Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: (Montreal) Changing Room

Beyond the stage and into the back
by Rebecca Ugolini

From the moment audience members enter Espace Libre’s performance space for a showing of the Nous Sommes Içi collective’s celebrated piece Changing Room, they know they aren’t in for just another night at the theatre. 
Hostesses are carrying trays of a blue-coloured, sweet-sour shot called Androgyne back and forth from the theatre’s well-stocked bar. Tables and chairs are arranged around the stage mimic a show club set-up, and a red-velvet-curtained stage complete with elaborate runway stands awaiting its performers. As soon as the lights dim and the disco ball starts spinning, Délice (Anne-Marie Coté) a big-haired, foul-mouthed, instantly-lovable drag queen hostess appears on stage and welcomes the audience to a night of cabaret numbers, laughs, and heart-to-hearts. 

CharPo's Real Theatre! August 31, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Picture of the Week, August 30, 2012

It's the last weekend for the little sensation, Altar Boyz, at Arts Club in Vancouver.
(Jeremy Crittenden, Michael Culpa, Geoff Stevens, Brandyn Eddy, Geoff Stevens, Jak Baraddell. Photo by David Cooper.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review: (Calgary) Evil Dead: The Musical

Bloody Hell!
by Joe Vermeulen
Evil Dead the Musical is back to swallow Calgary’s soul! A hilarious romp through the highlights of the “Evil Dead” movie franchises, Evil Dead the Musical (EDTM) documents the story of a group of friends who go to an old “Cabin in the Woods” for a Spring break vacation. Ash along with his girlfriend Linda and their friend Scott with his “Girl I picked up drunk at a bar three days ago” Shelly, and Ash’s sister Cheryl are expecting a week of drinking and sex, but instead unwittingly stir up a historic evil. The show does a good job of sending up the historic clichés of the genre; for example as soon as the group enters the cabin a ghostly voice cries out “Join Us”, which immediately makes Cheryl want to go home instead of investigate. Along the same lines the next time the ghostly voice calls out, Cheryl says what everyone is thinking: “Now mother always said that whenever you hear a dark threatening and ghostly voice coming from the dark woods there is only one thing you should do. Not wake the others and go investigate it alone”. While there are some serious scenes from the movies in the show, such as the chase through the forest, director Mike Griffin lets the atmosphere get just scary enough before immediately switching gears and letting the laughs flow. However, the number of “In one” scene changes started to feel a little tiresome after the fourth or fifth time they were used, and kept the pace of some scene transitions very slow. That being said, the show is awesomely campy and hilarious. 

Video of The Week, August 29, 2012

Even if you do not get to Stratford to see the current production of Cymbeline, directed by incoming artistic director Antoni Cimolini, this short clip will come as a revelation for several reasons. It proves, once and for all, that the Canadian accent wraps itself quite nicely around the dulcet tones of Shakespeare and in a way that is as natural as it is lyrical. It also reveals a play, largely unfamiliar, and - with its romance, rage and heartbreak - should have you rushing to your Complete Works to give it a read. Finally, it proves that the company can bring texture and richness to a work without the fireworks we are used to in its houses. The show has also become a success - with three performances added extending its run to October 6.
[This article has been corrected - problems with YouTube coding put up the wrong video]

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

After Dark, August 28, 2012

Outside the (Poor) Box
Reflections on money in a penniless world
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

If you're on Facebook or Twitter you have been seeing two trends: projects - especially theatre projects - crowd-sourcing funding for shows; a backlash against professionals - actors, journalists, musicians - working for nothing except the joy of working, experience and exposure.

These two trends interest me profoundly. As we, at CharPo, have said - out loud and constantly - we pay nothing to our writers (nor do editors, nor publishers, receive any payment). Crowd-sourcing money has been considered so that we can at least offer honorariums.

However, what is happening out there is sometimes exciting to us, and sometimes discouraging. Whereas, as little as a year ago, crowd-sourcing funds was a fascinating idea, we now see a lot of projects who go the Indiegogo route (to name one fund-raising organization) failing to raise even close to what they were aiming at. Some of these companies are solid, even magnificent, organizations. They cannot - for a variety of reasons - get government funding or when they do it's a pittance. Right now, without much research, I know at least four theatre organizations crowd-sourcing money and having a bitch of a time of it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tour Whore, August 26, 2012

Night of the Living Deed
by Cameryn Moore

I don’t like to make sweeping generalizations about Fringe artists’ experiences. We have different ways of living and working and playing out here on tour. But at this point on the tour, I think I can safely speak for us all:

We are all sleep deprived.

