With thanks to my friends at B.Rebel Communications…..
Featuring an expressive mixed program of contemporary dance works, with choreography by ROBERTO CAMPANELLA, CHANTELLE GOOD, SYREETA HECTOR and LESLEY TELFORD plus a cast of stellar performers – NOVEMBER 2 – 5, 2022 at Fleck Dance Theatre, Toronto
Following a 3-year hiatus, ProArteDanza presents its fall 2022 season performance featuring a quadruple-bill mixed program of unique, innovative and expressive choreographic voices. With works created by Roberto Campanella, Chantelle Good, Syreeta Hector and Lesley Telford, these four pieces seek to reconnect audiences and explore the complexity of the human condition through concepts surrounding internal conflict, change and memory. “After being absent on stage for 3 years and with an increased sense of loneliness experienced by many, we are all trying to reconnect, one way or another.” – Roberto Campanella, ProArteDanza Co-Founder and Artistic Director
To kick-off their exciting repertoire of performances, ProArteDanza presents BEAST A LA MODE. Choreographed by Syreeta Hector, BEAST A LA MODE examines the powerful influence that environment has over one’s identity. This 30 minute performance explores aspects of ourselves that are both revealed and concealed,investigating the uneasy contradictions of character we develop in order to survive everyday life, and highlighting our essential need to compete with our collective identities.
To follow is Roberto Campanella’s emotionally resonant FEARFUL SYMMETRIES (2016) – pictured below, with the movement motif of running, which poses the question: is the ensemble on stage actually getting anywhere or merely struggling to keep up with an ever-changing world? Campanella’s choreography is accompanied by Fearful Symmetries, an orchestral work by composer John Adams. TETHERED TO YOUR PALMS, with choreography by Chantelle Good, explores the act of preserving memories both within ourselves and with others. Whether it be a scent, an image or a sensation, how can we take care of the sacred moments that stay with us, while honouring the truth of the initial experience? How can we hold someone’s memory of a shared encounter, even when it is different from our own? TETHERED TO YOUR PALMS’ music is complete with Nils Frahm’s Said and Done.
Concluding the evening is a contemporary work choreographed by Lesley Telford.ONLY WHO IS LEFT is inspired by a quote by Bertrand Russell: “War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” Set to music by Michael Gordon, Beethoven, and Mozart, the piece explores the heroism and beauty of carrying on, the futile sensation of the fight and the acceptance of where we end up.
Dances are performed by Joey Arrigo, Sasha Ludavicius, Connor Mitton, Jake Poloz, Kelly Shaw, Eleanor van Veen, Evan Webb, Carleen Zouboules, and ProArteDanza apprentice, Giulia Petti.
ABOUT PROARTEDANZA: ProArteDanzais a repertory contemporary dance company which challenges and inspires our artists and our audience through bold new work and invests in the future of the art form through educational programs. Committed to “passion in performance”, ProArteDanza strives to reach the widest possible audience through an open, equitable and inclusive culture which fosters artistic risk-taking, innovation and collaboration.
DETAILS When: November 2 – November 5, 2022 at 8pm Where: Fleck Dance Theatre (Harbourfront Centre), 207 Queens Quay W, Toronto Length: Approximately 1.5 hours with an intermission Price: Tickets range from $25 – $45, with senior, student, and arts industry discounts available. To purchase tickets, please visit https://proartedanza.com/ or call the Fleck Dance Theatre Box Office at 416 973 4000.
CONNIE BOYD is a Canadian magician, inventor, producer and director, with a background in dance, theatre and circus. She is known for physically demanding, artistic magic such as the “solo” guitar suspension (the World Magic Awards 1999) and an up-side-down straight jacket escape over a bed of nails (Shanghai Magic Festival 2012). Connie has appeared on television shows such as “Masters of Illusion,” “the Best Magic of Las Vegas” and the “World Magic Awards”. She launched her magic career in Las Vegas in 1987, eventually starring & headlining in production shows such as the Folies Bergère at the Tropicana Hotel, Jubilee at Bally’s and opening for celebrity headliners such as the recently departed comedian and TV star Louie Anderson. Connie was named Best Cabaret Magician in 1999 at the World Magic Awards in Los Angeles and the “Prix du Public” at the Grand Prix du Magique in Monte Carlo in 1996.In 2006, Connie was asked to consult on talent with a cruise company in Europe which led to a new career producing, mentoring and directing multiple shows on cruise lines internationally, casting female magicians as the lead performers. In June 2020, she created Magical Women, a YouTube channel dedicated to documenting some of the best women in magic in the world in all facets of magic. She writes a monthly Magical Women series for Vanish Magic magazine and has recently been featured in Genii magazine and MagicSeen in the UK. She also created a conference on Digital Transformation for Magic in 2020 for “United Magicians for the World”. More recently, she launched a new series on the YouTube channel called Blast from the Past which features vintage videos of female magicians from the past.
