Go Out Tonight and See Rent

anthony rapp and adam pascal
How do I sum up my relationship of thirteen years with Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent in a single concise and pithy sentence? Well… I am a Renthead. Of course, I am currently a grown up Renthead, and one who hasn’t recreated the “La Vie Boheme” choreography with her friends on the tables in the art room, slept with her “Rent bible,” or used the term “Tidina” anytime remotely recently. Yet, I will go on the record as saying that for the past thirteen years, Rent has held a very special place in my heart and it is the show that I credit the most with inspiring me to pursue a life in the theatre. I’ve always felt very grateful, almost oddly indebted, to Jonathan Larson because Rent has had such a profound effect in shaping the woman I have become. I say all this to provide some context for the review I am about to write. Had someone told me in 1997 that one day it would be my job to review Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal’s performances in a 2010 production of Rent, I definitely would have thought that person was insane. And yet, here we are.
As I have previously alluded to, Rent was written by Jonathan Larson in 1995 in attempt to immortalize the lives of his friends and fellow artists who were living amid poverty, addiction and disease in the Alphabet City neighbourhood of New York City. He honoured their bohemian lifestyle in this musical about seizing whatever time you have left and infusing every minute of your life with love. Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal played Mark Cohen and Roger Davis respectively in the original (and quite legendary) 1996 Broadway cast and they have both returned to their roles for the Broadway Tour which plays at the Canon Theatre until January 24th, 2010.
This was the third production of Rent (the musical) that I have had the fortune of seeing following a 1998 production in Toronto and a Broadway production in 2004. It has been some time since I have last watched the 2005 film version directed by Chris Columbus, or since I have listened to either of the cast recordings and so I found that in watching this particular production, Larson’s music and especially Michael Grief’s direction, had a renewed freshness for me. I was especially struck by how haunting and gorgeous particular harmonies were and how, regardless of how many times I hear it, “Seasons of Love” keeps sending chills down my spine. Gwen Stewart, another veteran from the 1996 Original Cast, reprises her soloist role in this song with enough gusto and pure talent to knock you headlong off your seat.
Michael Grief’s direction of Rent is very interesting because from a 2010 perspective, it seems so obviously suited to a mid-nineties avant-garde off-Broadway rock musical for a small venue. There are times when the actions depicted onstage are more suggestive than they are realistic and the stark darkness and raw seediness that permeates throughout the space, even to the point of having it purposefully unclear where particular voices are coming from, and scenes being crowded and action getting a little lost as a stylistic choice is, even by 2010 standards, rare for a theatre as big as the Canon. I appreciated that Grief did not offer us a glamorized “Broadway” version of this story, but instead he allowed there to be some roughness around the edges, which remains even fifteen years later. Marlies Yearby’s choreography gives Rent’s music an added pulsing heartbeat of joy. Specifically during the numbers “Santa Fe” and “La Vie Boheme” the casts’ movements reflect Larson’s lyrics so brilliantly and give each individual character the chance to shine through.
The cast that has been assembled for this tour is exquisite. Michael McElroy has a beautiful soulful Baritone voice as Tom Collins, the sweet anarchist and ex-roommate of Mark and Roger who returns to New York and meets Angel, the love of his life. His performance is equal parts blissful and heartbreaking, the latter especially when he brought the house to tears with “I’ll Cover You (Reprise).” Angel, exuberant, passionate, and wildly fun, is played with the ultimate panache by Justin Johnston, whose Angel won my heart as soon as she leapt effortless from the floor to the top of the table. Merle Dandridge is a feisty, powerful Joanne, who commands the stage and who is obviously a competent, shrewd and merciless lawyer. Her performance of “Take Me or Leave Me” with Nicolette Hart’s Maureen is absolutely epic. Hart is hilarious and unique as Maureen and I appreciated her departure from Idina Menzel’s iconic portrayal (in the original cast and reprised in the film). Hart infuses Maureen with even more than her usual zaniness and establishes a nice familiarity with Rapp’s Mark, which was distinctively flirty and implied that, perhaps, she was not entirely finished with him yet. Hart performed Maureen’s performance piece “Over the Moon” with the utmost in hilarity and fervour. Lexi Lawson’s Mimi has a powerful voice which clinches both “Out Tonight” and “Light My Candle” perfectly. What I found especially captivating in Lawson was the way she moved, with utter precision and isolation, as though she were continually moving her body one joint at a time in succession. It was quite mesmerizing.
