7 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 6 - March 2012

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  • Toronto
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  • April
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  • Violin

And there’s more,MUCH

And there’s more,MUCH moreIf you missed The Drowsy Chaperone in one of its previous incarnations(and even if you didn’t, it’s worth seeing twice), you’re in luck.City Centre Musical Productions gives the show a full treatment atMississauga’s Meadowvale Theatre for a week, opening March 23.One of the most successful creations in the history of Canadiantheatre, this affectionate spoof of vintage musicals grew from humblebeginnings at Toronto’s Rivoli Cafe in 1998, to achieve accoladeson Broadway and beyond after it opened at New York’s MarquisTheatre in 2006. Along the way, it played to sold-out houses at theToronto Fringe Festival, Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto’s WinterGarden Theatre and the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, accumulatingcritical acclaim that heralded the Tony Awards it wonfor its book (written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar) and score(composed by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison). Widely producedacross Canada and the US since then, the show also receivedproductions in London, Australia, and Japan. This new presentation,directed by Michael MacLennen as part of the popular Encore seriesof Music Theatre Mississaugua, stars David Grimason as The Manin the Chair, an agorophobic musical fanatic who is transported intothe world of a fictional 1928 Broadway musical that he listens to ona record. The conceit allows the writers to structure a play-within-aplaythat presents an intriguing central character at the same time asit offers an hommage to musicals, past and present.City Centre Musical Productions is one of many communitytheatres which draws upon the audience for musicals even as it fuelsthe aspirations of triple-threat performers. These theatres achievesomething their professional counterparts rarely attempt: contemporaryproductions of musical “classics.” This month, for example, twoof the most loved American musicals are on view in communityproductions that are sure to sell out. Opening on the same night asThe Drowsy Chaperone, but for four shows only, Man of La Mancha(book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, music by MitchLeigh) is presented by Steppin’ Out Theatrical Productions at theRichmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. First produced onBroadway in 1965, the show is based on Don Quixote, Miguel deCervantes’s 17th-century novel, and has been revived four times onBroadway, as well as produced around the world. Its principal song,“The Impossible Dream,” is one of the best-known standards in themusical theatre repertoire.Similarly, “Hello, Dolly” the central song of the eponymousmusical hit written and composed by Jerry Herman, has been heardin almost every major language since Carol Channing introducedthe catchy lyric in the Broadway premiere in 1966. The book,by Michael Stewart, is based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce,The Merchant of Yonkers, that Wilder revised and retitled TheMatchmaker in 1955. The current production, presented by OnstageProductions (formerly the Scarborough Choral Society) at the J.T.M.Guest Theatre, also opens on March 23, making that evening one ofthe busiest of the month for musical theatre buffs.If you prefer a big American musical that’s more contemporaryin its concerns, Legally Blonde: The Musical, which openedon Broadway in 2008 and continues to play London’s West End,premieres at the Lower Ossington Theatre on March 9 where it runsfor the entire month in a production directed by Tricia Lackey, withmusical direction by Robert Wilkinson. Based on the film of thesame name that stars Reese Witherspoon, the show uses musicand lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, and a book byHeather Hach, to tell the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl whoenrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend, andproceeds to achieve fame and fortune. It’s not the first Torontoproduction. A touring version of the show played at the Princess ofWales Theatre in 2010. But as far as I know, this is its first Canadianproduction. A classic? I doubt it. But I also doubt that this is the lasttime we’ll see the show in Toronto.Opera Outsidethe (Big) Boxeschristopher hoileIn february, the winter season of the Canadian Opera Companyended. In April its spring season begins, as does Opera Atelier’s.In between, opera-lovers need not despair because Toronto alsoboasts a host of smaller companies offering unusual fare. (If therehas been any downside to the COC’s move to the Four Season’sCentre, it has been the elimination of the separate opera productionsthat the COC Ensemble Studio used to produce in venues like theImperial Oil Opera Theatre and the Enwave Theatre. The repertoirealternated between the baroque and the modern and gave Torontoaudiences the chance to sample the wide range of chamber operasintended for more intimate spaces. While it is great experience forthe COC Ensemble Studio members to take over roles in an operain the Four Seasons Centre, they do miss out on the chance to bereviewed in their own productions and Toronto misses out on morevaried operatic offerings.)The various opera schools around Ontario help fill this gap. In Decemberlast year, the University of Toronto Faculty of Music’s OperaDivision staged the Poulenc double bill of La Voix humaine (1959)and Les Mamelles de Tirésias (1947), and this January it presented anew opera about Toronto’s own larger-than-life mayor. From March8 to 10 it returns to more conventional fare with Mozart’s Così fanBased in Toronto, Robert Wallace writes abouttheatre and performance. He can be contacted March 1 – April 7, 2012