Being such a busy lady, I was thrilled to get a chance to chat with Connie and ask her about her amazing career and all the women in magic she has worked with or met. What a great conversation we had!
Connie, you’ve created a wonderful web portal showcasing women in magic from around the world and their incredible talents. What inspired you to generate this platform? Pre-pandemic, I was extremely busy and happy producing, directing and mentoring magic shows and talent. I was in Italy when the lockdown started there in March 2020. I had magicians on cruise ships returning to Italy from winter seasons in the Caribbean and South America. Contracts were cancelled and my talent were repatriated to their home countries on three different continents. My own magic shows were literally “frozen in time”, indefinitely on “ghost” cruise ships at sea in the Mediterranean.
For the first time in thirty plus years, I didn’t have any magic obligations or projects to complete. After much reflection, I realized that there wasn’t a source or resource anywhere in the world, dedicated to documenting and supporting women in magic. I decided to create the Magical Women project and the “Magical Women with Connie Boyd” YouTube Channel, dedicated to represent female magicians past and present. I started by reaching out to female magicians I knew and everyone was enthusiastic about the project and willing to participate. Being a credible woman with success in magic helped; I understood the challenges many of the world-class magicians encountered as women in unconventional careers and in under-represented groups. Thanks to the pandemic I had a rare opportunity to record talent that would not normally be readily available.
Tina Lenert, a fabulous magician and one of the first magicians I interviewed, provided an apt quote that summed up how I felt at the start: “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” (Neale Donald Walsch).
Most of us know all the famous men in magic from David Copperfield to Penn & Teller, Doug Henning, Siegfried & Roy, way back to Houdini, Blackstone and of course, The Amazing Randi – why don’t we hear more about the women? There must have been some great female artists over the past century? One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of is participating and collaborating on the VANISH International Magic Magazine’s special edition “Female Magicians through the Centuries” that was published in February 2021 as a FREE publication. The essay and photos were provided by Sébastien Bazou, the publisher of “ArteFake” an entertainment e-publication in France. VANISH’s publisher and editor is a great advocate of diversity and generously created the graphics, layout and free Special Edition. You can view it here: https://bit.ly/3BrqWQxAs you will note from the VANISH Special Edition women in magic have existed through time. It’s true that female magicians are still less than 2% of the magic community, but it’s important to note that the women who have committed to careers in magic are making a huge impact and statements that cannot be denied.
One of the wonderful elements I’ve discovered through the Magical Women project is the increasing number of female contemporary magicians. French magician Léa Kyle was the first female magician to place in the finals on “America’s Got Talent” last season and she’s currently headlining in Las Vegas. Venezuelan magician Dania Diaz was a finalist on “Spain’s got Talent” and was the first Latina female to reach the finals on “America’s Got Talent: the Champions” in 2019. Amanda Nepo is the youngest female magician at sixteen years old to fool Penn & Teller with magic that she invented. Australia’s Helen Coghlan is a four-time “Penn & Teller Fool Us, FOOLER”. The list goes on and on and it’s a truly exciting time for women in magic.
You have over 30years experience performing illusions and entertaining audiences with your prestidigitational skills – when did you first realize this was the career for you? I discovered magic in Las Vegas. In fact, I debuted my first magic act there in the late ‘80’s. My magic story is unorthodox. My professional background pre-magic was theatre and classical ballet, with aerial and juggling circus skills in the mix. I was performing in Las Vegas at the Riviera hotel in “SPLASH” with a juggling act when I discovered magic. I fell in love with the levitation magic of the headlining magician and puppeteer, Barclay Shaw. I studied and watched his mesmerizing performances nightly. Barclay was the catalyst for my magic career and it was he who suggested that I become a magician.Starting magic from zero wasn’t easy, but I discovered magic uses every skill I have and I’ve learned more. Good magic is a complete, theatrical artform, it taps into my creativity, physicality and artistic vision. I have been fortunate, able to invent magic and create magic effects that are specific to me and my skill sets. It’s challenging, it’s frustrating, but it’s also been a perfect fit. I was determined to succeed and it helped that I had exposure and access to some of the very best magicians and entertainers in the world.
