Bebop legend and Jazz Master Sheila Jordan, a contemporary of Charlie “Bird” Parker, is well into her 80s and still performing live. She’s been teaching singers at the Banff Centre for the past fifteen years, and is in Toronto to do a weekend workshop—and a pair of shows, with Don Thompson on piano and Neil Swainson on upright bass.
Playwright Bobby Del Rio was inspired to write The Trial of Ken Gass, a Kafkaesque look at a man’s encounter with an officious bureaucrat, by the ousting of Factory Theatre’s artistic director by its board of directors (who earned themselves a place in our Villains roster in 2012). The play is less interested in the scandal’s details, however, and more in the different ways people react when confronted by an unreasonable person who’s the gatekeeper for an uncaring system. To drive the point home, as in the original production, Del Rio has cast a different performer every night to play the title character, who’s put through the wringer by a mercurial investigator played by Jess Salguiero. Among the guest “Gasses” are playwright Matthew Edison, comedian Sandra Battaglini, and cabaret performer Ryan G. Hinds.
There’s a lot of new ground covered in Alanna Mitchell’s solo show, Sea Sick. It’s the first show of the Theatre Centre’s 2014 season, and the first at the centre’s new home at the Carnegie Library. It’s also the first show Theatre Centre’s artistic director Franco Boni has directed in 12 years—he helms this production alongside the company’s artistic director in residence, Ravi Jain. It’s the theatrical debut of Mitchell, a daily reporter for The Globe and Mail turned globetrotting ocean explorer. Sea Sick also provides an opportunity for many in the audience to truly appreciate for the first time the staggering damage that global warming has caused the Earth’s oceans, and the grim future that will mean for life in the water and on land.
Toronto’s had a number of high-profile cover-band outfits make names for themselves over the past few years, such as the big band extravanganza Loving In The Name Of, or Sheezer, the all-female Weezer cover band. A new booking agency, Born Rebels, has signed these acts and more, and is throwing a big launch party featuring some of their roster’s talent: the Black Pearls, who cover the Travelling Wilburys; the Mercenaries, who do ’50s soul; Tommy Youngsteen, who do Petty/Young/Springsteen; and Hot Rock, who specialize in the Rolling Stones.
This post originally referred to the band Tommy Youngsteen as “Tommy Springsteen.” We regret the error.
A late-night reinterpreted cover series at Theatre Passe Muraille, Songbook Series Vol. 9 has attracted some high-calibre performers eager to put their own spin on songs just about everybody knows. Performers for this edition (and there are many) include recent Toronto Sketchfest headliner Gavin Crawford, the Stratford Festival’s Ron Pederson, and Rebecca Perry, recently returned from the Frigid Festival in New York.
If The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors has a mascot, it’s Emperor Yongzheng. The image of the 18th-century Chinese ruler dominates the promotional material of the exhibition, which is one of the centrepieces of the Royal Ontario Museum’s centennial year. His portrait certainly has visual appeal, but Yongzheng is also a figure associated with surprising elements of life within the former imperial palace.
If a period drama has ever inspired you to visit the past, but you couldn’t because you didn’t have access to a time machine, listen up! The Spadina Museum is taking history, television, and fashion fans alike back to the Edwardian era with its “Dressing for Downton: The Costumes of Downton Abbey” exhibit. Twenty pieces from the hit show will be on display, along with the City of Toronto’s own collection of garments from the time. Attendees will also be treated to Downton Abbey–themed tours of the century home.
Except when it comes to hockey, we Canucks don’t brag about our talents nearly enough. To remedy this, the 2014 Canadian Film Fest is taking over the Royal Cinema for three days to showcase the best of our country’s up-and-coming filmmakers. Now in its eighth year, the fest boasts a diverse program of fourteen shorts, along with six feature films. Among the titles is Alec Toller’s Play the Film, making its Canadian premiere.
You should not, would not miss this event if you’ve ever read Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or Green Eggs and Ham. Why? The Art of Dr. Seuss is coming to Casa Loma! Presented by Liss Gallery, the exhibit features over 30 paintings, drawings, and sculptures showcasing the mind of Theodor Seuss Geisel. Come during March Break (March 8-15) to take advantage of extra-Seussy programming, including storytelling, arts and crafts, and live performances.
Ichimaru—once one of Japan’s most famous geishas—left the profession in the 1930s to pursue a career in entertainment. Never really leaving her past life, she became known for adorning herself in the traditional geisha garb when performing in concert or on television. “From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru” exhibits several decades’ worth of outfits and personal effects, shedding light on the woman behind the makeup.
