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Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Voluntold!

In GCTC, Theatre on August 31, 2010 at 3:01 am

Just got home from volunteer orientation day at the GCTC.  And may I say, it was SO COOL!!  Seein’ backstage?  The prop room, and control booths and shit?  Fucking SWEET!  And everyone is pretty fantastic there, no word of a lie.  I’m stoked for my first shift, whenever that is, and for the dress of THE LIST in a couple weeks.  The concept they have for the set and stage is pretty god-damned awesome. 

I’ll just have to make sure to see every show before I volunteer for it…otherwise there’s no way I’m going to be paying attention to the crowd (like I’m very much supposed to be) during the performances.

I notice I’m suddenly getting all too very much involved with this thing called ‘theatre’, that I didn’t know existed three years ago.  Life, you be taking me on some exciting hairpin turns these days…

Jamaica Farewell

In Theatre on August 30, 2010 at 3:31 am

Had a pleasant nite in yester…downed a few cold beers, wrote for the blog and watched old episodes of SAPPHIRE AND STEEL.  

Oh, Joanna Lumley, you fetching master of time and space.

And okay, my blog readership is down like the second season ratings for TWIN PEAKS, I suppose because of my away time recently, but whatevah.  I’m in my groove right now and having a fine time.  And keeping busy!  I stayed home and wrote last night because it was my only free night for a little while…tomorrow I’ve got my eagerly anticipated volunteer orientation at the GCTC, work on tuesday, maybe a free movie at the Heart and Crown on wednesday (COLLISION, on Preston st…anyone interested?) .  And tonite…

Got an email from the Gladstone theatre folks last week, about a show coming to town for one day only.  That was enough to intrigue me, so I got my ticket nice and early and waited merrily.  Tonite was the night!  The show was one JAMAICA FAREWELL, by a lovely gal name of Debra Ehrhardt.  Yes, you know I’m a sucker for a one woman show, so I was naturally all over this one.  And a Jamaica-thmed show to boot?  After the two dandy Jamaica plays I caught at Summerworks (the clever comedy SAY GINGER ALE and political firestorm WORD! SOUND! POWAH!), this would make for a swell triple play.  After a dull Brunch-drudgery at the Clocktower, I was off.

There were two shows going on today…one at 2:30, and mine at 7:30.  I got there a bit ealry, watched the crowd slowly settle in…lamented the lack of any program (I loves my collectible theatre-stuff!), and downed the always reasonably-priced Corona at the Gladstone bar.   When we were let in, I was pretty excited.  Since I’d bought my ticket so early, I’d snagged my first ever front row seat at the Gladstone, and wanted to see what it was like.  Holy Comfy!   Folks, the front row at the Gladstone is a sweet, sweet ride, and I heartily recommend it. 

A kindly gent from the Ottawa Jamaican Community Association stepped ot to introduce the show then, and though he was a touch quiet, you could tell he was pretty proud of whatever it was we were about to see.  I like that sorta genuine vibe, on account of you dont see it enough.  He stepped off, and the lights went down.

Whn they came back up, Debra’s show began.  Telling the autobiographical tale of young Debbie Phillips growing up inKingston, Jamaica, and dreaming of a magical land far, far away…

Hint: it's not Canada.

Little Debbie is so smitten with the good old US of A her fav’rit song is YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.  She works hard to escape her lower class Jamaican life to America, but with little success.  Her Father’s gambling leaves her family with little cash, and her pious Mothercan only offer moral support.  Until the day a handsome CIA agent enters her life…

…and then, things go pretty crazy, to the point that upon reading Debra’s website bio afterwards I had to do a double take and say ‘Holy Shit, that really WAS a true story??’  Caught up in the political turmoil in Jamaica in the 70’s, Debra hatches a scheme to get out of Jamaica with her Agency beau, and, oh yeah, a million US in cash.  If she can just make it to Montego Bay (mind the potholes), escape the horrors of Pigeon Town, the advances of a villain dubbed ‘Lucifer’ and job offers from a cronish Madam.  And then there’s customs, of course…

All of this takes place over the course of damn near two hours, which is plenty for a lone woman on a stage with just a podium and two chairs as prop.  But Debra Ehrhardt could likely power a small city with her charm and talent alone, and she made the time fly by all too quickly.  She played at least a dozen different memorable characters with merry ease, and wrung enough laughs out of her audience to make most professional comics slit their wrists with envy.  All in the context of a comedy/adventure story so insane I STILL refuse to believe it’s true.  Although I really hope it is, because it would mean Debra is not only a phenomenal theatrical talent, she just might qualify for superhero to boot.

