8 years ago

Volume 5 Issue 9 - June 2000

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  • Toronto
  • Theatre
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Music Theatre Spotlight

Music Theatre Spotlight From Shakespeare to new music, Toronto stages are brimming over SARAH B. HOOD Twenty years ago summertime was a quiet period for Toronto theatres. Playgoers were likely to end up driving out to Shaw or Stratford rather than seeing something in town. Then the company now known as CanStage started to produce its annual Dream in · High Park. In 1985 Cats kickstarted the boom in commercial theatre, followed soon after by the theatrical deluge known as the Fringe of Toronto - and two or three similar, smaller fe~tivals. These days summer is marked only by a brief production lull for the major not-for-profit companies - a gap that is barely noticeable among the dozens of independent shows on offer. When producer, director and composer John Briggs was looking for a place to launch the definitive, full-scale version of his new musical Romanciil' the One I Love, he looked at New York and London before choosing Toronto. "Th~ talent pool up here, in terms of quality, is as great as New York," he says. "I can tell you that in terms. of the arts this city is thriving." The show, which has played at various theatres in Georgia and Florida, is an adaptation · of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. Although it's set in Miami of 1939, the c'1aracters retain their original names. The songs, by Briggs · and Dennis West, evoke the tunes of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen and Irving Berlin, paying tribute, says Briggs, to jump, jive, swing and blues: "that whole catch of music that began in 1928 and went right through the war years, and hit its pinnacle in 1939." Asked to name a quintessential model for the spirit of Romancin', Briggs suggests "Louis Prima's 'Sing, Sing, Sing'; we have a number that pays tribute to that. " Camilla Scott, of Crazy for You and ,The Pyjama Game, gets to plays Kate the Shrew, with Broadway's Brad Aspel as Petruchio. Romancin' the One I Love moves into the playfully lovely Winter Garden Theatre for pr.eviews from June 9 to 20, and continues for an indefinite run from June 21 onwards. For those who seek homegrown fare, there could hardly be a more Qanadian show than the biligually-monickered Sirens/Sirenes, which runs from June 15 to 18 at Harbourfront's du Maurier Theatre. "Intended as a celebration of Canada", according to the press material, the show is a composite performance of seven pieces by six composers: Doug Schmidt from British Columbia, Ontario's James Rolfe and Juhan Puhm, and Quebec's Marie Pelletier, Ana Sokolovic and Michael Oesterle. It's being presented by the Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company, which most recently presented the opera Beatrice Chancy by George Elliott Clarke. The director (Alisa Palmer) and producer (Leslie Lester) have been involved in some of the most exciting and intelligent theatre work presented in Toronto over the past decade. This time, they've assembled a sextet of women " sopranos Barbara Hannigan, Laura Whalen, Jane Archibald and Tamara Hummel and mezzos Krisztina Szabo and . Allyson McHardy - to interpret the music both vocally and through movement. Montreal-born choreographer Marie-Josee Chartier has the task of conceiving and unifying the dance elements; she has nothing but respect for the performers: "There are seven pieces that they have to memorize," she says. "These are ' Left: Queen of Puddings co-director-John Hess at the piano, seen here with soprano Anne Harley in the Q. of P. 1996 musical theatre show, mad for all reasons. Photo Dany Lyne contemporary pieces so some of them, it's even a challenge to find a way to memorize it. There are no musicians; it's all a capella," she adds. Apart from creating a physical theatre piece with performers who are primarily vocalists, Chartier says that one of the challenges is achieving stylistic unity. "They're very different pieces of music, so you're working with very different styles," she explains. "We're aiming to make a show that stands on its own, without having a narrative. I like to think of it as almost an abstract, a large landscape, like what the country is'. " ' THEATRE NOTES LiveEnt may be gone, but Toronto's commercial musical scene is apparently thriving. Down on Front Street, the Mirvishes are sitting pretty with two absolute winners: the ABBA pastiche Mamma Mia at the gracious Royal Alexandra and the visceral African-inspired harmonies of The Lion King at her younger sister, the Princess of Wales. Further east, the Hummingbird Centre takes advantage of the current vogue in all things Cuban with The Tropicana (June 8·to 10), an extravaganza of over 60 dancers, singers, musicians and even acrobats direct from Havana's notorious nightclub of the same name. Meanwhile, the St. Lawrence Centre hosts Toronto Operetta Theatre's Leo, The Royal Cadet (June 26 to July 1). Conducted by John Greer, SPOTLIGHT continues, page 28 Music THEATRE LISTINGS ••Act II Studio. Our Canadian Century· An Historical Revue. Musical revue celebrating the highlights of Canada throughout the past century including musical hits & dances. June 1,2(gala),3,8,9 & 10: 8:00; June 4,7,8 & 11: 2:00. Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College St. 978·7986. (June 2 gala),, (group · rates). ••Capricorn 9 Productions. Most Men Are. Musical by Stephen Dolginoff. June 14· 17: 8:00. Jane Mallett Theatre, 27 Front Street East. 366· 7723. , (group rates). ••Columbus' Centre. A Summer Performance of Opera Chorus Excerpts. Chorus excerpts from the Italian operas of Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini & others. Coro Giuseppe Verdi; Graciela Boros, pianb; Giuseppe Macina, conductor. June 25: 8:00. Lower Gallery, 901 Lawrence Ave. W. 789-7011 ext. 250. .2, (sr/st). ••Encore Entertainment. The Fantasticks. Book & lyrics by Tom Jones; music by Harvey Schmidt. June 1, 2, 3: 8:00; June 4: 2:00. Studio Theatre, Ford Centre for the Performing · Arts, 5040 Yonge St. 733·0558. 1eve), 1mat). **Factory Theatre/Divining Rod Productions. The Crimson Veil. Musical inspired by Italian folk tales. Book by Glen Cairns & Allen Cole; directed by Leah Cherniak; Paul Braunstein, Kevin Dennis, Naomi Emmerson, Kelly Mcintosh, Julain Molnar & other performers. Previews June 4· 7; regular run June 8 to July 9. Tuesday· Saturday: 8:00; Sunday: 2:00. 125 Bathurst St. 504-9971. Previews .99; regular run -l; Sundays PWYC. ••Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts. Tropicana. Cabaret direct from Havana. Ov~r 50 musicians, singers & dancers. June 8,9, 10: 8:00; June 9: 2:00 !seniors matinee). 1 Front St. East. 872-2262. .50 to .50; .551seniors matinee). ••Jane Mallett Theatre. Stan Rogers· A Matter of Heart. Diane Stapley, director. July 6 to August 20: Monday to Saturday 8:00; Wednesday & Saturday: 2:00. 27 Front St. East. 872-2222. to lpreviews July 6· 11: ). · ••Massey Hall. Sandra Bernhard: I'm Still Here ... Oamn It! Performance art, cabaret, stand·up comedy. June 21: 8:00. 15 ShuJer St. 872-4255. .50 to .50. **Mirvish Productions.Mamma Mia! Musical based on the songs of ABBA. Music & lyrics by Benny Andersson & Bjiirn Ulvaeus; book by Catherine Johnson; directed by Phyllida Lloyd. To September 10. Tuesday . Saturday: 8:00; Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday: 2:00. Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. West. an 1212. to . • • Mirvish Productions. The Lion King. Stage musical of Disney's 1994 animated continues, page 28