Artist Sarah Anne Johnson delves into life’s most intimate moments in “Wonderlust.” Using photography and visual arts, she explores the emotional attachment, romance, and self-consciousness that come with sex.
The senior students of U of T Scarborough’s Theatre and Performance Studies are dabbling in witchcraft with their production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Set in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, this play reveals how quickly suspicion, prejudice, and fear can tear a community apart.
Told through South American music and dance, Arrabal is the story of a young girl desperate to find out what happened to her father after the Argentine military made him disappear when she was just a baby. Her search leads her to the Tango clubs of Buenos Aires, where she discovers both the truth, and herself.
You can be taken out of a war, but can you truly remove the war from within you? This question is posed in Kawa Ada’s The Wanderers, a Buddies in Bad Times production about a father and son who flee a battle-worn Afghanistan. Though they start a new life in Canada, the horrors from their homeland refuse to be left behind.
Christian Bök’s poem, Eunoia, plays by a certain rule: each chapter uses only one vowel throughout. Eunoia, the dance production based on the poem, works with similar restrictions. The piece explores how certain sounds create moods that influence movement. Dancer and choreographer Denise Fujiwara is at the helm of this show, which makes its world premiere at Harbourfront’s World Stage.
In Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs, on now at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace, two people—a man and a woman in their late twenties to mid-thirties—stand on an empty stage and talk. They talk at each other, mostly, about themselves and about more abstract thoughts, as time shifts in the script propel them from pivotal moment to pivotal moment. It’s a style of theatre that can go wrong in an instant—but it can also produce a work that invigorates, or even inspires, a passion for the art form.
Fortunately, this one does the latter.
For three weeks straight, the Alumnae Theatre will be obsessing over freshness even more than your local grocery store. The New Ideas Festival is taking over for another year, bringing 15 new, developing, and experimental works to the stage. Each week of the festival, five new plays with a variety of themes will find themselves on the marquee, each one ranging from 10 to 60 minutes in length.
Performer, writer, and producer Sandra Shamas provides a new perspective on the aging process with her work-in-progress, Big Girl Panties. She plays a 55-year-old woman who views middle age as a beginning rather than an end. But even though her experience is very different from those of women in previous generations, she asks why the mainstream media still treats her age group as if it didn’t exist.
Before Lost took over our lives, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies exposed the ugly side of human nature by marooning children on a deserted island, following a plane crash. The Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts brings the Nigel Williams adaptation of this classic novel to the Toronto stage for just five nights—get tickets while you can!
Circlesnake Productions closed out the Storefront Theatre’s 2013 season with their production of the TTC crime comedy Special Constables. Now, they’re the first full production in the space since February’s flooding, and space is where their new show is set—it’s a science-fiction adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Dark Matter follows Captain Marlow as she travels to a remote space colony to confront Commander Kurtz, who’s “gone rogue.” As per their previous show, expect a show that translates film’s big-budget effects into highly physical staging for the small stage.
In line with Tarragon Theatre‘s theme for it 2013/2014 season– “Love, Loss, Wine and the Gods”—the company is currently presenting two one-act plays that document the journey of two very different romantic relationships. The first, in the Tarragon Extra Space, is Duncan MacMillan’s brilliant Lungs, which receives an equally brilliant production from director Weyni Mengesha and actors Lesley Faulkner and Brendan Gall. Lungs is a touching and entertaining portrayal of a couple in love—but above all, it’s honest. It’s that honesty that the show next door in the Tarragon Mainspace, Stephen Sondheim’s song cycle Marry Me a Little, is lacking.
We grew up with stories that ended with “and they lived happily ever after,” but what actually happens during that glossed-over period of time? Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine answer this burning question in their musical Into the Woods. The Trinity College Dramatic Society brings this re-imagining of “Cinderella,” “Rapunzel,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and other such fairy tales to the small stage for a short run of just five nights.
Going into a play with no prior knowledge of the characters, plot, setting, or theatrical style can be a very liberating exercise—most of the time. However, for 6 Essential Questions, on now at Factory Theatre, that approach is highly discouraged.
The play is the theatrical debut of author-turned-playwright Priscila Uppal, and has been adapted from her acclaimed memoir Projection: Encounters With My Runaway Mother, which recounts a trip to Brazil during which she briefly reunited with the mother who’d abandoned her 20 years before. The play follows the same basic storyline, but that becomes clear only about halfway through the 90-minute performance. Uppal’s approach to playwriting appears to be heavy on the poetry and metaphor, and light on context and basic exposition. That can be fine, as long as the audience has a basic understanding of the world being explored, which sadly isn’t the case here.