Christmas improv

Wednesday evening saw the last Whose Opera is it Anyway? of the year in the new digs at Bad Dog Comedy Club.  Last month’s line up of singers; Rachel Krehm, Michael York, Gillian Grossman and Amanda Kogan, were joined by Adanya Dunn and an elf.  Natasha Fransblow was at the keyboard again.  Greg Finney; the thinking man’s Don Cherry, MC’d.  The format was as ever; a line up of improv games with audience input.  Highlights included the Three Minute Messiah, Adanya giving her mum a dildo and the deep, dark depths of Keith Lam’s Instagram account.  And beer.  And Greg’s suit.

The news is that LooseTEA now has a regular slot for WOIIA.  In the new year you will be able to catch them at Bad Dog on the third Sunday of the month at 9.30pm.  It’s a better venue than the old place and it’s a fun way to spend an hour and a half or so.

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Whose Opera is it Anyway? November edition

Last night’s Whose Opera is it Anyway? from LooseTEA Theatre featured Alana Viau MCing, Natasha Fransblow on keyboards, Rachel Krehm, Michael York, Gillian Grossman and Amanda Kogan improvving and a thirteen year old kid called Alex (or possibly Alice) stealing the show.  The format was the usual.  Games where the audience supplies some key element e.g. a place – a launderette and designated cast members turn it into a sketch.  Best of the night I think was the “breakfast food” sketch with Michael and Amanda which went from a surprisingly filthy “left over pizza” to “left over pizza backwards” to “left over pizza in the Dark Ages”, mostly in Pig Latin.  There was also a very creepy “execution” sketch where Rachel gleefully cut body parts off a recumbent Michael.  Do not upset this chick!

There was lots more and of course it’s very silly.  That’s the point!  But it’s good fun and worth a look.  The next edition is at Bad Dog Theatre at 8pm on December 20th.

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Fifth annual Krehm memorial concert

Last night was the fifth concert in memory of Rachel Krehm’s sister Elizabeth.  This year it was held in the rather cavernous and imposing Christ Church Deer Park, an Anglican church at Yonge and St. Clair.  The concert opened with an elegiac piece for strings written by Jean Coulthard for the coronation of Elizabeth II.  Then Rachel gave us a beautiful and moving account of Mahler’s Rückert Lieder.  Um Mitternacht(*) is a particular favourite of mine and seemed especially fitting here.  It was the full orchestral setting with Evan Mitchell conducting his extraordinary orchestra.  They were back after the break for a thoroughly compelling account of Tchaikovsky’s great sixth symphony Pathétique.  What’s remarkable is that this isn’t an orchestra that has a permanent basis.  It’s a group of musicians who come together for these concerts and make great music on modest rehearsal time.  It’s especially impressive that these things always seem to happen in huge churches with churchy acoustics rather than a concert hall and they still sound terrific.  As in previous years, this was a fund raiser for the ICU at St. Mike’s and once again it looked like mission accomplished as there was a very decent audience in the church.

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Whose opera is it anyways?!

Whose opera is it anyways?! is a comedy-improv-opera show from LooseTEA Theatre’s Alaina Viau.  Last night saw the second in what is being projected as a monthly series at the Comedy Bar on Bloor West.  So how does it work?  The “games” and associated players are decided in advance but each usually requires some kind of audience input such as a place or a mood or even the messages on someone’s phone.  The team then act out and sing a sketch on the prescribed lines.  Natasha Fransblow provided accompaniment on keyboards, though how much of that was planned and how much improvised I couldn’t tell.  In between numbers Jonathan McArthur MC’d accompanied by really obnoxiously loud pop music (not helped by the speaker basically being in my left ear).

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New announcements

Tapestry have announced casting for Naomi’s Road.   The cast includes two members of the original cast; Sam Chung as Stephen, Naomi’s musical younger brother and baritone Sung Taek Chung as Daddy.  They will be joined by soprano Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga as 9-year-old Naomi and mezzo-soprano Erica Iris Huang as Mother/Obasan.  Tickets are now on sale here.

lizkNovember 14th will see the fourth annual Elizabeth Krehm Memorial Concert. The concert raises money for the St Michael’s Hospital ICU, where Liz spent the last 30 days of her life. This year the program will start with the Bach Double Violin Concerto; a piece played by Liz. It will be performed by Yosuke Kawasaki and Jessica Linnebach, who are the concert master and associate concert master of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Rachel Krehm will be singing 2 arias and a song by Mozart, Dvorak and Strauss. Finally we will get Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. Evan Mitchell will conduct a volunteer orchestra. As well as being in aid of a good cause these memorial concerts have featured exceptionally good performances and are definitely worth going to.  It’s at Metropolitan United Church (56 Queen St E) on Monday November 14th at 7:30pm. Admission is by donation to St. Mike’s with a suggested minimum of $20.

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Where there’s a Will

So the Toronto Summer Music Festival continued last night with a Shakespeare themed show called A Shakespeare Serenade.  Curated and directed by Patrick Hansen of McGill it fell into two parts.  Before the interval we got Shakespeare scenes acted out and then the equivalent scene from an operatic adaptation of the play.  After the interval it was a mix of Sonnets and song settings in an overall staging that was perhaps riffing off The Decameron.  Patrick Hansen and Michael Shannon alternated at the piano.

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Three Bats on a Chest of Drawers

Opera 5’s interactive production of Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus opened last night in the Great Hall at 918 Bathurst.  It’s an intriguing but, above all, fun show.  I think it’s fair to say that presented straight Die Fledermaus has more than a few elements of meta-theatricality.  Here it’s central to the plot from MC Pearle Harbour’s initial apology for the lack of a fourth wall because “we can’t afford one” through a whole series of “interventions” by various characters.  Unpacking it all would probably make as much sense as Umberto Eco’s Three Owls on a Chest of Drawers and I’m not as clever as the late Professor Eco and, in best Fledermaus tradition, it’s the morning after and I’ve only had five hours sleep.  So, I’ll avoid the meta and try and describe the show.

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