Tag Archives: Stephen Leacock

Ryan’s buried brilliance, Rick’s return to the stage and CBC corners Don & Ron for a new mini-series

CHERRY, KEESO, WATTON, MACLEAN: They shoot! They score!

THE WRATH OF GRAPES:  The sequel to the hit mini-series Keep Your Head Up, Kid premieres this Sunday on CBC with Jared Keeso reprising his Gemini-winning performance as Don Cherry. The mini-series charts Don’s journey from the NHL to Coach’s Corner, with Jonathan Watton as Ron MacLean. And if this sequel is only half as good as the original, it can’t help but

ROBERTS: on stage at Tarragon

be a hit … the three-day Toronto International Film & Video Awards festival kicks off today at 5 pm at Victoria College … attention foodies: Insight Productions chief John Brunton is bringing Food Network Canada’s top-rated Top Chef Canada series back for a second season on March 12 … the Shakespeare in Action production of The Diary of Anne Frank opens March 15 at the Al Green Theatre in the Miles Nadal JCC. Sascha Cole returns in the central role of Anne as do Chris Karczmar and Alexis Koetting as Mr. and Mrs. Frank … and Rick Roberts, so good as Stephen Leacock’s errant father in Sunshine Sketches Of A Little Town, is back on the boards again, this time in the English-language premiere of The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs. The Carole Fréchette play, translated by John Murrell, is helmed by Kim’s Convenience director Weyni Mengesha. Now in previews, it opens March 7 at the Tarragon.

MEANWHILE: Veteran rocker George Olliver postponed his gig at the Courtyard Restaurant in Pickering last week due to fearsome media weather forecasts predicting the storm of the century.  Which, as I recall, translated to some rain. He’s now set to play the Courtyard tonight instead … pop/jazz vocalist Joel Hartt makes his debut performance at the Green Door Cabaret tomorrow night with piano man Mark Kieswetter … DanceWorks presents Sylvain Émard Danse in the Toronto premiere of Fragments – Volume I,  for one night only, tomorrow at the Enwave Theatre at Harbourfront …Liona Boyd is Alberta-bound for nine concerts with Michael Savona. You can find her tour dates on her new renovated website at www.LionaBoyd.com… and  Discovery Networks have snagged versatile screenwriter and producer Edwina Follows (Traders, Relic Hunter, Beast Master, Emily of New Moon) as its new  Director of Commissioning and Production. Follows is now responsible for the commissioning  independent programming for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery World HD, Investigation Discovery and Discovery Science.  Smart move, Discovery.

MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE HIGH SEAS:  Yesterday our Floating Film Festival on the Seabourn Sojourn made its first stop, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I like San Juan, but whenever I come here all I always think of Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics to America from West Side Story:

Puerto Rico / My heart’s devotion / let it sink into the ocean /

After our stop in San Juan we screened two more movies. First up was an intriguing documentary called Jealous Of The Birds. Did you know that more than 15,000 Holocaust survivors chose to remain in Germany after World War II? Me neither. How could they stay? Jealous Of The Birds is a first-time documentary by young filmmaker Jordan Bahat that attempts to answer that question. Bahat’s quest is clearly personal; he longs to understand the choices made by his own grandparents – he even persuades his grandmother to revisit Auschwitz – and how they managed to rebuild their lives  Bahat’s film is a study of survivors, their children and other Germans who choose to live among perpetrators. and includes interviews children whose legacy includes the crimes of their parents. Fascinating stuff, and a fine start for a first-time filmmaker.

GOSLING & DUNST: brilliant performances, buried treasure

Last night’s bedtime story, screened after dinner, was All Good Things, a 2010 psychological thriller with an outstanding case. Both love story and murder mystery, it was inspired by one of the most notorious missing person’s case in New York history, in which Robert Durst, scion of the wealthy Durst family, was suspected of, but never tried for,  killing his wife, who disappeared in 1982 and was never seen again. Ryan Gosling plays Robert Marks, Kirsten Dunst plays his doomed young wife Katie, and Frank Langella plays the powerful family patriarch. The film is already regarded as a buried treasure, mysteriously abandoned by its distributors when it could easily have been an Oscar contender. Dunst and especially Gosling offer brilliant, breathtakingly believable performances as the young couple destined for tragedy. We watch horrified as Dunst’s slow corruption plays directly into Gosling’s sophisticated spiraling psychotic, with just enough information gleaned en route to show us how he got that way.  Easily the most talked-about film so far at this year’s Floating Film Festival, this is bone-chilling drama at its best. Catch up with it if you can.

