News From Around the Barrio

I have been remiss in keeping you informed with some of the goings on beyond the borders of Canada’s Ocean Playground for the past few weeks, and I owe many apologies for completely dropping the Toronto Fringe Festival ball. I’m so sorry I missed it. It passed me by completely with nary even a shout-out. I hope that all the shows were great successes, it seems as though Torontonians ventured out in droves to support the arts, and I couldn’t be happier! It is been a tumultuous couple of weeks with starting my first two weeks of teaching entirely sold-out camps for 4-6 year olds at Neptune Theatre School, acquiring a nasty virus we’re all hoping is not any strain of Swine Flu, having two computers crash (one twice) and still dealing with pesky schoolwork haunting me from my academic adventures. That said, there still seems to be an awful lot to tell you, so, as Matthew Amyotte would say, without any further ad-uh—let’s see what’s-a-goin’-on in your neighborhood!

First and foremost, I have just recently become aware of Canopy Theatre in Toronto, which is a nine year old company dedicated to fostering and showcasing the talents of young and emerging artistic professionals in the production of outdoor classical theatre in downtown Toronto. Romeo and Juliet opens on July 15th at Philosopher’s Stage at Philosopher’s Walk (80 Queen’s Park) and runs until August 1st. The mandate of this theatre company is the creation of assessable theatre, and so not only does Canopy allow you to get your Shakespeare fix without a hefty trip to Stratford, its ticket prices are excruciatingly reasonable ($10.00 for adults, $8.00 for students/seniors and PWYC performances on Wednesdays). Andrea Wasserman, Canopy’s Artistic Director directs, and the show is produced by Doug Floyd through Hart House Theatre and Evelyn Wiseman. Matt Gorman Assistant Directs, Susan Bond provides dramaturgy and the play stars Tyrone Savage and Cosette Derome. Bring Your Own Blanket. This is a production of the world’s most famous love story that everyone will be able to enjoy! 416 946-0314 or email

If you loved Spring Awakening earlier this year in Toronto, and if you’re eagerly awaiting news of Jake Epstein’s first week as Melchior in the National Touring Cast, I have been told that you must ensure a seat in the audience for the Canadian Premiere of the American musical bare presented by Waters Edge Productions. According to its website, “bare is a pop-rock musical about the coming-of-age of five high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school. Knowing their stay in this insular world is drawing to a close, each of them question where they are in their lives and what the future holds in store. Answers are sought in the church confessional and in less formal venues including a stage, a rave, and a well-locked dorm room. The story focuses in on a secret love affair between two boys, Peter (played by Wade Muir) and Jason (Graham Parkhurst). Though Peter is ready to tell the world about their relationship, Jason fears the repercussions. bare is the beautiful and moving story about love, fear, acceptance and finding yourself.” Bare opens July 17th at Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle, Toronto) and plays Wednesday-Saturday until August 1st, 2009 at 8:00pm with a 2:00pm matinee on Saturday. Tickets are $35.00 for adults and $25.00 for students and seniors. For tickets visit UofT Tix.
If you’re looking for a fun little frolic in Barrie, and in the heat of the summer, who isn’t (?!), Da Capo Productions is presenting the delightful Charles Schultz/ Clark Gesner/Andrew Lippa musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown at the Barrie Downtown Theatre (1 Dunlop Street). It boasts of a stellar cast: Trevor Campbell (Charlie Brown), Ari Weinberg (Snoopy), Lizzie Kurtz (Lucy), Ryan Kelly (Schroeder), Gabi Epstein (Sally) and Christopher Wilson (Linus). The direction and choreography is by Donna Marie Baratta and the Musical Directing by M.J. Johnson. The show plays July 27, 2009 until July 31st, 2009- Monday/ Friday at 1pm and Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday at 7pm. Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for children and seniors. For reservations please call 705 717-9776 or visit the website.
Also in Barrie this summer you can catch a creation from Mamma Mia/ We Will Rock You star Adam Brazier called He Sings She Sings at the Gryphon Theatre (1 Georgian Drive). Here is the blurb from the website: July 22nd at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, July 23rd and 24th at 8:00pm for $29.00 ($25.00 for 2:00pm), “created and directed by Adam Brazier “songs from some of Broadway’s best musicals including A Chorus Line, West Side Story, Annie and The Full Monty, will leave you singing and smiling. A cast of two (Brazier with Melissa Thomson-Hicks and Mark Selby on the keys) embarks on a wonderfully humorous look at modern-day relationships through the revealing words and music of the most beloved tunes of all time!” Sounds like the potential for a charming evening! For more information, visit this website.

Since I dropped the Toronto Fringe ball, but I am a big fan of Chris Craddock, a brilliant playwright/performer from Edmonton who started in the Edmonton Fringe Festival years ago, I am going to plug his show Moving Along, hoping that all you in Toronto saw it and relished it for every exquisite moment and that you will help me pass the word along to the citizens of Winnipeg. Moving Along begins at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival (Canwest Performing Arts Centre 2 Forks Market Road) July 15, 2009 at 11:00pm, Thursday July 16th at 5:00pm, Friday July 17th at 10:30pm, Tuesday July 21st at 7:15pm, Thursday July 23rd at 12:00pm, Friday July 24th at 9:30pm and Saturday July 25th at 12:00pm. Here is what other reputable people had to say about Craddock and his show: “The writing is as electric as the chair and the performance will make you gasp!”- Liz Nichols, The Edmonton Journal, “Craddock is nothing less than brilliant”- Martin Morrow The Calgary Herald, and “This show is brilliant!… See it! See it! See it!”-Kurt Spenrath See Magazine. I rest my case.