Sadly, as noted, this was the only day JF was playing in town.  Afterwards, it was hinted that maybe, MAYbe, we’d be able to coax her back to town sometime in the future, and I hope that’s the case.   She’d definitely be welcome.  I’m starting to really, really like Jamaican theatre…

The Visitor

I did it (and I’d do it again)

In Theatre on August 29, 2010 at 12:03 am

Been a busy few days, and getting busier…as mentioned, the other day I headed out west(boro) to sign up for an entry level acting course at the OSSD, as I’ve been threatening to ever since I first caught the theatre bug three Fringes ago.  Hit the second Crosstown Traffic while I was in the neighbourhood…chatted with good guy owner  Mike, asked about the new issue of Cinema Sewer, and picked up a bootleg Nancy Sinatra DVD.  Did Bridgehead.  Then home for a spell to watch the weather.  Would it hold..?  
It seemed so.  So I headed out again, this time in an Easterly fashion.  De-bussed at Rideau just befor Nelson to stock up on Jameson’s at the monstro-LCBO before setting out to hit Strathcona Park for Odyssey Theatre’s THEY ALL DO IT.  I trekked about for a good while before I realized, ‘you know, I’ve only ever been to Strathcona Park once, and I’m not entirely sure where the fuck it is, exactly.’ 
A half hour before showtime is a bad time to think these thoughts.  I pressed on.

Eventually I stumbled/chanced upon the park in questioning it, mostly because I recognized the cool stonework from JESUS CHRIST VAMPIRE HUNTER.  Wandered a spell before actually finding the play area…I entered at just exactly the wrong point for spotting it, but nevermind, it was a nice night for a walk and the sun was lovely off the water.  And the ducks..!  You should have been there.

Once I found the place I payed up and entered, and was prtty impressed with the setup.  I’d never really known about Odyssey or their cool outdoor stage before, and…well, it’s pretty damn cool.  I like finding out wicked new stuff about my town.  Not that Odyssey Theatre is NEW…this is their 24th year, and I’m clearly massively ignorant.  Let’s move on.

I took a seat up near the front of the stands, flipping through the program.  I was immediately dee-lited to discover that Kelly Rigole was in the production.  Ms Rigole was in the spine-crushingly wonderful Fringe show THIS IS A RECORDING last year, along with Third Wall’s Simon Bradshaw, so I already was anticipating a fabulous time.  Soon enough, a swell young gal came along to instruct the jackasses among the audiences to shut off their car alarms and other noisemakers, and introduce the show, a new play by one Janet Irwin, based on Mozart’s COSI FAN TUTTE.

You mean the chick from THROBBING GRISTLE? This gets better and better!

The floodlights dimmed, the music soared, and my first ‘Theatre under the stars’ night began.  And…spoiler alert…it was fucking wonderful.  It’s hard to know where to start, since there wasn’t really any aspect of this production that I wasn’t thoroughly giddy over…the story was a merrily classic bit, with jaded elder Antonio trying to convince his lovestruck young friends Franklin and Wilder that their devotion to sisters Lili and Lark was doomed to failure.  The sisters, meanwhile, pined away for their lads (awaiting a sign from ‘the Goddess’ that these were truly the ones for them…so they could, y’know, get busy and all) while dealing with their nosy caretaker Despina (the utterly magnificent, and masked, Kelly Rigole).  I’d say she stole the show, but that’s not quite accurate…EVERY actor, in his and her turn, stole whole scenes as they waded into them with full-on campy gusto.  Emma Hunter’s Lark was admittedly a particularly hilarious turn.  And Ben Clost as the other masked figure, Antonio, made a great sparring partner for Rigole’s goofily lusty Despina.

A byzantine and suitably hilarious plot is launched in the proceedings for Antonio to try and prove his rather bleak romantic worldview to the lads, setting up the question of just what the advice of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ is really worth.

It's like F FOR FAKE, but with more sex gags.

