincidence. "I stand by those I train," said so perhaps that helps explain why Mason Gamble is bored, fid gety and a bit of a menace. He seems OK when he first am bles into the interview suite cheerful, tousle-haired, his two front teeth missing (he explains he just GAZETTE, JOHN KENNEY Perry Schneiderman is back at helm of the Piggery. clone voice and perfect Parisian diction.

She doesn't roll her Rs; she. purrs them. Her four-man backup band gives a performance that is as tight and professional as hers. This show could successfully headline any night club on the continent." Tonight Piaf began previewing Tuesday and officially opens the Piggery season tonight at a $35-per-person gala. It runs through July 10.

Following Rabu, Montreal's fa had them pulled), his overalls neatly ironed. Then he spots the array of tape recorders carefully arranged on the coffee table before him. He giggles and shoves against her. "Shush!" his mother whispers. Father Tim Gamble, red-headed and persistently cheerful, arrives.

He's an actor. "Are you the same sweet little angel you were before you did the film?" a reporter asks Mason. "No," Mason replies. His father answers in greater detail: "He's the same person," says Dad. "But I don't know whether you'd call him a sweet little angel!" Opening today, Dennis the Menace is the first film to be released under Warner Brothers' new Family Entertainment label: as such, it constitutes a challenge to the highly lucrative family division of the Disney organization.

So is Mason Gamble another Macaulay Culkin in the making? Earlier in the day, writer-producer John Hughes bridled at a reporter's suggestion that the two have something in common. "Mac is much more delicate," Hughes retorts. "I don't think Mason bears any resemblance to him." Mason's videotape was one of 20,000 submitted to Hughes during a nationwide search for a Dennis capable of holding his own onscreen against Walter Matthau, who plays Mr. Wilson, the cantankerous next-door neighbor who is the chief target of the kid's mayhem. And how was Mason during shooting? "He has tremendous instincts as an actor in terms of knowing his lines and understanding when he has to do a shift in mood," says director Nick Castle.

Back at the interview session, his father is saying the same thing. "We discovered a lot of things about Mason during filming," Tim Gamble says. "We knew he was sharp. His mother or I would read over a scene twice with him, and he'd have most of his lines learned. By the time we'd done a scene five times, he would have the other actors' lines down as well." Nevertheless, it's a less obliging Mason on view this afternoon; in fact, his parents threaten twice to leave the room and force him to fend for himself.

But they stay, with Mason forcing them to field several of the questions while reserving the right to in terrupt when he feels like it. How do they feel about their son's starring film role? "Obviously, we're very proud," Sally Gamble says hesitantly. "We thank the Lord," adds Tim Gamble. Mason lists some of the recent movies he's seen The Little Mermaid, Bambi and the two Terminator movies then gets into an argument with his mother over whether he had permission to see the latter. Mason spots another interesting tape recorder on a tripod, reaches for it, and sends it flying.

When he's again restrained by his mother, he tries to bury himself in the sofa cushions. So what's next for Mason? "A vacation," replies Mason. "It's not a vacation," his father tells reporters: it's a promotional tour of the Far East and Europe on behalf of the film. "It's a vacation to me," pouts Mason. "It's a trip around the world." One last question: has all this Hollywood attention changed their son? "No," Sally Gamble replies, "he's always like this." "Oh, cool!" he chirps.

"There's a red one!" He reaches out for the most colorful of the recorders, and is quickly restrained by the worried woman who's just seated herself on the sofa beside him. "I'm his mother Sally Gamble," she explains. She's a developmental psychologist by profession. Mason switches his attention to Mom. "How old are you?" he demands, playing to the reporters present.

"Are you 2 1 Are you 4 1 Are you 42? Are you 45? Are you 43?" vorite satirical anglo troubadors, Bowser and Blue, will present The Best of Bowser and Blue, from July 13 to 17. This happy duo is also part of Centaur Theatre's fall season, but Schneiderman said not to worry about overlap. "The Best of Bowser and Blue will be a mixture of new stuff and stuff from other shows. It will be a compendium. The thing is they're so topical.

constantly revamping in terms of what's happening." 28th season looks solid The Piggery's 28th season looks piggy-bank bankable. Nothing could go wrong, except possibly the weather, and Piggery patrons don't mind muddy roads anyway. It's all part of the country-theatre adventure. Just like the mosquitoes. Fortunately, the Piggery patio, Di 'HIS Matthau, Plowright are bright spots in overlong movie Apart from the presence of friendly nemesis Mr.

