Tag Archives: Don Francks

Today’s Top Tips: Bernie & Ruby, a slapshtick night at the Opera, and where to take Mom on Sunday

I’LL TAKE ROMANCE: Just added two movies to my Must See list that I didn’t know even existed until quite recently. The first one is Bernie, a black comedy based on a true story about the ill-fated romance of a young mortician

MACLAINE & BLACK: Must See new movie

and a not-so-youthful Texas widow. Jack Black is the mortician. Shirley MacLaine is the widow. I think you’ll understand why I’m dying (you should pardon the expression) to see it after you click on this sneak preview. The second movie on my new Must list is Ruby Sparks. It’s about a young novelist (Paul Dano) struggling with both his writing and his romantic life. Then he creates a character named Ruby who inspires him. And then he finds Ruby (Zoe Kazan), in the flesh, somehow manifested by his writing, sitting on his couch. Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening and Elliot Gould are along for

DANO: Sparks f;ly

the ride, which to me strongly resembles a romantic rollercoaster. Click here for the sneak preview of that one.

SHOWSTOPPER: It’s just one of those songs/that you hear now and then/you don’t know just where/you don’t know just when …  but you sure know it when you hear it. There is a soft stirring in the audience at the Four Seasons Centre this month as soon as the first strains of Puccini’s haunting melody O mio babbino caro come soaring up from the orchestra pit during every performance of Gianni Schicchi. The surprise for some of us less well-versed in operatic endeavours is that this beautiful ballad comes right in the middle of a slapstick farce about a greedy family trying to cheat monks out of an inheritance.

THE GAMG’S ALL HERE: A family schemes as Puccini serenades

Aided and abetted by a brilliant ensemble, soprano-turned-director Catherine Malfitano displays a fearless flare for broad comedy that suggests she’s a serious fan of such screwball classics as Weekend At Bernie’s and Fire Sale, and Wilson Chin’s stylishly topsy-turvy set consistently keeps us in on the

MAYNARD: first visit here

joke. The lush musical score, sensitively and splendidly conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, makes the contrast even more appealing, and Simone Osborne’s rich vocalizing on O mio babbino caro earns every minute of the tumultuous applause she receives. Check it out at www.coc.ca.

Still not quite sure which aria it is? To watch Montserrat Caballe’s version, click here; to watch Maria Callas’ sing it to Japanese fans in Tokyo, click here. And, enjoy!

OUR TOWN: Lots of sparklies on the radar this week. New Brit pop music sensation Conor Maynard, who’s 19 if he’s a day, was on hand to co-host New.Music.Live on MuchMusic last night. This morning he’ll make live

JOHNSON: on stage this week

appearances on the KISS 92.5 Morning show at 8 a.m. and CP24 Breakfast at 8:45 a.m. So will he sing Can’t Say No? Whaddya think? …  enduring pop music siren Tabby Johnson entertains Thursday night at Maggie Cassella’s Flying Beaver Pubaret … Jayzm Bee hosts Word Jazz – “ten poets doing ten minutes each in a truly unique evening of spoken word” — with Don Francks, Robert Preist, Dale Percy, Myna Wallin, Phatt Al, Mike Schram, Chris Hercules, Amanda Hiebert, Howard “Dr. Possibility” Jerome, Mike Hanson and Bruce Hunter, Thursday night at the Now Lounge on Church Street …. also this Thursday: Betty Buckley kicks off the 15th and final We’re

COHEN: he’s Our Man

Funny That Way festival with a concert at Buddies In Bad Times that’s sure to be spellbinding …  don’t say I didn’t warn ya: This Friday’s night concert by the legendary Lighthouse rock orchestra at the Molson Canadian Studio in Hamilton is expected to go SRO … so is female illusionist Christopher Peterson’s Saturday night WFTW festival show at Buddies … also on Saturday: The Three Lennys, a special Toronto Jewish Film Festival screening of three Leonard Cohen films at the Bloor Cinema in honour of the recently-announced ninth recipient of the Glenn Gould Prize. And before Cohen receives his newest accolade next Monday at a gala evening at Massey Hall, local musicians will take to the streets to play his music all over downtown Toronto. So keep your eyes and ears open!

