Soulpepper’s John Eh? Larger than life Reply

Review by Judith Robinson

Michael Hollingworth’s, play, Confederation & Riel, paints a portrait of Sir John A. Macdonald never before seen on a Canadian stage. While the founding father’s foibles are infamously familiar, actor Richard Clarkin leaves the stereotyped caricature far behind, and guides the Prime Minister into the territory of a brilliant, scheming statesman.
In this VideoCabaret/Soulpepper production, Macdonald’s every gesture, comment, and excess mannerism, becomes infinitely believable. It is not difficult to accept that in Macdonald’s winks and jokes, a confederacy was initiated. Equally skillful is Linda Prystawska’s portrayal of nine characters, male and female, young and old, from Macdonald’s wife, to a revolutionary Fenian, to Sir Alexander Galt.


“N.A.O. – 30 years young” Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

The opening concert of season 30 was devoted to Mozart and two of his most celebrated compositions; the brief (20 minute) Haffner Symphony and his last opus – Requiem in D minor. After an introductory piece by S.I. Glick entitled ‘Psalm’; the NAO under apprentice conductor Roï Azoulay presented a cohesive opening two movements of the ‘Haffner. The National Academy Orchestra’s three decades of recruiting; selecting; training and presenting the top Canadian musical graduates as a performing ensemble is an extraordinary accomplishment and has been a positive opportunity for over a thousand young men and women.

Laengert; Bogdanowicz; Brott; Ramirez & Lichti performing ‘Requiem’


A ‘Tony’ for a Canadian musical recap of a laudable moment Reply

Opinion by Terry & Danny Gaisin

Having enjoyed & recommended the Toronto Fringe offering by David Hein & Irene Sankoff about ‘My Jewish Lesbian Wiggan mother’s Wedding’, we couldn’t miss the duo’s Sheridan College Workshop about the post- 9/11 Gander NFLD’ers response to detoured flights to their local airport. The musical interpretation in April of 2012 was a little shaky but the overall message and visual interpretation had an impact…especially given our own identification with the events of that morning and subsequent involvement. Ten months later, the team had tweaked and polished the original including the omission of a scene that specifically seemed touching.

      Original workshop cast of “COME FROM AWAY”


“Critiquing (unbiasly); one’s own ‘kiddlies’ in performance” Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
            Every experienced critical columnist will admit that writing about kids is anathematic. Even being objective is rife with danger. An unbiased review in keeping with the writer’s credibility reports on flaws; the editor can expect poisoned-pen letters saying “The kid was amazing… even the obvious flaws were cute…and besides, his or her parents were divorcing or separating or the child wasn’t feeling well! So, like all my counterparts, when a request for a child-oriented column is offered, the closet; bathroom; under the desk or a storage area is immediately sought out. Unless it includes one’s own grandkids or great-grandkids.

One of the younger classes interpreting ” “He’s So Fine”


Season finale of ‘5 @ 1st’ is a wonderful romp Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
            The final concert in the 5 @ the First series presented a varied offering of music from the Baroque grandeur of Bach, to Rossini, to contemporary Canadian music and finally a rarely performed Vaughan Williams. The afternoon began with Joseph Phillips performing Bach’s Suite #2 in D minor for cello, transposed very effectively for bass. It is rare to hear a bass solo as it is often presumed to be a supporting instrument, but Phillips showed he could perform the very technically difficult Suite in an expressive manner on his wonderfully resonant instrument.

The 5 @ 1st quintet


“SISTER ACT”; could be ‘habit forming! Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
Sister Act
, the current presentation of Hamilton Theatre Inc., is among the increasing number of Broadway musical comedies based on an earlier movie.  The original 1992 movie starred Whoopi Goldberg. The musical play, with music by Alan Menkin, lyrics by Glenn Slater, and book by Cheri and Bill Steinkeller, premiered in Pasadena in 2006, opened in London’s West End in 2009, and on Broadway in 2011. HTI’s production, celebrating its 60th season of producing music comedy in Hamilton, performs the minor miracle of successfully mounting this large-scale musical on the small stage of HTI’s theatrical home on McNab St. North.

A shot from the original ‘Sister Act’; WITHOUT the hammy Whoopi