Sunday, November 30, 2008

Festen Review

I studied Thomas Vinterberg's Festen in my first year of film studies at U of T. We finished the year with the film and it proved to be the most affecting film I viewed that year. Its impact, I found, was produced from the conglomeration of a powerful narrative,fascinating character relations - produced from a stellar cast, and the films actual form (which is by far the most relevant factor).

In regards to form, Festen was a Dogme 95 film, which was a mode of filmmaking conceived by Danish filmmakers, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. The movement was born in response to the gimmicky, overproduction of modern cinema. In their manifesto, Trier and Vinterberg have ten rules, some of which include; on location shooting with no props, the elimination of non-dietetic music and/or sound, only hand held camera usage, and no superficial action. In Festen it is the form that acts as a vessel, allowing the purity of the story and performances to be fully realized on screen.
As a result of the films background and the intricacies of the plot, I was concerned going into the Berkeley Street Theatre that a theatricalre-imagination of Festen (which in English means The Celebration), may come across overwrought and superficial. However, to my delight, my fears were diminished early on in this production as it neared perfection in many ways.

Directed by Jason Byrne, the show begins with family and friends gathering for a 60th Birthday celebration for Helge (played to absolute perfection by Eric Peterson). As the evening progresses we divulge into uncomfortable familial secrets and witness the cathartic power of truth. Peterson has been around for ages and although many may only know him from his television experience, the man has a grand theatre presence here. He is flawless at containing the emotional eruption of an evil man being dethroned. His eyes containing, yet capturing his fear and anxiety with a piercing stillness in glare.

The acting from the three surviving children of Helge, Christian (Philip Riccio), Michael (Allan Hawco) and Helene (Tara Rosling) is staggeringly good. Tara Rosling is really a stand out in the show, she's a truly captivating character actress

And watching Rosemary Dunsmore's performance (who plays Helge's wife Elsa) is like witnessing a workshop on the craft itself. She pounces around the stage truly committed to her delivery of every line and gesture, commanding absolute attention from her audience, similar to PattiLupone's magnetic force.

The most interesting aspect of the show was its use of staging. Bryne does a lovely job at using the Berkeley Street Theatre to its full potential. Actors exit and enter from almost every door in the theatre. Action and lines are delivered off stage and result in a haunting experience. Futhermore, near the beginning, Bryne has the actors participate in cross staging; where three story lines occur at one time over multiple plains of action. It is compelling and brave, and it works.

The only aspect of the show that took away from my experience was Bryne's decision to leave the house lights on for the entire show. Although only a small infraction and I do understand the intention of wanting us to feel like we are fully participating in the evening's festivities, however I found this decision to be distracting as it felt too revealing. Breaking the forth wall can work in certain circumstances, but here it comes across as intrusive.

Now to sum this review up, Festen is explosive. It bursts off the stage with gripping intensity. It is powerful and moving, exhibiting loads of qualities that we all yearn to experience while at the theatre. Go and see it!

By: JHaley

Friday, November 28, 2008

Patti's Turn and Look

I went to see Gypsy's Wednesday matinee performance last week. Gypsy is one of my favorite musicals of all times, although I had never seen a stage production of the show before. And let me tell you Patti Lupone did not disappoint. I think the NY Times revue said it best when they described her singing as "not always pretty, but always perfect." Lupone definitely rivals Rosalind Russsell as my favorite Mama Rose. Certainly Patti has a much stronger voice, and she manages to make the role totally her own. She is both evil and endearing. Boyd Gains is also wonderful. He balances his Herbie off Lupone's Rose to perfection. The staging and set were well executed, although there was nothing original happening there. Same goes for the choreography which was good, but taken directly from the films and original Broadway production. I thought much of the rest of the cast was strong but not outstanding. I mean it would be hard to outshine Ms. Lupone. Laura Benanti who plays Lousie was very sweet, with a beautiful voice that was showcased in "Little Lamb." Unfortunately "Little Lamb" might be the most irritating song of all times. Leigh Ann Larkin, who plays Danity June has a powerful set of pipes, and she stole the number, "If Momma was Married." Pearce Wegener, Tulsa's understudy, whom I saw, was unfortunately not very strong as a singer or dancer. His number, "All I Need is the Girl," which is one of my favorites was very lackluster. The biggest problem though, wasn't acting, staging, choreography or set. It was the sound. I can't believe that after so many months they have not worked out the sound kinks. Characters came on stage, and even in the fifth row I missed whole lines or parts of lines until the mics picked up. Not Patti's of course her voice carried despite the mic problems, but everyone else was at the mercy of uneven sound.

