Category Archives: Theatre

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JOIN CIUT 89.5FM RADIO SPRING MEMBERSHIP CAMPAIGN WITH THE HOSTS OF “HOWL!”

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.CIUT-30th-HelveticaNeueCondensed-WhiteOnBlackNancy 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 - Valentino, Nancy & studio engineer Robert

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.”

20150623_223457Above, 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.20160719_215957Before 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.NikSo 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

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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

 

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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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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“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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ROAD TRIP! COMEDY HYPNOTIST ADAM GRAEME ENTERTAINS THE CDN LEGION MEMBERS of TRENTON, ONTARIO

I love joining clients at gigs, especially when it involves taking a road trip and visiting audiences outside of the big city. Last night, I joined brilliant stage hypnotist ADAM GRAEME  [www.adamgraeme.com] when he entertained members of Trenton, Ontario’s Canadian Legion (Branch 110) – the event hall was full of enthusiastic folks, some of whom were definitely skeptical, but within a matter of a few minutes, Adam proved why he is considered one of the brightest, most innovative comedy hypnotists working in the country. First, he warmed up the audience with a little mystic psychology (below)20160226_191535…and then he called for volunteers.  A couple of ladies hesitantly approached the stage area, then before long, all the chairs were filled with willing participants. “You can’t hypnotize me,” one volunteer said, but she under-estimated Adam’s powers, much to the amusement of the crowd.20160226_194020Very soon, Adam had them driving imaginary cars (below), showing off their kung-fu prowess, talking smack to a teddy bear, performing as Frank Sinatra complete with back-up singers & a kick-line, and even trying to count  their own fingers which one confused young lady just could not do – she’d forgotten how to count to ten!20160226_201340The entire evening’s entertainment was clean, family-friendly and so much fun. None of the volunteers did anything too naughty but we’re sure there are a few husbands and wives still teasing their spouses about their stage antics that brought the house down!  I recorded several post-show testimonials (see end of this blog) and I’m sure Adam will be called back for another show soon. Thanks to all at the Legion Hall for their warm hospitality, especially groovy bartender Tammy who waited patiently to turn out the lights while we packed up all the gear.20160226_17100020160226_173705I also have to thank Erin & Adam Keats who run the charming Trenton Delicatessen (below) as they stayed open long enough to make me a delicious ham & Swiss sandwich and potato salad after my long journey from Toronto. Oh yummm! They have a wonderful selection of Dutch treats and I made sure I picked up a few sweeties to go. If you visit Trenton, be sure to drop in and say hello to the Keats.20160226_173208 20160226_173216 20160226_173231

Here’s what the audience thought of Adam Graeme’s show…

Adam is available for corporate events, family-friendly festivals, private parties and club dates – www.adamgraeme.com

MEET ADAM GRAEME – CANADA’S COOLEST COMEDY HYPNOTIST!

