Taking a trip to the other side of Menopause Mountain & giving no f*cks in the hilarious, frank & inspiring The Big ‘What Now?’

Ever wonder what the view was like on the other side of menopause? Or perhaps you’re already there and you need to hear from someone who gets it. Everything but the Kitchens Inc. invites you to join Sandra Shamas and The Big ‘What Now?’, running at the Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre.

Through anecdotes, and thoughtful, sharply funny riffs and musings, Shamas takes us on a personal history tour of life after 50. Having made it to the top of Menopause Mountain—and leaving alcohol, caffeine and memory behind—Shamas enjoys and explores the brave new world of post-menopause as she tears down the assumptions and expectations that render invisible women ‘of a certain age.’ There’s a new sense of clarity, relief and release as menopause burnishes and tempers to an authentic self—and the sheer joy of giving no f*cks.

The storytelling is hilariously entertaining, fierce and fiery at times, and empowering. Self-deprecation blends with cockiness as she revels in being able to bypass the feminine protection aisle at the drug store only to notice the adult diapers at the end of that aisle. Thanks to a strength of will, and not taking “No” or “That’s just the way it is” for an answer, Shamas displays pioneering spirit and grit at her farm house home during bathtub shitmageddon and the 2013 ice storm, as she relates of how she had to dig to find the septic tank, and chop wood for heat and cooking. And was reminded of the beauty of everyday things we take for granted like electricity and a shower—and experiences the depths of gratitude when these became available again. Wrapping the first half, she tells us: she may have been without electricity, but she wasn’t without power.

Pondering issues of identity—and what that looks like after 50—Shamas relates a childhood in a conservative, traditional family where, as a girl, the only thing she was expected to be was good; and how a life-changing trip to the theatre to see Lily Tomlin perform her one-woman show set her on this path of sharing and storytelling. Shows that are snapshots of life at each stage, as she is and what she’s experiencing—and not from some brochure at a checkout counter. Covering topics from retirement, to sexuality, to dating on Tinder and OkCupid, Shamas is frank, unapologetic, genuine and laugh out loud funny.

Finishing with a reflection on all the late bloomer moments in her life, she also considers how, as a farmer who grows food for herself and others, she’s come to learn that seeds will only grow under specific conditions. Everything in its good time, under the right circumstances; so there really are no late bloomers. A reminder that we can all be our authentic selves—and we don’t necessarily have to wait for ‘the change’ to get there.

Taking a trip to the other side of Menopause Mountain and giving no f*cks in the hilarious, frank and inspiring The Big ‘What Now?’

The Big ‘What Now?’ continues at the Fleck Dance Theatre—good news, it’s been held over an extra week until February 19; get your advance tix online. This is an extremely popular show and place was packed last night, so advance booking is strongly recommended.

In the meantime, check out Shamas’s CBC Radio Q interview with host Tom Power and give her a follow on the Twitter.

Photo by Mark Jewusiak.

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Toronto Fringe: Fun on Stage Left, Patron’s Pick & Best of Fringe

2016_Fringe-Signage_FINALHey again –

Had to take off to co-host today’s Fringe-tastic edition of Stage Left on Radio Regent with host MC Thompson, where we had a blast chatting with Michael Posthumus from Kneel! Diamond Dogs; Melissa Oei from Wild/Society and Stephane Garneau-Monten from The Art of Being Alone.

So now that I’m home briefly to feed the cat and myself, thought I’d take a moment to shout out:

This year’s Patron’s Pick list is out – tickets on sale right now.

Best of the Fringe has been announced as well.

Big shouts to Fringe staff, volunteers and tech folks! We can’t Fringe without you guys.

Off again shortly to see my last two shows: Out (which will also be featured in Best of Fringe) and Echoes – A New Musical. Three days left – and lots to see. Happy Fringing!

Toronto Fringe: The man. The ego. The outsider. Orson Welles meets Shylock in the compelling Orson Welles/Shylock

orson_welles_shylock-mattchiorinidrewgripevincentrandazzolexibedore

The Shylock Project is in town from Syracuse, NY with a Toronto Fringe run of Orson Welles/Shylock, written and directed by Matt Chiorini, in the Factory Theatre studio.

Structured as a docu-fantasy radio play, Orson Welles/Shylock is a multimedia, largely verbatim theatre piece that incorporates quotes, reviews, interviews and text from William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, as well as projection effects and film footage of Welles in an impromptu performance of Shylock’s famous soliloquy on a beach at sunrise.

Featuring a cast of four actors, including Chiorini, Brittany Fayle, Drew Gripe and Vincent Randazzo – who each play several characters, including Welles at various ages – we get a brief history of Welles’ career. His mother started reading Shakespeare to him when he was a preschooler, and by the time he was 18, he was starting to produce, direct, write, adapt and star in his own productions, starting with theatre and moving to filmmaking. An outsider in Hollywood, and pretty much anywhere he went, he found a particular resonance with Shylock. He created a large body of work, but much of it was left unfinished due to financing issues, the most notable of which was his 1960 made for TV version of The Merchant of Venice, which stopped production when CBS pulled its financing. Only a small portion of the footage remains, as Welles reported it was later stolen.

