Tag Archives: JUDITH THOMPSON

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!

*     *     *

Advertisements

Nurse Jackie gets a pick-up, Michel plays Irving, and T.O. theatre-goers get three decades of Doras

FALCO: she's the right Rx

FALCO: she's the right Rx

BEDSIDE MANNERS: American  television has clearly has taken a turn for the nurse. Fans of Sopranos scene-stealer Edie Falco, and they are legion, will be delighted to learn that her new almost three-week-old series Nurse Jackie has already been picked up for a second season …  and Jada Pinkett Smith is following in her mother’s footsteps, playing nurse Christina Hawthorne in HawthoRNe. (No, that’s not a typo. And yes, it really is a bit too cute. But then, here we are talking about it.) Ms. Pinkett Smith’s mom worked as a head nurse at a Baltimore women’s clinic, but in her new series, created by John Masius (St. Elsewhere) and produced by her hubbyWill Smith, Jada says her character is basically a woman with a God complex that’s really going to have to, like, get real. She’s going to have to learn to take care of herself as intensely as the patients.”

Sounds like a prescription for another hit show.

We’ll see.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: He conquered Stratford, won our hearts on TV as Tommy Douglas, wowed us on stage in The Producers and even survived the musical version of Lord Of The Rings. Now Michel Therriault is

THERRIAULT: Call him Irving

THERRIAULT: Call him Irving

about to play U.S. legend Irving Berlin off-Broadway in a new what-if musical called The Tin Pan Alley Rag. Described as a ‘musical play,’ it’s the story of an imagined meeting of two of America’s greatest musicians, composer Scott Joplin (Michael Boatman) and songwriter Berlin and the stories of fame, love and loss beneath their syncopated, frequently hypnotic rhythms … speaking of Stratford, award-laden director Norman Jewison says Stratford’s current production of West Side Story is the best he’s seen since the show first opened on Broadway more than (gulp!) half a century ago … sad news for you if you meant to but didn’t get around to ordering tickets: Every performance of the Tarragon Theatre remount of one-woman whirlwind Judith Thompson’s Body & Soul has been sold out since the curtain went up last week … Ray Jessel returns to our town to cabaret at the Old Mill next Saturday June 27 during The Toronto Jazz Festival … and Rick Mercer Report producer Gerald Lunz got an extra show on Broadway this week when he caught all three

DeVITO: too bloody funny?

DeVITO: too bloody funny?

installments of the revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s Norman Conquests, performed in the round at the Circle in the Square. Danny DeVito, who was sitting across the stage from him, literally doubled over with laughter, bounced his face off the seat in front of him, and split his lip. Now that’s comedy!

FOOTLIGHTS: Risking The Void, a comprehensive retrospective of stage designer Cameron Porteous’ remarkable contribution to theatre in Canada, opens Saturday July 4 at The Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre at Niagara-on-the-Lake. The ambitious exhibit is a collaboration by Theatre Museum Canada, the University of Guelph’s L.W. Conolly Theatre Archives and the Shaw Festival … WatersEdge Productions, a new independent theatre

JEWISON: Stratford aficionado

JEWISON: Stratford aficionado

company, will debut in T.O, with the Canadian premiere of bare, a new rock musical that garnered a worldwide fan base since its award-winning run in L.A. and its sold-out five-week run off-Broadway. The show, in which an exuberant young cast of 19 actors tackles themes of teen sexuality, religious angst and unrelenting social and family pressure – yup, it’s a musical, I kid you not – opens July 17 at Hart House … shhhhh, it’s a secret, but my spies tell me the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts is polishing up a special award for superProducer Marlene Smith. To which we can only add, bravo!  … doesn’t seem possible that this is the 30th anniversary of the Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Imagine three decades of Doras! …  and soon you won’t have to. Theatre-goers attending the June 29 awards will receive an elegant bonus — a special book, The Doras: 30 Years of Theatre, Dance and Opera in Toronto. Edited by Angela Rebeiro, the new book will be distributed free of charge to all guests at the Award Show ceremony. It will go on sale at TheatreBooks after the show … and speaking of the Doras, have you cast your vote for the Audience Choice Award? If you haven’t, you’ve only got a few days left – polls close June 25. So just take a deep breath and click here.

A TOMLIN NEVER FORGETS: American treasure Lily Tomlin wants me to let you know that tomorrow is not just another Saturday.

TOMLIN: on a mission

TOMLIN: on a mission

“On Saturday, June 20, compassionate people around the world will unite to educate the public about the suffering of elephants in zoos, as part of the first-ever International Day of Action for Elephants in Zoos,” says Lily. “Events are taking place in more than 30 cities in seven countries. I strongly urge you to attend an event, if there’s one in your area. Visit HelpElephants.com to see a list of locations.”

Lily’s using her wowOwow. com website to get her message out to as many people as possible.

