September 17, 2012

Nothing like being linked to from a friend’s blog to inspire an update. The lovely Amy Spalding asked me to write about everyone’s favourite weep-fest Les Miserables for today’s Musical Theatre Monday feature.

Other things worth linking to that I’ve written in the past few months include this local travel story about fun places to go on the Go Train (30 years in Toronto and I’d never used Go Transit before, so I thought I’d try and make up for it). Also, this Popcorn Panel about Premium Rush, probably the greatest film of 2012, and maybe ever. Certainly the greatest bike courier chase movie out there. After I saw Premium Rush I got caught (on my bike, OBVIOUSLY) in a massive downpour, the likes of which I’d never seen before in this city. In normal rain, I suck it up, get drenched, and carry on, especially if I’m heading home, but this was no normal rain. The water on Queen Street was at least four inches deep in less than five minutes – as close to a flash flood as Toronto gets. And it had just gotten dark out. I was completely soaked within seconds, and it wasn’t safe to continue riding. Fortunately, a TTC driver took pity on me and let me haul my bike onto the streetcar, even though I only had a toonie and a few pennies on me (cash fare on the TTC is $3). A couple of the pennies fell out of my wallet as I awkwardly balanced my bike and paid my fare, and a woman looked at me pityingly to tell me I had dropped a few pennies. I looked so pathetic, drenched and dirty and maneuvering my bike on the streetcar, that the homeless guy walking up and down the car asking people for change took one look at me and moved on with saying anything. AND I ruined the copy of Lucky Jim that was in my purse.

Karma paid me back handsomely the following week, though, in yet another rainstorm. I left the house during a clear patch on a very rainy day, but after biking for ten minutes, it started to come down hard. The nearest shelter was a Lexus dealership, so I ducked into their covered parking lot for a few minutes, sure that I was either going to be very wet or very late. But I was neither, because the Lexus manager came out after five minutes to ask if I needed a ride – his service guy was going out in the van, there was room for my bike, and he could drive me anywhere I needed to go. I’m not usually one to accept rides from strangers in vans, but it was 10:30 in the morning and it was a Lexus van. I took my chances, was both dry and on time, and very grateful for the kindness of strangers.



July 27, 2011

I interviewed the capslock-loving (and stupendously talented) Alice Ripley last week about the devastating Next to Normal (also, rollercoasters). If you don’t know who Alice Ripley is, you should watch this immediately:

She’s the twin on the right, with the slightly crazier eyes. She’s wonderful. She doesn’t play a twin in Next to Normal, though. So if you’re looking for conjoined twins, that is the wrong musical for you.

And I already mentioned all the sugar I ate at Cake Pop class, but here’s the story. (And another photo, for those of you who can’t get enough pictures of mini cake on a stick.)

Toronto Fringe Festival time. A time for weird, goofy, fun, surprising, sometimes awful theatre. And lots of alcohol. And hopefully one great train wreck.

I wrote that Fringe preview, and now I can also vouch for Love Octogon (great inventive long-form improv based on the audience’s stories about love and heartbreak) and Raton Laveur (darkly funny play about a man’s raccoon problem).

Go see a play!

Songs for a new Sucker

April 2, 2011

I had to go see Sucker Punch for the Popcorn Panel last week.

Do not go see Sucker Punch.

But last night I went to see Angelwalk Theatre’s production of Songs for a New World, directed by my pal (and future boss at Roseneath!) Andrew Lamb. It’s a lovely production. Song cycles are challenging to stage, but the cast really makes the most of the details within each of Jason Robert Brown’s songs, treating them as though each one were an individual little play. Do go see this, if you’re in Toronto and love the musical theatre.

Ride it out

March 19, 2011

I was supposed to go for a journalistic bike ride with the awesome Evalyn Parry last week, but the weather was gross, so we ate sushi and talked about bike rides instead.

I saw her lovely show Spin on Wednesday, and you should go see it too because you will learn about the intrinsic connection between bicycle and feminism and also this one guy plays a bike like a drum and it is amazing, and also you will just want to jump on your bike immediately and go for a ride and then every time you hop on your bike this spring this lovely song will float through your head.

St. Popcorn of the Main

February 4, 2011

In this week’s Popcorn Panel, some tech nerds and I belatedly talk about the overrated but still very entertaining The Social Network (I’m getting caught up on Oscar nominees I missed the first time around). I still like Aaron Sorkin’s writing quite a lot and will quite happily watch almost anything he’s written, but you do have to psyche yourself up to tolerate his smugness. It all went down much easier on Sports Night, when he wasn’t important enough not to get jerked around by ABC.

And in The Toronto Star, I interviewed Peter Hinton and Eo Sharp, director and designer of Canadian Stage’s new production of Michel Tremblay’s St. Carmen of the Main.

In other news, there is nine pounds of pork butt in my refrigerator.

Something Wild

January 27, 2011

I wrote this story in the Toronto Star this week about “reality-based” theatre, of which there’s a bunch in Toronto lately. I had a great conversation with Judith Thompson about the privilege of watching teenagers onstage (she recently did a show at the Next Stage Festival that featured several teens playing themselves, which was fascinating to watch) and a nice long chat with Andrew Kushnir about verbatim theatre (unfortunately, I only had room in the story for a fraction of what we talked about). Finally, I interviewed the Italian director Pippo Delbono. Well, sort of. He was filming a movie in Brazil and the publicist couldn’t get a hold of him, so I e-mailed over some questions and he answered them in Italian, and then we scrambled to find a translator and then my washing machine broke and I had to wring out all my clothes and finally I got the translated interview back and I finished my story.