It was a joy and a privilege, and to be maudlin but honest, a dream come true, to see Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal in this production. There is something magically iconic about seeing Mark’s scarf and Roger’s plaid pants and feeling connected to this tradition that began fifteen years ago with these same two actors. They are also exceptionally talented. Adam Pascal’s voice is better than ever in this production, it soars with incredible richness and intensity and he has an especially heartbreaking moment at the end of the show where he infuses the word “Mimi” with power, regret, fear and longing. Anthony Rapp gave the funniest performance as Mark that I have ever seen, and I realized how important it is for the narrator of what can be an intense and sober show, to have an inclination toward absurdity in things like tangos, and the penchant towards silliness while dancing on the table at cafes. He brought the house down when he held his line “La Vieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Boheme” for what may be a record-breaking long time. Together, Rapp and Pascal have fantastic chemistry; their characters have a beautiful, unspoken closeness about them that is simple, pure and inherent. Watching them perform the title song “Rent” is the stuff of legends, but watching them perform “What You Own” might blow your mind.
There is a line in Rent that speaks to “connection in an isolating age,” and I fervently believe that today in 2010 we live in an isolating age. Rent is about connecting, to ideas, to people and to art. In a world where we can sit home alone and chat on Facebook, watch youtube videos on our iphones and create our own virtual worlds on Farmville, one of the easiest ways for us to truly start to connect with one another is to attend live theatre. Seeing Rent may be a good place to start.
Rent: The Broadway Tour plays at the Canon Theatre (244 Victoria Street) until January 24th, 2010. For more information please call 416.872.1212 or visit www.mirvish.com.

Measure in Love

A strange thing happens in the theatre world sometimes when a show becomes an international phenomenon, and as time passes I think it is easy for perspective to get lost amid the screaming, crying fan girls and the media poised to either spin utter sensationalism or attack and tear a work of art to shreds, if only to prove that its success has gotten too big for its britches. We forget the show’s roots. We lose the show’s truth, and in our attempt to either follow the trends or condemn them, we often end up judging a show not on its own merits, but on all the elements that have been lacquered on since its inception. This is precisely the situation that I see plaguing Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent, which plays at the Canon Theatre until January 24th.
Jonathan Larson worked on Rent between 1989 and 1995, and before his untimely death from an aortic aneurysm on January 25th, 1996 at the age of thirty-five; Rent was about to open at the New York Theatre Workshop, an off-Broadway theatre of 75 seats which has since become acclaimed for its commitment to developing new works. Larson died before Rent transferred to Broadway in April 1996, a decision which was made because the show was continuing to sell out and extending its run off-Broadway. This decision was entirely consistent with the transferring of hundreds of other small off-Broadway shows to Broadway. It is to Larson’s credit that his show won the 1996 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Score of a Musical as well as the Pulitzer Prize. He was not there to reap any of the fruits of his labours or his successes.