“From some of the comments I’ve read in response to the issue of elephants in zoos, I’ve come to realize that people are just so used to seeing elephants in tiny displays that they accept that as being OK,” she says. “But it isn’t. While a zoo exhibit may appear big to us, to an elephant it’s miniscule. And don’t forget that elephants are forced to live their entire lives in that same spot, deprived of all that is natural to them: space, freedom, family and choice.”

For more on Lily’s plea for your help, click here.

And have a great weekend!

-/-


Good morning, mid-May. Spring is finally sprung.

PIANO MAN, UHHH, KID, UHHH, BOY, UHHHH, GENIUS:  Six-year old piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick returns to rub elbows with Jay Leno 

BORTNICK: remember wheb?

BORTNICK: remember when?

tonight on The Tonight Show. At the risk of being mistaken for my favourite Insight gurus Shirley MacLaine, do we really believe this charming moppet has learned the more than 220 tunes he tickles out of those ivories? No, we do not. We believe he is remembering and re-imagining a talent from at least one of his past lives. But he’s so engaging, and so much fun, and every inch a little old man hiding in a little boy’s body, that I can”t wait to see him again with Jay tonight. If you missed his first stint with Jay, click here and enjoy!

* * * 

CULLEN: human?

CULLEN: human?

 

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Hat trick charmers Stacie Mistysyn (Degrassi), Daniel Cook (This is Daniel Cook) and Rachel Marcus (Booky) will co-host a special 35th anniversary edition of the annual Alliance for Children and Television Awards of Excellence Gala in Toronto on June 3 at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio … Christina Jennings’ new series The Listener premieres June 4 on Space, CTV and NBC … and Sean Cullen brings his I Am A Human Man Tour to T.O.’s Panasonic Theatre on Sunday May 31. 

* * *

FOOTLIGHTS:  Thirteen months after a sold-out 10-show run, playwright and director Judith Thompson remounts Body & Soul, the powerful and

SCHULTZ: Awake and ...?

SCHULTZ: Awake and ...?

provocative play that astonished and moved audiences in its original incarnation.  This groundbreaking production returns for a two-and-a-half weeks only, opening June 6 at Tarragon Theatre’s Extra Space …  Soulpepper chief Albert Schultz opens Clifford Odets’ turbulent comedy-drama Awake And Sing! on June 16 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts … and award-winning theatre artist Tracey Erin Smith returns to T.O. with The Burning Bush, a new theatrical extravaganza that combines her two hit solo shows The Burning Bush! and Two in the Bush! Smith, who plays a ‘stripping rabbi’ who saves souls one lap dance at a time, will test-drive her new show in New York  (talk about yer out-of-town try-outs!) before opening June 18 at the above-mentioned Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

* * *

CHOY: lunch delicacyt?

CHOY: lunch delicacy?

 

LITERATI: Bookseller Ben McNally is set to serve up Wayson Choy and his new bestseller Not Yet at the Globe & Mail Authors Brunch at the King Eddie on May 24 …  Jerry Levitan will launch the illustrated book version of his Oscar-nominated autobiographical saga I Met The Walrus at Indigo Eaton Centre on May 25 …  and BNN’s Amanda Lang has been tapped to referee the Walrus Magazine-hosted debate Do Canada’s Counter-Terrorism Measures Unduly Compromise Privacy And Freedom? Opposing debaters will be author Daniel Stoffman (Are We Safe Yet?) and Toronto Star national affairs columnist Thomas Walkom.  The intellectual bun-flight, one of The Walrus’ series of Lively Lunch Debates, is set for Thursday May 28 in the 68th floor York Room at First Canadian Place, and promises to be highly stimulating. So how come it sounds like an elective root canal? Or is that just me …

* * *

NEW WORLD ORDER: Web savants Coldplay will be giving away an exclusive live CD, titled LeftRightLeftRightLeft, to all fans attending their  Viva La Vida summer tour and at every remaining live show in 2009.  The CD will also be

ALLEN: discounted?

ALLEN: discounted?

available as a free download during the same time period through their website http://www.coldplay.com. Their Canadian tour starts June 15 in Winnipeg, hits the Rogers Centre in T.O. on July 30 and wraps Aug. 1 at Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal … Search Engine, the popular online podcast and radio show that was a victim of CBC’s recent cost-cutting, is moving to TVO. Search Engine was canceled on radio last year, but it lived on a podcast, where it found a devoted audience … EMI Music has made a deal with the Fairmont hotel chain givng Fairmont guests exclusive access to discounts on digital music and other music related experiences from artists such as Coldplay, Moby, Lily Allen, Keith Urban, Katy Perry, The Beach Boys and more … and in a Canadian first, Corus is now offering direct iTunes accessibility on 11 of its radio station websites, allowing listeners to shop from playlists featured on the stations as well as top picks from on-air talent and celebrity guests.

Ain’t showbiz grand?

-/-

Gimme a break!

