Lovin’ the Depp, desperate gal pals & Kim’s Convenience

Here’s how much Kat Leonard loves Johnny Depp:

I’m also so very happy to have finally figured out how to insert an actual vid image into this post – much prettier than a link for sure.

Leonard’s one-woman music/movement/dance/multimedia extravaganza A Depper Kind of Love was the first of three shows I saw this past weekend. And what a weekend of Fringing it was! Kat’s energy and enthusiasm won over the skeptical, and got the audience clapping and singing along (Hope for Dopes was the official sing-along, but some folks were even singing with her on I’m My Own Asshole). So. Much. Fun. Kat is all kinds of awesome.

While hanging out with Kat and some pals at the beer tent after the show, we got flyered by several other Fringe folk, including playwright Shannon Bramer, who was promoting her play MonaRita (which was conveniently located across the street at the Bathurst Street Theatre). Besides being a lovely gal, Shannon had me at “St. John’s” – the folks producing the play were from St. John’s, Newfoundland (She Said Yes! and White Rooster Theatre). I love St. John’s. So far, it’s been from afar – but I have a trip planned at the end of August. Anyway – MonaRita features two friends – two halves of the same person – who struggle to be together but can’t be apart. Funny and touching. And actors Ruth Lawrence (Rita), Sara Tilley (Mona) and Mark White (the Dapper Stylist) shine.

On Sunday, I got down early to get in line for Kim’s Convenience. This show, and playwright/actor Ins Choi, have had a lot buzz – both pre-Fringe and during. In fact, I heard that as of yesterday, all the pre-sale tix for this show are sold out! And I’m here to tell you, this sizzle has steak, chickens. Also playing at the Bathurst Street Theatre, this show features an awesome cast – Choi is joined by Esther Jun, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Andre Sills and Jean Yoon – and an amazing script. Set in a convenience store run by Korean immigrant Mr. Kim (Lee), we see the comings and goings of one day – a day that acts as a window on not only the store but on the family who run it and live upstairs. Yoon plays Mrs. Kim, and Choi and Jun play son and daughter John and Janet, while Sills multi-tasks as customers, a developer and a cop (Alex) who grew up with the Kim kids. Hilariously funny and very moving – this show has legs. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see it remounted – hopefully, at the Best of Fringe, since I imagine a lot of folks won’t be able to get in to see it, and even beyond.

Kat played the Fringe tent late Sunday afternoon, so after a wander downtown and a frozen yogurt, I returned to the beer tent for more pints and fun.

All in all, a most excellent weekend at the Fringe. And, note to self, having a venue located near the beer tent makes it very convenient to promote the show and draw audience.

So. Who would you lick off a dirty sidewalk?

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Big campy fun @ Operation Impervious

So I broke my Toronto Fringe 2011 cherry last night by getting my 5-way – I mean, 5-play – card punched for the very first time this festival at Operation Impervious, which opened last night and runs until July 16 at the Robert Gill Theatre.

As gay roommates Martin and Randall hatch a plan to out a celebrity actor (who is nearly but never named and alluded to with hilariously reduxed movie titles), they receive two surprise visitors and their plan becomes a full-blown mission to rescue Randall’s abducted boyfriend Tom from a celebrity cult. Then things really get weird.

Shouts to writer/actor Bil Antoniou, director (and my pal) Victoria Shepherd, and actors Rée Andrews, JP Baldwin, Sarah Cunningham, Joel MacMeekin, Alan Shonfield and Michael Soulard, as well as producer Virginia Jones, SM Alexa Carroll and set designer Alexis Chubb. Nicely done, folks!

Big, campy, culty fun. I laughed lots – in fact, I LMAO lots.

Fabulous outdoor classics

Hey kids! In addition to the Toronto Fringe, there’s also some amazing outdoor theatre happening in and around the big smoke/GTA:

Driftwood Theatre Group’s production of MacBeth opens today and tours all over southwestern Ontario. Check out their website for the schedule: http://driftwoodtheatre.com/index.htm

The Guild Festival Theatre is launching its inaugural season with The Cherry Orchard tonight – and the venue is particularly gorgeous. This production features actor Linzee Barclay, who folks will recognize from Cabbagetown Theatre’s No Sweetheart Required and Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival. Check out their website for more details: http://www.guildfestivaltheatre.ca/index.php

The Guild’s poster is also gorgeous (thanks to Linzee for hooking me up!):

Fringe is here, Fringe is here!

The Toronto Fringe Festival opens today, chickens. Shouts to some pals in Fringe this year:

Rosemary Doyle (actor) – Remember, Maggy?