The only other problem for this show was not onstage, but in the audience. In the first act alone there were three separate cell phone calls, which was extremely irritating for me, and I assume for the actors as well. However, this problem lent itself to one of the most amazing ad-lib moments I have ever seen. During the second act, in one of the most climatic scenes, Mama Rose is finally coming around to the idea that act is dead. Silence falls just as she is about to admit, "they're all washed up," and someone's cell phone began to ring obnoxiously. Well Patti had had enough, she clearly lost her moment and so she turned and glared at the audience, who erupted in cheers and applause. And her following line, "Are we all finished" sent the audience into hysterics again. Even Ms. Benanti couldn't keep it together and she broke up laughing. Patti kept it totally together though. Her gaze was steely and intense. And while it was an amazing moment, and one I will never forget, it is a reminder of how crucial the audience is to the theatre experience. Audiences have a responsibility to the actors. They are so important to each and every performance, and they have a job to do. I can remember seeing Avenue Q in the West End. The audience gave 110%. And when I saw that show again in Toronto, although the production was good it did not have the same effect. So to theatre audiences out there I say be involved, be critical and alert, and be respectful. And for fuck's sake turn off your phone!

Opening this week in the city

Here is the weekly list of theatre openings in the city.

Bird Brain by Vern Thiessen (Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People). A man shelters baby birds while dealing with his community's strict rules in this play for ages 3 to 8. Previews Nov 30 at 2:30 pm. Opens Dec 2 and runs to Dec 30, Sun 11:30 am and 2:30 pm (call or see website for other times). $20, stu/srs $15. 165 Front E. 416-862-2222,

The British Invasion by Nevin Grant, Howard Pechet and Anne Allan (Stage West). This musical revue revisits hits from the 60s to the 80s. Opens Nov 27 and runs to Feb 8, Tue-Sat 6:30 pm, Sun 11 am and 5 pm. $55-$90. 5400 Dixie. 905-238-0042,

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (Soulpepper). The holiday classic gets a staging. Opens Nov 27 and runs to Dec 24, Mon-Sat 7:30 pm (except Dec 24), call or check website for matinees. $34-$65, student $28; rush $20 (student $5). Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill. 416-866-8666,

Dear Santa by Norm Foster (Theatre Scarborough). Santa tries to overcome a supply shortage to fulfill a special wish. Opens Nov 27 and runs to Dec 12, Thu-Sat 8 pm (except Dec 13, show at 2 pm), Sun 2 pm. $17, students/seniors $14 (Thu and Sun only), student rush $10. Scarborough Village Theatre, 3600 Kingston. 416-396-4049.

A Dickens Of A Christmas (Canadian Children's Opera Company). This fully staged production is based on Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Nov 28-30, Fri-Sun 7:30 pm, mats Sat-Sun 2 pm. $35, student/seniors $15. Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000,

Grimm (Humber Theatre). Based on Brothers Grimm fairy tales, this play explores violence in daily life. Opens Nov 28 and runs to Dec 6, Tue-Sat 8 pm, mats Nov 30 and Dec 6 at 2 pm. $15, student/seniors $10. Humber Studio Theatre, 3199 Lake Shore W. 416-675-6622 ext 3080.

I'm So Munsch based on stories by Robert Munsch (George Brown Theatre School). This children's show is based on five Munsch stories. Opens Nov 29 and runs to Dec 6, Sat 1 pm. $15, seniors $10, student $6. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill. 416-866-8666.

The Invisible by Marie Brassard (Harbourfront World Stage/Quebec Now!). Brassard weaves movement, sound and set design into a multidisciplinary solo performance. Opens Dec 3 and runs to Dec 6, Wed-Sat 8 pm. $15-$30. Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000,

It's A Wonderful Life based on the film by Frank Capra (Canadian Stage Company). An angel shows a suicidal man the value of his life in this holiday classic. Opens Nov 27 and runs to Dec 20, Mon-Sat 8 pm, mats Wed 1:30 pm, Sat 2 pm. $20-$95, limited Mon pwyc. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front E. 416-368-3110,

Moliere by Sabina Berman (Tarragon Theatre). The Archbishop of France and a rival playwright scheme to destroy Molière's base comedies. Previews to Dec 2. Opens Dec 3 and runs to Dec 28, Tue-Sat 8 pm, mats Sat-Sun 2:30 pm. $32-$38, student/seniors $20-$27, previews $19, Fri rush $10. 30 Bridgman. 416-531-1827,

Movin' Out by Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp (Rose Theatre). Five friends watch the world change from the 60s to the 80s in this musical. Dec 2-3 at 8 pm. $75-$90. 1 Theatre Lane, Brampton. 905-874-2800,

Scrooge! The Musical (Civic Light Opera Company). This musical is based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Opens Dec 3 and runs to Dec 21, Thu-Sat 8 pm, Wed 7 pm, Sun (and Dec 20) 2 pm. $20-$27.50. Fairview Library Theatre, 35 Fairview Mall. 416-755-1717,

Sylvia Plath Must Not Die/Doing Leonard Cohen by Blake Booker (One Yellow Rabbit). These productions explore the lives and works of poets Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Leonard Cohen. Opens Dec 2 and runs in rep to Dec 13. $30, student/rush $20 (youth rush $5). Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill. 416-866-8666,

(Courtesy of

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rosie live premieres tonight!

