Tuesday, 27 July 2010

35th Toronto International Film Festival Launch

At the launch of the 35th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this morning, festival co-directors, Cameron Bailey(left) and Piers Handling, announced some of the confirmed Galas, Special Presentations and one Master that will be screened at tiff 2010. As usual it was the big names that were announced: films directed by the likes of Robert Redford, Woody Allen, Francois Ozon, Mike Leigh, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Mahamat-Selah Haroun and stars such as De Niro, Hoffman, AAmir Khan, Om Puri, Helen Mirren, Hilary Swank etc...The name tossing doesn't confirm who is actually setting foot on the red carpet in September (those details have to be worked out over the next several weeks), but the films are confirmed. When asked if the Mel Gibson film would be making an appearance at the tiff, Piers Handling diplomatically stated (twice) that its his policy never to discuss films that haven't been selected for the festival. (Big laugh in the room, by the way, when those questions were asked).

I'm not a star-chaser, and Galas are not usually my thing, but I am interested in Special Presentations and look forward to seeing the world premiere of Kiran Rao's Dhobi Ghat and Anurag Kashyap's That Girl in the Yellow Boots, both set in Mumbai, Andrew Lau's The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen and Andrucha Waddinton's Lope, about Spanish playwright, Lope de Vega. Can't wait fo find out, though, about the Canadian films (you know I'm a champion of those films) and what's in the Discovery program. With nineteen programmers this year, the selection should be topnotch. Stay tuned for more tiff news over the next few weeks... 

As a sign of things to come, the kick off for the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival was held on King West at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, doors west of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the festival's new home. At 35, TIFF has outgrown its bachelor diggs and is now firmly ensconced in a new five-storey building below luxury condos. Come September, the King and John Street headquarters, which is still under construction, will have three of its five screens in operation for Free screenings (tickets will be available on a first come, first serve basis) of a few past TIFF hits such as Water, Crash, and The Big Chill. Other screens around town will still be used but I bet the Scotia Plaza will be used more often than the Varsity, which was close to TIFF's old headquarters at Carlton and Yonge. Unlike in previous years, Yonge/Dundas Square will not be used for free concerts or readings. Get used to the Lightbox, everyone.

Toronto International Film Festival
Sept. 9th - 19th
(that's right, there's one extra day of films!)
Tickets/Passes on Sale Now!
416-968-FILM (3456) OR 1-877-FILM (3456)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Kurosawa is Sweet!

You know how you sometimes hear about how wonderful and influential a director is? Well, let me tell you that every praise that you have heard about Akira Kurosawa is justifiable. Thanks to Cinematheque Ontario ( a division of TIFF: Toronto International Film Festival), you will have a chance to see for yourself how deserved these accolades are. Cinematheque is screening Kurosawa films at Jackman Hall this month, and the big screen is best way to see any Kurosawa film.

I'm not usually a huge fan of dramas shot in CinemaScope; Westerns, musicals, yes, but I find it's use in dramas gimmicky in the hands of most directors. Thankfully, I can say that Kurosawa has the wisdom and skill to use the widescreen technique to it's full visually capacity. He knows how to block a scene in order to communicate aspects of his storytelling that cannot be done verbally. It was my absolute pleasure to watch his kidnapping masterpiece, High and Low* last night. I was completely absorbed in the morality tale of a Gonko (played by Kurosawa regular, Toshiro Mifune), a high level shoe company executive grappling with whether or not to risk financial ruin to save the life of his chauffeur's son who has been mistaken for his own child. The interplay in Gonko's living room with the police detectives, Gonko's right hand man, Gonko's wife, and the chauffeur are as fascinating to watch as they are to hear. Mifune's usual intensity is palpable as his character Gonko faces financial ruin and loss of face at the very moment where he is on the brink of financial triumph and power. Kurosawa's comment on capitalism is never lost in this gripping police thriller that captivates from start to finish.

Every Kurosawa is a "must see", but the next film that my schedule allows is the fabulous RAN at 4pm on July 18th. If you have never seen a Kurosawa film, then please hurry up and get your ticket (limited availability) to see this interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear. You don't have to be familiar with Shakespeare to enjoy this colourful spectacle. Actress Mieko Harada is so juicily evil you will never forget her! If you can't get tickets or you are not free in the afternoon, then get a ticket to The Hidden Fortress, the film that inspired, George Lucas' Star Wars. July 18th at 7:30 pm.

For the full line up of other Kurosawa masterpieces, visit www.tiff.net and click on the Cinematheque link.

Box Office: 416-968-3435 or 1-877-968-3456. All screenings take place at Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West--use McCaul Street entrance)

*Spoiler Alert! If you ever plan to watch High and Low, do yourself a favour and don't watch the trailer; it gives way too much away!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Fringe Festival: It's a Wrap

So, my attendance at the Fringe Festival ended on July 11th amidst the cheering for Spain's victory and hoots and hollers up and down Bathurst Street as I walked from the Tarragon down to the Randolph Academy.

You may have noticed that I stopped reviewing a few days ago. Well, life and laziness intruded. I didn't stop going to plays, I just didn't post. So, for the curious, and because I like closure, here is a list of my last few plays. As usual please feel free to leave your comments, especially if you disagree with me:-)

by Rob Salerno
presented by Ten Foot Pole Productions from Toronto

DESCRIPTION:You’ve NEVER heard the hot new Canadian rock duo ALL-POWERS?! They’re HUGE in Germany, and they’re just about to break it in Canada – unless this show bankrupts them first. A rock comedy about friendship, fame, love, sex, pornography, money, and following your dreams. From the playwright/star of Balls (“4.5 Stars: seriously hilarious” SEE) and Fucking Stephen Harper (“funnier than Rick Mercer” NOW).

MY REVIEW:I loved Rob Salerno's hilarious satire, Fucking Stephen Harper, which I saw at last year's Fringe and liked Big in Germany. While Salerno stuck to his outrageous humour in this work, amidst the crass and funny porno jokes ("the only difference between art and porn, is lighting"), there is a sensitivity to male friendship that is not usually explored. Good on, ya, Rob. Rating: 3.5 Stars.

by Dance Animal
presented by Dance Animal from Montréal, QC

DESCRIPTION: Winner of the 2009 Just For Laughs “Best of Montreal” comedy prize, Dance Animal has been declared Montreal’s first “comedy supergroup” (Brett Hooton - The Hour). Anchored in the bilingual spectrum of city life in Montreal and mixing the high camp of musical theatre with sketch comedy and character monologues, “Dance Animal Presents: Dance Animal” is your perfect summer cocktail.