RICHARDSON: Sunday salon stint

SUNDAY’S SPECIAL: Looking for significant stuff to do on Mother’s Day? Look no further.  Take her to The Flying Beaver Pubaret on Parliament for a 1 pm jazz brunch with Shannon Gunn on Vocals, Reg Schrager on guitar and Rosemary Galloway on bass, or a 7 pm Mother’s Day concert by singer-songwriter Duff MacDonaldJackie Richardson joins Paul Hoffert at his weekly jazz salon at Musideum on Richmond on Sunday at 3 pm … Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie have added an extra show to their world premiere of From the House of Mirth,

THOMPSON: Glory-watcher

directed and choreographed by James Kudelka, at the Citadel — which means you now have a choice of two Sunday performances (3 pm & 8 pm) …  Judith Thompson previews her new one-woman show, Watching Glory Die, in a staged reading this Sunday at 2 pm at the Factory Theatre … just looking for something special to slip in the envelope with that Hallmark card? The National Ballet of Canada is offering a special Mother’s Day deal on its upcoming premiere of Hamlet. Buy tickets to see the high-flying Prince of Denmark on Friday June 8 and get 30% off the price of tickets, in all sections. To take full advantage of this special I Love Mom promotion, click here!

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Buffy & Cloris share their Unique lives, and Robin, Jayne, Kathy & Teresa get ready to put on their clothes again

NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ: Get out your calendars. Toronto’s mini-Just For Laughs festival will run July 6 – 11, opening one day before the annual bilingual comedyfest launches

LEACHMAN: Toronto-bound

in Montreal … Smokey Robinson plays Fallsview Casino June 11 & 12 … Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Buffy Ste. Marie, a digital pioneer in her own right, gives a Unique Lives & Experiences session next week at Roy Thomson Hall, with confessed shopaholic Cloris Leachman set to follow in her footsteps on April 19 … and four of the funniest femmes in the business, Robin Duke, Jayne Eastwood, Kathryn Greenwood and Teresa Pavlinek, return with a brand new show when their smash comedy troupe Women Fully Clothed plays Massey Hall on May 7. But they’re there for one night only, so don’t dawdle. To order tickets, click here.

BRAVE NEW CYBER WORLD: The April 12 Genie Awards will be broadcast live on the Independent Film Channel,  livestreamed on CBC.ca. and rebroadcast on The Movie Network and Movie Central at a later

KUTCHER: tweeting for Haiti

date. The live webcast on CBC.ca is a first for the Genies and could give the awards show its largest audience reach ever … after concluding a 40-city theatrical tour, PBS’s American Experience will premiere its new Earth Days documentary on April 11 on Facebook. eight days ahead of the film’s television broadcast on April 19. This will reportedly be the first time a major broadcaster has introduced a full-length documentary on the site … Twitter-pated Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore and Will Ferrell are among the stars of 140 Tweets For Haiti. You can check out the trailer here … and Margaret Atwood tweets greetings from the Cologne Literary Festival where she reports that “twittern” is now a German verb.

SMALL SCREEN, BIG STAGE: Never underestimate the power of television. The Broadway run of David Mamet’s new play Race has now been extended to June 13, thanks

HAYES: Broadway-bound

to the marquee allure of Boston Legal charmer James Spader … stage veteran Doris Roberts, who finally became a household name playing Ray Romano‘s mother on television, is set to return to off-Broadway next month in Love, Loss And What I Wore, which is quietly becoming a notable successor to Love Letters and The Vagina Monologues … and Emmy award-winning Will & Grace scene-stealer Sean Hayes is deep in song and dance rehearsals for his Broadway bow in the upcoming revival of Promises, Promises, the Neil Simon-Burt Bacharach-Hal David musical based on the Academy Award-winning Billy Wilder comedy The Apartment with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, Hayes is playing the role originated by Jerry Orbach, another legit leading man who later became far more famous for his TV work on Law & Order. And Hayes’ leading lady is Wicked star Kristin Chenowith — best known to American audiences for, you guessed it, her Emmy-winning TV role on Pushing Daisies and her guest stint last season on Glee.

