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Top 9 of '09: Best Festival shows, Part 1: Summerworks

January 18th, 2010 Steve No comments

The second post of my Best 9 of ‘09 series was supposed to be theatre in general; however, when I realized that 4 of my preliminary picks were Summerworks shows, I realized that Fringe and Summerworks deserved their own lists entirely. So there’ll be a Best of Theatre ‘09 list down the pipeline, but first – a post each, celebrating Toronto’s new work festivals. The Next Stage Theatre Festival is running to the end of this weekend at the Factory Theatre, featuring many of the actors and companies singled out for praise in these lists; I’ll mention their current offerings where applicable, as well as shows outside of Next Stage.

Naive little me thought I’d manage a post a day (hah!) when I started these retrospective posts, but they’re working out to 5 or more days apiece, so it’s entirely possible I won’t finish until the end of January! But for those curious, next up will be the Fringe Festival, then the Best Comedy Shows of 2009, then a Best Singles of 2009 post (plus an update by next Friday).

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Best Summerworks Moments of 2009

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One of the remarkable things about how the Summerworks Festival has evolved under Artistic Director Michael Rubenfeld is how it’s grown to include performance events that aren’t strictly stage plays; for this past year’s festival, I saw 27 plays, 18 bands, 9 Performance Gallery pieces, and 3 Summerwalks tours. So I’ve tried to pull from all those experiences in listing my top Summerworks picks, by citing particular events and moments that stood out and crystallized why that show was worthy of mention.

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#9: Maev Beaty’s painter seduces Erin Shields’s shopgirl in “Montparnasse

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Erin Shields and Maev Beaty played with audiences' conceptions of the nude model as their characters gradually succumbed to greed, lust, and jealousy in the riveting "Montparnasse". Photo by Amanda Lynne Ballard.

When both of the writer/performers of this fascinating look at nude models in 1920’s Paris first shed their clothes on stage, they did so in a way that lulled the audience into accepting the nudity as natural and non-sexual, and therefore non-threatening. The posing and attitudes all suggested that the character’s disrobing was being done for art and beauty’s sake, and that anyone sexualizing it (or thinking of it as shameful) would be ruining the compact by subverting something liberating and beautiful.

But midway through the play, Beaty’s lesbian painter Amelia seduced Shields (playing a secondary character, an assistant who can help further Amelia’s career), succumbing to both her own lust, and the desire to insinuate herself into the inner circles of Paris’ cultural elite. All of a sudden, all bets were off. As Amelia slowly stripped clothes off the tough-talking shopgirl, her brusque demeanour dissolved, and was replaced with a vulnerability hitherto unseen when skin was exposed; a vulnerability that was taken advantage of. The apple had been tasted of, and for the rest of the play, the nudity was no longer quite so innocent.

Many critics marveled at the bravery of Shields and Beaty for spending so much time nude in “Montparnasse“, but it was this re-contextualizing of that nudity that was the audacious choice in their show.

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#8: Oh No Forest Fires‘ cover of “Footloose

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There were all sorts of incredible performances over the course of the Summerworks Music Series. Two of the bands on my Best Albums of 2009 list, Think About Life (#1) and Great Bloomers (#10) were among the bands who played extraordinary sets (and since they’ve already been mentioned, were “disqualified” from this list), and nearly every night, as least one of the bands got people up and dancing.

Among the best to do so, however, were ONFF and their set ending cover of Kenny Loggin’s classic “Footloose“. Faced with a smaller mid-week crowd than most of the festival’s nights, ONFF gradually got the crowd warmed up and dancing, and when they busted out “Footloose“, there wasn’t a still foot in the house.

Sadly, ONFF recently announced their last show on Jan. 23rd (which you should definitely consider attending); in the meantime, while there is a video of ONFF performing “Footloose, the sound quality is pretty terrible, so here’s a clip of them performing their own song, “It’s Not Fun and Games Unless Someone Loses an Eye“.

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(The rest of the Summerworks list, including some choice videos, follows below.)

