And already it’s Wednesday

I really need to stop staying out late on a “school” night. Last night it was Eton House for comedy night, hosted by Jo-anne Downey and featuring my pal Polly Esther (aka Fiona Newman), who was returning to the stand-up stage after several years’ absence. She was funny, nervous (in an adorable way) and said she forgot most of her set, but she got up there and did it – and we all had fun. Brave and crazy – that’s what those folks are. Brave and crazy. Isn’t that the title of an early Melissa Etheridge record?

On the weekend, it was My Fair Lady – starring actor pal Andrea Brown – at York Woods Library. Check out my post on the Alumnae blog for the scoop on that: http://alumnaetheatre.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/my-fair-lady-is-gorgeous/

Coming up: V-Day event featuring my pal Fiona again – The Vagina Monologues at the Workman Arts Theatre (formerly Equity Showcase Theatre) this Saturday and Sunday. Check out their website for details: http://vdaytoronto.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=101&Itemid=176

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And now for some healing theatre

Hey – so still healing after last Saturday’s roller skate spill, and happily heading to York Woods Library Theatre tonight to see Alumnae pal, the lovely and talented Andrea Brown, who is starring in the Alexander Singers and Players production of My Fair Lady.

Also just learned that another Alum pal, who (like Andrea) I also met doing Lady Windermere’s Fan, Andrew Batten (lovely and talented too, for a guy) – is currently performing in The Long Weekend at the Village Playhouse.

BTW: the music this past week was amazing! Shelley Hamilton’s variety show Grace at Revival Bar on Monday and Kira Callahan and the Big City Big Band at Hollywood on Thursday – so great. If you ever get a chance to go out and hear these gals (also lovely and talented), do it!

Music saved my Saturday night

First, a bit of back story: So I’d been thinking about getting me a pair of old school roller skates for some time now and finally got a pair at Cardinal Skate Co. on Good Friday (yep, they were open). They’re a low-cut black vinyl boot with light blue outdoor wheels. And, being the safety-conscious gal that I am, I also got a helmet and wrist guards. Check them out, they’re good people: http://www.cardinalskate.com/

Since the weather has not been entirely co-operative since then – and I was out of town during our one day of nice weather on Easter weekend – I wasn’t able to get out and skate till this past Saturday. And, since I haven’t been on roller skates since high school – and then only on indoor wheels – I decided to go easy on the first time out and start off on the asphalt running track in the schoolyard near my house. This turned out to be the best idea I had on this outing: no one to careen into, grass on either side to make for softer landings and relatively little traffic in the park/yard so fewer people to see me make a total ass of myself.

And make a total ass of myself I did. I fell more than skated. The wrist guards saved my hands from getting shredded. On one fall, however, I came down hard on my right hand – so hard that the impact jammed my elbow but good. And that was it for the day. I’d been out about 15 minutes and I was done like dinner. I did, however, manage to actually skate a few feet before that last crash landing, though. So in addition to the achy right palm, elbow, shoulder, neck and side, I also managed to sprain my left index finger (must have done on an earlier touch-down) – the latter I didn’t notice till I was taking some R&R on my loft neighbours’ patio.

Luckily, I had my friend Kerri’s birthday party to attend that night – so I got some rest, did lots of Advil Liqui-gels and headed out to Ten Feet Tall, where jazz singer Ori Dagan was performing an Ella Fitzgerald tribute, with special guests that included pals Shannon Butcher and Shelley Hamilton, and Mark Keiswetter (who I’ve seen playing with my pal Kira Callahan) on keys. It was a great time – and between the excellent company, the music, the beer and the Advil, my achy self was soothed for the evening. Check out Ten Feet Tall -they’re also good people, with a fabulous menu (the menus are inside old record album covers) and a great jazz line-up: http://www.tenfeettall.ca/website/wp/ 

Sunday morning was a different story. No, not hung over – just with the achy-ness.

Oh – and if you’re sick and tired of voting at federal elections – after you cast your ballot, come out to Revival Bar tonight for Shelley Hamilton’s Grace show: http://www.revivalbar.com/

Also playing this week, my pal Kira Callahan and the Big City Big Band at Hollywood this Thurs, May 5:  http://www.hollywoodonthequeensway.com/livemusic.html

Synchronicity, simpatico & love

Categorizing this post as “Stuff” since I wanted to mention two movies and a play I saw recently: Jane Eyre, Water for Elephants and The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union.

The two films are period piece stories of main characters facing some serious tragedies, and struggling through further trials and tribulations in their quest for love. Jane Eyre is the most recent film adaptation of the famous Charlotte Bronte novel, featuring Mia Wasikowska as Jane and Michael Fassbender as Rochester; it also features Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax, Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Reed and Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers (Bell was Billy Elliot in the movie version). Water for Elephants is also based on a novel, by Canadian Sara Gruen, and stars Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz and Hal Holbrook (he and Pattinson play the same character in different times). Nice adaptations both – and I’ve always been a sucker for hardship and struggles in the search for true love. And, even more so, the role that chance and fate seemingly play in the characters’ journeys.

The most mind-blowing case of synchronicity and simpatico in the search for connection (and love), though, is Can Stage’s production of Cosmonaut, by Scottish playwright David Greig and directed by Jennifer Tarver – now onstage at the Bluma Appel Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre. Characters, relationships, even bits of dialogue and objects, cross over time and space. A very fine cast featuring Fiona Byrne and David Jansen – I’m a particular fan of Byrne – and a relatively minimalist but clever, and magical, set. Two cosmonauts lost and forgotten in space grapple with each other while trying to communicate with Earth, where a husband and wife struggle to connect in a disintegrating marriage – all told in 42 very short scenes.

Added bonus the night I saw it (they’re doing pre-show chats with production folks before all Friday night performances, I believe): an introduction to the play from assistant director Birgit Schreyer Duarte, hosted by Joanne Williams (who works at Can Stage and is also a member of Alumnae Theatre).

Also, check out the interview with actor Fiona Byrne by NOW Magazine: http://www.nowtoronto.com/stage/story.cfm?content=180126

Life examined on stage

One of the things I love about theatre is the examination of life and the world around us it provides – and the universality of personal experience.

This past Friday/weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing two thoughtful and entertaining pieces of theatre (one of them twice, as I covered both opening night and the talkback matinée of the Alumnae production): GuineaPigging by Catherine Frid (Alumnae Theatre Company) and The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan (Soulpepper).

For my take on GuineaPigging, please see the posts from Saturday and today on the Alumnae blog: www.alumnaetheatre.wordpress.com GuineaPigging runs on the Alumnae main stage until Sat, April 30.

As for The Time of Your Life, here’s the first couple of lines of playwright Saroyan’s prologue: In the time of your life, live – so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding- place and let it be free and unashamed.

Wow. I wish I’d written that. Written and set in 1939, the play’s portrait of social change, hard times and the human response to life’s challenges are still so relevant to today. And Joe, the central character played with love, strength and vulnerability by Joseph Ziegler, is the play’s agent of goodness.

An excellent – not to mention large – ensemble cast, with stand-out performances from Ziegler, as well as Derek Boyes, Kevin Bundy, Stuart Hughes and Karen Rae. A honky tonk microcosm of humanity, with the audience watching as life passes through and Joe works to make amends for his ill-gotten gains by doing good with his time and his money.

This was a truly inspirational piece of theatre. Check www.soulpepper.ca for dates and details.