MY REVIEW:I had a amusing time at this dance work featuring misfit dance "animals" recruited by Le Tigrrrrr to join her dance group. From scenes of dancing seniors to tender first love, the dances are executed with humour as are the bio pieces from each animal. My faves were tough talking dance "gecko" and the gleeful "starfish". Rating: 3.5 stars

by Otto & Astrid Rot
presented by Die Roten Punkte from Berlin
Cast: Otto & Astrid Rot
Genre: Cabaret-Comedy

DESCRIPTION: Die Roten Punkte (The Red Dots) are Berlin’s Prince and Princess of Indie Rock. Utterly dysfunctional siblings Otto and Astrid Rot unveil their eagerly anticipated third album, “KUNST ROCK (ART ROCK)”.
[FOUR STARS] “Pitch-perfect pop parody.” The Scotsman, Edinburgh
[FIVE Stars] Hairline, Edinburgh
“Comically and musically, the Rot’s Rule!” - Toronto Star
“A show not to be missed!” – Mondo Magazine, Toronto

MY REVIEW:My first intro to this comedy duo and I must say, I enjoyed it. With songs like "My Banana Has A Home" and "Second Best Friend" these two do a great take on brother-sister bands, and the music is pretty catchy too. I didn't expect the physical comedy from sister, Astrid; it was the icing on the cake. Rating: 4/5 Stars.

Lyrics: Ted Strauss and Justin Maxwell
Theatre Direction: Taliesin McEnaney
presented by Inertia Productions from Montréal
Choreographer: Jenn Doan
Cast: Jenn Doan, Ted Strauss, Joseph Bembridge, Melina Stinson, Jeremie Chetrit, Audrée Southière, Brian Abbott, Randa Eid and Boss Nod

DESCRIPTION: Based on an ancient Inuit myth, a young hero ventures across a surreal Arctic landscape to recover his wife, who has flown off in a fury. It is a grand journey inhabited by a spirit fox, a treacherous mountain, and mischievous creatures. The Arctic folktale is brought vividly to life with a fusion of live rock music, dance and theatre.

MY REVIEW:Weird, wacky and wonderful. The Duck Wife isn't like anything I've seen before. If this was a movie, it would be a cult hit that I would go see at the Bloor Cinema. The dancing is original and strong, the acting is good, and the music is a good fit. My only complaint is with the female vocalist, whose lyrics were sometimes lost due to poor diction. Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Choreography by Kendra Hughes
presented by Kinetic Elements from Toronto
Choreographer: Kendra Hughes
Genre: Dance

DESCRIPTION: Come blast off with Kinetic Elements and experience space like you never have before! Eternal Eclipse explores the legends of the Greek Gods and Goddesses that inspired the names of the planets orbiting our solar system. Tales of forbidden love, scandal and irresistible power are expressed through the visual narratives of contemporary dance.

MY REVIEW:This could have been a good dance piece but it was undermined by a few untalented participants; I can't even refer to them as dancers because what they were doing wasn't dancing. Movement, yes, dancing, no. The real dancers were obvious, their technique strong and expressive, a definite contrast to the weak ugly movements of the others. Rating: 2.5 stars

by James Fanizza
presented by Teatro Comunque from Toronto
Director: Carrie Adelstein
Cast: Heather Allin, Matt Lemche, Kristen Corvers, Virginia Kelly, Becky Grimman, James Fanizza, Ron Boyd

DESCRIPTION: Inspired by the Tragically Hip’s 38 Years Old, “Goodnight, Amherst” is a gripping drama that profiles a broken family in Amherst, Ontario. When Michael unexpectedly returns home, his rural family must confront the past and come to terms with the horrifying event that tore them apart twelve years earlier.

MY REVIEW:Good effort from this cast. A bit too much set for a Fringe show (full size fridge, stove, set table) but it was used well and the blocking of the actors made good use of the stage. The play is a bit confusing in terms of who visited Michael while he was away (sometimes Grandma visited, and at other times, no one seemed to visit him) but they the cast seemed like a family and the story held my attention. Rating: 3.5 Stars

Book by John Mitchell
Music & Lyrics by Brock Simpson
presented by Brock & John Productions from Toronto
Director: John Mitchell

DESCRIPTION: Trying to escape a vain and murderous father, a man ends up in a cottage in the woods with seven women. Musical
reimagining of Snow White about an innocent confronting jealousy, a mirror, poisoned apples, and seven seriously unhappy divorcees. From the folks that brought you, “All Hams on Deck” and “People Park”.

MY REVIEW:Sometimes you just want a good laugh and an absurd situation. Well, this play fits the bill. The divorcees, Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy, Doc, Charming, Happy, and Sleepy were well-realized with relatable marital problems and personalities. Joe's father is a funny, self-absorbed bore and Joe is a cute mensch of a son, who deserves to be appreciated and loved. Joe and the divorcees learn from each other amidst catchy tunes. Rating: 4/5 stars.

by Eugene Ionesco
(www.randolphacademy.com & www.redhanded.ca)
presented by Randolph Entertainment & REDHANDED film and theatre from Toronto
Director: Rosanna Saracino
Choreographer: Melanie Windle
Cast: L.A. Lopez, Danie Friesen, Chris Johnson, Evan Dowling, Chelsea Leaman, Hilary June, Hart, Denise Norman, Kelly Holliff

DESCRIPTION: A small town is visited by the mysterious Black Monk. A plague follows, a maelstrom of panic ensues as citizens drop like flies. In high Absurd style, these characters reveal the fears and flaws we have towards Death. Darkly comedic, highly physical, this adventure shakes us with horror and hilarity.

MY REVIEW: A multi-talented, enthusiastic cast brings this performance to life (pun intended) with great teamwork, singing, dancing and witticism. I enjoyed the social commentary about how soon after an incidents, we band together into Us and Them and cast blame at Them, however absurd it is. Perhaps there are too many theatrical styles thrown into the mix, but the capable cast is able to run with whatever was thrown at them. Dying was never so well done. Rating: 4.5/5

by Ray Rivers
presented by Riverslea Productions from Campbellville, ON
Director: Julian Nicholson

DESCRIPTION: Politics makes strange bedfellows as the past and present collide for children of the Bob Dylan generation. The global financial meltdown sparks a crisis in the lives of a couple and their best friend challenging their anti-establishment legacy and interpersonal relationships as they settle into retirement. This dramatic comedy rockets you from Vietnam protests to the shambles of Wall Street. Adult situations and strong language - not recommended for children.

MY REVIEW:While it was refreshingly welcome to see a cast over the age of 50 on stage at the Fringe, I wish they had been better actors. The script itself, is well-written, but the performances did not live up to it, so I was not as involved as I could have been. Rating: 3/5 stars.

by Orville Green/ Grace Lyons/ Valarie Laylor
presented by The Heritage Singers from Toronto
Director: Devon Haughton
Cast: The Heritage Family

DESCRIPTION: Olde Tyme Country Wedding tells the story of Toronto resident Babs Spencer, who is compelled by a desire to visit to her birthplace in rural Jamaica, Uphill. Opposed by her overly protective parents, the young woman makes the trip and finds herself embroiled in a love triangle. The outcome is a return to her roots, not only to her birthplace but also to an authentic, olde-tyme country wedding.

