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GTS Updates return! (Jan. 17th-25th, 2020)

January 18th, 2020 Steve Leave a comment Go to comments

Steven Conway and Pearle Harbour. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Oh hi there! It’s been a while since I posted here. In fact, it’s been a decade. Why? Well, I started being paid to cover arts and entertainment in Toronto by a publication (Torontoist), and eventually over a dozen different media outlets, most of which are no longer publishing. There’s a post below this one explaining the start of that, and that I had ideas for this blog, but that I wasn’t going to be publishing regularly here. And… I didn’t. At all.

There was a hey day about seven years ago when I actually made 4 figures in successive months, writing for CBC Music, AV Club, and more. But finding publications willing and able to pay for coverage of Toronto’s stage scene got harder and harder.

In December of 2018, I had seven different things published. Cumulatively, it didn’t pay my rent.

I’ve always had a parallel career, however, working part time for the Royal Canadian Navy as a reservist. Training and working with them put me through theatre school, and subsidized my arts careers; first as an actor, then as a critic and arts journalist.

So at the start of 2019, I took a full time position, recruiting for the Naval Reserves. And now that I’m no longer pitching to other publications, I can use my (more limited) free time to write for free again, on my own time, on my own schedule. Here.

I’m eventually going to revamp the site (this WordPress design is twelve years old, after all!), but the important thing is getting back in the habit of writing.

I’m also flipping the old format. The week’s picks will be first, so you can quickly scan and see what you might want to go to. The picks will be followed by the “TL;DR” reviews and previews of what I’ve seen (or will be seeing), maybe even with some topical op-ed at the end. There will be much less film and music than of old, because theatre and comedy has become my dominant wheelhouse, by far. The intention is to publish weekly—but I’m going to need to be careful not to overcommit, so no firm promises (this post itself is already later than planned).

Later this month, I’ll publish a recap of my past decade as a journalist and critic, and list (and hot link to) some of my “greatest hits”. But for now, here’s what I used to do best….

Steve’s Weekly Picks for Jan 17th – 25th , 2020:


FRIDAY Jan 17th: Midsummer Night’s Dream“, w/ Kwaku Okyere, Alexa MacDougall, Matthew Finlan, more, @ Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, 7:30pm, PWYC—$26 (to Jan. 26) / “Rapp Battlz 122: 10 Year Anniversary“, w/ Gillian Bartulucci, Definition of Knowledge, Chris Sandiford, hosts Miguel & Freddie Rivas, more, @ Comedy Bar, 10:30pm, $10-$15

SATURDAY Jan 18th Aft.: NSTF: “Morro & Jasp: Save The Date”, @ Factory Theatre Mainspace, 2pm, $12-$18 (to January 18) / NSTF: “Morro & Jasp: The Future of Clown” talkback, w/ host Steve Fisher (yes, me!), @ Factory Theatre Antechamber, 3:30pm, FREE / NSTF: Winter of 88″ closing show, w/ Aida Keykhaii, Jonathan Shaboo, Sarah Marchand, more, Factory Theatre Mainstage, 4:15pm, $12-$18

Bianca Alongi, Cristina Goncalves, and Lindsay Mullan. Photo by Katherine Fogler.

SATURDAY Jan 18th Eve: “The Solitudes” closing show, w/ Rhoma Spencer, Janis Mayers, Muihelle Polak, more, @ Harbourfront Centre, 8pm, $20-$24 / NSTF: “Agit-Pop!”, w/ Pearle Harbour, more, @ Factory Theatre Mainspace, $12-$18 (to Jan 19)

SUNDAY Jan 19th Aft.: NSTF: closing show, w/ Isabel Kanaan, Belinda Corpuz, Alia Rasul, more, @ Factory Theatre Mainspace, 1:30pm, $12 -$18 / “Julius Caesar”, w/ Dion Johnstone, Moya O’Connell, Diego Matamoros, more, @ Crow’s Theatre Mainspace, 2pm, PWYC (to Feb 2nd)

