The Bluest Day of the year is over. We’re cruising into February without once having scary windchill. The days really are getting longer. All the things we wished were open and available this time last year, are here and poppin’. It’s the small things, Montreal; don’t forget to count them.
Did you say intestine?
MAI (Montreal, Arts interculturel) always has interesting offerings, and Rock Bottom is no exception. The multidisciplinary piece explores what happens to the body when we hit our own rock bottom. It’s billed as “a movement performance that forms an intestine with the gut feelings of Emile Pineault (choreographer, performer) and (author) Gabriel Cholette”.
Rock Bottom @ MAI 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance, January 25-28, Showtime is 7:30 p.m.. Tickets availabe through the MAI website
Jazz exists all year round, you know…
Double bass player Ira Coleman interprets jazz compositions and traditional Mandinka (Senegalese, Gambian, and Sierra Leonean) themes supported by flute, piano, and balafon, exploring where they overlap.
Ticket prices vary, but if you’re under 34 or under, it’s 18 bucks, so do something classy on the cheap.
Jazz and Mandinka Music @ Bourgie Hall, 1339 Sherbrooke Street West, on Thursday, January 26, Show at 6pm. Tickets and info on the MMFA website
Pretty sure I saw him live in the 90s?!
Jon Spencer & the HITmakers are in town this weekend, and if you’re old enough to ask if I mean that Jon Spencer, then yes. Jon Spencer & the Blues Explosion broke up in 2016, but the beat goes on, and Jon Spencer & the HITmakers put out their first album in 2022. His Spotify bio calls him “an elder statesman of noise rock and punk blues”, and while that’s niche af, he might be right.
Jon Spencer & the HITmakers @ Bar Le Ritz PBD, 179 Jean-Talon Ouest, Friday, January 27, Doors at 7:30, Show at 8:30. Info & Tix
Dinner and a show!
Catch me putting on a summer dress and having foodgasms at Molotov Cuisine owner Fiona Genevieve (aka Chef Molotov)’s Jardin d’Hiver this Sunday. She’s a fab chick with wholesome, delicious food, and she’ll be bringing summer vibes right when we need them.
Darragh Mondoux will be Mistress of Ceremonies, Mina Minou will be shaking what God gave her, and there will be musical performances by Lea Keeley, and KOLA.
We’re in the thick of this winter thing. Both burnout and the blues are tearing through workplaces and social circles. We’re all pale and grumpy. We know it will pass, but all too slowly. Without the artists and performers, we would have nothing but malls, and binge watching to get us through this hard time. Thanks to them, we have reasons to put on outfits and brave the weather. Thank God for the artists, the arts, the events. May Spring speed itself to us.
Have some laughs and call me in the morning
I knew we had comedy clubs, but as someone who usually only gets live laughs at JFL, I never realized how many stand up shows there are the rest of the year.
We all need laughs desperately right now, so pick a day, grab a friend, or straight up leave your loved ones for an evening and get the giggles the doctor ordered. (Note that while I’m listing the downtown location, there are also locations in Vaudreuil, Laval, and the South Shore.)
The Montreal Comedy Club is at 895 Rue De La Gauchetière Ouest. Multiple dates and showtimes. Check MtlComedyClub.com for details
Blues rock right in yer face
Midnight Miles is releasing their first single of 2023, so it’s time for a concert!
Ryan Bradley Setton (formerly of The Holds) describes the style as “in your face blues rock”. They’re promising a whimsical journey of a show, from tender to reckless, inspired by classic rock, blues, and RnB.
Special guests ~ Matt Enos and the River Men
You can listen to some of their tracks on MidnightMilesBand.com or this brief sample below before heading out:
Midnight Miles + Matt Enos and the River Men @ Petit Campus, 57 Prince Arthur Est, on Thursday, January 19, Doors at 8 p.m., Show at 9 p.m. Info on the Facebook Event Page, tickets available through ThePointOfSale.com
Why is there a “W” in playwright?!
As part of the Wildside Festival in partnership with Centaur Theatre and La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines, Wildfire is on now and playing through the 28th. Tragic, funny, surprising; I’ve seen it and written about it, and would be hard pressed to do it justice in a snippet. Read my review, or skip it entirely and just go see the show.
Wildfire runs January 16-28 at La Chapelle Theatre, 3700 Saint Dominique St. For info and tickets, please visit the Talisman Theatre website
Who wants to party till breakfast?
