Category Archives: Actors

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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/

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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TORONTO’S SHADOWTIME PRODUCTIONS TO PRESENT ACTOR/PLAYWRIGHT WALLACE SHAWN’S PROVOCATIVE “AUNT DAN & LEMON” THIS SEPTEMBER

Toronto-based SHADOWTIME PRODUCTIONS is thrilled to bring actor/playwright Wallace Shawn’s dark, provocative and polarizing play AUNT DAN & LEMON to local audiences for the first time in nearly 3 decades when they raise the curtain at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace on September 14th for a 2 week run.Aunt D & l posterAunt Dan & Lemon takes us into the world of a young recluse named Lemon (alias Leonora) who spends her nights reading chronicles of Nazi atrocities. Lemon tells the audience about the overwhelming influence in her life of her parents’ friend “Aunt Dan,” an eccentric, passionate professor whose stories and seductive opinions enthrall Lemon from the time she is a young girl. The relationship that develops between Lemon and Aunt Dan and the conversations that went on in a small house on the bottom of an English garden form the focus of this play about political orientation and the allure of certain ideas-even if they lead to murder. A forceful play exposing the banality of society’s evil, Aunt Dan & Lemon explores the ease with which good and bad become reconciled in the human mind.

Director DAN SPURGEON recently told me… Although the play premiered over thirty years ago and has seen prominent revivals both in New York and the West End, its messages may be more relevant now than ever before. The Trump candidacy and the Brexit vote have revealed a disturbing trend towards racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism, and Shawn’s script brilliantly examines how such abhorrent mindsets can come from even the most benign sources and banal experiences. Considering it hasn’t been seen in Toronto since Tarragon Theatre’s Dora-nominated 1987 production, the time is absolutely right for revisiting this intelligent, uncanny and frightening work.

The world premiere of Aunt Dan & Lemon was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival (Joseph Papp, producer) at the Royal Court Theatre in London, England on August 27, 1985. Wallace Shawn (Princess Bride – pictured below) played Lemon’s father plus various ensemble roles in this original production. Wallace ShawnThis production opened off-Broadway at The Public Theater on October 21, 1985 with Academy Award winning actress Linda Hunt (Year of Living Dangerously – below) portraying Aunt Lemon. linda huntNearly 20 years later, the play received a New York revival off-Broadway in 2004 at the Acorn Theatre with TV’s Kristen Johnston (Third Rock From the Sun & Sex in the City) playing Aunt Dan and Lili Taylor (The Conjuring, Blood Ties) playing Lemon (pictured below L & R respectively)Kristen & LiliDirector Spurgeon went on to explain…. One of the most interesting things about this play is the playwright’s forcing the audience out of their comfort zone, by refusing to acknowledge the standard storytelling tropes we’re used to – there is no hero or villain, no separation of “the good guys” from “the bad guys.” The main conflict occurs between the playwright and a complacent audience, with the revelation of uncomfortable truths and questions about the modern world.

So mark your calendars for when Aunt Dan & Lemon confronts and challenges Toronto audiences once again.  All performances at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace theatre. Ticket information and times will be posted closer to opening. Follow Shadowtime Prods. on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/shadowtimeprodns

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Canadian-Nigerian filmmaker LONZO NZEKWE shares indie success story & this year’s TIFF spotlight on his home country

