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Volume 17 Issue 5 - February 2012

  • Text
  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
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ceed. In other words,

ceed. In other words, material you wouldn’t expect a large regionaltheatre to program with an eye to increasing its ticket revenues …”Certainly, a musical about childhood cancer would seem to qualify.More to the point, a musical that allows the audience to view the subjectwithout succumbing to tears — maybe, even to laugh about it — seemsdoubly appropriate. This is not to say that Dani Girl treats its subjectlightly. Indeed, for Richard Ouzounian, Dimond and Kooman’s “inventiveand honest” approach is what sustains his interest in the remount.“I am deeply touched by the theme,” he points out, “which, ultimately,is about how we all have to deal with the issue of death, whether itcomes early or late.”Ultimately, Dani Girl does what musicals do best: provide joy inthe face of unhappiness. This is one of the reasons Spivak was ableto attract Show One Productions to co-produce the project. “What’sunique here,” he tells me, “is that we’re a not-for-profit theatre andthey’re a commercial promoter, so this venture is new to both of us.”Another reason he won Show One’s involvement is the runaway successof TIFT’s production of Assassins by Stephen Sondheim — an exampleof “off-centre music theatre” par excellence: “We produced Assassinswith Toronto’s Birdland Theatre, both in its original run in 2010 andits remount in Toronto in 2011. I am certain that the Dani Girl transfer,while solid on its own merits, is an extension of the success of Assassins.”Spivak might just as well cite the success of Parade (Jason RobertBrown and Alfred Uhry) that Studio 180 produced last season, or TheLight in the Piazza (book by Craig Lucas, music and lyrics by AdamGuettel) that Acting Up mounted in January 2010: both shows areadamantly “off-centre” in their aesthetics and history, and each hascontributed to the flurry of activity in Toronto’s NFP theatres that nowis so wide-spread it attracts the attention of independent producers.You can do it. These days, the attitude inspires the creation of musicaltheatre all across the GTA.Based in Toronto, Robert Wallace writes about theatre and performance.He can be contacted at musictheatre@thewholenote.com.Looking for more “off-centre” music theatrethis month? Check out any of the following,and you won’t be disappointed.Since its founding in 1995, Queenof Puddings Music Theatre has beenacknowledged as “boundary-bursting”for its innovative creations, “anexciting artistic force within the communityof Toronto theatre companies,”as Matthew Jocelyn, the artistic andgeneral director of Canadian StageTheatre, recently put it. No wonder,then, that Canadian Stage is co-producingBeckett: Feck-it, the Puddings’new project that Jocelyn calls “a feisty,original exploration … anchored by thework of an incomparable playwright.”He’s referring, of course, to SamuelBeckett, the prolific Irish writer whoborrowed techniques from music compositionto structure some of the mostprovocative novels and plays of the 20th century, works whosemordant wit revels in ridiculous irreverence even as it mines adeep reservoir of melancholia. This new production, opening atthe Berkeley St. Theatre on February 17, reunites Jennifer Tarver,a Canadian director renowned for her Beckett productions, withDáirine Ní Mheadhra and John Hess (music direction), to showcasea dynamic Canadian cast: Laura Condlln, Michal Grzejszczak,Sofia Tomic, and the marvellous Tom Rooney whose multi-layeredperformance of Malvolio in Twelfth Night won accolades this pastseason at Stratford.Beckett: Feck-it in rehearsal:director, Jennifer Tarver,with a model of the set.continued on page 70SHAWNA CASPIPLAYING FOR CHANGEFebruary 16, 2012 8 PMPresented byMarch 23, 2012 7:30 PM March 23, 2012 8 PM April 5, 2012 8 PMwww.livingartscentre.ca905.306.6000 or 1.888.805.88884141 LIVING ARTS DRIVE, MISSISSAUGA, ON L5B 4B8 ◆ HWYS 403 & 10, WEST OF SQUARE ONE10 thewholenote.comFebruary 1 – March 7, 2012

VOCAL SPOTLIGHTSThe Aldeburgh Connection at 30// DAVID PERLMANRalls and Ubukata, Aldeburgh, 1977.In october 1995, in the second ever issue of this magazine (thenknown as Pulse), we ran as a cover image, not a photograph buta kind of abecedarius — a stylized alphabetical list consisting forthe most part of presenters, performers or composers featuredin the issue’s concert listings. The Penderecki Quartet came toour rescue for both P and Q. For Z we resorted to jazZ (wherewere you that month, Winona?), which was a bit lame. And A was asproblematic as Z, but for the opposite reason — too many candidatesrather than too few.Aradia Ensemble, Academy Concert Series, Amadeus Ensemble,Autumn Leaf Performance and the Amadeus Choir (worthycandidates, all) had concerts, but were the five we didn’t choose.Stephen Ralls’ and Bruce Ubukata’s Aldeburgh Connection was theone we did.When I sat and chatted with pianists Ralls and Ubukata, inpreparation for this story, it’s not surprising that they could notremember who their guests had been on October 10, 1995. Afterall, the Aldeburgh Connection had already been going strong for 13years before this magazine came into existence. In those 13 yearsprior and the 17 since, an astonishing 187 singers have appeared intheir series, many of them more than once. “A starry constellation”as Ubukata describes them. Even more astonishing is that Ralls andUbukata over and over again spotted these stars while they were stillin the making.Now, on February 19, 2012, 16 “starry” Aldeburgh vocal alumnaewill join Ubukata and Ralls at Koerner Hall for a gala concertcelebrating the series’ 30th anniversary. It’s a bigger venue thantheir norm, as befitswhat promises to bea fittingly grand andheartfelt occasion.Don’t be surprisedthough if ticketsturn out to be inshort supply. No twoindividuals in thiscity have played amore important rolein ensuring the placeof art song in thecountry’s musicallife, and the audiencecan expect thehosts for the evening,mezzo Catherine Robbin and actor/director Christopher Newton, toweave a significant and personal storyline through the event.Robbin, for one, can trace her own Aldeburgh connection almostall the way back to the time of Ralls’ and Ubukata’s own first meeting— at Benjamin Britten’s and Peter Pears’ Aldeburgh Festival inSuffolk, England, in 1977. And Newton, best known as the artisticdirector of the Shaw Festival, has been a long-time Aldeburghcollaborator, repeatedly helping to give voice to the meticulouslycrafted, always evocative storylines that are one hallmark of anAldeburgh Connection event.BEETHOVEN, BEVANAND THE BARD February 1 – March 7, 2012thewholenote.com 11

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