It’s worse for me, I think. I have to sign in for my phone shifts at 7am Pacific time, which means when I’m on the East coast, I don’t have to even crack my eyes open until 9:55am. The further west I travel, though, the earlier I have to get up, and that doesn’t change the fact that Fringe makes me stay up hella late. Not “makes” me, scratch that. I’m a willing participant. I don’t really deserve any sympathy, because I lose my own sleep, I toss it right out the fucking window, of my own free will. 

The Sunday Read: Op-ed - What do we want actors to do?

What do we owe?
Should actors expect poverty?
by Stuart Munro

At the end of July, Tony award winner Daisy Eagan tweeted the following: “I have a job interview tomorrow for a temp job packaging human breast milk. I also have a Tony award.” There are many things to read into this, and I suspect she meant it more tongue-in-cheek than anything else. “Look at me! I’m an award-winning actress applying for this bizarre job. Life is weird, no?” However, my first reaction was something a bit different. To me, Ms. Eagan was saying, “Look at me! I’m an award-winning actress! I deserve better than this shit!” I was immediately reminded of an article written by Brendan Kiley nearly four years ago for Seattle’s The Stranger: “Ten Things Theatres Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves.” Mr. Kiley has a lot of good ideas, though I find his tone a bit acerbic. The one point I don’t agree with, and the point that brings me back to Ms. Eagan, is his ninth: that actors should expect poverty. But if I don’t agree with this point, then what should actors expect? What do we, as a society, owe to our artists?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Survey: We need your help!

Theatre For Thought, August 25, 2012

joel fishbane

This week was a typical one for me. There was some good news, which stroked my ego; this was quickly followed by one or two disappointments that knocked it back to size. When you work in multiple formats you usually end up tripling your chances of being turned down;  when you’re acting, writing and dating, it also means you field three or more rejections a week. Does this make me an expert in rejection? If so, it’s a dubious skill and I’d be happy to give it back. 

Rejection remains a difficult thing whether it comes from a publisher, director or the girl at the end of the bar. The most common balm is the suggestion that we not “take it personally”. This isn’t easy for actors and less so for those hoping to find a date for Saturday night. At the end of the day actors are every bit like the singleton: both are trying to sell themselves and both find it all too easy to take the rejection as a personal affront.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Picture of the Week, August 23, 2012

Hedda and the gun - an iconic image, this time from the Shaw Festival production of Hedda Gabler. Moya O'Connell is the discontented Hedda; this version of the image is by Emily Cooper. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

After Dark, August 21, 2012

Am I Getting Laid?
What's with the mood...?
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

A friend was about to set off on the weekly column journey and asked for advice. I told him, "When you're pissed off, write down what's pissing you off, come back to it in three days and if it's still pissing you've got a column!"

This week, as I was staring at the blank page now unblank before you, I realized that I'm not particularly pissed off about anything! Horrors! What's happening? I'm not getting laid more than usual, but it feels like when I was a younger man getting laid with mind-bending regularity. That young man had all the ugliness of the world around him as this older man does, but he - like me this week - was able to pass beyond the fixation on hopelessness and enjoy what is working.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Sunday Read: Sarah Segal-Lazar - an update from The Island Fringe Festival

“Hello deadline, my old friend.”
Top 5 Songs from The Island Fringe Festival’s summer mix-tape
by Sarah Segal-Lazar
The Island Fringe Festival is less than a week away. Creating the IFF has been a lot like participating in a bicycle marathon across the Alps; you push with everything you’ve got to get up the hill and then find yourself zooming down, watching everything flash past. And then the next thing you know, it’s another uphill climb. Except that in the case of the IFF, that finish line is the deadline.
In the last article I wrote about the IFF, I alluded to my tendency to categorize my life by movie genres. “This week was a rom-com, last week was a Hallmark made-for-TV movie,” and so forth. But it’s now summer and sitting in front of a screen is hardly appealing. (I know this because I do, in fact, spend most of my day in front of a screen.) And so, in honour of summer and all of the beach bods romping around PEI, I’ve decided to honour the heat with an homage to the Top of the Charts. After all, what’s summer without a little pop radio? And the nominees for the IFF’s official theme song are:

Tour Whore, August 19, 2012

I've Got Shit to Do...
by Cameryn Moore

I’m still out here. There’s still about a month before the Canadian Fringe portion of my touring is over for the year, three and a half months before I finish my 2012 tour. I am developing a podcast, planning a revised edition of my book, enhancing my two websites, MOVING TO MONTREAL. I have at least thirty-five presentations of my three shows to get through before then, plus preview appearances, Sidewalk Smut sessions, workshops, panel discussions, radio interviews, special guest appearances, and five minutes at the Fringe Bar Gong Show at the Vancouver Fringe, during which I will teach the entire, gradually endrunkening crowd (increasingly inebriated? I like my word better) how to do the Cupid Shuffle. 

