Mixie & The Halfbreeds – Theatre Review

Mixie & The Halfbreeds – Theatre Review

A woman stands centre stage, wearing a gaudy circus ringmaster’s jacket and a giant banana on her head. Her gaze is direct and frank, even confrontational, as she asks us - a slightly nervous audience packed into a garage-like black box of a theatre - just how offensive we find her costume. It’s a banana, you see. Yellow on the outside, white on the inside. The audience squirms a little but is silent. We’re good audience members. We know not to disturb the performers. But the woman in the ringmaster’s jacket doesn’t let up. “So you’re okay with banana? What about halfie? Hapu? Halfbreed?” Cautious hands start to go up and then go right back down again, held tight in laps. The woman with the banana on her head turns to her companion, a woman wearing a similar jacket and a headdress shaped like a fried egg and says, “Really tolerant audience tonight, isn’t it?”

Just like that, the tension breaks, and everyone laughs. Mixie and the Halfbreeds is a play that builds around doubling, contrasts, and opposites - tension and release, realism and symbolism, white and Other. For all that the confrontation I’ve described seems loaded, Mixie is actually a charming, playful, delightfully weird show about the experience of being mixed race. Written, directed by, and starring mixed-race women, the show was originally staged in 2009 and has been updated to be more reflective of the 2018 experience of being both white and Asian. Although the mixed experience clearly isn’t exclusive to that combination, the fu-GEN Theatre Company brings Asian-Canadian voices to the forefront as part of its mandate.

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GOBSMACKED! - Theatre Review

GOBSMACKED! - Theatre Review

Let me get something important out of the way first; yes, GOBSMACKED! is a little like Glee. But not that much. The beatboxing/a cappella show on for a very limited run at the CAA Theatre lacks the melodrama and twisted storylines of the TV series and it has a decidedly British slant - Britpop is well represented by songs from Ed Sheeran, the Beatles(twice!), the Stones, David Bowie, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and Queen. It’s not perfect - there are a few numbers that come off as a little flat or overly produced - but for the most part, it’s a lively, exhilarating show with some genuinely jaw-dropping moments featuring the beauty and power of the human voice.

GOBSMACKED! is a team of six vocalists - a bass and two tenors, two mezzos and a soprano -
and one beatboxers (more on him later). Most of the singers are Brits, and the two mezzos have
that bluesy, soulful style I associate with Joss Stone and UK soul - a powerful voice that can be
deeply husky, as in Joanne Evans’ take on “It’s a Man’s World.” It takes some serious moxie to take on a James Brown number and Evans kills it. 

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Win a Pair of Tickets to Dixonlicious!

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Last year, I attended Dixonlicious, a wonderful event hosted by Dixon Hall to raise funds for food programs in Toronto. Dixonlicious returns this year on Thursday, March 1 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. at Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas Street East) and the culinary event of the season promises to be a night to remember! It offers supporters a smorgasbord of delicious food and drinks from top Toronto restaurants and chefs including: The Food DudesBiff's BistroDaniel et DanielHawthorne Food & DrinkSkin + BonesLost Craft BrewingKarlo Estates WinerySoCIAL Lite VodkaWalter Craft Caesar and much more! There will also be musical entertainment and a silent auction for you to bid on big ticket-items and experiences. Attending Dixonlicious is a great opportunity to give back to the community, while enjoying a wonderful night filled with excellent food and company. You will help Dixon Hall to deliver 25,000 meals to those in need. Tickets are $90 and and youth under 30 can obtain tickets for $70. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: dixonhall.org/dixonlicious. Use promotional code GIVEBACK for a 15% discount on ticket prices. 

This year, I am volunteering with Dixon Hall and am giving away two pairs of tickets to two lucky readers valued at $180.00 per pair. There are many ways to enter (see below).  Be sure to follow me on Instagram at @thecharmingmodernist for even more ways to enter. Good luck!   
Open to Canadian residents only, 19+. 
Contest ends Monday, February 26. The winner will be contacted directly and I will also announce the winners' names on social media. 

Bang Bang - Theatre Review

Bang Bang - Theatre Review

Bang! Pow! Crash! Like a well-choreographed fight scene in a high-budget superhero movie, Kat Sandler’s play Bang Bang swirls with tension that builds and builds into sudden, startling violence - a slap, a slammed door, a punch to the jaw. It’s a vigorous, muscular play that skillfully plots out a collision course between people who all, with the best of intentions, believe that their claim to tell a story is the right and proper one, and if the play asks more questions than it can answer, well, I’m not sure that it’s the purpose of this play to provide answers. Bang Bang is unsettling, intense, and very, very funny. It will carry you along and if, at the end, you are still perplexed as to what it all means, then the playwright has done her job. When I asked her what she hoped audiences will take away from this production, Sandler told me that what she always wants is for people to have to think about something, to have their views challenged while at the same time being thoroughly entertained. It’s a challenging push-and-pull to achieve, but I think Bang Bang nails it. 

Bang Bang begins with Lila (Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah), ground zero of The Incident. Everything ripples outward from her actions. A rookie cop, the Black daughter of another Black police officer, Lila shoots an unarmed Black teenager after mistaking him for a felon with a gun. The teen survives and makes a full recovery (such a refreshing change from the fictional bodies that pile up in over-earnest misery porn), but there’s an uproar that leads to Lila’s public shaming and eventual resignation from the force. When the play opens she is mired in a deep depression, forgoing meals for beer and cigarettes and sloppily attired in baggy sweats. She is in sharp contrast to her mother Karen (veteran Karen Robinson, whose gravitas serves her well here). Karen, a psychologist, is immaculately dressed and her tastefully decorated home becomes the unlikely battleground of the play. 

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A Christmas Carol

 photo by Racheal maccaig

photo by Racheal maccaig

It's not too late to see Ross Petty's rip-roaring, funny family musical, A Christmas Carol! Audience members, young and old, will delight in this modern and hilarious take on a classic story. What's more is that on January 4th and 5th, you can be part of a live audience for a television broadcast on the CBC and Family Channel. Don't miss your chance to be a part of it!

 A Christmas Carol is playing at the Elgin Theatre until January 5, 2018. Ticket prices range from $27-$99 Adults • $27-$69 Children under 12 • $256 Family 4-Pack. Tickets can be purchased online at rosspetty.com/tickets, by phone at 1.855.599.9090 or in person at the Elgin Theatre Box Office, 189 Yonge Street.