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Sunday, June 20, 2010

summer is not a silly season

We're trying to stay abreast of all the good stuff, and falling a bit behind. This past week we did get to Drama and Desire at the AGO where hub ran into a former student, Alex Dault, who gets to "schmact" to pep up the interesting exhibit of art work based on a few centuries of theatre!

Since we had only one day in, had to pass on Luminato - except for the wonderful strangeco designed inflatable sculptures in Queen's Park.

Back home wasn't bad, however, as I had another wander through Don Maynard's Franken Forest at the Agnes Etherington, art and nature combined in the coolest of ways...then popped in to hear CR Avery as part of Skeleton Park Music Festival at the Mansion. Now HE was incredible, doing beat boxing great stuff (don't you hate, don't you hate, don't you hate it when...) as well as simple banjo pickin. Then we thought "hey, try a Blue Canoe show if you can't get out in a real canoe." So we went to Tick, Tick, Boom at the Baby Grand.

Okay, great aspirations, but theatre is already SOOOOOOOOOOO complex, I don't know why students think "all we have to do is pull some great people together with an interesting show and rent a space." Doesn't help that our local reviewer is really easily impressed (by some things.) Sorry - main quibble - the lead character is supposed to be an angst filled musical theatre writer (written by and based on the late Jonathan Larson, of RENT fame). The young man playing him was not only 10 years too young, but was not somehow directed to fill his body with the passion that the role absolutely requires. And the staging was really limited, partially by deciding to do it as corridor staging (both sides). Two lovely female stars, however - Alysa King and Brianna Roberts. As a musical, an early musical of Larson's, it is weak and dated --as a sociological document (since he died on the first preview night of RENT) it's rather interesting. Admittedly, I've never been a fan of RENT, but he was certainly a huge force in theatre.

BUT I'm not, I'm not, I'm not going to any more student based shows unless someone in the family is associated with them. People from professional training schools aren't allowed to stage productions until they're finished...for good reason. You get smug, because your pals rave -- Hard work and dedication alone don't guarantee good products. And it's not "all about you!"

Now, off to the Thousand Islands Playhouse, where Blood Brothers (not my favourite show, either, but I live in hope...) apparently has a dynamite cast.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

summer arts season

On one level, arts in Kingston are a bit quiet at the moment (and we missed most of May, since we went away, getting inspired in France) - but the studio tours were lovely (particularly Joanna Winik's home, with all the moody but quizzical unframed works filling her whole house) and Art After Dark gave a second chance to see the really strong abstracts at Wellington Street Art Gallery and the playfully presented show at Modern Fuel. Also love the Don Maynard Franken Forest installation at The Agnes (which I will continue to call it, in my private time) - it's one of those installations which is better to visit on a non-opening night, because you can really feel that you're in a solitary forest, or watching a flock of birds pass by. On the other hand, I'm afraid the Pride Fest parade was FAR more artful than their art exhibition at the Artel. Signage by Scott Wilson was riddled with typos, and I'm SURE there's far higher quality locally gay-created art than those pieces represented. Very disappointed. Am, however, looking forward to Trevor Waurechen's two openings (a loud one and a quiet one) this week at the Artel. His whimsical work sometimes verges on cartoony --but has quite a nice edge.

Theatrically - the Thousand Islands Playhouse is getting going in Gan (don't go over without checking out the English Pub that opened on the main street. Good food. Good atmo) 39 Steps wasn't my cuppa...but hear that the upcoming Blood Brothers (musical) cast is primo. Folks there are saddened (rightfully) with this week's passing of Dennis Horn, the designer who added so much brilliance to their productions over the years. I'm personally most looking forward to the Firehall's Another Home Invasion (by the West Coast's brilliant Joan McLeod) particularly since I can't seem to get to Toronto for stuff these days.

Am choosing the opening of Sir John A Back From The Dead Concert Tour in Kingston June 23rd over the Firehall opening night, just because these guys have gone at the whole thing with such gusto, and a real "mentoring mix" between Jim Garrard and Layne Coleman and the whole young cast and crew they've involved.

(We will, however be popping out of town to 4th Line Theatre and GCTC in Ottawa yet this month, then Montreal's Centaur Theatre for the hilarious sequel to Mom's The Word in July. )Kingston's Wellington Street Theatre also has a bunch of plays on...but the lack of consistency in quality experiences there is off-putting. Rather tempted to see the Blue Canoe piece about Jonathan Larsen, which has just opened.

But the fact that the Skeleton Park Music Fest is about to start this week is fabulous. Gertrudes and Rueben de Groot Weds at Syd. U. Church (free)--Ken Whiteley at Skeleton Park on the weekend, CJ Avery at the Mansion. Whoopeee. And Girls Nite Out at Ben's tonight sounds absolutely fabulous.