It seems the all night party trials last summer went well, because Club Soda got itself a special liquor license to keep the drinks pouring and music pumping through Saturday night until 8 a m. Sunday. DJs, effects, light shows, party people, it’ll all be there.
It’s a team effort with MAPP_MTL and SHIFT RADIO, Homegrown Harvest, Transmission MTL and MUTEK promising not just a party, but “a new chapter for Montreal nightlife. A space to dance, converse, and set the foundation for a sustainable nightlife.”
Talisman Theatre’s Wildfire is currently playing at La Chapelle, and I took the opportunity to peep the play.
The credits and awards that this group has attained in their various endeavours already gave a clue about the calibre I could expect.
For example, this is the English version (translated by Leanna Brodie) of David Paquet’s Le Brasier, which itself received both the BMO Award, and the Sony Labou Tansi International Francophone Theatre Award, and it’s been placed in the internally renown directorial hands of Jon Lachlan Stewart.
At its core the story is one of generational trauma haunting a bloodline beyond household walls. It deals with loneliness, longing, the potential fatality that stems from a lack of joy. To me, it was also about what we mean to say versus what words actually come out, as the characters share their deepest truths with the audience while cherry picking their words to one anothers.
There are three players (Julie Tamiko Manning, Kathleen Stavert, and Davide Chiazzese), six characters, and one set. Each actor plays two parts, and without costume or set changes, the task falls solely on them to distinguish themselves.
They not only pull it off, they ace the assignment. And these aren’t easy characters: they are flawed, pained, desperate people.
It seems improbable to portray murder, sex, death, and passion, with such minimal design, but it’s all alive and bubbling with no need for accoutrements.
They were not joking when they billed this as a dark comedy. In fact, they could ‘ve capitalised the Dark, or even DARK.
There are jokes, and it is funny. I wondered, though, if some of the many laughs were out of discomfort: the kind of laugh you try so hard to suppress when someone says something too personal, too true, let alone when they say it to a whole room.
In fact, one of Kathleen Stavert’s characters compares the audience to her cookies: she talks to them, but they never respond, which liberates her to tell them all her secrets. And she doesn’t once hold back, delivering with a vulnerable honesty that makes you want to look away, but you can’t: she’s begging you not to, pleading with you to listen to these things she can’t share elsewhere.
There are long pauses here; measured words, awkward silences, cringeworthy revelations. The tension is intentional, and doesn’t let up. Lots of folks aim for this vibe, but this strikes the chord.
While the playwright, translator, and director obviously deserve kudos, it would’ve all been for naught had it not been for the top tier performances of all three players. The actors were harmonious together, their characters whole and complete, as though once the script ran out they could still exist beyond the stage.
At the end of the show, there’s a moment of silence; breaths are held for a second before we realize it’s over, and then in the rush of our exhale, we leap to our feet for a standing ovation.
Afterwards, walking home, the image that sticks with me is about the taste of homemade cookies cooked without a home. It may sound like nothing, but I turn it over in my mind, and find it precise and profound, speaking directly to the heart of isolation.
I don’t often go to plays, but when I do, I want them to be this good.
Wildfire runs January 16-28 at La Chapelle Theatre, 3700 Saint Dominique St. For info and tickets, please visit the Talisman Theatre website
Johnny Legdick is an atypical stage musical. The show’s style is childish, complete with rhyming lines, a Snidely Whiplash-esque villain, and toys that serve as props and henchmen.
The music and the show itself is far from it, with adult dialogue and costumes and the kind of true-blue guttural rock music die-hard fans have been starved for since the spread of the falling-asleep-at-the-mic sound popularized by bands like Coldplay. It’s campy and cheesy and raunchy – an adult fairy tale reminiscent of Dr. Seuss – and I loved every minute of it.
The show’s premise is simple: Johnny Legdick is a man with a birth defect – he has a leg where his penis is supposed to be. The tale is a story of triumph as Johnny vanquishes the villain, gets the girl, and finds his place in the world. The tale is told by Grandpa (Tom Carson) to his grandson Billy (Tyler Miller), who sits on his lap as he’s read a bedtime story.
Is Legdick’s birth defect based on any real-life biological deformity? Not at all! The show’s co-author and director Jimmy Karamanis sheepishly admits that the idea came from a song the show’s star and co-author Jonah Carson (son of Tom) made up and used to sing in high school.
