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Montreal Gazzette: "No Firm Date for 'The Vagina Monologues'"


By Alan Hustak
Montrealers will have to wait at least 11 months to see the wildly successful "Vagina Monologues" on home turf.

Eve Ensler's theatrical hit features women reading a dozen short first-person accounts about that intimate body part. The show was first staged in New York, where it won an Obie Award in 1997. Since then, it has been performed around the world, in theatres from Athens to Zagreb, with scores of celebrities doing the reading.

The show ended its sold-out Toronto run on Sunday - but the production has gone south, not east.

It opened Monday in Atlanta, Ga., as part of a tour that will see it zigzag across the U.S., with stops in Vancouver in March and Winnipeg in April.

"The first available date for Montreal is a two-week window in November," said Steven Shinn, vice-president (program operations) at Unique Lives, the production company that sponsored the Toronto production.

Joanna Spencer, associate director for the Vagina Monologues touring company, said few producers appreciated how successful the production would be. "Until it opened in Toronto, no one in Montreal was interested in picking up the show," she said.

"It jumps all over the place, but the nature of the piece, it can travel easily. It is not in a truck, so it doesn't have to follow a circuit."

Spencer said the show will probably play Montreal at the end of the year or early next year: "We are shuffling dates around until things are confirmed in writing."

Playwright Ensler, 47, based the show on interviews with more than 200 women. Using both drama and humour, it has been a hit with audiences. For example, one monologue answers the question: "If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?"

Women of all ages have read in the show, and the production has drawn a good number of celebrities.
The Toronto show featured two regular actors, Starla Benford and Sherri Parker Lee, joined by such Canadian stars as Sonja Smits, Gloria Reuben, Shirley Douglas, musician Chantal Kreviazuk and Mary Walsh, of This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Recent auditions in Toronto for the rest of the Canadian tour attracted hundreds of women.

Some of the past cast members of shows in the U.S. include: Brett Butler, Nell Carter, Claire Danes, Calista Flockhart, Teri Garr, Robin Givens, Donna Hanover, Melissa Joan Hart, Teri Hatcher, Amy Irving, Erica Jong, Carol Kane, Swoosie Kurtz, Ricki Lake, Julianna Margulies, Andrea Martin, Rue McClanahan, Mary McDonnell, Rita Moreno, Alanis Morissette, Rosie Perez, Phylicia Rashad, Gloria Reuben, Mercedes Ruehl, Annabella Sciorra, Brooke Shields, Julia Stiles, Marlo Thomas and Marisa Tomei.

For more information on "The Vagina Monologues," visit the website.