Upcoming awesomeness: music, poetry & theatre

Happy New Year, all!

Here are a bunch of upcoming events/performances/productions to watch out for – and there’s a little somethin’ for everyone here:

Tin Star Orphans open for The Strumbellas at The Dakota Tavern on Tues, Jan 8.

The next edition of The Beautiful & the Damned poetry cabaret, hosted by Philip Cairns and featuring trivia on dead celeb of the month James Dean, is on Thurs, Jan 10 – 7 p.m. at Glad Day Bookshop.

Queen Milli of Galt, written by Gary Kirkham and directed by Victoria Shepherd, opens at The Village Playhouse on Fri, Jan 11 and runs until Sat, Feb 2.

Theatre Brouhaha’s Toronto Fringe 2012 hit production of Kat Sandler’s Help Yourself runs at Red Sandcastle Theatre Fri, Jan 11 – Sat, Jan 19 – if you missed it at Fringe, be sure to check out this remount. Check out the rest of Red Sandcastle’s January lineup on the website, which includes the final week of The Shoemaker and the Pant-O-Mimes! (closing Jan 6) and a remount of Act II Studio’s production of Mark Leith’s play Dinner with Goebbels (Jan 25-27).

Rarely Pure Theatre is staging a Comedy Night at The Winchester on Fri, Jan 11.

LMG Productions’ Super Wonderful New Year Kickoff (a Wonder Women fundraising event – for the first time, featuring Super Men) at The Central at 7:30 p.m. on Sat, Jan 12 – $10 cover.

Christian D and the Hangovers – with guests The Howling Bullets – at The Cadillac Lounge on Sat, Jan 12 at 9 p.m.

Theatre Passe Muraille’s next Songbook Series: Michael Jackson – on Fri, Jan 25.

Mind-bending the bad things – Help Yourself

Everybody lies and everybody cheats. Some of these actions are along the more benign points on the scale of good and bad as many of us understand it – and some of us use sliding scales to separate the white lies from the bold-faced ones, the minor incidents of cheating versus the criminal. Sorting out good from bad in a very grey area.

In Kat Sandler’s play Help Yourself, currently running at the George Ignatieff Theatre (GIT), Donny is an extraordinarily intelligent man who helps people do bad things. Donny does this by guiding his clients toward a rationalization for the bad thing they wish to do. And the weird thing is, outside of his job, Donny is a pretty decent and generous guy. Donny could be anyone.

Help Yourself (written and directed by Kat Sandler, and co-created by actor Daniel Pagett) is set in the well-appointed living room of Donny’s condo, which is also where he conducts his consultations. The dialogue is highly articulate, fast-moving and incredibly sharp, with flashback scenes showing us the evolution of Donny and Samantha’s relationship – told in reverse chronology – weaving in and out of Donny and Ted’s scenes. The fabulous script has an equally fabulous cast: Daniel Pagett’s Donny is a devilishly charismatic combination of lawyer/therapist, deeply engaging and repulsive at the same time. Tim Walker’s Ted is more than he appears to be, and the alcohol- and Donny-fuelled transition from the wimpy client we see entering Donny’s living room is quite remarkable. Tosha Doiron, as Samantha, give us a sexy, smart and supportive mate – and equal – to Donny with one significant exception. Donny is dark and she is light. They would complement each other completely were it not for the fact that she is uncomfortable with his chosen profession. The more alcohol Donny and Ted consume throughout the session, and the more Donny pushes Ted’s buttons, the more macho and primal their dynamic gets. Like fight club therapy. And the transition of that dynamic is riveting.

The question of where you draw the line between good and bad – and instances where a bad thing done for a good reason is okay – can be pretty subjective. And it gives pause when you remind yourself that to have someone else tell you it’s all okay makes it so. It’s as easy as that. And sometimes chillingly so.

Last night’s performance of Help Yourself sold out within 10-15 minutes of the venue box office opening – so best to reserve in advance or get to the venue early; the show runs at the GIT until July 14.

For the full schedule, check the Fringe site: http://fringetoronto.com

Toronto Fringe – up this week

Hey kids –

Realized my sleep-addled brain left a couple of things out in yesterday’s posts:

During the dinner date scene in One Night, Angela Brown and Nick Stojanovic did an amazing job of dealing with a set malfunction when the table they were eating at collapsed! Nice improving out of the situation, guys.

Before Lizzie and I went to see Mum and the Big C, Lizzie, Laurie and I stopped by the beer tent, where I noticed on the chalk board that Alumnae pal (and fellow GBC Theatre School grad) Tennille Read was about to perform in the Change Room. She performed a lovely, funny and vulnerable character monologue about a woman who’s extremely sensitive to noise.

Up this week – that I know of at this point (there will be more, I just haven’t sorted the scheduling out yet):

Help Yourself at the George Ignatieff Theatre with my pal Kat

Ways to Kill Ethyl at the Factory Theatre Mainspace

The Princess of Porn: The Musical at the Randolph Theatre

Seen anything awesome at Fringe that you’d like to share?