The whole thing is an utter delight, and if Ihad more time free I would gladly see it again…kudos to director Paul Griffin for a crackerjack show.  As it is, I left seeing this gem kinda to the last minute…although you still have one more day to catch it, if you haven’t seen it already (and if you’re reading this blog post the day I write it, which is, let’s face it, doubtful.  But I tried!).  And I can guarantee that I’ll be back for more Theatre under the Stars in Strathcona, same time next year.  In the meantime, I’ve got JAMAICA FAREWELL tomorrow, an appointment at the GCTC on monday, and something called KILT next week..? Shit, I’m really back into it.  Felt like a long time away.

Flings: a Summer Roundup, part 2

In Summer Fling, Theatre on August 26, 2010 at 9:52 pm

NOW I’ve done it.  Hoo boy.  I didn’t think I really would…but I suppose a planetary-size shakeup in one’s personal life can make you do crazy things.  Sort of crazy.  We’ll get into that later.  First things second.  As in, second part of this awkwardly themed ‘Summer’ roundup of mine, which is mostly a feeble pretense to start posting again after a dry spell.  Because apparently, I’m all about the feeble.

So we did Summerworks yesterday, that happenin’ little terrorism-loving festival up Toronto way.  Today is Ottawa’s turn, specifically the recenly wrapped SUMMER FLING theatrical experiment.  A joint venture of a few different Rideau area businesses and venues, the Fling was an attempt to get some theatre going in our otherwise dry spell of a summer.It consisted of, if memory serves…EDUCATING RITA, INSEPERABLE, SWIMMING IN THE SHALLOWS, SATIN DOLLS and MY SUMMER CRUSH IMPROV at Arts Court, and MURDER ON THE NILE and TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE at Ottawa Little Theatre.  And maybe ROMEO AND JULIET, I’m not sure.  Tho that was around, too. 

So how did I do, right of the start..?  Pretty poorly, I have to be honest.  I made it to only 3 of the full orster of official events, which ain’t great.   I have my excuses, true, but that doesn’t help local theatre very much, so my apologies Flingers.  I’ll try harder next year!  lthough I was out of town for MORRIE and DOLLS, so I hope I can at least be forgiven for those two.

Without better inside information (I have none), I can’t be sure how the turnout was for these shows over the course of their runs…I hope things went well.   I know EDUCATING RITA was a dandy show that deserved a good turnout, and MY SUMMER CRUSH IMPROV may have single-handedly turned me around on the field of improv comedy.  The third show I made it out to, SWIMMING IN THE SHALLOWS, I just saw last week.  An Adam Bock play about love, all sorts’a love, and stacked with a killer cast to bring it all together.  Margo MacDonald (fresh from SHADOWS) and Manon StJules are a lesbian couple slouching towards marriage, if only Margo can quit smoking.  Simon Bradshaw camps it up as an unlucky in love gay man who falls for a shark…because why not?   And Marc Ouimet does make a smashing, scene-stealing killer of the deep (but watch out for the glass).  The trio of bobbling relationships rounds out with Maureen Smith as Barb, a woman having a bit of an existential crisis that doesn’t sit well with Bob, her sedentary newspaper-shaded grump of a husband played with heroic lack of movement by Richard Gelinas.

Okay, sure, the depth of this play is considerably less than the water in the shark tank, true…but I’ve never been one to argue with a well-played piece of fluff, and this seems to be that.  There’s fun direction and staging, fine performances, and even a happy ending that, considering my mood when I saw this thing, I rather needed.  So,thumbs up (as mentioned, a useless thumbs up as the run is over, but better late than never..?) for a sweet and funny, trippy story about six clueless fools in love. 

So there it is…sorry again to INSEPERABLE, which I really meant to get out to last week.  But it looks like the weather is going to hold tonite, so maybe I’ll at least get to see Odyssey Theatre’s THEY ALL DO IT before it ends, which is something.  And that’ll be something to talk about another day.

Oh, and that ‘crazy thing’ I did that I mentioned way up at the top..?  This fall, I’m taking my first acting course at the School for Speech and Drama.  Wish me luck, hey?  And see you around,

the Visitor

‘Works: a Summer Roundup, part 1

In Summerworks, Theatre on August 26, 2010 at 1:03 am

Okay, so that was a bit of downtime I took there.  Apologies, I was a little busy finding out that I’m the worst person in the God-damned world.  Suck it, Cheney.

