Jackson-Triggs Winery is bringing a little Niagara to Toronto to announce the lineup of its 2014 Summer Concert Series. Its offering, Rootstock, features collaborative performances and storytelling by Steven Page, Alan Doyle, and Lindi Ortega—three of the artists you’ll find on the winery’s amphitheatre stage when the weather gets warm. The Winter Garden Theatre has been licensed for this one night only, allowing patrons to sip wine while enjoying the show.
Actor Chazz Palminteri was preparing to do a play in Los Angeles when he had an exchange one night with his manager. “‘I just heard there are more Italians in Toronto than there are almost in Rome,'” he remembers telling him. “And I said, ‘How come I never did my show in Canada?’ and he goes, ‘I don’t know.’”
This is how the idea was hatched to bring Palminteri to perform A Bronx Tale, the one-man show that made him famous, for one night only at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts on March 29. “I only had one night available,” he says in a phone conversation. “I didn’t want to wait. I said, ‘Let’s do it right now.’”
There’s no rule that says theatre has to be formal and boring. The Classical Theatre Project is capitalizing on this with ShakesBeer, an engaging presentation of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Grab a pint and watch as three actors attempt to play every role in every story the Bard ever wrote. As one might surmise from the description, things will likely get ridiculous.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You may not be able to see the Fab Four in the flesh anymore, but Mirvish Productions has the next best thing. Rain – A Tribute to The Beatles features four performers who have spent years mastering the sounds and nuances of Paul, John, Ringo, and George. Not only will they play all the songs you love, they’ll also include tracks that the Beatles recorded but never performed in front of an audience.
With female criminals being en vogue these days thanks to Netflix, Mirvish has picked a great time to bring the Tony Award–winning Chicago to Toronto. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical revolves around the incarceration of Roxie Hart, a wannabe star who gets her name in lights—but only after killing her paramour.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sam Shepard and Patti Smith’s torrid love affair in the early ’70s resulted in Cowboy Mouth, a helter-skelter impression of a lost weekend (or longer) spent in a hotel room while hazy from drugs, alcohol, and rock and roll. The play was last seen in Toronto in the summer of 2013 as part of the Playwrights Project; now, there’s a short, week-long run at Sterling Theatre, featuring Oliver Pigott as rock star Slim, Danka Scepanovic as his manipulative muse Cavale, and Nick Stojanovic as the enigmatic Lobster Man. Each night of the run will feature a different local musical act.
Though the sterile walls and forgettable furniture make a hospital hallway seem an unlikely place for any surreal, even magical, moments to happen, anyone who’s spend a nerve-wracking evening in those hallways knows that the mind can play some funny tricks thanks to a combination of stress, sadness, and lack of sleep.
In Jennifer Tremblay’s one-woman-show The Carousel, produced by Nightwood Theatre and on until this Sunday, we see the central figure alone in a hospital hallway, sitting, at first, outside the room where her mother lies dying. The Woman, played by Allegra Fulton, then finds herself tracing out moments from her family’s past, acting out characters ranging from her grandfather to her own small sons, as she attempts to build an understanding of her grandmother, her mother, and herself—and draw similarities between their shared histories and her future. It’s a very theatrical concept, emphasized by dreamlike projections on the set’s blank walls by designer Denyse Karn. An understanding of The Woman’s emotionally distressing situation, though, makes the situation painfully immediate. What else can one do in while in hospital limbo, waiting for an end, but carefully dissect how one got there, and where one is going?