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Volume 9 Issue 9 - June 2004

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Music THEATRE SPOTLIGHT

Music THEATRE SPOTLIGHT by Sarah B. Hood Terracotta to Silver: June Runs the Gamut June is the month when the sillnmer festival seasen really gets going, with a plethora of musicals and other light fare in small towns across southern Ontario, but there are also a few in, teresting productions in town. For instance, last issue we mentioned the opening of Urinetown as one of the big stories forJune. Since 1n 1974, then, we've heard that the brilliant a chance original choreography by John Car- discovrafa remains part of the Toronto ery in show. Director John Rando, who China's joined the show just after its original Shaanxi NY Fringe run, through its Off- province, Suzie and her friends foil the lecherous and nefarious Mr. Bag and the downright evil Miss Gulch. It's all a centrepiece of Buddies' Pride festivities. (Need we mention that the gitls are played by boys?) . . SOLDIERS' STORY Broadway premiere and onto Broad- led to the way, says that the show combines unearththe qualities of all these incarnations. ing of the "We worked on a very spare kind tomb of of independent way - a sort of 'poor Qin Shi theatre' way - of doing a big musi- Huang, cal," he says, "but when you hear the first ~-~.~~-. -~~ the score, you know it's very big. I · Emi:eror of all China. A key fea~e think of it as an alternative kind of of his mausoleum was the collection musical," he says, pointing out that of life-size w~ors .in baked ten:a it's lots of fun for anyone who's ~otta. (Ceramic ~es were ~dienough of a music theatre fan to spot tionally entombed with .the Chinese all the references to various styles of ernpero~ as a cer~rual ~d for theatre, music'and dance, "but if you the afterlife.) The s~te has s~ce bedon 't, it's even better". GOO GONE? Suzie Goo was thinking of running for office, but we suppose the confused state of Canadian politics (as in: which party is which these days?) scared her off. 1n other words, at the ~ginning of their 25th anniversary season, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre announced that they'd be premiering Suzie Goo For Prime Minister, a never-produced sequel to Sky Gilbert's original Suzie Goo: Private Secretary. However, it's been bumped in favour of a remount of the first show, which makes a welcome return from June 1to13. Suzie Goo is a crazy tale of lust and office politics behind closed doors at Continental Can, with music by the wonderful John Alcorn, in which come a famous tounst attrl,iction and - most recently - the inspiration for a musical theatre extravaganza originating out of Vancouver. Terracotta Warriors tells the story of Qin Shi Huang in epic style, with 20 sets, 300 period costumes and a cast of 90 performers trained in martial arts who will perform choreography intended to delight the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon generation. The music (composed by Hao Wei Ya) is taped, but with live performance on the Chinese lute known as the pipa. DORA TURNS 25 The dress code is silver and the hosts are Sean Cullen (The Producers) and Louise Pitre (Mamma Mial) at the 25th Anniversary Dora Mavor Moore Awards on Monday, June , Gary An ng Wood"¥inds Ltd. 20 Toronto's Center for Clarinets and Oboes SALES * REPAIR * RENTAL ·· 1612 Queen . Street West (east ofRoncesvalles} 28. Cullen and Pitre will be wearing HOAX Couture, and the audience · will likely be wearing big grins and their fanciest fonnals. Tickets are , and include admission to the shoulder-rubbing After-Party. To purchase by credit card, call 416- 872-1212. Otherwise, drop by the T.O. TIX Booth at Yonge-Dundas Square or visit www.thedoras.com. DUB CONNECTION Torontonians are invited to "experience the, Totality of Orality" at the International Dub Poetry Festival, June 3 to 6. It features master classes, panel discussions and performance by a stellar array of local and international dub artists, including many "lesser known veterans" of the fonn. For more infonnation, call the Dub Poets Collective at 416-598- 4932, or visit www.dubpoetscollective.com. BooK SHELF by Pamela Margles Speaking of Wagner and of Rudolph Serkin (as I am about to do) puts me in mind of two incidents, one recent, one not. At the performance of the Canadian Opera Company's Die WalkUre I attended recently, the audience was totally mesmerized. But at the top and bottom of every hour of the nearly five hours of Atom Egoyan's powerful production, a chorus of digital watches joined the happenings on stage. The effect was certainly not what Wainer had in mind. He tried to address every parameter of the staging of his operas, but he never imagined these intrusions. SUMMER SCENE One of my most moving concert­ Around the summer festivals, you going experiences remains hearing have until June lt,to catch Broad- Rudolf Serkin many years ago in way Heroes, featuring David Rog- Massey Hall. 1n the few moments ers singing the heroes' songs from of the transition from the second such shows as Camelot, Man of La movement to the third in Beethoven's Mancha and Phantom of the Opera Waldstein Sonata, time was suspendat the Port Stanley Festival Thea- ed and heaven opened up. What if tre. Heinar Piller and Peter Colley that had occurred on the hour or halfhave put together a show called The hour, and even one digital watch had Vaudevillians, with skits and music · gone off? of the period, running June 8 to 26 at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover. Also in June: 42nd Street at the Drayton Festival Theatre; the Marsha Norman version of The Secret Garden and the '30s­ , 40s tribute Swing! at the Huron Country Playhouse (Grand Bend); Forever Plaid at the Showboat Festival Theatre (Port Colborne); the '60s. revue Yesterday, Once More in Orillia; The Music Man at the Thousand Islands Playhouse (Gananoque), and Fiddler on the Roof at King's Wharf Theatre (Penetangliishene). Finally, as we mentioned last issue, the Stratford Festival presents Guys and Dolls and Anything Goes this month, while Shaw offers Pal Joey. Interpreting Wagner by James Treadwell Yale University Press 301 pages, .95 The music of Richard Wagner has . a unique ability to overwhelm an audience. Jmres Treadwell describes the effect as "its way of seeming to encompass more - even more, perhaps one should say - than it actually does". Treadwell who has taught English at McGill University, uses Wagner's extensive writings and correspondence, along with the op- Dave Snider Music Centre 3225 Yonge St. PH (416) 483-5825 eMail: sniderm usic@snidermusic.com www.snidermlfsic.com One of Toronto's Oldest Music Stores ... With The Best Selection of Pop, Jazz & Broadway Sheet Music in the city - For Beginners and Professionals - Come in and browse over 25,000 sheet music publications. We have a wide array of Woodwind, Brass, Keyboards, Guitars and Accessories. Music Lessons offered on site. JUNE 1 - JULY 7 2004

