Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sing with Mamma Mia cast


More news Liza will be ecstatic about, as select movie theatres around the country will offer a sing-along version of the hit film "Mamma Mia!" — based on the long-running musical of the same name — beginning Aug. 29.

"Audiences at these specially selected theaters," press notes state, "are invited to bring friends and family to experience the smash hit movie musical in a whole new way by singing along to the songs they love." The sing-along edition of the film will feature the lyrics to every musical number on the screen.

The film is already a massive hit globally. It has surpassed $300 million in worldwide box office revenue, and its soundtrack is at the top of the Billboard Music Charts.

A great summer musical. Fun, fun fun!

Pride and Prejudice news!

With being so busy and all filming season 2 of Project Runway I have missed some important local and international Theatre news.
This miss, which was originally reported on August 21st on Playbill.com is a little embarrassing considering Liza's adoration of the original text and films:

"A concert version of the new musical Pride & Prejudice — based on the classic Jane Austen novel — will be presented Oct. 21 at the Eastman Theatre in Rochester, NY. Pride & Prejudice, A Musical Play will feature a 16-piece orchestra and a cast filled with Broadway actors, including Jersey Boys' Colin Donnell as Mr. Darcy. Additional casting will be announced shortly. The evening will also include costume pieces, lighting and simple sets.


The Rochester venue is an appropriate choice for the Broadway-aimed Pride & Prejudice: The musical was penned by two Rochester natives, Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs. Mark Lamos (Our Country's Good, Seascape, The Rivals) directs with musical direction by Fred Lassen.

Pride & Prejudice, A Musical Play has been optioned for a Broadway production by Lori Bajorek, also a Rochester native. Executive producer is Donald C. Farber.

In a statement producer Bajorek said, "We really want Rochester to 'own' this show from the start. This is 'Rochester's Musical,' and we want the whole community to come with us to Broadway!"

A reading of Pride & Prejudice — which combines the world of the Bennet family in Pride and Prejudice with the world of Austen as she writes the novel — was presented in Manhattan in August 2007. "Jane Austen," according to previous production notes, "brings to life the world of Pride & Prejudice through her writing process. She creates the classic love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy before our eyes for us to fall in love with all over again. . . . It is a story of love — the love an author has for her characters and the love the characters have for one another." That reading was also directed by Mark Lamos." (Andrew Gans, Playbill.com)


Picture: Colin Donnell

Monday, August 25, 2008

Was the wait worth it?


The Tony Award winning musical Jersey Boys opened last night in Toronto at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. It has been a long wait for the arrival of the smash musical, and the one question that has arisen with its opening is: has the wait been worth it?


Critics from around Toronto agree the answer is - YES!






Friday, August 22, 2008

Streetcar Named Desire coming to the U.S.

The upcoming Australian production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, will be seen in the United States at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.


The Sydney Theatre Company (under the artistic direction of Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton) production of desire will be directed by Oscar nominee Liv Ullman, is set to play Sydney Sept. 1-Oct. 10, 2009. The production will then tour to the Kennedy Center Oct. 29-Nov. 21, 2009, prior to making its New York debut Nov. 27-Dec. 20, 2009, at BAM.






Blanchett and her husband, provided the following statement: "We're thrilled the production will tour to theUnited States. Working with director Liv Ullmann is an extraordinary opportunity for the Australian artists and creative team and it will be exhilarating for Sydney Theatre Company to tour a classic American play, as seen through our eyes, back to an American audience."




A Streetcar Named Desire premiered on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in Dec. 1947, playing 855 performances before closing in Dec. 1949. Directed by Elia Kazan, the original company boasted Jessica Tandy as Blanche, Marlon Brando as Stanley and Kim Hunter as Stella. The most recent Broadway revival — in 2005 at Studio 54 — starred John C. Reilly, Natasha Richardson and Amy Ryan.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

SummerWorks - One Reed with Paul Thompson

Holly Theatre Batman, it has been so long since I have blogged for EAP it is shameful. Justin, our Executive Director, is always great at getting theatre news up here, for everyone to read. But my role on the blog was to talk about what our company is doing, and what is happening locally. So i am going to give you what should be half a dozen blog posts all at once. To start this is the first year since I moved to Toronto that I have seen any of the festivals' plays and musicals. Justin and I saw It's Just a Phase, a new musical at Fringe, and last week Russ took me to see One Reed and Paul Thompson's (Never Underestimate) the Power. I didn't write a review for It's Just a Phase, not because it wasn't deserving, there were definitely some cast members who deserved a shout out for their performances, but overall the music was lousy and I was not inspired. The standouts were definitely the second city alums Lauren Ash (Helen) and Ashley Botting (Tonya). Richard Anthony (Papa Tony) was also strong in his role of the flaming closeted father. But only one of the musical numbers was moving, the duet between Helen and Calgary. The choreography was dismal and although there were some interesting nuances, overall the story was cliche. I did appreciate how the show referenced Toronto, far too often shows about this city don't feel genuine and they don't translate well outside of Toronto. That was not the case with It's Just a Phase, which was presented at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace.