The ROYAL CoN~ERVATORY of Musrc Register N.ow for Fall Programs! All age~ all abilities! • Smart. Starts for Kids • Instrument and Singing Classes • Jazz, Pop and Technology • Choirs and Ensembles • Theory and · Music History • Pedagogy • Music Appreciation For more information, please contact: (416) 408 2825 (905) 891 7944 273 Bloor St. West 850 Enola Road Toronto, ON MSS I W2 Mississauga, ON LSG 482 .All ccmcerts 7:30 pm Bloor St. United C~rch 41¢-~10-4379 November 11 Violin lfllitt.61'0 A young and invigorating talent bares her virtuosity in an eclectic prograrrrre featuring Tchaikowky's Violin Concerto. Catherin• Manouklan, viof!n vlttuoso January27 Odysny 2001 Tango through the Mediterranean with Italian songs, arias am therms from the big screen. PettK De Soto, ftlnor, violin of Quarttltto GtNato March 10 Lii DIYll RtltUrnsl An extraordinary comco-lyrico perforrrence by Canada's beloved comic opera star. Nata8• Choqu.,,., 110prano-comlqw May12 · EastMHtsWesl . ~ A i:mique coupling of repertoire and instrurre. ntation inspires exciting new sounds. a.orp Gao, •rhu CotMntlld Blot1mMda~ ctll/o lain Scott's Opera Courses in support of the Opera School at the University of Toronto .. Two ten-week evening courses .. Tuesdays - 7.00 to 9.30 pm .. 100 mtrs from Museum subway station .. Huge video screen - comfortable seats .. 5 per 'course - seni~rs :5 " .. just ask anyone who has taken his courses ... for Information or a Registration Form call (416) 486 8408 The Fall Course - a perennial favourite Opera : an Introductory Survey starts Tuesday, 3 October 2000 ' This year's Winter Course - by. popular request Richard Wagner's Top Ten stans Tuesday, 16 January 2001

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