Read more…

Categories: Comedy, Dance, Improv, Music, Theatre Tags:

Summerworks Festival 2009: The Music Series

August 14th, 2009 Steve No comments

When Artistic Director Michael Rubenfeld took the reins of the Summerworks Festival last year, one of the most wide-reaching changes to the festival he instituted was opening it up to performance art (The Summerworks Performance Gallery) and live music (The Music Series).

Bob Wiseman was on the bill for the inaugeral Summerworks Music Series last year; this year, the multi-faceted perfromer is presenting a show in the theatre series, "Actionable".

Bob Wiseman was on the bill for the inaugural Summerworks Music Series last year; this year, the multi-faceted performer is presenting a show in the theatre series, "Actionable".

The inuagural 2008 Summerworks Music Series had a stellar line-up, programmed by Baudelaire record label founder Evan Newman; between Newman and Rubenfeld, they were able to book some of the hottest Toronto acts, including The Rural Alberta Advantage (who’ve exploded in the past year thanks to raves for their SXSW shows this spring, and a glowing review on Pitchfork), Gentleman Reg (who’s also been getting a lot of attention for his recent release on the Arts and Crafts label, “Pitch Black”), and The Diableros.

I was honoured to write profiles of most of the music acts on the Summerworks blog last year, at Michael’s request. I haven’t had time to do the same this year, being focused on my own site, but there’s been some really great coverage by some of their staff members, including interviews with Rajiv Thavanathan of On No Forest Fires, DD/MM/YYYY, and Matthew Barber, who is one of the few returning acts from last year’s Music Series.

This year’s line-up is equally jaw-droppingly good, due in no small part to Michael’s inspired selection of Eric Warner to curate this year’s festival. Warner’s no stranger to programming first rate music festivals; he launched the Over the Top Festival before he was even of drinking age, and for the 2009 Music Series, he’s not only landed some of the city’s best independent local acts, but he’s also scored some of the hottest acts from Montreal, too, including Miracle Fortress (shortlisted for the 2008 Polaris Prize) and Think About Life (long-listed for the 2009 Polaris Prize).

There’s still plenty of incredible bands on the slate for this weekend’s shows, including Thursday’s double bill of The D’Urbervilles and Forest City Lovers, Friday’s of The Josh Reichmann Oracle Band and The Sunparlour Players ( SPP delivered an awe-inspiring performance at the festival launch and during the Music Series last year), and a fantastic triumphant return home for Great Bloomers (recently touted by Gordon Lightfoot as one of the best new music acts in Canada), and Germans, who’ve been touring North America and Europe in 2009, and will be playing their first local show in over a year.

You can listen to terrific tracks from all of the artists on the Summerworks site via their embedded player, but here’s a few more goodies, including a video from Think About Life, whose set last Friday just about brought the roof down on the Theatre Centre.

Miracle Fortress – Blasphemy

Josh Reichmann Oracle Band – Sea at Night

Great Bloomers – Young Ones Slept

Categories: Dance, Music, Theatre Tags:

Summerworks Festival 2009: Theatre

August 12th, 2009 Steve No comments

Theatre, Comedy, Music, Dance, and more; it’s all happening at the Summerworks Indie Theatre and Arts Festival, running August 6th-16th along Queen St. West, at more than a half dozen venues. My apologies to anyone who has a show that’s NOT Summerworks-associated, but this week’s postings are 100% festival focused ( August 14th’s edition of the update will revert back to the usual format).

This first of three special Summerworks posts starts off focusing on the original and largest element of the festival… Theatre.

Erin Shields (Writer of last year's Summerworks hit "If We Were Birds" and performer in "Fewer Emergencies" at last year's Summerworks) and Maev Beaty (Dora-nominated for last year's "Dance of the Red Skirts") follow up their last paired collaborative effort ("Goblin Market") with "Montparnasse", a nuanced and sensual piece about nude models in 1930s Paris.

Erin Shields and Maev Beaty follow up their last paired collaborative work ("Goblin Market") with "Montparnasse", a nuanced and sensual piece about nude models in 1920s Paris (photo by Amanda Lynne Ballard).