You can turn Rent into a pity party worth its own weight in any sob sister’s tears, and people have argued that Rent’s success has been contingent only on the tragic story of its creator’s death which accompanies it. There is no way of knowing what Rent’s fate would have been had Jonathan Larson lived past its off-Broadway dress rehearsal. But, I think it is fair to say that Rent would have been continually work shopped and tweaked like that of any other show had Larson been there to take it from show to show at the New York Theatre Workshop and had he known his show was going to move to Broadway. Rent is indeed frozen in time, like a voice message from someone beloved that has passed away that no one has the heart to delete. Rent isn’t perfect, and yet, it still has proven to have the ability to touch and change lives, to connect ardently to an entire generation of people, to help ignite contemporary musical theatre and to send thousands of young people, impassioned and invigorated, into a theatre for the first time. Critics of this show can admit that they are baffled, that they don’t understand or don’t “get” Rent or its appeal, but there is no denying fifteen years of unfaltering devotion, not only by teenagers, but by people of all ages and cultures, worldwide, who hold ardently onto this show as a beacon of hope and who ardently connect to the message that Jonathan Larson offers in a language that may appear to some as being “unfocused” or “intellectually incoherent,” but that must resonate clearly, strongly, resolutely and even, I would suggest, poignantly, for millions of people.
Jonathan Larson did what theatre artists preach should be the gospel to the creation of true art: he wrote from his heart. He did not write Rent to become a millionaire. He did not write Rent because he thought it was exactly what a producer would want to buy. He did not sacrifice his vision to fit into the typical constraints of musical theatre or drama in 1995. He clung adamantly to his choice that Mimi should live at the end of the show (for better or for worse), despite the fact that many advised him against it. How sadly ironic that Larson, who so resolutely wanted his show to end with life, would ultimately end up casting a haunting shadow of death over it regardless. As most people know, Rent is based loosely on Puccini’s opera La Boheme, and since his death there have been dramaturgical wars which attest to the fact that he did not create the musical entirely without help. Despite all this, however, Larson primarily wrote Rent about his own personal experience living in New York in the mid 1990s, surrounded by his friends who were dying of HIV and struggling to survive as artists in poverty and constant compromise. The world he pays loving homage to, “La Vie Boheme,” was his entire world, and I feel like, whether we understand or we connect to it or not, dismissing and belittling someone’s very personal celebration of all that they held most dear during a precarious time in their lives, is wildly insensitive and also rude.
Mark feels like an outsider because he is healthy and free of addiction amid a world where addiction and disease are rampant. He is attempting to document the lives of those who are most important to him because he knows that their time is running out. He is heartbroken and emotionally ravaged, but he is detaching himself from feeling alive so he can survive another day without crumbling. Roger cannot decide whether he has enough strength to allow himself to care about another person who is going to die on him. Roger is not confident enough in his own strength and will power to know whether or not loving Mimi will send him spiralling back into his old drug habit. Joanne and Maureen and Roger and Mimi exemplify the absurdity of human relationships, every futile fight and all the moments we waste being angry at one another over that which is ultimately trivial, and all the moments we waste treating the people we love most very badly. What is so heartbreaking and so genuine in Rent is that here Larson shows how even when people are continually aware that time is slipping away, that doesn’t mean that they’re not going to waste it. Collins and Angel seize the joy in every moment, they find the love in even the most ominous of situations, but not everyone reacts to extreme stress and fear in an ideal way. Roger reacts in anger. Maureen reacts by creating superficial drama as a means of distraction from the reality of her pain and fear. Yet, Rent doesn’t condemn these characters for their choices. Mark loves Roger. Mark loves Maureen. Larson doesn’t give us perfect characters here because his audience will never be filled with perfect people.
