Nestling under the great arches of the North Bridge is a musical that blows all of its contemporaries out of the water. Following a brief run at Toronto's Annex Theatre, Canada’s Performing Arts Collective have brought Blood Ties to the Fringe and it’s a true treat of a show.
Blood Ties is a musical based on a true story about a bachelorette party weekend gone horribly wrong. Sheila’s (Anika Johnson) uncle kills himself on the eve of her wedding and she and three best friends are left with the task of cleaning up the mess left behind, a mess that is soon revealed to extend far beyond the blood splattered on the floor.
This is a show that has many layers to it and it is the wonderfully executed performances that make this show so special. Other characters joining Sheila are Barbara Johnston as Franny, Carter Hayden as Paul, Mike De Rose as Larry and Kent Sheridan as Uncle Conrad.
All five perform their roles with total conviction and are able to blend their voices in harmony with perfect precision. The story begins with a heavy comic touch, but things soon take a macabre twist, as the clever and brilliantly fresh plotline begin to unfold. You are left asking yourself, how far would you go to help a friend out of a very very sticky spot?
The songs range from comedy fluff to soulful ballads that have excellent melodies thanks to a repeated motif that lingers in the mind. The score is performed live at the piano and although the pianist is hidden from sight, this is a clever move as it adds a sense of realism to the production. This a show that truly leaves you wanting more and you do get the feeling that this Fringe offering is merely an extract from a much bigger production.
Excellent direction by Ann Merriam allows these characters to be the most human of any musical theatre show for a very long time. With taut and suspenseful writing combined with simply excellent performances from the cast, this is one musical on the Fringe that should see a life long after August 26th!