Oh wait, I just had one.

I know, I know, I promised you (and me) a daily column, uhhh, blog, Monday thru Friday and then some.

Never did figure out when spring break was supposed to end.

Okay. My bad.

I sorta promise to never do it again.

And meanwhile, back on the ranch:

 

OUR TOWN: What a way to start the New Year! Theatre Passe Muraille will host the world premiere of Judith Thompson’s new play, Such Creatures, in

POLLEY: presenting

POLLEY: presenting

January 2010 … presenters set to assist 22 Minutes scene-stealer Geri Hall when she hosts the 2009 WGC Screenwriting Awards next week include Yannick Bisson (Murdoch Mysteries), Sarah Polley (Away from Her,) Tara Spencer-Nairn (Corner Gas), and Jennifer Podemski (Moccasin Flats.) Host Hall and 22 Minutes scribe Kyle Tingley will script the annual Writers Guild of Canada awards giveaway … and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Tickets are already selling briskly for the Toronto filmfest’s phenomenally popular annual children’s filmfest, Sprockets, which opens this Saturday April 18.

 * * *

PEOPLE: Veteran camera-huggers Kathleen Turner and Peter Gallagher are set to join the cast of David Duchovnys hit Showtime series, CalifornicationWill Arnett has signed on to star  in a comic book -inspired Wild West saga, Jonah Hex, with Hollywood heartthrob-du-jour Josh Brolin 

JACK & MARGARET: odd couple

JACK & MARGARET: odd couple

… director Kari Scogland was reportedly delighted by the reception for her film Fifty Dead Men Walking in Belfast last week. The controversial drama, which premiered here last September at the Toronto film festival, has just opened across the UK … ’70s gay porn icon and cabaret producer Jack Wrangler died last week of emphysema. Wrangler, 62, is survived by his 84-year-old wife, esteemed pop music legend Margaret Whiting, in what was one of Hollywood’s most fascinating romances … and Giancarlo Esposito will jet in this week for the Wednesday night premiere of his directorial debut, Gospel Hill, at Tonya Lee Williams’ 9th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival at the Scotiabank Theatre. Esposito’s film, the fest’s opening night Gala, stars Danny Glover, Angela Bassett, Julia Stiles, Samuel L. Jackson and Taylor Kitsch.

 * * *

BILLY BOB BLUES: By now most of the free world has viewed Jian Ghomeshis quixotic interview with reluctant movie star Billy Bob Thornton on CBC Radio’s Q.  Can’t say I feel sorry for Jian, because he stick-handled Billy Bob brilliantly. Can’t say I feel sorry for Billy Bob, because his arrogance clearly

THORNTON: Transplanted Texan?

THORNTON: Transplanted Texan?

exceeds his talent. But I do feel sorry for his Boxmaster band-mates. Talk about being hung out to dry! … and although Thornton is in no imminent danger of receiving honourary Canadian citizenship, Texas-born Manhattan gossip girl Liz Smith used to joke that if you even visited Texas, that was good enough for the Texas Film Hall of Fame to adopt you. Which is how Arkansas native Billy Bob became an official Texan recently, receiving the Tom Mix Honorary Texan Award from the Film Society. When Dennis Quaid introduced him a native “of Northeast Texas – that is, Hot Springs, Arkansas,” Billy Bob quickly reminded him that he once lived in Austin, Texas.  Which apparently was good enough for the Film Society. (Other ‘Texans’ honoured this year along with Billy Bob were Larry Hagman, born in Fort Worth, Texas, and Powers Boothe, a Texas State University graduate and native of Snyder, Texas.)

 * * *

LITERATI:  Giller Prize winner Wayson Choy is out promoting his new heart-stopping (literally!) bestseller, Not Yet … ditto Mark Breslin and his

LEACHMAN: telling tales

LEACHMAN: telling tales

Confessions of a Porn Addict, not to mention his new audio book on Canadian stand-up comedy….  gee, she’s going to Parliament after all! Green Party leader Elizabeth May launches her new book, perhaps too aptly titled Losing Confidence, on April 26 in Ottawa at, wait for it, the Parliament Pub … also out there telling tales: Fabled Oscar, Emmy & Golden Globe legend Cloris Leachman, who collaborated with her favourite ex-husband, producer George Englund (she married and divorced him twice) on Cloris: My Autobiography … and Deepak Chopra is set to wing into our town this month to promote his new tome Why Is God Laughing? on April 27 at Roy Thomson Hall. (Gee, I dunno, Deepak – maybe He’s a fan of Billy Bob Thornton??)

 * * * 

SEE/HEAR:  His episode with mayor Hazel McCallion was a big hit with Canadians this season, but Rick Mercer’s Mississauga mischief is now a bonafide viral sensation in the U.S., with almost a million hits (at last count) on YouTube alone. To see what all the fuss is about, or just to finish reading this column with a smile, just click here.

See you tomorrow.