Friday, June 29, 2012

Fringe Starts Next Week

It will be an exciting 4th of July in Toronto this year.  No we aren't celebrating American Independence, we'll be celebrating Toronto Theatre with the start of the 2012 Fringe Festival.  Check out the line-up here.  Be sure to get a subscription package before they are gone!  This is one of the highlights of summer so don't miss it.  We will be blogging all festival long about shows and other events.  So be sure to check back about what is going on at Fringe 2012.  

Checking in with the COC

 The Canadian Opera Company has closed another successful opera season with 2011/2012 recording an average attendance of 91%.  A total of 125,238 patrons attended the 67 performances of the company’s seven mainstage productions in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts: Gluck’s Iphigenia in Tauris, Verdi’s Rigoletto, Puccini’s Tosca, Saariaho’s Love from Afar, Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, the double bill of Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and Handel’s Semele.

This season, the COC recorded 77,509 subscription tickets and 42,216 single tickets – the fourth highest number of single tickets sold in the COC’s 62-year history – generating a total ticket revenue of $11.8 million.  The 11/12 season saw 9,777 of these tickets sold to people under the age of 30.

“Our objective as an arts organization is to expose people to works that they haven’t experienced before.  Looking back on the past season, we’ve explored new operatic territory, welcomed new artists, nurtured the careers of Canadian artists, and pushed the artistic boundaries of the art form to show the infinite possibilities, liveliness and relevance of opera in our time,” says Alexander Neef, General Director of the Canadian Opera Company.  “I couldn’t have wished for a more inspiring season, and none of it would have been possible without the commitment and dedication to the art form and the company that is shown by the COC’s board of directors, staff and volunteers, patrons, subscribers and generous donors.”

The COC received 14 Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations (presented by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts) for its artists and productions this season, taking seven of the 10 nominations in the opera division and another seven in the general theatre production division.  On June 25, 2012, the COC and its artists were recognized with three Dora Mavor Moore Awards: in the opera division, Iphigenia in Tauris won outstanding production and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham won outstanding performance for Iphigenia in Tauris; and in the general theatre production division, Wilson Chin won outstanding set design for A Florentine Tragedy/Gianni Schicchi.

Success was also seen beyond the mainstage for the 11/12 season, where the COC presented a variety of activities and events aimed at opera enthusiasts, and engaged local patrons and visitors in new and exciting entertainment opportunities.

The COC’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre welcomed almost 15,000 people of all ages to its 76 free events.  This season, the Free Concert Series, with programming that spans classical, jazz, world music and contemporary dance, featured four world premieres, highlighted 438 artists – 388 of them Canadian – and presented 14 works by Canadian classical composers, 42 works by living composers and 26 works by female composers.  The full 2012/2013 performance schedule will be available later this summer at

The Ensemble Studio Competition was launched this season, opening the final round of auditions for the COC’s training program for young opera professionals to public attendance for the first time.  Ten finalists performed before a sold-out audience in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre on November 28, 2011, with four singers ultimately selected to join the illustrious Ensemble Studio program in the 12/13 season.

The COC also launched the Ensemble Circle, an exciting new membership initiative for young patrons.  With enrolment capped at 100 patrons, the Ensemble Circle offers its members a personalized introduction to the world of opera and the COC, creating a stronger connection between the company and its audience.  In addition to receiving tickets to three operas, Ensemble Circle patrons attend a special backstage tour of the Four Seasons Centre, attend a private rehearsal of a COC production, receive a ticket to the company’s premier annual fundraiser, Operanation presented by TD Bank Group, and are invited to a host of special events offered throughout the year.

In the 11/12 season, the Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour introduced opera to 18,772 children from kindergarten to Grade 6 across Ontario with performances of Dean Burry’s Isis and the Seven Scorpions and Hansel and Gretel, a specially adapted version of Engelbert Humperdinck’s classic fairytale opera.  In the GTA, the COC’s popular After School Opera Program presented by Scotiabank provided close to 400 children between the ages of seven to 12 with creative and interactive after-school activities emphasizing the core elements that make up opera. Plans for the 12/13 season will see the program expand its numbers to reach anywhere from 475 to 490 children annually.

