Category Archives: Actors

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NICEST GUY IN CANADIAN SHOWBIZ CELEBRATES 5th ANNIVERSARY AS ARTISTIC DIR. @ PEMBROKE’S FESTIVAL HALL

With so many live music and entertainment venues closing on an almost weekly basis across the country, Pembroke’s 600-seat FESTIVAL HALL is steadily building audience attendance and presenting line-ups that include music legends, current hit-makers, orchestral recitals and outrageous comedy shows that are the envy of show promoters in major cities. And the person largely responsible for this outstanding achievement is Artistic Director (and my dear friend) RICK WHARTON who celebrates 5 years at the helm next month, April 2017.b&wAfter starting his showbiz career as a comedian at Yuk Yuk’s and Second City, Rick created his popular television character “The Conspiracy Guy” on SPACE: The Imagination Station. Rick then spent 20 years in the Canadian music industry, working with Universal Music where he began as the liaison between record company, radio and retail – he helped maximize profile and value of the company’s music catalogue; marketed, tracked and promoted influential recording artists including The Tragically Hip, U2, Guns’n’Roses, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Rik Emmett, Alanis, Pursuit of Happiness, Michael W. Smith and others. He was quickly promoted to Head of Promotion in Ontario. Independently, he has also helped develop and manage the careers of many musicians as well as handled production and marketing duties.

with Alanis Morissette

with Alanis Morissette

Flanked by Aerosmith

Flanked by Aerosmith

Stepping into the role of Artistic Director at Festival Hall in 2012, he spearheaded the revival of the Hall by attracting big name performers from all music genres, comedians, classical recording artists, as well as celebrity guest speakers and supporting local theatrical groups. Some of the artists to grace the stage under his direction include:  Gord Downie, Matt Dusk, Rik Emmett, Randy Bachman, John McDermott, Gowan, Michael Burgess, Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe, Lunch at Allen’s, Sab and the Family Band, Malcom Burn and The Spoons , The Barra McNeils . Country stars Marty Stuart, April Verch and Corb Lund. Comedians Gerry Dee, Glenn Foster, Ron James, Derek Edwards, Carla Collins, Mary Walsh, the comic ensemble Women Full Clothed, as well as hosting the Canadian Comedy Awards’ Funniest Person In The Valley show.  He has also opened the doors to many theatrical events and Festival Hall is now home to local theatre groups.

I want people to experience the wonder of what the theatre offers. The magic of taking you away from life’s problems for a little while theatre can change and affect lives for the better.   Rick Wharton

Pembroke-Festival-Hall-Interior-1-1024x684Pembroke’s Festival Hall Centre for the Arts (above) is the largest performing arts centre in the Ottawa Valley. Through theatre, music, dance, storytelling, comedy, visual arts and educational programming, Festival Hall fosters artistic and historic awareness.   Since 2012, the hall has hosted over 55,000 theatre patrons for hundreds of productions that reflect the rich cultural diversity of the region. It’s also home to the Streetlight Theatre Company, Pembroke Symphony Orchestra, Kiwanis Music Festival, UTurn, and the Sears Drama Festival.

Rick and I go way back to the early 80’s when I ran Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto – he was a frequent performer there. When I left to open my own talent & media relations agency in 1986, I would often run in to him backstage at the various concerts and tours I worked. One of my fave photos is this one (below) where Rick unexpectedly “photo bombed” me when posing with Monkee Davy Jones. Hey hey, it's Davy Jones with GlendaRick has often worked with leading comedians such as Rick Mercer and the late great Robin Williams (below)
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wharton and williams…and he’s remained close friends with Canadian guitar god, Rik Emmett (below) with whom he’s worked on numerous tours and celebrity appearances.rikemmettCONGRATULATIONS, Rick, on reaching this milestone anniversary at Festival Hall…and thank you for supporting so many Canadian artists as well as securing the big name acts for your stage. Bravo, Spudman, and wishing you many more years as the impresario of Pembroke!spaceDuring Rick’s fifth anniversary month, Festival Hall presents the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra’s We Got Rhythm on Saturday Apr. 8th, int’l recording star John McDermott (Raised on Songs and Stories) on Friday Apr.28th and Whiskey Jack performing Stories and Songs of Stompin’ Tom on Saturday Apr.22nd. See www.festhall.ca for details of these and other April concerts.