MY REVIEW:Ehhh....Ohhh...the words of audience favourite, "Norma", the blonde-highlighted, brash, spurned girlfriend in this love triangle. As is common with Caribbean plays meant for family audiences, the script is a simple one that can be followed by any age group. These types of plays are successful because they bring adults who were born "back home" and the children born abroad (be it England, the States or Canada) together with a platform of culture that everyone can relate to. The songs by the Heritage Singers will be familiar to some and not at all to others, but they are catchy and culturally relevant to an audience who doesn't often see representation in mass media. For all audiences though, it offers laughs, brilliant costumes and folk dances. My only complaint was with the body microphones that were not well-positioned, allowing loud breaths from some of the singers and actors. For me, it was a glimpse into my Jamaican culture that was unfamiliar: the Wedding Godmother and Godfather, the Cake Parade are elements this city girl did not know about country weddings.Rating: 4/5 stars.

by Andrew Connor
presented by Elison Zasko Inc. from Moscow, Russia
Cast: Elison Zasko and Andrew Connor

DESCRIPTION: A volatile hostage crisis in Russia reunifies two childhood friends separated by war. As James and Maya do battle with a twisted knot of past and present entanglements, thousands of lives hang in the balance. Fringe veterans Elison Zasko (The Sputniks) and Andrew Connor (Boom, Cyclosa Confusa, The Cody Rivers Show) join forces in this new high-stakes drama.

MY REVIEW:The plot has some interesting twists and turns, but it is the dual between these characters that holds the attention. I did feel that Zasko's interpretation of the hard-ass Russian journalist persona, Maya could have done with some toning down. Her voice needs some softer tones to add colour to her otherwise good performance. Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

by joel fishbane
presented by A Literary Tour de Force from Toronto / Montreal
Director: Ashlie Corcoran
Cast: Jackyln Francis and Ieva Lucs


DESCRIPTION: The last will and testament of famed writer Lincoln Kennedy contains a curious request, forcing his mistress to confront his wounded widow. A seriously comedic play by Joel Fishbane (“An Act of God”, Fringe 2003) that explores the nature of legacy, the struggle for solace and the reasons why all writers go to Hell.

MY REVIEW:It won the Best New Play contest and it deserves it. Well-scripted plot with fully realized characters brilliantly played by Francis and Lucs. When it's good, you just know it. Would see this again in a heartbeat and you can too at Best of the Fringe. Rating: 5/5 stars.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Fringe Festival: Patron's Picks Announced!

Source: Toronto Fringe Festival.

Patron's Picks
Patron's Pick Performances are one more chance for you to see the shows everyone’s been talking about. On July 11th, each venue has an encore performance of the venues’ most attended shows. NOTE: 100% of these tickets are available in advance by phone, online or at the Advance Ticket Box Office starting the final friday of the festival.

For the first, and likely only time, FringeKids! will be host to a Patron’s Pick performance due to the cancelled run of One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes. Fairy Tale Ending, (FringeKids’! top selling show) will be given a bonus performance in their timeslot, which is Sunday July 11 at 11:00am. Playing at the Palmerston Library Theatre.

The 2010 Fringe Patron’s Pick Performances Are:
Tarragon Mainspace – Leacock Live! at 9:15pm

Tarragon Extra Space – Morro & Jasp Gone Wild at 9:15pm

Royal St George’s – Freudian Slip of the Jung at 6:45pm

Bathurst Street Theatre – Joe White & the Seven Divorcees at 9:15pm

Annex Theatre – Asiansploitation Spanks the Tiger at 9:15pm

Solo Room – Cactus: The Seduction at 5:45pm

George Ignatieff Theatre – 2-Man No-Show at 9:15pm

St Vladimir’s Theatre – SIA at 6:45pm

Helen Gardiner Phelan - Lucky 9 at 9:15pm

Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace – The Plank at 6:15pm

Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace – Eternal Friendship With a Spotless Smile at 7:30pm

Factory Theatre Mainspace – The Waves... first tide at 9:15pm

Factory Studio Theatre – Pick of the Fringe! at 6:45pm

The 24 Hour Play Writing Contest combines 60 playwrights with three items to include and 24 hours to write the best play ever put together in a day (or at least the best play in this year’s contest). This year’s winner, The Tempest and the Birch Tree, by Jonathan Kline, will be performed on Sunday evening at 9:30pm in the Solo Room.

Also, Just For Laughs' newly instituted Fringe Pick is Asiansploitation presents Asiansploitation Spanks the Tiger and will be presented Saturday July 10 at 4pm, playing at Comedy Bar.

As a reminder 100% of Patron’s Pick shows are available for sale in advance. Tickets go on sale Friday July 9 at 5:00pm. To book tickets call 416-966-1062 or book online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Fringe Review: "Waiting for Andre", A Hidden Gem

by John Arthur Sweet
presented by Hard Times from Montréal, QC
Genre: Storytelling
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Language

DESCRIPTION: A seriocomic meditation on love, art, and theatre, this is the story of Chris, an idealistic young actor who is hired for a bizarre publicity stunt promoting a production of WAITING FOR GODOT. Last performed in the Czech Republic, the Prague Post called WAITING FOR ANDRÉ “a beautifully crafted coming of age piece” and said “Sweet is a wonderful

MY REVIEW: A "seriocomic meditation"? How about "a smart, frickin', hilarious performance about an actor being hired to wait"? Because that's how I saw and the handful of people that were in the theatre would agree with me. We were cackling up a storm! You would think there were more of us in the room, but no, it was just us five giving free reign to laughter at the various situations described by Sweet in this one-man performance. Going back and forth in his reflections about his geeky days in an unnamed, pragmatic small town (the Municipal park is called "Municipal Park") to his present gig in the big city as a would-be actor (he's only had one other acting job) being paid to wait in a train station, Sweet's humour is ironic, self-deprecating, and FUNNY! How can it not be? His character, Chris, is sitting in a train station on a platform, with a tree and a sign promoting the theatre that's show Waiting for Godot. If you know the play, you get what he's doing, but if you don't he presents a very strange picture! As for the mysterious Andre, you'll have to go see the play to find out. Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars.

Venue 6 The Solo Room
60 min.
Wed, July 7 4:45 PM
Thu, July 8 6:15 PM
Sun, July 11 2:15 PM

$10 at the door. Cash Only.
• Online $11 at http://www.fringetoronto.com/
• By Phone at 416-966-1062 or 1-866-515-7799
• In person (June 30 – July 11 only) at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Fringe Review: "Phone Whore", Another 5 Star Performance!

by Cameryn Moore
presented by Cameryn Moore from Boston, MA
Director: Elizabeth DuPré
Cast: Cameryn Moore
Genre: Comedic Drama
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Content, Language

DESCRIPTION: Hey, there. … How are you doing? …. Yeah? Well, hang out with me for an hour and I will rock your f***king world. …Truth and taboo collide in this intimate visit with a phone sex operator. Listen closely: she may change your views on sex forever.