You’ve interviewed and reviewed so many ladies of magic for your YouTube channel, magazines and blogs. Who are the outstanding magicians we should watch for now that theatres, casinos and clubs are opening up after Covid? There are SO many, I am pleased to report. Here’s the list that pops into my head: Léa Kyle, Daniz Diaz, Billy Kidd, Carisa Hendrix, Laura London, Alana, Helen Coghlan, Josephine Lee, Alexandra Duvivier, Amanda Nepo, LeRoya Sanford, Kayla Drescher, Krystyn Lambert, Tessa Evason, Katherine Mills, Anchal, Jen Kramer, Ekaterina and many, many more.Veteran magicians are also making a difference magically on and off stage with performances, philanthropic charities, mentoring and writing. This includes magicians such as Juliana Chen, Tina Lenert, Fay Presto, Julie Eng, Diana Zimmerman and Lisa Menna,
Magic overcomes all language barriers and appeals to all ages – what is your favourite audience composed of…families, grown ups, corporate shows? Since 2000, my magic shows have been on tour internationally on cruise ships, on television and in theatres. My favourite audience is a theatre full of a mix of families and adults; theatre and magic savvy and first timers. It’s a mix of people who wish to suspend disbelief and believe in magic for that moment in time and even those who wish to discredit it. The biggest reward is hearing the audible gasp when they react to your magic and performance. They can’t help themselves and respond with surprise, and that’s my favourite moment, always.Who has been your role model or favourite magician (male or female) over the years? First would be Barclay Shaw for helping me to discover magic, for never considering a woman couldn’t be a magician and for encouraging me to pursue magic. David Copperfield for his inspiring work and performances which encouraged me to work harder. Don Wayne, inspired me to create and to understand how to use magic techniques and the psychology behind the magic. Joanie Spina was brilliant on and off stage, she was instrumental to discovering who I was on stage and for staging many of my best acts. Recently, it’s Diana Zimmerman for her tireless support, encouragement and wisdom.
Without giving away any secrets, Connie, what has been your most astounding, amazing stunt…and, conversely, have you ever had anything go wrong? The number I most known for, that’s a signature piece, is a number I created called “Floating & Flying”. The magic is powerful as I am costumed in a simple leotard. In the midst of a classic floating ball magic act, I fly into the air to retrieve a floating ball over my head. This is a moment in my show that I receive the “magic gasp” I mention earlier.Has anything gone wrong? There have been many things, I have fallen into a band pit, been trapped in a trunk due to a missing key, forgotten my lines, forgotten which show I am performing, vaulted from a suspension on a rocking ship, spun like a top when a technician plugged a 110 volt prop into 220 volts, I’ve had the audience in hysterics with a urinating bunny and I’ve almost been snapped in half by a drunk volunteer.
What upcoming shows, videos, live tours do you have coming up for yourself? As the theatres and tours re-start there is great interest in a touring, all female magician magic show, I am very excited about that. At the moment there is a shortage of North American female illusionist performers. With my shows en route from Europe, I’m on the lookout for new up and coming talent to develop, cast and mentor. I’m currently working on a Magical Women coffee table book about contemporary Magical Women performing today. This is in conjunction to the research and monthly Magical Women articles I’ve created for VANISH International Magazine since August 2020. Lastly, I’ve created and am developing several magic routines to compliment my motivational speech about “finding the positives within negatives to reinvent yourself.”
And finally,is there a magic school you would recommend for ladies who would love to pursue magic as a career? In Canada there’s the Canadian Association of Magicians (CAM) is a good start to find magic clubs near you: https://www.cammagic.org
Jeff McBride has the “McBride Magic and Mystery School”. Jeff’s wife Abigail is very hands on with the program and Jeff has mentored several female magicians. https://www.magicalwisdom.com
Any other news or information you’d like to share, Connie? Next month is Women’s History Month. If you have sources to post the link for the free VANISH Special Edition, “Female Magicians through the Centuries” that would be great to share. Also, the “Blast from the Past” playlist from our YouTube channel pays tribute to many vintage female performances.