An illustrious list of COC artists took part in the company’s 11/12 season public adult education and outreach programs, Opera 101 and Opera Exchange, offering those in attendance both informal and entertaining perspectives on a production, as well as in-depth exploration.  Included among the artists who took part were composer Kaija Saariaho, directors Christopher Alden, Paul Curran and Catherine Malfitano, conductor Sir Andrew Davis, designer Michael Levine and singers Jane Archibald, Russell Braun, Mark Delavan, Susan Graham, David Lomelí, Julie Makerov, Simone Osborne, John Relyea, Russell Thomas, Krisztina Szabó and Erin Wall.

In total, 47,652 adults, youths and families were introduced to opera and engaged with the COC this past season, through the company’s 20 education and outreach programs for children, young adults, school groups and adults, which include the Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour, After School Opera Program, March Break Opera, Summer Opera Camp presented by Scotiabank, Summer Youth Intensive, Youth Opera Lab, Living Opera, Opera Creation Program, Opera 101, Opera Exchange, Opera Talks, BMO Financial Group Pre-Performance Opera Chats, BMO Financial Group Student Dress Rehearsals, custom workshops, opera appreciation courses and tours, and building tours.

The COC’s upcoming 12/13 season will mark Alexander Neef’s fifth as general director and is a celebration of opera’s greatest masterpieces, featuring the return of works both long absent and familiar to the COC stage: Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus in a new COC production, Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Richard Strauss’s Salome and Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites.  Joining the COC for these productions are the opera world’s leading artists, no less than 33 of whom will be making their mainstage debuts, including singers Anna Christy, Stephen Costello, Melanie Diener, Elza van den Heever, Isabel Leonard, Brian Mulligan, Franz-Josef Selig, Erika Sunnegårdh and Ramón Vargas; conductor Jiří Bělohlávek; director Peter Sellars; and visual artists Jean-Noël Lavesvre and Bill Viola.  Returning artists include singers Isabel Bayrakdarian, Russell Braun, Judith Forst, Alan Held, Ben Heppner, Richard Margison, Adrianne Pieczonka, Michael Schade and Tamara Wilson; conductor Stephen Lord; directors Christopher Alden, David Alden, Robert Carsen and Atom Egoyan; and designer Michael Levine.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Toronto Pride at Buddies: Bitch Salad Preview

Another PRIDE is upon us in the city and what better way to kick it off then another wicked BITCH SALAD at Buddies tomorrow evening! From the lips of Andrew Johnston himself please see below for the always entertaining press release:

"Can you believe it's already been three years since the late, great Jackie Burroughs stunned audiences with a reading of auto-Edwardian erotica, two years since Kristen Johnston dazzled us from the comfort of her own bathtub, and one year since Drew "Chloe Sevigny" Droege gave us his undivided atten-shun? Well, we can very cryptically say, "Who knows what this year holds..." ...

BITCH SALAD is back for its fourth-annual all-star charity gala with partial proceeds going to benefit the AIDS Committee of Toronto and Buddies In Bad Times Theatre!!!

Featuring, but certainly not limited to:

GAVIN CRAWFORD, "22 Minutes" later...

CHRISTINA WALKINSHAW, described as a 'young Phyllis Diller' by people with ears...

JULIA HLADKOWICZ, a lady as gorgeous and talented as her last name is difficult to spell and sound out...

EMMA HUNTER, a bosomy barnstormer/boxom barn-burner...

Perennial faves THE CHEETO GIRLS, performing an all-new mini concert of songs from their latest album, "Destiny's Chafe"...

Hosted by ANDREW JOHNSTON, who's translucent skin-tone really makes the wearing of black look summery and not at all funerary...

And some very, Very, VERY special guests... "

FRIDAY, June 29th
Doors at 7, show at 8 PM
$20 with partial proceeds going to ACT & Buddies
Tickets available at the Buddies Box Office - 416-975-8555
Or online -

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

PRESS RELEASE: Factory Theatre and Ken Gass

Factory Theatre Board says the show will go on
Board members back plans for future theatre development

 Toronto, ON (June 27, 2012) – Ron Struys, the President of the Board of Factory Theatre, today commented on the future of Factory Theatre.