Wilson, this pic's scant plot is strikingly similar to the two Home Alones. It pits Dennis up against a bumbling adult sociopath. In lieu of dimwit bad guys like Home Alone's Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, the lunatic Christopher Lloyd does a slapstick evil solo shtick in Dennis the Menace. Naturally, Lloyd is no match for our Menace. Dennis pummels Lloyd mercilessly.

He even force-feeds him baked beans. (Hopefully, however, kiddie audiences won't try these stunts on real-life bad guys who will surely do more than emit foul gas.) And that just about sums up the comic and dramatic high points of this flick. It may not seem like much, but Hughes has induced box-office stampedes with less. In other words, watch out for a sequel within two summers. Dennis the Menace opens today at the Astre, Plaza Cote des Neiges, Eaton Centre, Famous Players Pointe Claire, Laval and Versailles theatres.

PG: some violence. decent screen ideas. Even with Matthau as the foil, Dennis the Menace is by no means an obvious feature-length flick. There's just so far a director can go with a devilish little imp, a bedraggled older gent and precious little plot. Then again, the task of bringing Dennis the Menace to the screen was left to John Hughes, the movie wizard who has his finger more firmly placed on the pulse of the American kiddie psyche than any other grownup in Hollywood.

It was Hughes who made Macaulay Culkin the richest little kid in Hollywood. Of course, it was Culkin who helped make Hughes one of the richest adults in town when Home Alone became the third-highest-grossing film in Hollywood history. The sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, ensured there would never be any tag-days held for Hughes or Culkin. But while Hughes may have got as much mileage as he cotild out of Culkin, he sticks surprisingly close to the Home Alone formula in Dennis the Menace which Hughes wrote and produced. CONTINUED FROM PAGE C1 covery of Mason Gamble.

But if this movie makes waves, it's because someone had the good sense to cast Walter Matthau as curmudgeonly Mr. Wilson. Oscar-winner Matthau may have been born to play the part of Dennis's highly irritable and elderly next-door neighbor. If they gave Oscars for facial contortions, Matthau would win in a walk, particularly after he gargles with some toxic cleaning substance. Naturally, it was Dennis who innocently substituted this liquid poison for the mouthwash.

On the subject of master casting strokes, dis-tiguished British stage actress Joan Plowright is an intriguing choice as tender-hearted Mrs. Wilson. Ah, the irony of it all! Fresh from an Oscar-nominated performance in Enchanted April, the former Mrs. Laurence Olivier is playing straight lady to an American comic-strip hero. But the fact that film-makers are mining a 42-year-old comic strip for inspiration tells cynical adults all they need to know about the dearth of where the country suppers are served (for $17.50 per person), is surrounded by screens.

Food service is being expanded this year to include a cold buffet (at $12.50) with matinee shows. And the Friday-night steak barbecue is back, like Rabu's Piaf, by popular demand. Tonight Piaf, starring Joe'lle Rabu, continues at the Piggery in North Hatley, in the Eastern Townships, through July 10. Tickets range from $15.50 to $22. Tel: (819) 842-2431.

Piaf returns Lend Me a Tenor opens July 22 and continues through Aug. 28. Two road-tested warmup acts precede it. Joe'lle Rabu's one-woman Edith Piaf show, Tonight Piaf, is a rerun from two seasons ago. In 1991, Rabu, who was born to French-from-France parents in Winnipeg and grew up in Courtney, B.C., packed the house at the Piggery and left them demanding an encore.

Here's a recap of the Gazette review: "Rabu has a powerful Piaf- i ff 1 CREG QUAY 9 TWIN DOUBLE QUEEN FUTONS RENDEZ-VOUS '93 AT THE LANDINGS MARINA s86 s58 J74 4" cottonfoam 6" cottonfoam J69 597 Sl 14 J95 S126 S148 price of futon with purchase of base ON LAKE ST. FRANCIS ALONG HIGHWAY 401 NEAR LANCASTER, ONT. FUTON BASES mmmsmm TWIN DOUBLE QUEEN '62 570 s86 from jut i s86 s103 s123 from price of base with purchase of futon I y. SRCRED UP8BTP BY COLLEEN CURRAN Directed K. Rjmona Orr lfff 1 lililTp 'i felt xmpoga-? FOR TICKET RESERVATIONS (613)347-2416 Mfnimr irM rir ami DOWN COMFORTERS TWIN DOUBLE QUEEN s75 s96 J112 from Don't miss Soap Digest, PILLOWS s34 s15 DOWN from FEATHER from unaava duv et a weekly rundown of what's happening on the TV soap operas, in the VISA 1 0 ave.des Pins West 793 Avoca Dorval Suite 220, Montreal (North side of Cote de Liesse Sunday Gazette.

(comer St. Laurent Blvd.) 3 streets west of 55" Ave.) 636-8925 636-6519.

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