Wow…I had no idea there was such a community out there for female illusionists. It was such a pleasure speaking with Connie and now I can’t wait to see one of her shows and experience the mystical world of magical women. Connie is busy packing her bags and gathering her fellow magical ladies together and taking to the road for more shows, post-Covid.
Several years ago, I was thrilled to work on promotions and PR for filmmaker friend Bobby Del Rio‘s feature film The Market and I was pleasantly surprised to learn of the impact the film has had on so many of the actors involved, especially now that there is a distribution deal in place to take the film to viewers across the globe…and that my fave streaming platform, Amazon Prime, now offers it as part of their catalogue. One good thing about quarantining is that it’s given us plenty of time to watch tv and discover all manner of films, documentaries and tv series. I reached out to Bobby to see how he’s dealing with the production “lock down” and was pleased to hear how well he has been handling these past 6 months both personally and professionally. This is what he told me….Bobby, it’s been several years since we worked together on your feature film The Market, and you recently landed a distribution deal for the film so how did that come about and what countries can now view The Market? Thank you for your help, Glenda. You were an important part of our team that helped us get here!
The distribution deal came about while talking to my friend Rebeka Herron about another project. When I mentioned I thought the unfortunate economic collapse was a very relevant time to release my feature film about a Wall Street conspiracy theory, she certainly agreed and offered to distribute the film through her Parallel Universe Pictures. They have been amazing to work with. The film is currently available on Amazon Prime in the US & UK. In Canada, we’re on Vimeo on Demand. From watching all your social media posts, I gather you’ve been very busy writing, directing, acting…can you share any news of upcoming film/tv releases? I really appreciate the support, Glenda. I’ve been blessed to stay busy during a difficult time in our industry. My next project is The Kult, a web series I’m co-writing with Megan Laursen. We created it together, Megan is directing, I am playing one of the lead roles. We have assembled a brilliant cast of stage and screen veterans, and will be announcing production details in the coming months… We’re looking at early 2021, and I’m incredibly excited about it.
Megan Laursen is a 22-year old prodigy who has become my writing partner and main collaborator. She will be directing some of my feature screenplays, and I am attached to star in a few of her films. You will hear her name again and again, and it’s my true pleasure to work with such a talented artist at the beginning of her bright career. I am also working with filmmaker Paul Persic on a new feature film. Paul is actually our DOP for The Kult, and a talented director himself. He is yet another young, prodigious film talent that has an incredibly bright career ahead of him. Megan, Paul and myself have a really great synergy that is yielding a large number of film projects at a very high skill level. It’s humbling and exciting to work with (and learn from) artists half my age.
How have you navigated the Covid production shut down? Has this given you the time and space to focus on your writing? While Covid has certainly created many challenges, it has also been a blessing in disguise for me. I learned how to edit, launched a couple of podcasts, polished some scripts and binged historically great television franchises like Lost and The Sopranos. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I have never been so busy in my entire career! I have been offered lead roles in SEVEN different projects, and have many other projects in development as a writer.
While many of my projects are on hold from a production standpoint until after Covid is over, many are in pre-production. I anticipate an INCREDIBLY busy 2021 – starting around spring/summer. While the quarantine year has been challenging, I think it’s been a very important time for contemplation. I view our industry in a period of calm before the storm…
Back in 2017, you presented your play, Professionally Ethnic which was, in fact, written a decade earlier. Considering the timeliness of the subject of diversity in film & tv, do you have any plans to put the play on film? Due to many geopolitical events, my play Professionally Ethnic has certainly been getting attention. I have been working extensively with director Rouvan Silogix for an extended theatre run and also a film adaptation! While theatre has been hit harder than film during the pandemic, many discussions are ongoing. Since writing is a major part of my career, I have actually found myself MORE in demand as a writer. While many production challenges continue, development opportunities abound. Rouvan is one of my best friends, and a truly brilliant artist. While we don’t have official release dates on anything related to Professionally Ethnic yet, we have a few strong possibilities on the horizon for this particular project… My hope is that an analysis of race politics will bring us all closer together as human beings…You were also a recurring character on the hit web-series My Roommate’s an Escort (2017-19) – did that experience inspire your own web-based creativity? How do you see the future of traditional network tv vs. web-based or streaming platforms for entertainment delivery? Playing SAM in both seasons of My Roommate’s an Escort taught me a lot. While I was the creator & showrunner of IRL the Series (sold to Bell Media) before I worked for Katie & Trish as an actor, I certainly learned a lot from the Escort experience. It’s amazing how voraciously an audience is willing to consume a web series if you have the right product.As for traditional network tv vs web-based content, the lines have blurred. I personally do not see a difference between conventional television and shorter-form content. I think the viewer has shifted their thinking to that of patrons in an art gallery: While some canvasses are large and some are small, they are all ultimately still viewed as different paintings. I think that is how movies/tv shows/web series/streaming platforms/etc. are now seen: as simply different styles of content – all equally relevant, though unique in their own ways.