“It is never easy to part with someone who has contributed so much in the past to Factory Theatre and theatre in general as has Ken Gass.” Struys said. “The Board believed that change was necessary to insure the future of this wonderful institution. Factory Theatre is in great shape and we are moving ahead with our new season and plans to renovate our building.”

 An offer of a newly created, paid, position as Artistic Director Emeritus and a severance package was offered to Mr. Gass , but was not accepted. The Board is focused now on finding a new Artistic Director from the pool of great Canadian talent within the theatre community. 2012-13 season will go ahead, offering Factory Theatre’s loyal audience challenging, exciting works of theatre.

“The Board appreciates the support it has received from donors, both private and public, patrons, and our staff,” said Struys. “We are heartened to see how strongly people feel about the work produced at Factory; we look forward to demonstrating to those thousands of people that Factory will continue to adhere to its mission of supporting vital Canadian theatre and artists and mounting great productions. Because so much of the discussion has been based on mis-information, below the Board is providing some answers to questions that address much of what has been debated.

Q: Why did the Board make this decision?
A: The Board had been having discussions with Ken Gass for many months about the plans for the future of the Theatre. There were irreconcilable differences and in the interest of the future of the Theatre, the Board had an obligation to act in what it believes is the best interest of Factory Theatre.
Q: Ken Gass founded the Theatre. Does the Board have more power than the Founder?
A: It is true that Ken Gass, with Frank Trotz, founded the Theatre in 1970 and we and many others appreciate that the country has this wonderful institution to which he gave life. However, it is the Board that has the legal responsibility for the Theatre, its financial health and its ability to carry its charitable aims forward, including hiring the Artistic Director and the Managing Director. We operate no differently than other similar theatres. It is our mandate to act in the best interests of the Factory Theatre, its patrons, artists, donors, staff and assets. We take this mandate seriously.
Q. Judging by the comments in the media, it would seem that many of the artistic community oppose your decision. Can Factory Theatre succeed without the support of this community?
A. First, on behalf of the Board, we truly regret that those artists, whom we value and on whom we rely to create such outstanding theatre, are upset. We acknowledge there is always a healthy tension between the creative community and the Boards that are responsible for the organizations. That said, there is little truth to what has been said about the Board’s decision. We look forward to the opportunity in the near future to explain our vision to those artists who believe in Factory Theatre and the opportunities it may offer them.
Q. What is the Board’s vision?
A. The Board has a longtime, funded commitment to make the Theatre accessible to all who want to see the plays of Factory artists and to improve facilities for our artists. We must and will do this. At the same time, we do have longer term plans to make the facility the great space it can be, both central to its growing and vibrant neighbourhood and as a welcoming facility in which to continue to produce exciting theatre. And we do intend to pursue those plans as we raise the money. But as anyone in the non profit artistic community can appreciate, we cannot take funding for granted. We know that there is a lot of pressure on our generous funders and donors. We will approach them with appropriate and achievable operational and infrastructure planning that will support of the work of artists and enhance and grow Factory Theatre audiences.

 For more information about Factory Theatre, please visit

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More News on Gass's Dismissal from Factory

Richard has written a follow up to his story about Ken Gass being let go as the Artistic Director at Factory Theatre.  Here is his piece about the public reaction to Gass's dismissal.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ken Gass fired from Factory Theatre -

Check out the article below written by Richard from the Toronto Star on the recent removal of Ken Gass from the Factory Theatre family...

Ken Gass fired from Factory Theatre -

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Preview: Shakespeare in High Park

A Canadian Stage production:
By William Shakepeare
Directed by Richard Rose

Canadian Stage presents William Shakespeare’s classic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the 30th anniversary Shakespeare in High Park production (formerly called the Dream in High Park).

With a royal wedding looming, this light-hearted tale follows the adventures of four lovers and a group of amateur actors as they stumble through a mysterious and enchanted evening. Featuring a talented local cast and performed under the stars in High Park, this pay-what-you-can, family-friendly event is one of Toronto’s favourite summer traditions.