Check your local listings! Rosie has always been such a massive supporter of theatre and we love her for that.

So funny!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Troubles on Broadway

I woke up this morning and like almost every morning I visited the theatre section, where I found a great article on the economic woes of Broadway, and more specifically, the woes of Young Frankenstein.

There has been a legitimate amount of fear running through Broadway recently, as every week there seems to be a new announcement of a show closing. The overwhelming fear as of late comes from news of shocking closings, especially from shows that have just opened and days later announce their demise. Last week, American Buffalo with Haley Joel Osment, John Leguizamo and Cedric the Entertainer opened and unexpectedly closed in the matter of 7 days. 13 and Spamelot both announced their closing dates over the past few days.

Check out the article that explains how arrogance was the largest problem when it came to Young Frankenstein and its demise.

Click on the link below:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Opening this week in Toronto...

Theatre listings are listed below (courtesy of Again it is so nice to see so much theatre opening this week in the GTA. I will be posting a review of Festen in the coming days, I am happy to report that it translated well.

The Apple Tree by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock (Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts). This trio of mini musicals looks at stories of love and temptation. Opens Nov 25 and runs to Nov 29, Tue-Sat 8 pm. $22. Bathurst Street Theatre, 736 Bathurst. 416-872-1111.

Bashir Lazhar by Evelyne de la Chenelière (Théàtre français de Toronto/Théàtre d'Aujourd'hui). A refugee teaches a Grade 6 class in Quebec and adapts to life in a new country. Opens Nov 26 and runs to Nov 30, Wed-Sat 8 pm, mats Sat 3:30 pm, Sun 2:30 pm. $29-$46, student/seniors $24-$32. Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley. 416-534-6604,

Common Criminal by Wanda Fitzgerald (The Common Criminal Project). A blind woman is stalked by a killer in this play with described narration. Previews Nov 25. Opens Nov 26 and runs to Nov 30, Tue-Sat 8 pm, mats Sat-Sun 2 pm. $18, preview $9. Tranzac, 292 Brunswick.

Dangerous Corner by JB Priestly (Village Players). A seemingly innocent mystery leads to the revelation of painful truths at a party. Opens Nov 21 and runs to Dec 13, Thu-Sat (and Nov 26) 8 pm, mats Nov 30 and Dec 7 at 2 pm. $20, student/seniors $16. The Village Playhouse, 2190 Bloor W. 416-767-7702.

Festen by David Eldridge (The Company Theatre). A compelling piece of theatre born from the Dogme 95 film of the same name. Dark family secrets surface at a 60th birthday party. Opens Nov 20 and runs to Dec 13, Mon-Sat 8 pm, mat Sat 2 pm. $20-$40. Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley. 416-368-3110,

Hamlet by William Shakespeare (Necessary Angel Theatre Company). This adaptation combines European theatre aesthetic with the original poetry. Nov 20-23, Thu-Sat 8 pm, Sun 5 pm. $15. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander. 416-975-8555,

Kiss The Moon, Kiss The Sun by Norm Foster (Glenvale Players). Pregnant and alone, a woman bonds with a man with diminished mental capacity. Opens Nov 26 and runs to Nov 30, Wed-Sat 7:30 pm, mats Sat-Sun 3 pm. $15. Palmerston Library Theatre, 560 Palmerston. 416-944-1456,

Legoland by Jacob Richmond (Atomic Vaudeville). Misfit siblings face consequences after attacking a pop star in this modern vaudeville show. Opens Nov 20 and runs to Dec 6, Tue-Sat 8:30 pm, mat Sat 4 pm. $20-$25, matinee is pwyc. Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 16 Ryerson. 416-504-7529,

Masques Of War (Toronto Masques Theatre). Works by Claudio Monteverdi, Igor Stravinsky and Frantisek Kotzwara are performed. Nov 20-22 at 8 pm. $30, students $25. Winchester Street Theatre, 80 Winchester. 416-410-4561,

Radio Play by Denise Clarke (Peggy Baker Dance Projects). This performance fuses dance and theatre to portray a romantic story. Opens Nov 25 and runs to Nov 29, Tue-Sat 8 pm. $30, student $20; rush $20, student $5. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill. 416-866-8666,

Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler (Clarkson Music Theatre). A wrongfully convicted barber seeks revenge. Opens Nov 21 and runs to Nov 29, Wed-Sun 8 pm, mats Sat-Sun 2 pm. $18, student $15. Meadowvale Theatre, 6315 Montevideo. 905-615-4720.