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TORONTO FUNNY MAN CELEBRATES COMEDY MILESTONE & SUPPORTS INDUSTRY WITH UNIQUE WEBSITE

Back in the 80’s when I managed Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Klub in Toronto (and was the agent for all the comedians), one of my chores was booking and running the Monday “Amateur Night” shows.  So many comedians who are now well-known came thru my office door back them, many more were hopelessly untalented or those who did show promise just never got the breaks. One Monday night regular always stuck in my mind – David ReubenRuby_1 Dec 2012Back the early 80’s, Dave was trying to find his comic voice and develop his stage personae. Every Monday morning, I would get his phone call asking for a spot and I would give him his 5 minutes to try out new material and work the not-always-kind amateur night audiences. He may not have been the funniest guy on stage back then, but he certainly was the most polite and pleasant person to deal with – no ego, no “fronting”, no entitlement attitude.  He soon became my favourite.  In the late 80’s, I lost track of Dave after I had left Yuk Yuk’s and started my own comedy agency & promotions company, but in the early 2000’s, I heard that he had started The Comedy Greenroom, a website offering all sorts of valuable gigging information for comedians as well as promoting shows to the general public. What a great idea!  He also became a regular performer and producer of Ein-Stein’s Happy Hour comedy showcase on Sunday nights at the popular University of Toronto hangout. I recently caught up with Dave and asked him about the upcoming milestone for the weekly comedy series as well as how his career has gone over the past 30 years since we worked together.

What prompted you to start The Comedy Green Room website?
Having started comedy in 1983, well before the Internet, I compiled a list of comedy venues in Canada, the USA and internationally. Being fascinated with technology I took some courses in HTML and learned the basics of web design. Let me stress the basics! Always one to help his fellow comics I decided to start a comedy website with a list of comedy clubs, festivals and performers. The name The Comedy Green Room came about because my favourite times in comedy are hanging out in the “Green Room” backstage before and after shows.CGR_logo 2007[2]What information does it offer comedy fans and comedy professionals?
www.thecomedygreenroom.com offers comedy fans info up and coming comics as well as professional comedians around the globe. Many of today’s comedy stars were on the site before they became house hold names.  For professionals, the site offers info on comedy clubs, festivals and open mic rooms. The monthly newsletter is sent to comics and comedy fans in Canada, the USA and Internationally.

Over the years, you’ve done stand-up comedy yourself as well as acted as a talent scout for new comedy stars; do you prefer performing yourself or being the person who brings the stars to the public’s attention?
Performing is my first love and always will be. As they say in the movie Punchline! “Comedy is my Mistress” and I have sacrificed so much chasing this dream my whole adult life. This past September 7th marked 33 years of battling the comedy addiction!  But in reality, I wanted to be a stand-up comic since I was 5 years old and saw my first stand-up comedian on the Ed Sullivan Show on a small black and white TV. Nothing beats the immediate gratification of having an audience laugh in a live setting.  And since starting The Comedy Green Room, I have taken on a mentor roll myself to many of Canada’s young comics. Many have gone on to great success in Canada and the USA. This gives me great pleasure and pride; I guess maybe I should have been a teacher which was an idea I had in University until I got sidetracked by life,ruby-dec_2010The Hogtown Comedy Festival [2002-2006] started by myself, Arie Kizel, and OJ Kness was a labour of love that showcased up and coming Canadian comics, helping launch their careers. The Toronto Comedy Guild [2001 to 2005] run by myself and Steve Rivers gave young comics a chance to perform in bars across Toronto. They made $20 for the night which gave them bus fare and some self-esteem.  Ein-Stein’s Comedy night has been running since 1996 and was started by Arie and the venue’s owner OJ. I started performing there in 2000 then started producing the show in 2003 after both Arie and OJ asked me to help out due to family obligations.
It’s a weekly show that I book, promote and sometimes host. I’ve help hundreds if not thousands of young comics by giving them a venue to start out in and explore comedy. The only thing asked of them is to be polite to the bar staff, show up on time, and get off stage after their allotted time.  Sometimes easier said than done!

Who has been your most exciting connection/addition to the site (and why)?
The most exciting connection was when Jennifer Lee Pryor called me about a year before Richard passed away and said that Richard loved the site, wanted to be on it and wanted to meet me. I walked around for two weeks 3 feet off the ground.  The Pryor’s allowed me to use a photo of Richard from his 1972 appearance on the Tonight Show which you will find on the home page of The Comedy Green Room.  We were making preparations for a fundraiser for Richard and a meeting with him about the time he passed away.pryorThe second most exciting thing was being invited to Johnny Carson’s home town of Norfolk Nebraska to be an adviser on the Johnny Carson Comedy Festival. I got to tour the Johnny Carson Museum, visit his childhood home and the auditorium named after him. A great thrill for the kid who would sneak downstairs to watch the monologue and the comic on The Tonight Show every night at 11:30pm.
The third most exciting thing was the ability of The Comedy Green Room to bring stand- up comic Paul Adams and father [comedy writer for Bob Hope] Charlie Adams of the UK to Toronto for The HogTown Comedy Festival. Paul ended up living in Toronto for 18 months.

