Sunday night boob tube

Sunday night just got an extra dose of magic realism with the addition of Once Upon A Time to its evening line-up (CTV at 7 p.m. and again on ABC at 8 p.m.). And I gotta say, the premiere lived up to the great promo. This show features Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love), Jennifer Morrison (House) and Robert Carlyle (who I remember best in the movie The Full Monty). WARNING: Spoilers from the premiere ahead. Morrison plays Emma Swan, a streetwise single gal who works as a bail bondsperson, and finds a 10-year-old boy at her door on the night of her 28th birthday. Like her, Henry was given up for adoption and turns out she’s his birth mom. She drives him home to Storybrooke, Maine, a town the boy (played by Jared Gilmore) claims is trapped in time and peopled by cursed fairy tale characters who can’t remember who they are – and his story book foretells that Emma, the daughter of Snow White (now Henry’s teacher) and Prince Charming (now John Doe coma guy in the town hospital) is the one to break the curse (set by the Evil Queen from the Snow White story, now Henry’s adopted mom, the town mayor). Carlyle plays Rumpelstiltskin – known in Storybrooke as “Mr. Gold” and he owns the town. Big, big fun – and gorgeous art direction. Check it out on IMDb (my fave t.v./movie source): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1843230/

A bit later in the evening, I turned to Showcase at 9 p.m. for what I thought was going to be a new episode of Lost Girl only to find a repeat of the last (new) episode: BrotherFae of the Wolves, which features our man Dyson and a peek into his past, along with fabulous guest appearances by Jayne Eastwood and Dan Lett, and a possible new face on the scene (Keira, a woman Dyson knows from way back – played by Lina Roessler). Apparently the next new episode will now be on October 30 – which is fine; I was just chomping at the bit for the next episode, a story that looks like it will feature the lovely Dr. Lauren (and, possibly, something about her back story). Last night’s episode did have some great Lauren moments – nice to see Zoie Palmer getting some great get-her-teeth-into scenes and some comedy too. Check it out – thanks to 2011HappyHappy for editing and posting the Bo/Lauren scenes:

Lauren is so adorable doing the baking thing at the clubhouse, all jonesing for the lab and needing to find a reasonable facsimile. You go, Lauren – you be as sciencey on the baking as you want! Anna Silk is showing some really nice range as Bo and Ksenia Solo, as Kenzi, is the queen of hilarious one-liners. Man, I so wanna go to the Dal and have a pint with these guys.

Sunday night is now also The Good Wife night – and I was very happy to see Lisa Edelstein (also formerly from House) back on the show after her debut last week – and I’m hoping she’s there to stay. That lady does good bitch! As always, Julianna Margulies is a treat to watch in the powerful, complex – and sexy – title role. And speaking of sexy – more Kalinda, please! Archie Panjabi rocks that character hard. And, as always, Alan Cumming is perfectly delicious as Eli Gold.

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All My Sons, ROM, zombies & Jane Austen

No, this is not some wacky new mash-up – though an Arthur Miller/zombie mash-up might be fun. Hmm…

Anyway, my weekend artsy adventures started on Friday night at Fairview Library Theatre for Amicus Productions’ All My Sons. As I mentioned in my last post, this was a special treat as my pal Victoria Shepherd’s daughter Vivien was making her debut (as Bert, the neighbour kid). Making the trek with me were Vicky’s husband Brent (Viv’s intrepid chauffeur that night, since Vicky was feeling under the weather) and pal Alexis (who watched the show with me).

Amicus has a lovely production here, directed by Harvey Levkoe, presenting this famous Miller family drama of loss, secrets and moral dilemma. James Lukie and Janice Hansen (who my friend Brenda knows from way back – at her wedding – small world!) were moving as the torn parents Joe and Kate Keller, holding onto a family secret even as Kate clings to the hope that their missing pilot son is still alive somewhere. Chris Coculuzzi (as their equally embattled son Chris) gave a powerful performance and was nicely matched by Janice Peters (Ann, formerly Chris’s brother’s girl and now his fiancée), who brought a nice balance of strength and vulnerability to her role. The Kellers’ neighbours Dr. Jim and Sue Bayliss (Michael Sherman and Anne McDougall), and Frank and Lydia Lubey (Mark Farmer and Susan Amos) – like the Kellers, more beneath the surface of the friendly couples – strong performances all around. The Dr. longs for something more from his life, Frank turns to astrology for meaning, while the wives focus on the day-to-day. It was especially fun to watch McDougall and Amos – playing polar opposites – relishing their respective roles as bitch and ditz. Steven Shreyberg was a passionate George (Ann’s brother), who arrives with information that blows the family secrets apart. And Viv was adorable as the precocious Bert – I loved how she doffed her cap during the curtain call, revealing her long hair tucked underneath.