Twist Of Fate by Angola Murdoch (Phenomenatrix). Murdoch recounts her battle with scoliosis through acrobatics, martial arts and aerial circus. Opens Nov 26 and runs to Nov 29, Wed-Sat 8 pm. $15. Gibsone Jessop Gallery, 55 Mill, Bldg 4.

Vinegar Tom by Caryl Churchill (Royal Porcupine Productions). This dark comedy looks at the witch hunts in England. Previews Nov 20. Opens Nov 21 and runs to Nov 29, Thu-Sat and Mon-Tue 8 pm. $10-$25. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill. 416-866-8666,

Friday, November 21, 2008

South Pacific dazzles

As I mentioned while I am in New York there are a few shows that I felt I should not miss. South Pacific was at the top of that list, and I didn't think it was likely to happen. Especially since it is one of the only sold out shows this time of year. But I went by Lincoln Centre Tuesday morning, and they told me if I came back at five I might be able to get returns. So at quarter to five I returned to LC, thinking there was not much of a chance of getting tickets. But by some miracle I got the only two returns for the day. And I didn't even care that they were 125$ each. The show started at seven because it is over three hours long, but let me tell you three hours has never felt shorter. The Vivian Beaumont, is a beautiful theatre, although I perceived it as a small Broadway house it actually seats 1080. And all of the technical elements were perfect, not like Gypsy which was plagued by bad sound for the whole show at Wednesday's matinee. I love the feature at the Beaumont which allows the part of the stage covering the pit to be pulled back, enhancing the sound of the magnificent orchestra. That feature was perfectly utilized, and not over done, it really added to the swelling score everytime the orchestra was revealed. There were other elements of perfection as well, the set and the staging were really superb. Everything moved around the large stage seamlessly. The crowds of sailors who adorn the stage for much of the show really gave you that sense of wartime reality. A lot of hurry up and wait, as it were.

The leads were amazing. Kelli O'Hara, who I have known about since Light in the Piazza, was perfectly cast as Nelly Forbush. And Danny Bernstein stole the show as Luther Billis. There number together, "Honey Buns" was one of the best theatre moments I have ever experienced. Paulo Szot, who played Emille de Becque, had that rare quality of masculinity, which is so often lacking in the leading men of today. His opera background is probably partly responsible for that, and it was refreshing to see a leading man who actually has chemistry with his leading lady. As for Mathew Morrison, who plays Lt. Joseph Cable I think I'd go to the South Pacific with him, no problem. Beautiful voice as well. I was also really impressed by Loretta Ables Sayre, who's Bloody Mary went so far beyond the caricature that is written, to become a real entity in South Pacific. "Happy Talk," which I have always loved because frankly it is one of the funniest and most outlandish numbers in musical theatre, took on a new and much more human face in this production.
In fact overall, that is what makes this production of South Pacific so good. Because it is not the best show, it is not even the best of Rogers and Hammerstein. The storyline arch is awkward. For example, unlike in the film the show starts at the de Becque's plantation, and Nelly and de Becque are already well into their courtship when we are introduced to them, which to me felt very forced. It also makes the first act a little flat, or at least this performance it felt a bit flat. But the music is quintessentially Rogers and Hammerstein. I would defy anyone to leave that show not humming those tunes. And just like all the major reviews have said, South Pacific is so well contextualized in our modern world, and so many things are illuminated in this production. This show is given new meaning in our times, and also our times make it obvious what a classic this musical really is.
I will try to get a revue of Gypsy up tomorrow. Lots to talk about there. Patti Patti Patti.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We Will Rock You extended

On November 19th our dear friend David Mirvish announced that the explosively popular, all-Canadian, Dora Award-winning, extremely eye-brow raising, We Will Rock You will extend its engagement to Feb. 1, 2009, at the Panasonic Theatre.

The new block of tickets will go on sale Nov. 22.

Additionally, starting Dec. 2 (and continuing to Jan. 27, 2009) an extra performance per week "at an irresistible ticket price" will be added to the playing schedule. Beginning Dec. 2, We Will Rock You will play on Tuesday evenings and every seat in the theatre will cost $20. This new promotion is being called "Ten Toonie Tuesdays." An added matinee Tuesday Dec. 23 is also at this price. There are ten $20 performance opportunities.

Nothing like a rowdy evening at the theatre.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Globe theatre in London announces 2009 season

The 2009 season at Shakespeare's Globe in London, presented under the title Young Hearts, will include new stagings of Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It and Troilus and Cressida, as well as a revival of Dominic Dromgoole's 2007 production of Love's Labour's Lost that will eventually venture on a North American tour in the autumn of 2009.

Ché Walker's The Frontline, which premiered in the 2008 season, will also be revived, alongside a new play by Trevor Griffiths and a new version of Euripides' Helen by Frank McGuinness.