I first met self-taught Canadian-Nigerian filmmaker LONZO NZEKWE about 5 years ago when he asked me to promote the debut screening of his first feature film, Anchor Baby, here in Toronto during the annual Toronto Int’l Film Festival. Although Anchor Baby was not part of the Festival, we arranged that the screening take place at a major cinema multiplex during the period when most int’l film media and industry folks were in town. The screening was a resounding success with a packed house (we actually turned people away), lots of media coverage and Lonzo was off and running with his feature film that was made mostly in and around Toronto on a shoestring budget.anchor-baby33865_165229630154037_4176194_nOver a dozen or so int’l film awards later…Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 8.15.51 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-22 at 9.31.53 PM….the writer/director has now brought his latest project, a 37min. crime thriller, Meet The Parents, to the screen and that, too, has started amassing critical kudos and awards including the Best Short Film award at the 2016 Africa Movie Academy Awards. Meet The Parents by Lonzo Nzekwe 12289712_10156318942150525_7545685570378629312_nI recently sat down with Lonzo and asked him to share some insights into his self-made career, and about the upcoming Toronto Int’l Film Festival where he will be supporting fellow filmmakers and stars of Nollywood, as the Nigerian film industry is called, who are coming into town as part of this year’s TIFF City to City: Lagos program.

Having only spent a short time studying filmmaking, can you share some of the most challenging obstacles you’ve experienced being a self-taught producer/director?
One of the major challenges is getting funding for new film projects. Up till now, all my film productions have been self-funded because it’s tough to get investors when you are an independent filmmaker. Another challenge is getting media exposure for the films after they’ve been shot, but thanks to social media and my IronFlix movie streaming platform, I’m now able to reach a global audience without breaking the bank.

Your first film was the feature length Anchor Baby (2010) which went on to win so many international awards after premiering here in Toronto. How did such immediate success impact your career and/or goals for your future?
Anchor Baby (pictured below) catapulted me to the front of the line after its success. The film played in Nigerian cinemas for about 12 weeks, the UK for 6 weeks, Ghana and Canada for about 2 weeks. As dark as the ending of that movie is, there’s something special about the film as a whole because it pulled no punches and it’s brutally honest. All the 13 film awards including Best Film at the Harlem International Film Festival and two nominations at the 2011 Africa Movie Academy Awards made people take notice. I guess at the time, they wanted to know what’s up with this self-taught first time filmmaker.38609_150496438294023_1449759_nYour most recent film was a short titled Meet The Parents which is garnering critical acclaim as well as moviegoer praise. It recently won Best Short Film Award at the 2016 Africa Movie Academy Awards – what sort of comments/responses have you received about this second film from the African and worldwide film community?
It’s interesting because after I made Anchor Baby,  a few people thought its success was a fluke. The truth is that Anchor Baby was easy for me to make and I knew at the time that I have the potential to write and direct other good movies. By the way, Meet The Parents is 37 minutes long and I consider it a mini-feature film because it actually feels like you’re watching a full feature length film. When you watch Meet the Parents, you can clearly see the growth on the writing and technical aspects of my filmmaking. I’ve received great reviews from film industry people here in Canada as well as Nigeria. Recently, a well respected industry insider in Toronto watched the film and wrote that he likes the film’s look, especially the real sophistication in the way I crafted the images and sound. I jokingly tell people that the film has a “38 Special” flow to it because a snub-nosed 38mm handgun played an important role in the major turning point of the film.

As a film writer, what inspires your stories? I gather Meet The Parents was inspired by a Jay Z song?
I get inspirations from my pains, worries, love, loss and life in general. Meet the Parents was originally inspired by a Jay Z song of the same title in his 2004 Blueprint 2 album. It’s about a father who abandoned his infant son for a life on the streets and 15 years later, fate brings father and son together again in deadly street fight that will alter their lives forever. I’m a huge Jay Z fan from his Reasonable Doubt days and his music in general has been a source of inspiration as a black filmmaker. He paints vivid pictures with words and every time I heard that song, I get these haunting cinematic images in my head that won’t go away. So I decided to put it into film in my own personal interpretation and also added other plausible twists and turns that made the film special.

You recently launched another exciting project, this time it’s a film, documentary & TV streaming platform called IronFlix that offers entertainment from Africa-based production companies.  What inspired this new business and how did you create IronFlix.com?
I believe that filmmakers should create their own path to success instead of waiting for someone to else to get you there. I started IronFlix because I kinda see the direction film consumption is heading. VOD streaming is not the future; it is now! I want to be able to reach my audience anywhere in the world without depending solely on cinemas and traditional television networks.