ENRIGHT: Giller juror

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Enigmatic music legend Don Francks is set to make one of his rare appearances at Lula’s Lounge on April 15 … renowned Russian bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin makes his Canadian debut here April 24 in the popular Canadian Opera Company production of The Flying Dutchman. Johannes Debus, the COC’s newly-appointed Music Director, will lead the COC Orchestra and Chorus … it’s official: CBC Radio stalwart Michael Enright and novelists Claire Messud and Ali Smith have been elected by Jack Rabinovitch to choose the next Giller Prize winner … Ken Lindsay fans, take note: Your favourite piano man returns to the village  April 1 (no foolin’) to the Fuzion Resto-Lounge on Church Street.  Mark Cassius, formerly of The Nylons, will be on hand to help out with the high notes. Reservations are advised. For more info, click here … and screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) will pen the script for the screen biography of Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi. ESPN Films, an offshoot of the sports cable network, hopes to premiere the film before the 2012 Super Bowl. Robert DeNiro will play Lombardi — but will his Raging Bull guru Martin Scorsese direct? Stay tuned.

Have a great weekend!

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Brent Carver, Molly Johnson, Albert Schultz & Jackie Richardson set to sparkle this weekend

COME TO THE CABARETS, OLD CHUMS: The Canwest Cabaret Festival, returning to the Young Centre this coming weekend, promises 60 intimate

Molly-Johnson

JOHNSON: cabaret queen

concerts in five intimate clubs. And as usual the musical menu is dazzlingly eclectic. Obvious highlights include The Leonard Cohen Songbook with Brent Carver, Andy Maize, Patricia O’Callaghan, Mike Ross and Elizabeth Shepherd; a tribute to Danny Kaye by Don Francks and Albert Schultz; and solo turns by Ms. O’Callaghan, Jackie Richardson, Molly Johnson, DK Ibomeka and more. Don’t miss a beat — go to the source right here.

LITERATI: Because Douglas Coupland made such a big splash with his 1991 bestseller Generation X, I assumed his new novel Generation A was a sequel.

douglas-coupland

COUPLAND: alphabet soup?

Wrong. Coupland took the title for his new book from a commencement address delivered to Syracuse University graduates by fellow novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Said Vonnegut: “Now you young twerps want a new name for your generation? Probably not, you just want jobs, right? Well, the media do us all such tremendous favors when they call you Generation X, right? Two clicks from the very end of the alphabet. I hereby declare you Generation A, as much at the beginning of a series of astonishing triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago.”

Incidentally, Generation A is set in the near future, where bees are extinct, until one autumn when five people are stung in different places around the world — a shared experience that unites them in a way that only Coupland could imagine.

FUNNY STUFF: Big winners at the 10th annual Canadian Comedy Awards in St. John, New Brunswick were stand-up guys (and gals) Jeremy Hotz, Debra

Hotzforpromo_2008-12-1_103523.JPG

HOTZ: award winner

DiGiovanni and Nathan MacIntosh, TV laugh-getters Jon Dore and Wendell Meldrum, and big-screen stealers Peter Oldring (Young People Fucking) and Samantha Bee (Coopers Camera.) Longtime comedy manager Lorne Pulmutar picked up this year’s Chairman’s Award and This Hour Has 22 Minutes creator Mary Walsh added a Dave Broadfoot Award to her ongoing collection. Biggest bonus for CCA founder Tim Progosh was a request from Deputy City Manager Andrew Beckett to bring the comedy fest back to St. John next year. (Well, okay, the Gemini nomination for his 2008 CCA Best of the Fest Variety Special hosted by Shaun Majumder didn’t exactly hurt his feelings either.)

OUR TOWN: Four Seasons Centre architect Jack Diamond talks with Toronto Star business columnist David Olive about architecture that works,

shaun_232

MAJUMDER: Gemini nominee

 

tonight at 7 pm in The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library … Toronto casting director Jason Knight (Chloe, Cairo Time, Away From Her) guests at ReelWorld’s monthly mixer tonight at Harlem Restaurant … and the third CP+S (Creative Places & Spaces) opens today with Sir Ken Robinson and Richard Florida headlining more than 60 high-profile speakers including Peter Munk, Sara Diamond, Gerry Flahive, Joe Rotman, Allyson Hewitt and outgoing Toronto mayor David Miller. This year’s theme is The Collaborative City and moderators for the 72-hour think tank include Ralph Benmergui, Matt Galloway and Ana Serrano. Should be a very lively three days.

TOMORROW:

Get out your calendars. We’ve got

sneak previews of some becoming attractions.