1 year ago

Volume 27 Issue 4 - February 2022

Gould's Wall -- Philip Akin's "breadcrumb trail; orchestras buying into hope; silver linings to the music theatre lockdown blues; Charlotte Siegel's watershed moments; Deep Wireless at 20; and guess who is Back in Focus. All this and more, now online for your reading pleasure.

Belinda Corpuz Ursa

Belinda Corpuz Ursa poster designed by Abby Nowakowski in development as part of the inaugural Watershed Festival last spring, and was delighted with its freshness, youthful energy and experimental daring. Ursa is truly a child of the pandemic. It was written collaboratively over weekly Zoom sessions over the past two years by Jake Schindler “a theatre lover with a passion for folk music” and Sam Boer “a touring folk musician with a passion for musical theatre” and is inspired by the two friends’ mutual love of iconic Canadian folk music and the transformative experiences [they’ve] had at great concerts which, they believe, “have a distinct ability to bring people together and create a sense of belonging and inclusivity.” In their own words they “want to create accessible versatile shows that feel like folk concerts, tell stories like musical theatre, and invite our audiences to experience something both familiar and brand new.” Ursa draws on the universal power of folklore by inventing its own fantastical tale of a smalltown-Ontario teenager who runs off into the forest in search of adventure only to meet an anxious bear in the middle of an identity crisis. As the girl and bear become friends the audience is taken on a whimsical journey exploring what it is like to be young, want change and struggle to make it happen. Margot Greve directs emerging talents Belinda Corpuz as Ursa and Stephen Ingram as the Bear, with a live band backing up the fresh and surprising folk tunes. As a fan of both folk music and musical theatre, perhaps I am too much the ideal audience member, but from what I have seen so far, I think this young ambitious team will meet their goals of bringing new audiences of all ages to their new hybrid folk concert-theatre creation. INNERchamber Kindness One of my favourite “silver linings” of the pandemic, as I have written before, was discovering INNERchamber’s concert series at Stratford’s Revival House. Before the pandemic I had never been in town to catch their live performances, but because they had to pivot to film and streaming in order to keep performing. I had the opportunity to enjoy their intimate concerts online and fell under the spell of the group led by artistic director Andrew Chung who, with their guest artists, are constantly finding new ways to weave together words and music in the concert setting. There was very little on their website about the upcoming concert Kindness other than it was being curated by well- known Stratford and Shaw Festival husband and wife musical theatre performers Glynis Ranney and Mike Nadajewski, so I reached out to them to find out more. Ranney had appeared previously with IC in concerts as an actor and singer but last January she told me, “Andrew Chung approached us and asked if we had anything we might want to pitch as ideas for a concert.” Ranney had already, over the years, been compiling a collection of stories about unexpected kindnesses, she explained, and had been thinking of putting some kind of package together, “so I suggested this to Andrew and he liked the idea.” Over this past year she and Nadajewski have gathered together various songs and stories Mike Nadajewski and Glynis Ranney “Andrew Chung approached us and asked if we had anything we might want to pitch as ideas for a concert … [I suggested] unexpected kindnesses.” — Glynis Ranney that pertain to the idea of kindness: “simple everyday acts or radical unexpected acts by a community, within a marriage, by health care workers, or even by an enemy.” While Ranney and Nadajewski found and compiled most of the material, all the songs are arranged for the ensemble by core IC member, cellist Ben Bolt-Martin, whom Ranney describes as a wonderful composer and arranger. Bolt-Martin also arranged the text and created underscoring for the key anchor story for the show, one that had inspired Ranney to start collecting stories of kindness years before. It was a real-life story from World War Two, of German fighter pilot Franz Stigler who, instead of shooting down American bomber pilot Charlie Brown, guided him safely back to England. Neither man, of course, told anyone else what had happened until many years later. “What is even more remarkable,” Ranney said, “is that Stigler later settled in Vancouver, was reunited with Charlie Brown, and they became the best of friends.” Leading up to this story and a final song by Jacques Brel, is a collection of six to eight songs interwoven with stories of kindness from real life, balancing lighter fare such as Neil Bartram and Brian HIll’s comedic song Mrs. Remington about a teacher’s kindness, with heavier fare such as the shooting of young Amish girls in the Nickel Mines community by a deranged gunman, and the remarkable unexpected kindness shown by that Amish community afterwards to the parents of the killer. Ranney and Nadajewski complement each other well. “I am more earnest,” Ranney said, “but my husband has good funny bones. There will even be a ‘kindness lightning round’ as he calls it, of quick quotes.” There will also be songs by Shirley Eikhard, Leonard Cohen, Stephen Sondheim and others. Not what you would expect from a classical chamber ensemble? Exactly. 16 | February 2022

QUICK PICKS & SHOW INFO FROM JAN 16 ON: Sundays at 7pm, In-Home Concert Series curated by Donavon LeNabat of Donavon’s Anti- Social Gathering, Porch Side Concerts and In-Home Open Mic. Livestreamed Sunday nights, and available on demand following the livestream. The first concert featured musical theatre star Charlotte Moore with LeNabat at the piano. Other guests booked include musical theatre artists, as well as jazz/ pop singers and musicians. FREE (tips welcome). JAN 27 to FEB 6, 7:30: Sweetheart: A One Woman Musical by Dean Burry. Sweetheart Productions. Recorded presentation of the December 2021 production of Sweetheart. Melissa Morris; Clare Marion (piano); Greg Wanless, director. . ONLINE JAN 30 to FEB 7: (with possible extension TBC), Ursa: A Folk Musical. The Next Stage Festival. Tickets plus fees. Festival passes also available. Show will be available to view on demand once released. PRESENTS Marie Bérard, violin Winona Zelenka, cello Rémi Pelletier, viola With guest artists Sheila Jaffé, viola Amanda Goodburn, violin February 20 th 2022 at 3pm Trinity St.Paul’s Center, 427 Bloor St. W. Quintessence Viola quintets by Mozart and Mendelssohn Limited in-person audience- (includes online access) Concert on Demand, 2-week online access- Questions? Contact FEB 11 to 19: The Quest, a new Canadian musical by Murray Foster and Kieren MacMillan at the Canadian College for the Performing Arts in Victoria, Live and ONLINE across Canada. FEB 13, 7pm: Kindness, INNERchamber 7pm, Revival House, pre-show chat 6:30 pm (free), Concert tickets -40. ONLINE (also live if allowed, please see website for updates) FEB 16 to MAR 16: Via Kanana, Harbourfront Centre in partnership with Digidance. As a highlight of Kuumba, Harbourfront Centre’s longest running Black Futures Month Festival, Via Kanana is a non-stop torrent of energy. The hour-long work condemns the corrosive effects of corruption in South Africa and expresses frustration at how little has changed for the better for Black people since the end of Apartheid. Video on Demand Streaming in Canada only. From + applicable taxes. CHRISTIAN-GANET Via Kanana Jennifer Parr is a Toronto-based director, dramaturge, fight director and acting coach, brought up from a young age on a rich mix of musicals, Shakespeare and new Canadian plays. February 2022 | 17

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