I’ve got shit to do, in other words, but that’s all right. For the last month, at least, I’ve been an active participant in a collective conversation that spreads around every Fringe, a conversation that hinges on one seemingly innocent question: “So, what are you working on for next year?”

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Theatre For Thought, August 18, 2012

joel fishbane

People who know me know how vehemently I tend to react to those who alter Shakespeare and keep it to themselves. Toronto actress / producer Kaitlyn Riordan knows me well – or at least well enough to assure me that her company’s inaugural production, Two Gents is very clearly an adaptation of a Shakespeare classic (Two Gentleman of Verona). “The ending is different from the original,” she assured me, though she admitted that many people may not even notice.  “Nobody knows anything about [the original,]” she admitted. “It’s an early work – much like us.” 

The “us” Riordan is referring to is Shakespeare in the Ruff, a new Toronto-based company dedicated to bringing the Bard to Riverdale, the neighbourhood east of the city’s downtown core. The company is a reboot of one that existed years ago – Shakespeare in the Rough, who performed once upon a time in Riverdale’s Withrow Park and inspired company founder Brendan McMurty Howlett.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: (Montreal) Macbeth

(photo via Facebook)

Macbeth satisfies and stuns at Monument National
It IS a dagger...
by Rebecca Ugolini
Superstition holds that it’s the play whose name dare not be spoken, but the Montreal Shakespeare Theatre Company isn’t afraid to tempt fate. Their production of The Scottish Play is graphic, visually-arresting, and haunting, imbuing the famous play with new energy all the while screaming “Macbeth!”
Audience members sit on the periphery of all four sides of the square stage, either level to the action or watching over the railings of the balcony seating above, like spectators crowding a boxing ring from every angle. Thanks to directing by Aaron George, dynamic fight choreography by Paul DeTourreil, invigorating, dramatic, and almost tribal drumming by producer, percussionist, and set-builder Ace Lopes, and the eerie, cult-like movements of the production’s 12 Weird Sisters choreographed by Amy Blackmore, Montreal Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of Macbeth feels appropriately frightening, claustrophobic, and mad.

CharPo's Real Theatre! August 17, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Picture of The Week, August 16, 2012

Dominique LeBlanc (l) with Chedabucto Bluenose as Annie and Sandy in the Huron County playhouse Production.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Video of the Week, August 15, 2012

It's not often that a Canadian playwright/novelist's work gets the full Hollywood treatment, but have a look at this trailer for Ang Lee's film of Yann Martel's Life of Pi, coming this winter.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

After Dark, August 14, 2012

If I was a Millionaire...
Ten shows I'd be gadding around the country to see before Christmas
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Yes, we are in the dog days of summer, but it is now that theatres are slowly climbing out of the heatwaves and realizing that it is time to make some noise for the upcoming season. It is also the time when Estelle Rosen, our Editor-in-Chief, and I look at what is out there in the first half of the subscription lineups across the country and, subsequently, set to pestering publicists.

It is my duty, when reviews start coming in across the land, to sit down and format them for the various sites. I am, basically, a code-monkey. My job would be so much easier if I just cut and pasted and went on with my life. Instead, though, I read everything (before Estelle then proofs the stuff) and revel in the many kinds of art the reviewers are seeing and imagine what it would be like to be there, in some far-away hall, sharing the night with each and every one of them. I fantasize about getting a nice roomette on a train (do they still have those?) and whistle-stopping all over the country to see just what I like. (Forget flying...I have a phobia and need a case of Ativan and an SO rubbing my shoulders to get anywhere in an airplane.)