I’ve seen exactly 1/3 of the 42 plays in the “Local” and “National” categories as of this post, and there have been some real standouts. There’s also a number of shows that I’ve already seen in one form or another prior to this festival, that I can confidently recommend.

If you’re looking for drama, both of the shows Groundwater Productions is producing, “The Epic of Gilgamaesh (Up Until the Part When Enkidu Dies)” and “Montparnasse“, are sure bets to see fascinating and theatrically accomplished work. “Montparnasse” in particular has garnered excellent word of mouth based on their 1st act preview at the Rhubarb Festival earlier this year, and I’m happy to report that the full version of the show has been brilliantly realized. Writers/actors Erin Shields and Maev Beaty shed all,  playing nude models – one an aspiring artist, the other a hedonistic dilettante – and their artist patrons and bohemian acquaintances in 1920s Paris.

Carlos Gonzales-Vio is strong contender for best male performer at this year's Summerworks, for his seamless integration with the rest of the ensemble in the multimedia show "Nohayquiensepa", and his standout performance as the beast man Enkidu in "The Epic of Gilgamesh".

Carlos Gonzales-Vio is a strong contender for best male performer at this year's Summerworks, for his moving ensemble work in the multimedia show "Nohayquiensepa", and his standout performance as the beast man Enkidu in "The Epic of Gilgamesh" (photo by Amanda Lynne Ballard).

Also showing a fair bit of skin in their production is Ecce Homo, who had a huge hit on their hands last year with their production of “The Pastor Phelps Project“. This year’s offering is “The Ecstasy of Mother Teresa (or, Agnes Bojaxhiu, Superstar)“, the third and final in their trilogy of collective creations based on quotes concerning controversial figures of the 20th century. While almost every spoken word in the show is a quote, the assemblage of the show is original, and whereas the nudity in “Montparnasse” is integral to the plot, in “Mother Teresa”, it’s just one of many elements (music, dance. video) that enhance the spectacle of the production.

Other multi-media productions worth noting include Aluna Theatre’s “Nohayquiensepa“, and Daniel Barrow’s “Everytime I See Your Picture, I Cry“. “Nohay”, a less titillating, but far more technologically adept show than “Mother Teresa”, is a “workshop production” that uses a physically agile ensemble and an astounding array of projections, video, and audio recordings to give a vague and affecting eulogy to victims of violence, “inspired by events in a Columbian river town on the fringe of great violence”.

Barrow’s show builds on his previous work creating hand illustrated overhead projection shows – he describes his work as “manual animation” – with several key new developments; it becomes clear early on in the show that this is not autobiographical, but is a weird and surreal narrative, and Barrow for the first time is “invisible” to his audience. Previous shows have had him clearly visible manipulating his projector, but in this show, he’s hidden away on the balcony of Theatre Passe Muraille, and the audience focuses solely on his moving images. I had some issues with the narrative (the show could really use a program), but there’s no denying this is a wholly original theatrical experience.

Project Undertow's "Melancholy Play" has it all: a sparkling, witty script, a deft directorial debut from Rosa Laborde, a gorgeous set, and a uniformly enchanting (and, also, gorgeous) ensemble cast.

Project Undertow's "Melancholy Play" has it all: a sparkling, witty script, a deft directorial debut from Rosa Laborde, a gorgeous set, and a uniformly enchanting (and also gorgeous) ensemble cast.

The final two shows I’m strongly recommending (that I’ve seen – I expect I’ll have some new shows to highlight come this weekend’s update) are both resolutely comedies, though their titles and topic material might suggest otherwise.

The National Theatre of the World, who I wrote about at length when they launched their series “Impromptu Splendor“, have finally brought their improv act to a theatre festival, and it’s truly gratifying to see theatre audiences realizing what this company does is brilliantly theatrical, though their techniques are rooted in comedy. The company members – Naomi Snieckus, Ron Pederson, and Matt Baram – research a playwright’s work to prepare for a show; on “opening night”, they ask the audience for a few random suggestions, then spontaneously create a one act play “inspired” by the featured playwright. I’ve seen them perform shows you’d swear were written by David Mamet or Judith Thompson, and it’s almost impossible to believe the three are creating as they go – but it’s 100% written before your eyes, and must be seen to be believed.