The comedy industry in Canada isn’t necessarily a funny business as there are some pretty nasty characters out there with personal agendas that go beyond entertaining the masses.  Have you encountered any of these negative beings and how have they impacted your career? Or have they just made you stronger and more determined?
I have been a fighter since I was born as a preemie at 4lbs. Many people say I am the toughest person they know.
Comedy has been an up-hill battle for me from the moment I stepped on the stage at the original Yuk Yuk’s on Bay Street in Toronto in 1983. I was the crowd favourite on Monday night’s CHUM104 amateur night and became a cult figure filling the room to capacity weekly. However, Mark Breslin, founder of Yuk Yuk’s did not think I was funny. In fact, he said, “You have no talent, you’re a terrible writer but the audience love you.” I was advised to give up stand-up comedy. My response was – see you next week! But the next weeks piled up and I was buried on Amateur Night for 10 agonizing years until the management of Yuk Yuk’s agreed to give me a showcase. Again, I was slapped in the face by being put on 15th out of 15, but I killed that night and have the tape to prove it. But Mr. Breslin again said I was not good enough to be on his regular shows at Yuk Yuk’s.
I left Yuk Yuk’s that night in1993 and have never performed on their stage again. I worked on my act and writing for 7 years (shades of Dangerfield) and came back as “Ruby, the Darkest Mind in Comedy” in 2000. But this time I was determined to do it my way and most importantly have fun. All the good things in my career have happened because of my attitude of having fun and being nice to other comics.
I have made peace in my mind about the 10 years of not being wanted by Yuk Yuk’s, but, in my mind I was the one comic in the Canadian comedy boom of the 1980’s who was not given a chance. Yet, I was the hardest working and toughest of the group.  Sometimes it hurts that I have been shunned by people & organizations in the Canadian comedy community such as the Canadian Comedy Awards, Just For Laugh’s, critic Glenn Sumi, Absolute Comedy, The Humber Comedy School to name a few. But, I guess when you are your own man these things happen.
Over the past 16 years, I’ve fought ageism in comedy as many young comics will not put me on their shows because they feel I am too old. Yet, I am the favourite comic of Ein-Stein’s where the audience is a University of Toronto crowd. I have killed at college and multi-cultural shows – I am everyone’s crazy uncle who says the wrong thing.

Who have been your biggest influences and supporters?
Kenny Robinson (pictured below) has been my biggest supporter and booster in the Canadian comedy scene since we met 33 years ago. He has fought for me to be his opening act many times and went against other comics to defend my right to be in this business. Kenny has also argued for me with bookers and club owners. He was the only Canadian comic who agreed to be on www.thecomedygreenroom.com when I started the site on New Year’s Eve 2000. Everyone else I approached said it was a stupid idea or they were afraid to be on the site because it might hurt their career.KennyThe late great Sam Kinison (below) was also a great supporter of mine. When he saw my act he said to throw it out and start from scratch and find a unique voice. Best advice I ever got.SamHappy Hour Comedy @ Ein-Stein’s Bier Halle in Toronto is s celebrating a big anniversary later this month – how many years have you been running the site and promoting live shows?
The weekly event has been running since the fall of 1996 and was started by Arie Kizel and the owner of Ein-Stein’s, OJ Kness. For many years, it was the only Sunday night open mic in Toronto. I first performed at Ein-Stein’s in 2000 and came on board as the producer in 2003.EinsteinsAny advice for stand-up comedy up-and-comers….?
Work hard, perform, write, be polite and do not burn bridges.