Nice job from the design team: Wayne Cardinalli (set), Mary Jane Boon (lights), Lindsay Code (costumes), and Harvey Levkoe and David Glover (sound). From the ominous lightning storm at the opening (which fells the memorial tree to a missing son) to the crickets and period music throughout – we were transported to that time and place.

All My Sons runs until October 29 – and it’s worth the schlep to Don Mills and Sheppard.

Saturday, I hosted my folks for a day of food, catching up and museuming. We started off with a tasty brunch at The Lakeview (Dundas/Ossington), followed by a quick tour of my office and a visit to the ROM (all via TTC and on foot). It had been a while since I’d been to see the exhibits and we took advantage of a couple of great tours: the Highlights tour, which provides an overview and orientation to the museum’ exhibits, as well as some history on the building itself,  and the Egyptian exhibit tour, which was done with a feminist angle (and was awesome!).

We spent a good four hours at the ROM, and – museumed out – took a stroll down Philosopher’s Walk, then headed to Museum Station for the trek down to Queen Street. My dad hadn’t been on a streetcar, so I thought it would be fun to take the scenic route to the Gladstone Hotel for dinner. This turned out to be not such a great plan, since the closure of the Gardiner made the traffic insane. On the upside, it was Zombie Walk day, so in addition to taking in the view of Queen West, we got to see tons of zombies along the way. (I really have to do that walk sometime.)

It took us an hour and 15 minutes to get to Gladstone from University and, while we were in no hurry, we were glad to get to our destination and get some dinner – which was also fabulous.

Today was brunch with my pals Kerri and Cecilia – we’d intended on going to Ten Feet Tall, but it was closed. (Anyone know what’s up with that? There was no sign on the door.) We went to the Bus Terminal instead – and, yep, it’s a diner in an old bus terminal. Two brunches in one weekend feels so decadent!

After brunch, Kerri and I headed to Alumnae Theatre for their annual Write Now readings in the studio. We arrived a bit late, but managed to catch most of the first reading,  Of Mansfield Park and Persuasion, by Rosemary Doyle, who was there doing double-duty as part of the actor pool as well. The 48-hour writing challenge this year (cooked up by Diane Forrest and hosted by Molly Thom) was to write an adaptation of one of two Jane Austen novel excerpts: one from Mansfield Park and the other from Persuasion.

There were 10 readings presented all, also including: Persuasion (Ramona Baillie), Persuasion (Cate Frid), Handsome (Flora Danziger), Ladies and Gentlemen: Introducing Miss Fanny Price (Marianne Fedunkiuw), The Incident (Jennifer Oliver), Neverfields (Annie MacMillan), Worth (Susan Down), Tout Ca Change (Carol Libman) and Subtle Persuasion (Neale Kimmel).

A highly entertaining afternoon of readings, which featured a talented pool of actors that included Alumnae pals Tricia Brioux, Chantale Groulx, Anne Harper and Brenda Somers. A nice mix of drama and comedy, with some hilarious characterizations and lines/terms – “douchebaggery” was my favourite! (And I wish I could remember which script it was from.)

Coming up next for Alumnae Theatre: Sylvia, which runs November 11 – 26  in the studio. I’ll give a heads-up the week before – but that’s coming soon.

Great big fun all around. Time to put my feet up and watch Once Upon A Time, Lost Girl and The Good Wife.

Up next: On Tuesday night, I’ll be at Shannon Butcher’s concert/launch of her new CD How Sweet It Is and I’ll be dropping by the International Authors Festival later this week.

Shannon Butcher launches How Sweet It Is CD

Hey there. So before I take off into the night/weekend for more arts and culture adventures, I wanted to mention a fabulous upcoming music event, featuring the fabulous jazz songstress Shannon Butcher (who became the proud mommy of baby Charlotte in July).

Shannon, partnered with Ross MacIntyre for this project, will be launching her new CD How Sweet It Is at a concert at the Heliconian Hall on Tuesday, October 25. Check out Shannon’s website for details and info on tix: http://www.shannonbutcher.com/howsweet.html

In the meantime, I’m heading to the Fairview Library Theatre tonight with pal Victoria Shepherd and her daughter Vivian to see Amicus Productions’ All My Sons, where Viv is making her community theatre debut onstage. 

Have a good one, all!

Oh, yeah – before I forget – the International Festival of Authors is also on right now (Oct 19 – 30) at Harbourfront Centre. I’ll be out there next week. Check out their schedule/participants here: http://www.readings.org/?q=ifoa

Downton Abbey – season one finale

WARNING: Spoilers ahead. Wow. So I’ve been watching Downton Abbey on Vision on Wednesday nights and the season one – or “series one,” as they would say in the UK – aired last night.