Last but certainly not least, my favourite show to date at the festival, “Melancholy Play“, is anything but. Ingrid Rae Doucet stars as a blonde depressive who finds that her maudlin demeanor causes people of both sexes and all walks of life to fall head over heels for her – until she overcomes her depression and realizes her new-found cheerfulness has the opposite effect. This absurd and delightful farce boasts a surfeit of comedic talent, and director Rosa Laborde, herself a Dora and Governor General Award nominated playwright, makes an assured directorial debut. While the script itself is by American playwright Sarah Ruhl, it’s an outstanding example of a independent Canadian company (Project Undertow) demonstrating great prowess in all aspects of theatrical production; the performances, live music, sets, and costumes are all note perfect.

Next up: a post about the stellar Summerworks Music Series (with lots of choice new MP3s and videos), followed by a final Summerworks post about the interactive treasures of the Summerwalks, and the Performance Gallery at the Gladstone Hotel.

Categories: Comedy, Dance, Film, Improv, Music, Theatre Tags:

Fringe Festival 2009 Reviews

July 10th, 2009 Steve 2 comments
Wickedly funny bouffon clown Red Bastard's show is one of my highest rated picks for this year's Toronto Fringe Festival so far.

Wickedly funny bouffon clown Red Bastard's show is one of my highest rated shows at this year's Toronto Fringe Festival.

(It became clear to me that it would be unfair to post more Fringe reviews so late after the festival ended, by late July.

I made a tactical error in my coverage of the Fringe this year; I spent the first half of the festival trying to finish the detailed preview posts I had planned, and I didn’t begin writing reviews until close to the end of the festival, when almost a week had passed since I’d started seeing them. I was playing catch-up on a huge backlog of work, and it wouldn’t have been fair to the shows to review them after so much time had lapsed.

Next year, I’ll ensure that any non-review coverage is finished by the time I start seeing shows; in the meantime, if anyone really wants to hear my impression of a particular show that wasn’t reviewed, email me directly at steve@gracingthestage.ca, and I’ll do my best to answer your questions. – Steve)

I haven’t posted to the website in the past few days, and it’s because I’ve been paralyzed by which post I should be focusing on in the few free hours I have when I’m not Fringing.  Should I focus on finishing the ridiculously overdue fourth and final “preview” of Fringe shows? The previous three took enormous amounts of work to write, because I found and hot-linked each show’s FB listing AND website (where possible), and also did enough research for each show (and there were 12 per post!) to zero in on its most salient attributes.

Should I focus on writing up the weekly update, and try and cram as much Fringe into it as possible? It’s slowly coming together, but those are pretty time intensive too. Besides, the only shows that aren’t Fringe related that are listed before Monday are the FREE outdoor concerts this weekend at the Harbourfront Centre’s Beats, Breaks, and Culture Festival:  Holy Fuck (9:30pm), Winter Gloves (8pm), and DD/MM/YYYY (11pm) on Friday, and Broken Social Scene (8pm) and Parallels (7:30pm) on Saturday. So I don’t feel too badly putting that off until Fringe wraps up Sunday evening.

Ultimately, the question people have asked the most is when the capsule reviews of the shows I’ve seen (24 and counting, 41 by the end of my schedule) will start going up. And truthfully, they’re the least labour intensive. Besides, many of the shows that were to be profiled in my final preview post (“Red Bastard“, “Bingo: The Show“, KidsFringe shows like “Rock Time 2009“, etc.), I’ve already seen, and will be reviewing (most quite positively).

So here’s what’s going to happen: I’ll update this post frequently over the next (and final) few days of Fringe with a handful of short reviews at a time. Keep checking back to see the new ones; I’ll be updating this post as often and as quickly as I can between Fringe shows, and late at night.

The cast of David Hein's (centre) "My Mother's Lesbian Jewish-Wiccan Wedding" have a big hit on their hands' the shows' been selected for the Best of Fringe since the second day of the Festival, and has had huge line-ups every day at Bread and Circus.