Artistic director Dominic Dromgoole said, "At Shakespeare's Globe, each new performance feels like a new burst of energy and a new beginning. The 2009 season of Young Hearts celebrates the heedless joy of youth, a love of life and the enduring passion of our audiences."

The theatre will also produce summer tours of The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Public booking for the season opens Feb. 14, 2009, at the box office, 020 7401 9919, or by visiting

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fingers Crossed

I just arrived in New York last night. We have a few EAP contact meetings, before the American Thanksgiving weekend. I am hoping to get returns for South Pacific tonight. It would be a coup, but I am hopeful. I let you know.

image courtesy of the New York Times

Apollo Theatre to hold premiere of 'Dreamgirls'

The upcoming national tour of the Henry Krieger-Tom Eyen Motown musical, Dreamgirls, will premiere at Harlem's historic Apollo Theater in November 2009.

Robert Longbottom will direct and co-choreograph the national tour.

Producers of the national tour will hold auditions for Dreamgirls' central trio of The Dreams, including the roles of Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson and Effie White, on Nov. 22 at the Apollo Theatre

Producer John Breglio released a statement regarding the decision. "The opening scene in Dreamgirls takes place in the legendary Apollo Theater, so it is only fitting that we are launching the national tour at this historic venue. The prospect that we may discover the new Dreams at the Apollo, where so many stars were discovered, just adds to our excitement in bringing this great musical back to the stage."

Tickets for Dreamgirls at the Apollo Theater go on sale Jan. 26, 2009, at 10 AM via and the Apollo Theater box office.

Minnelli will appear on 'Rosie Live'

Very exciting news from New York yesterday as it was announced that Liza Minnelli will appear on the premiere taping of the upcoming variety show Rosie Live. Liza Minnelli is currently in New York rehearsing her scheduled December 3rd return to Broadway in a limited run of Liza's at the Palace . . .! is reporting that Minnelli, Kathy Griffin, Tony Award winner Jane Krakowski, Ne-Yo and singer Alanis Morissette are the guests for the NBC variety special, which will air Nov. 26 at 9 PM ET live from New York's Little Shubert Theatre.

Rosie Live, according to a previous NBC press release, will feature "a topical monologue, musical production numbers and hilarious comedy sketches." The program is produced by Universal Media Studios in association with KidRo Productions. O'Donnell and David Friedman are the executive producers.

This is VERY, VERY exciting.

New cast announced for Toronto's 'Jersey Boys'

A mostly brand-new cast will step into the Canadian production of Jersey Boys beginning Dec. 12.

The Toronto engagement of Jersey Boys, which began performances Aug. 21, has been extended through Feb. 1, 2009.

Canadian Jeremy Kushnier, who has been playing Tommy DeVito since the Canadian run began, will continue in that role. He will be joined onstage by Derek Krantz as Bob Gaudio, Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi and Jeff Madden as Frankie Valli with Timothy Sell as Gyp DeCarlo and Shawn Wright as Bob Crewe.

New musical 'Sister Act' will premiere in London

I have been meaning to post a news bulletin from last week regarding Whoopi G's announcement on The View that she is staging Sister Act. Usually I find the over-saturation of film-to-stage productions a little hard to bare, however, this idea excites us. A fierce black diva musical sounds absolutely divine.

Here is the news brief from

"Whoopi Goldberg and Stage Entertainment will produce the London premiere of Sister Act, the new musical comedy based on the hit film of the same name. Previews will begin May 6, 2009, at the London Palladium with an official opening June 2.

Sister Act features a score by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater. The book was penned by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner ("Cheers"). Peter Schneider will direct a cast to be announced in 2009.

In a statement Goldberg, who starred in the film version of "Sister Act," said, "If you are fortunate enough to be a part of something wonderful, I feel it's important to pass the baton. The best way for me to be a part of this new incarnation of Sister Act is to make sure everyone knows it's happening. The stage version of the show is fresh and new and I'm beyond thrilled to be part of it."

The creative team will also include musical supervisor Michael Kosarin, choreographer Anthony Van Laast, set designer Klara Zieglerova, costume designer Lez Brotherston, sound designer Mick Potter, lighting designer Natasha Katz and musical director Nick Skilbeck.

Sister Act — based on the 1992 movie that cast Goldberg in the role of the singer-turned-sister — has played engagements at the Pasadena Playhouse and Atlanta's Alliance Theatre.
Show times will be Monday-Saturday at 7:30 PM with matinees Wednesdays and Saturdays at 3 PM.

The London Palladium is located in London on Argyll Street. Tickets for the production, which is booking through Feb. 13, 2010, will be available by calling 0844 412 2704 or by visiting" (Andrew Gans,, 13 Nov 08)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Line-up at Statlers

Hey everyone. Jenni Burke and Curtains Down is back at Statlers tonight (with a brand new piano).

Here is the line-up for this evening - check it out!