If I could do this, now, I have the next months laid out. After removing the three must-sees of my hometown, Montreal (Metachroma's Richard III, Jean-Duceppe's Thérèse et Pierrette and Opéra de Monréal's Flying Dutchman) I have narrowed the huge field (and my travel intinerary) down to ten shows and, obviously, kept it to those already announced. Let me say this before I proceed, though: it's the little gems which pop up at the little theatres which - season after season - steal my heart. Now...the ten (in order East to West and ignoring chronology).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Abominable Showman, August 12, 2012

Les Demimondes at SummerWorks

Love bites!
One of Canada’s most famous and celebrated sex workers, Sasha Von Bon Bon, is sure to titillate hipsters at Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival in her new play Les Demimondes. Plus, living legend Jackie Richardson dazzles as late blues legend Willie Mae Thornton in the musical Big Mama in Victoria
By Richard Burnett

I caught up with one of Canada’s most famous and celebrated sex workers, Sasha Von Bon Bon when she and her burlesque troupe The Scandelles headlined Montreal’s Edgy Women Festival in March with their critically-acclaimed cabaret show Les Demimondes. 

This week Sasha (a.k.a Alexandra Tigchelaar) brings Les Demimondes – which she co-created with Kitty Neptune – back to Toronto at the SummerWorks Theatre Festival which runs to August 19. 

The Sunday Read: Donald Rees on The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later

Learning Laramie
by Donald Rees

I've always wanted to work on The Laramie Project. I read the original script almost a decade ago and it moved me. But ten years ago, the idea of Brave New Productions putting on a show that called for over 75 characters seemed far too ambitious. Over the years, the original Laramie Project has gone on to be one of the most performed plays in modern theatre. Schools and independent theatres love to do it, and it's easy to see why. Not only is the story emotional and important, on the practical side of things very few physical elements are required to bring Laramie to life, except for the actors.

Tour Whore, August 12, 2012

It's Touching
by Cameryn Moore

Two days ago I was flyering a line here at the Calgary Fringe, and I came upon a young-ish, hipster-ish straight couple hugging each other, arms wrapped tightly around each other while looking into each other’s eyes. “I’ll come back when you two aren’t so busy,” I said, making a sex joke out of it. “No, no!” they exclaimed, opening the hug. “There’s room in here for you!”

Now, I approach flyering the lines like improv theatre: don’t leave blank time and say “yes” whenever you can. So of course, I stepped right into their arms and had a hug threesome with these strangers, for easily 10-15 seconds, which is a LONG TIME for a full-body hug with a stranger, let alone with two. We smiled and made “mmm-mmm-mmm” snuggly noises at each other; the people around us in the line were completely charmed and a little bit envious, I’m sure. Of course I handed the couple my flyer and gave them my pitch, and they followed up by being in the front row of the next show. Clearly that moment worked as a promo encounter.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Theatre For Thought, August 11, 2012

joel fishbane

The world of simulated medicine is getting a comedic approach thanks to Vanessa Matsui, the actress / writer / brain behind The Simulation Centre, a new sitcom she’s pitching at Toronto’s Pilot Week Festival. “It’s about a former child star who is now the most unemployed actress ever,” said Matsui, speaking to me during a brief sojourn in Montreal. “The pilot is the disaster episode where everyone has to pretend to be dying.” 

There are many things they don’t teach in theatre school and the ability to feign gastro-enteritis is definitely one of them. Yet across Canada countless actors are being asked to become adept at having abdominal cramps, nausea and perhaps a little vomiting. Canada’s several Simulation Centres are used to train young doctors in the art of diagnosis. They’re also places where the hungry actor can come to find a steady paycheque; cast in the role of Simulated Patients, actors both contribute to science and explore an untouched realm of their own abilities.

Friday, August 10, 2012

News Roundup, August 10, 2012

Neef (COC website, photo by
Michael Cooper)
OTTAWA: The Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) has announced its new artistic director. Director/Actor Eric Coates - formerly AD at the Blyth Festival. (Source)

TORONTO: According to a press release, The Canadian Opera Company (COC) has renewed the contract of general director Alexander Neef through to the company's 2020-21 season.

MONTREAL: The Quebec Drama Federation (QDF) has announced by press release the creation of a new peer-juried theatre award. The new prize's juries will be following the 2012-13 season and handing out the first awards in the fall of 2013. Candidates for the prizes will be required to pay a fee to be considered in 17 categories covering professional and independent theatre. 

SAGUENAY: The fledgling Saguenay Fringe Festival will not be mounted in 2012, it was announced by press release, but will be returning in 2013. The Festival has had one outing, in 2011.