tutte. Performances take place at theU of T’s MacMillan Theatre. for more information.On March 21 and 23, the GlennGould School Opera presents LaCalisto (1651) by Francesco Cavalli(1602–76), which was a big hit whenthe COC Ensemble Studio presentedit back in 1996. Cavalli wrote for thesmaller forces necessitated by thesmaller public opera houses of Venice where he worked. La Calistopremiered in a house seating only 400. Of his 41 operas, only 27 areextant and provide the key examples of mid-17th-century Venetianopera, which, unlike the later opera seria, took a decidedly satiricview of the amorous escapades of gods and mortals. Here, Joveand Mercury plot to deflower Calisto, a follower of Diana, whilePan tries to draw Diana away from her lover, Endymion. It is athoroughly delightful work and will surely whet opera-goers’ desirefor more Cavalli in future. Brent Krysa directs, Adam Burnetteconducts and Michael Gianfrancesco designs the sets and costumes.Performances take place at Koerner Hall. See www.rcmusic.cafor details.Venturing farther afield, Laurier Opera at Wilfrid LaurierUniversity in Waterloo is offering quite an innovative Canadiandouble bill. From March 2 to 4 it will present Gisela in HerBathtub (1991) and City Workers in Love (1992), both composed byVancouver-based Neil Weisensel to libretti by Michael Cavanagh,better known to the opera world as an opera director. The firstone-act opera focuses on the bathing Gisela, who is reading a novelthat suddenly comes to life around her. The second opera takes placeon a typical Canadian construction site and exposes the foibles andfortunes of the city workers. Both works have been expanded andrevised for this production. You can hear three excerpts from CityWorkers in Love on Weisensel’s website, RobHerriot directs and Leslie De’Ath conducts a chamber ensemble.Performances take place at Theatre Auditorium on the WLU campus.See the WLU website for details.While opera schools do their share in keeping the operatic offeringsin Toronto and environs diverse, so do the various companiesthat present opera in concert. Themost established of these, Opera inConcert, has provided this servicesince 1974. Coming up on March4 is the Canadian premiere ofGiuseppe Verdi’s first opera Oberto(1839). The opera is a fictionalizedaccount of the life of Cunizza daRomano (born c.1198), who appearsin the Third Sphere of Dante’sMichelle Mink, Opera by Request.Paradiso. Here in his first opera,Verdi is already exploring in Oberto and Leonora the dynamics ofthe father-daughter relationship that threads through all his work.Giles Tomkins sings Oberto, Joni Henson is Leonora, MicheleBogdanowicz is Cuniza and Romulo Delgado is Riccardo, Cuniza’sfiancé who seduces Leonora. Alison d’Amato is the music directorand pianist and Robert Cooper prepares the Opera in ConcertChorus. Visit for more.Meanwhile, Opera by Request celebrates its fifth anniversary onMarch 10 with a gala presentation of Verdi’s Don Carlo. For thosewho saw the COC’s production of Verdi’s French version of theDon Carlos story in 2007, this will be an easy way to compare it toVerdi’s later Italian version. OBR is unusual in that the cast comestogether to choose the repertoire, not the company directorate. Yet,for this special celebration, OBR’s artistic director, pianist WilliamShookhoff, says he has departed from the mandate and has personallychosen the production and cast, which consists of “people whohave contributed in a special way over the past five years.” Henotes, “With the fifth anniversary