Brandon Matthieus
Jeigh Madjus
Lynn Filusch
Kate Proctor
Shawn Hurford
James Lesvesque
Blair Irwin
Ryan Kerr
Bob Dillon

Friday, November 14, 2008

Opening this week in Toronto

Here is your listings for theatre opening this week in and around the GTA; also I have to give a shout out to the show Festen which begins previews on November 17th at the Berkeley Street Theatre. The show is based on the 1998 Danish Dogme film of the same name ("The Celebration" is the English translation). The film is a masterpiece. Let's hope the staging will be equally as gratifying.

Bressani by Frank Spezzano (The Italian Pastoral Commission /The Pirandello Theatre). This historical drama looks at the life of the first Italian Jesuit in North America. Nov 13-16, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 3 pm, student mats Thu-Fri 1 pm. $20, student mats $10. Don Bosco Catholic School Auditorium, 2 St Andrews Blvd. 416-781-9000.

Duet For One by Tom Kempinski (Duet for One Co-Op). This drama is based on the life of cellist Jacqueline du Pré. Nov 14-16, Fri-Sun 8 pm, mats Sat-Sun 2 pm. $20. Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton. 416-696-5950 ext 2.

Hay Fever by Noel Coward (Markham Little Theatre). The self-centred Bliss family drives away its guests in this manners comedy. Opens Nov 19 and runs to Nov 22, Wed-Sat 8 pm. $22, seniors/students $19 (Wed-Thu only). Markham Theatre for the Performing Arts, 171 Town Centre. 905-305-7469.

Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen (Stage Centre Productions). A headstrong new bride causes chaos in order to keep her checkered past secret. Opens Nov 13 and runs to Nov 29, Thu-Sat (and Nov 26) 8 pm, Sun 2 pm. $25, seniors $20, student $15. Fairview Library, 35 Fairview Mall. 416-299-5557,

Hospitality 3: Individualism Was A Mistake by Caroline Dubois, Claudia Fancello and Jacob Wren. (Harbourfront World Stage/Quebec Now!). Indie rock meets theatre in PME-ART's performance piece about collaboration. Opens Nov 19 and runs to Nov 22, Wed-Sat 8 pm. $15-$30. Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay W. 416-973-4000,

Miss Julie: Sheh'mah (KICK Theatre). This adaptation of a play by August Strindberg looks at sex between upper and lower classes. Opens Nov 13 and runs to Nov 29, Tue-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2:30 pm. $20, Sun pwyc. Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen W. 416-538-0988,

Murderous Women adapted from the book by Frank Jones (Theatre Erindale). Historical murders committed by women are re-enacted in this drama. Previews Nov 13. Opens Nov 14 and runs to Nov 22, Tue-Thu 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, mat Nov 22 at 2 pm. $9-$14. Erindale Studio Theatre, 3359 Mississauga Rd N. 905-569-4369,

My Name Is Rachel Corrie adapted by Katherine Viner and Alan Rickman (Organic Underground Theatre Collective). This solo drama is based on the diaries and e-mails of the American peace activist killed in Gaza in 2003. Nov 14-15, at 7:30 pm. $10-$15. Multimedia Studio Theatre, 3359 Mississauga Rd N. 888-222-6608,

Paradise By The River by Vittorio Rossi (Shadowpath Theatre). This drama looks at the internment of Italian-Canadian men during WWII. Nov 13-14, Thu 8 pm, Fri 1 and 7 pm. $25-$28. City Playhouse Theatre, 1000 New Westminster, Vaughan. 905-882-7469.

The Paranormal Show (Campbell House Museum). Vladimir Eisengrimm performs mind reading, hypnotism, a seance and other sideshow feats. Opens Nov 13 and runs to Nov 29, Thu-Sat 9 pm (except Nov 27). $40. 160 Queen W. 416-597-0227,

Talking Heads by Alan Bennett (Alumnae Theatre). Three of Bennett's darkly comedic monologues produced for BBC-TV are presented on stage. Opens Nov 14 and runs to Nov 29, Wed-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm. $20, Wed-Thu 2-for-1, Sun pwyc. 70 Berkeley, 3rd floor studio. 416-364-4170,

Tosca by Giacomo Puccini (Opera Lirica Italiana). The dramatic opera is fully staged and presented in Italian with English surtitles. Nov 13-15, Thu and Sat 8 pm. $30, student/seniors $25, child $20. Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis. 416-882-0246,

The Trial Of Mary And Joseph/The Woman Taken In Adultery (Poculi Ludique Societas). Two short plays based on biblical tales examine medieval views of female sexuality. Nov 13-16, Thu-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm. $20, seniors $15, students $10. Studio Theatre, 4 Glen Morris. 416-978-5096.