Jonathan Larson was not a teenager when he wrote Rent. He was born in 1960 which is a far cry from even the teenagers who wept while watching the show fifteen years ago, those who were born in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It is an even bigger cry from the teenagers who have thrown themselves just as ardently and passionately into this show today, children who were born while Larson was writing the show. Larson spent most of his adult life trying to find the balance between working enough at his job as a waiter so that he could survive and dedicating enough time to his art so that he would accomplish the goals that drove his life’s purpose. Perhaps he pushed his fantasy a bit far with Roger and Mark feeling so entitled to live their lives rent free, when that is simply not a “realistic” option. Yet, that is not the point of Rent, the song or the show. I find this aspect of Rent hard to explain, yet it is something that I find becomes more and more pertinent to me as I grow older. As artists we seek to follow our dreams and to commit our time and our energy to doing that which we see as being significant and important to us and to the artistic world in all its loftiness. Often our parents, who care about us, as Jonathan Larson’s did, seek to bail us out of the precariousness of our chosen path. They call, they worry, and sometimes they offer us money or various “opportunities.” But, at what cost to our dreams? We love our parents, but if they’re becoming frustrated by our passionate dedication to our dreams amid our poverty, sometimes we do screen their calls. Sometimes we might even think we hate them- or better yet, we hate the rigid “reality” that they respresent for us. It is a fantasy for Mark and Roger to live rent-free, sure. Yet, I found it impossible to walk among the streets in Vancouver when I lived there, to see the rows and rows of sleeping bags on the streets, the junkies clinging to the last ounce of their lives, the prostitutes who could still be called “kids” in many circles, without being filled with a sense that there was great injustice happening here. Why couldn’t they afford their rent? Could I condemn their situations as being “all their fault”? Is it all squalor and misery here? Is there no joy at all in the lives of the people who live here? Is there no love? Can we as theatre critics even begin to presume that we know? If growing up means losing our compassion for less fortunate people, for blaming homelessness on the homeless and addiction on the addicted, I hope to never stop seeing the world through the eyes of a teenager.
Jonathan Larson lived in Alphabet City in the mid 1990s. He wrote about the life that he experienced. He wrote about the people that he encountered and he chose to write about love. There is something in Rent that binds people to it, and this cannot be denied. I would argue that Larson’s passion, his reverence and love for the people he was writing about is that thing. At his book signing at Indigo on Friday, Anthony Rapp said that Rent, and Larson’s legacy, is a message that says, given that you don’t know how much time you have left, how are you going to choose to fill your life? Jonathan chose love, a choice that is clear not only in his show, but in all the research into his life that I have done over the past thirteen years. Love is implicit in his show, it radiates from its performers with magical urgency, even fifteen years later. Rent isn’t about its success and it isn’t about the Renthead phenomenon. Rent is one person’s celebration of a specific lifestyle, a specific philosophy and the lives of dear friends written from what this one person perceived as the shadows of their looming deaths. Not everyone will understand Rent, if you don’t see the world like Jonathan Larson did, you may not be able to appreciate his perspective, but to attack him and attempt to tear down and invalidate everything that he dedicated his life to sharing with the world speaks to the same coldness and lack of empathy that Rent shines so strongly against.
We like to think that we have come so far since 1995. The AIDS epidemic has been successfully cloistered to the degree that sex is no longer something that young people feel the need to protect themselves against. We consider that equality has flourished, despite obvious examples to the contrary. Rent, I have heard it argued, is dated and speaks to the concerns and the experiences of a time which no longer reflects the present- Alphabet City has been successfully gentrified, after all. And yet, it still seems to me wholly significant that, even fifteen years later, the messages of Rent are still seen as so threatening to certain people who seem to personify the three piece suit stereotype that Larson mentions briefly in “La Vie Boheme.” Perhaps Rent is difficult to watch because it reminds some of us how little has changed since 1995. Perhaps Rent is difficult to watch because it celebrates a group of people who we feel intimidated by and we have spent our entire lives convincing ourselves that we are superior to them, and that their lives are inferior to us and this show seems to suggest that we are mistaken. Perhaps Rent is difficult to watch because we resent the fact that so many people seem to have had a life altering experience in the theatre, when we, for whatever reason, had a more lacklustre reaction. Whatever our reasons for finding Rent difficult to watch, they are our reasons and they can never diminish the fact that this show, for fifteen years, has had the power to spread love and hope and to change lives on a global scale in a world where despair and injustice seems often insurmountable. Rent is about choosing what we focus on in the time that we have left. What critics choose to focus on when they write about the show speak volumes. It’s little wonder, then, that I too have chosen to write about love.

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 info@canopytheatre.ca.

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 http://www.tixonthesquare.ca/

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