The show, which premiered in 2015 to critical acclaim, was built around that song. Johnny Legdick has just completed its fourth run this month at Théatre Sainte Catherine, with Karamanis assuring us that it will be back. He says this run was a way of assuring the cast and crew that they could still work together after a long hiatus due to life and the COVID-19 pandemic. If what I saw was any indication, they definitely can.
Johnny Legdick is low budget, campy, and raunchy in all the right ways. The pants used to create the title character’s birth defect were made during the first run and it shows. A lot of the other costumes look cheap and hastily put together.
It’s the music and the cast and band’s unbelievable chemistry that make this show special. The band, led by musical director Macleod Truesdale, pumps out the guttural rock sounds die-hard fans of the genre have been craving in an age of cookie-cutter pop tunes.
Johnny Legdick is not for kids. There are men in lingerie and genital and sex jokes galore. Even the music played in the theatre before the show consists of covers of popular tunes like Tracy Chapman’s Fastest Car and Wang Chung’s Everybody Have Fun Tonight, with the lyrics changed to include the word “d*ck” in strategic places. Unless you want your kids to go home with a much broader, raunchier vocabulary, do not bring them.
If you love camp and are not scared of musicals, you need to see Johnny Legdick. As for those who don’t like musicals, the show is only forty-five minutes, give it a chance. It’s worth it.
It may seem strange that a musical about the events of 911 would make North American audiences grin and cheer, but according to the star of Come From Away’s touring production, that is exactly what has been happening.
“People always leave the auditorium tapping their feet and laughing. It’s not a downer or a hefty drama at all,” Marika Aubrey says of the feel-good show, which has returned to Montreal for a one-week-only engagement at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier. “It’s really about community and kindness,” the Australian-born actress explains. “It reminds us that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”
Come From Away recounts how nearly 7,000 displaced and terrified travelers were warmly welcomed by the citizens of modest Gander, Newfoundland when 38 planes were diverted there during the chaos of September 11th 2001. Aubrey stars as Beverley Bass, the real-life pilot who had to take charge of the unprecedented and stressful situation.
Created by the husband/wife duo of David Hein and Irene Sankoff, the piece was workshopped in 2012 and staged in Oakville, Ontario before enjoying successful runs in San Diego, Seattle, Washington and Toronto. It finally opened on Broadway to standing-room-only crowds in 2017 and was nominated for seven Tony Awards, winning for Best Direction.
Though the Broadway production closed in October, Come From Away holds the record as the longest-running Canadian musical to ever land on the Great White Way. That would be reason enough for Canadian audiences to embrace it enthusiastically, but in truth, they are apparently more tickled by the references it makes to a certain iconic coffee chain.
“Some Americans don’t even know what Tim Hortons is…but in Canada? That is an immediate giggle,” Aubrey shares.
“Canadians recognize everything. So I’d say our Canadian audiences are really proud and celebratory.”
For her part, Aubrey is thrilled to have brought the story to so many different communities over the course of the tour. “We play houses that are twice the size of the Broadway house and we sell out pretty much everywhere we go. Our audiences are, on average, around the 3,000 mark,” she notes. “That beautiful Broadway house is something like 1200 seats. You know, it’s really an intimate show, not an arena spectacular, and yet it still works, thankfully, in these bigger spaces. I’m grateful that audiences have really embraced us.”
Aubrey has a long history with the show, dating back to 2018. “I’d immigrated from Australia prior to getting the audition brief and I’d never seen it, so I took myself to the theatre and bought a ticket at like, two minutes to curtain,” she recalls.
After familiarizing herself with the material, she auditioned and was cast as a standby performer in the tour, a position she held for 10 months, until the creative team summoned her back to New York.
“They were having trouble finding a replacement Bev for the company and wanted to see what I did with it. The next day, I got a phone call to say I’d be stepping into the track, so it’s spanned a huge amount of my life.”
“I think all shows tend to walk you through significant life changes,” she reflects, “but this one? I can speak for everyone in the company when I say that this one has really earmarked a lot of good stuff and bad stuff over the past few years. It’s been six calendar years, even though we did have that big 18-month enforced holiday,” she quips of touring during a pandemic. “Still, this is the kind of show that only comes along once in a lifetime, so it’s worth the sacrifice.”