The four-person cast does a stellar job portraying Welles throughout his career, from the brash, fearless rookie of an 18-year-old, to middle-aged titan, to the aging veteran forced to take acting jobs to subsidize his own projects (and thankful he didn’t do Love Boat). Encouraged and praised from a very young age, there was nothing he couldn’t do. A workaholic with a huge ego, demanding standards and a razor-sharp wit, he eschewed any editorial hands on his work but his own. But throughout it all, like Shylock was in Venice, but not of Venice – Welles was in the industry but not of the industry. An outsider till his death at 70, we get various portraits of him from a number of review clips, quotes and interviews; and one gets the impression that – like his most famous film character Charles Foster Kane – few, if any, really knew him at all. And his Shylock soliloquy is heartbreaking.

The man. The ego. The outsider. Orson Welles meets Shylock in the compelling Orson Welles/Shylock.

Orson Welles/Shylock continues at the Factory Theatre Studio, with three more performances: today (Thurs, July 7) at 4 p.m.; Sat, July 9 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sun, July 10 at 12:00 p.m. These guys aren’t local, so catch them while they’re still here. For ticket info and advance tickets/passes, check out the Fringe website.

Red Falcon / White Lightning brings it all with tight, fun new EP: INSTANT CLASSICS

rfwl instant classics coverRed Falcon / White Lightning (RF/WL) is Robert Eckert and Jeff D. Elliott. Following up last year’s double CD release Rootsy!!! Rocky!!!! Power!!! Poppy!!!!, the band recently released an EP of new tunes: INSTANT CLASSICS.

I got the scoop behind the evolution of INSTANT CLASSICS from Eckert:

Our latest effort called INSTANT CLASSICS was begun in early January and completed for a soft release at Molly Blooms in Stratford on April 18, 2014. It’s speedy production was recorded with a full band consisting of members Hugh Wilson (guitar, BG vocals), Nelson Sobral (guitar, BG vocals) and Kevin Jagger (drums), as well as Pete Gorman (from Young Doctors In Love) playing keys on every song. Unlike R!!!R!!!!P!!!P!!!!, where Jeff and Rob produced the majority of the sounds, each player’s amazing playing and off-the-cuff creativity lead to so many happy accidents that shaped the attitude and vibe of the EP, solidifying the group as a cohesive band.

And he had this to say about RFWL’s new mission statement:

Red Falcon / White Lightning is like a sparkling cherry-coloured ’67 Cutlass sitting in the garage. People don’t get to see it that often, but the car, with its white racing stripes, stays with them. They talk about the sightings, and listen for the rev of the engine. With a full tank of equal parts Elvis Costello, Josh Homme, AC Newman, Joel Plaskett & James Mercer, RFWL stealthily slips out onto the songwriting superhighway, foot on the gas without plans for pit stops. They’ll be your favourite band you just might never get to see.

First off, I love the radio show device in INSTANT CLASSICS, the band using it as an auditory skeleton of sorts for the record. The first track features a slow contemporary groove and the deep mellow tones of “The Five at 5 with Ollie,” with our host introducing this edition’s feature band RFWL and INSTANT CLASSICS. The tunes kick off with the poppy, optimistic “Out There Somewhere,” then segues into some catchy Brit-pop sounds in “The Worst Thing About Time.” The record then shifts gears into the beautiful, wistful strains of the ballad “Time Has Come (Are We Ready?)” – featuring bittersweet, haunting guitar riffs, a soft drive of percussion and vocal harmonies reflecting the pain of impending transition. Switching over to a more rocky vibe, “Half Shit” becomes trippy and psychedelic towards the end, while “This Day and Age” has a kicky retro vibe and lyrics bemoaning an overwhelming modern-day world. Kicky turns to quirky with the final track “Dark and Deep with Sage Miles,” which starts as a wacky fun interview, with host Sage Miles speaking with cartoonish versions of Rob and Jeff, and ends with the band’s equally whimsical, new keys-driven single “Half Bald.”

With INSTANT CLASSICS, Red Falcon / White Lightning brings tight musicianship, strong vocals and an eclectic range of music – all delivered with a sense of passion and big fun. Catch them live if you can – and check out this record!

In the meantime, you can get a sneak peek at INSTANT CLASSICS on the band’s YouTube video on the making of the record.

You can also find Red Falcon / White Lightning on: CBC, Bandcamp and YouTube.

 

 

Loads of laughs in Siobhán Dungan’s radio play The Receptionist – one night only December 6

ReceptionistHey kids! More big fun coming at a one night only reading of Siobhán Dungan’s radio comedy The Receptionist, where eight actors (including the playwright) play approximately 120 different characters – and I’m one of those actors!

Here’s what playwright/actor Siobhán Dungan’ has to say about this big wacky fun time:

It’s a play

It’s a Radio Play

It’s a Comedic Radio Play

It’s a Christmas-themed, Comedic, Radio Play

It’s based on a true story

I have been working on this play since 1999

It’s finally ready.