Summer is always fraught with Shakespearean offerings what with classical works under canopies and in parks and parking lots alike. In Edmonton, for example, the Freewill Shakespeare Festival has kick-started with Comedy of Errors and Titus Andronicus which play on alternate evenings at 8:00pm Tuesday through Sunday until July 26th. There are matinees at 2:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. For tickets visit Tix on the Square or call 780-420-1757.

Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s goriest of tragedies, is (obviously) the inspiration for Stewart Lemoine’s newest revenge comedy Mother of the Year now playing at the Varscona Theatre in Edmonton. Check this out! “In July 2008, the largest Teatro cast in many a season convened for the premiere of Stewart Lemoine’s A Rocky Night for his Nibs. Box office records were shattered as a riot of summer fun was had by all. Teatro’s July offering for 2009 is entitled Mother of the Year, and it’s another big ‘un, a grandly scaled companion piece to the Free Will Shakespeare Festival’s concurrent production of Titus Andronicus. This potent new Lemoine offering looks directly into the dark eyes of ambition and revenge and returns their cold gaze with a dazzling smile
Set in Edmonton during the 1980’s, Mother of the Year unfurls the dramatically hilarious saga of a pair of rival meat packing companies and the families who run them. It’s a fast-paced, shockingly Shakespearean display of simmering resentments, disastrous marital alliances, quiet double-crosses, and bold betrayals, all played out in a world strongly reminiscent of such classic Reagan Era prime time soap operas as Dynasty, Dallas, and Knot’s Landing.
Coralie Cairns, previously seen in Teatro’s At the Zenith of the Empire and The Velvet Shock, returns in the role of Vitellia Fane, the fire-breathing matriarch of Fane Foods, with Ron Pederson and Farren Timoteo as her hapless sons. Julien Arnold plays hooky from the Free Will Players this season, to appear as Granger Haverly, proud CEO of Haverly Meats, father to two coltish daughters portrayed by Briana Buckmaster and Shannon Blanchet, and employer of two assistants with very different notions of loyalty, played by Jana O’Connor and Davina Stewart. Andrew MacDonald-Smith appears as a mysterious newcomer among the sexy slaughterhouse crowd, and Jeff Haslam and Sheri Somerville smolder as unscrupulous contractors whose dealings with the Haverlys and the Fanes help precipitate the torrents of calamity and carnage that conclude the play.
Stewart Lemoine directs the proceedings with whimsical gravity, while set and lighting designers Paul Bezaire and Scott Peters create an opulent Romanesque vision of Edmonton in its Pocklingtonian heyday. Costume designer Leona Brausen has a ball, outfitting everyone in shoulder pads, sequins, and appliqué. In a long overdue return to Teatro, stage manager Michelle Chan uncorks the champagne, hoses down the abattoir, and hands out the volumnizing gel.
Mother of the Year runs at the Varscona Theatre from July 9 to 25. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm, with additional matinee performances on Saturdays at 2pm
Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors on Wednesday through Saturday evenings. All seats on Saturday afternoons are $15, and Tuesday evenings are Pay-What-You-Can.
Also, anyone with a ticket stub from the Free Will production of Titus Andronicus will receive a $10 discount on a single regularly priced ticket for Mother of the Year, and Mother of the Year ticket holders will receive the same discount at Titus Andronicus. This deal is available at the door only!
For reservations, call 780 433-3399, Voice box #1.Tickets also available through Tix on-the-Square at 780 420-1757 or

Also at the Varscona, if you’re in Edmonton, you’re not going to want to miss the Season Finale of Oh Susanna!—the live, improvised Euro-style variety show hosted by the indominable and ultra glamorous Susanna Patchouli. It has been an entire decade of frivololity- so come kick off at the party that tops them all—featuring the divine charms of co-host Eros, God of Love and the antics of the Compania del Mambo, plus a cavalcade (a freakin’ cavalcade!!) of special guests! Laughs! Music! Cocktails! The party starts at 11pm on Saturday July 25th at the Varscona Theatre (10329-83rd Avenue, Edmonton.) It’s surely a celebration not to be missed!

I am hesitantly going to post the news that Anthony Rapp, the original Mark in Jonathan Larson’s 1996 musical Rent, who reprised his role in the 2006 Chris Columbus film adaptation told me that as far as he knows, Toronto will be added to the list of destinations for the National Touring Company of the musical in which Rapp plays Mark and Original Cast Member Adam Pascal reprises his role of Roger. I will post more information as soon as it becomes available, in the meantime, you can catch the scoops from this website.

Lastly, I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that I have enabled the comment option at the bottom of each of my blog posts. I do encourage you all to leave comments and opinions and to further discussions of the issues that the blog attempts to raise. I also encourage you to embark in discussions with one another as well as just with me, as that will help develop a more unique and strong sense of community here at TWISI. Please, do bear in mind to be considerate and respectful, and that this blog tries its best to be a positive space, and while of course criticism is welcome, I would like to gently discourage anything that resembles overt “bashing”. Enjoy! And thanks for visiting