So now that the maelstrom of life-shit I dropped myself in is, if not behind me,at least past its destructive apex (fingers crossed), where do I go from here?  Yeah, sure, to the theatre…why not?  I do vaguely recall enjoying it…and I had some Summery things to write about.   Summer’s fun, right?  I could use some fun.   Let’s do this.

A ‘blast’ is too much for me to hope for right now…I’ll settle for a summer lovin’ tickle at this point.

So, SUMMERWORKS.  I made my first ever theatrical road trip this past month down to Toronto, and not just for the shopping (not that I didn’t load up on dvd’s…STEAMBOAT BILL JR., anyone?).  No, I partook in my first Summerworks theatre festival…a little less frenzied than a Fringe, but with plenty of ace theatre to go around, in some pretty snazzy venues.  I think the Factory Theatre Studio was my fav’rit  And all in all, I thought it was a pretty nicely run festival.  Okay, they need to do something about the massive downtimes between shows…up to two hours in some cases, between ANY available performances.  For a tourist like me, that could get pretty dull and/or expensive.   Although, again, shopping.

But I still had a swell time (constant illness notwithstanding), and without more yakking here is my personal TOP 5 SHOWS of Summerworks 2010:

No.5:  The HAUNTED HILLBILLY.  From Sidemart Theatrical Grocery, a twisted, hilarious and fantastic musical tale based on the novel by Derek McCormack.  Faust reimagined as a country-western epic, with rising star Hyram Woodside being seduced by the supernatural couturier known only as Nudie.  Massive amounts of fun.

No.4: The SAD and CAUTIONARY TALE of SMACK-HEADED PETER.  A big ensemble (like Hillbilly above), this time the bizarre and mystical tale of drugged-out prophet Peter’s rise and fall, Mother Cheapside’s telly-fuelled visions, and the terrible truth about the Dream King and the Princess of Pain.  Street level poetry and magick at its finest.

No.3: ME HAPPY.   A giddy riot of a love story from Pyretic Productions, as the rather unique Biddy of Muff, Ireland, starts a correspondence with imprisoned diver Logan Hasselhoff to try and exorcize her persistent ghost.    A much-needed dose of killer laughter resulted, and I loved every occasionally foulmouthed moment.

No.2: MISS CALEDONIA.  I secretly hope this show hits the Fringe circuit next year, because I’d really love to make people around me go see it.  Melody Johnson and Alison Porter made me all melty and happy inside with the true-based story of rural beauty queen Peggy Ann Douglas, and if Ginger’s story doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, someone needs to put a stake through your shrivelled heart NOW.

No.1: RIDE the CYCLONE.  I wasn’t alone in hearting the living shit out of Atomic Vaudeville’s musical extravaganza about a squad of dead chorists from Uranium, Saskatchewan singing their lives out one last time…it won the Summerworks award for Production and the Now Magazine audience choice, not to mention packing the house more often than not.  The Vaudeville gang are insanely talented each and every one (they impressed equally at their Performance Bar appearance), and the show is about as crowd-pleasery as it gets.  Delirious joy for all.  So there.

Some very honourable mentioning to a few others…like Dbi Young’s amazing WORD! SOUND! POWAH!, the beautiful, brutal AFTER SHOCK, Johnnie Walker’s grand REDHEADED STEPCHILD, the Celine-centric mindfuck of BLISS, and of course my hometown heroes Emily Pearlman and Nick DiGaetano and COUNTRIES SHAPED LIKE STARS.  It would have made the list but, having seen it twice before in two different venues, I can’t really think of it as a ‘Summerworks show’.  You know how that goes.  And also, a huge apology to all the shows I didn’t make it out to see…great sounding joints like HOMEGROWN (even after the Toronto Sun launched such an effective media campaign for it..!), MODICUM OF FREEDOM, FOSTER CHILD PLAY, POST EDEN, THEORY…sigh.  Too much theatre, too little time.  Oh, and of course, a huge thank you to BIOGRAPHIES OF THE DEAD AND DYING…not just for being a wicked cool show, but for legitimizing me by including one of my reviews on your sandwich board:

Pictured: maybe as famous as I’ll ever get.