MY REVIEW: So know the title and you've read the description, so it wont' be a surprise to you when you go see the show that the language and phone scenarios are sexually explicit. What may surprise you is strength of the writing and the polished acting: no basic sex ad chatter that you find in the classifieds, and no fake, over the top, cutesie acting. What you get in PHone Whore is honesty and a script that questions society's standards, taboos and hypocrisy in relation to sex and sexual fantasies. "Hi, this is Larissa." Moore's mellifluous voice welcomes her callers and us into her world. We become voyeurs and participants at the same time as we listen to her calls and answers our unvoiced questions with explanations about her various clients and her own life.

Banal activities such as smoking, peeing (off stage), making toast and coffee, counter some of the shocking phone calls that may distance us from Larissa, but Moore's natural style of acting grounds her character and prevents us from putting up any barriers between her world and ours. For most of us, the women in skimpy clothing in the back of newspaper classifieds are not part of everyday world, but a woman wearing a robe and house slippers sitting in a comfy chair could be our neighbour. My Rating: ***** 5/5 Delicious Stars.

Venue 5 Annex Theatre
55 min.
Wed, July 7 3:30 PM
Thu, July 8 11:00 PM
Fri, July 9 4:00 PM
Sat, July 10 5:45 PM

$10 at the door. Cash Only.
• Online $11 at http://www.fringetoronto.com/
• By Phone at 416-966-1062 or 1-866-515-7799
• In person (June 30 – July 11 only) at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street

Monday, 5 July 2010

Fringe Reviews: Of Broken Brains, Bellydancing and Bewilderment

by Tamara Lynn Robert
presented by P.K. Pin Up Productions from Toronto
Director: Laura Anne Harris
Genre: Play-Comedy
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Content, Language

DESCRIPTION:Tamara is a mood disordered, medicated sweetheart of a mess and she needs help. On her journey towards healing she battles a legion of demons, wacky therapists armed with ridiculous treatments and one shapeshifting, grotesque monster called Stigma. Her guardian angel is her ever present comfort as she tells her comedic, heartwarming tale of living with mental illness.

MY REVIEW: Considering the stigma that still shrouds mental illness, I applaud anyone who can make their diagnosis public, let alone transform the fact into a one-woman performance. Tamara Lynn Robert's has written a clear, personal narrative that will inform as well as entertain without any demands for self-pity. Pills and psychiatry may help with mood disorders, but love and human (or pet) interaction can go a long way to boosting our pleasure centres, too. Isolation has never helped anyone become a complete human being. So 1 star to Tamara for her bravery, and another 2.5 stars for her one-woman show. Rating: ***1/2 3.5 stars

Venue 6 The Solo Room
60 min.
Tue, July 6 8:30 PM - 626
Wed, July 7 6:30 PM - 629
Fri, July 9 10:30 PM - 639
Sat, July 10 8:00 PM - 643

by Audra Simmons
presented by Lavish Dance Company from Toronto
Choreographer: Audra Simmons
Cast: Audra Simmons, Monika Field, Maddie Bolek, Victoria Buston, Heather Labonte, Danielle Davies
Genre: Dance
Audience: General Audience

DESCRIPTION: Beautiful, inspiring, enigmatic, dynamic. Lavish presents a journey in modern belly dance, a contemporary take on tradition. The fluid and sensual nature of belly dance is fused with the power and rhythmic qualities of flamenco and classical Indian dance resulting in a cutting edge style.

MY REVIEW: Hmm...well-intentions and pleasant to watch but monotonous after the first few dances. There wasn't enough variation in the dancing or the lighting to make me crave more. Sure there were some good displays of muscle isolation and lovely hand-work, but the galatic music that accompanied some of the pieces were too similar. I did enjoy a beautifully dance solo piece at end of the show, and the dance-off that featured some good work from one of the shorter dancers, but the overall presentation doesn't move beyond the level of a dance school competition piece. Rating: **1/2 2.5 stars

Venue 7 George Ignatieff Theatre
60 min.
Mon, July 5 6:15 PM - 729
Tue, July 6 8:45 PM - 736
Fri, July 9 11:00 PM - 758
Sat, July 10 2:15 PM - 760

by David Lennon
presented by Take Me There Productions from Montréal, QC
Genre: Play-Drama
Audience: General Audience

DESCRIPTION: Somewhere in the never ending last days or nights of the wild whirling west, a man circles like a prairie wind between building a house, caring for a crippled father who isn’t there, replaying the voices of youth and love, and chasing the four directions of the way that might’ve once been revealed to him through his dreams.

MY REVIEW: I am open to any and everything in this unjuried festival, so when I walk into a darkened space and can see only the feet of the actor, illuminated by a small lamp on the stage, I think I'm bound to see something interesting--bring on the abstract drama! So, when the lights go down and the play starts with a voice in the darkness, I'm intrigued. The actor is taking about Michelangelo and his David and a piazza and I'm following along, but when the stage lights don't go up, and the only lighting in a small lantern, after fifteen minutes I had lost track of the story and my patience with the stolid delivery of the actor. I have never walked out of a Fringe play in all the years I have been attending the theatre festival, but there is a first time for everything, right? I walked. Since I saw the performance, I have heard that the lights are now on during the show. To be honest, I doubt it will make a difference unless the actor has also improved his acting and has revised his leaden script. Rating: * 1/5 stars.

Venue 6 The Solo Room
60 min.
Tue, July 6 5:00 PM - 624
Wed, July 7 8:15 PM - 630
Thu, July 8 4:30 PM - 632
Fri, July 9 5:15 PM - 636
Sat, July 10 2:45 PM - 640

$10 at the door. Cash Only.
• Online $11 at http://www.fringetoronto.com/
• By Phone at 416-966-1062 or 1-866-515-7799
• In person (June 30 – July 11 only) at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Fringe Festival Review: word!sound!powah! My First 5-Star Review

d'bi young's word!sound!powah! is my first 5 star review at this year's Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival. What she brought to Theartre Passe Muraille today, was nothing less than her usual brilliance. Building on her previous works of blood.claat. and benu, word!sound!powah! (wsp) is the work-in-progress conclusion of her Sankofa trilogy. young's method of storytelling is called dub theatre, a form developed by her mother, Anita Stewart (two of her original pieces are featured in wsp) and her mentor, director/dub poet/b.current founder, ahdri zhina mandiela.

young plays several characters in this performance that deals with the political, economical and mental state of Jamaica 18 years after its independence from England in 1962. At the heart of young's work is the question of what has happened to the country's strong sense of self and pride. After all, this was the island where the Maroons staved off the Spanish and the British, that was emancipated from slavery long before the Americans, and where Independence promised so much for the country's modern future. As benu, young is representative of disenfranchised youth responding to the absolute lack of choices, jobs, and opportunities promised by politicians and those in authority. Through her interrogation by Constable Brown (also played by young) we are introduced to benu's allies in Poets in Solidarity, a group of young students and artists who have banded together to use the artistic power of words, sounds (music and verbal) and movement to fight back against marginalization.

young's transition from one character to the next is flawlessly fluid. From the charismatic, Poets in Solidarity leader, Bobus to St-st-Stammer, the poet with the unique protest style, to Peaches, the single mother looking for "employment", to the self-serving Prime Minister to benu and her grandmother, the spiritual Mugdu, you are never in doubt as to which character you are seeing. There is a moment in the performance where young's Constable Brown is particularly cruel in his interrogation of benu, but your mind never questions the fact that you are responding to one person playing two characters; you react only to the vision young has so clearly defined in your mind.

