Top 10 of 2014

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Friends & fellow artists of Nik Beat perform a track at the launch for his Famous For Falling CD @ Amsterdam Bicycle Club

Seeing as I already took a bit of a peek out of my December hiatus with the Sleepy Beauty post last weekend – and as this is the last day of 2014 – thought I’d take another peek out to post my top 10 of 2014. Here it is, from a variety of disciplines, in alphabetical order:

Nik Beat: Famous For Falling CD/chapbook launch @ Amsterdam Bicycle Club
The De Chardin Project @ Theatre Passe Muraille
Elizabeth Rex (East Side Players) @ Papermill Theatre
I Hate Todd: The Moves Pt. 1 CD launch @ The Horseshoe Tavern
Lisa MacIntosh: ASK photography exhibit @ 3030 Dundas West
Memento Mori (Tracey Erin Smith/SoulO Theatre) @ Toronto Fringe
Mercury Fur (Seven Siblings Theatre Company) @ Unit 102 Theatre
Romeo and (Her) Juliet (Headstrong Collective/Urban Bard) @ Bloor Street United Church
Jessica Speziale: Shine CD launch @ The Duke Live
Trace (Theatre Gargantua/Vertical City) @ SummerWorks

Have a big fun and safe New Year’s Eve, all. See ya’s next year! xo

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Stand-up & sing – inspired by Tracey Erin Smith’s The Burning Bush

As some of you know, I started doing stand-up comedy this past spring, starting with Dawn Whitwell’s Comedy Girl class at Comedy Bar. Since performing in our class show on June 18, I’ve been back on stage a few times, including open mic at Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir, a guest spot on Whitwell’s weekly show Dawn Patrol and a feature spot at the WonderFest Comedy Series.

As I’ve been expanding my set and working on new material – I decided to incorporate something else I love a lot into my performance: singing. In this case, funny songs. And it occurred to me the other day that I should include “Rabbi School Washout.” Inspired by Tracey Erin Smith’s The Burning Bush one-woman shows, I wrote the lyrics (7 years ago) to the tune of “Beauty School Drop-out” from Grease; I sent it to Tracey and she posted it on The Burning Blog.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tracey Erin Smith, SoulOTheatre or The Burning Bush, take a look at this awesome promo/interview vid. Even if you are familiar, check it out anyway – if you’re like me, it will remind you why you love Tracey and her work so much. (Toronto Fringe fans will also recall Smith’s most recent one-woman show Memento Mori, which she mounted at the 2014 Toronto Fringe Festival.)

Here are the lyrics to “Rabbi School Washout.” If there was a movie version of The Burning Bush, I picture Jackie Mason singing this to Tracey’s main character Barbara. Tracey Erin Smith, this one’s for you. xo

RABBI SCHOOL WASHOUT

Your story’s sad to tell,
Yeshiva ne’er do well,
Most mixed up shayna maidel in the school!
Your future’s so unclear now,
What’s left of your career now?
You’ll never get a job down at the shul!

Dancers: (La lalala lalala lalala…)

Rabbi school washout,
No graduation day for you.
Rabbi school washout,
Terrified seniors, what’cha do?
Well at least you could have taken time to sit and have a chat, now.
But instead it’s: “Death, just deal with it.” You think that will impress, now?

Baby get movin’ (Baby get movin’),
Just keep your feeble hope alive.
Know you can do it! (Know you can do it!)
You’ve got the dream, now show the drive!

If you go for it, go do the strip, you won’t feel like a fool.
Go shake your booty, don’t just sit there on that stool.

Rabbi school washout (Rabbi school washout),
Hanging ‘round the peeler bar.
Rabbi school washout (Rabbi school washout),
It’s about time you were the star.

Well they couldn’t teach you anything,
You think you’ve got such chutzpah
But no congregant would go to you unless they were meshuga!

Baby don’t sweat it (Don’t sweat it),
Preaching at temple’s not for you.
Better forget it (Forget it),
You’ve got a chance here, take it – nu?

Now your Torah’s learned, Kabbalah’s earned, babe you’re on a roll.
Come on, just be a mensch, and go straddle that pole!

Baby don’t blow it,
Don’t put my good advice to shame.
Baby you know it,
Even Dear Abby’d say the same!

Now I’ve called the shot, get off the pot, I really gotta go!
Just get up there and dance now – don’t you be a schmo!