During Christmas 2021, Aubrey found herself having to emulate her character by making an emergency stopover to the Broadway production, as COVID spread through the cast.
“It was Christmas Day and I was at home with family when I got the call saying Rachel Tucker and quite a few other people in the company had come down with the Omicron strand,” she recounts. “The show was going to be cancelled if I couldn’t play Bev the next day. So, I woke up the next morning, went to midtown, tested negative and went on.”
“I made my Broadway debut with 11 actors I’d never worked with before, with costumes that weren’t fitted to me, with makeup I found at the back of my toiletry bag and with my own hair, because normally I wear a wig,” she chuckles. “I was even singing in a different key because Rachel sang it slightly lower than me, so it was wackadoo…but the best kind of wackadoo. I think because I’d done the role hundreds of times by that point, I could just relax and enjoy it. I didn’t have a single person in the audience (to mark the occasion) and there was no champagne, but it just felt like this really cool opportunity to serve and allow our holiday audiences to see the show they’d booked tickets for, so I’m glad it happened the way it did.”
That can-do spirit seems to channel the very essence of Beverley Bass herself, who not only paved the way for women in her field by becoming the first female captain of an American Airlines commercial flight in 1986, but also cofounded the International Society of Women Airline Pilots.
“Originally, (the creative team) thought they might make the show mainly about Beverley because she has a really cool life story,” Aubrey explains. “When they went to Gander and started talking to people, they realized the story was so much bigger than just this one woman.” The resulting character seen on stage became a composite of the various pilots interviewed and their accounts of what happened, save for one particular song, entitled ‘Me And The Sky’, which is devoted entirely to Bass’ experiences.
“It’s this big four-minute number that spans Bev’s life story and I think the reason it resonates is because it speaks to huge changes in male dominated industries. I get a lot of women and young girls either writing to me on social media or coming to see me at the stage door and telling me that they listen to this song because it galvanizes their spirits to know they can do anything that boys can do. I think that’s why it’s become such an anthem.”
When asked if the real Beverley Bass has proven a personal inspiration, the actress is pleased to report they’ve become good friends over the last few years, even if neither is interested in pursuing the other’s occupation. “She says to me all the time, ‘I don’t know how you do it! I don’t understand how you get up and sing in front of all those people!’ and I’m always like, ‘Bev, you fly planes! Like…jets! Are you kidding me?’ What I do is, to me, not nearly as scary as taking an enormous plane up in the air.”
“Having said that, I have a very sassy 5-year-old girl who has been really inspired by Bev and her story,” she laughs, “and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to bring her to the airport to take some flying lessons at some point. It would be a nice turn of events, wouldn’t it?”
Come From Away runs from Tuesday, January 10th through Sunday January 15th. For ticket information, please visit the Place des Arts website
Featured Image: The North American Tour of Come From Away Photo Credit Matthew Murphy
It’s been a year, y’all. We shook off the collective nightmare of lockdown, put on our dancing shoes, and partied. Bars, theatre, concerts, comedy, art, all the stuff that keeps the lights on in our city and our souls returned from the forced hiatus.
It didn’t take long for us to get used to it, and every now and again I stop myself while doing some mundane thing like walking through the Eaton Centre and remember how much I craved the basics.
As some of you may know, I have a lot of well thought out complaints about the ways of the world (catch me on FTB Weekends with Jason C. McLean), but provincial elections and healthcare crisis aside, the gratitude was especially delicious this 2022.
It’s a mind bender to recall that we came into 2022 under curfew, and in lockdown, but at the time it was hard to think of much else. Instead of show announcements, we kept our ears to the ground for cancellations, wondering how far ahead they were planning.
It was miserable. Igloofest was canceled. Online shows offered some reprieve, but meh. If we were in a tumbleweed climate, they would be rolling through this month.
The whole thing was gloomy.
February is often called the most depressing month, and in the COVID time it was at least doubly so. We were still under partial lockdown, but hope was on the horizon!
This is when Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was doing what it could with limited capacity: starting at the end of February, you could get in if you booked your time slot (in 15 minute increments) online, masking and distancing are mandatory, giving the security staff the new task of keeping people from moving through the rooms too quickly or getting too close to one another. Only the major exhibit was open, and I learned that I don’t like Riopelle, but being back feels momentous.
Concerts have begun, but safety measures are in place there too, making the whole thing seem weird. My bf goes to see Sepultura at a fully masked metal show, and it sounds dystopian to me.