For those who may question this rating due to the fact that I know (and have worked for) d'bi, please go and see the show yourself before you yell "bias!" Let me say, firstly, that I am a hard person to get a perfect score from. Secondly, let me say that I would never insult any artist (friend or not) by saying their work deserved a positive review unless the work lived up to my high standards, and their talent.Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars

Theatre Passe Muraille (Mainspace)
16 Ryerson Avenue (1 block east of Bathurst, 1 block north of Queen)
Monday, July 5th, 5:00 pm
Tuesday, July 6th, 3:15 pm
60 Minutes
Warning: Language

$10 ($11 online). Cash only at the door. NO LATECOMERS. NO REFUNDS.
• Online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/
• By Phone at 416-966-1062 or 1-866-515-7799
• In person (June 30 – July 11 only) at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street

Fringe Reviews: Whores, Funny Men, An Innocent Man

As I have mentioned in other Fringe reviews, attending the Toronto theatre festival is a crap shoot: you never know what level of artistic merit the play/performance you are going to see will have. The festival is un-juried, and participants are chosen by lottery not by how good their productions are. That's what I love about this festival, and why I keep going. When you discover a fresh new talent, you share that with other festivalgoers as you stand in line comparing notes before the start of a show. A buzz can be created by word of mouth that can make a certain plays become hot ticket, must see festival fave. So, if you've seen anything you want to let others know about or if you disagree with any of my reviews, please, please leave a comment.

A Tale of Two Humours

CACTUS: The Seduction...
Created and Performed by Jonno Katz
(www.epicworlds.com & www.jonnokatz.com)
presented by Jonno Katz - Epicworlds from Melbourne, Australia
Directed by Mark Chavez from the Pajama Men.
Director: Mark Chavez
Genre: Play-Comedy
Audience: General Audience
Warning: Content, Language

DESCRIPTION: Multi-award winning comedy that is both irresistible love story and carnival of boundless imaginings.
“deserves more exclamation marks than the paper will allow. If you can’t get tickets, it is imperative that you either steal them or sneak in.” Vancouver *****
“both Brechtian and pant-wettingly hilarious.” Eye Weekly ****1/2

MY REVIEW: If something is sad we cry, but when it comes to comedy we all don't laugh at the same thing. Amidst eruptions of laughter that filled the sold-ut show, the gentleman sitting beside me and a few people in the audience rarely, if ever, laughed. Jonna Katz did everything right: his deliver was amazing, his narrative structured and clear, and his interaction with the audience magnetic. I can hardly criticize someone for not tickling my funny bone when I can see and hear that he is doing a good job, so I'm going to base this on audience response and take myself out of the equation. Audience Rating: ****1/2 4.5/5 stars

Venue 6 The Solo Room
60 min.
Mon, July 5 4:00 PM - 620
Wed, July 7 10:00 PM - 631
Thu, July 8 9:45 PM - 635
Fri, July 9 7:00 PM - 637
Sun, July 11 12:30 PM - 644

by Jason John Whitehead
presented by Jason John
Whitehead from London, UK
Cast: Jason John Whitehead
Genre: Stand Up Comedy
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Content, Language

DESCRIPTION: Making his debut on Canadian soil, originally from Nova Scotia and winner of the prestigious BBC comedy award at the Edinburgh festival. Jason John Whitehead’s comedy has taken him around the world and now he can’t wait to entertain a home crowd. Here is his story so far....
“intensely likeable, seriously funny” - The List

MY REVIEW:I laughed and so did the audience this time round. Jason's performance may not be as polished as Jonno Katz (Cactus), but this is a stand-up comedy, not a one-man comic performance piece about a fictionalized character. Whitehead's comedy set includes a recent break up with a woman who wasn't sure she wanted to be a comedian's girlfriend, his brother's children and a riff on children in general, his father's unwittingly selling what is interpreted as offensive memorabilia on ebay, and the night I saw the performance, a young man named Jordan who occupied the front row all by himself. I loved Whiteheads's ability to freestyle and include Jordan (his mother, and grandmother) in his show. It takes talent and experience to go with the flow, to deliver your set while incorporating the unexpected (Jordan and his family) into the whole set and making it work. My Rating (plus the audience this time): ***1/2 3.5 stars

Venue 6 The Solo Room
60 min.
Thu, July 8 8:00 PM - 634
Fri, July 9 8:45 PM - 638
Sat, July 10 4:30 PM - 641

Two by Tanisha
Wise or foolish as it may be Tanisha Tait directed two plays in this years' Fringe lineup: Maurice Carter's Innocence and The Whores. You may remember that Tanisha was part of my 5 Minute Fringe Festival Special where 8 guests came on to talk about their shows in 5 minutes. I'm happy to report that Tanisha did a good job with both plays

by Donald Molnar & Alicia Payne
presented by Arbez Drama Projects from Toronto
Genre: Play-Drama
Audience: General Audience
Warning: Gunshots

DESCRIPTION: A gospel choir helps tell the story of the enduring friendship between Doug Tjapkes and Maurice Carter, a man who spent 29 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Maurice is Black. Doug is White. While fighting for Maurice’s freedom, the two men became brothers. Based on a true story.

MY REVIEW: When the cast came on I was very happy to see that a few members of the accompanying chorus had been members of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, which meant that I didn't have to worry at all about the singing I was about to hear. As for the drama itself, it was well-suited to its church location, the story was very compelling (especially being based on a true story), but at 90 minutes it's a little long and drags. Since seeing the play, I have heard that the run time has been reduced, which can only add to the enjoyment of this play with gospel music by a talented bunch. Rating: ***1/2 3.5 Stars

Venue 19 Trinity St. Paul United Church - Sanctuary - BYOV
90 min.
Mon, July 5 7:45 PM - 1907
Tue, July 6 7:45 PM - 1908
Wed, July 7 7:45 PM - 1911
Thu, July 8 7:45 PM - 1913
Fri, July 9 7:45 PM - 1914
Sat, July 10 7:45 PM - 1916
Sun, July 11 2:45 PM - 1918

by Charles Crosby
presented by FishStick Productions from Toronto
Director: Tanisha Taitt
Cast: Clare Blackwood, Hayley Fisher, Sarah Illiatovitch- Goldman, Jennifer Kenneally, Joanne Williams
Genre: Play-Drama
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Content, Language, Nudity, Gunshots

DESCRIPTION: Derived from interviews conducted with Halifax-area prostitutes, the play looks at the business through the eyes of five women; Carnie, Cherry, Lori, Sam and Mary; from different backgrounds with alternate outlooks and stories to share.