I originally came from Nigeria, a country that built their film industry (Nollywood) from scratch without help from the government. Most people like me (Nigerian filmmakers) don’t worry about things like “Oscar So White” because we try as much as possible to create our own opportunities and create a market for our work. No one can marginalize us and tell us the types of movies or stories to tell. We have our own film industry, film festivals, cinemas and the Africa academy awards that’s slowly being recognized around the world. One of my main goals is to collaborate with like-minded individuals working in Nollywood, Hollywood and other western film industries to help spread genuine African stories to a global audience.

What are the top films being viewed on IronFlix that we should all watch out for?
Some of the great films and Tv shows you can watch now on IronFlix include Anchor Baby, Ojuju, Making of A Mogul, Pamper Your Mum, Form 36 and many many more.

Your next film project is called Laundrymen – is that a short or feature film? Can you share any teasers or background info on this new production?
Laundrymen will be a feature film. I’ve been developing it for over three years now and it’s a revenge crime thriller. It will be my most ambitious project till date and I’m looking forward to starting production. I’m still raising funds to shoot it so if you know anyone interested in financing a great film, please contact me let’s make it happen.

What advice (or cautions) can you offer emerging indie filmmakers starting out along a similar career path as you did?
All I can say is just do it. Most people talk about what they are going to do when they have the right money, equipment, cast and crew etc. Truth is, you will never have everything right the way you want it. Also, make sure whatever film you’re making is saying something, and it’s something you can be proud of after all is said and done. Your time is way more valuable than money because you can’t replace the time you lost on a film that isn’t about anything.39839_150497681627232_4139089_n

You can follow Lonzo on his journey with Meet the Parents, as well as his activities during TIFF via social media:
https://www.facebook.com/MeetTheParentsMovie/
http://www.ironflix.com
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1666555/

And I’ll be posting updates throughout TIFF so subscribe to my blog or follow me on Facebook.com/FordhamPR or Twitter & Instgram: @FordhamPR

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“V IS FOR VARIETY” SHOWCASES CANADA’S FUNNIEST LADIES @ TORONTO’S BUDDIES IN BAD TIMES THEATRE

Thanks to funny ladies SHANNON McDONOUGH and MAGGIE CASSELLA for inviting me to their final V is for Variety show at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (Toronto) last Friday.  Their V shows will return in the fall but for this last laff-fest before their summer hiatus, the audience was treated to some insanely funny (i.e. f*cking hilarious!!) monologues from Shannon (below) and Maggie (lower pic)….11707424_10155686975205018_8005997095153765894_n maggie…..plus emotional and insightful observations on life presented by my old friend from 1980’s Yuk Yuk’s days, writer & producer of TV & film hits like Miss Congeniality, Family Ties, Desperate Housewives, KATIE FORD (below).  A lot of folks were sniffing and wiping eyes after Katie’s gentle reminder about finding beauty and joy in simple everyday things.KatieEngaging young singer and writer Jennifer Walls also shared a few songs accompanied by Chris Tusjiuchi on piano. Jennifer actually performed her own show, Amazing Women, in the theatre right after the V is For Variety show. Whew…that girl has energy to spare!
One of the show-stopping sketches performed by Shannon & Maggie was an updated version of the great 70’s TV show All in the Family, with Archie & Edith discussing their grandson Joey (below) that had the audience squirming with laughter and recognition of the underlying message of acceptance and love (an eerie premonition of what was to happen within 48hrs in Orlando?!).archie & edithMaggie and Katie recently formed a creative alliance, Ford Cassella Productions, that will be bringing us lots more laughs so I encourage you to follow them @FordCassella on Twitter and Facebook, plus Periscope and Instagram.

Thank you to all the entertainers for a fabulous evening of entertainment, and make sure you catch the next V is for Variety show when it relaunches in September.

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ROSS PETTY FLIES HIGH WITH PETER PAN – THE BESTEST CHRISTMAS PANTO EVER!!

