7 months ago

Volume 28 Issue 6 | Summer 2023

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  • Festival
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Quartet
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
  • Theatre
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  • Choir
  • August
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Fast start to the summer and it just keeps going: Luminato walks with Little Amal; the Historical Organ Society comes to town; composer Carmen Braden is keeping busy; Phil Nimmons turns 100; TSM's metamorphosis; and check out live links in ads, listings and our easy surfing directory of summer festivals. See you August 30 for Volume 29 no.1


HILARY GAULD JOHN LAUENER Neema Bickersteth in a Volcano Theatre development workshop for Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha Eric Craig, Hadley Mustakas, Berkley Silverman, and Trayvon Ward in The Prom Black female creative team from across North America, working from the original surviving score. It tells a revolutionary story of a young Black woman who, in discovering the truth of her past and overcoming enormous personal loss, discerns her power to unify a divided people and lead her community towards a new future. Acclaimed soprano Neema Bickersteth leads the all-Black cast directed by award-winning Canadian director Weyni Mengesha, and Kalena Bovell conducts the first all-Black orchestra ensemble in Canadian opera history. event/treemonisha/2023-06-10/ All Summer Long If you are looking for a musical later in the season, there are several that will run all summer and/or into the fall. Top of my list is Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy, the famous musical tale of Gypsy Rose Lee with Shaw Festival actor and director Kate Hennig taking on the iconic role of Mama Rose. Gypsy runs from May 26 until October at Shaw’s Festival Theatre. As part of the festival’s summer offerings there is also a one-act concert of Rogers and Hammerstein songs A Grand Night for Singing playing from June 29 to September 30 on the BMO Stage. At the Stratford Festival there are two contrasting musicals already in previews that will run through the summer to October 28. The first is Jonathan Larson’s beloved Rent. His updated and New York-set take on Puccini’s La bohème will mark actor Thom Allison’s Festival Theatre directing debut. In complete contrast at the Avon Theatre is Spamalot, the outrageously silly but fun musical version (by Eric Idle and John du Prez) of Monty Python’s iconic Holy Grail movie. stratfordfestival,ca Back in Toronto the run of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton at the Princess of Wales Theatre has been extended to August 20 and may be extended again. If you love musicals and haven’t yet seen this, I highly recommend taking it in. The first half in particular is thrilling in its nonstop “change the world” storytelling, and with the superb ‘Eliza’ of Morgan Anita Wood in the current cast, the second half rises up to meet the first, although with a more sombre impact. shows/Hamilton Out at the Blyth Festival an iconic Canadian play trilogy, James Reaney’s The Donnellys, is taking over the outdoor Blyth Festival Harvest Stage for a summer long run (June 22-Sept 3) in a new adaptation by director Gil Garratt. Yes, this is a play, but the director promises that it will be “filled to the brim with folk music” as well as “stage coaches and fire in the night” bringing to theatrical life the true story of the Donnelly family as their community becomes eroded by the rise of secret societies, conspiracy and betrayal. This is bound to be a hot ticket. Around and about Summer is also a great time to explore small-town Ontario and all the theatre that pops up in cottage country, usually for shorter runs. The biggest summer stock company, Drayton Enertainment, is presenting several musicals that will travel between different communities. Notably early in the season (June and July) Bob Martin (Drowsy Chaperone), Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar’s The Prom tells the story of four theatre types who arrive to help a high school senior whose school has cancelled prom because she wanted to take a same sex date. It takes the stage alongside Beautiful, the story of Carol King’s career, a brilliantly scripted jukebox musical that has earlier been in the Mirvish season via American touring companies. Former Shaw Festival actor Emily Lukasik takes on the role of Carol King. And speaking of Shaw, a late season opening of James Baldwin’s searing drama The Amen Corner will apparently be filled with rousing songs performed by a gospel choir. In the expert hands of director Kimberley Rampersad, who made Marcia Johnson’s Serving Elizabeth the hit of the Stratford Festival’s outdoor season in 2021, this story of a teenage musical prodigy torn between his mother, the choir leader of his church, and his washed-up father with whom he shares a love of jazz, promises to be exciting. July 20-Oct. 8. In Stratford outside the festival, the small but mighty Here for Now company is presenting, in association with the Stratford Symphony Orchestra, the world premiere of a new children’s opera Frog Song by Taylor Marie Graham and SSO conductor William Rowson, July 26-August 12. Opera lovers may remember Rowson’s tuneful work as part of Tapestry Opera’s 2007 LibLab and Opera Briefs. Meanwhile over in Gananoque at the Thousand Islands Playhouse currently celebrating its 41st season, the beloved Lerner and Lowe classic The Sound of Music will star Ellen Denny (who recently made a splash at Crow’s Theatre in Toronto in the play Red Velvet) as Maria. PRESENTS The Storyteller, music and lyrics by Kathleen Mills, July 17-21, 2023 Carmen by Georges Bizet, in collaboration with Opera by Request, August 11-20, 2023 Opera and Musical Favourites with Opera by Request at the Granite Brewery, August 15, 2023 WWW.NOSTRINGSTHEATRE.COM 28 | Summer 2023

JENNI GRANDFILED MONICA SALAZAR ARCILA Anton May, Aadin Church, Jordan Goodridge and Joema Frith in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Kaeja d’Dance’s Porch View Dances, from a previous summer. July 4-August 6. In the dance world there are fewer productions to see in the summer, but two to watch for are Guillaume Côté’s company Côté Danse making a short stay at Crow’s Theatre with his work X (DIX) set to the sculptural sounds of American experimental band Son Lux, June 14-18,; and Kaeja d’Dance presenting their 12th Annual Porch View Dances August 9-13, literally weaving their way around and through the streets of Toronto’ s historic Seaton Village. Finally, fans of new musicals and dance, as well as plays and combinations of all three, also know to keep an eye on the offerings at the Toronto Fringe (July 5-16 and SummerWorks Festivals (August 3-13 as unexpected gems have been known to show up at both. 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. Summer 2023 | 29

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