The cast of David Hein's (centre) "My Mother's Lesbian Jewish-Wiccan Wedding" have a big hit on their hands; the show's been selected for the Best of the Fringe since the second day of the Festival, and has had huge line-ups every day at Bread and Circus.

(For Fringe reviews, click on the “more”).

Read more…

Categories: Comedy, Dance, Film, GTS Update, Improv, Music, Theatre Tags:

Fringe 2009 Preview #3: Musical / Dance

July 6th, 2009 Steve 6 comments
The "World's oldest Father and Son Cajun Music Duo", The Williamson Playboys, present a new revue (featuring some VERY old songs) at the Fringe Club.

The "World's Oldest Father and Son Cajun Music Duo", The Williamson Playboys, present a new revue (featuring some VERY old songs): "Brother, Can You Spare Some Pants?".

We’re 6 days into the Fringe Festival at this point, so I feel a little awkward still titling these profile pieces as “previews”. At this point, I’ve already seen quite a few shows (you’ll have to wait for the capsule reviews to find out which, though). I had issues getting online from a few rinky dink towns out in rural Ontario this weekend, in order to get this post, and the fourth and final preview, finished and posted. But better late than never, right?

So, then; this post is all about the Musical and Dance shows in this year’s Fringe. Arguably, this is the category that’s had the most success is developing shows that have a life beyond Fringe; the most famous example, of course, would be the Broadway show “The Drowsy Chaperone“, which had its first full production at the Toronto Fringe in 1998, and went on to eventually win 5 Tonys in 2006.

Also included in this category are the Dance Initiative shows. There are technically 8 shows being presented at the Fringe with the participation of the Dance Ontario Umbrella, but I’ve snuck a few more in that aren’t official dance selections.

Read more…

Categories: Comedy, Dance, Music, Theatre Tags:

Gracing the Stage(s) (UPDATED with photo links!)

February 24th, 2009 Steve 2 comments

(Photographer Skye Regan, who’s been doing a terrific job documenting Impromptu Splendor through her camera lens, has uploaded a treasure trove of pictures of the GTS launch show’s performers to her Flicker account. You can view Skye’s photos of the launch party shows, and more, here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/skyesthelimit/ . Saturday night was also captured on camera by Albert Lee, who will hopefully have his pictures available just as soon as he gets his website up and running. Enjoy! – Steve)

What a weekend it was. 2 nights, 2 venues, 24 acts (including hosts Iron Cobra and The Flirts), more than 8 hours of entertainment, minus two 20 minute intermissions, and a lot of very impressed audience members, many of whom left talking excitedly about acts they’d not known before these shows.

Julie Tepperman played anxious bride Rachel in Convergence's Theatre's side-splitting excerpt of their play "Yichud/Seclusion".

Julie Tepperman played anxious bride Rachel in Convergence's Theatre's side-splitting excerpt from their play "Yichud/Seclusion", Friday night at Bread and Circus (this and all subsequent photos in this post are by Skye Regan).

Both nights had two things in common:

- it seemed like every third person in the doors of the venues exclaimed “this place is great! Why haven’t I been here before?” So, between that and the great advance press the shows got, my tertiary goal of promoting the venues certainly seems to have been accomplished;

- The shows couldn’t have gone any better on stage, save for going a little long both nights (the shows both started around 9:20pm and wrapped up around 1:30am), and for an occasionally hair-raising mic at Night 1.

Maylee judges a "fierce" competition of pose-offs during the Sweatshop Hop.

Maylee judges a "fierce" competition of pose-offs during the Sweatshop Hop, Saturday at Comedy Bar.

Night One at Bread and Circus had a respectable audience turnout, and a great media and VIP turnout; in the audience were 3 staff writers from Torontoist, 2 from Blog T.O., reps from Plank Magazine, the Toronto Music Blog Collective, and Stillepost, and at least three music promoters. I was a bit of a stress case, worrying about off-stage issues, but it all worked out, off stage and on, chiefly due to the efforts of my volunteer coordinator Deborah Robinson and her crew behind the scenes, and on stage courtesy of stage technician Gordon Peck and his right hand man Craig Pickthorne (asking Deb and Gord for help with the shows was by far the smartest thing I did, logistically).