Steve Flett (actor) – Wishes Are Horses

John Illingworth & Brenda Somers (actors) – Saved

Kat Leonard (creator/singer/actor) – A Depper Kind of Love

Derek Perks (actor) – Finally: An Epic Cycle

Tennille Read (actor) – We Few They Many

Victoria Shepherd (director) – Operation Impervious

Joanne Williams (director) – Finally: An Epic Cycle

Check out the full program at the Fringe website:  http://www.fringetoronto.com/  What are you gonna see?

Anything you’d recommend? Let me know in Comments. In the meantime, here’s Kat Leonard wrapped around a pillow with a very hunky Johnny Depp pic on it:

 

Toronto Pride/Canada Day weekend

Holy moly – lots to keep me busy and out of trouble (relatively speaking) this past weekend:

Thursday, June 30: the annual CHIC Productions’ women’s Pride dance at the Palais Royale. Amazing live band on the patio, hot music from the DJ on the dance floor and hundreds of lovely women. This event sells out every year – and for good reason. A fabulous way to kick off Pride/Canada Day weekend.

Friday, July 1: Cabbagetown Theatre producers Blake Thorne and Kim Sprenger hosted their annual Canada Day bbq/potluck at Blake’s house. We’re talkin’ two large bbq’s cookin’ up chicken, burgers, shrimp and veggies, with loads of tasty appetizers (I brought sushi this year), salads and desserts supplied by party guests. Fireworks and sparklers after dark – loads of fun, interesting peeps and good times.

Saturday, July 2: My friend/neighbour Phyllis took  me along to the OSSTF annual Pride brunch at Spirit’s, where I bumped into two women I’d met at the Palais dance (small frickin’ world!). Then I was off to see Larry Crowne at the Rainbow Market Square with my pal Kerri MacDonald – which we both agreed was a fun, sweet romcom – followed by an early dinner at the Jersey Giant (where we bumped into actor about town Steve Flett, who was taking a break from his Fringe rehearsal schedule).

Sunday, July 3: Pretty much did sweet bugger all, except for grocery shopping and dishes. Too damn hot to do much but sit around and drink cool beverages, which I did all afternoon on Phyllis’s loft patio (we started with raspberry/banana smoothies, then moved on to booze and mini-Fudgesicles).

Speaking of Fringe, that opens this Wednesday, July 6 and runs till Sunday, July 17: http://www.fringetoronto.com/   And you know I’ll have lots to tell y’all about that.

What’s up with the ice cream truck music?

Okay, so call me old-fashioned, old school, a dinosaur even. But what the heck is up with the music you hear coming from the ice cream trucks lately?

When I was a kid – and this is going back a while – the ice cream truck in my neighbourhood in Burlington had a bell. And I know I wasn’t the only kid on my street to mix that bell up with that of the knife sharpener’s bell – scrambling out onto the road in search of ice cream only to find an old Italian guy with a hand truck filled with the tools of his trade.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve lived in Toronto – in Parkdale and more recently Little Portugal – and the ice cream truck had that somewhat eerie, carnival-like music box tune going on.

But this summer, the truck in my ‘hood is playing something vaguely pop, but I couldn’t tell you what it is. And in the neighbourhood near my office downtown, I heard a truck playing Für Elise the other day (my nemesis from that stray BlackBerry in the office – see an earlier post: https://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/i-like-beethoven-but/).

Thoughts?

Thumbs up, thumbs down…

Strange things happening in our strange world lately, chickens. And some of it’s even been good…

Thumbs up: 

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for their ginormous Pride flag (see the Bloor Street side of the building)

The State of New York for legalizing same-sex marriage.

Thumbs down:

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford for his absence at the Toronto Pride 2011 flag-raising ceremony on June 27 and his continued reluctance to accept any invitation to any Pride event (a 10-day celebration that brings in huge tourism/$$$ to Toronto).

Canadian Heritage for cancelling (last-minute!) funding to the SummerWorks 2011 festival. I’m also ticked at the media for suggesting that SummerWorks’ 2010 production of Catherine Frid’s play Homegrown had something to do with it; while this raises questions of possible censorship on the part of Canadian Heritage (and, by association, the federal gov’t), it also has the effect of placing the blame on the festival, play and playwright. All depends on how the writing is interpreted by the reader.

On the upside:

There’s still time for Mr. Ford to get out to something at Pride (which runs till Sunday, July 3). Come on, Rob, get yerself a squirt gun and join the fun!

You can help SummerWorks out with their funding shortfall by donating – they’re a registered charity: http://www.summerworks.ca/2011/donate.php