The MMFA is actually factually all the way open, though you still need to book a time slot. I beeline for The Decorative Arts & Design Pavilion, which is open for the first time in ages, having been “closed due to reorganization” or some such even before the pandy. I am in my happy place.
As part of an experiment on our party rules, the SAT serves up drinks and tunes for 24 hours straight which gives me some hope that maybe the “new normal” will allow for some reconfiguration of things we’ve taken for granted as status quo for too long (writing this at the end of December, that hope has long since crashed and burned, but it was lovely while it lasted).
I’m comforted knowing that while everything feels like it’s on the brink, Montrealers can unite against some showy corporate silliness as we all discuss the city’s new giant ring.
Spring is springing, and the good times are indeed rolling. I finally get out to my first post-COVID show. I’ve seen Symphony X before, and they put on a good show despite not being on my regular rotation. This is about getting out, and bring with people and not wearing a mask in a crowd.
We meet up with friends for drinks and food. No vax passes. No masks. We come and go from the show so much, it’s about the band the same way high school dances are about dancing. I’m jazzed.
I also leave town for the first time in years, and head to Halifax for the first time ever. We hit some familiar territory, and hug people we’ve missed.
Back in Montreal, masks were still in place at Mainline Theater where performers wore them throughout Carrie: The Musical rehearsals. As someone who’s still masked at work, let me say that phone calls are hard enough, kudos for pulling off a musical.
I smiled through this whole month. There are events at every turn, and Montreal summer is thriving. At the beginning of the month, our Editor Extraordinaire says to me “hey, someone approached us with a creative thing that made me think of you”, which is how I met my creative soulmate, and that will come up later.
ComicCon is back, and the fits are fierce. Flipping through the cosplay pics, I get a little sentimental thinking about how long it’s been since we’ve all been able to let our freak flags fly in all their carefully crafted glory. Man, we’re beautiful.
James Gartler went to Malcolm McDowell’s talk and he learned that the only time in his 60 year career he was ever stiffed on gig was by a producer in Montreal, so we have that dubious distinction.
JFL is back for its 40th edition, and I’m desperate to laugh with strangers. From late July into early August, all my friends have to listen to me fangirling about who I’m interviewing. I loudly tell everyone I know that I can’t make their things ‘cuz I have media passes to comedy shows, and article deadlines. Everyone calmly assures me that I wasn’t invited to their things, and pats me on my head for being so cute and excitable.
I spoke to a bunch of folks I never thought I would such as Alonzo Bodden and Pete Holmes. Despite Big Jay Oakerson closing out our phone interview by saying I should come up and say hi at the show, I freeze and never say hi. I see him outside with Brendan Sagalow on another day, after a different show, and I stare like a weirdo, but keep my distance.
As Montrealers we’re confident in our summers, but painfully aware of their fleeting nature. By the end of July squeezing in all the summer activities becomes a full time job, and this year it’s coming to a head as Osheaga & JFL share a weekend.
Meanwhile, my Maritimers BIL & SIL come to town for their first Osheaga, and they haven’t been here in years. We live it up, and I fall in love with MTL yet again as I experience it through tourist eyes. They had a blast at the show.
Oh, I remember August because before we’d even sent the Scotians home, my bf tested positive for COVID. Damn it. We lock ourselves in, and I catch it in short order.
Considering I’ve been working at an office this whole time and taking public transit throughout, it seems fair. We both feel like bags of poop, but we’re super glad it wasn’t worse.
In September I interviewed a fictional character when I sat down with Andrew Jamieson as Conor Blaine, (the aforementioned creative thing and the aforementioned creative soulmate). It was like playing with someone else’s imaginary friend, and it tickled me.
Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival returns for it’s 14th edition, and I didn’t know this existed until it was over, so as I write this I’m marking my calendar for next year.
At MMFA, Nicolas Party’s pastels surprised me as the colours spilled off the pages and onto the walls. The Decorative Arts & Design Pavilion is closed again as pieces from there are used as part of another exhibit.
POP Montreal started at the very end of the month which takes up right into…
POP Montreal taught me a lot about how to better cover a multimedia, multi location arts festival. There was so much to do and see, but for me the highlight was catching Sophia Bel, who I’d never heard of, and now I tell other people about.
