Ivanka: The True Story

Ivanka

Written by Jo-Ann Waytowich
Music & Lyrics by Jo-Ann Waytowich and Dianne Potts
Performed by Jo-Ann Waytowich and Dianne Potts
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
July 13 to 17, 2010
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

On-Stage and Behind-the-Scenes

Everyone loves to get all the dirt in a behind-the scenes story. And that’s what Joanne Waytowich gives in the true story behind Ivanka. Then in Act II, we get the lies.

Ivanka:  The True Story opened this week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia. It’s the latest offering in the Ivanka series by Jo-Ann Waytowich. The writer-actor-singer-comedian has five Ivanka shows to her credit, so this one is almost a re-run. She gives us all the background, and repeats some of her popular sketches.

So in Act I, we get behind the scenes – Waytowich tells us her life’s story, while before our eyes, she transforms herself into Ivanka – wig, makeup, even a tip on creating bushy eyebrows. Her persona, Ivanka, is an immigrant from Slobjev, dressed in flowered polyester.

Like many entertainers, Waytowich came to it in a roundabout way. Her parents insisted she get a “real” job so she went into social work. As a mental health counsellor, she was very unfulfilled: “The only different between me and my clients was that I had the keys to the building,” she says. Waytowich went back to university to study music – her first Ivanka show was a school project.

We also meet Ivanka’s twin sister Marucia, played by Dianne Potts, who doubles as the accompanist. She tells us how the two met, and began composing and acting together. The audience laughs at the notion that the two women, who could not be more different in appearance, are identical twin sisters.

The Ivanka show is really stand-up comedy with props. Most of the humour is created by Ivanka’s unusual Slobjevian accent, reminiscent of Borat. Vs are pronounced as Ws, the vowels are all shifted, and the accent is always on the wrong syllable. Waytowich has perfect comedic timing, knowing exactly how to get the laughs from her mispronunciations.

We learn some interesting facts about the history of music, as Marucia posts up signs to aid in on comprehension. In the second act, we get job-hunting tips and household hints. Involving members of the audience brings the house down in laughter. It’s not every day you see a man from the audience assist an actress with her pantyhose.

Waytowich has a great franchise of humour rolling along. She’s a female Walt Wingfield – except Wingfield puts the city boy in the country. Ivanka puts the new immigrant from the old country in Canada. It’s the mixing of person and place that creates hilarity.

Ivanka: The True Story continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until July 17. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets.

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