MY REVIEW:The plot speaks for itself, but it's the acting that makes this and everyone of the cast members was correctly. Each actor inhabited their roles with credibility. The the dramatic and comic elements are well-paced and keeps you engaged as the whores' self-revelations and conversations builds a visual world with contrasts and comparisons based on seniority and class. Rating: ****1/2 4.5 stars

Venue 7 George Ignatieff Theatre
75 min.
Mon, July 5 8:00 PM - 730
Tue, July 6 3:00 PM - 733
Thu, July 8 Noon - 745
Fri, July 9 8:45 PM - 757
Sat, July 10 4:00 PM - 761

• Online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/
• By Phone at 416-966-1062 or 1-866-515-7799
• In person (June 30 – July 11 only) at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Fringe Reviews: Not Just For Kids

This is my first year covering FringeKids! and like the rest of the Fringe you get the good with the bad. When you have a festival based on a lottery system that's just the way things work, and it's also what I like about the Fringe. The fact that you never know what you're going to get when you walk through those theatre doors. With FringeKids! I was bored, bewildered and beguiled. Read on...

The Blackheart Princess
by Nelson Yu
presented by Sunny Leo Productions from Toronto
Genre: Musical

DESCRIPTION: Princess Buttercup’s kingdom is under attack by a vicious dragon, Leonard. So when she meets a rapping pirate,
Blackheart, she convinces him to visit its treasure-filled lair to slay it. When Leonard hears of this plan, he snatches her away to The Cave of No Return. Blackheart goes to rescue her, but he discovers a secret more valuable than gold.

MY REVIEWThis one is definitely for the kiddies. They had a ball watching this play. One little boy in the audience was particularly fixed on one of the props, squealing out to his mother that he wanted it. Even at the end of the play he was asking his mom if she was going to get it for him! The singing and rapping won't get any of the actors a contract, and the acting is average, at best, but it wouldn't be too painful for parents to sit through this with the kiddies who will respond to the Tickle Trunk costumes and simple story. Rating: 2.5/5 stars.

50 min.
Sat, July 3 2:30 PM
Mon, July 5 12:45 PM
Wed, July 7 6:00 PM
Thu, July 8 2:30 PM
Sat, July 10 12:15 PM
Sun, July 11 6:00 PM

The Boy Who Cried Wolf
by Aesop, Created by the Company
presented by Two Wolves Theatre Productions from Toronto
Director: M.E. Jenkins
Genre: Play-Comedy

DESCRIPTION:“The Boy Who Cried Wolf” is a classic fable by Aesop, which teaches the moral that liars never prosper. The classic tale is cleverly subverted in this satire of Greek theatre, switching the traditional protagonist and antagonist roles. This show is a fun modernist take on a beloved fable that will be entertaining for the whole family.

MY REVIEWA "satire of Greek theatre"? Why? That's the question I wanted to ask from the moment I entered the theatre to watch this play. Why did you choose to have scary sheep standing in place in a darkened theatre with ominous music playing? Why did you choose to keep the theatre so dark even when the tone of the script lightened? Why did you choose to interrupt a perfectly good classic story to venture off into a treatise about the acting experience? Why did you forget that your audience was made of children who are scared of the dark? Why did you think that you could palm off bad acting on children? If my tone sounds harsh it's because this play is a mess. Children deserve good acting, too. It's a shame that the actors playing the sheep (the only good element of the play) had their roles diminished so the script could explore the hardship of actors trying to find a part. Rating: 1/5 stars.

30 min.
Sun, July 4 12:45 PM
Mon, July 5 7:45 PM
Tue, July 6 12:45 PM
Thu, July 8 4:15 PM
Fri, July 9 6:00 PM
Sat, July10 11:00 AM

The Cat of Kensington
by Kirsten Harvey
(Check us out on Facebook!)
presented by Cats in the Cradle Productions from Toronto
Director: Shaun McComb
Genre: Musical

DESCRIPTION:Imagine you’re a struggling artist with unsupportive parents, an even less supporting landlord and a grumbling stomach. What is one to do? Turn to the help of one’s pet cat, of course. In this musical retelling of the Puss In Boots folk tale, set in the fish-rich air of Kensington Market, art is cheap and dreams can possibly come true.

MY REVIEWThis is a delight for parents and children. The acting is good, the songs are entertaining (live keyboard playing), and the story is written on two levels: the adults will get the references to trendy, drum-circle Kensington, and the children will relate to the magic of a talking cat. Any trepidations I might have had about younger children "getting" the play were squashed by four year olds, Ellery and Mathis who both loved the play, especially the music. Rating: 4.5/5 stars

45 min.
Sun, July 4 5:30 PM
Mon, July 5 2:30 PM
Tue, July 6 3:45 PM
Wed, July 7 4:15 PM
Thu, July 8 12:45 PM
Fri, July 9 2:30 PM
Sun, July 11 4:15 PM

Fairy Tale Ending
Music and Lyrics by Kieren MacMillan & Jeremy Hutton
Book by Jeremy Hutton
presented by Roll Your Own Theatre from Toronto
Director: Jeremy Hutton
Choreographer: Ashleigh Powell
Music Director: Kieren MacMillan
Genre: Musical

DESCRIPTION:Join Jill as a “line up” of characters is questioned about the sudden changes occurring in their fairy tales. A topsy-turvy yet touching tale of a young girl coming to grips with loss and the reality of growing up. With catchy songs like “I, like, totally don’t even give a care” and “You don’t know Jack”.

MY REVIEWAnother winner! Again, I recommend this play for adults and children. A well-scripted, well-acted musical peppered with lyrics that will have adults roaring with laughter, and comic antics that will have the children squealing. With the Big Bad Wolf, Goldilocks, The Three Little Pigs, and a very ugly Troll, children will see recognizable characters while the adults will react to the these characters confessing their crimes (breaking and entering, eating porcine, threatening billy goats) while in a police line up. The storyline is wrapped up a little too quickly and I'm not sure the children will get the complex moral of loss, but seven year old Sidney told me she liked the character of Jill (especially her dress) and loved the music.Rating: 4/5 stars.