And how do we buy tickets to the big anniversary show?
In keeping with the history of Ein-Stein’s there is NO COVER to get in and seating is first come first served. We ask that a donation be made to The Foundation for Nutrition and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in Children www.nibdinkids.com because laughter is the best medicine!
Happy Hour Comedy @ Ein-Stein 20th Anniversary Show – Sunday Oct. 16th 8pm
Host Mr. Ronnie Edwards: Performers include Terry Clement, Darryl Purvis, Blair Streeter,  Mike McGregor, Monty Scott, Dean Young, Tyler, Morrison, Darren Frost,. Dave Patterson, Dave Sokolowski, Adrian Sawyer, Pat MacDonald, Jennifer McAuliffe, Caitlin Langelier,  Sarah Ashby, Dena Jackson, Patricia Severn, The Nat Turner Revue……and many more surprise guests.Happy Hour_imageEin-Stein’s, 229 College Street, Toronto. No cover but we encourage donations that will benefit www.nibdinkids.com

 

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More film festival fun in Toronto with Nollywood stars

On Wed. Sept. 14, Nollywood filmmaker OMONI OBOLI had her first public screening for her film OKAFOR’S LAW at the Scotiabank Cinemas in downtown Toronto where she was joined onstage by co-star UFUOMA McDERMOTT for an audience Q&A afterwards. 20160914_224701Looking lovely in one of the gorgeous gowns supplied by Gail McInnes of Stylist Box, Omoni fielded numerous questions about her career and meeting the challenges of being a female director in a predominantly man’s world. 20160914_224645 20160914_224703 20160914_224649Ufuoma (above) sported a short sparkly cocktail dress that twinkled brightly on the stage.

Omoni then greeted fans outside the theatre, posing for selfies for nearly an hour!20160914_23063120160914_230858 20160914_23071920160914_231409And so did Ufuoma!20160914_230817Omoni was joined by TIFF/City to City Programming Associate Olena Decock, who also moderated the Q&A session, for a few photos, too.20160914_231857The fabulous Uche Jombo (below) then joined us …20160914_232443….and then once the moviegoers had left the theatre, we decided to have some fun and play!20160914_232726

Tomi Adeoye kicks up her heels

Tomi Adeoye kicks up her heels

20160914_232512The cinema’s cocktail lounge was closed and deserted so our little group took advantage of the cool lighting and views across the city of Toronto.20160914_233722 20160914_233600 20160914_233750 20160914_233900 20160914_234318 20160914_234735My one quick photo opp with Omoni….it’s been fun working with her and her cast during TIFF. This woman is a real pro and I was honoured to be a part of her film fest experience.
20160914_234813We found a lot of cool spots to take pics so every few feet it was a case of “strike a pose”!20160914_235441 20160914_235036 20160914_235323I love this pic of Ufuoma (below)….very moody, very “film noir”.20160914_235501We had waaaay too much fun but fortunately we were all able to sleep in a little in the morning after.  It’s been a blast working with these incredible women from Nigeria’s flourishing film community and I look forward to continuing the relationship once they head home. 20160914_235603 20160914_235606

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NOLLYWOOD FILMMAKER & STAR OMONI OBOLI ATTENDS CITY TO CITY PRESS CONFERENCE @ TIFF16

Yesterday, Nollywood’s finest converged on the TIFF Bell Lightbox – HQ for the annual Toronto Int’l film Festival – where a panel of filmmakers representing Nigeria’s sizzling movie industry spoke about their films being showcased at TIFF this year, as well as the challenges involved in attracting international audiences and distributors.20160913_115247Award-winning writer~director~producer and actor, Omoni Oboli, arrived for her official portrait and a digital interview prior to joining her panel colleagues. Here she’s greeted by event security – 2 of Toronto’s finest – and she couldn’t resists grabbing a quick selfie!20160913_114614She was then escorted into the studio & green room for her official portrait.. Below,I caught her coming out of the photo booth…can’t wait to see the gorgeous portrait on the TIFF website.20160913_115909She met up with the other panelists (below) before being led into the studio that was packed with international film journalists and news outlets!

Don Omope of FilmOne prods/Distribs.

Don Omope of FilmOne prods/Distribs.

Naz Onuzo of Inkblot Prods. & Niyi Akinmolayan of The Arbitration film

Naz Onuzo of Inkblot Prods. & Niyi Akinmolayan of The Arbitration film

Olumide Iyanda

Olumide Iyanda

Moderated by TIFF creative director Cameron Bailey, the panel introduced themselves and their films, then took questions from the media. I was able to grab a few screen-caps via the green room monitor, as did other publicists.

