Category Archives: Theatre

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WHAT AN EXCITING, RED HOT OPENING NIGHT FOR THE SHIVER SHOW IN TORONTO

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.20180209_200247The 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.20180209_181430 20180209_180152 20180209_175745 20180209_180913Out 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.20180209_211130 20180209_210855 20180209_185927 20180209_210817There 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.DSC_8046

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MEET WORLD CHAMPION BALLROOM & LATIN DANCER ANTON AZANOV, SHIVER SHOW’s CHOREOGRAPHER & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Next month, the SHIVER SHOW takes the stage at the Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto (Feb 9 & 10) and I recently had the pleasure of chatting with the show’s Artistic Director and lead Choreographer ANTON AZANOV.

The handsome and talented  artist (pictured below) has a string of major accomplishments and brings all these to the Shiver Show along with co-producers Kristina Kulikova and Chantal Fry.180134_1818892201865_34434_nAnton, you’ve won multiple Latin and ballroom dance world championships – what was your most memorable win? Was it your first youth championship or the first one as an adult?  Definitely my most memorable accomplishment was winning the World Championship with my former partner in ten dance, which means across both the Latin & Ballroom dance programs.  This is something I had worked very hard towards my entire dance career and was blessed to achieve.dance 3You have dedicated much of your life (so far) to dance – long hours training and show rehearsals with lots of blood, sweat and tears! What have you had to sacrifice to reach the current point in your career?  Generally, I have no regrets in life as I am extremely happy with the direction my life has taken and I don’t think of anything as sacrifice.  A lot of the choices I made have brought me success but I am also thankful for those choices that did not, as they taught me many lessons for success in the future. We all sacrifice something, but when you have a goal, it doesn’t matter.dance 4 danceWere you born in Russia and did you do your training there?  I was born in Siberia, Russia, and initially began my training there. After several early success both my parents and I understood that in order to further my dance career, I had to relocate to Moscow where all the major clubs and trainers were. So at age 11, I moved to Moscow where all the current world champions trained.

You’re choreographing the upcoming Shiver Show in Toronto – are you enjoying working with the wide variety of performers in such a show?  Yes, it’s a great pleasure to work with incredibly talented performers and other choreographers including professional tap dancer Adam who has performed and choreographed for many Broadway shows, Ukrainian national & Canadian National Ballet ballerina Julia, authentic flamenco choreographer and performer Sofi whose family has been dancing flamenco for generations, Blackpool Dance finalist Dora, Canadian Pole Dance judge Elisabeth and others.   I feel very excited to be able to choreograph the Ballroom & Latin sections of the show while incorporating other dance elements.DSC_8046Are you also performing in the Shiver Show and if so, please tell us what style of dance you will personally present?  I will be presenting Ballroom & Latin. But it will not be what you’re used to seeing in dance competitions; we want to show the public that Ballroom dancing can be combined with elements of other genres such as lyrical, acrobatic, jazz and much more.

Anton with Kristina Kulikova

Anton with Kristina Kulikova

You’re currently a trainer and coach at Toronto’s Dance Life studio – what do you enjoy most about working with young dancers and emerging artists? What advice do you enjoy most sharing with your students?  I enjoy sharing my knowledge with the younger generation and inspiring them to follow their dance dreams, like I had the ability to follow mine.  I try to serve as an example that anything is possible when you focus and are ready to work hard.  The best advice that I’ve received as a dancer and would like to pass on is simply…Dance and be happy!

When you take your final bow at the Shiver Show, will you be thinking of your next project and if so, what is that?  To be completely honest, currently my focus is on the show and to inspire the audience with what we have created.  A more long term plan is to ideally take the show on tour in 2018 and 2019 and be able to offer the cast a chance to further share their talent and passion with the world.  We are excited for what is to come after the show, as it’s also adaptable to non-theater spacing and can be performed at festivals, events, on movie sets & much more!

Anton likes to dance off the stage as well!

Anton likes to dance off the stage as well!

And….do you have a website people can visit to learn more about you and your work?  I’m a simple guy [smiles].  Anyone is free to contact me through Facebook- you can find me as Anton Azanov – and I’m always happy to help in any way I can.  My contact details are of course also on the Shiver Website.

