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Volume 26 Isssue 8 - July and August 2021

  • Text
  • Events
  • Listings
  • Opera
  • Jazz
  • Sound
  • Orchestra
  • Festivals
  • Reviews
  • Summer
  • Music
Last print issue for Volume 26. Back mid-September with Vol 27 no 1. And what a sixteen-month year it's been. Thanks for sticking around. Inside: looking back at what we are hoping is behind us, and ahead to what the summer has to offer; also inside, DISCoveries: 100 reviews to read, and a bunch of new tracks uploaded to the listening room. On stands, commencing Wednesday June 30.

MUSIC THEATRE Dance in

MUSIC THEATRE Dance in High Park (2020) Dream in High Park – hoping to begin at the end of June in the High Park Amphitheatre. Such Canny Stuff as Dreams Are Made Of JENNIFER PARR DAHLIA KATZ Just as the Stratford Festival’s stunning new Tom Patterson Theatre has been completed and is ready to be filled with eager actors and audience members, the exigencies of the ongoing pandemic are keeping its doors closed and forcing performances outdoors in an uncanny – or canny? – echo of the Festival’s roots. Almost 70 years ago, in the summer of 1953, the dream of a young returning soldier who had fallen in love with the theatre he had experienced in Europe, came to exciting life in the very first Stratford Festival Theatre. That magical first stage, designed by Tanya Moiseiwitsch and envisioned by the first artistic director Tyrone Guthrie, sheltered under the canvas of the famous Stratford tent, kept whole though rain and shine by tent master Skip Manley for that groundbreaking first season. Now, after an unprecedented year without any live performance at all by the renowned classical theatre company, an innovative new season will begin, not indoors, but in PETER SMITH COMPANY CHRISTINE TEEPLE The 1953 stage and canopy, Stratford Festival (above), Stratford’s new Festival Theatre canopy. two tents, or more accurately, under two beautiful new canopies outside the Tom Patterson and Festival Theatres. The primary reason for having performances outdoors is, of course, the need to make everything as safe as possible for both performers and audiences while the global pandemic continues. The exciting thing is that this has led to a reimagining by the company of what is possible and what is most essential. Fuelling those lists is the very basic hunger for live performance that we all share whether onstage or in the audience, or both – that electric connection that sparks between those onstage and those in the seats, whether during a Shakespeare play, Broadway musical, new play, or cabaret. To make this possible, everything has been streamlined. The season has been cut down to include two Shakespeare plays, two modern classics from the first programmed season, two new plays, one of which is a musical, and very excitingly for musical theatre fans, five cabarets curated and performed by a wonderful mix of some of the Festival’s – and Canada’s – top musical theatre performers. In contrast to the usual repertory system, each show will have a unique (small) cast who can be “bubbled” together in rehearsal and performance. Each show will also be no longer than 90 minutes and will play without an intermission. As anyone 8 | July and August 2021 thewholenote.com

who has edited a play will know, this means focusing in on the essential story, and from what I have heard, this has led to exciting experimentation with each production, many led by younger directors who have taken part in the Michael Langham (directors’) Workshop. Romeo and Juliet, renamed R + J, for example, inspired by the truism that love is blind, is being reimagined by director Ravi Jain as a love story that takes place in an “up-to-the-minute modern world of sound and music, a world that challenges the identities we construct when we use only our eyes.” I am excited to see how this focus on sound and music will illuminate a story that we all know so well. The one full musical in the season, I Am William, also plays with something we think we all know well – who actually wrote the plays we know as Shakespeare’s. First developed at Théâtre Le Clou, the text by Rébecca Déraspe (in an English translation by Leanna Brodie) and music by Chloé Lacasse and Benoit Landry will transport us to an imaginary alternate history where brilliant young writer Margaret Shakespeare and her brother William (who wants to be an actor) take us on an exciting, fun and enlightening journey through the dangers of Elizabethan London. The cabarets are an exciting innovation, too, exploring a wide variety of themes and styles of song and story: Why We Tell the Story: A Celebration of Black Musical Theatre, created and directed by Marcus Nance; You Can’t Stop the Beat: The Enduring Power of Musical Theatre, curated and directed by Thom Allison; Play On! A Shakespeare-Inspired Mixtape, curated by Robert Markus, Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis; Freedom: Spirit and Legacy of Black Music, curated and directed by Beau Dixon; and Finally There’s Sun: A Cabaret of Resilience, curated and directed by Sara Farb and Steve Ross. Each cabaret will run for about two weeks. Just seeing those names you can tell that – like the Festival’s filmed solo cabaret series Up Close and Musical that debuted earlier this year – this cabaret series puts the artist front and centre, bringing new voices, new visions, and new stories onto the Festival’s stages Dream in High Park Another dream from the past is also resurfacing this summer, thanks to the demands of pandemic safety protocols and the vision of its artistic programmers. In 1983, Dream in High Park began with a popular production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, what would become a longstanding tradition of Shakespeare plays being performed outdoors in the heart of High Park. After some years the name of the summer season was changed to Shakespeare in High Park, but this year the name is changing back to the original, just as the programming is changing to go far beyond Shakespeare to include everything from stand-up comedy to dance, to film to new theatre, to music, to children’s theatre and new musical theatre. Just as the Stratford Festival is responding to our hunger for live performance, the Canadian Stage Company is also addressing that hunger by transforming its summer season – inviting performing arts companies from around the GTA to share the outdoor stage, thereby matching the great accessibility of its pay-what-you-can performances with as wide-ranging as possible an offering of live performance. As artistic director Brendan Healy expands: “the name (Dream in High Park) really encapsulates the fundamental spirit of the park. The amphitheatre is a space for our city’s imagination and dreams (...) where stories come to life and (...) we get to dream up worlds together while surrounded by this stunning natural environment.” One of the Dream in High Park offerings that I have been looking forward to seeing since I saw an excerpt at an earlier workshop is the new musical Blackout, with a book by Steven Gallagher and music and lyrics by Anton Lipovetsky. In many ways this is a perfect choice for this summer park season in the way it eerily mirrors the isolation we have all been feeling over the past 15 months. Inspired by the real blackout in Toronto in August 2003, when millions of people were left stranded in the dark and unable to reach or connect with their loved ones, it interweaves three separate stories taking place on that August night. The excerpt I saw (Cygnus), was both incredibly moving and life-affirming. VIRTUAL CONCERT SERIES July 22, 2021 at 7:30 pm Juilliard String Quartet August 26, 2021 at 7:30 pm From the Collingwood Summer Music Festival Mayumi Seiler, violin Angela Park, piano Cris Derksen, cello September 23, 2021 at 7:30 pm Marc-André Hamelin All concerts broadcast FREE online! VISIT www.music-toronto.com for more information on how to watch each concert. thewholenote.com July and August 2021 | 9 www

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