If Friday was a little touch and go at times (though that never showed on stage), Saturday’s Night Two at Comedy Bar went as smooth as silk. There’d been considerably more advance tickets sold for Saturday’s show, and the crowd turned up despite a pretty intense snowstorm. I was relaxed enough to get up there in my shirt and tie and do some ridiculously fun aerobics moves with headliners The Sweatshop Hop, and there were still enough people at Comedy Bar after 1am that the afterparty with The Bob Kerr Singers had an appreciative audience ( birthday boy Bob’s guests were Hawkmail, Adam Christie, Megan Fraser, and Levi Macdougall, who joined Maylee Todd and Ryan V. Hays as one of the elite few who performed both nights).

Below is a full roll call of the performers, in order of appearance (I encourage you to visit their online homes), and a few more choice photos of the night, all courtesy of crack snapshooter Skye Regan. Skye’s pics, and Albert Lees from Night 2, will be up online in a gallery format of some form or another very soon (I’ll update this post with the links when they’re posted) . Read more…

"The Cinnamon Hearts Present… Unlucky in Love"

February 9th, 2009 Steve No comments

The Cinnamon Hearts Present… Unlucky in Love“, w/ guests The Saucy Tarts, Ceci My Playmate, Mademoiselle Creme Brulee, @ Goodhandy’s, 9pm, $10

Categories: Comedy, Dance, Event Tags:

Rhubarb

February 7th, 2009 Steve No comments
Maev Beaty & Erin Shields

Maev Beaty & Erin Shields; the two perform in all different states of deshabille in "Montparnasse", Week 1 at Rhubarb

Last month’s Next Stage Festival was pointed at by many folks as a sterling example that Toronto’s arts patrons don’t hibernate over the winter; the festival posted a 15% gain over last year’s attendance. But, although Next Stage is the hot new kid on the block, there’s plenty of other festivals of new works to take in over the winter months, and the still frisky and relevant Rhubarb, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is one of the best.

Rhubarb started out, quite naturally, as an extension of the work being done by queer theatre artists through the mandate of Canada’s first gay and lesbian theatre company, Buddies in Bad Times. Over the years, both Buddies and Rhubarb’s mandate has grown to include alternative and innovative theatre from artists of all sorts of orientations; in fact, one of the most promising shows I’ve seen so far, Groundwater Production’sMontparnasse“, is the work of three women married to men (writer/director Andrea Donaldson, and writers/ performers Erin Shields & Maev Beaty). Above all, Rhubarb requires its submitted works, and its audience, to come to the theatre with an open mind, and a willingness to take risks.

Taylor Mac in concert @ the Howl Festival in NYC's East Village.

Taylor Mac in concert @ the Howl Festival in NYC's East Village.

Of course, though, Buddies being what it is, there’s a fierce streak of Pride throughout the program, and Rhubarb has landed a real heavyweight for its first week, booking performance artist and drag queen Taylor Mac for four late night slots in Week 1. Mac, who’s performed at hundreds of festivals round the world, is a revelation; he’s like some marvelous hybrid of Spalding Grey, RuPaul, and Sean Cullen (I mention said homegrown comic due to this week’s update - but getting back on track…). Mac wraps the audience around his little finger, and gets under your skin with his charming and occasionally very sobering songs, his sparkling wit, and his fascinating stories. A consummate entertainer, he had the crowd on their feet by the end of his set, and he’d accomplished this with just a ukelele, a stretched sheet, and a bag full of “finery”. Yes, I even learned something; a drag queen’s clothes are not her “costumes”, they’re her finery.

Taylor Mac wraps up this weekend, but Rhubarb continues for another two weeks, with all new performance pieces, workshopped plays, and spontaneous happenings each week in the Chamber and Cabaret from 7pm onwards, Wednesday to Saturday, at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Taylor Mac (9:45pm), “”Montparnasse” (9:10pm), and the rest of the Week 1 Rhubarb festival acts are  at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre from Wed. Feb. 4th – Sat. Feb. 8th, 7pm onwards; Week 2 begins Wed. Feb. 11th.

