1 year ago

Volume 27 Issue 8 | July 1 - September 20, 2022

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Final print issue of Volume 27 (259th, count 'em!). You'll see us in print again mid-September. Inside: A seat at one table at April's "Mayors Lunch" TAF Awards; RCM's 6th edition "Celebration Series" of piano music -- more than ODWGs; Classical and beyond at two festivals; two lakeshore venues reborn; our summer "Green Pages" festival directory; record reviews, listening room and more. On stands Tuesday July 5 2022.


MUSIC THEATRE A stellar spring, musical Shakespeare, and a summer of substance (who could ask for anything more?) JENNIFER PARR Spring It is rare when a show exceeds my expectations and even more rare when many shows do. This spring, three shows blew me away with their – very different – strengths. Damn Yankees: my first reaction after seeing the opening-night performance of Damn Yankees at the Shaw Festival was a desire to tell all the cynics, who don’t see the value in remounting the slighter offerings of the Broadway musical canon, to make their way to Niagara-on-the-Lake and take in this show. Yes, this is a slight, rather oddball, musical that gives a Faustian twist to the American obsession with baseball by giving an older fan a deal with the devil to help his home team win. But in the expert hands of director Brian Hill, it is so much more. Right from the word go the spirit and heart of this production is right on the money. It could have been cheesy and over the top, but it is not. Hill clearly understands the material inside and out and along with his expert creative team sets exactly the right tone and style so that we are taken along the deliciously comic journey, and at the same time gain an increasing recognition of the simple heartfelt values – love, honesty, loyalty – that lie at the heart of the story. Personifying these qualities from the beginning is the young version of Joe – the transformed ball player – on opening night played by understudy Drew Plummer in a star-making performance of gorgeous singing and wonderful heartfelt acting. The repeated duet sung by Joe with his wife Meg becomes the beating heart of the simple values at the centre of the whole show. Kimberley Rampersad as the vamp sidekickto-the-devil, Lola, is also wonderful. Her performance begins in the expected broad style but grows in depth and detail to become as moving as that of Joe, to the point where, in the delicious jazzy number near the end: Two Lost Souls, one almost wants them to be able to stay together. Allison Plamondon’s choreography plays an important role in creating the light and shade of this world from her Fosse/Jerome Robbins/Fred Astaire moves for Two Lost Souls to the inspired goofiness of Who’s Got the Pain performed by Lola and the entire baseball team. Plummer and Mike Nadajewski, who plays Mr. Applegate (the devil) with great glee, can both also be seen in a concert performance of A Year With Frog and Toad, one of the many outdoor musical offerings at Shaw to take in along with your indoor performance. Damn Yankees 1991, as civil war begins to tear their homeland apart, Dixon Road deals with difficult issues and hard times; but infused throughout is a wonderful, rather wacky, sense of humour that leavens the darker material and makes the audience take these characters to their hearts. The music is also wonderfully infectious. Its mix of R&B, hip-hop, traditional Somali melodies and contemporary musical theatre idioms works. My only complaint is that the run was so short I couldn’t go back and see it again. Dixon Road, with book, lyrics and music all by Fatuma Adar, was commissioned by the Musical Stage Company in 2017 and the show had its opening on June 9 in the outdoor amphitheatre in High Park. As I wrote previously, my hopes for the show were high; my expectations were exceeded by the wonderful depth to the writing of both the book and music. Telling the story of a Somali family who immigrate to Canada in 14 | July 1 - September 20, 2022

ELIJAH NICHOLS Dixon Road From Driftwood's A (Musical) Midsummer Night's Dream, in 2019 DAHLIA KARZ 2 Pianos 4 Hands: To finish my spring roundup, I have to add that Two Pianos Four Hands which just opened at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, starring its creators and original performers, Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, is as fresh and clever and laugh-out-loud funny as it was when it burst on the scene 25 years ago. It runs until July 17. Musical Shakespeare Who doesn’t like music with their Shakespeare? Since the Bard first wrote his plays, more than 400 years ago, music has been an integral part of bringing those plays to life onstage. This summer in Ontario there are three productions that take very different approaches to interweaving music with Shakespeare’s storylines. Dream in High Park: In High Park at the end of a summer festival of musical concerts and events, the return of Shakespeare to the amphitheatre stage is being celebrated by a new production of one of the most song-filled of his plays, As You Like It. Directed by Anand Rajaram (well known as a clown-inspired performance artist and writer), and with sets and costumes designed by acclaimed outdoor performance company Shadowland Theatre, this promises to be a risktaking, fun, physical theatre event. It will also be extremely musical, featuring new songs written for the show by Maryem Tollar, Lacey Hill, Serena Ryder and Kiran Ahluwalia; Belinda Corpuz is the show’s composer and musical director. As You Like It runs from July 28 to September 4 and has a running time of only 90 minutes, perfect for families and younger theatre goers. Driftwood Theatre: Driftwood Theatre Group, the indefatigable touring company, returns to the road July 14 to August 21, with their annual Bard’s Bus Tour, this time presenting King Henry Five, a new • CELEBRATING DIVERSITY • MASTERCLASSES RICHARD MARGISON MASTERCLASSES July 28th July 29th July 30th SPECIAL THANKS TO WELCOME BACK! Feel the PASSION! Be AMAZED! OPERAS CANADIAN STORIES TOLD THROUGH OPERA August 18th & 20th EUGENE ONEGIN*, BY TCHAIKOVSKY August 25th, 27th, 28th & 29th * portion of ticket sales supporting UKRAINE VALERIE KUINKA General & Co-Artistic Director RICHARD MARGISON Artistic Director FROM OPERA TO BROADWAY August 3rd POP GOES THE OPERA! August 6th A NIGHT AT THE OPERETTA August 9th CELEBRATING DIVERSITY August 11th COMMUNITY PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN EVENTS: WHY CHOOSE OPERA? August 1st MUSIC ON THE BAY August 13th CASUAL SONG SOIRÉE August 15th FOR MORE INFO & TICKET PURCHASE: • 1-855-455-5533 July 1 - September 20, 2022 | 15 CONCERTS • 2022 PERFORMANCES •

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