The drama of the 90-minute episode was heightened by a neighbourhood power outage during the last half hour! This occurred just after a pregnant Cora fell while getting out of the bath (an accident that was engineered by creepy maid O’Brien, who was under the – mistaken – impression that she was about to be replaced). Luckily, the power came back on 5-10 minutes later, so I was able to catch the final lawn party scene and learned that Cora had, in fact, lost the baby, and that Matthew had had enough of the entail politics and Mary’s hot and cold running affections and was getting outta Dodge (and who could blame him?). The news and announcement of Britain being at war with Germany (WWI) was the final blow – and book-ended the series opening (the sinking of the Titanic) nicely. Historic events and the impact on people – on both a personal and national scale.

Series two is now airing in the UK – and I have no idea when we’ll get to see it over here. The fate of the show appears to be currently in limbo – writer Julian Fellowes was hoping to do a third series, but don’t yet have the green light.

Check it out on IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1606375/

p.s. – Just learned from my friend/co-worker Brenda Sharpe that Maria Doyle Kennedy will be playing Bates’ wife in series two. You may remember her from The Tudors (Queen Catherine of Aragon) and/or The Commitments (Natalie Murphy). She’s hard to forget – here she is singing lead on I Never Loved A Man:

Thanks Brenda! I totally didn’t make the connection that it was the same actress in The Tudors, which I guess says a lot about her ability to disappear into a role – which is a good thing.

Chagall @ the AGO

I’m very excited that the work of one of my all-time favourite artists, Marc Chagall, will be featured in AGO’s exhibition Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris (an exclusive showing during its limited tour); it opens today and runs until January 15, 2012.

I really liked this piece on Chagall by James Adams from the Globe & Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/chagall-reframed-ago-casts-painter-in-a-new-light/article2201824/

For more info and tickets on the AGO exhibition, please visit their website: http://www.ago.net/chagall-and-the-russian-avant-garde

In the meantime, here’s one of my favourite Chagall paintings: I and the Village (1911, Museum of Modern Art, NY).

All My Sons @ Amicus

Hey all – I’m very happy to say that one of my next theatre adventures will be up at Fairview Library Theatre for Amicus Productions’ upcoming presentation of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, opening next week on Thursday, October 20 and running till Saturday, October 29.

The Amicus production is directed by Harvey Levkoe and produced by Maureen Lukie, and features actors Susan Amos, Chris Cocoluzzi, Mark Farmer, Janice Hansen, James Lukie, Anne McDougall, Janice Peters, Michael Sherman and Steven Shreyberg – and introducing Vivian Shepherd (my pal Victoria Shepherd’s oldest kid) in her community theatre debut. Always fun to go see a show and support your peeps at the same time.

For more info and reservations, check out the Amicus website: http://www.amicusproductions.ca/index.php

I heart Seeking Simone

So, like with radio drama Afghanada, my love of scripted series also extends out of my usual old-school t.v. realm into the web. Here, I’m talkin’ Seeking Simone.

I got hooked on Seeking Simone about a year ago after seeing a piece on it on afterellen.com – and I was delighted to see that the SS folks are back with a second season! Created by Renée Olbert (who also stars as Simone) and Rosemary Rowe, this is a super fun, quirky and sexy series about Simone Selkin, an actress recently transplanted from Vancouver to Toronto, and her adventures in online dating. Olbert is hilarious – playing a sweet, vulnerable nerd looking for love in a new city – and she has some awesome women working with her, featuring Anna Chatterton (in a continuing role as her friend Audrey), and guests like Zoie Palmer (as her ex Rebecca) and Kiran Freisen (as one of her dates).

And I was very happy to see that Rogers TV picked up the series – I saw all of season one, along with commentary by Olbert on t.v. last week and it was awesome. You can catch it all online, including the first three episodes of season two at: http://www.seekingsimone.com/

Check out the first episode (which features the lovely and talented Zoie Palmer as Simone’s ex – and she has one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard):

I dropped by the site today and checked out a really cool (new-ish) feature: Ask Audrey! Simone’s BFF Audrey dispenses dating advice online: http://www.seekingsimone.com/ask-audrey-seeking-simone-extras.html  She kind of reminds me of my friend Siobhán a bit.

And even better still, Seeking Simone features a theme song by Shannon Butcher (who also guests in a season one episode) and Ask Audrey features a kicky cowbell soundtrack!

Doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight – everyone needs love and friendship, and we all have our moments of feeling like a knob. This series has something for everyone.