On the FRINGE & other hot stuff
Being on the fringe of things can be an advantage, especially in theatre. In a letter to Louise Seidler in February of 1818 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe reminds us that theatre is an "impermanent art, corrupting us and leading us astray with its poetry and rhetoric and it cannot be criticized as if it were painted, carved in marble or cast in bronze."
That is exactly the reason why Toronto’s Theatre Festival The Fringe is such a perfect venue to workshop and to introduce new ideas for the stage.
This year’s opening night was no exception. Sleepless, a new musical by the creators of the highly successful and Dora nominated Top Gun! The Musical was the festival’s opener at the Tarragon Theatre. A much more complete body of work was cut down to size to fit into the parameters of this festival and thus fell just a tiny bit short of the creator’s high standards. But, being the impermanent art form theatre is, and having said that, we know that this was just the beginning of another possible hit. Why? It is obvious! The theme is familiar. There is not a soul out there that cannot associate and will not find one or a dozen clichés regarding sleeplessness.
Another point is that ever since Shrek elevated the usage of clichés to a high art, or at least to a highly entertaining art form, we the audience enjoy the everyday bon mots associated with all things, in this case, sleep, or the lack of it. Sleep disorders have a long and illustrious history on our planet and have been used for much justification of all sorts of famous and infamous actions by all sorts of heroes and antiheros; or if that has not been the case yet, it certainly will soon be so: "I could not sleep. So I looked in to the night sky and realized that the solution to our energy shortage lies in harnessing the power of the moon…Uhmm, or is that sun?" (Sorry, my own attempt of trying to make a cliché funny.)
The material presented in this short version of Sleepless lets me guess that in a fuller, fleshed out version, with the characters a bit more defined, a few more of the well-done action packed scenes and a better defined plotline - especially the solution part -, will result in much entertainment to the merriment of the masses, which is just what we need, because the TV is running out of reality show…and besides they bore us all to tears anyway…and thieve work from actors and performing artists, who we much revere!
So well done to Denis McGrath, who wrote the book and the lyrics, and well done to Scott White, who signs again responsible for a cool sound score and plays a mean keyboard, well-done also to his merry band of musicians: Morgan Doctor, drums, and Drew Carnwath, guitar.
Well done to the director Shari Hollett, whose 20 years in the industry helped her pick a sure way to go with the venue, and well done to her merry group of cast members: Cameron, a handsome sleepwalker played by Todd Hofley; Alana, an insomniac and good looker with a dream that got small, played by Krista Sutton; Morti, a super-challenged power napper, played by Eddie Glen; Lilith, a modern day Xanthippe who is into the occult and meddling in peoples lives; Rachel McCaig as the overworked nurse Bridget, looking to do some good since the doctor doesn’t; and Mark Terrine as the mysterious stranger and zombie who could not sleep for over 20 years for fear that something awful would happen.
The audience at the premier was well entertained, laughed heartily and applauded generously, and rightly so!
Derrek Chua as the producer has also taken on "Waiting for Trudeau: the Return of the King", also running at the Tarragon.
For show times of these and all the other Fringe delights go
to www.fringetoronto.com or call
the box office at 416-966-1062.
Other hot Stuff
The Toronto Symphony performed the season’s last concerts traditionally while introducing the next season and much fundraising was going on to keep our wonderful symphony going. "Last night at the Proms" was a monumental success for the orchestra, which had teamed up with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. It is a never-ending joy to see a large audience come out and have such flag waving fun. I took a British expatriate and she felt like a kid again in London.
If you have not secured your place for the TSO for the next season, please do so and inform yourself of all the various programs by going to www.tso.ca. In the middle of July the Altamira Concert Series is commencing at Harbourfront Centre. Check out all the fun there at www.harbourfrontcentre.com. The fun and entertainment lasts all summer.
The Art Gallery of Ontario is having impressive showings; especially the Turner Whistler Monet exhibit is worthwhile seeing and goes on until the fall. At www.ago.net you find everything you need to know.
For information to this year’s fabulous Brott Music Festival in Hamilton and Muskoka, including concerts with the Stuttgart Kammerchor or the Viennese Concert with Mark DuBois go to www.brottmusic.com.
We let you know more in the next issue. Stay tuned!
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