REVIEW: More Power to Your Knitting, Nell @ Ottawa Fringe 2012

Nell is not only a singer but the voice behind a movement of knitters, knitting for the troops to keep morale up in WWII. Nell, however, hates knitting.

Singer-performer, Melanie Gall tells you why you should see it:

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Melanie Gall can sing. She is one talented woman. So I was a little surprised at the content choice for her 2012 Ottawa Fringe show, More Power to Your Knitting Nell. A young woman, Sadie, becomes the new ‘voice of the war’ during World War 2, as she sings every week on the radio to convince the women at home to knit for their men away… unfortunately – she hates to knit herself.

The one woman musical show features a number of old timey war-themed songs about knitting, and her continuous monologue is all about knitting as well… which, isn’t very interesting. I’m very glad there were the musical numbers because this play would have been dead in the water without them. Like, I said – Melanie Gall is talented. Her musical capabilities could sell out venues alone. Her acting skills could put her on the stage with many other great talents – but in the long run - More Power to Your Knitting, Nell is largely forgettable. It has its moments of charm. It has a cutesy feel to it.

It’s a solid one hour show that is better than more than a few shows I’ve seen at Fringe. And Gall can be captivating. The moment she opens her mouth to sing everyone wants to hear more… we just didn’t want her to stop singing and go back on a rant about knitting again. More Power to Your Knitting, Nell will appeal to some – and maybe it’s simply my age, or the fact that I probably have some sort of undiagnosed attention deficit disorder – but More Power to Your Knitting, Nell only captivated a 3 out of me.

Allan’s Followup:

Melanie Gall is a singer, employed, among other places, in opera where people pay upwards of a hundred dollars a ticket to hear her. No surprise then, that she really does have an amazing voice. More Power to Your Knitting, Nell is also built around a series of old-timey knitting songs (out of copyright) that she turned up and put together and built a show around. The concept of the show is somewhat interesting; young woman dreams of singing, applies to the radio, becomes the voice of a nation of women - over a hobby she loathes. Nell doesn’t get the allure of knitting or how it helps the American troops but she goes along to get along.

Unfortunately, while the singing really is worth the ticket, the story; meh. It’s not bad, per se, it’s just not all that interesting, at least to me. As my tweview said; if you’re interested in knitting, WWII stories, or old-timey music, it’s a worthwhile ticket. Three.

- by Allan Mackey

Kurt’s Followup:

The show is predominantly a singing show, with some monologues spliced in for exposition and such. Nell, played by Melanie Gall, sings songs on her radio show and then shares gossip with her knitting circle.  Nell even supplies knitting to some of the members of the audience so that they can act as the knitting circle. All that said, the storyline is very formulaic, with Nell, singing her songs, then having her meeting with the knitting circle and then singing to herself. The formula does make it easy to follow, but also makes it less engaging. And the story itself is pretty token. Nell discovers how much her show means to the troops and even falls in love and gets engaged to one. There is no variation or intrigue in the story.

But when it comes to music, the show shines. Melanie Gall has a powerful and beautiful voice and is one of the strongest singers in the festival. The whole show comprises of actual knitting songs from the period, all sung brilliantly by Gall. And Melanie Gall is so charming and personable as Nell, that it’s her voice and presence that makes the show work, but the story itself is lackluster and not as entrancing as it could have been. So for all that, More Power to Your Knitting Nell earns a three out of five.

- by Kurt Shantz

Matthew Champ

About Matthew Champ

Matthew Champ is the lead movie reviewer for Production Ottawa's Should You See It team, making sure that you know whether or not these movies or plays are worth spending your time or money on.

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