60 min.
Sat, July 3 4:15 PM
Sun, July 4 2:00 PM
Mon, July 5 11:00 AM
Wed, July 7 2:30 PM
Thu, July 8 5:30 PM
Fri, July 9 11:00 AM
Sat, July10 3:45 PM

One Eyes, Two Eyes, Three Eyes
by Nicole McQueen
(www.freewebs.com/ upsidedownfrownproductions)
presented by Upside Down Frown Productions from Toronto
Genre: Play-Comedy

DESCRIPTION:Two-Eyes is treated badly by her sisters, One-Eye and Three-Eyes, who don’t give her enough to eat. One day, she meets an elf, who offers her a flute and an incantation that will provide plenty of food. The sisters become suspicious, but more charms ensue, leading Two-Eye to a knight in shining armor.

MY REVIEWThis story is simple enough for children to follow, but it is boring! The acting is stilted, there are too many set changes (keep it simple!), and there is no audience interaction. The energy level was so low that there was no magic in this Cinderella tale. The play also dragged on longer than the expected 30 minutes. As I said on Facebook, I should have left with the crying baby, but I hate walking out of small venues where leaving is so very obvious and disruptive. Rating: 1.5/5 stars.

30 min.
Sat, July 3 6:00 PM
Sun, July 4 3:45 PM
Tue, July 6 11:00 AM
Wed, July 7 12:45 PM
Thu, July 8 11:00 AM
Fri, July 9 4:15 PM
Sun, July 11 11:00 AM

All FringeKids! plays will be at the Palmerston Library Theatre - 560 Palmerston Ave.
Tickets: $10 at the door. $5 for kids.
Info: 416-966-1062. www.fringetoronto.com

Friday, 2 July 2010

Fringe Reviews: Part 1

So, I've had a chance to see 5 of the 9 plays that were featured on my 5 Minute Fringe Special on June 19th. Each person had 5 minutes to tell you why you should see their show; now it's my turn to tell you whether or not I think you should spend that $10 ($11 if you buy on line).

Kissing Swinburne
by Mark Huisman and Claire Frances Muir
presented by Lady Trevelyan’s Circle from Toronto
(at left)Mark Huisman as Ethel and the mask was created and built by Karen Rodd. Photographer: Claire Frances Muir.

DESCRIPTION: Puppets, live action, masks and multimedia transport you into the imagined, sadomasochistic world of Victorian poet Algernon Swinburne and his love-struck companion Theodore Watts. To win Swinburne’s love, Theo must compete with a lusty first cousin, the school mistress - who paddles with enthusiasm, a preacher who wants a nibble, and an array of lascivious puppets!

MY REVIEW:This imaginative drama has lots of bawdy sexual humour and first-class acting, especially on the part of Claire Frances Muir in the role of Swinburne. Puppetry work by the whole cast presents plot points and songs that will will have you empathizing with poor pathetic Swinburne even as you laugh at his childhood lusts for spankings. Right after seeing this play, I rated it **** 4/5 stars on Facebook. Well, having had a couple of days to think about this rating, I have decided that I was holding back because I saw this on the first night of the Fringe. Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

Director: David Talbot
Cast: Mark Huisman, Mary Krohnert, Claire Frances Muir
Genre: Multi-Media
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Content

Venue 22 Bread & Circus- BYOV
65 min.
Sat, July 3 6:45 PM
Sun, July 4 5:00 PM
Mon, July 5 8:30 PM
Tue, July 6 5:00 PM
Wed, July 7 5:00 PM
Thu, July 8 8:30 PM
Fri, July 9 6:45 PM
Sat, July 10 5:00 PM
Sun, July 11 8:30 PM

Love is a Poverty You Can Sell
Original Material written by Justin Haigh.
Featuring the Music of Kurt Weill and others.
presented by Soup Can Theatre from Toronto

DESCRIPTION:Enter the world of a 1920s Berlin cabaret and enjoy a night of song, story, and sin. This special theatrical tribute to the music and musical legacy of legendary composer Kurt Weill features a cast of only the finest bohemian riff-raff backed by a ten piece orchestra.

MY REVIEW:This play has good material (how can you go wrong with Kurt Weill) to start with and the songs are recognizable, but the singers need to project! Bread and Circus is an intimate cabaret setting which is perfect for this play, but most of the singers can't even reach past the first few rows when they hit their lower notes. They also need to correct when and where they breath so that their phrasing controlled and their diction is clear. I saw this on opening night, so I am hoping tweaks are made so that this becomes the brilliant work it should be. Among the singers, the standout for me is Arthur Wright, whose rich voice is perfectly suited to these songs.

Hosting the "cabaret" are Ryan Anning and Scott Dermody as Hans and Jodel. Anning and Dermody have fantastic timing and delivery. Their script, written by Justin Haigh, is a definite highlight of this show, and thankfully they are given the stage time to engage with each other (and us) while they move the show along. Opening Night Rating: *** 3/5 stars. Post Opening Night Rating: TBA

Director: Sarah Thorpe
Genre: Musical Cabaret
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Hedonism, Tomfoolery, Indulgently Floral Language

Venue 22 Bread & Circus- BYOV
90 min.
Wed, June 30 10:15 PM
Thu, July 1 10:15 PM
Fri, July 2 10:15 PM
Sat, July 3 10:15 PM
Sun, July 4 2:30 PM
Mon, July 5 10:15 PM
Wed, July 7 10:15 PM
Thu, July 8 10:15 PM
Fri, July 9 10:15 PM
Sat, July 10 10:15 PM
Sun, July 11 2:30 PM

Created by Linette Doherty
presented by Maya and Jackson from Toronto

DESCRIPTION: A hilarious look at public transportation in the big city. From breakdancing cops to bored office drones, the subway is where the city comes together; our joys, loves, fears, and frustrations become shared collective experiences. With a cast of zany characters blending hard hitting street styles and haunting contemporary works, Linette Doherty creates dance that’s accessible, technically innovative, and unique.

MY REVIEW:This is not a tour de force dance work, but it is fun and will appeal to dance students who are thinking of putting on their own shows. What the dancers lacked in technique they more than made up for in their enthusiasm. The dance school standards of jazz, tap, and ballet are performed to a wide range of music from the classics to hip hop. Would appeal to youth audiences. Rating: 3/5 stars.

