TEEN AMBASSADOR: RILEY FORTIN | MARCH 11, 2019
I’ve got to say, last Friday night’s show was a completely unexpected move for me. I was invited to see Winston Churchill: The Blitz with my Zeiterion Teen Ambassador group at the theatre. I realize that spending close to two hours in the dark watching a middle-aged man impersonate a beloved former British Prime Minister doesn’t exactly sound like ideal weekend plans, but you’d be surprised. It was so much more than just that. I took a journey back into the past into a world of heartbreak and sorrow, but more importantly, a time of hope.
Although I was at first skeptical of my interest in the show, one aspect that did interest me from the start was the concept of a one-man show. I wondered how the stage would be decorated, if a lone performer would be able to tell a good story, how only one person would captivate an audience, and whether or not said performer would be on stage the entire time. All of my questions were answered with intelligence and entertainment thanks to Randy Otto, a man who is part performer, part historian, and is the author and lead actor of Winston Churchill: The Blitz. Otto has been studying Winston Churchill for the past four decades and has performed as him since 2014. Not only can Otto recall every fact, story, and memory relating to the famous politician spontaneously, he completely embodies his wit and character, from his clothing, to his cigar, to his accent, right down to his exact movements. Don’t believe me? Otto’s skill has even gone as far as being recognized by the real Winston Churchill’s great grandson, who remarks, “Randy [Otto] does not attempt to be Winston Churchill, Randy IS Winston Churchill”.
Friday night’s performance did not disappoint. Otto had me learning, laughing, and nearly crying within his monologue-driven performance. The audience agreed with me and demonstrated through their massive applause. I will take with me one part of the show in particular. It was after intermission, in the second half of the performance. The mood was quiet, dark, and rather solemn as Act II had been dedicated to Churchill’s political career, including his position during the second World War. An image of a small green field appeared on a screen, and Churchill politely requested that the audience members stand up, if they were alright with it. Myself and many of those around me obeyed. Once standing, he asked that we link arms with the people on either side of us, and again, we followed suit. Sweet, classic music rang through the speakers and then throughout the venue as corresponding lyrics on the screen let the audience know what we had to do. Churchill explained to us that the song we heard was a tune from an old-timey musical from the 1940s that was performed during the time of the war. As we did our best to sing along, he admitted that he enjoyed the song very much. However, he made a point that music, theatre, and literature throughout the war wasn’t only for enjoyment, it was a necessity for the people of the time. Art was what gave suffering individuals, families, students, teachers, and leaders the hope they needed to create a new world. This is a theme that I find extremely relevant to today, which is why it resonated with me so greatly. I am happy to say that Churchill’s message was clearly received by the audience. Randy Otto’s performance swept the audience off of their feet, as it reflected the times of the past while we endure the hardships of life today for history buffs and commoners alike.
- Winston Churchill: The Blitz
2018-19 SEASON ////////////////
- Jessica Lang Dance
- Yamato Drummers
2017-18 SEASON ////////////////
- A Christmas Carol (2016)
- Capitol Steps
- Che Malambo
- Doo Wop
- The Giver
- The Moth Mainstage