I wish I’d been able to stay in T-Dot longer, see everything, but that’s the life of a working shmoe, I s’pose.  I did make it to Sneaky Dee’s AND the Beguiling, not to mention Honest Ed’s, so I fulfilled my personal obligations at least.  Thanks to Clarence Castle, my homey hostel for the duration (and where I did all my show-blogging for free by hogging their computer).  And I’ll be back tomorrow, in the spirit of keeping myself busily distracted from my own awfulness, with part 2 of my summer roundup, this time Flings instead of Works.   Including a uselessly late show review!  See you there,

The Visitor

PS. Anyone in Ottawa seeing JAMAICA FAREWELL at the Gladstone this sunday evening?  If so, I’ll see you there!

-Interlude-

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2010 at 12:27 am

So I was supposed to do a post-SUMMERWORKS wrap-up post, once I got back to Ottawa…you know, a reflective look back kinda thing, maybe a top-5 list or something along those lines.  And then,since getting back, I’ve also seen SWIMMING IN THE SHALLOWS by the gang at Arts Court, and should probably have posted a review of that, too.  Instead, I’ve gone on what is so far the longest hiatus thus far on this still relatively new blog.

To anyone who reads this, sorry about that.  Real life just sorta sucks sometimes, and it’s been sucking the drive right out of me this past week since touching base in my hometown.  And what the song says is bang-on…breaking up IS hard to do.  Like, fucking hard.  And blogging is hard to do for me right now, on account of that.

So more on SWIMMING IN THE SHALLOWS later on, which won’t do it one lick of good as it finishes its run on the 22nd…so why don’t you just go see it yourself instead, because you’ll probably really like it.  It’s good stuff with a great cast.  See INSEPERABLE and THEY ALL DO IT, too, while you’re at it.  I bet they’re great as well.  See ’em with someone you love.  Have a great night out.  And try not to fuck it up like SOME bloggers you know, okay?

I’m off to drink the gloom away, like the tired male cliche I’ve just discovered I am.  Be back later, promise, with a very late look back at my theatrical roadtrip, some SHALLOWS observations, and maybe I’ll even make it out to Strathcona for Odyssey’s offering.  We’ll see. Your little pal,

the Visitor

PS: Oh, and I’d wanted to shoutout to the Calgary Fringe, for being so good to some of my folks…Gemma Wilcox won Best in Fest, Cameryn Moore sold out (the good kind), Ben Meuser and Elisabeth Shue Jr. got killer reviews for LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE…all nice to hear.  And remember, only ten months til’ Ottawa Fringe rolls around once again…see, there’s always SOMEthing to look forward to.  Peace.

SUMMERWORKS – Day SEVEN

In Summerworks, Theatre on August 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm

So, as I write this, I have worked my last Summer, my theatrical road trip coming to a close.  It was a good time and ended on a high, but I’m still annoyed that it ended.  With just a few more days, I couldá seen EVERYthing.  But, them’s the breaks, eh? At least I had fun, and felt great thorughout…except for the pervasive sickness that’s been nagging me the entire trip, and came back with a vengeance last night.  Guess it wanted to say goodbye to Summerworks too. Can’t blame it.

Only made it out to one new play-piece last nite, actually, and that was my first stop of the day, Marion DeVries’ BIG FACE.  A one woman show (my fav’rit kinda show) about a lonesome woman dealing with her own failings, needs, wants, and not getting any younger all the while.  DeVries gives what you call one of those ‘bravura’ performances, punching a hole in your rib cage and giving your heart a few brutal squeezes.  It’s a bare-bones honest show, with DeVries laying this woman’s life out on the line for us to see, with just a perfect handful of her own songs tossed in to the mix.  Rock solid. 

By then, well, quite frankly I wasn’t feeling very well.  Is it normal to be dizzy and see spots when you’re already sitting down?  So I did what any nervously ill traveller would do…had a veggie dog and treated myself to a repeat of MISS CALEDONIA.  Sorry, but I’m just in love with that show, and it made me feel better!  Loving the interplay between Melody and Alison on her fiddle (not a violin as I previously misidentified), and the tweet and true story of Peggy Ann and her quest for the title is just about as fun and heartwarming as a lad could ask for.  Thanks, all.