I recently welcomed new client ADAM GRAEME – he’s a very talented comedy hypnotist who offers that special bonus for corporate clients and family-friendly events: he works clean! No naughty nasties here – Adam creates laughter from the reactions of both the on-stage participants and those sitting out the the audience without resorting to the all-too-familiar vulgarities or f-bombs!  I recently sat down with Adam to review his career so far and the direction he’s looking to take his stage act over the next few years.  Let me share some of his comments with you and I encourage you to follow him on social media as well as visit his website for more information – contact info can be found at the bottom of this story.Adam, how/when did you discover your “gift”?
The ability to be able to hypnotize someone is not so much a gift as it is countless hours of study and practice. I have been studying in one form or another for over 15 years and continue to learn more with every day and with every performance.
What inspired you to take hypnosis to the comedy stage and corporate arena?
Comedy has always been a big part of my life.  From a very young age, I fell in love with comedy by watching comedy icons like Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin and Robin Williams. I admire talented comedians who relied solely on their wit instead of crude shock comedy. I believe hypnosis to be an overlooked phenomena that has the potential to change the world and what better way to bring about awareness than through making people laugh!? So armed with the desire to bring back honest and palatable comedy plus an obligation to inform the public about the powers of hypnosis, I took to the stage.Who are your heroes as far as comedy hypnotists, illusionists or comedians?
This is a tough question as so many entertainers have had such a positive influence on my career.  My favorite comedy hypnotist I would say is a tie between Marc Savard and Catherine Hickland. Marc is a Canadian who has the longest standing hypnosis show in Las Vegas and keeps his comedy at a very high standard. Catherine is one of my mentors and such a dear friend. How will you know when you have met Cat? Because you will find yourself asking, “Who is that person and why is she carrying a chicken around all the time?” Yes, she has a pet chicken named Nugget who goes on tour with her.
What has been one of your most memorable performances to date, and why?
There is one particular performance that was pretty great and happened just recently. I have five kids all under eight years old and so it’s very rare that my whole family has an opportunity to be with me for a show. In January, I performed to a sold-out audience in a Niagara Falls theatre where I was able to get all the kids in. I created a new Star Wars skit just for my boys and it went flawlessly. The video is on my website and it’s one you have to see.You’re a hands-on dad so do you use your powers of persuasion to get the kids to bed on time or to eat certain healthy foods (i.e.“broccoli is good for you and it tastes like Coco Puffs”)?
Yes, it works on kids, too. My son, Grady, will attest to this on two separate occasions. One was when he absolutely refused to eat perogies. Much like a Dr. Seuss book, he would not, could not eat his perogies! After a few short moments, he was gobbling them up and asking to have them again another night. With a little “persuasion” we now called the perogies “dumplings” and with a little reinforcement in how delicious they were, it was all it took. The second instance was when Grady was playing on my iPad in bed and accidentally turned on my insomnia self-help CD. Ten minutes after, I was walking by his room and heard my voice; I opened the door and saw him completely passed out. It was amazing.
I understand you’re also able to use your hypnosis skills for health and wellness eg: stopping smoking, weight loss/gain…. Have you ever been approached after one of your stage shows and asked by an audience member for help in those areas?
In all the years I have been performing, I don’t think there has been a single show yet where people haven’t asked me about helping them with something they’re struggling with and that’s the reason why I created my MaxU hypnosis self-help program. I would love to be able to help everyone on a one-on-one basis but unfortunately I would end up spending all of my time working on therapy with only the amount of time to help a small number of people.  The cost of working with me on an individual basis may be too high for the average person, so with the desire to help as many people as possible, I set out to create a system that could give everyone the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of hypnosis in their own home at an affordable price. The end result was MaxU. All the information is available on my website and if you or someone you know is struggling with weight loss, quitting smoking, insomnia, has a fear or anxiety, I highly recommend taking a look.
Many people scoff at the ability to hypnotize or be hypnotized…can you explain the simplicity of the power of suggestion without giving anything of your act away?
Of course!  Hypnosis is a state of mind between an awake state and a sleep state. It is not conscious or subconscious but rather a state of super conscious where your mind is so intently focused on a single point that it allows the hypnotist direct access to your subconscious mind. Think of your conscious mind as the filter that does your critical thinking and acts as the gate keeper to your subconscious. It decides what to let in and what to reject. Your subconscious stores memories and controls your automatic functions like your breathing and your heartbeat. With hypnosis, we distract the conscious mind with relaxation and concentration so the subconscious can come out and play. It is very real and anyone that enters my theatre may come in as a skeptic but definitely leaves as a believer.
2016 is looking like an “expansion year” for Adam Graeme’s career – what’s on your wish list for performance venues or occasions?
Yes, it seems like the expansion started a couple years ago and hasn’t really stopped yet which is quite amazing. I have been very fortunate to have such great support from both family and friends. More and more people are seeing the show which is leading to more and more work to the point of having to hire extra staff just to keep up. The very top of my wish list is to be able to perform at Disney World in Florida and we are in the middle of getting the paperwork sorted out to make that a reality and I’m very excited.
Anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
The most important thing to remember in life is that your reality is fluid. If you don’t like something in your life, you possess the ability within your own mind to change it into whatever you want. I have helped countless people through hypnosis and if you’re a non-believer, come out and support your local comedy stage hypnotist to see just how powerful it is and how it can change your life as well.

Adam recently attended the annual trade show for the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies in Toronto and met some other entertainers you may recognize including Doo-Doo the Clown (below) who recently made news headlines by rescuing a woman being pursued by a potential mugger….…and fellow corporate entertainer, illusionist Lucas Wilson (below)

http://www.adamgraeme.com/

www.facebook.com/adamgraemehypnosisshow   Twitter: @GraemeHypnotist

DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN OPENS IN TORONTO TO NEAR-CAPACITY HOUSE!

Bravo, Andrew Chapman, who owned the stage last night when Defending the Cavemen opened at Toronto’s Alumnae Theatre. The Toronto-based TV host, comedian and actor shared comedic insights into how men’s and women’s brains work when it comes to communicating, negotiating and collaborating….oh what a tricky minefield we walk!Broadway’s longest running solo show has been brought to town by I Love It Productions and if the giggles and guffaws from last night’s audience are any indication, this current show should play to packed houses (runs until Feb 26th).  Prior to opening the doors to the public, we had a photo shoot with local media so Andrew was put thru his paces with photographer Anders Marshall from Snapd newspaper (below)…20160211_191404 20160211_191806 20160211_191617Then the fabulous KJ Mullins, publisher of Newz4U.net joined the camera gallery (below)…20160211_192235As the audience arrived, we spotted some groovy folks who’d come out to support the show including young actor Carlos Cartaxo Jr. (below, r)…20160211_193857…and my hard-working intern Gabriella Luchetta joined me, along with her parents Teresa and Ernie who really loved the show. Here’s Gabs (below left) with her mum at the caveman cut-out…LOL!20160211_193003 20160211_200008After the show, two couples who had “participated” on stage with Andrew took their bows, too. You can tell by their faces that they had a ton o’ fun.couplesIf you’d like to see what all the laughter’s about, you can still get tickets to Defending the Caveman…details and tkt sales link can be found on the website: www.thecaveman.ca20160211_195530

 

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JOIN ME FOR A VIRTUAL TOUR OF PORT HOPE’S HOT SPOTS!

