Toronto Fringe Preview: The Carnegie Hall Show!

Posted on by Brian in Fringe, Reviews, Theatre | 2 Comments

Last summer I wrote a review for a SummerWorks improv show called Impromptu Splendour. This review basically became a vehicle for me to express my man-crush on cast member Ron Pederson, and to pine for the days back when I used to live in Edmonton and he was one of my favourite local performers. The nostalgia!

This summer, Ron and his two co-stars from Impromptu Splendour, Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram, along with Chris Gibbs and Waylen Miki, are bringing their (apparently) regular improv show “The Carnegie Hall Show!” to the Fringe. I say apparently because I know little about it, but according to their website it’s every Wednesday in Kensington Market.

I think most people know what the schtick is with an improv show: you go there, the performers get some suggestions for what to do, usually revolving around setting and style and sometimes character, and they’ll make up a show on the spot. So without a script or director or those kind of things that normal actors rely on but improvisers scoff at, improv shows are always hit or miss. However, with a cast of talented performers, there’s a lot more hits than misses, and these guys are as talented as they come. From their press release:

“Matt Baram – ‘Second City’, ‘Impromptu Splendor’, ‘Monkey Toast’, ‘Ghost Jail Theatre’, and so many more! Throw a stone at any of Toronto’s best improv shows and you’ll probably hit Matt Baram. But why would you do that? What’s wrong with you?

“Ron Pederson – Ron Pederson has appeared across Canada with the country’s most distinguished theatres. He spent 8 seasons as a core member of the Improvisational troupe Die-Nasty, the improvised soap opera and 3 seasons in the cast of Fox’s MADTV. But don’t let his baby-face fool you, he’s a menace!

“Naomi Snieckus – Naomi Snieckus is one of the most accomplished comedy actors in Canada. From Second City to Canstage to the big silver screen she’s done it all. Even her TV commercials have a devoted cult following. But don’t let her talent distract you from the fact that she’s a real knockout!!

“Chris Gibbs – Perpetual Special Guest – Street-acrobat turned overweight comedian Chris Gibbs is British! His one-man shows are mainstays on Canada’s fringe festival circuit, where he’s well known for his improvisational approach, turning poorly-written pap into comedy gold!

“Waylen Miki – Musical accompaniment – Two-time Dora Award winner Waylen Miki has won two Doras and communicates almost entirely through music. You should hear him order a sandwich! But the point is… TWO DORAS!”

See? They even write funny press releases. Also, they have credentials. Their show will be good. You could even go to all their shows and they’d be different every night. You would miss a lot of other stuff at the Fringe if you did that, though. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, I just think that you might want to consider it a little longer before you commit to it.

Want passes or advance tix? Check the Fringe website. The Carnegie Hall Show! is at the Factory Theatre Mainspace, on or about Bathurst and Adelaide. Tix are $10 at the door, $11 in advance. Their schedule looks like this:

Fri, July 2 – 7:00

Sat, July 3 – Noon

Mon, July 5 – 6:45

Wed, July 7 – 11pm

Thu, July 8 – 9:15

Sat, July 10 – 5:45

Sun, July 11 – 1:45pm

Toronto Fringe Preview: PUBLIC SPEAKING

Posted on by Brian in Fringe, Reviews, Theatre | 3 Comments

Last year I only managed to catch a handful of Fringe plays, none of which I reviewed here, but I was lucky enough to catch a fantastic little one-man show called Moving Along that I really enjoyed. The one man in it was Chris Craddock, a wonderful actor based in Edmonton, and featured a chair with several lights strapped to it that he’d switch on and off as he ricocheted through the performance. Moving Along was an older show he’d dusted off to tour Fringes last summer, and I hope a lot of people saw it because it was excellent.

The picture above is a promo shot for Moving Along because I couldn’t find one of suitable size/quality for Craddock’s new one-man gig that’s going to run at this year’s Fringe, which is called PUBLIC SPEAKING. This show is so new that it’s Toronto showing is apparently a “fully realized workshop presentation,” and won’t actually have an official premiere until next season at Theatre Network in Edmonton. Just to take a potshot at the city I used to live in, this means that there is something to look forward to this upcoming winter in Edmonton, which is a refreshing change from the norm.

From the show’s press release: “Celebrated playwright and performer Chris Craddock returns as a one-man tour-de-force. Characters from opposing sides of the tracks collide when Johnny Three Fingers and his assistant, Brian, kidnap the rich and famous Diana. But when Brian, a homeless man with gigantism, is put in charge of guarding the girl, a closet sex-addict and daughter of Canada’s “King of Self-Help,” he has to fight not to fall in love with her. Meanwhile, Diana’s father tries not to betray his principles now that they’ve been put to the ultimate test. As Craddock weaves this intricate multi-character tale, he manipulates sound to awesome effect—much as he had manipulated lighting in his hit play, Moving Along.”

