A ‘heads up’ for our Arts Review readers Reply

Editorial Commentary by Terry & Danny Gaisin

A definite perk of being on the edges of theatre (
i.e. a critic) is the opportunity to actually meet some celebs and occasionally become more than just acquaintances. About 10 years ago we met Denise Ferguson performing in playwright Vince Grittani’s ‘Quiet, I’m talking‘. A few years later, we spent some quality time with Loretta Swit (aka Major Hotlips Hoolihan). When Vince wanted to re-stage ‘Quiet’ & Denise was involved elsewhere; we did some typical Yiddish matchmaking and introduced Grittani & Swit! – ‘It’s not always what you know; it’s WHO you know!
Fast forward to 2018.

Terry ‘G’ & Loretta (Major Hot Lips Houlihan)


“Gem” of a concert, & of an opportunity 1

Review by Danny Gaisin & Bryan Dubroy
The dictionary defines ‘gem’ as something prized. Saturday’s 5 @ 1st‘s season finale nearly met that criterion. Something old; something new and a guest soloist still in her teens. A slight delay before the doors opened enabled a last minute rehearsal tweaking, but the hold was minimal. Telemann’s four short-movement viola concerto is considered the 1st known composition for the instrument. The allegro 2nd was performed by a somewhat nervous and hesitant Sarah Derikx. A few minimal tech slips and some note slurring, but otherwise, handled with aplomb.
Mozart’s 1788 E-flat divertimento was performed as a trio comprised by violinist Yehonatan Berick, accompanied by Jethro Marks and Rachel Mercer.

Berick; Mercer & Marks performing Mozart’s Divertimento


‘Hammer Baroque’, offers a tasty smorgasbord Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell

A recital entitled “If music be the food of Love” featuring soprano Helene Brunet and lutenist Sylvain Bergeron was presented in the Sunday Hammer Baroque series of concerts.  Most of the music presented was by Henry Purcell (1659-’95), who has been called the greatest English composer until Elgar.  He certainly was a towering musical figure of his time and wrote music both for the Catholic King James II and for the Protestant monarchs William & Mary – no mean feat in that divisive day and age.  Like many great composers he unfortunately died young, at 36, so we must savour what he created.

Hammer Baroque’s guest soloists – Bergeron & Brunet


Handel’s “SAMSON”; not just a concert – an experience Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
Handel composed twenty-nine oratorios but one composition stands so far out from the pack as to almost render the others insignificant. Everyone knows ‘Messiah’, but ‘Esther’ is also a creative work and so is SAMSON! Composed in 1741, it is a respectful and empathetic retelling of the Old Testament’s last ruling judge before the establishment of King David (Judges 13-16). The work is ambitious to stage; difficult to perform; and more than just diversion for the audience – it’s an experience. Statistics: – MASTERWORKS of OAKVILLE has assembled thirty-two musicians; seventy-seven choir members; four soloists and eleven members of St. Andrew’s Children’s Choir chamber team. 

The MASTERWORKS orchestra & choir awaiting maestro Demuynck


“PAINTING CHURCHES”, the play – not the job! Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
About fifteen years ago, I had the opportunity to see Virginia McEwen & Vince Carlin counterpoint each other in D.L. Coburn’s ‘Gin Game’. Their chemistry, professionalism, and acting skills were obvious. These qualities are even more apparent in Tina Howe’s PAINTING CHURCHES. This 1983 Off-Broadway sit-dram, (sic) presented by ‘Act of Faith’ Productions is an intense yet delicately directed effort that made this scribe recall a succinct observation by an insightful relative who observed that ‘Growing old is not for the faint-of-heart‘. Her husband was experiencing what acclaimed poet ‘Gardner Church‘ was experiencing… the onslaught of early dementia.

Saulez making an on-stage point with Carlin & McEwen


“Bedtime Stories”, giggles interspersed with drama Reply

Review by Terry Gaisin
Prolific (52 & counting) Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s “BEDTIME STORIES” is a challenge not only for a director, but for audiences as well, given that format and plot lines are so contrived and web-like in coherency that concentration is highly mandated.
The six vignettes are totally diverse yet intermingled via a radio broadcast and by familial relationships. Personas that we meet prove to be someone mentioned, referred to or a character seen in a previous sketch. Foster does not telegraph these contrivances; thus the needed engrossment in order for the viewer to stay cognizant.