20160913_134449 20160913_135957 20160913_13502620160913_140546After the press conference, the filmmakers enjoyed an ad hoc networking session in the greenroom where they were greeted by Toronto’s favourite son of Nigeria Masai Ujiri – the President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors basketball team.  Here Omoni spent some time with Mr. Ujiri sharing tweets and Instagram posts.20160913_142959 20160913_143008 20160913_143107We managed to grab a quick interview for Omoni with CBC Television (Canada’s national broadcaster)20160913_144839 20160913_144926Then more friends to greet and important contacts to be made!20160913_130430(0)20160913_12090420160913_144549Thank you to all the friendly and professional staff and volunteers who guided Omoni and myself thru the press conference process. TIFF is truly a world-class festival that treats its guests with such warmth and respect.

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TIFF RED CARPET FOR NOLLYWOOD FILMMAKER OMONI OBOLI’S “OKAFOR’S LAW”

Last night, Nollywood filmmaker and superstar OMONI OBOLI presented her dark romantic comedy OKAFOR’S LAW at the Toronto Int’l Film Festival with a stunning red carpet event full of talent, glamour and sparkle! The packed house was vocal in their approval and enjoyment of the film – you haven’t been to the movies until you’ve shared a theatre with Nigerian film fans…they responded loudly to all the onscreen action with laughter, applause and gasps. The Toronto crowd loved the film, adored their actors and weren’t afraid to show it. As soon as Omoni stepped out of her car (below), a cheer went up from the line-up of eager fans who had been waiting hours to see their idols.20160912_200658 20160912_195543These adorable young fans (above) were first in line when I arrived earlier at the Isabel Bader Theatre and they were thrilled to bits when Omoni came over to say hi and take selfies with them.20160912_200728Next to arrive was the stunning Ufuoma McDermott (above), looking extra sparkly in a long blue gown (scroll down to see how glam she looked on the red carpet). And then the big man himself arrived, Richard Mofe-Damijo or RMD as he’s known by his fans.20160912_204321 20160912_204234Above, Richard joins Omoni (right), along with another stunning Nollywood VIP guest on the red carpet. And below, Omoni walks the red carpet for her photo call with the world’s media, including several Toronto-based Nigerian and African media outlets.20160912_201007 20160912_201637 20160912_204406(0)Below, Ufuoma proves that this “baby got back” showing off her fantastic physique! We’re thinking she would be ideal to portray Serena Williams in her bio-pic….hopefully  someone is writing the script now!20160912_201359The red carpet got very crowded with Omoni’s cast & crew, and many of the Nollywood filmmakers and actors participating in TIFF’s “City to City” program showed up to support her film.20160912_20474420160912_201409 20160912_204536Prior to the screening, the always charming Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s Creative Director, introduced Omoni and her cast and crew to the stage (below)….20160912_210537

Photo courtesy of Mo Vernie

Photo courtesy of Mo Vernie

…then afterwards, everyone came out on stage to rousing applause and cheers, and for a fun Q&A with the audience (below)20160912_230707 20160912_231220Then outside for lots more interviews and photo opps with the fans!20160912_233511 20160912_233611Above, brilliant cinematographer Yinka Edwards was grabbed for a few words with TV news cameras – Yinka has 3 films participating in TIFF…wow! And he is such a humble man…I’m sure he was a little embarrassed by all the applause and media kudos. Bravo, Yinka, well done.

Omoni joined the throngs of fans outside for more selfies and socializing, meeting up with old friends and even a few relatives…20160912_234010 20160912_202259Here are a few more fun pics from last night, including Patricia Bebia Mawa of AfroGlobal TV/Silvertrust Media (below)…20160912_204753 …and Vivianne Collins who hosted the official Red Carpet TV for Okafor’s Law – here I caught her setting up before all the stars arrived. 20160912_200113Ufuoma hung out with writer/director Lonzo Nzekwe, sharing social media posts (below)…20160912_203104And of course…it’s all about the shoes, ladies, right?!  Check out this sparkly gold pair worn by Tomi Adeoye, production manager for the film.20160912_201100So you have just 2 more opportunities to check out this fun movie during TIFF: Wednesday night Sept.14 at 8:45pm & Sunday Sept.18 at noon, both at the Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Toronto. All details & ticket sales can be found at www.tiff.net

Follow Omoni and her cast via Facebook.com/OkaforsLaw

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NOLLYWOOD FILMMAKER OMONI OBOLI STARTS HER TIFF MEDIA ROUNDS WITH THE LOVELY FOLKS AT AFRO-GLOBAL TV & PLANET AFRICA