With only one chance left now, I really wanted to hit the PERFORMANCE BAR at least once during the festival, so off I  trolleyed to the Lower Ossington and stepped inside.  A good crowd was there (likely because the Steam Whistle was 2 bucks cheaper here than at Factory, go figger), and local improv gang NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE WORLD  was hosting, teaming up with RIDE THE CYCLONE’s dandy troupe for the evening, ATOMIC VAUDEVILLE.  It was a pretty heartily hilarious show, and Toronto’s own Laura Harris joined the team onstage for a few bits.  I think there were a few other ‘Toronto’s own’ up there too, but as I’m not Toronto’s anything, I didn’t recognize them all.   The show was brilliant tho, and the followup concert by funkmeisters GRAND ANALOG was nice icing on that cake.  It was great fun, I danced with everyone else, I drank too much, and then, when it was all done, I missed my streetcar and walked the many blocks back to Clarence Castle for the last time this trip.  And now, it’s checkout time, and I still need to shower.  Trickier than it sounds as, due to the morphiong nature of hostel geography, my last night here was spent in a room filled with whispering, giggling Aussie girls. 
…nope, there’s no way the girlfriend could be troubled with THAT scenario.  Ottawa, here I come.  Toronto, it’s been a slice, and we’ll have a wrap-up once I get settled.  Thanks for the times,

The Visitor

SUMMERWORKS – Day SIX

In Summerworks, Theatre on August 11, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Getting close…after this I’ll only have one final night of shows to post about before it’s time for the long, grim ride back to Ottawa, and work.  So let’s enjoy this baby while we can!  As for yesterday, that meant a breakfast at Mars, lunch at Sneaky Dee’s, a few books from She Said Boom!, and an afternoon show.

Well, that was the plan, anyhow…FOSTER CHILD PLAY had other ideas, and went and got all sold out before I could haul my overheated butt on over there.  I’ll just assume then that it was a fantastic show, selling out and all, so yay, Foster Child Play!  Nice one.  You’re all very special people, and I said so.

So, some impromptu  down time later, I was back at the Factory, where I was in for a shock indeed.   It seems that, through no intentional malice on my part, some people have maybe, sorta mistaken me for that strange beast, ‘the press’.  Summerworks is listing my updates in their media press relase updates, and now, as I saw at the garden yesterday (and got photographic evidence I’ll share once i get back to my own computer) the good folks at BIOGRAPHIES OF THE DEAD AND DYING are actually using one of MY review quotes on their sandwich board!  A first for me, I assure you, but I promise there was no deliberate intention to deceive!  I’m not a critic, or member of the 4th estate in any way, shape or form, just an idiot with a blog and free time.  But thanks terribly for the compliment, and I sure hope I can help out before someone gets wise to me and moves in with the billy clubs.

Getting over that surprise, I headed for the ticket table, this time making it in to SAY GINGER ALE by Marcia Johnson.  A refreshing bit of fluff  (as theatre does tend towards the morbid and downbeat, all that melodrama and other jazz), and a smart story about a Jamaican-born woman who must make her first ever trip back home after moving to Canada at age 6.  Will she appreciate her heritage?  Get her tough-as-nails Grandmother to see a doctor?  Get the boy?  See it and find out, as it’s a pretty great show, good actin’, great fun, and a smart look at trying to balance two backgrounds at the expense of neither.  Raven Dauda steals the show quite handily as Grandma, by the by, but don’t hold that against her.  Just enjoy.

A quick enough turnaround after that to check out THE INNOCENTS by Daniel Karasik.  An ensemble of five fabulously cool actors carry this one handily through it’s story of fulfillment (and lack thereof), ennui, and the old question of just when in your life you can say Í’ve arrived’.  Now, I have to admit, INNOCENTS kind of left me cold, personally.  It’s obviously a good play, and a few of the performances are real knockouts, but you know when you just don’t connect like you’re supposed to?  That happened to me, and no fault to the gang onstage.  It’s still easily worth a look, and for sure most of the near-sellout crowd was having a blast at my viewing.

Too much downtime after this one, so I hit some apparently nameless bar a few blocks down queen for a few pints of 50 before heading back (almost stayed…really cozy place!).  There was a nice buzz going in the garden outside the factory, and most of it was heading in to my last show of the day, ME HAPPY by Amy Lee Lavoie and Matthew Mackenzie.  And damn, good way to end the evening.  ME HAPPY is a perfect god damn delight, a direct infusion of sweet and hysterical right to your brainstem.  Chala Hunter and Alex McCooeye are dead-on hilarious in their roles as star-crossed paramours sharing a long-distance meeting of letters…the script is genuinely warm and disturbingly funny…a dream of a show.  Hope you make it out to this one, because your soul will thank you for it.

