Comedy, I've learned, is more complicated than it looks. It's not just a question of throwing a few one-liners in the air and walking away. Comedy takes a lot of different forms and techniques. There's standup, which can be very personal and intimate; improv, which really benefits from the chemistry of a group of players; and sketch comedy, which combines the relentless practice and fine-tuning of the first with the playful spontaneity of the second. Cast members workshop a scene together, improvising and riffing and adding and subtracting until a bright shining sketch emerges. The Second City's latest mainstage production is on now and if you've never seen sketch comedy, it's a great introduction to the genre. And if you are familiar with sketch, go anyway. It's a fantastic evening out. You'll laugh, you'll cry . . . but mostly, you'll laugh.Read More
I’ve always loved the Academy Awards. Even as a kid I would watch them every year, from the red carpet pre-show to the very last thank you speech. When the nominations for this year’s Oscars came out, the category for Best Song prompted a conversation with a friend about the best movie songs of all time. We both agreed that, even though it wasn’t eligible for the Oscars, our favourite movie song was Whitney Houston's version of “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard soundtrack, which we both loved. It got me thinking about how good that entire soundtrack is. I vividly remember listening to it – on cassette! – and dancing around to all the songs. Given that it’s still the best selling soundtrack of all time, clearly I’m not the only one who loved it. So of course when the trend of adapting popular movies into Broadway musicals proved to be successful, adapting The Bodyguard for the stage seemed like a no-brainer.
The story of The Bodyguard centers around the character of Rachel Marron, a six-time Grammy winner who has just received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Original Song and is determined to do whatever it takes to fulfill her childhood dream of winning. Unfortunately for her, a mysterious stalker is hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to stop her. When a sinister letter appears backstage during one of Rachel’s concerts, her management team hires expert bodyguard, Frank Farmer, to protect Rachel, her son Fletcher and her sister Nikki. While Rachel and Frank’s relationship starts out as contentious, they quickly grow on each other as romantic feelings begin to develop.Read More
If you haven't guessed by the last name on my byline, I come from an immigrant family.
It's nothing unusual in Toronto, of course. I think the majority of kids in my elementary and even high schools were first- or second-generation Canadian. It wasn't until I was in university that I got an inkling that maybe everyone's family wasn't quite like mine, that I and other children of newcomers carried different identities and stories with us. The TV series Kim's Convenience tells the story of just such an immigrant family and their hilarious, sometimes campy, often profoundly truthful lived experiences. I really got into Kim's this fall. I wasn't expecting to, but the show won me over with its slow build, its gradually unfolding story of family relationships and everyday milestones. When I found that Soulpepper was staging a revival of the original Kim's Convenience, Ins Choi's one-act dramedy, I jumped at the chance to see it.
So how does the play compare to the TV series? It's an interesting counterpoint, the same and not the same. The play has a darker, more dramatic slant than the sunny TV show but the humour and the strong sense of place are unchanged. It's a very Toronto piece of theatre and well worth seeing.Read More
In the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London, there is a small, quiet park by Queen Square. I came across it by accident, years ago – I was looking for Virginia Woolf's former home – but once I found the park I wanted to stay. It's full of mature trees, shady, tranquil. At one end is a small monument. It's a broad, shallow bowl planted with flowers, nothing extraordinary, until you come closer and find a poem engraved on the ground.
In times when nothing stood
But worsened or grew strange
There was one constant good
She did not change.
It seems cryptic, doesn't it? Yet the meaning is simple; Philip Larkin, England's poet laureate, wrote those lines on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. I've been thinking a lot about that small monument, humble and sturdy, and that poem since watching The Audience. It's a play in which governments rise and fall, wars are waged and lost, momentous events pass by at dizzying speed, and a small, steadfast woman stands at the middle of it all. The Audience is sharply written and sensitively performed. Nothing happens – and yet everything happens.Read More
Beat the winter blues and come out of hibernation to explore the unique light installations at Toronto Light Fest! Held in the historic Distillery District, the festival features exhibits from local and international artists.
It's quite romantic to stroll through the Distillery District and take in the glittering lights twinkling against the space's gorgeous backdrop. The outdoor area is magically transformed and is a visual feast for the eyes. Here are a few photos I took of my favourite installations.
Digital Origami Tigers by LAVA - Australia (pictured above)Read More