We had the perfect start today for Nollywood filmmaker and star OMONI OBOLI as she launched her media campaign for her film OKAFOR’S LAW, participating in this year’s Toronto International Film Festival: she enjoyed an hour long interview with Toronto-based AfroGlobal TV and Planet Africa magazine publishers.20160906_113744 20160906_120045Sitting down with show host, Patricia Bebia Mawa, Omoni (pictured below on her throne-like interview hot seat) talked at great length about being a female director and writer in what has mainly been a male domain. She also shared how she manages to maintain a fulfilling home life with her husband and children while building her career and expanding her professional horizons.20160906_120128 20160906_130347The crew and other AfroGlobal TV personalities joined Omoni for post-interview photos – as you can see she quite the hit in the studio!20160906_130536 20160906_130559 20160906_130613 20160906_130722Okafor’s Law has its world premiere red carpet next Monday (Sept.12) at 8:45pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto. Check the official festival website for screening dates and times, and to purchase tickets online. www.tiff.net/.  And to watch this episode of AfroGlobal TV tune into Rogers channel 708 if you’re in Toronto or follow Afroglobal Television on Facebook for the video link.Okafor's Law red poster flat

 

Joanne Latimer

SHADOWTIME PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS PROVOCATIVE DARK COMEDY “AUNT DAN & LEMON” IN TORONTO SEPT. 14th

Award-winning Toronto theatre director Dan Spurgeon brings Wallace Shawn’s Obie Award-winning play Aunt Dan and Lemon to Toronto audiences next month at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. The play takes us into the disquieting world of Lemon, a reclusive British invalid who fills her days reading and remembering. She recounts the overwhelming influence on her life of her parents’ friend Aunt Dan, a sophisticated, passionate American scholar whose colourful stories and seductive opinions provide Lemon an escape from her unhappy family life.  Her deepening influence on the young Lemon shapes this exploration of the superficial nature of political orientation and the allure of hardening one’s heart. A forceful morality tale that is both an exquisitely painful horror story and the blackest of black comedies, Aunt Dan and Lemon examines the ease with which good and evil become reconciled in the human mind.

Program from original NY production

Program from original NY production

Shadowtime Productions is proud to present the first professional production of this poetic, deeply unsettling play in Toronto in almost 30 years. With racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism on the rise around the world, Aunt Dan and Lemon is an uncannily timely study of how even the most literate, civilized individuals can drift en masse into depravity and justify the most obscene acts of history.

What the critics said about Aunt Dan and Lemon:

A provocative, disquieting play that slyly raises questions about the unseen links between the personal ethics of citizens and the policies of their leaders. Variety

Stimulating and demanding – the most dangerous play in town. I can’t remember the last time I saw a play make an audience so uncomfortable, and I mean that as high praise. NY Times

 Arresting and disturbing. Shawn uses shock tactics to propose unpalatable arguments. London Times

 A wondrously subversive, cataclysmic morality tale that is entertaining, infuriating, and determined to provoke its audience. Newsday

 One of the most significant plays since the end of World War II, a powerful challenge to our collective responsibility.  Daily Mail

The cast features award-winning and popular actors Joanne Latimer and Helen Juvonen in the title roles (pictured below) with Philip Cairns, Jane Hailes, Daniel Cristofori, Daniel Carter and Breton Lalama. Produced by Drew Blakeman with Set & Scenic Design by Elizabeth Traicus and Costume Design by Jenni Lee Pickett.

Joanne Latimer

Joanne Latimer

Helen Juvonen

Helen Juvonen

PRODUCTION HISTORY
The world premiere of Wallace Shawn’s Aunt Dan and Lemon was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival (Joseph Papp, producer) at the Royal Court Theatre in London, England in August 1985, with Linda Hunt and Kathryn Pogson in the title roles and Shawn in the ensemble cast. This production opened in New York at The Public Theater in October 1985, winning that year’s Obie Award for Playwriting. The play was revived off-Broadway at the Acorn Theatre in 2004 with Kristen Johnston and Lili Taylor, and returned for a West End revival in 2009 at the Royal Court starring Lorraine Ashbourne and Jane Horrocks. Aunt Dan and Lemon has received major regional productions through the years, including at Steppenwolf (Chicago), Mark Taper Forum (LA), and Woolly Mammoth (Washington, DC). The 1987 Dora-nominated production at Tarragon Theatre was the most recent Toronto production.

Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn

AUNT DAN AND LEMON runs September 14th through 25th – space is limited so get your tickets NOW!!

Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto
Showtimes: Wed thru Sat @ 7:30pm, Sat & Sun matinees @ 2:00pm
Tickets available from www.passemuraille.ca
Media night: Thurs. Sept. 15th 

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ANOTHER GREAT “NOLLYWOOD” FILM FOR THIS YEAR’S TIFF-GOERS TO SEE

For this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 8-18), the focus for their City-to-City program is Lagos, Nigeria – home to “Nollywood” filmmaking. One of the films being featured is 76 helmed by the multi award-winning director Izu Ojukwo, and starring Ramsey Nouah, Rita Dominic, Chidi Mokeme, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Memry Savanhu and Daniel Kanayo Daniel.IMG_3500 IMG_351076 is a love story that centers around the challenges women married to men in the armed forces go through when their husbands are captured in war. The 76 story is told using the backdrop of the Nigerian 1976 Dimka’s coup. The movie isn’t about a botched coup attempt but is clearly about the women who are courageous enough to bear a soldier’s last name. It is visually pure, emotionally engaging, intellectually stimulating and humorously therapeutic.

Six years after the Nigerian civil war, Dewa (Ramsey Nouah) a young officer from the middle belt gets entangled in a romantic relationship with Suzy (Rita Dominic) a young lady from the southeastern part of Nigeria. Their budding romance was almost ruptured by the overwhelming strains of tribalism. Now heavily pregnant, her world comes crumbling when news of her husband’s involvement in a botched coup attempt hits the headlines.IMG_3506 IMG_3505 IMG_3514You can check out the official preview trailer here:

Visit the official TIFF website for tickets, screening times and additional information on the City-to-City “Nollywood” programme

www.tiff.net/tiff/

 

 

 

 

 

Okafor's Law red poster flat

NOLLYWOOD’S BOX OFFICE QUEEN BRINGS “OKAFOR’S LAW” TO TIFF!

The reigning queen of the Nigerian film industry – known as “Nollywood” – OMONI OBOLI is bringing her latest film OKAFOR’S LAW to this year’s Toronto International Film Festival next month.  The multi award-winning director, writer, producer and actor will enjoy a world premiere red-carpet screening for her romantic comedy on Monday Sept. 12th at 8:45pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre located in Yorkville where TIFF was first founded. Omoni’s hoping this will be the start of N. American audiences and studios getting to know her and her work. Hollywood has been complaining loudly about the lack of opportunities for women directors, especially women of colour but Omoni has been making her own opportunities in Nigeria; her previous 6 films have raked in over a quarter billion Naira (Nigerian currency) at the box office. Omoni headshotOmoni began her career with her first movie role in ‘Bitter Encounter’ (1996) then in ‘Shame’. She then went on to play the lead female character in three major movies; ‘Not My Will’, ‘Destined To Die’ and ‘Another Campus Tale.’  She took time away from the biz to complete her university education and get married but after ten years, cinema called her back.

Since then, Omoni has shot to prominence as the class act of Nollywood because of her professional demeanour and strong work ethics. Playing lead roles in blockbusters like ‘The Figurine,’ ‘Anchor Baby’, ‘Being Mrs Elliott’, ‘Feathered Dreams’ and Mo Abudu’s ‘Fifty’ has set her apart as one who knows how to choose good screenplays. She has also set the bar higher by being the first actress from Nollywood to bag such international awards as Best Actress in two international festivals in the same year (2010) – the Harlem International Film Festival and the Los Angeles Movie Awards for her lead role in the movie, ‘Anchor Baby’. She’s pictured below with castmate, the late Sam Sarpong (L) and Anchor Baby director Lonzo Nzekwe (R) at the Toronto premiere.Omoni 5Omoni has won and also been nominated for several other awards, both locally and internationally. The movie, ‘Anchor Baby’ currently has the record for the longest running African movie in the UK cinema for the year 2011 and the longest running Nigerian movie in the UK cinemas in history. She wrote, directed, produced and starred in the movie, ‘Being Mrs Elliott’ which happened to be her directorial debut. ‘Being Mrs Elliott’ was chosen as the opening movie at the 2014 edition of the ‘Nollywood Week in Paris’, and it is the first Nigerian movie to be screened at the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, ASO Rock.  Her movie ‘The First Lady’ which recently screened at The Nollywood Week Festival in Paris won the highly coveted ‘Audience Choice Award’ which is the only award at the festival. Her recent Wives On Strike garnered great reviews from both fans and critics and was hailed as the comedy of the year.