Off to scour some late breakfast now, and get ready for what will be my final day of Summerworks.  Hope to see you around tonight, and happy festing,

The Visitor

SUMMERWORKS – Day FIVE

In Summerworks, Theatre on August 10, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Today started with a little much needed R&R (or ‘rander’, to put it in Haunted Hillbilly terms), with a trip back out to Markham and Bloor. Successfullly stalked the hard-to-find Green Room, where I had a delicious and cheap b-fast on a goddam lovely patio.  I’d love to go back there with some folks and have a blast.  If only I knew folks!

Hit the Beguiling and picked up some cool comix, including a saucy collection of PLASTIC MAN creator Jack Cole’s ‘Good Girl’ artwork from back in the day.  Jack had an eye for the ladies, I tells ya.  Wandered out to Sonic boom then, and oddly spied COUNTRIES SHAPED LIKE STARS superstar Emily Pearlman dashing into Honest Ed’s on my way.  I’d have followed her, but a) that would have been TOTALLY creepy, and b) there’s no way you’ll find someone once they’re inside Honest Ed’s.  Hell, I just hope she makes it out in time for her next performance!

Anyways, at Sonic Boom I stocked up some more on dvd’s, including a collection of short silent films from DW Griffith, and a classic 70’s Bollywood picture.  Nice.  Then it was back to the hostel for a bit of a sitdown, andI know i’m rambling a bit but as long as there’s incresed traffic on the site thanks to the Summerworks crowd, I might a well bend your ears a little, yeah?   Peace.

On to the first show of the evening!  A trek via streetcar (after even MORE shopping at Black Market…new clothes for V!) out to the Lower Ossington Theatre, my first time at this venue.   As I waited, I saw a particular actress who I KNOW I’ve seen in something before, but I can’t for the life of me remember what.  I’ll scour my archives and uncover the truth, because it’s driving me crazy.  Does that ever happen to you?  Man.

Anyways we got let in and got treated to BLISS, a perfectly wonderful 4-hander of a showthat was either about Celine Dion, hero worship, brutal abuse, terrible work conditions at Wal-Mart, or all of the above.  A terrific show, with rock-solid voices all around.  One of the actresses even drew blood right before my eyes, and didn’t flinch.  That’s committment to the art, folks.  I do hope she’s all right…one always worries when there’s blood left on the stage after the show.

A quick respite after that, and I dashed to the quaint looking pho joint I saw on the way up from Queen.  It’s a good choice, and the soup is killer bee.  Return with a bit of a walking tour of Ossington, and decide to nip in and grab some yummy-looking pastry from another shop, and who do I find in there?  Freaking Emily Pearlman!   I swear I am not stalking her, seriously…I could do that shit in Ottawa.  But no, she’s on her way in to my next show as well, which is another gooder by the name of MOLOTOV CIRCUS.  By a Winipeg troupe, this is a wonderful story about a somewhat struggling family, who just happen to be traveling russian gypsy carnies.  The gang goes all out for the portrayal of this odddball clan, with the father doing the entire show on enormous stilted legs, while Mama Molotov chanels Chaney from THE PENALTY and has her legs stashed up into stumps for the hour.  Hats off, tho it’s the children who end up stealing the show with a couple of the more…shall we say únexpected’moments of the proceedings.  It’s a lovely and amusingly disturbing show with some simple truth at it’s freakish center.

I was feeling a little out of sorts, then…all this time alone in TO is getting to me, so I wandered off into the night.  Had a few beers at Michaels bar, and almost instantly made a few low-rent friends who gladly would have chewed my ear off for hours about the Blue Jays and what not if I hadn’t come to a decision.  This is a vacation, after all, and I felt like a treat…so, what the Hell, I decided to RIDE THE CYCLONE again.  Sorry gang, but a fun time is a fun time.  And admiration again to the Atomic Vaudeville crew for putting on such a whip-smart zinger of a performance.  You made me go to sleep with a smile.

All new shows tomorrow, I promise…gonna scout Kensington Market a spell, and then I’m off to the Theatre with renewed vigor.  Hell, I may even TALK to someone today!  …maybe.  Wish me luck,

the Visitor

SUMMERWORKS – Day FOUR

In Summerworks, Theatre on August 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Sunday was a  great day, a GREAT day! How great?  Ýou know how it started off?  I ALMOST talked to Emily Pearlman!!