Rabbi school washout, (Rabbi school washout)
Get up and dance now.
Rabbi school washout, (Rabbi school washout)
Get up and dance now.
Rabbi school washout, (Rabbi school washout)
Get up and dance now.

Who – and who’s work – inspires you?

Let this also serve as a teaser for my upcoming stand-up gigs:

Thurs, Oct 23: WonderFest Comedy Series @ Habits Gastropub (928 College St., near Dovercourt) – doors at 8 p.m.
Sun, Nov 9: Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir @ The Central (603 Markham St., around the corner from Honest Ed’s) – doors at 7 p.m.

Toronto Fringe: A joyful, thought-provoking celebration of life in Memento Mori

MEMENTO_MORI_POSTER- FINALFrom the sidewalk outside Rochelle Rubenstein’s Studio (402 College St.), the audience is led along the alley and inside the wooden gates of a colourfully decorated garden, where we are greeted by two handsome, masked men (Christopher Sawchyn and Bruno Cunha); one offers two pieces of paper with questions and a crayon to write our answers, the other serves orange punch. Perched on the fire escape above us, Tracey Erin Smith, our host and guest of honour, sits masked and dressed in black, watching the gathering crowd. We are here to celebrate her last day of life. And she regards us like a fly on the wall at her own funeral.

From the garden, we are led into the studio to find a spot at one of the café tables as the Tango ensemble Payadora (Rebekah Wolkstein, Tom King, Branko Dzinovic & Alberto Munarriz) serenades us.

This is Memento Mori, a solo show written and performed by Smith, directed and co-created by Anita La Selva and produced by SoulOTheatre. The show is the culmination of a journey that started with the question: ‘What if I had one year to live?’ – which turned into a year-long experiment of bucket list activities, work on a troubled marriage and self-discovery.

Memento Mori - shrineWith gorgeous scenic design by Adam Barrett, the space is full of orange flowers (Smith’s favourite colour?), pink and orange strips of cloth, and shrines honouring lost loved ones. Accompanied by the passionate music of Payadora and featuring Tango choreography by Sawchyn, Memento Mori is part memoir, part confession, part hero’s journey – all told with stories of family mythology, personal anecdote, mask performance, music and dance.

I was transported by Smith’s words, and I often found myself feeling like a little kid listening to story time – and Smith was the story lady, rabbi and shaman all wrapped in one. Highly engaging and entertaining, funny and sexy – the threesome, male/male and male/female Tango moments are hot! – our trip is over quickly and we’re all invited to join in the dance (to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”) as the ensemble takes their bows.

And the questions we were given at the beginning of the show?
What is one item on your bucket list?
What would you like to have happen at your funeral?

Memento Mori is a joyful, thought-provoking, singing, dancing, storytelling celebration of life!

The entire Toronto Fringe run of Memento Mori (on till July 13, with no show July 8) is sold out, but if you get to the venue box office early, you just might be able to score a ticket or two at the door.Tes sugar skull on chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toronto Fringe teaser: Tracey Erin Smith & SoulOTheatre present Memento Mori

MEMENTO_MORI_POSTER- FINALYou only have a year left to live. What would you do?

Tracey Erin Smith and SoulOTheatre present Smith’s one-woman show Memento Mori – directed by Anita LaSelva, and featuring Tango ensemble Payadora and two male dancers – running during the Toronto Fringe at Rochelle Rubenstein’s Studio (402 College St.) from July 2 – 13 (no show July 8). Tracey Erin Smith - 'Memento Mori' Glamour Sugar Skull

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what Smith and SoulOTheatre had to say about Memento Mori:

Using mask, dance and Toronto’s foremost 4-piece Tango ensemble, Payadora, the audience goes on a voyage through the last night of Tracey’s life. Exploring the universal themes of life, death, and magic mushrooms, Memento Mori (Latin for ‘Remember you are mortal’) is staged as a private party in a backyard and then inside a gallery space on College Street that was once used as a synagogue. On her last night on earth, Tracey invites the audience to passionately explore the idea of fully living, while you’re still alive and to participate as much or as little in this Day of the Dead themed celebration as they desire.

Part garden party, part death ritual – Memento Mori promises to be the best last night of anyone’s life ever!

I’m definitely going to be there. How ’bout you?