comes the 50th production (notperformance). And, by the time the fifth anniversary occurs, wewill have engaged 150 singers, many of whom I did not know fiveyears ago, and some of whom I only met through their colleagueswho invited them to participate.” Paul Williams sings the title role,Michelle Minke is Elisabetta, Steven Henrikson is Rodrigo, MonicaZerbe is Eboli, Robert Milne is Philip and Larry Tozer is the GrandInquisitor. The performance takes place at the College Street UnitedChurch. Visit for more information.Christopher Hoile is a Toronto-based writer on opera andtheatre. He can be contacted at OF advertisersAldeburgh Connection 39Alexander Kats 56All Saints Kingsway Anglican Church46Amici Chamber Ensemble 18Amoroso 70Analekta 7Annex Singers 45Associates of the TSO 39ATMA 5Aurora Cultural Centre 41Bach Children’s Chorus 57Canadian Opera Company 57Canadian Sinfonietta 46Cantabile Chamber Singers 45Cantemus Singers 42Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra36Centauri Summer Arts Camp 61Choirs Ontario 60Christ Church Deer Park Jazz Vespers26Church of St. Mary Magdalene 48Church of St. Simon the Apostle 43City Centre Musical Productions 41Civic Light Opera 30Classical 96 77Cosmo Music 27Counterpoint Musical Services 58Cuntrera Productions 19Eglinton St George’s United Church27Ensemble Vivant 11ESPriT Orchestra 4Exultate Chamber Singers 42Gallery 345 33George Heinl 28Grand Philharmonic Choir 51Guelph Youth Singers 57Hazel Nevin Newton/Amy Doddington39Heliconian Hall 58Jubilate Singers 34Juilliard Quartet 14Kids4Peace 35Kindred Spirits Orchestra 47, 56Koffler Centre of the Arts 15Larkin Singers 21L’Atelier Grigorian 71Leon Belov 59Liz Parker 56LIZPR 58Lockwood ARS 59Long & McQuade 58Masterworks of Oakville Chorus andOrchestra 41Mississauga Festival Choir 22, 51Mississauga Symphony 42Mooredale Concerts 47Music at Metropolitan 22, 38Music Gallery 19Music Toronto 9, 33, 36, 38, 40, 44,48Musicians in Ordinary 38National Ballet of Canada Orchestra19New Music Concerts 18, 37Nine Sparrows Arts Foundation 48No Strings Theatre 61Norm Pulker 59nyCO Symphony Orchestra 46Oakham House Choir 20Off Centre Music Salon 43Ontario Foundation for the PerformingArts 38Opera Bel Canto 31Opera By Request 36Opera In Concert 29Orpheus Choir of Toronto 43Our Lady of Sorrows 33Pasquale Bros 58Pattie Kelly 59Pax Christi Chorale 23Peter Mahon 20Queensmen of Toronto Male Chorus56Remenyi House of Music 12Roy Thomson Hall 11Royal Conservatory 79Royal Conservatory/Glenn GouldSchool Opera Division 10Scarborough Philharmonic 46Sinfonia Toronto 19St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church,don Mills 45St. Philip’s Jazz Vespers 26St. Stephen in-the-Fields AnglicanChurch 58St. Thomas’ Anglican Church 44Stephen Satory 42Steve’s Music Store 16Sue Crowe Connolly 59Syrinx Sunday Salons 34Tafelmusik 2, 3Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute61The Canaries Are Coming 20The Singing Voice Studio 57The Sound Post 25Thornhill Chamber Music Institute 60Toronto Centre for the Arts 33Toronto Consort 7, 41Toronto Mendelssohn 49Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra 14Toronto Symphony Orchestra 80University of Toronto Faculty of Music13Univox Choir 39Via Salzburg 49Victoria College Choir 40Victoria Scholars 35Visual and Performing Arts Newmarket47vivA! Youth Singers 21Wilfrid Laurier University Press 69WholeNote Classifieds 59WholeNote MarketPlace 59Women’s Musical Club of Toronto 44March 1 – April 7, 31

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