Far more compelling was the show I saw last week with Russ at SummerWorks,(Never Underestimate) the Power, written and developed by One Reed, a company I don't know much about and who's website appears to be defunct, (please email me if that is incorrect). Russ's playwright friend Jordan Tannahill had recommended it to us and it didn't disappoint. One Reed worked with the legendary Canadian playwright Paul Reed who I was interested to learn about. Jordan gave me the run down on his background, and Toronto credits, while we waited for the show to begin. (I have included the Canadian encyclopedia biography for Mr. Thompson below). Set in the post-911 context (Never Underestimate) is a story about isolation and connection. The play uses the famous blackout of the Eastern seaboard in 2003 as its focus. Using the power outage to contextualize the post-911 reality is something we've seen before, most famously in James Cameron Mitchell's film Shortbus, but it worked even better in this play because of the Toronto focus. Torontonians, having not experienced the terror of September the 11th first hand, struggled with their location until the watershed moment in 2003 when all of the East Coast was plunged into darkness. Ask anyone who was here and they remember it vividly, just as any New Yorker would tell you their 911 story. And the trio of actors really carry it off, particularly the guys, Evan Webber and Frank Cox-O'Connell. Also here was a show with definite musical elements that worked and lent weight to the experience. Megan Flynn, the lone female performer and the two piece band of Michael Louis Johnson and David Stein created a soundtrack to their play that was more musical and feeling that a lot of what gets called a musical these days (ehemmm Dirty Dancing). Flynn's voice, while not strong in a typical musical theatre sense, was emotional and stirring. Why (Never Underestimate) is a play and not a musical is something I can't quite articulate, although I feel strongly that it is the former. I was reminded of that film Once, which won the Oscar for its original song last year. Similar tone and music quality, but something that had a pedestrian perspective, too grounded to call a musical. If more musicals were like (Never Underestimate) the Power, it would elevate the whole field. I also enjoyed seeing the Factory Studio, a space I had never been to for some reason. Normally any theatre that is as unbearably hot as Factory was would be a bad thing, but in this case it felt right, like they had shut off the AC on purpose to remind us all of that sticky night five years ago. Kudos to One Reed and Paul Thompson's direction. (Never Underestimate) the Power had some of the best writing I've ever heard in new work. I'd love to see that show develop into something full-scale. As it is now at 50 min it's too short to be presented on its own in a large production.
Finally I'd like to give you all an EAP update. It is really crunch time now. We have two grant deadlines in mid-September, and that has been our primary focus. Assuming we get both grants we will be working on productions for the Summer/Fall of 2009. You may have also seen the website it is up and running. Thanks to Big Bang Technology and Shaun Robinson the graphic designer for all their work. We are still waiting on the business cards, which I am so excited about. Until then we are full stream ahead. See you all in the footlights.
LM
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0007973

Judge allows Mirvish to purchase local theatres

Toronto, ON
The Canadian Press


David Mirvish's Ed Mirvish Enterprises can go ahead with the purchase of two downtown Toronto theatres (the Canon and Panasonic), an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.

Rival theatre impresario Aubrey Dan's Dancap Productions had sought an injunction to block the sale of the Canon and Panasonic theatres to Mirvish. Dan claimed the sale would violate his prior agreements with John Gore's New York-based Key Brand Entertainment, which bought the two theatres from Live Nation in January.

Dan claimed the sale constituted conspiracy, fraud, a breach of the Competition Act and would do irreparable harm. "Dancap has failed to meet the test for an interlocutory injunction," Justice Geoff Morawetz write in a decision released Tuesday.

Dancap's statement of claim said the sale violated a "binding term sheet agreement" signed last November.

"It seems to me that Dancap seeks to obtain the rights to control the sale of the theatres through this motion," Morawetz wrote. "It did not negotiate for this right in the term sheet."Mirvish said the decision was what he had been hoping for.

"Our position was validated by the judge and he seems to have accepted all of our arguments," Mirvish said. "He says that Key Brand has the right to sell and that we have a binding agreement to purchase."

Mirvish said he hopes Tuesday's decision is the end of the issue. "I'd like to spend my time in the theatres, not in the courts," he said.