Join me for another virtual trip to one of Ontario’s most picturesque and charming historic towns, PORT HOPE, that sits on Lake Ontario, just 50 minutes east of Toronto. With the Ganaraska River flowing through the downtown, it’s a photographer’s delight, as you will soon see here. My PR intern Gabriella Luchetta is a talented young photographer and most of the photos featured here are hers.  So let’s get started….the first stop on any trip to Port Hope is always Queenie’s Bake Shop. The food, the staff and customers all contribute to that warm welcoming “olde worlde” feel and I recommend Queenie’s for all your refreshment needs. Check out the foodie fun Gabs and I enjoyed with master baker, chef and owner Adam Pearson (below) doing his best “meals on wheels” impression!.DSC08217 File 2016-02-04, 7 17 38 PMFile 2016-02-04, 7 16 13 PMFile 2016-02-04, 7 15 13 PMNext, we went next door to visit the king of bling…the god of glitz himself, Kenneth Bell. I can always find something fabulous there and Ken makes everyone feel so welcome. You HAVE to visit his wonderful jewellery and accessories store – you can find something for every taste from Audrey Hepburn to Rihanna – Ken will kit you out perfectly! www.KennethBell.com DSC08224 DSC08227 DSC08239

 

 

After Gabriella and I injected a little moolah into Ken’s cash register, we went up the street to visit a few more retail friends of mine….here we are at Bubbles & Gems checking out some cool cushions and their “Purse Gallery”  bubblesandgems.comDSC08255 DSC08256 DSC08259Had a blast playing store clerk with Tammy at Susan Dewhurst Limited, a fab fashion boutique that carries so many stylish yet easy to wear designers….and I always buy a pair of their cute socks each time I drop in. Sadly the store will be closing in the Spring as owner Susan is retiring so get your butt in there soon as the deals are going fast.File 2016-02-04, 7 20 46 PM DSC08271 DSC08267 DSC08263

see my new Buddha socks!

see my new Buddha socks!

Further along Walton Street, we passed the stunning floral display in A.D. Holton Flowers. They always put on a fantastic show in their windows.DSC08278 20160204_134153Diane, owner of Joie de Vivre, the sweet smelling bodycare and aromatherapy shop, welcomed us and told us that she’s in the process of moving into a larger store further down the street (45 Walton) in the Spring. The product lines she carries are so lovely and luxurious (see below), and I wish her continued success as she moves into the new space.DSC08288 DSC08287 DSC08290

We decided to stick our heads in the gorgeous old Capitol Theatre (www.capitoltheatre.com), an historic building that rivals Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre. This year’s calendar of shows and concerts include Broadway hits like The Wizard of Oz, Mamma Mia, Crazy For You, August: Osage County and they welcome many professional touring companies. We were greeted by Lynn (with me below) who gave us a tour of the lobby bar and popcorn concession as well as the beautifully decorated theatre itself.DSC08205 DSC08206 20160204_120615 20160204_120636File 2016-02-04, 7 14 55 PMNow it was time to drop in on Teri who runs G. Facey’s, one of the coolest fashion boutiques in PH…they carry both men’s and women’s fashion-fwd clothing and accessories and it was so nice to be welcomed in such a warm fashion (Gabs, you really shouldn’t photograph me from behind…argh!)  http://www.gfaceys.com/DSC08297 DSC08300 DSC08301We then wandered the streets checking out the sights and signs of the town….DSC08220 DSC08292 DSC08294 20160204_140405Now this sign in the window made us giggle way too much. A couple of locals walked by and gave us a wide berth as Gabs and I were making suggestive comments about how we need to experience “a handful of fun”…haaa haaa haaa20160204_140145We headed down to the Ganaraska River to take the obligatory “touristy” shots like these…20160204_140427 DSC08318 DSC08319and here’s my “touristy” video of the fast-flowing river.

By now, it was time for afternoon tea so back to Queenie’s we went for some sustenance before we hit the beach then home to T’rona!File 2016-02-04, 7 23 38 PM DSC08317 File 2016-02-04, 7 23 27 PMJust time for a few more snaps before we left….DSC08251 DSC08252DSC08324You can check out our visit to the Port Hope beach in the previous blog – what a fun day and both Gabriella and I look fwd to the next visit when we can check out other stores, the B&Bs and maybe the nature trail & boardwalk once the weather gets a little warmer. See you soon, Port Hope!File 2016-02-04, 7 26 10 PM

www.porthope.ca