7 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 6 - March 2012

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  • Toronto
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matter, the “town,”

matter, the “town,” in most cases, is no longer a town in the samesense it used to be. It may well be a city on its own. But for many ofthe populace, their town may be a bedroom community. They areemployed elsewhere, and spend a significant portion of their timeaway from “the town.” Above all, recognize that the municipalcouncil and the various funding organizations under its aegis arecrucial components of your market. You must cultivate and nourishtheir perception of the band as a valued organization and an assetto the entire community. In most cases, without their support, theband’s very existence could be in jeopardy.Proceed cautiously, you have time over the coming months to planyour events. Don’t commit to details in haste only to repent at leisureafter the event. Consider your plans carefully and in meticulousdetail so that you will be able to bask in the glow of a job well donenext fall. Now for the big question: Who in the band will be doingthe planning for these special events? Think about it.For an example ofa really worthwhile,well thought-outprogramme, takea look at the offeringof London’sPlumbing FactoryBrass Band for theirMarch concert. It’snothing but marches,but with nary aparade marchamong them. See“Beyond the GTA”listings for March 28.Henry Meredith’s Plumbing Factory Band,April Fool’s Day 2011.As for new developments on the band front, we have just learnedof the establishment of a new community band in Aurora. Theyrehearse on Sunday evenings. More details to come. As for the NewHorizons music camp in July at Brock University, which was mentionedlast month, it is now booked to capacity and has applicants ona waiting list.Finally, a refreshing comment from a fellow musician. In a recentchat with jazz guitarist Gerry Mackay (who, by the way, has a regularsolo jazz guitar gig at 8pm every Friday at Whitlock’s Restaurant& Wine Café Bar, 1961 Queen St. E.), he summed up his philosophyof performance quite simply: “Take your audience on a journey.”That should work well for the planning of any concert.DEFINITION DEPARTMENTThis month’s lesser-known musical term is Scrambelissimo: Do thebest you can with this difficult section.We invite submissions from readers. Let’s hear your daffynitions.COMING EVENTSPlease see the listings section for full details.Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments andhas performed in many community ensembles. He canbe contacted at by Beat /Music TheatreTriple ThreatOpportunity Blossomsrobert wallaceThe proliferation of musical theatre across the GTA doesmore than provide new and interesting options for the audience.It also creates work for “triple-threat performers” — those whoact, sing and dance, and who like to do it all at once. Two of these Imentioned in my discussion of “off-centre” theatre last month — JeffMadden and Gabi Epstein; both can be seen this month in anothernew musical developed south of the border. Indeed, the two popularperformers will barely catch their breath after Dani Girl closes atTheatre Passe Muraille early this month before they open in I LoveYou Because, a production by Angelwalk Theatre at the Studio inthe Toronto Centre for the Arts (TCA), on March 28. Neither iscomplaining; especially not Madden.I Love You Because marks Madden’s return to the theatre wherehe scored one of his biggest hits — a portrayal of Frankie Valli inthe Dancap production of Jersey Boys that won him a DORA awardin 2009. This time out, he’s performing a more intimate show onthe Centre’s smaller stage, which will bring him even closer to hisgrowing following of Toronto fans. If for no other reason, he’s excitedabout his return, which he explained to me last month. “I loveworking in smaller spaces. Having the audience literally inches awayforces you to be at your most honest and real. Any false momentwill appear obvious to them, so it puts the onus on the actors to beat their best. And certain shows really suit small spaces: it wouldbe ridiculous to put a show like Dani Girl onto the mainstage of theTCA, for example.”The same could be said of I Love You Because which employsa cast of six. Like many “off-centre” shows, this modest bijouxpremiered off-Broadway at the Village Theatre in 2006 before beingproduced in similarly small venues such as London’s Landor (2007)and Vancouver’s Granville Island Studio where it had its Canadianpremiere last month. A contemporary reworking of Jane Austen’sPride and Prejudice, the show heralds the debut of Joshua Salzman(music) and Ryan Cunningham (book and lyrics), a song-writingduo that met in NYU’s graduate programme in musical theatrewritinga few years ago. Relocating the story to present-day NewYork City, Cunningham refocuses the narrative on a man instead ofa woman — Austin Bennett, a young, uptight greeting-card writer(played by Madden), who undergoes a life-change after he meetsMarcy, a flighty photographer with whom he initially appears toshare nothing in common. Along with their eccentric friends andsiblings, the pair of opposites weathers a series of mishaps and mistakes,ultimately learning to love each other because of their differences,not in spite of them — a resolution direct from Austen’s novel.The structure of the show, which its creators sub-title “a moderndaymusical love story,” is notable for its intricate plot, as well asa humorous rendering of the emotional and sexual entanglementsof urban characters whose reliance on technology Austen couldnot have envisaged. Well served by Cunningham’s witty lyrics andSalzman’s melodic jazz/pop score, the book uses a tried and trueformula that “ends up exactly where you know it will,” as NeilGenslinger wrote in the New York Times. “But who cares?” headded. “It’s terrific, refreshing fun” — a sentiment echoed by numerousreviewers who found the show’s upbeat and tuneful approach“charming” in the manner of Friends.I Love You Because resembles [title of show], another quirkily (un)titled contemporary American musical that Angelwalk produced toconsiderable acclaim last season. One of the reasons the company israpidly gaining a reputation is by producing these “chamber musicals”— small-cast productions that showcase acting, music and dancewith a minimum of staging and effects. Founded as a not-for-profit28 March 1 – April 7, 2012

