3 years ago

Volume 25 Issue 7 - April 2020

  • Text
  • Violin
  • Musical
  • Performing
  • Concerto
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Toronto
  • April
After some doubt that we would be allowed to go to press, in respect to wide-ranging Ontario business closures relating to COVID-19, The WholeNote magazine for April 2020 is now on press, and print distribution – modified to respect community-wide closures and the need for appropriate distancing – starts Monday March 30. Meanwhile the full magazine is right here, digitally, so if you value us PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK AS WIDELY AS YOU CAN. It's the safest way for us to reach the widest possible audience at this time!


April 2020 was going to be a month notable for Canadian work, with shows again ranging from small cast to large, all promising to grab their audiences with stories that need telling: connected to the past but also important in the present and serving to create a better future. Small consolation, but at least I can honour what they promised but were denied the opportunity to deliver. Anandam Dancetheatre: Phenomenal Toronto-based tap dancer Travis Knights, artistic director of the 2018 Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival, was to star in the one-man-show Ephemeral Artifacts for Anandam Dancetheatre Productions at Theatre Passe Muraille. Originally created by director Brandy Leary in 2017, this edition of the show is co-created and choreographed by Leary and Knights together, with the goal of using storytelling, dance and music to explore the intertwined history of tap and jazz, and how both are inextricable from the African American experience, both historical and contemporary. On top of this intriguing premise, this was also going to be a must see for me, having been bowled over by Knights’s wonderful combination of Gene Kelly and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson dance styles in Soulpepper’s The Promised Land last summer. Native Earth Performing Arts were going to present the Toronto premiere of celebrated Ojibway playwright Drew Hayden Taylor’s Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion, described by the Ottawa Citizen as “a smart punchy show that’s bolstered by sharp satire, a quirky musical score ... and a refreshing dose of humour.” Main character Bobby Rabbit has some unfinished business with Canada’s first prime minister. When Bobby learns that his grandfather’s medicine bundle lies mouldering in a British museum – another casualty of the residential school system – he enlists his friend Hugh to execute an epic heist and secure the ultimate bargaining chip – the bones of Sir John A. On their way to find the bones, they give a ride to a Kingston girl trying to get home and the road trip becomes a tangle of comedy, history and politics, all leavened by a fun score with lead vocals by Herbie Barnes as Hugh featuring riffs on The Romantics’ Travis Knights in Ephemeral Artifacts What I Like About You, Heart’s Crazy on You, Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know, Sinéad O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U, and Cheap Tricks’ I Want You to Want Me. I was looking forward to this show not only for the combination of what sounded like a fun story peppered with songs and a contemporary political twist, but also because it was to be directed by the founder of Crow’s Theatre, acclaimed Canadian director Jim Millan. Leslie Arden: Third on my list, and with the biggest cast, was Toronto Musical Concerts’ semi-staging of Leslie Arden’s Dora Award-winning large-scale musical The House of Martin Guerre. Originally produced by Theatre Plus in 1993, winning three Dora awards, with further award-winning productions following at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in 1996, and in Toronto again by Canadian Stage in 1997, Martin Guerre then seemed to disappear. It started showing up again, however, in 2018 in a concert staging at the Charlottetown Festival, at Theatre Sheridan in a fully student production in April 2019, and just last fall at the Stratford Festival in a concert staging starring Chilina Kennedy. It turns out that the rights had been tied up for the last two decades with American commercial theatre producers but now that they are free again, productions are popping up all over. The timing might be to the benefit of the show, as not only does it have a beautiful score, but the story it tells of a woman at the mercy of her community resonates even more today in the era of #MeToo. Based on a well-known legend from 16th-century France, The House of Martin Guerre tells the tale of Bertrande, a young Catholic peasant girl who suffers eight years of abusive marriage to Martin Guerre only to be abandoned by him, left alone with their infant son. Years later, a stranger arrives claiming to be Martin, but completely transformed. Although Bertrande accepts her new loving husband, their happiness is threatened by the jealousy and greed of others. She is ultimately forced to denounce him as an imposter. Christopher Wilson, the artistic producer of Toronto Musical Concerts (TMC) says that the contemporary relevance of the story was part of the musical’s draw. As he put it “This musical is a fascinating 18 | April 2020

Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion Leslie Arden exploration of feminism in 16th-century France. It explores the power of the female voice struggling to exert itself amidst traditional conventions and societal pressures. The female protagonist’s ultimate desire is to achieve a universal goal – her chosen happiness – despite the collective forces working against her.” As well as this political and social relevance, something TMC usually tries to reference in its programming choices, they were delighted to be programming a Canadian mega-musical for the first time. All of these productions have now unfortunately, but necessarily, been postponed or cancelled, but my hope is that they will find places in the next season, once theatre going is possible once again. In the meantime, one source I am following for a constantly updated listing of music theatre performances to be found online, is playwright Nick Green’s Social Distancing Festival: Jennifer Parr is a Toronto-based director, dramaturge, fight director, and acting coach, brought up from a young age on a rich mix of musicals, Shakespeare and new Canadian plays. 2019-2020: The Fellowship of Early Music Great seats start at only ! For tickets, visit FELLOWSHIP COUNTRYSIDE Hebreo: of and ROSSI’S CREATURES COURT MANTUA MAY with guest OCTOBER 8 & 9 vocal 25 at & 8pm ensemble, 26 at | 8pm MAY Profeti 10 at della 3:30pm Quinta TRINITY-ST. Artistic JANUARY Direction PAUL’S 31 & by FEBRUARY CENTRE, Katherine 427 Hill, 1 BLOOR at with 8pm ST. Emilyn WEST Stam Artistic TRINITY-ST. Direction PAUL’S by CENTRE, Alison Melville 427 BLOOR with ST. special WEST Whether enjoyed in refined 16th-century courts or in guest Join celebrated collaborator, vocal Ojibwe ensemble, Elder Rene Profeti Meshake della Quinta today’s traditional music scene, the undeniable appeal of for an unforgettable evening of madrigals and Celebrate French music the creatures has endured of the through earth, sea, the and centuries! with We our kick all-new off multi-media the season whirling experience. and other works by 17th-century Mantua’s sky famed Jewish Exploring composer twirling through the sights Salamone the and popular sounds Rossi, “voix of the featuring de animal ville” kingdom, works songs and this for exquisite season’s five male courtly finale features voices, music theorbo, of works Claude and with harpsichord. Le Jeune special and guests his Come contemporaries, Ojibwe Elder Rene combined Meshake and singer-drummers Shirley Hay and Marilyn George. experience with the magic the of tonal guest beauty traditional and fiddler authentic and dancer April 2020 | 19

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)