Admission This general-admission event is free for children 14 and under and pay-what you-can for adults ($20 suggested minimum donation). Food, beverages and blankets are available for purchase. Getting to the High Park Amphitheatre High Park is located in Toronto's west end, stretching from Bloor Street west in the north to The Queensway in the south and from Parkside Drive in the east to Ellis Avenue in the west.The Amphitheatre is located just east of the Grenadier Restaurant, almost in the centre of the park. If you’re not within walking distance of the park, you can get there by TTC Transit, by car or by bike.

DATES: Jun 26 - Sep 2, 2012
Performances are Tues – Sun at 8pm. The gate opens at 6pm.
 High Park Amphitheatre

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DORA Nominations Announced...

Nominations Announced for the 33rd DORA MAVOR MOORE AWARDS
Tarragon Theatre and Theatre Passe Muraille Tie for Lead in General Theatre Production
Division with 8 Nods Each.
Ahuri Theatre, Theatre Columbus and Theatre Smash Tie Independent Theatre Production
Division with 6 Nominations Each.
Acting Up Stage’s Caroline, or Change Leads Musical Theatre Division with 10 Nods.
Canadian Opera Company Front-runner in Opera Division.
Gadfly’s Klorofyl  Flies High in Dance Division.
Roseneath Theatre Leads Theatre for Young Audiences Division.

Toronto, June 5, 2012 – At a press conference held June 5 at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) announced 169 nominations for 212 eligible productions that opened between June 1, 2011 and May 22, 2012 for the 33rd annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards which honour excellence in the performing arts in Toronto.For the 2011-2012 season, 116 producing companies registered eligible productions. A total of 35 Dora Awards plus the Silver Ticket Award, the Pauline McGibbon Award and the Audience Choice Award will be given out in a glittering ceremony hosted by Thom Allison on Monday, June 25 at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in the Bluma Appel Theatre.

In the General Theatre Production Division, Tarragon Theatre and Theatre Passe Muraille tie for the overall lead with 8 nods each. Passe Muraille’s Crash and Nightwood Theatre’s The Penelopiad tie for top production with 6 nominations each, followed by 4 each for The Golden Dragon (Tarragon), Topdog Underdog (Obsidian Theatre Company in association with the Shaw Festival) and WAR HORSE (Bob Boyett, Tim Levy, National Theatre of Great Britain, David Mirvish).

In the Independent Theatre Production Division, three companies tie for the lead as Ahuri Theatre’s A Fool’s Life, Theatre Columbus’ The Story and Theatre Smash’s The Ugly One each earn 6 nominations. His Greatness (independent Artists Repertory Theatre) and The Life and Times of Mackenzie King (VideoCabaret) follow closely with 5 nods each.

In the Musical Theatre Division, Acting Up Stage Company (in association with Obsidian Theatre Company) leads overall with 10 nods for Caroline, or Change (and with 1 nod in the General Theatre Division for Ride the Cyclone, it brings Acting Up Stage to 11 nods overall). Young People's Theatre’s Seussical is next with 6 nods.

In the Opera Division, 7 out of 9 nominations go to Canadian Opera Company (COC) productions as well as another 7 in the General Division, making a total of 14 nods. COC’s A Florentine Tragedy / Gianni Schicchi and Rigoletto (a new co-production of Canadian Opera Company and English National Opera each earn 5 nods as does Queen of Puddings Music Theatre’s SVADBA – Wedding.

In the Dance Division, Gadfly’s Klorofyl earns top spot with 3 nods.The Theatre for Young Audiences Division sees Roseneath Theatre take the lead with 4 nods, 2 for The Neverending Story and 2 for Tough Case. As well, in a special gift from the Bluma Appel Community Trust, a $5,000 prize will be awarded to the winning playwright of Outstanding New Play in the General Theatre Production Division for the sixth year in a row, in addition to the continuation of Bluma’s Indies comprised of a cash prize of $1,000 per winning category in the Independent Theatre Production Division.