In art news, MMFA puts on a fantastic Jean Michel Basquiat exhibit called Seeing Loud: Basquiat & Music. It features works by the artist, but is specifically designed to showcase the importance of music in both his career and life. The music plays throughout.
Big famous pieces aside, there are framed journal pages, concert posters, and a super cool map where you can track his path via concerts in NYC. This bad boy runs through February 19, 2023.
In other museum news, the Decorative Arts & Design Pavilion is back to being closed for reorganization or whatever. I sigh dramatically.
The beginning of December already feels like a year ago. The Candyass Cabaret brought sexy back, the Stygian Caravan brought creatives together, and speaking of together, Glass Tiger still is.
Andrew Jamieson’s Sleazy Christmas introduced me to comedian Morgan O’Shea who I thought was just some friend of a friend, and next thing you know, he’s going up on stage, and I’m laughing till it hurts. Turns out he’s profesh. I’ll be intentionally seeking out his comedy in the future.
As is always the case, this year isn’t over yet, and we’re already looking to the next.
I’m currently procrastinating most things into 2023, but there’s always space in the calendar for parties, burlesque, self care, and documentaries!
It’s pretty cool (and scary) stuff
Worlds of Ice is a film by Philippe Baylaucq, produced by the National Film Board of Canada in collaboration with the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan. It’s a 360°, 35 minute immersion into exactly what it says it is: the power and fragility of ice. It was created with the intention of putting ice at the forefront of our environmental thoughts, and is intentionally being run at the same time as COP15.
Worlds of Ice runs until February 27 at Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, 4801 Pierre-de Coubertin Ave. For showtimes and tickets, please visit the planetarium’s website
Curves & Comedic Timing
While you stuff those stockings and fa all your las, Candyass Cabaret presents A(nother) Covid Christmas Special Xmas Show to really jingle your bells.
With the MC stylings of Monica Hamburg and Jimmy Phule, plus a lineup of talent including Velma Candyass herself, it’s the perfect salve for the seasonal blues. They’re promising “wacky contests with mediocre prizes”, which I love. Bet you end up horny and laughing at the same time.
Xmas Show Candyass Cabaret is at Café Cleopatra, 1230 boul Saint-Laurent, 2nd floor, on Friday, December 16, 9 pm all the deets are on the Facebook Event Page
‘Cuz classy’s overrated
This Wednesday Andrew Jamieson presents A Sleazy Christmas. It’s a multidisciplinary performance event, and a fundraiser for Ever After: The Revival!, but mostly it’ll be a helluva good time. The line-up’s got comedy, spoken word, burlesque, and music.
The party’s got a cash raffle with multiple prizes, plus karaoke after the show! I’ll be schmoozing and hawking raffle tickets for the aforementioned artsy cause and fab winnings, so blow off your office party and come say hi.
A Sleazy Christmas Party is at Le Basement, 3716 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest in the basement on Wednesday, December 21, 9pm. Info and tickets available through Eventbrite
We’re all broke & stressed, happy effin holidays
At a time when debt is soaring, the gifts aren’t even all bought yet, and you’re about to sit down with the family you intentionally avoid for 364 days a year, stress is high. Therapy’s too expensive and spa days are way out of the question, but I came across this free meditation class so maybe we can all chillax.
I’ve never heard of Sahaja Yoga, but they offer free events both locally and on zoom. There are loads of times and dates, and they have a sizable online community, though their online presence is a bit scattered. I haven’t tried it yet, but this is now on my to do list. Namaste.
Anyone else doing their Christmas shopping like one for them, two for me? It makes it much more fun.
Clears throat, shuffles papers this week: mingle with artists, dance all night,catch some tunes, and if you’re gonna shop, shop local.
Dance, Plants and Real-Time Collaboration @ MAI
MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) is presenting two pieces by artist Sasha Kleinplatz.
We Move Together or Not at All has “five soloists each perform an improvised solo dedicated to the plants in a greenhouse”. It’s dance, installation, and performance art in one.
Miracle’ing/Close to Me/Close to You is an improvised performance piece with twelve artists from across Canada collaborating in real time. While this is dance, it’s also far more than that: the performers will also have control over the music, sounds, lights and projector.
We Move Together or Not at All & Miracle’ing/Close to Me/Close to You by Sasha Kleinplatz both run at the MAI, 3680 Jeanne Mance, each with multiple showtimes until December 11. For showtimes, info and tickets, please visit the MAI website
Pass me my poodle skirt!