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Soup for the soul, Maya hosts SNL, and Carol makes us so glad we have this time together

OUR TOWN  A new dance showcase opens in T.O. today with an intriguing history.  Citadel, a new centre for contemporary dance in Regent Park, was once a Salvation Army soup kitchen. The newly-renovated centre (by architects

RUDOLPH: back to her roots

Diamond + Schmitt) is the new home of dance troupe Coleman Lemieux &Compagnie and includes an 1,800 sq. foot studio/theatre for dance productions; a 900 sq. foot studio for rehearsals, pay-what-you-can yoga classes, workshops and community classes, and accommodation for visiting out-of-town artists. Citadel officially opens tomorrow night with  Les cheminements de l’influence, a world premiere solo by Laurence Lemieux in honour of her father, Quebec political scientist Vincent Lemieux … and glory-voiced Jackie Richardson and piano man Joe Sealey

RICHARDSON: Bodolai tribute

provided a stirring finale to Sunday afternoon’s celebration of writer-producer Joe Bodolai at the Young Centre. The event was deftly hosted by longtime Bodolai booster Albert Schultz. who ushered in a series of heartfelt salutes  to Bodolai’s achievements from comedy luminaries  Harry Doupe, Mark Farrell, Anna Gustafson, Ron James and Kenny Robinson. Musical charmers Cherie Camp, Geoff Kahnert and John Welsman also treated the crowd to a performance of Everything’s Gone Wrong Since I Left Mr. Right, one of the tunes Bodolai composed in his radio days.   All in all. a touching tribute to a brilliant artistic explorer who got  lost on his expedition and, tragically, never found his way home again.

FUNNY GIRL(S):  Fearless foursome Robin Duke, Jayne Eastwood, Kathryn Greenwood and Teresa Pavlinek, aka those fabulous Women Fully Clothed, are now a hit south of the border too. Last week they were deep

FEY: Super Bowl sweetheart

in the heart of Texas (and I do mean Dallas) … seasoned showstopper Sandra Shamas headlines the Feb. 25 East End Comedy Revue at the Dominion On Queen … standup ladies Martha Chaves and Laurie Elliott share the bill on this Friday night at the Flying Beaver Pubaret on Parliament … Maya Rudolph returns to her roots this weekend to host Saturday Night Live … and I gotta believe fellow SNL alumnus Tina Fey played a big part in that dazzling NBC Super Bowl commercial – and not just on screen, either. The network spot probably had a bigger budget than most Canadian films, but you can certainly see the money on the screen. If you missed it, just click here – and enjoy!

HAPPINESS IS A NEW MAGAZINE:  Intrepid funnyman Rick Mercer graces the cover of the first issue of What Makes You Happy, a

WHAT MAKES US HAPPY? This mag!

glossy good-news magazine distributed in T.O. last week to Globe & Mail subscribers. Mercer was among the honorees last weekend at the cfpdp‘s 28th annual gala, deftly hosted by CBC News anchor Suhana Meharchand at the Fairmont Royal York. (When the exhuberant crowd in the Canadian Room became too boisterous, Meharchand shushed them elegantly but firmly. “I’ve had three husbands,” she dead-panned — “I’m not afraid of you!”) King Clancy Award winner Mercer still insists he has the best job in the country. And if you’re not a Globe & Mail subscriber, you can still sample the first issue of What Makes You Happy on line, including publisher Johnny Lucas‘ entertaining  interview with Mercer, A Chip off the old Rock, right here.

LULLABYE & GOOD NIGHT: It’s her third book on the New York Times bestseller list, but this one is perfect bedtime reading – and not because it puts you to sleep. Now in paperback, Carol Burnett’s 200- page collection of anecdotes, This Time Together: Laughter And Reflection, is like a warm,

BURNETT: On the page and in person

long-awaited visit with an old friend who has finally agreed to tell you what really happened behind the scenes. Because she tells her stories in bite-size capsules, she gets to tell more than 60 of them, some of them surprisingly personal, most of them genuinely amusing, and all of them engaging. Some of the names involved in her anecdotes may surprise you, especially her close encounters with film greats Joan Crawford, John Huston, Laurence Olivier and Barbara Stanwyck. One classic story unfolds when she receives a telephone call from Martin Brando, whom she had long admired but never met. Brando had read a report in People magazine that Burnett had finally acquired something she’d always wanted: A chin. (“I had always wanted a chin. I was born with a weak one.”) An oral surgeon had added about three millimeters to her existing chin, with exceedingly pleasing results, and Burnett was back in New York when Brando called her from Los Angeles.

FLASHY FLASHBACK: The Carol Burnett Show

“Where’d you get your chin?” asked Marlon. “My chin?” said Burnett. “Yes,” said Brando. “My wife’s sister has a weak chin and wants to fix it. Where’d you get yours done?” Thus begins Burnett’s lengthy exchange with Brando, one of many great conversations in the book. As you might expect, there are some very touching moments too. When Burnett’s daughter Carrie Hamilton was in hospital, dying of cancer, one of the nurses asked her why she smiled so much. Burnett says her daughter replied, “Every day I wake up and decide: today I’m going to love my life.” Another lesson worth learning, in a heartwarming collection of stories worth reading. P.S. If you’d like to see Burnett in person, she set to do  two (2) nights of her Q&A show May 4 & 5 at Fallsview Casino in Niagara. But if I were you, I’d order those tickets sooner than later. When it comes to box office, the lady is still a champ.

