Retelling “The Ethel and Julius Rosenberg Story” Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe

In reviewing a play about historical events, we can ask: 1) what is the play’s relationship to historical events: how ‘accurate” is it? (2) what is its point of view? (3) how well does it work as a play onstage? I put “accurate” in quotes because “history” changes depending on who is writing it, and also in the face of changing information . These questions come to mind after seeing The Story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, produced by Teatron Jewish Theatre and playing at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. I recommend this play as an opportunity to see the human side of a historical and political situation * The events took place in 1950-53 during the fear-laden atmosphere of the Cold War, with the investigation of suspected Communists by the House Un-American Activities Committee and Senator Joseph McCarthy. The episode still has repercussions today.

Actual booking photos of the Rosenbergs

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“Broadway To Tin Pan Alley”, HPO recalls the era Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

It’s a century since the armistice ended the Great War. Even my young(er) wife can recall the Second World War and the music written and performed then, can still evoke memories of those years. It was the period of RagTime with its emphasis on synchopation and the 2 or 4/4 beat made popular by Scott Joplin. It was also the heyday of Tin Pan Alley (28th between 5th & 6th Avenues) where sheet music was promoted and published. The HPO’s amazing maestra Gemma New invited the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Band to add colour, drama and pomp commensurate with the occasion

Soloist & maestra with the H.P.O. & Bach Elgar

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Bach Elgar Choir vocally remembers & recalls WWI Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
A World War I Centenary concert was presented by the Bach Elgar Choir on with soloists Cassandra Warner, mezzo-soprano, and baritone Alexander Dobson.  The concert was inspired by McMaster University’s archive of Canadian material from the era including letters written by soldiers and replies , plus a selection of Canadian music published during the war.  The first half of the concert featured sheet music from the McMaster collection.
In 1914, before the advent of radio or television in homes,  ordinary people would buy the sheet music of popular songs to take home and play on the piano (in nearly every home) and sing along with the family. 

 the Bach Elgar voices

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“Mother Jones” – Empowering Explosive Reply

Review by Judith Robinson

As Donald Trump and many politicians worldwide strive to strip workers’ of their rights,
Subversive Theatre in Buffalo has picked the perfect time to produce a musical celebrating
labour organizer Mother Jones. Playwright/composer Si Kahn’s Mother Jones In Heaven (and
Hell) is a rollicking exposé of economic exploitation and an example of what can be achieved
through perseverance, dynamism and inner strength.
Kahn is no stranger to labour organizing. The award-winning North Carolina native has been
training community activists, writing songs and performing concerts, alongside well-known
figures such as Pete Seeger, for more than 50 years. Kahn’s play centres around a compelling scenario

Ms. Jones and her friendly barrista

 

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“The Long Weekend”; re-revisited Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

A bane for theatre critics is the problem of having to see the same plays numerous times. Norm Foster’s “the Long Weekend” may have been previously observed but it still has a special connotation for this particular writer. My parents could never afford a summer cottage, so for the few times we were invited as guests, we were the equivalent of the ‘Nash’s in the play. NO matter how warm or hospitable our hosts were, there was always an underlining sense of superiority or patronization that we felt. It was like accepting charity. Foster’s play shows this overtly and thus personally touches home.

Cook, Flis, Jonasson & Byrne, the cast of LONG WEEKEND

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‘THEORY”, documents interplay of ideas, etc. Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
Norman Yeung’s play “Theory,now at the Tarragon’s Extra-Space, is relevant for our times, asking questions about the limits of both free speech and political correctness, and how these “theories” affect human lives and historical context. Skillfully and tautly directed by Esther Jun, the play centers around Isabelle, a young white professor of film theory, who encourages her diverse students to express themselves freely (as adults), including posting anonymously on a  elf-moderated discussion board that – all too soon – leads to comments that veer toward racism and sexism, leading some students to feeling unsafe.

Sascha Cole and her students learning “THEORY”

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