The time has come.

I have a venue.

I have 7 wonderful actors and one brilliant musician.

Friday, December 6, 2013

PLEASE come to attend the one-night performance (and recording)

 of

The Receptionist

I promise you will laugh at least 44 times.

The Deets:

8pm (Doors open at 7:30 p.m.)

2 Sussex Avenue (south west of St. George & Bloor)

PWYC (Suggested $10)

Bring 2 or 3 friends for 2 hours of laughter.

 

Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir launch @ Q Space – fun, sexy & smart

Writer/poet/horror aficionado/editor Lizzie Violet launched her brand new monthly cabaret – Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir – at Q Space last night. And what a fun, sexy and thought-provoking night it was.

The cabaret premiere included feature performers Mullet the Clown, David Bateman and Kat Leonard, as well as a very talented line-up of open mic folks. Music, comedy, spoken word, poetry, a zombie clown telling stories and performing card tricks – it was a mix of the ridiculous and the sublime, visceral and cerebral, personal and political, as these talented artists took the stage. Q Space is a casual, intimate, welcoming storefront place, with a cool, eclectic and creative group of folks – and it’s the perfect home for the cabaret as friends, fellow artists and neighbourhood peeps gather to support some incredible local talent.

Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir will be a monthly event, the second Sunday of the month, and will feature music, vaudeville, comedy, burlesque, poetry and open mic performances. The next cabaret is set for Sunday, April 14 (7 – 10 p.m) – with feature artists author/poet Brandon Pitts, music by Cry Wolf (Jess McAvoy and Nelson Sobral from Melting Pot), and burlesque performer Bella Fox. Come on by, get yourself a beer or a latte – and enjoy.

Because this is Cabaret Noir, I decided to do this batch of pics in black and white.

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Tash Jolly (aka Super Tash) performs some spoken word
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Duncan Armstrong
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 008
Brenda Clews
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 011
Vanessa McGowan performs “On other Chunks” from her book Divine Cockeyed Genius
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 019
Feature performer Mullet the Clown tells us a story
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 024
Host Lizzie Violet reads “Chlamydia is not a Flower!”
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 035
Feature performer Kat Leonard performed 3 new songs, as well as some Depper Love favourites
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 025
Feature performer David Bateman reads some short creative non-fiction
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 039
Philip Cairns
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Norman Allen
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Brandon Pitts
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 045
Feature performers (left – right) Mullet the Clown, David Bateman, Kat Leonard & host Lizzie Violet

Two of my favourite programs

Before I go on my merry way tonight/this weekend, I’d like to give a shout out to two of my favourite programs. One is a radio drama and the other is on t.v.: Afghanada and Lost Girl.

Not much of a radio listener (except for an hour of Nocturne on Classical 96.3 FM for an hour every night as I fall asleep), I learned of Afghanada last fall while I was down in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the Shaw Festival and was reading actor Jenny Young’s bio in the Age of Arousal program. I started tuning in last fall and have been hooked ever since. Jenny plays Sgt. Pat (Coach) Kinsella in Afghanada, which also features actors Paul Fauteux and Billy MacLellan, a half-hour radio drama on CBC Radio One about Canadian soldiers in Kandahar; the program airs on Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. (Toronto) and if you miss it, you can always time shift west online. Check out their website: http://www.cbc.ca/afghanada/

Lost Girl (Showcase – Sundays at 9 p.m. and re-run throughout the week) became one of my fave t.v. shows last fall – and I’m enjoying the further adventures of succubus Bo and her gang of “Scoobies” on the show. Excellent cast, featuring Anna Silk, Kris Holden-Ried, Ksenia Solo, K.C. Collins, Richard Howland and Zoie Palmer. Check them out on IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1429449/  and on their show site: http://www.showcase.ca/lostgirl/

The love triangle between Bo (Silk), wolf shifter/homicide detective Dyson (Holden-Ried) and human/Light Fae-aligned doctor Lauren (Palmer) has attracted a lot of attention, sparking Team Dyson and Team Lauren camps among fans, and gaining attention on afterellen.com for its portrayal of a bisexual heroine on t.v. I especially loved Dorothy Snarker’s Lost Girl snap-cap this week, especially her marked dismay over the fact that Lauren was nowhere to be seen in the recent episode: http://www.afterellen.com/tv/lost-girl-recap-204 

I have to say, I agree with her – more Lauren, please! Guess it’s no secret what team I’m on. Speaking of the lovely doctor, here she is (played by the equally lovely Zoie Palmer):

See what I mean? That and Lauren and Bo are so darn lovely together – shouts to Zoie and Anna for having fabulous chemistry:

And congrats to Ksenia Solo (who plays Bo’s human pal/roommate/soul sister Kenzi) for taking home the Gemini Award for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series this year!

Speaking of lovely ladies – as I mentioned yesterday, I’m off to see some Alumnae pals in After Mrs. Rochester on the main stage tonight. Back with the scoop on that soon.

Till then, have a great evening/weekend. What’cha got planned?