In an email, Dan expressed disappointment at the ruling and said he will be reviewing legal options. "Dancap remains confident that it has a strong position on the merits of its legal claims," he said.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Stratford Festival announces its 2009 Lineup


Artistic Director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Des McAnuff has released his choices for the 2009 season. McAnuff has kept his word of diversifying the festival. According to Richard Ouzounian the '09 season "reveals a varied choice of plays from the classic repertoire, a strong devotion to Canadian authors and the hiring of first-rate creative talent from around the world." (thestar.com)

As previously revealed in the Star, Shakespeare's Macbeth and Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac will be sharing the Festival Theatre stage with West Side Story. McAnuff will be directing Macbeth, Donna Feore Cyrano and Gary Griffin and Sergio Trujillo West Side Story. Newly announced is acclaimed British director David Grindley, who will be staging A Midsummer Night's Dream.

At the Avon Theatre, McAnuff will direct A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Brian Bedford will both direct and star in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.
Also at the Avon will be Julius Caesar, Edmonton's James MacDonald will take the reign on the classic, who was most recently seen in Toronto as the director of Canadian Stage's multiple Dora Award-winning Fire.

The Tom Patterson Theatre will be the place to witness a rare production of Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, staged by the Festival's General Director, Antoni Cimolino. Martha Henry, head of the Festival's Birmingham Conservatory, will be directing Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters and Carey Perloff, the respected head of San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre, takes on a new adaptation of Racine's Phedre. The Tom Patterson Theatre will also feature Ever Yours, Oscar, a piece by Peter Wylde based on Oscar Wilde's letters, which will be directed by Bedford and will star him as well.

The Studio Theatre is featuring all Canadian content, including the world premiere of Morris Panych's newest play, The Trespassers, directed by the author. A long-overdue revival of George F. Walker's 1977 hit, Zastrozzi will be staged by Jennifer Tarver and Sunil Kuruvilla's Rice Boy, first seen at Canadian Stage, completes the lineup.

McAnuff also announced that new plays have been commissioned from John Mighton, Judith Thompson, George F. Walker and Aaron Sorkin.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Palmer Park opens at Stratford


Joanna McClelland Glass' Palmer Park, a look at post-riots Detroit, when "white flight" was rampant, opens tonight at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival here in Ontario.

The play, set in the titular Detroit neighborhood, continues at the intimate Studio Theatre to Sept. 21. Canadian-born Glass, author of Trying and the Tony Award-nominated Play Memory, lived in Detroit following the race riots in 1967.

Palmer Park follows two professional couples — one black, the other white — as they strive to maintain the racial integration of their community. According to Stratford notes, "In the six months after the Detroit race riots of 1967, nearly 300,000 names left the Detroit phone book. This exodus to the suburbs was called 'white flight.' In the aftermath, the large, beautiful houses of Palmer Park sold at bargain-basement prices, and the city's schools, funded by property taxes, became peripheral victims. Detroit's tax base was so eroded that the Board of Education found itself with a deficit of $7 million dollars."

Glass was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her plays have been produced in many North American regional theatres over the past 30 plus years; as well as in England, Ireland, Australia and Germany. Her first one-act plays, Canadian Gothic and American Modern, were first produced at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City in 1972.

The production team of Palmer Park includes set designer Jessica Poirier-Chang, costume designer Katherine Lubienski, lighting designer Alan Brodie, sound designer Todd Charlton, video designer Mick McDonald, production dramaturge Keira Loughran, choreographer Dayna Tekatch, stage manager Bruno Gonsalves, assistant stage manager Angela Marshall and production stage manager Marylu Moyer.


Tickets are available through the box office at (800) 567-1600 or online at www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Theatre News: Spring Awakening National Tour


The North American tour of the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening begins a pre-tour engagement at San Diego's Balboa Theatre Aug. 15. Performances will continue through Aug. 31 at the California venue. The national tour will then officially kick off Sept. 4 at San Francisco's Curran Theatre (playing through Oct. 12).


Following their Broadway debuts in the Duncan Sheik-Steven Sater musical, Canadian Kyle Riabko and Blake Bashoff head the cast of the Spring Awakening North American Tour. Kyle will play the role of Melchior, while Bashoff will perform the role of Moritz. The duo is joined onstage by Christy Altomare as Wendla and Steffi D as Ilse.


In a recent statement, the musical's producers said, "As we embark on our first tour across the United States and Canada, we are thrilled to announce a cast of exceptionally gifted young actors. We are continually amazed and delighted at the breadth of their talent and are excited for audiences coast to coast to have the opportunity to experience such exhilarating performances."


Based on the 1891 play by Frank Wedekind, Spring Awakening won eight 2007 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Spring Awakening features direction by Michael Mayer, choreography by Bill T. Jones, book and lyrics by Steven Sater and a score by Duncan Sheik.