CALGARY: The first Calgary Critics Awards (Critters) were handed out. Among winners were ATP's Playing With Fire: The Theo Fleury Story (best production of a play), Vertigo's Sweeney Todd (best production of a musical) and ATP's production of Karen Hines' Pilot Episode (best new play). (Source)

VANCOUVER: Touchstone Theatre has unveiled it's 2012-13 season of three plays: Anton Piatagorsky's Eternal Hydra, Mary Walsh's solo Dancing With Rage and Daniel Karasik's Haunted. (Source) 

Review: (Toronto) The Crucible

William Webster, John Jarvis, Courtney Ch'ng Lancaster & Hannah Miller (photo: Cylla von Tiedemann)

No one can know God’s will
Sixty years on, The Crucible proves it still has much to say
by Stuart Munro

When Arthur Miller’s The Crucible opened in 1953, the reviews weren’t kind. It was felt that the production had been too stylized and cold, even though the power of the text was clear to everyone. Nonetheless, the play went on to win the Tony for best new play, and a new (better received) production the following year cemented its status as a cornerstone of the American Theatre. Last night, Soulpepper Theatre opened a new production of this landmark play, which walks that fine line between cold remoteness and powerful text.

The Crucible is a fictionalized account of the Salem Witch Trials of the late seventeenth century. Using historical figures, Miller shows us not the courtroom, but the lead up to and behind-the-scenes actions of the famous trials. An allegory for the McCarthyism of the 1950s, the play constantly pits ideology against reason, forcing its audience to ask how educated and intelligent people could possibly believe their own rhetoric.

Charpo's Real Theatre! August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: (Vancouver) Theatre Under The Stars season

From the website - Titanic (photo: Tim Matheson)

Titanic is a yes, Music Man...well...
by Jay Catterson

Titanic: A New Musicalbook by Peter Stone (1776) with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston (Nine, Grand Hotel) swept the Tony Awards in 1997 winning 5 Tonys including Best Musical. I had the good fortune of seeing the original Broadway production, with its gargantuan multi-tiered set which actually tilted to portray the ship's sinking. Now my fascination with the TUTS staging was this: "How in the heck are they going to mount such a monolithic show on such a small stage?"

Well, they did. And they did so splendidly. The set pieces and video design by Lauchlin Johnston effectively used projections, railings and movable scaffold platforms to portray the various sections of the ship. The direction and choreography by Max Reimer worked well, although some of the larger numbers could have used a bit more choreography. The cast was vocally on point, and the orchestra lead by Musical Director Kevin Michael Kripps was impeccable. 

Picture of the Week, August 9, 2012

We hope you weren't in the process of eating your Cheerios when you fell on this picture, but we can't ever resist two elements in a promo photo: violence and sex - especially when the photo is as sharp, well-staged and as creative as this one for Ajax, coming to Toronto's SummerWorks. Pomegranates anyone?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: (Toronto) The Royal Comedians

Sarah Koehn & Diego Matamoros (photo by: Cylla von Tiedemann)

Singing the Under-sung
Soulpepper delivers a little-known gem
by Christian Baines
Mikhail Bulgakov’s black satire The Royal Comedians arrives at Soulpepper Theatre Company, reminding audiences of a time when playwrights were answerable to both state and church for the content of their plays. Bulgakov experienced such censorship first hand. Earning the ire of Soviet authorities by supposedly making a joke of the regime, it was only the intervention of an unlikely fan, Stalin himself, that kept the writer from prison.
So it’s perhaps unsurprising that he should find solidarity with Molière, his subject and protagonist in The Royal Comedians. Like Bulgakov, the Molière of this story enjoys the favour of his nation’s leader, much to the dismay of the resident doctrinal gatekeepers (in Molière’s case, the church). 

Video of the Week, August 8, 2012

Shaw Festival PR has some fun with era, sound effects and voice over with this promo video for their His Girl Friday - a classic screwball/murder/press/romantic satire/farce!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

After Dark, August 7, 2012

Big stories have me at my wits' end
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

A very dear and trusted friend of mine who works in the environmental movement told me that at conferences now the backstage talk is not, "What do we do?" but, rather, "It's too late."

Think about that for a moment...

