SummerWorks Review: Impromptu Splendour [National Theatre of the World]

Posted on by Brian in Everything, Summerworks, Theatre | 2 Comments

Impromptu Splendor3

Improv theatre. I used to be really into it. Oh, back when I lived in Edmonton, we’d go to long-form improv shows every Monday night and sometimes on the weekend too. Edmonton has a great long-running improv troupe called Die Nasty that’s been running every Monday for nearly two decades, and I was such a fan.

Oh, the memories. The season whether they were in the Old West and had a talking mule. The one where they were in Rome. The one where they were in space and the funniest character was a puppet. Star improviser Mark Meer and his Dr. Doom costume that morphed into space villain to evil knight to any number of things. The 53 hour Soap-a-thon every fall that my roommate and I were crazy enough to spend all weekend at more than once. The guest stars they got from Dana Anderson’s connections with Second City: Mike Myers, Joe Flaherty, Nathan Fillion…

And a young cast member named Ron Pederson, always one of the best performers, who we, the regular audience, had to wave goodbye to after he was recruited by MADtv and went off into the world.

Impromptu Splendor, running now as part of the SummerWorks festival, is mostly a nostalgia trip for me and a chance to see Ron do improv again. Still, it’s a good show in it’s own right, and I suppose I should offer some kind of review instead of getting all starry-eyed and pining for the old Die Nasty days.

The National Theatre of the World is a Toronto improv group featuring Ron and Second City veterans Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus. The idea behind Impromptu Splendor is that they take a famous playwright and improvise a play in the style of that playwright during the hour they have on stage. Someone from the audience picks the name of the playwright out of a hat at the end of the previous show, so they do have a bit of time to prepare, but it’s mostly just to pick proper costumes and design a simple set.

Obviously this leads to a different show every night, and if there’s one thing I know from seeing many improv shows it’s that the quality can vary greatly from one show to the next, so reviewing is kind of a fruitless endeavour. But on the night we attended, the playwright they were doing was David Mamet, and based on words the audience yelled out at the beginning was called The Perverted Metronome, about an office that sold aluminium siding.

So, as you can imagine, there was intrigue, betrayal, terse dialogue, a romantic subplot, a subplot about pederasty, and very generous use of the word “fuck.” The thing you hear most often from people who haven’t seen this kind of improv before is disbelief that everything was made up on the spot. For myself, though, being very familiar with Ron Pederson, my expectations for a brilliant, funny show were very high. It’s a credit to the cast that they almost met them.

Impromptu Splendor has three shows left in their SummerWorks run: August 13 at 10:30, August 15 at 4:30, and August 16 at 6:30. The playwright for the show on the 13th is Tennessee Williams. Should be a good one. See the SummerWorks website for schedule and ticket info. National Theatre of the World, meanwhile, have a regular show in Kensington Market and a new show starting in October. See their site for info.


Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment

From New Zealand – Ronnie Johns Half Hour

Sufjan Stevens to tour North America

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment


Toronto – In what will be surely one of the hottest tickets for the fall, Sufjan Stevens will go on tour this fall. Tickets will go on sale sometime this week, and well, good luck. I found this out off the site Chromewaves, which I go to for concert announcements, I figure everyone knows this already.

09-21: Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
09-22: Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
09-23: Ithaca, NY – Castaways
09-24: Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
09-25: Pontiac, MI – Crofoot Ballroom
09-26: Champaign, IL – The High Dive
09-27: Minneapolis, MN – 400 Bar
09-28: Madison, WI – The Majestic
09-29: Bloomington, IN – Buskirk Chumley
10-01: Toronto, ON – Lee’s Place
10-02: Montreal, QC – Cabaret -(POP Montreal?)
10-03: Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
10-04: New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
10-05: New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
10-06: Brooklyn, NY – Hall at Williamsburg
10-07: Brooklyn, NY – Hall at Williamsburg

Final Fantasy to tour Canada, US

Posted on by Alli in Everything | Leave a comment

Toronto-based violinist and singer Owen Pallet AKA Final Fantasy has signed to Domino Records and will be touring Canada and the US, with his new album “Heartland” in the works, expecting release in early 2010.

I don’t even remember what year it was, I’m guessing maybe 2003 – I saw Final Fantasy open for Johnny Marr at the Troubadour in LA and was surprised and enamored with him. I’m very excited to see him again as I haven’t been able to since. Here’s a sneak preview as to what you’ll see at a gig, this video was also referenced in one of our recaps of the Hillside Festival:

Once he gets to the States, I think pairing up with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats will be a great show, and I hope to see them on stage collaborating. Here are the forthcoming tour dates:

Canadian Tour
18/09/09 CANADA London (Lola Festival)
24/09/09 CANADA Victoria (Alix Goolden Hall) %
25/09/09 CANADA Vancouver (St. Andrews-Wesley Church) %
27/09/09 CANADA Edmonton (McDougall United Church) %
28/09/09 CANADA Calgary (Knox United Church) %
30/09/09 CANADA Regina (The Exchange) %
01/10/09 CANADA Saskatoon (Amigo’s) %
02/10/09 CANADA Winnipeg (West End Cultural Centre) %
24/10/09 CANADA Halifax (Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) &
% with Timber Timbre
& with Nova Scotia Symphony

USA w/The Mountain Goats
04/11/2009 USA Grand Rapids, MI (Calvin College)
05/11/2009 USA Chicago, IL (The Metro)
06/11/2009 USA Madison, WI (High Noon Saloon)
07/11/2009 USA Minneapolis, MN (Cedar Cultural Centre)
10/11/2009 USA Seattle, WA (The Showbox)
11/11/2009 USA Portland, OR (The Wonder Ballroom)
14/11/2009 USA San Francisco, CA (The Fillmore)
15/11/2009 USA Los Angeles, CA (Henry Fonda Theatre)
18/11/2009 USA Austin, TX (Antone’s)
19/11/2009 USA Dallas, TX (Granada Theater)
20/11/2009 USA Nashville, TN (Mercy Lounge)
21/11/2009 USA Atlanta, GA (The Variety Playhouse)
23/11/2009 USA Orlando, FL (The Social)
24/11/2009 USA St. Augustine, FL (Cafe Eleven)
27/11/2009 USA Washington, DC (9:30 Club)
28/11/2009 USA Philadelphia, PA (TLA)
29/11/2009 USA Boston, MA (Wilbur Theater)
01/12/2009 USA New York, NY (Webster Hall)
02/12/2009 USA Brooklyn, NY (The Bell House)