UPDATED: Gracing the Stage Launch Party Weekend!

February 5th, 2009 Steve 3 comments

It is with great pride and pleasure that I announce a weekend of top notch music, comedy, and theatre, to officially launch this website. Yes, we’ve been posting daily (or just about) since January 4th, but on February 20th and 21st, gracingthestage.ca will be announcing its presence in the real world in a BIG way, with two nights showcasing some of Toronto’s best music, comedy, and theatre artists, at two of the newest and most exciting performance spaces in the city.

JUST ANNOUNCED: two  new acts have been added to the bills, one per night! Friday, the music line-up will be bolstered by the addition of Tonka and Puma, AKA April and Dan from Hooded Fang! Saturday, the evening will continue well past midnight with performances from The Bob Kerr Singers, led by stand-up extraordinaire Bob Kerr. Bob, who will be celebrating his birthday that night, is well under way to meeting a New Years resolution to perform more than 100 stand up shows in 2009; the Bob Kerr Singers are, well, whoever BOB invites to share the stage with him!

Maylee Todd leads members of Toronto's indie rock community in a late night, drunken aerobicise rountine at the second ever Sweatshop Hop. In this picture are members of Entire Cities, Gravity Wave, Woodhands, Henri Faberge & The Adorables, the Bicycles, sketch troupe Bull Hooey, and more, including yours truly (photo by Joseph Fuda).

Maylee Todd leads members of Toronto's indie rock community in a late night, drunken aerobicise routine at the second ever Sweatshop Hop. In this picture are members of Entire Cities, Gravity Wave, Woodhands, Henri Faberge & The Adorables, the Bicycles, sketch troupe Bull Hooey, and more, including yours truly (photo by Joseph Fuda).

Here are the straight facts:

gracingthestage.ca Launch Party Night 1, w/ Entire Cities, The Williamson Playboys, Gravity Wave, Levi MacDougall, Maylee Todd, 10,000 to Flight, Convergence Theatre, Tonka and Puma, and Carnegie Hall, with hosts Iron Cobra, Friday Feb. 20th @ Bread & Circus (299 Augusta Ave), 8pm doors, 9pm showtime.

AND

gracingthestage.ca Launch Party Night 2, w/ Peter Katz, The Remainders, Maylee & Slippers’ Sweatshop Hop, Pat Thornton, Melissa D’Agostino, Makesi Arthur, Jehan Khoorshed, The Bob Kerr Singers, and Kathleen Phillips, with hosts The Flirts, Saturday Feb. 21st @ Comedy Bar (945 Bloor St. W.), 8pm doors, 9pm showtime.

Tickets for both nights are $12 in advance @ their respective venues and at record store Soundscapes (572 College St.), and $15 @ the door.

The venues (Bread and Circus, and Comedy Bar) were chosen for the fact that they are both artist-owned and operated; neither space is particularly large, and tickets will go FAST. Don’t wait long to pick yours up!

(Edit: the following tune is not produced by anyone affliated with Maylee & Slippers’ Sweatshop Hop, but it comes Maylee-approved – have a listen to get in the mood!)

Neon Neon (feat. Fat Lip and Yo Majesty!) – Sweatshop


“Surface/Underground Theatre Presents… a Burlesque Carnival“

January 27th, 2009 Steve No comments

Tonight’s going to be a busy evening for Toronto’s theatre community. The Toronto Fringe Festival is holding its annual Lottery Party at The Tranzac Club, kicking off as of 7pm (the New Play Contest winners will be announced, too – I’m dying to find out if my favourites made the cut). Also, Theatre Passe Muraille’s FREE performance of “Them and Us” is this evening, too.

But later tonight, some theatre people might be looking to celebrate, or forget their disappointment, and my suggestion would be to head to a blues-y and burlesque-y (OK, that was clums-y) shindig happening at The Boat.


(The Emotionally Unavailable Mariners, a band with a definite bent towards the theatrical, headline tonight at Surface / Underground Theatre’s fundraiser. More details, and some saucy burlesque pics, after the jump.) Read more…