After 20 years of producing and performing in Toronto’s favourite family holiday musicals, Ross Petty will hang up his Spanx and take his final boo as Captain Hook in a brand new production of PETER PAN, The 20th Anniversary Family Musical PANto-monium now playing at the Elgin Theatre in downtown Toronto.  While Petty will continue to produce the annual family holiday musical, this year will be his final stage appearance as a notorious evil-doer and the last opportunity for the exquisitely twisted form of love he revels in as ‘the man who must be booed.’peter-pan139-e1432559389141Joining Ross for his “glorious goodbye” are Panto stalwarts Eddie Glen (TweedleDum/Smee) who has appeared in 12 of the 20 productions; and Dan Chameroy (Tinkerbum) who starred in the first panto production at the Elgin Theatre in 1996 as the titular Robin Hood.th (2)Yes, this is the story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up and his evil nemesis Hook. The title role of PETER PAN is played by the super cute Anthony MacPherson, a brilliant singer, dancer and actor. The hilarious (and glamorous) Jessica Holmes (below) plays the very frisky Queen of HeartsJordan Clark is Alice and Steffi DiDomenicantonio plays Wendy. The dapper Mad Hatter is played by Lamar Johnson and the ever-smiling Cheshire Cat is purrformed (!) by Taveeta Szymanowitcz.Jessica Holmes as the Queen of HeartsWhile I was unable to attend this glorious extravaganza of the absurd (whew, what a mouthful!) myself, my friend Ayda (9yrs old) who lives down the hall went on my behalf with her mum and dad and she came home with her head filled with wonder and a whole list of great things to say about the show. Here is what she told me:

The mixture of scenery, costumes, make-up and dancing made the prefect onstage cake. Mmmm, yum…just the right amount of each ingredient (you can tell Ayda loves to cook, eh?).   The costumes were amazing, especially the Queen of Hearts who was dressed in a big poofy red sparkly gown. The Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat looked awesome, too.  The stage was designed with lots of colourful scenery and made me feel like I could actually be in Wonderland. The actors and actresses all did a good job and I loved it when the Queen of Hearts called Peter “Fwying Pan” in her weird accent. Haa haa haa. All of us in the audience could sing along with the songs which were re-written with new lyrics to match what was happening on stage. My parents and I danced in our seats to a special version of “Uptown Funk”. Yes, I loved Peter Pan in Wonderland.th (3)So take the hint from Ayda and take your family to see this traditional Christmas show that is so much a part of the British theatre heritage. I myself performed in several Christmas panto’s back in the UK in the early 70’s when I was a bright young actress in the Cheltenham Rep. Company – my fave role was playing Puss in Boots in brown tights, plunging neckline and thigh-high highheeled leather lace-up boots. I think my Puss was a bit more Benny Hill than Mother Goose!!

Tickets are on sale now for PETER PAN, The 20th Anniversary Family Musical PANto-monium, running at the historic Elgin Theatre (below) from now until January 3, 2016.  Follow this link to purchase your tkts: http://rosspetty.com/tickets/ticketselgin-theatre-imgBig thank-you to FLIP Publicity for my media passes and although I really wanted to go myself (post-surgery aches, pains and fuzzy-headedness prevented me from attending), I know young Ayda was given a real appreciation for actors and live shows; she’s a true theatre convert now.

 

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BENEFIT FOR ENTERTAINER GLENN OTTAWAY DELIVERS LAUGHS, TEARS AND A BIG STANDING O !