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The more the merrier as stars bring sunshine to Leacock sketches — and to Toronto stages too

Okay — where was I? Oh yes, I remember. Taking a break from blogging. Apparently that’s over now.

EVERYBODY’S TALKING:  And no wonder — the first glimpses of CBC’s big Sunday night movie, Sunshine Sketches Of A Little Town, look sumptuous. And I admit it — I’m a sucker for an all-star cast. Not that the producers, Alliance

HENNESSY & PINSENT: Mother & Son

Atlantis alumni Michael MacMillan and Seaton McLean, had much trouble reeling them in. “One of the best screenplays I’ve ever read,” says leading lady Jill Hennessy. Ms Hennessy,  currently on screen wrangling Dustin Hoffman on HBO’s new series Luck, clearly loved every minute of the summer shoot, as did Gordon Pinsent, who plays her son. (Yes. Really. You’ll have to watch it to find out.) Pinsent, who starts shooting a new movie in Mexico next week, describes it as “one of those rare filming experiences when we couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning.” Then again, Hennessy and Pinsent were

KHANIJAN: on stage

keeping some very good company. Among the stellar marquee names bringing Stephen Leacock‘s classic comedy drama to life are Keshia Chante, Sean Cullen, Ron James, Peter Keleghan, Debra McGrath, Patrick McKenna, Colin Mochrie, Eric Peterson, Leah Pinsent, Caroline Rhea, Rick Roberts and Michel Therriault. Get those PVRs warmed up, folks — this one sounds like a keeper.

TALKING THE TALK: Ryerson Theatre Club devotees were among the hundreds of floodlights fans at Tuesday’s performance of Cruel And Tender  at the Bluma Appel. After their stunning 90 minute tour-de-force, stars Arsinée Khanijan and Daniel Kash joined their director Atom Egoyanin the theater lobby for a 15-minute Q&A with interested audience members. How interested were they? Theater Club reps had to call a halt after 40 minutes, but some folks still hung

BROCHU: return engagement

around just long enough to meet Egoyan and share their take on his production of Martin Crimp’s reimagined Greek tragedy. The hypnotic drama runs through next Saturday Feb. 18 … Jim Brochu has returned with his celebrated salute to Zero Mostel, Zero Hour, directed by Piper Laurie (yes, that Piper Laurie) … and no, his reviews this time ’round were not exactly love letters, but clearly Ronnie Burkett’s audiences disagree. Factory Theatre has added six more performances of the marionette master’s new show, Penny Plain, with tickets now available through March 4 … meanwhile, Robert LePage’s Blue Dragon continues to dazzle at the Royal Alex, In The Heights continues to rock North York at the Toronto Centre For The Arts, War Horse opens tonight at the Princess Of Wales and Potted Potter opens tomorrow night at the Panasonic. Talk about an embarrassment of theatrical riches!

COMEBACKS: Great news for those of us who missed them first time ‘round — two rave-winning theatrical events are set to return to our town. Kim’s Convenience, the runaway hit by Soulpepper Academy alumnus Ins Choi, wraps up its current run this weekend but will be back May 17-June 9. And yes,

DUNCAN: showstopper

it’s a good idea to order your tickets now. As you may recall, the play about a Regent Park Korean convenience store was the sleeper hit of the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival … and the National Ballet will launch its 2012-2013 season with the return of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Christopher Wheeldon on November 10–25. A co-production with England’s Royal Ballet, Alice was an SRO smash when it premiered here last year. And yes, it’s a good idea to order those tickets now too … meanwhile, stage and screen showstopper Arlene Duncan, so endearing as the unsinkable Fatima in Little Mosque On The Prairie, is winning standing Os nightly at the Berkeley Street Theatre. Ms Duncan is the crown jewel in Caroline, Or Change, the latest theatrical gem from the phenomenal Acting Up stage company. CanStage and Acting Up added one more show of the musical last night to accommodate public demand, but all 25 scheduled performances sold out so quickly that surely an encore should be considered? And soon, please?

COTE: Lost In Motion

SEE/HEAR:  National Ballet star dancer Guillaume Côté is the latest hot ticket on YouTube with his  stunning short film Lost in Motion. Directed by Ben Shirinian and choreographed by Guillaume, the three-minute film really is something to see — even if it makes you want to join a gym before it ends. The high-flying M’sieu Côté will be performing with Kings of the Dance in Manhattan February 24–27  — d”ya suppose he made that video just to freak ’em out? — before returning to star in Sleeping Beauty, March 10–18, 2012, and The Seagull, March 21–25, 2012. Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen Lost In Motion yet, you don’t have to take my word for it — just click here. And enjoy!

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