You might remember Craddock as the writer of previous hit shows Boy Groove and BASH’d, which was actually performed off Broadway in 2008. I remember him from a handful of shows around Edmonton when I was around that theatre scene a lot, but mostly I remember him as the writer of Summer of My Amazing Luck, a stage adaptation of the Miriam Toews novel, which was stupendous and made both my mother and my sister cry when I took them to see it.

So basically if you want to see a playwright and actor who’s been at the top of his game for years now without any sign of slowing down perform his new work, and you probably should want to do that, see PUBLIC SPEAKING.

PUBLIC SPEAKING runs at venue 9 in your Fringe program, the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, which is north of College on St. George Street. As usual, a ticket will cost you $10 at the door, $11 in advance, and you can get all info on passes and advance tix at the Fringe website. The schedule for the show looks like this:

Friday July 2, 10:30 pm

Sunday July 4, 7:15 pm

Tuesday July 6, 6:30 pm

Wednesday July 7, 4:00 pm

Thursday July 8, 11:15 pm

Friday July, 9, Noon

Sunday July 11, 5:45 pm

Toronto Fringe Preview: Brothers and Arms

Posted on by Brian in Fringe, Reviews, Theatre | 2 Comments

The Toronto Fringe Festival starts next week, so between now and the start of the fest, and in between seeing and reviewing Jazz Festival shows, I’ll be previewing some plays that I’m particularly excited about seeing. Yes, I’m covering the Fringe, which starts June 30, and also covering the jazz festival with Mark, so I won’t be sleeping much the next two and a half weeks or so. If you see me napping during someone’s Fringe play, try to be understanding, and wake me up gently…

First up: Brothers and Arms, a brand new work on war, love, and best of all, comic books. From the show’s press kit:

“Set during World War Two and the current Iraq fighting, Brothers And Arms explores the conflict between the world of comic book war propaganda and the realities of war.  Two brothers, separated by opposing views and the love of a woman, face off one afternoon in an apartment confrontation with dire consequences. In this captivating debut, award winning playwright Steven Jackson offers a drama filled with richly drawn characters and a production that will radiate with intensity.  Brothers And Arms is a play not to be missed.”

In the interests of disclosure, I must tell you that the playwright is a friend of mine, and as a result I’d really like his show to be sold out every night with great success. This is my ulterior motive in previewing his play first. I also know that Stephen is a talented guy with good taste in theatre, so I’m going to go ahead and say that his show will be really, really good and that everyone should go see it. I will admit, I’m not entirely sure how comic books fit into this play from reading the press release, other than it’s “dealing with the changing roles of comic books and the realities of war,” but I’m interested in finding out.

The Fringe runs between June 30 and July 11. Check the Fringe website for passes and advance tix. Brothers and Arms is at Venue 3, the Royal St. George Auditorium, just north of Bloor and east of Bathurst. Tickets are ten bucks at the door. Here’s the schedule:

Wednesday, June 30th @ 10:30pm

Saturday, July 3rd @ 7:30pm

Monday, July 5th @ 3:00pm

Tuesday, July 6th @ 8:30pm

Wednesday, July 7th @ 2:00pm

Thursday, July 8th @ 10:30pm

Sunday, July 11th @ 4:30pm

BRMC Album and Tour Update

Posted on by Vik in Concerts, Everything, Theatre | 3 Comments

brmc black rebel motorcycle club Beat The Devil's Tattoo

It’s been over a year since we’ve heard any news on a new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album. Something we have been anticipating especially after the heated debate on whether their last release ‘The Effects of 333′ was considered a proper follow up to Baby 81 (or even a proper album for that matter).

According to a recent update the is set to release ‘Beat The Devil’s Tattoo’, on March 9th and is embarking on an extensive tour through North America and Europe beginning February 26th, 2010.

I for one am looking forward to hearing some new stuff. Here are the dates:

February 26 Sacramento, CA Harlow’s
February 27 Reno, NV Knitting Factory
February 28 Las Vegas, NV Wasted Space @ Hard Rock Hotel
March 2 Denver, CO Ogden Theatre
March 4 Boise, ID Knitting Factory
March 5 Seattle, WA Showbox Market
March 6 Vancouver, B.C. Commodore
March 7 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
March 9 San Francisco, CA Slim’s
March 13 San Diego, CA House of Blues
March 14 Los Angeles, CA Echoplex
March 18 Dallas, TX House of Blues
March 20 Houston, TX House of Blues
March 21 Tulsa, OK Cain’s Ballroom
March 23 St. Louis, MO Pageant
March 24 Madison, WA High Noon
March 25 Chicago, IL Metro
March 26 Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom
March 27 Minneapolis, MN First Ave.
March 30 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
March 31 Cleveland, OH House Of Blues
April 1 Toronto, ONT Phoenix
April 2 Montreal, QC La Tulipe
April 3 Boston, MA House of Blues
April 5 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
April 7 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of Living Arts
April 8 New York, NY Webster Hall

Check out their website for the rest of ‘em.