I went to see Delbono’s Questo Buio Feroce (The Wild Darkness, but everything sounds better in Italian) last night at Harbourfront, and even after reading up on Delbono, and interviewing him, and writing a story about his work, and seeing the show, I still have no idea what the hell I watched last night. It was awesome. There was a fashion show in the middle of the piece and a woman wore a crinoline around her neck. There were the lyrics of My Way translated into Italian and spoken as a poem, which is a goofy conceit that I never get tired of. There was an unexplained rendition of Cinderella which featured four women in beautiful dresses running around the stage and screaming. And then at the end, the company took at least a dozen bows. As a meditation of death and illness, only a few moments really worked for me, and the whole piece never quite gelled, but it was nutty and unusual and so much fun to watch.

So Many Ones

January 11, 2011

Nope, this time I don’t even have an excuse like I was trying to write some big meaningful post about some traumatic life event before chronicling the minutia of my name in the papers again. I’m just lazy. But hey, it’s a new year now! Maybe I’ll keep up some semblance of blog posting regularity in 2011. Maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt. Maybe I’ll just start a Tumblr blog of Wayne’s World quotes (probably not).

December was a Very Sondheim Month – I went to see him in conversation with Robert Cushman, and saw the lacklustre Mirvish/Stratford production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and read Part One of Finishing the Hat and am going quietly insane until Part Two comes out, and I interviewed the lovely Lisa Horner who is in Birdland Theatre’s incredible production of Assassins right now. I saw the show last night, and it was every bit as good as last year, and sometimes even stronger. (Also, my friend Whitney is in it this time around, and she’s so great!) (I’m aware that it’s January now. Maybe every month will be a Very Sondheim Month!)

I’m not going to catch you up on all the things I’ve written in the months since I started neglecting this blog, because really, who cares, but this one from a couple of weeks ago about the Serial Diners was pretty fun, if a bit weird. (By the way, the fries and gravy at Kramden’s aren’t half bad.)

I also started up this absurd little project to make cleaning out my parents’ basement more fun. If you’ve ever wondered how I turned out so weird, well, just look at all the crap I was raised with. (And just wait until I unearth Pee Wee’s Playhouse!)

Playing catch-up

June 9, 2010

I’ve fallen way behind, haven’t I? Oops. Here are some things I meant to share over the past month:

Popcorn Panels:
The Trotsky was poorly paced, but charming nonetheless, and impressively unselfconscious about being Canadian (take a letter, One Fucking Terrible Week). I like that Jay Baruchel kid. He reminds me of my sister.

Sex and the City 2 is a blight on humanity. You should watch some Nicole Holofcener films instead.


Old news. Banksy was in town last month. I found one of his creations around the corner from the bookstore where I used to work. See:

Banksy in TO

More art

This awesome photography/conceptual street art show is up at a little gallery around the corner. These Montreal artists stage scenes featuring people using potholes in different ways: sometimes silly (party girls cooling their champagne), sometimes charming (Alice chasing a white rabbit down a hole), sometimes creepy (a drowning person’s hand stick up out of a puddle while a Baywatch-esque lifeguard races over). If you’re in Toronto, you should head to Leslieville to check out these photos – they’re gorgeous, and a lot of fun.



I went to Chicago a couple of weeks ago. It was the best. I finally saw the NeoFuturists in action, ate deep-dish pizza (and wasn’t hungry again for 24 hours), saw a very proper production of Endgame at Steppenwolf Theatre , and drank a punchbowl of gin. It’s a great town and two days is nowhere near long enough.

Class is over

My artist-educator foundation course ended last week. My awesome project partner Andrea and I presented a lesson plan about arts criticism. We have lofty goals regarding raising the general level of discourse in society. I’ll let you know how that goes.

High and Low

May 13, 2010

It’s 80s week! Well, it was 80s Monday and Tuesday, anyway. My boyfriend interviewed the guitar player of a-ha for the Post, and scored tickets to their show at Massey Hall on Monday night. So we went, expecting a fun, cheesy time, bracing ourselves because we only know a few songs. Well, J. knows a few songs – he lived in Europe for a year in the 80s when a-ha was massive over there. My main experience of a-ha is typically North American: I just love Take on Me. When I was in Australia for six weeks in 2006, I heard Take On Me everywhere I went. At least once a day, sometimes more. (And then, obviously, this video is hilarious.)

So imagine my surprise when a-ha at Massey Hall TOTALLY BLEW MY MIND. They’re excellent performers, and so much fun to watch (and dreamy, frankly). They have magical Norweigen powers and turned everyone in Massey Hall into a shrieking teenybopper. (I’m surprised people didn’t throw panties!) Their music – even the songs I didn’t recognize – was fantastic, and sounded huge, and the visuals were awesome.

Ain't no pop music like lizard pop music.

Yes. a-ha. Most underappreciated band of all time.

Tuesday night, unfortunately, wasn’t nearly so joyous. Rock of Ages was the opposite of joy. Glenn Sumi gets it right in NOW. It just made me sad, really – the show was so clearly written by people who have nothing but contempt for theatre. The whole thing feels like a big fuck you to theatre lovers. Also, rock music. And humanity in general. I feel like a cranky old snob when I complain about shows like this, and maybe I am. But it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t even particularly funny. It was aggressively stupid, with lazy storytelling, and annoying mashups of songs that used to be great. But I’m not going to win this round. Everyone in the theatre was laughing their asses off at the lamest jokes, and shrieking with delighted recognition at the opening riffs of their favourite songs. There’s no point in listing off the problems with the idiotic book – we’d be here all day, and the writers and fans would just throw off my criticisms with a “who cares, we know it’s dumb” anyway.

The one good part is the performances – Elicia Mackenzie has a great voice, and totally proves that she won’t be typecast as Maria. So that’s nice. And everyone else does their job well and looks like they’re having a good time. So that’s nice too. I just wish things like this didn’t happen to theatre.