Director: Linette Doherty
Choreographer: Linette Doherty
Cast: Linette Doherty, Ashley Brodeur, and Gary Lucich
Genre: Dance
Audience: General Audience

Venue 4 Bathurst Street Theatre
60 min.
Fri, July 2 7:00 PM
Sun, July 4 3:30 PM
Mon, July 5 10:30 PM
Wed, July 7 1:45 PM
Thu, July 8 9:15 PM
Sat, July 10 2:15 PM
Sun, July 11 5:15 PM

Raven for a Lark
by Elise Newman
presented by quoi quoi quoi from Toronto

Photo: Elise Newman

DESCRIPTION: Two actors get sucked into the twisted world of Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy. Originally staged at SummerWorks, this darkly funny play was a hit at the Ottawa Fringe. “Devilishly creepy… a must-see” (Ottawa Citizen)

MY REVIEW:It takes nerve to tackle this Shakespearean drama that is not often staged because of its bloody content and heavy subject matter (rape, canibalism, politics etc) so, hats off to Elise Newman for bringing her version of this play to the Fringe. For some people the Fringe connotes comedies and frivolity rather than dark and dangerous. In choosing to focus on the actors playing the roles of Chiron and Lavinia, Newman does a good job of distancing us from the horrible rape and mutilation of Lavinia by Chiron. This slight of hand focuses our attention on the disparate reactions of characters Nina and Charles to the opening night of their show and to different methods of approaching a role. These moments are funny and well-played by Adam Bradley (Charles) and Shelley Liebembuk (Nina). While it is Bradley who will be hated for how good he is in his role, the calculation of Liebembuk's character Nina lurks just below her ingenue surface and her murky depths should not be underestimated. As disturbing as Shakespeare's play, Raven for a Lark is not for those who cannot contemplate the darker, ugly side of our natures. Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

Cast: Adam Bradley, Shelley Liebembuk
Genre: Play-Drama
Audience: General Audience
Warning: Content

Venue 3 Royal St. George's Auditorium
45 min.
Fri, July 2 9:15 PM
Sat, July 3 4:00 PM
Sun, July 4 5:45 PM
Tue, July 6 1:00 PM
Wed, July 7 11:15 PM
Fri, July 9 9:45 PM
Sun, July 11 2:45 PM

The Silent City
by Stagehands
presented by Stagehands from Toronto

Photo: Ashlea Wessel at Revolver Photography

DESCRIPTION: “Bombastic Broadway Rock” raves NOW Magazine! Toronto’s own musical-theatre rock band, Stagehands, brings Fringers a high-energy, all-original rock opera performed and acted the group. Follow the tale of an artist struggling to get heard in a city where nothing is as it seems... Warning: tunes so catchy, you won’t be able to get ‘em out of your head!

MY REVIEW:If you loved Rock of Ages and/or We Will Rock You, then this play will appeal to you. Rebel rocker, Stan, lands in a town where everyone wears a mask by ordinance of the mayor. The mask makes everyone sound the same, and chains them to sing what the mayor approves if they want to become stars. Good music and singers make this a play that could be polished and moved to the Panasonic Theatre, but they will have to rework some of the songs so that the audience will be able to differentiate between Stan's style and the Mayor's style. This musical plot point wasn't clearly defined. Rating: 3/5 stars.

Director: Evan Tsitsias
Choreographer: Stephen Low
Cast: Justine Moritz, Marko Pandza, Nemanja Protic, Geoff Stevens, David Yenovkian and Mackenzie Zufelt
Genre: Musical
Audience: General Audience

Venue 22 Bread & Circus- BYOV
60 min.
Wed, June 30 8:30 PM
Thu, July 1 6:45 PM
Fri, July 2 5:00 PM
Sat, July 3 8:30 PM
Sun, July 4 6:45 PM
Mon, July 5 6:45 PM
Wed, July 7 6:45 PM
Thu, July 8 5:00 PM
Fri, July 9 8:30 PM
Sat, July 10 6:45 PM
Sun, July 11 5:00 PM

• Online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/
• By Phone at 416-966-1062 or 1-866-515-7799
• In person (June 30 – July 11 only) at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street

Thursday, 1 July 2010

2010 Dora Award "Recipients" aka Winners

Well, the Dora Awards are over for another year, and although only Louise Petre won for one of the nominated plays that I have covered on my show (or this blog), I wasn't disappointed to be in the audience to see the "recipients" (as host Jian Gomeshi was scripted to say) take the stage to express their gratitude. I especially liked the words of encouragement that Costume Designer (The Marriage of Figaro) Martha Mann gave to the youthful crowd: if they hang around long enough, in 40 years, they, too might win a Dora. Speeches such as Martha's and Clinton Walker (Turn of the Screw) who thanked actor, Philip Riccio for dropping out of the play so he could win the Dora, kept the very long evening from dwindling into a huge yawn. Kudos also to Jian Gomeshi for his humour and handling of the interactive audience and, ahem, for taking off his shirt.

And the Recipients ARE:


Outstanding New Play
Michael Healey  Courageous

Outstanding Production
Parfumerie  Soulpepper Theatre Company

Outstanding Direction of a Play / Musical
Morris Panych  Parfumerie

Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role
Diego Matamoros  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Principal Role
Tara Rosling  If We Were Birds

Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role / Ensemble
Maurice Dean Wint  Courageous

Outstanding Original Set Design
Ken MacDonald  Parfumerie

Outstanding Original Costume Design
Martha Mann  The Marriage of Figaro

Outstanding Original Lighting Design
Andrea Lundy  Hamlet

Outstanding Original Sound Design/Composition
Thomas Ryder Payne  If We Were Birds

Outstanding Musical Direction
Johannes Debus  The Flying Dutchman

Outstanding Original Choreography
Jonathon Feng Han; Alyssa Xiaoli Wang; Chen Jiao; Wen Qiqi  Monkey King

Outstanding Touring Production
Lipsynch  Luminato presents Ex Machina



Outstanding New Play or New Musical
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard  Gas Girls

Outstanding Production
The Mill  Theatrefront in association with the Young Centre for the Performing Arts
Outstanding Direction
Vikki Anderson   The Turn of the Screw

Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role
Clinton Walker  The Turn of the Screw

Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Principal Role
Christine Horne  The Turn of the Screw

Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role / Ensemble
The Ensemble  Spent
Outstanding Original Set Design
Gillian Gallow  The Mill

Outstanding Original Costume Design
Dana Osborne  The Mill
Outstanding Original Lighting Design
Andrea Lundy  The Mill
Outstanding Original Sound Design/Composition
David Atkinson  The Belle of Winnipeg


Outstanding Original Choreography
Heidi Strauss  this time

Outstanding Production
Shoot the Moon/Wings of Wax/The Second Person  Luminato presents Nederlands Dans Theater

Outstanding Performance
Brendan Wyatt  this time

Outstanding Original Sound Design/Composition
Richard Sacks in collaboration with Red Sky musicians: Tuvshinjargal Damdinjav,
Bat-Orshikh Bazarvaani, Batmend Baasankhuu, Eddy Robinson, Theo McGregor


Outstanding Production
In This World  Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People presents Youtheatre

Outstanding Performance
Natasha Greenblatt  Get Yourself Home Skyler James


Outstanding New Musical / Opera
R Murray Schafer  The Children's Crusade

Outstanding Production
Assassins  BirdLand Theatre and Talk is Free Theatre

Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role
Jeff Lillico  The Light in the Piazza

Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Principal Role
Louise Pitre  The Toxic Avenger Musical


Outstanding Performance
Julie Makerov   The Flying Dutchman

Outstanding Production
The Nightingale and Other Short Fables
Canadian Opera Company/Festival d'Aix-en-Provence/Opéra national
de Lyon in collaboration with Ex Machina

Nomination list courtesy of: www.tapa.ca/doras/

I was reviewing past coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and realized that as good as it is to use social media, I m...