Trudeau Stories by Brooke Johnson (Theatre Passe Muraille). Johnson's solo show dramatizes memories, letters and journal entries relating to her friendship with the former prime minister. Previews Nov 14-18. Opens Nov 19 and runs to Dec 6, Tue-Sat 7 pm (except Nov 14 at 8:30 pm and no evening show Nov 15), mat Sat 2:30 pm. $30-$35, previews $15, mat pwyc. 16 Ryerson. 416-504-7529,

You're A Good Man Charlie Brown by Clark Gesner (Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People). This family musical is based on the 'Peanuts' comic strip characters. Opens Nov 13 and runs to Dec 30, opening night 7 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm (call for other times). $20, student/seniors $15. 165 Front E. 416-862-2222,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Let's have a discussion about this

An interesting article popped up in the New York Times today about Scott Eckern's, resignation from California Musical Theatre. He has resigned amidst a fury of outrage at his donation of 1,000 $ in support of Proposition 8. Most people know that Prop 8 is the California initiative, which passed, and will change the State's constitution to discriminate against same-sex marriages. Eckern's financial support of Prop 8 was made public by a group of activists in California, calling for a boycott of businesses and individuals who contributed to the initiative. Once his name was out he faced increasing criticism for his contribution and early this week the pressure forced him to resign.
Now, I am a California resident and I voted against Prop 8, I am pleased to say. And I am deeply saddened that larger California population wants to write discrimination into our State constitution. However, I am very torn about Mr. Eckern's "forced" resignation. Eckern, who is a practicing Mormon, has the right to contribute his own money to what ever political initiatives that he wants, in my opinion. I don't believe that his personal convictions should have any bearing on his work relationship with California Musical Theatre. Sure it seems odd that a guy who has worked in musical theatre for a decade and has a lesbian sister, by his own admission would contribute to such a heinous ballot initiative, but should he really have to quit his job because of it?
I would really like to hear some thoughts on this, so please feel free to leave comments, and definitely check out the article in the Times.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Deborah Cox releases new album

Although this entry is not entirely theatre related, I have to give a shout out to Deborah Cox who released her long awaited album The Promise yesterday. Cox is a well known Canadian icon - a belting black diva if you will. She has released a number of albums and has appeared in numerous contemporary films. She is probably best known in our theatre community from her starring role on Broadway in Aida.

Check out her album and her new song "Beautiful U R" below!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sharon performs tonight

The delightful and always entertaining Sharron Matthews performs tonight in the city. Matthews is playing at the Toronto Centre for the Arts (5040 Young Street) in her one woman show - Sharron Matthews... Uptown Girl.

The show starts at 8:15 p.m. and tickets are $15. Call 416-872-1111 to purchase or inquire.

Opening this week in Toronto

Here is the list of theatre openings for this week:

The Abduction From The Seraglio by WA Mozart (Opera Atelier). Two men plot to rescue their girlfriends from an Ottoman Pasha in this commedia dell'arte opera. Opens Nov 8 and runs to Nov 15, Fri-Sat and Tue-Wed 7:30 pm, Sun 3 pm. $30-$135. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge. 416-872-5555,

And Stockings For The Ladies by Attila Clenmann (Holocaust Education Week). A Canadian airman helps Jewish refugees in post-WWII Germany in this solo show. Nov 7-9, Fri 2 pm, Sat 8 pm, Sun 2:30 pm. Free. Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, 165 Front E. 416-862-2222,

Banana Boys by Leon Aureus (fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company). Five young Asian-Canadian men wrestle with issues of race and identity. Opens Nov 12 and runs to Nov 15, Wed-Sat 8 pm, mat Sat 2 pm. $20, student/seniors $12. Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House. 416-978-8849,

Emilia Galotti by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (Stratford Festival). A prince's obsession with another man's fiancée leads to murder and abduction. Nov 6-9, Thu 8 pm, Fri-Sun 2 pm. $50-$90, student/seniors $22-$69. Avon Theatre, Stratford. 800-567-1600,

A Glimpse Of The Light by Ben Finn (TEATRON Jewish Theatre). Holocaust survivors witness the birth of Israel in this musical. Opens Nov 12 and runs to Nov 23, (preview Nov 12 at 1 pm), Thu and Sat (and Nov 12) 8 pm, Sun 2 pm. $22-$44. Leah Posluns Theatre, 4588 Bathurst. 416-781-5527,

Kindertransport by Diane Samuels (Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company). This drama looks at Jewish children separated from their parents during WWII. Opens Nov 6 and runs to Nov 23, Mon-Thu and Sat 8 pm, mats Tue-Wed 1 pm, Sun 2 pm. $32-$52. Al Green Theatre, 750 Spadina. 416-366-7723,

Nikola Tesla, An Evening With Genius by J Michael Newlight and Frank Tabbita (Professional Engineers of Ontario/IEEE Toronto). The inventor recounts his life and envisions a wireless future. Nov 6-8 at 8 pm. $20-$25, stu/srs $15-$20. Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis. 1-888-222-6608,