eras, to place his work in its historical and philosophical setting. Treadwell's writing is accessible and refreshingly free of academic jargon. One of the many benefits of his reasoned approach is that he is able to clarify the complicated world of Wagner's imagination. I particularly enjoyed his discussion .of the ending of the Ring Cycle, with the key issue being whether the extinction of the gods in Gotterdiimmerung leaves room for redemption and the possibility 'to create something utterly new out of the annihilation of everything that came before'. Wagner left explicit instructions for staging his operas, even designing his own theatre at Bayreuth to present them. Nonetheless, his works seem to attract the most controversial interpretations of any opera composer. The profound issues Treadwell raises are fundairental to not just how these iconic works are understood, but also how they are presented on stage. Performance note: The Canadian Opera Company continues its presentation of Wagner's Ring Cycle with Siegfried, from January 27 to February 11, 2005 at the Hµmmingbird Centre. Rudolf Serkin: A Life by Stephen Lel)mann and Marion Faber Oxford University Press 358 pages plus CD, .00 "Rudi was the only person I know whom you could put on a pedestal and, after looking all around in the world, still keep up there," says violinist Philipp Naegele, one of the many musicians interviewed for this exemplary biography of pianist Rudolf Serkin. Stephen Lehmann and Marion Faber offer a straightforward narrative of Serkin's life, concentrating on his development as a musician. But what makes their approach so innovative and effective are the interviews interspersed throughout. Serkin's associates and former students, including Toronto pianist Anton Kuerti, are a remarkably perceptive and articulate bunch. They offer personal details to illuminate Serkin 's absolute and incomiPtible devotion to nrusic, and reinforee_ his legacy. Serkin, who died in 1991, is one of the all-time great pianists. He influenced many spheres of musical life, bringing European musical tra- . ditions to America when he arrived with his father-in-law and musical partner, the legendary violinist Adolf Busch, in 1939. The wonderful CD of previously unreleased live recordings, the thorough discography, annotations and bibliography, and priceless family photos are welcome bonuses. Paul Bowles on Music Edited by Timothy Mangan· and Irene Hermann University of California Press 310 pages, ~.oo When Paul Bowles died five years ago, at the age of eighty-eight, his novels were venerated. Even his compositions, written before he left New York for Morocco in 1947 and took up writing fiction, were being revived. Yet his extensive writings on music were unknown. In the last interview he gave, which closes this book, he insists that music and fiction are separate worlds for him. Like his fiction, the writings collected here are witty, unsentimental and spare. But, indeed, I found no suggestions of the bleakly sinister undercurrents running through his fiction. Bowles is astute, willful, enthusiastic, eclectic, and thoroughly entertaining. Fascinated by his fellow composers, he appreciates Russian music (except for Raehmaninoft), calypso, filmmusic, blues, and jazz. Regarding a performance of Boris Godunov at the Metropolitan Opera, he cormnents dryly that "the strange effect gained by Kipnis's singing of his role in Russian, against the Italian of the rest of the cast, was not so disturbing as it might appear." He disapproves of Sinatra calling the members of the Philharmonic 'the boys in the band', and praises a concert which includes a song 'by Bowles'. This rich collection deserves careful reading for what it reveals about the cultural scene of the period, as well as the fascinating and influential writer himself. • MUSICAL INSTRUMENT ExPERTS, MAKERS AND DEALERS SINCE 1890 Visit our newly expanded Bloor Street location for even greater selection of the world's great Pianos, . Fine String Iiistruments, Print Music and Children's Music Specialties Remeny house of . music 210 BLOOR ST. WEST · 416.961.3111 (just W. of Avenue Rd., City Parking in Rear) www.remenyi.com )UNE 1 - JULY 7 2004 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM 21

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