Click here for photographs of the Ottawa production
Part of Artword's 2007-2008
season on the road!
If Cows Could Fly
with an onstage Klezmer band: Henri Oppenheim, accordion, Frank Rackow, clarinet, Ronald Weihs, fiddle
Directed by Ronald Weihs
Greenberg Theatre Centre,
Downtown Arts Centre,
show website www.ifcowscouldfly.com
'Til the cows come
Ottawa, September 10 2007: Mooove over, Ottawa - the cows are coming home! Artword Theatre, based in Toronto, is delighted to play the role of the first guest company to grace the mainstage of the new Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre in Ottawa, with a revival production of If Cows Could Fly.
Created and performed by Allan Merovitz, a Dora-award winning actor and internationally renowned singer and Klezmer musician, this Jewish-Canadian musical has already been produced in both Toronto and Winnipeg. Robert Cushman of the National Post reported that the production was "all done with great energy and authority," while Paula Citron of Classical 98 called Merovitz "a gamin-like, energetic, charming performer."
If Cows Could Fly traces the story of both sides of Merovitz's family - Waxman and Merovitz - from Poland, Lithuania and Kishinev to the rural Ontario community of Smiths Falls. Allan has assembled the fragmented memories of his family into an enchanting saga, interspersed with a wide range of musical styles: Yiddish songs, country-and-western ballads, as well as Klezmer and Ottawa Valley fiddle tunes. East meets West in a musical blend that is quintessentially Canadian. It all comes together in Merovitz's portrait of his crazy cousin Leonard, the dairy farmer who dreams of flying to Nashville on his prize Holstein Rosie.
Artword Theatre was created in 1993 by Ronald Weihs, a theatrical playwright and director, and Judith Sandiford, a visual artist and theatre designer. Most of the theatre's own productions were put on without public funding and proved great successes with audiences and critics alike. Artword Theatre produced Merovitz's If Cows Could Fly in 2000 and it was remounted in 2001.
Weihs, who directs this play for the third time, comments: "I had a great time working with Allan on this play. It runs the gamut from wacky to fascinating to deeply moving. It's a kaleidoscope, always full of surprises. Most of all, it's about tolerance and understanding between people from different backgrounds. The positive, affirmative spirit of this play is even more pertinent today than when Artword first produced it seven years ago."
In addition to chronicling his family history, Merovitz portrays his own struggle in coming to terms with a dual identity: heir to a tradition that spans millennia and being just a modern Canadian kid. A master of mimicry, Merovitz plays numerous colourful characters, including his entire family and many others besides. But he is not entirely alone: he is joined onstage by an accomplished trio of musicians equally at ease with Klezmer and Country.
"What does 'If Cows Could Fly' mean? It means making the impossible tangible," Merovitz says. "How do we do this? Through a belief in ourselves and in the generosity of so many people who help us along the way. Music is a way to express this and have a good time. We smile, we laugh, we sing, we dance."
The Ottawa Jewish Historical
Society presents the Artword Theatre production of If
Cows Could Fly, from February 21 to March 9, 2008
(preview February 20)
For group and school bookings, call Barry Karp in Ottawa 613-526-4584.