The tour will hit Toronto March 18-April 19, 2009, at the Canon Theatre.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

SummerWorks Top Picks


Summer Works is approaching the end of its week and a half long run and there are some impressive shows that have been staged this year. Here are our picks of some of the most impressive emerging theatre productions seen so far this year:


If We Were Birds
Company: groundwater productions

Venue: Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace

Friday Aug 15/2008 - 04:30 PM

Sunday Aug 17/2008 - 08:30 PM



Any Night
Company: DualMinds

Venue: Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace

Friday Aug 15/2008 - 08:30 PM

Saturday Aug 16/2008 - 10:30 PM



Pelee
Company: The Pelee Project

Venue: The Theatre Centre

Saturday Aug 16/2008 - 05:00 PM

Sunday Aug 17/2008 - 01:00 PM



More picks to come tomorrow!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

SummerWorks under way in Toronto!


The 2008 SummerWorks Independent arts festival is well under way in Toronto. The theatre portion of the fest runs from August 7th to the 17th. If you like theatre pieces that challenge mainstream ideologies than this is the event you must check out:


"SummerWorks supports work that has a clear artistic vision and explores a specific theatrical aesthetic. It encourages risk, questions, and creative exploration while insisting on accessibility, integrity and professionalism. SummerWorks is the place where dedicated, professional artists are free to explore new territory and take artistic risks. Rather than getting larger, we strive to get better. We look to introduce professional artists from diverse communities to each other and be inspired by our similarities and differences." (summerworks.ca)






Friday, August 8, 2008

'Hair' revisited in New York

The revival of Hair opened last night in New York. This version is under the stars and burried in the park. It stars the wonderfully talented Jonathan Groff, who is looking and sounding better than ever.

The show is getting pretty good reviews. Check it out:

http://theater2.nytimes.com/2008/08/08/theater/reviews/08hair.html

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Jersey Boys News: Toronto



Local Theatre news appeared today in The Toronto Star. It involves the Toronto version of Jersey Boys, which is set to open on August 24th at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts. Theatre journalist Richard Ouzounian is reports on some casting news:


"A Toronto guy is going to be one of the Jersey Boys... Jeremy Kushnier, last seen here in 2003 in Aida, will play bad guy Tommy DeVito, which he's already done to critical acclaim in Chicago and Las Vegas. Director Des McAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo also hail from Toronto, making this a show the city has every reason to take to its heart." (thestar.com)



The remaining leading roles in Toronto will be performed by Joseph Leo Bwarie (Valli), a Vegas company vet; Steve Gouveia (Nick Massi), who has appeared in the show since its 2004 La Jolla Playhouse premiere; and Andrew Rannels (Bob Gaudio).

For more info on Jersey Boys visit: http://www.dancaptickets.com/

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Curtain's Down at Statler's!


Liza and I have been meaning to check out Curtain's Down here in Toronto for a few months now, and we finally made it there last night and it was truly wonderful. The evening is a Cabaret/variety show/open-mic mix that brings a refreshing collection of Broadway, pop and Jazz to the new and improved Statler’s Piano Lounge.

The night is hosted every Monday by the always witty and warm Jenni Burke who delivers a healthy blend of comedy, music and improv. She is assisted by musical director Michael Barber.

Curtain's Down is exactly what Toronto has been missing. It is also exactly what Church Street needs as well (Yes, drag performances are fun, however seeing raw talent is much more invigorating). Last night's show featured some very strong performers and a small collection of new emerging artists including, Derrick Paul Miller from Thousand Islands Playhouse's Les Miserables, Mary Kelly, Ryan Kerr, and the cast from Summer Works' Kid Cosmic (to only name a few).

The evening has a wonderfully contagious positive energy to it. Having a cocktail while listening to local talent is the perfect way to spend a Monday night. Artists coming together weekly to share a song, an anecdote, promote, inspire…. but most of all, to celebrate being an Artist in Toronto.


Check it out:


Monday's at 8pm

Curtain's Down

Statler's Piano Lounge

487 Church Street

Toronto

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Taxi Project opens in Toronto



The TAXI Project, a theatre based event exploring freedom of expression will be running until August 9th at the Alchemy Theatre here in Toronto.

The show features a unique combination of theatre, film, and an interactive workshop.

A project of PEN Canada and the Art For Real Change Collective, The TAXI Project features an original play exploring the forces that compel people to leave their home countries, the struggle to create a new life in Canada, and celebrates the community of brave individuals who speak out against injustice.

Written by a highly acclaimed group of international writers from PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile Program TAXI is based on the lives and writings of Emma Beltr├ín, Martha Kuwee Kumsa, Goran Simic and Sheng Xue and is being directed by Weyni Mengesha (Da Kink in My Hair).

The TAXI Project began in 2006 with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and engages high schools, universities, and communities across Ontario in a creative exploration around themes of freedom of expression, exile, and refugee experiences. The project is suitable for people aged 16 and up.


The Taxi Project plays the Alchemy Theatre, which is at 133 Tecumseth St.
Monday – Thursday 2:00pm
Friday and Saturday 7:30pm
Ticket are pay what you can. Call 416-703-8448, ext. 23 or email jbloch@pencanada.ca