SUNDAY Jan 19th Eve: NSTF: “Tease” closing show, w/ Lindsay Mullan, Bianca Alongi, Cristina Gonçalves, @ Factory Theatre Studio, 8:15pm, $12-$18 / “Sunday Night Live”, w/ Tom Hearn, Erica Gellert, Colin Sharpe, guest host Selina Vyle, more, @ Comedy Bar Mainspace, 9:30pm, $12

MONDAY Jan 20th: , w/ Vanessa Sears, Giustin MacLean, Gabi Epstein, host Jeni Walls, more, @ Diner 120, 9pm, PWYC / “Sketch T-Rex”, w/ Sex T-Rex, Twoson, The Wow, more, @ Bad Dog Theatre Company, 9:30pm, PWYC ($10 suggested)

TUESDAY Jan 21st: “Casamir And Caroline”, w/ Hallie Seline, Alex Crowther, Vanessa Hortiguela, more, @ Crow’s Theatre, 8pm, PWYC (to Feb 9th)

WEDNESDAY Jan 22nd: “The Art of Magic”, w/ Mark Correia, more, @ Super Wonder Gallery, 8pm, $25 (Also Jan 23rd) / “Templeton Manor”, w/ Anasimone George, Anesti Daniels, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, hosts The Templeton Philharmonic, @ Bad Dog Theatre Company, 8pm, $5-$10.     

THURSDAY Jan 23rd: “Sexual Misconduct Of The Middle Classes”, w/ Matthew Edison, Alice Snaden, @ Tarragon Theatre, 8pm, $22-$70. (to February 9th)

FRIDAY Jan 24th: “Mother’s Daughter”, w/ Shannon Taylor, Maria Vacratis, Beryl Bain, more, @ Young Centre For The Performing Arts, 7:30pm, FREE-$98. (to Feb 9th) / Rhea Butcher, more, @ Comedy Bar, 8pm & 9:30pm, $25.

Let’s start with the Next Stage Theatre Festival. I managed to see 8 of the shows; 10, if you count my viewings of Tita Jokes and Every Silver Lining last summer at the Fringe. (Both shows were new iterations for this festival, so I shouldn’t really say whether those changes were substantial or not.) My favourite, and the one I’d bet is most likely to be remounted soon, was Pearle Harbour’s Agit-Pop! A cabaret exploring our collective 21st century anxiety, that uses 20th century imagery (like vintage cartoons) and pop songs (like a gorgeous cover of The Beach Boys’ “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”) to soothe our jangled nerves, and point out that apocalyptic fears aren’t new, and can be managed. Justin Miller’s coutured and coiffed alter-ego Pearle is ascendent as a host and entertainer, nearing the top of her game as a host and monologist.

From what I saw, the festival as a whole was particularly strong this year. Morro & Jasp’s Save The Date, still as wildly funny and touching as it was at the 2018 Toronto Fringe, benefitted from some set design spruce-up by Roxanne Ignatius. Tease, a feminist cabaret created by Second City alumna Lindsay Mullan, more than fulfilled the promises it made in its promotion, being at turns both titillating and

I’ll be out of town for the next two weeks, so won’t be posting any more reviews until I return and start seeing shows in February. But I intend to file the week’s picks (and previews) remotely!

Fine Print:

- All prices listed are advance ticket prices (where applicable). With many of these shows, especially music and theatre, if you show up at the door, you run the risk of being turned away due to a sell out (but at the door may be the only way to get PWYC tix).

- All times are start times, NOT door times. If you show up after the posted time, the show will likely already be underway.

- I typically cap the listed performers at three mentioned per show. The bill of bands / acts / performers is often much larger (particularly for comedy and theatre).

- Theatre and Comedy events are ALL AGES, unless otherwise noted. Music events are 19+, unless otherwise noted (FREE in-store and outdoor performances are ALL AGES, due to the lack of alcohol service).

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