Summerworks Review: The Magic, Ark Analog, August 10, The Theatre Centre

Posted on by Ricky in Summerworks | Leave a comment

The first official night of the Summerworks Musical Series started off with a bang. Playing before a packed house at the ridiculously cool Theatre Centre venue, indie pop act The Magic put on an impressive show that also doubled as their record release party for their upcoming debut album Ragged Gold.

Featuring both Geordie Gordon and the leggy Sylvie Smith on vocals, the group’s music can best be described as fun infectious music that can inspire some hand claps and serious waspy dancing. I first saw The Magic in 2009 at the Wrongbar, and at the time I wrote that they sounded like Yacht Rock, I think that still kind of holds true, and that’s a good thing. Being Summerworks, the concert also featured theatrics with Keith Cole playing the role of the MC in what can only be described as a twisted cross dressing re-imagination of classic 70’s show The Midnight Special. Interviews, dance contests and the like kept the 90 minute show moving along at a rapid pace accumulating in the crowd and band dancing under a pitch black sky of glitter and balloons.

Opening for the Magic was the new Maylee Todd/Dan Werb collaboration Ark Analog. Fans of Woodhands would know that they have previously worked together on the Woodhands track Dancer and probably some other tunes as well. While the premise of the band seems promising (dance beats balanced out by a female vocals), the group has some work to do as Ark Analog seem to quickly lose momentum after an impressive first track. Given that the collaboration is relatively new and both Dan Werb and Maylee Todd put on good shows on a regular basis, I’m sure things will work out over time.

Summerworks Review: Iceland [2012, Ravi Jain]

Posted on by Ricky in Summerworks | Leave a comment

iceland picture

Iceland is an entertaining play that follows a trio of characters through what can be best described as a series of unfortunate events. In what is basically a sequence of monologues, we get to learn about three characters – Kassandra, the Estonian exchange student with a heart of gold, Halim – a Gordon Gekko meets Brad Lamb sort of character and Anna, a conservative overly religious lady down on her luck. The strong performances by the actors involve make the play both engaging and highly enjoyable. I never thought I’d be one to enjoy a play full of monologues but the acting, humor and twist and turns in the script made the hour long play go quickly and I was kind of sad it ended so soon.

Remaining Dates:
Thur. August 16, 5:00 PM
Sat. August 18, 10:00 PM
Sun. August 19, 5:00 PM

Buy Tickets Here

Summerworks Concert Review: Great Bloomers, House League, August 10, Lower Ossington Theatre

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Everything, Summerworks | Leave a comment

Toronto – The term “supergroup” conjures up images of bands like Asia, The Travelling Wilburys or Damn Yankees.  What it doesn’t necessarily bring to mind is the Toronto indie scene.  Yet House League was being billed as just that, a Toronto indie supergroup made up of members of Evening Hymns, Forest City Lovers, Matters, and The Magic, and this was their first and quite possibly last show.  For the occasion, the band performed a few brand new songs along with an Evening Hymns song and a cover of The Flashing Lights’ “Highschool,” which was introduced by one band member with a story of how he remembered seeing it on The Wedge back when he was in elementary school.  That made me feel old. 

Up next were Great Bloomers, who offered up some decent, rootsy indie rock sounds.  To add a little something special to their Summerworks show, the band invited a couple backup singers to augment a couple of songs, although based on the looks of confusion on their faces as singer Lowell Sostomi told them to stay up on stage, they were perhaps up there for one more song than they were expecting to be.  Another memorable moment in the show was when Sostomi dedicated “The Young Ones Slept” to his parents, both of whom were in attendance.  I guess if I was in a band, I’d probably invite my parents out to a show that was part of a theatre festival rather than a show at say, The Bovine or the Comfort Zone.  The band also performed a cover of Simon and Garfunkels “Keep The Customer Satisfied,” which seemed appropriate as those in attendance that night seemed to be pretty satisfied with their performance.

SummerWorks Play Review: Hannah’s Turn, August 9

Posted on by Brian in Reviews, Summerworks, Theatre | Leave a comment

Toronto – If you were to make a list of great love affairs of the 20th century, you might not put Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger near the top. But Heidegger, a German philosopher who rather controversially joined and endorsed the Nazi Party in 1933, and Arendt, a Jewish thinker and student of Heidegger’s, had a torrid love affair when both were at the University of Freiburg. We know this in part because they wrote a stack of love letters to one another, which were published in English in 2004 in a book containing their correspondence from 1925 all the way to 1975.

It’s a fascinating story if you like history. Heidegger, one of the greats of 20th century existential and postmodern thought, and Arendt, his student and later a very well known political theorist herself: lovers against the backdrop of the early rise of National Socialism, a movement Heidegger joined, supposedly to try and sway it in scientific and humanitarian ways, and one which eventually forced Jews like Arendt to flee or be killed.

The play takes place both during the early days of their affair at Freiburg and much later, after Arendt moved to America and became a teacher in her own right. A Jewish student working for the University newspaper comes to her to get clarification on some comments she made about Heidegger, primarily her assertion that getting caught up in the Nazi Party was just a mistake, or an “escapade,” as she later calls it. Her defense of a man who seemed like such a strident party member, particularly when he joined, was made rector of the university, and proceeded to talk and write a great deal about Germany’s future under the führer mystifies this student, whose father was in a concentration camp. Arendt tries to show her that things just aren’t that simple, that her ideas of good and evil are just too naive, but never really changes her mind.

Richard Clarkin portrays Heidegger very well, from professor to seducer to party apologist to foregiveness seeker, and Leora Morris is adequately innocent and earnest as the student, Eva. The star is Severn Thompson as Arendt, however, who has no trouble taking her character from ingenue to worldly professor and back again, with numerous stops in between. It’s an intelligent show with a great cast, and one of the best I’ve seen at SummerWorks.

Hannah’s Turn runs through Sunday August 14th as part of SummerWorks. Check the website for schedule and tickets.