Ultimately, the audience is looking for a well-crafted story, told by skilled artists. I simply focus on telling my stories the best way I can with the resources available to me. That strategy has consistently yielded positive results for me my entire career. I do my best, and constantly seek to improve. Everything else is out of my control…
How can readers follow you on social media? I have a very active Facebook account where I approve everyone. (This sometimes gets me in trouble. lol) and I also have a growing platform on Instagram (@bobbydelrio) and my Twitter handle is @Bobman
Thanks, Bobby, and congrats on all the well-earned successes to date and your future gigs. I encourage readers to check out Bobby’s social media for news of upcoming projects and thank you all for supporting Canadian talent.
Congratulations to the performers and in particular, artistic directors KRISTINA KULIKOVA, ANTON AZANOV and CHANTAL FRY-SALETTI on last night’s opening of THE SHIVER SHOW at the Glenn Gould Studio theatre in Toronto. So many hours of rehearsal and sweat-equity have gone into this stunning blending of dance, figure skating, circus arts, music and operatic singing, as well as beautiful costuming, hair and make-up.The brainchild of Kulkat Entertainment’s Kristina Kulikova, the Shiver Show blends 7 different disciplines of dance with figure skating, aerial circus arts, a little burlesque, video and some very talented musicians into this unique theatrical experience that had the audience on their feet more than once throughout the show!
Prior to showtime, several of the performers were interviewed backstage by Fairchild TV – here’s Kristina, Anton, opera singer Dina Shikhman and Kristina’s talented sister Elena Kulikova (singer/painter) chatting with the news crew.Out in the lobby, one of the charming ballerinas entertained the crowd prior to the show with a very unusual performance….move over Edward Scissorhands!
One of my favourite routines was this stunning flamenco dance, accompanied by Dina singing Carmen.
And to close the show, all the performers came out to take their bows to a standing ovation…bravo!
Afterwards, the dancers schmoozed with the excited audience and I was thrilled to accompany Toronto’s leading online influencer, MoVernie, introducing him to all the performers, starting with Kristina herself.There are 2 more shows today, Saturday Feb 10th at 4pm and 7:30pm – so there’s still time to catch THE SHIVER SHOW. Info and tickets available at: www.ShiverShow.ca or call 1-888-407-4520
Thank you for supporting Canadian talent…and if you’re looking for the perfect entertainment for your corporate event, festival or gala, please contact Kristina to see how she can customize a show just for you. You can reach her via the website.
Stunning young soprano Barbara Suhodolčan won lots of new Canadian/Croatian fans when she performed at the Holy Trinity Croatian Catholic Church in Oakville on New Year’s Eve. This marked Ms. Suhodolčan’s Canadian debut but thanks to the overwhelming response from the audience, local promoter Katica Visic of Cronnexion Entertainment is hoping to invite Barbara back to Canada later this year for a mini-tour in Southern Ontario and possibly beyond. I had the opportunity of speaking with Barbara just before she flew back home to Croatia earlier this week and here’s what she had to say about her experience….
Barbara went on to tell me about upcoming shows, especially one about which she is very excited…
And she is especially proud of her mum and dad for their support and dedication to helping her career. Both accompanied her to Toronto, along with her piano accompanist and another musician.
She is totally delightful to chat with and is most definitely destined for fame in the very near future. After the interview, Barbara and I had some fun taking photos in her hotel lobby where we found a great big Christmas tree still in tact.To learn more about this lovely, talented artist, you can follow her on Facebook & Instagram, or keep an eye on my blog for news of her (hopefully) return to Canada. Here’s a recent video of her performing a Victor Herbert classic.