Exciting, right?  You know it is.  I mean, we didn’t REALLY talk, but just about..!  I knew it was going to be a special day, yessiree.  In fact, the reason i had this brush with fame was on account of we were both getting set to see the first show of the day, REDHEADED STEPCHILD by Johnnie Walker, and it was a dynamite way to start any day.  Johnnie pretty much dazzles with a variety of characters telling the central story of sweet ginger preteen Nicholas, his alter-ego Rufus, and tomboy Stepmom Mary-Anne.  There’s plenty of costume changes, a musical flourish, some Shakespeare, and a simple relateable story at it’s rather large heart.  Walker is killer talented, and director Megan Norwich (and they both appear to have worked together before, one assumes quite well) doesn’t miss a step.  Highly recommended, and my day was well underway.

Serious munchies ensued after that…I’m still fighting off some malicious illness, after all, and I require fuel, so a pitstop at the Java House for some schnitzel was in quick order.  I scarfed that good stuff down, and hustled to Passe Muraille for show numero two of the Sunday, THE SAD AND CAUTIONARY TALE OF SMACKHEADED PETER by Simon Glass.  A big ensemble piece telling a bombastic, fantastical and sleazy epic of a drug-drenched messiah’s attempt to create a paradise in the concrete slums of Thamesmead.  Weaving mysticism, paranoia, and a greek-style chorus together with great performances to ask the question, if all else has failed, why not give smack a try?  A downright brilliant stroke of modern myth, Glass must have been channelling Grant Morrison at some point during the writing of this beast.  I god damned loved every filthy minute of it.

Snuck off right after that to by myself a sweet new hat…my freshly bald head has gotten a little charred in these Summerworks lineups, so some protection was in order.  I got compliments on it within half an hour of purchase, so you know my luck in this town is changing.   Nothing beats a snappy lid,after all.

Me and my dandy chapeau returned to the Factory for AFTER SHOCK by Evan Tsitsias.  Now THIS is a tricky show. The story of a woman returning to her somewhat ‘rural’ family after being remade and seemingly reborn into an angelic vision on some sort of extreme makeover show (it’s never really delved into that much), Anna finds her new looks have a strange effect on all her troubled family members, and even more so herself.  And you think it’s going to be a charming country-style comedy, and settle in for a particularly witty episode of HEE-HAW.  And slowly, by ever more disturbingly shocking increments, before you know it you’re smack in the middle of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and there’s nothing you can do but sit there and watch.  Which you should, on account of it’s utterly wonderful.  A drastic indictment about the superficial nature of change most people accept, there will be some squirming in the audience, but it’s worth it.  The actors are fantastic, and I’m really getting impressed with the talent on display in this fest.  AFTER SHOCK maybe takes a shade to long to wrap things up, but whatever.  It’s great, go!  Me and my hat both agree.

Next was back to the Passe Muraille again (after a delicious stop at New York Subway for a hearty beef burrito…yummy!) for a show called RIDE THE CYCLONE by BC troupe Atomic Vaudeville.  It was a pretty long line…I even noticed Melody Johnson, Miss Caledonia herself, just behind me!  I was too chicken to talk to her, naturally, but still, more brushes with greatness!  That boded well.  And when we finally got inside…

It’ll be hard to write a full review of this song and dance ensemble spectacle, because I’m not entirely sure how to stretch WOW!! out into a whole paragraph.  May I just heartily urge everyone to see this show now, at this steal of a price, while you can.  I was blown away…ALL the leads were dazzling talents, the songs were varied and catchy, even the set and the costumes were a delight.  They put their backs into this one, folks, and it shows.  And poor Jane Doe!  I just wanted to give her a hug the whole time!  (I still do..call me..?)

Sigh.  What a great day. I called it after CYCLONE, I was getting beat and was in no shape to mount a 10:30 assault.  Besides, going out on a high…who can ask for more?  So back to the hostel (after cheap mixed drinks…it’s practically right next door to me..!) for a good night’s sleep, and now I’m off to find a good bacon and eggs in this town.  I want another great day…and I’m gonna get it.  See ya, Toronto,

the Visitor