This Friday Westie Swing is hosting a West Coast Swing class and social. Bring a partner, find a partner, learn a thing. The tunes are catchy, and the moves are slick. First timers welcome, so don’t be shy!
Westie Swing Night hosted by Westie Montreal @ Studio Tango Montreal, 7755 boul St. Laurent, #200-A&B on Friday, December 9 from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tickets available through WestieMontreal.com
I play favorites
Oki, so I caught Sophia Bel by fluke at POP Montreal this year, and she was my favorite act. Sure she’s got a great voice, but she also knows how to command a stage, and punk up Neil Young songs, I bet this show’ll be good too (prob has some Christmas in it..?).
The Stygian Caravan is offering up an author-led creative exploration with “Writing! Art! Music! Philosophical discussion!” Creative chat, and connect with creative humans. It’s a two parter, so jump in on one or both (it moves…’cuz caravan)
The Stygian Caravan starts at Encore Books, 5670 Sherbrooke Street West, Sunday, December 11 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., moving to Notre Boeuf de Grace, 5732 Sherbrooke Street West. Info on Stygian and the Facebook Event Page
Gifts for you! And I suppose other people too…
For this winter edition of Puces POP, it’s 2 times the weekends and double the artisans! The goodies are local, handmade, and wide ranging. While you’re checking gifts off the list don’t forget to spoil yourself too, Boo.
The Holiday Puces POP at Église Saint Denis, 5075 rue Rivard (in front of Laurier Metro) December 9 through 11 and December 16 through 18. Info on the Facebook Event Page
Featured Image of Sophia Bel performing at POP Montreal 2022 by Dawn McSweeney
If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, shows in Montreal are more consistent than the weather. Whether it calls for parkas or ponchos, we’ve got some reasons for you to head out this week! Read on for the funny, the abstract, a writers’ brunch, and our editor making music.
Get your recommended dose of laughter with bonus Canadian Content!
From Manitoba’s Poplar River First Nation, Paul Rabliauskas is at The Comedy Nest this weekend. I caught his set at JFL’s For the Culture show this year, and thoroughly enjoyed it. His jokes are funny, and his smile is contagious.
Paul Rabliauskas performs at Comedy Nest, 2313 Saint-Catherine St W 3rd Floor, December 2 and 3 at 8 and 10pm. Tickets available through Eventbrite
Ask your parents who they are…maybe grandparents. Oy.
Formed in 1983, Glass Tiger were rocking Much Music before the whippersnappers were born. Everything old is super new again though, so this sounds like the realest retro you can get your hands on.
This post was published late, the show was on Thursday night
Book people love brunch and a spot of tea…
If you took part in National Novel Writing Month, Kudos! You deserve a celebration brunch!
Come out and share a tea, a snack, and your fave segment of the writing from this month with other NaNoWriMo’ers. Sharing your writing isn’t required, but maybe bring a little in case you change your mind.
NaNoWriMo Windup Brunch takes place at Thesaurus Therrarium 383 rue de l’Église, Saturday, December 3 from 1-3pm. Info available on the Facebook Event Page
Hey! I know more than one of these people, tbh
Come out for an intimate acoustic concert featuring local singer songwriters. Local talents (including our own Editor Extraordinaire). No cover, fabulous dive bar vibes and drink specials too! Get the party started.
The lineup, from start to finish, is Jason C. McLean, Tanu Oberoi, John Galambos and Mars Trinity and then maybe another guest or two.
Welcome To London’s Fog happens at Bar Le Bièvre, 5018 Decarie, Friday, December 2 from 8 to 10:30pm. Info on the Facebook Event Page
Featured Image of Paul Rabliauskas courtesy of Just for Laughs
If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
I should say right off the bat that when it comes to portrayals of The Rocky Horror Show, I have extremely high standards. I’ve been a devotee of Montreal’s Rocky Horror tradition since I was first allowed into screenings of the film adaptation, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, at sixteen.
I attended the Halloween Ball at the Imperial, the Medley, and The Rialto until disability and a few bad experiences since they permitted the sale of alcohol at the ball. I switched to the annual musical show at the MainLine Theatre.
I know every single callback, am quick to come up with original heckles, and even had the soundtrack to the original London stage musical on CD until time destroyed it.
That said, in the spirit of fairness, this review of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show will be split into two parts: the first will be for people who have never experienced it and want to know what to expect, the second will be for the massive cult of Rocky Horror fans with specific expectations.