Margaret MALAndrUCCOLOtheatre in 2009 to provideopportunities for emergingand established Canadiantheatre professionals, thecompany’s primary focus ismusical theatre. Relying onsmall casts and simple setsallows it to foreground thetalents of its performers,and to supply them withtop-notch direction.Certainly this is the casewith I Love You Because,whose director, DarcyEvans, spent eight seasonsas an actor and associatedirector with the StratfordShakespeare Festival wherehe honed his directorialsmarts on productionssuch as Hello, Dolly!, TheKing and I, Fiddler onthe Roof and Man of LaMancha. Joining him asLeft, Colm Wilkinson to direct Bloodless, a new musical by Winnipeg composerJoseph Aragon, for Theatre 20. Right, Jeff Madden, triple threat.musical director on I Love You Because is Lily Ling, well knownin Toronto for her work on The Fantasticks at Soulpepper Theatre,and Acting Up’s productions of The Light in the Piazza and Parade,the latter co-produced with Studio 180 last year. Both directors joinAngelwalk for the first time — a good indication of the company’srise in profile that began when it took up residency at TCA, a theatrethat Madden, like many, considers “the best in the city. It’s the newest,and the facilities and the staff are all first rate.”As more small theatres develop projects that draw on the growingrank of musical theatre talent across the GTA, it’s inevitable that resourcesconsolidate into what can be termed a musical theatre community.Madden, one of the busiest performers in the city, maintainsthat “there certainly is not enough work for local artists comingjust from our commercial theatre producers” to sustain a career inthe genre. As a result, he’s quick to thank “the group of artists andbusinessmen who have created those smaller companies to providework for artists like myself.” Obviously, these companies undertakemusicals for more than altruistic reasons; arguably, they recognizethat audience interest in the genre grows apace with the talent tocreate it. “I think just about everybody loves musicals,” Maddensays. “Some may hate to admit it, but let’s face it, music is universal.Everyone responds to music on an emotional level, and when it suitsthe story being told onstage, it can make for a magical experience.”This idea no doubt also influenced the formation of another theatrecompany devoted to musical theatre that enthusiastically announcedits first season in late January. With a mandate rooted in the development,education and celebration of the form, Theatre 20 proposesto create work not just for performers, but also for directors, choreographers,musical directors and designers. Adam Brazier, artisticdirector of the artist-run enterprise, stresses that Theatre 20 aims tobe “the voice of the great unsung musicals” and promises that thecompany will produce “theatre that asks big questions and exploresbig ideas,” work that is “evocative, memorable and challenging.”Central to this vision is the development of young artists throughmentorship and education programs; just as important, the companyvows to nurture Canadian writers and composers.This is good news, for what is lacking in the GTA’s otherwiseburgeoning musical theatre scene is the development of Canadianmusicals that proceed beyond the workshop phase to achieve fullproduction here and elsewhere. This requires pro-active support forwriters and composers that, until now, has been lacking. As Maddenpoints out, “If you want to be a musical theatre writer, you prettymuch have to head to New York, where the pre-eminent schoolsand training facilities exist. Nothing to that extent exists in Canada.”While exceptions like The Drowsy Chaperone (see its awards andcredits further down in this article) have emerged to challenge hisGuillermo Silva-Marin, General Director2011-12SeaSonDISCOVER THE SOUND!DISCOVER THE VOICE!DIE FREUNDEVON SALAMANKAThe Friends from Salamancaby FRANZ SCHUBERT in German with English surtitlesA rollicking, fun-filled singspiel overflowing with melodic gems.Shannon MercerJames McLeanassertion, they are fewand far between — or, atleast, so says conventionalwisdom. Interestingly,Theatre 20’s choice for itsinaugural production callsthe idea into question.Bloodless, a musicalabout the 19th-centuryEdinburgh “body snatchers,”Burke and Hare,will open at Toronto’sPanasonic Theatrenext October, in aproduction directed byColm Wilkinson, thenear-legendary star ofLes Misérables, anda founding member ofTheatre 20. While it’s tooearly to discuss the show,it’s timely to note that thebook, music and lyricsare written and composedby Joseph Aragon, a Winnipeg-based playwright, performer andmusician who graduated from the National Theatre School inplaywriting some years ago. Since 2004, Aragon has written andcomposed eight full-length musicals, all of which have receivedfull-scale productions at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Who knew?Someone at Theatre 20, apparently, who left it to Jeff Madden andJuan Chioran to sing a duet from Bloodless that had people cheeringat the company’s press launch last month.Perhaps cross-border shopping is over-rated? It seems we soonwill be better equipped to answer the question.Michael CiufoStefan FehrKevin Mallon, Conductor, Toronto Chamber OrchestraOpera in Concert Chorus, Robert Cooper C.M., Chorus DirectorSun. April 1 at 2:30 pmplus - ‘The Backgrounder’ with Iain ScottAn intro to the opera at 1:45 pm - Free Admission with your ticket.416-366-7723 1-800-708-6754 www.stlc.comPierre GautreAUMarch 1 – April 7, 29

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