Director’s Statement: The idea for Okafor’s Law came on a fine evening during dinner and drinks with friends. I happened to be the only woman in the group and the conversation was very ‘male’ in tone and subject. Somehow, we started talking about our exes and how most guys felt they could always go back and have sex with their old girlfriends even after a relationship had long ended. It was apparently a belief widely known in Nigeria as ‘Okafor’s Law’ It was a very interesting conversation and emotions ran high. At a point, one of my friends turned to me and said ‘Omoni you are a filmmaker. Why don’t you make a movie about Okafor’s Law’. I looked at him and said ‘why not?’ The idea was born! I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I talked back and forth with those friends, getting all their thoughts on the subject.  I initially contacted a writer because I was busy with other projects, and we talked about the story. Somehow, I never got a script from him so a couple of months later, I decided to write my story myself.
Apart from the main theme of ‘Okafor’s Law’, the movie takes us through a journey of love, passion, infidelity, violence and forgiveness. It’s also laced with humour which is a common thread in my movies. I love to take people into the world of my movies and make them forget for almost two hours, their own lives.  Omoni Oboli, 2016_MG_9971FILM SYNOPSIS:  Chuks (aka Terminator) is an ardent player with the ladies. He enjoys the attention of women, including girlfriends from the past. He believes that once a man has had a woman, he forever has access to her. When challenged by his friends to see if he can prove the universality of that theory with three ex-girlfriends from his school days within 21 days, he accepts it. Turning on his best charm he sets off to try and prove himself, but his quest brings him to three women, Ifeoma (Fifi), Kemi and Ejiro, whose situations in life have changed drastically since school days. This challenge of their various new statuses makes his quest to win the bet more and more insurmountable as he tries to prove the immutability of the age-old law, OKAFOR’S Law.

Okafor’s Law also stars African screen favourites Blossom Chukwujekwu, Ufuoma McDermott, Toyin Aimakhu, Ken Erics, Gabriel Afolayan and the “George Clooney of Nollywood” Richard Mofe-Damijo (below)image7You can find out more about Okafor’s Law from the official TIFF website where you can also purchase screening tickets www.tiff.net/tiff/   Look for the special City to City programme which features Lagos and the talented Nigerian filmmakers who call that city home. 79be306f-9fb4-4e48-b518-2fcd1a68337e

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Mini Holmes presents…A Star-Studded Benefit for comedian KEVIN McGRATH this Tues. Aug.16

Anyone who has ever visited a comedy club will know how hard comedians work and as Rodney Dangerfield used to say… “I can’t get no respect”. Well, this Tuesday Aug. 16th many of Canada’s top comics will be paying respect to fellow funny man, Kevin McGrath (pictured below), with a special benefit show at Cherry Colas Rock’n’Roll Cabaret in Toronto raising funds to help support Kevin as he goes through painful rehab after a horrendous car accident that left him with numerous broken bones and serious internal injuries. Kevin will be in hospital for the next few months followed by several months in the rehab hospital.kvimghs001Benefit producer Mini Holmes, a very funny lady and media personality herself, told me “This is close to our hearts because we all love Kevin and also because we know as comics this could have been any of us. We are all on the road gigging nightly.” MiniKevin McGrath has kept Canadians laughing since the early 1980’s. He got his start with The McGrath Brothers, a comedy music act that featured impressions of The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and many more  he began performing solo stand-up comedy when the McGrath Brothers disbanded. Kevin has appeared on CTV, Global Television, The Comedy Network, CBC, and has appeared in every major city in Canada. Kevin’s comedy is fueled by his obvious love for his wife, his fear of flying, a reluctance to engage in anything involving strenuous activity, and his undying love for music.

Hosted by Mike Bullard, the show will feature comedians who came up thru the ranks with Kevin including Mike Wilmot, Derek Edwards, Mike MacDonald and Simon Rakoff. Mini will also perform a set just to add a little estrogen to the manly mix up on stage! All of these generous performers are donating their time and talent so all $s from ticket sales will go to Kevin.

Mike Bullard

Mike Bullard

Mike Wilmot

Mike Wilmot

Derek Edwards

Derek Edwards

Mike MacDonald

Mike MacDonald

Simon Rakoff with name

Cherry Colas Rock N Roll Cabaret, 200 Bathurst Street (just N. of Queen)
Tuesday August 16th   9:00pm.
$15 in advance / $20 at the door 

Tickets can be purchased via Facebook event page:   https://www.facebook.com/events/151586161942592/

As their original agent back in the 80’s “golden era” of stand-up comedy in Canada, I love these guys and really hope you will come out and show ’em a little love AND cash for Kevin.