You can come see Anton and all the dancers and figure skaters (yes, there’s even ice skating) in the SHIVER SHOW Friday evening Feb. 9th and Saturday Feb 10th (matinee + evening show). Details and tickets are available from:  www.shivershow.ca

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CROATIAN SINGING SENSATION GREETED BY ENTHUSIASTIC CANADIAN FANS @ NEW YEAR’S GALA

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.20180103_11002720180103_110033To 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.

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2018 starts off with an exciting new dance/skate extravaganza: The SHIVER SHOW @ Glenn Gould Studio Feb 9 & 10

Happy new year and what better way to celebrate a new beginning than to attend an exciting new theatrical presentation that features 7 different genres of dance such as Ballet, Ballroom, Latin, Tap & Burlesque, elements of circus arts including Lyra & Pole performances, musical interludes with beautiful operatic vocalists and of course the magic of Figure Skating. Introducing….the SHIVER SHOW!DSC_8046DSC_7859 DSC_7972The brainchild of two outstanding Canadian women entertainment entrepreneurs, the Shiver Show started simultaneously and separately in the minds of KulKat Entertainment Founder Kristina Kulikova with her partner Anton Azanov, former World Ballroom & Latin Champion (picture below), and Chantal Fry, Founder of Glisse on Ice Shows.  Seeing each other’s work online, Chantal & Kristina decided to share their ideas about a grand theatrical presentation over coffee… and so Shiver Show was born. From a small joint project, the idea grew into this unique large scale production debuting next month in Toronto.Kristina & AntonI recently spoke with Kristina about the show and she graciously shared her thoughts on this this truly one of a kind production:

Kristina, where did the inspiration for Shiver Show come from?  It has always been a personal dream of mine to create a theater show that showcases the incredible performance talent that we have in this great city and give them the opportunity to truly shine- I can honestly say that the dancers themselves were the real inspiration. I wanted to create something unique, something eye catching and unexpected, which is where the chance meeting with Chantal came in at exactly the right time! Putting ice on the theater stage and incorporating over 7 genres of professional dance was the gem I was looking for. Finding the perfect venue and partnering with the incredibly creative and passionate Ballroom/Latin choreographer/performer and coach Anton Azanov fueled that idea and essentially made it a reality!D73_3436 D73_3373 IMG_0212hoopChantal Fry, the founder of Glisse on Ice, has created a spectacle on “artificial ice” for the show – how difficult is it to choreograph ballroom dance, flamenco, tap, aerial, pole & burlesque dance and integrate it with figure skating onto the restrictive stage of Glenn Gould Studio?  We all fell deeply in love with all of the elements Glenn Gould Studio had to offer including their sophisticated lobby and reception area, incredible acoustics, and most of all the non-traditional no-curtain seamless stage which allows the audience to feel closer to the performers and truly enveloped in the show. GGSFrom there – getting creative with best use of spacing was easy.  Led by inspiration and the 2 brilliant minds of Anton & Chantal (pictured below), we divided the stage essentially in half to give the required surface to both the dancers and skaters in order to showcase their skills. It took 3-4 iterations of different positioning to get the set up just right, and we are very excited for the final product!ChantalThe beautiful aspect to this show is also that each act showcased can be booked separately for various corporate functions, events, festivals, etc so aside from being a theatrical production, the acts are gorgeous on their own accord.   We have already received requests to perform the full show program at dance schools, theater schools and festivals, so it is definitely something that can be taken out of the theater setting and still look marvelous.D73_3409Requests for booking any of the talent involved in the show or separate acts, performances or demonstrations, can be arranged through me at KulKat Entertainment (for the dancers, circus arts & singers) www.kulkat.ca  or Chantal Fry of Glisse on Ice (for the figure skaters) www.glisseonice.comE6504577Show times: Fri & Sat Feb 9 & 10 @ 7:30pm (doors open 6:45pm) plus Sat. matinee @ 4pm (doors open 3:15pm)
For group discount on tickets, use promo code: SHIVERGROUP (for groups of 10+)
Full details and tickets:  www.shivershow.caGGS2

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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 

group

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.