“O.A.R.’s TOP TEN for 2018 ” Reply

Opinion by O.A.R. administrators
Dec. 22, ‘ 18
Can’t fight progress, so this year there will be a major change… a Toronto Fringe offering is to be included, even though we previously relegated these 1-hour efforts to the ‘Honourable Mention’ category. However, the criteria for overall inclusion remains unchanged- memorable; educational; entertaining and definitely professionally staged!

HAMILTON PHILHARMONIC. This superior orchestra under the direction of Gemma New offered a full series of superlative concerts whose eclectic selections ran the gamut from the seriously classical to fun pops and contemporary compositions. Given the high caliber of the HPO, choosing just one as a standout proved too difficult; so, a 4-way-tie.

A dramatic on-stage interrogation moment in JOURNEY’S END

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“The Hockey Sweater ”; (or Go HABS go!) Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
What is probably the last of our O.A.R. covered events for 2018 certainly was a cherry-topping one. The Hamilton Philharmonic’s presentation of Roch Carrier’s story about a Quebec kid forced to wear a Maple Leaf’s sweater was narrated by the writer himself; and offered with composer Abigail Richardson-Schulte’s interpretive music as back-drop is about as perfect an evening as this writer could even imagine. Fortunately, it was professionally recorded! It was also the first opportunity for the audience to see the Trillium®-subsidized projection screens so that Cohen’s caricature imagery could be easily projected and viewed. *

Roch Carrier & HPO’s Gemma New doing “The Hockey Sweater”

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“Yiddish for Pirates”; a literary H.P.O. evening Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra under its current Board, executive director and permanent conductor have proven to nothing if not eclectic. Classical assemblages are usually reputedly somewhat highbrow, but not the HPO. Younger audiences are enticed and welcomed, new and more contemporary works performed, plus other creative genres included. Case in point; last evening’s Literary Series offering,- a reading and musical quartet featuring Gary Barwin’s book – “Yiddish for Pirates”.
Given the intimacy of the First Ontario’s Studio Theatre and its cabaret milieu, the evening was a hundred fascinating minutes – although a familiarity with ‘
Yiddishkeit’ was a definite bonus. *

Gary Barwin entertaining with his saxophone

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Hammer Baroque, continues offering the best of an era Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell

Tenor Bud Roach sang a short concert of largely English airs by Henry Lawes and his contemporaries, with three Italian airs from the same period included for good measure. Roach accompanied himself on the 14 string Theobro, a large bass lute used in the 16th century which Roach joked about needing a wide angled lens to photograph and could, on occasion, be 14 strings of chaos. Not so today when played by a master musician. The sizeable audience were clearly anticipating a program of quality music and that is what was offered. The same program was recently performed by Roach in New York, where it was well received.

Tenor Bud Roach of Hammer Baroque

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“Its’ a Wonderful Life”; not a wonderful play Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
Disclaimer- I’ve never been a fan of Capra’s 1946 movie starring Jimmy Stewart. Actually, same can be said about The Greatest Gift’, the story on which the movie was based. That said, staging it at this particular time of year is [almost] engraved in the U.S. Constitution (34th Amendment). The story about an average guy and how much effect he’s had on others seems syrupy treacle. Like the metaphysical butterfly causing tornadoes, or the aphorism about even the smallest pebble making a ripple; – my opinion – “Bah, Humbug!”
That said, W.E.S.T.’s talented cast and production team have made the best they can of the situation.

The Bailey family having a ‘Happy Ending’

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McLuhan’s message revived in a powerful medium Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
THE MESSAGE” a bold new play by Jason Sherman, now in its world premiere at the Tarragon Mainspace, is a must-see theatrical experience – whether or not you are familiar with Marshall McLuhan’s work. R. H Thomson is outstanding in a tour-de-force piece of acting showing great depth, power, and beauty. Walking away from the theatre on opening night, I felt I had seen McLuhan himself. Amazing, as he died in 1980.
McLuhan, born in Edmonton in 1911 and raised in Winnipeg, taught at the University of Toronto for most of his career, at the Centre for Culture and Technology.  Photo by Cylla von Tidemann

Orenstein, Lancaster & Thomson in a dramatic on-stage moment

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