Over the past three decades, I’ve had the privilege of working with the hosts of CIUT radio’s “Howl!” spoken word/music show (Tuesdays, live at 10-11pm) who have interviewed numerous clients of mine, supported events I’ve promoted and I’ve even appeared on-air myself chatting about life as an arts publicist. Howl! is one of the few live media platforms available to local Toronto artists to promote their creations and performances, and as CIUT 89.5FM is holding it’s annual Spring membership drive May 8-14, I would like to encourage all my readers/followers to kindly support this amazing grassroots radio station.Nancy Bullis and Valentino Assenza share hosting duties, alternating on-air duties each week. They have welcomed poets, authors, musicians, actors, theatre folk, songwriters – all sorts of entertainers who add to our city’s cultural landscape. Please join them Tues. May 9th between 10pm and 11pm and call-in or log on to the CIUT website to donate (details at end of this story)
Above L to R – Valentino, Nancy & studio engineer Robert
“It is an honour, a privilege and a sheer joy to prepare for and interview writers and artists in Canada of all genres to showcase their work on HOWL,” Nancy told me. “The radio is a great place for them to introduce new work and CIUT 89.5FM provides for this opportunity. A conduit is available here for, as you say, Glenda, “the grassroots promotions & media opps for emerging artists via HOWL!” Exactly! I think that society would be a dismal place without music, poetry, spoken word and the other arts to help us understand who we are and for artists of all kinds to express themselves. I’m a big believer in Kurt Vonnegut’s “canary in the coal mine theory of the arts.” It truly is my pleasure to be part of HOWL, CIUT 89.5FM since December 1999.”
And Valentino added…. “For me, life is about words, and so I make HOWL! about words too. Whether it’s a series of them that make up a novel or a cool poem, sound lyrics in a song, HOWL! is about words, and how powerful they are, and I like to expose the people that transcend words through their art.”
Above, Nancy interviews Grammy-nominated flutist and composer Ron Korb prior to his departure for LA and the Grammy red carpet. And below, she’s with Cuban jazz trumpeter and composer Alexis Baro whose CD launch was the following weekend.Before Nancy and Valentino took the helm at Howl!, the show was the sole domain of legendary poet, artist and musician Nik Beat (pictured below). I remember working closely with Nik back when the CIUT studios were located in an old Edwardian house on St. George St…up 2 flights of rickety stairs, into the rafters. Nik was one of the first people in the city to support poetry and spoken word performers and he and I just clicked when we first met at one of my Scribes & Muses! (or S&M for short…LOL) performances back in the late 80’s. I headed up an artists’ collective of writers, poets, musicians who performed live around the city – Nik was the only media host who gave us on-air time. Needless to say, I am indebted to Nik and Howl!/CIUT for the successes that came from those early days.So to honour Nik and all those artists he helped over the years, and for Nancy & Valentino’s ongoing weekly showcase, please reach out and support the station which supports the artists. Thank you.
CIUT 89.5 FM SPRING 2017 MEMBERSHIP DRIVE
Presenting the Sound of Your City for 30 years
On Air Campaign Runs May 8-14
Your contributions and support have kept CIUT thriving for 30 years and we want to continue to be the sound of your city for another 30 + years!
Donations can be made right now by simply clicking on the Donation button on the website www.ciut.fm
Phone lines are open 6am-2am 416-946-7800 OR 1-888-204-8976
Show your support on this 30th anniversary because we can’t do it without you!
GOAL: $60,000 Total so far: $2,700
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.After 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
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’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. Rick has often worked with leading comedians such as Rick Mercer and the late great Robin Williams (below) …and he’s remained close friends with Canadian guitar god, Rik Emmett (below) with whom he’s worked on numerous tours and celebrity appearances.CONGRATULATIONS, 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!During 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.
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 Reuben. Back 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.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,The Hogtown ComedyFestival [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.The 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.The 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.Happy 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.Any 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.Ein-Stein’s, 229 College Street, Toronto. No cover but we encourage donations that will benefit www.nibdinkids.com
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
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.
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.
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 fromwww.passemuraille.ca Media night: Thurs. Sept. 15th
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 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. This 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. Nearly 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)Director 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