ScrABrrRrraaNNG - A Cabaret Of Futurist Performance (Graduate Centre for Study of Drama U of T). Performances by Jess Dobkin, Sky Gilbert and others are presented as part of the Futurist Dramaturgy and Performance Conference. Nov 6-8, Thu-Fri 9 pm, Sat 10 pm. (Conference runs Fri-Sat at Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College.) $8-$12. Studio Theatre, 4 Glen Morris. 416-978-7986,

Soulless by Aaron Bushkowsky (505 Productions Equity Co-op). Five people question their apathy for others and their love of material goods. Opens Nov 6 and runs to Nov 23, Tue-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2:30 pm. $20, Sun pwyc. Factory Theatre Studio, 125 Bathurst. 416-504-9971,

That Came Out Wrong by Graeme Gerrard (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre). A gay teen deals with coming out in rural Ontario in this comedy. Opens Nov 6 and runs to Nov 16, Thu and Sat-Sun 8 pm, mat Sun 2 pm. $15. 12 Alexander. 416-975-8555,

Unconditional/Waiting For Lefty Brett C Leonard/Clifford Odets (Column 13 Actors Company). This double bill features a drama about sex and violence in the lives of nine New Yorkers, and a one-act play about the taxi cab strike of 1934. Opens Nov 12 and runs to Nov 29, Wed-Sat 8 pm, (Waiting For Lefty Fri-Sat only, 10:30 pm). $15, student/seniors $12, Wed is pwyc. Dancemakers Centre for Creation, 55 Mill, bldg 58. 647-377-4903,

(listings courtesy of

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Statler's update

I know everyone has been very concerned about the status at Statler's. Jenni Burke, who hosts Curtain's Down sent out an email letting everyone know that this weeks closure on Monday night, was NOT a permanent thing, and Statler's will be back in action soon. I hope this shocks all fans back into regular attendance. Statler's is one of the only venues in Toronto where emerging talent can showcase, mingle and promote themselves. It deserves our support, and there is no better way of supporting than showing up. And not just on Monday nights. Statler's hosts tons of private cabaret events, with a wealth of talent. And it is usually cheap and sometimes free, so get out there.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Rough Road Ahead for Broadway

Great article in the Times yesterday. Nobody saw it of course because of election coverage, but I always love Patrick Cohen. Photo courtesy of Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Curtains Down at Statlers tonight

We adore Jenni Burke and the weekly Curtains Down cabaret evening at Statlers.

Appearing this week is:

Derrick Paul Miller
James Lesvesque
Jeigh Madjus
Chis Wilson
Michael Gill
Ashley Keefer
Nadia Dubeau

Saturday, November 1, 2008

O here we go again - "Million-Dollar Quartet"

I always get pegged as a tough critic, a nay-sayer, what-have-you, but I cannot help but be a bit concerned about this trend in musical theatre. The regurgitated song cycle. A new musical is making news in the New York Times, as well as regionally, Washington and Chicago specifically, "Million Dollar Quartet." It is based on a historic, almost mythical jam session, between Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, with a score that includes "Blue Suede Shoes" among many others of the period's blue chip rock and role. The Times is expecting "Million-Dollar Quartet" to do very well, and likely make its way to Broadway, a speculation made all the more likely with a New York Times puff piece under its belt.
Here is what concerns me. On Wednesday Justin and I went to see Jersey Boys. Despite the SNOW and reoccurring sound problems we enjoyed ourselves. But after we left the theatre I said to Justin, "in all honesty that was not better than "The Drowsy Chaperone". You may recall that Jersey Boys beat out "The Drowsy Chaperone" to win the Tony for best new musical in 2006. I mean sure the music was great and I was totally into it. And I can see how with a stellar cast "Jersey Boys" would explode off the stage, but where is the creativity in stitching a musical together from period hits.
Now I love "Mamma Mia!" just as much as the next musical geek, but the difference is that ABBA wrote musicals, and most of their music was so theatrical in intention, that it seems more appropriate. I have also been guilty of suggesting, albeit late one night, that the Carpenters story and songs would make an awesome musical. So I don't want to rule it out completely, it just concerns me that creativity is dying.
Look at the most successful shows in New York in the last few years, many have been film-to-stage adaptions and revivals. And Toronto is even worse, the biggest hits here this year were "We Will Rock You" and "Dirty Dancing", both awful - in terms of writing, development, and even basic character evolution. And "Jersey Boys," which I overheard an usher say, will likely have a second extension beyond the February extension announced when the show opened. That is good for the city and for performers working here, since it will continue with a local cast. But why is it that people wont come out for multiple extensions of "The Drowsy Chaperone"? A show that was born here, and was brought back to Toronto with the original Man in the Chair, Bob Martin, in tow. It baffles me. Anyway we will have to wait and see about "Million-Dollar Quartet." (image from the New York Times.)