As the Irish Rovers used to sing…wasn’t that a party?  Last night friends, family and fans of comic magician GLENN OTTAWAY gathered at the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles in Toronto to raise funds and awareness of Glenn’s encounter with a known scam artist who swindled him out of his life savings in a fraudulent theatre deal. On stage, well-known comedians, magicians and even a pair of mentalists celebrated Glenn’s career and encouraged the audience to dig deep to help Glenn and his depleted bank account. Thanks to comedian/magician Matt Disero, who created the one-night only comedy concert, some of the country’s top headliners volunteered their time and talent, so here’s a brief pictorial account of The Rocky Horror: It’s a Wonderful Life Anyway show. When I arrived at the Revue Theatre, I first ran into the adorable and funny Mini Holmes (below) who was making some last-minute tweaks to her set.20151109_185644Matt took the stage to greet everyone (below) and share a few thoughts about the evening’s meaning and to thank all the acts who came out to support Glenn, and even showed a groovy videotaped message from Canadian music legend, the one and only Gowan, a longtime friend of Glenn’s, then introduced the night’s MC, Mike Bullard.20151109_191735As usual Mike Bullard (below) was brilliant, acerbic and swift to pounce on hecklers and the poor unfortunate man, Kyle, in the front row who became the night’s comedy punching bag!20151109_194002First up was Mike Carbone. I used to book Mike (below) back in the 80’s and always loved his king-of-cool delivery whether he was performing to business crowds, hipsters or in biker bars. 20151109_193428Then next up was the amazing and baffling mentalist duo, The Evasons, who confounded the audience, including our man Kyle, (below) with Tessa’s psychic gifts while Jeff sought out the volunteers. They fooled me, that’s for sure.20151109_194255Then Mike brought up another brilliant and baffling sleight of hand artist, David Peck (below)20151109_200533Make way for Mini Holmes and her maxi comedy set…she nailed her set and had us all laughing our asses off! 20151109_201716Next up , the dapper and dandy Brian Roberts whose suit hid a multitude of magical mysteries!20151109_203124Brian was followed by Richard Forget (below) who again picked poor Kyle to play along with a card trick that involved some awe-inspiring deck choreography.20151109_203902Young comic sleight of hand artist James Alan (below) took the stage and had us all enthralled with his “dance of the red thimbles”…how did he do that?20151109_205217Then it was time for us to welcome That Canadian Guy…Glen Foster (below). Glen and Glenn has been working together since the 80’s – I frequently booked them into Yuk Yuk’s and for road gigs way back then so last night was a real Glen, Glenn and Glenda kinda night..LOL!20151109_210119Mike then brought the man of the hour up on stage…20151109_193936…ladies and gentlemen…Glenn Ottaway. 20151109_211405Huge ovation, laughter and quite a few tears! Glenn shared more of his story with us and thanked everyone who helped put the night together as well as the performers.  He then presented Matt Disero with a special gift for being the captain of that evening’s ship and we could all see how moved Matt was. Bravo, Mr. Disero, you did good. 20151109_211701As the generous folks of The Revue Theatre gently herded us all out afterwards (they had a 9:30 film to show), there were lots of hugs and smiles and I grabbed a few more pics like this one below with “Magic” Mike Segal (left) and Gordon Precious (right).20151109_212139Here’s Mike again with Gordon and Bob Taylor (far right) and a young lady fan of Glenn’s. That Ottaway guy is a real chick magnet!!20151109_212152FYI: Gordon and Bob are both past presidents of the Toronto ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Below, James Alan waves goodbye from backstage…what a charming young performer.20151109_212344Glenn bids farewell to his fans and thanks everyone for coming out.20151109_212505You can follow Glenn here on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/glenn.ottaway
as well as all the wonderful entertainers who made The Rocky Horror such a success.

Matt Disero  http://mattdisero.com/
Mike Bullard  http://www.newstalk1010.com/Shows/BeyondtheMicwithMikeBullard.aspx
Mike Carbone  http://www.mikecarbone.com/Home.html
Jeff & Tessa Evason http://evason.com/
David Peck http://www.davidpecklive.com/
Mini Holmes https://www.facebook.com/Miniholmes
Brian Roberts http://brianrobertsmagic.com/
James Alan  http://www.jamesalan.ca/
Richard Forget http://www.richardforget.com/home.html
Glen Foster  http://www.thatcanadianguy.com/