Now. Doesn't that put everything - and I mean EVERYTHING! - into perspective? Perhaps it's my friend saying that or old age or experience or some damn thing that makes me ambivalent about so many things I used to really red-rage about!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Read: First-Person - Mike Czuba on Satie et Cocteau

Three Saties

Behave Yourself, Please: A Monkey is Watching You 
How Music Informed the Writing of Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet.
by Mike Czuba
In a previous article for CharPo I wrote about how Larry Lamont and myself, and our company Dancing Monkey Theatre, are trying to create a Rock & Roll Theatre. My play I AM I (Now available at: lent itself to this philosophy based on its attitude, its language and its In-the-Now aesthetic. 
My latest play to hit the stage, produced by Charles Foreman & Kathleen van Mourik,at the Mountain View Music Festival in Calgary on August 11th is also trying to, within the pages of the script, find that Rock & Roll spirit. Only this play, Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet, is about Erik Satie, a minimalist Classical composer who died in 1925, as told by the Poet/Artist Jean Cocteau. The concept of the play is that we are watching Cocteau direct an Actor playing Satie in a play that he allegedly wrote in1939 called ‘Soyons Vulgaires’. The action takes place during what turns out to be the final day of rehearsals, after Cocteau has learned that he’s lost his financing. This last rehearsal is where Cocteau wishes to have the Actor fully embody Satie so Cocteau can posthumously demand Satie acknowledge all that he had done for him. This ultimately backfires and Cocteau ends up a broken man, asking Satie forgiveness. The framework, bordering on absurd and meta-theatrical, allows me to ‘stage’ sections of Satie’s life as they suit the narrative. Throughout the play the audience will discover both Satie’s and Cocteau’s desires and philosophies about Music and Art within the conflict between Cocteau and the Actor. 

Tour Whore, August 5, 2012

What would you do if there were no stars?
by Cameryn Moore

What would you do if there were no stars?
You’re a theatre-goer, an avid one, you pride yourself on seeing as many Fringe shows as you can cram in. When you talk to your friends who are less theatre-going than you are, you talk it up a little, how quirky and idiosyncratic the Fringe is, and you know that, therefore, by extension, they are going to admire how quirky and idiosyncratic you are.
You read the filler stories about the Fringe, take in your friend’s show (you hate it, but you can’t tell them that), make your preliminary lists. Maybe you even have a spreadsheet printed out in your notebook. But there are a lot of empty boxes in that chart, and you keep them empty until Sunday night of that first weekend, when the local mainstream daily paper has promised to finish all of their reviews. They helpfully organize it by the number of stars and you arrange and re-arrange the five-star shows until they have all fit in. And then you take the four-and-a-half star shows and try to wedge those into the remaining spaces, and you buy up tickets for all of them. You sweat hard over this process, so you feel justified in looking just a little bit weary on Monday afternoon, when a hard-working performer approaches you, smiling and holding his postcard. “No more, I’m done.” That’s right, you’ve settled your course.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Theatre For Thought, August 4, 2012

From the original production of Big Plans

by joel fishbane
It’s a Sunday morning and both Jeremy Taylor and I are going on very little sleep, although in his case it isn’t because he spent the night before in a bar. Taylor’s the proud father of a new baby girl and of all his latest creations, she’s the only one not making an appearance at SummerWorks 2012. Toronto’s annual festival of new and innovative work will feature two works that have Taylor’s fingerprints – one which he wrote, the other which he directed. Although his shows have been produced in Montreal and abroad, until now Toronto has been “the mythical beast we haven’t been able to hunt down.”

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Picture of The Week, August 2, 2012

Kimberly O'Neill and Jesse Weafer in Big Band Legends at St. Jacob's Playhouse.
A simple, elegant picture that tells the whole story of a moment in theatre.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: (Toronto) Backbeat

Nick Blood (photo credit: Nobby Clark)

friends start band, band becomes successful, life starts to get real
Backbeat is and is not the Beatles
by Dave Ross

Backbeat: The Birth of the Beatles is in dire need of a new name. Admittedly, calling it Stuart Sutcliffe, the Beatles and the Conflict That Took Place At The Same Time The Beatles Were Born doesn’t have quite the same ring, but let’s not beat around the bush. The Beatles themselves are almost secondary characters in this show. But that’s actually ok.
This is a jukebox musical, so don’t go into this show expecting to be dazzled by something fresh and new. The songs serve as a vehicle to deliver the story, such as it is. Unfortunately, it takes a few cranks of the engine to get the vehicle going and get the story moving as well. The story does suffer pacing issues, particularly in the first act. It only becomes apparent part way through that this is the story of Stuart Sutcliffe (Nick Blood), John Lennon (Andrew Knott), and the rift that developed between them as Sutcliffe fell in love with Astrid Kirchherr (Isabella Calthorpe).  The story is a familiar one—friends start band, band becomes successful, life starts to get real, tensions are revealed, friendships fall apart, someone dies and catharsis take place. 

Video of The Week, August 1, 2012

Ooooooooooh my! 
Big Mama! The Willie Mae Thornton Story at Belfry. If you really CAN'T get to Victoria, you may not want to watch this video...