The full list is also available online at or by clicking:

TAPA’s Audience Choice Award is co-sponsored once again this year by NOW Magazine and Yonge-Dundas Square. The public is invited to choose a winner from the list of nominees for Outstanding Production in the General Theatre Production, Independent Theatre Production, Opera, Musical Theatre, Theatre for Young Audiences and Dance Divisions.
Theatre, dance and opera fans can cast their votes online at from Thursday, June 7, 2012 until 2:00 midnight, Wednesday June 20, 2012. The winner will be announced at the Dora Awards show ceremony and will receive a special plaque from NOW Magazine.

The Dora Mavor Moore Awards is a program of the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA). TAPA is an arts service organization that represents nearly 200 professional theatre, dance and opera companies in Toronto. In addition to the Doras, other programs and services provided by TAPA include: T.O. TIX - Toronto's Official One Stop Ticket Shop at Yonge-Dundas Square and online at; Toronto’s official Theatre Guide; hipTIX, offering $5 tickets to students; citySPECIAL; the Commercial Theatre Development Fund; and the Travel Retreat Initiatives Program. For
more information visit and

Toronto's Theatre, Dance and Opera Awards
Monday June 25, 2012
Hosted by Thom Allison
Directed by Sandra Lefrançois
Written by Chris Earle
Musical Director: Glenn Morley
Lighting Design: Andrea Lundy
Producer: Jacoba Knaapen
6:30-7:30pm Pre-Show VIP Reception at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. East
8pm Dora Mavor Moore Awards Show at the Bluma Appel Theatre
in the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St. East
10:30pm After Party under the Stars outside the St. Lawrence Centre on Front Street East

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Preview: InspiraTO Festival

Every minute counts! InspiraTO is back and it’s bigger and better than ever. Canada’s largest ten-minute play festival launches its 7th successful season June 1-10, 2012 at Toronto’s Alumnae Theatre. InspiraTO 2012 is primed to produce its largest collection of plays to date: 24 fascinating and provocative ten-minute plays, created and brought to life by an incredibly talented slate of up-and-coming emerging artists. Tickets are only $12 each ($38 for the 4-show Festival Pass) available via TicketPeak or at the Alumnae Theatre Box Office one hour before each show.
InspiraTO’s theme this year is VISION – explored through a series of 4 shows (6 ten-minute plays per show) each with their own unique perspective. The redEye show: Visions with passion - plays that deal with our deep longings, and push our idea of obsession and desire. The yellowEye show: Visions that alert - plays that challenge the status quo, re-examine the way we live, and challenge our world view. The blueEye show: Visions with mystery - plays that make you think, and don't give you black and white answers. The whiteEye show: New voices - showcasing plays from InspiraTO's Playwrights' Mentoring Project. InspiraTO 2012 also features a series of fascinating after-show Talkbacks for all four series.
Each year, the InspiraTO Festival showcases the best ten-minute plays, as selected by a jury of experienced actors, directors, producers and other members of the theatrical community. For the 2012 Festival there were 311 submissions from Canada and around the world. Once the plays are on stage, your opinions become a key element of the InspiraTO Festival – audiences vote for their favourite plays and the top two from each colour group are showcased at the final Sunday matinee performance (June 10).
 Returning to InspiraTO this year is the Ten Day Playwriting Contest, which offers audience members the opportunity to write their own ten-minute play over the ten days of the Festival. The play must be on the theme of Vision, along with two elements that will be only be revealed when the contest opens at the start of the Festival. The winning audience playwright will receive a $250 prize plus a staged reading of their work during the final performance on June 10.
Dedicated to producing high quality short plays and making theatre more accessible for both artists and audiences, the InspiraTO Festival was launched in 2006 by founding Artistic Director Dominik Loncar. In 2008, Lumir Hladik joined the Festival as Associate Artistic Director to create a unified set design and lend his visual arts expertise. Since 2010 InspiraTO has been proud to partner with Pat the Dog, Ontario's playwright centre, helping emerging and established playwrights across the province. The InspiraTO Festival has produced 82 original ten-minute plays, showcasing over 190 actors and 80 directors. For more information about InspiraTO and this year’s plays, please visit!