For Rocky Virgins
If you love camp, don’t hate musicals, and are a fan of fluid portrayals of gender and sexuality, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show is for you. Dr. Frank n’ Furter, played Stephanie McKenna, is your sassy highly sexed mad scientist, who has been in the role for years and plays the part well. Aly Slominsky as Janet is the textbook prissy virgin all but begging to be initiated sexually by a skilled partner, and Cat Preston nails the sultry maid, Magenta. Craig Dalley as Eddie is every bit as sexy as a leather vest and jeans wearing biker can be, though when he plays Dr Scott, his German accent falters on occasion.
Do not expect anything remarkable or understandable about the plot, that’s the nature of the play: more style than substance, so allow yourself to shut your brain off and enjoy it. If you can’t, this might not be the show for you.
If you appreciate good music, then stick around, the band and musical direction, by Émilie Versailles and Katharine Paradis do an amazing job bringing Richard O’Brien’s timeless catchy tunes to life. If you love to heckle, you’ll love this show, as heckling is encouraged, but do not throw anything on stage or you will be ejected.
Though the actors’ mics were glitchy, and drunken rowdy audience members – most likely planning to go to the postponed Halloween Ball – often attempted to derail the performance, the cast took it all with grace.
If you want diversity in your shows, you will be happy to know that the cast includes people of all different sizes and genders, but those preferring visible diversity will be gravely disappointed, with this reviewer noting only one actress of colour among the entire cast, and they were not in a major role. Whether this will change in future runs remains to be seen.
If you’re a little curious and looking for the fun and escapism director Amy Blackmore promised, check out Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show at MainLine. It’s adult Halloween entertainment at its finest.
For Rocky Horror Devotees
This year’s show is a remount of MainLine’s Theatre’s last run in 2019 before COVID-19 health restrictions and that needs to be taken into account when watching it. They didn’t bother holding auditions this year, asking much of the previous cast to come back and sadly production quality suffered for it.
Zachary Sykes played Brad far too manly, giving us not the dorky sexually confused Brad we all expect, but your stereotypical cis man. His singing was fine, but his portrayal desperately needed hamming up.
Stephanie McKenna’s Frank n’ Furter was excellent as always, but I was hoping she would sex it up a little more than she has in the past, though the physicality she brings to the part is always breathtaking.
Megan Vera Starling’s Riff Raff is fine but the moment the actress breaks into song, she also breaks character, turning from the creepy Igor-inspired butler to sultry diva and it is completely inappropriate for the role.
Columbia, played by Genevieve Pertugia, tap danced well and had all the cuteness her part required, but she seemed to lose her voice on several occasions and might have been better rapping her lyrics instead of singing them.
This year’s Rocky, played by Vin Barbisan is, as Amy Blackmore promised, a completely different take on the character in terms of gender, which is good. However, Rocky is the one character in the show that has clear physical requirements, and Barbisan was clearly struggling through the three pushups they did on stage. Future casting choices should be able to do press-ups well and with confidence or be encouraged to train until they can.
Sarah Kulaga-Yoscovitz was excellent as the Usherette, as was Aly Slominsky’s Janet, Cat Preston’s Magenta, Kenny Streule’s narrator, and Craig Dalley’s Eddie, though his Dr. Scott could use a bit more silliness.
The real stars of the show for me were the band, the choreographer, the floor show dancers, and whoever was responsible for making Riff Raff’s weapon at the end. As an occasional prop designer, I marveled at the beauty of it, a far cry from the recycled plastic pitchfork Richard O’Brien’s Riff Raff wields in the movie.
This year’s The Rocky Horror Show at MainLine wasn’t a bad show, but die-hard fans will find it lacking. It satisfied my need for a Rocky Horror fix, but just barely.
The show is starved for new blood, better casting, and more ethnic diversity. Here’s hoping next year’s is better.
When it comes to Halloween for adults in Montreal, there is no tradition more sacred than Rocky Horror. For over twenty years, the city has featured two ways to get one’s Rocky Horror fix every October: The Halloween Ball at the Imperial, and Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show at the Mainline Theatre.
The Halloween Ball usually featured a costume contest, followed by an interactive screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with actors pantomiming on stage at the same time. The Rocky Horror Show at the Mainline is quite a different beast, with actors acting, singing, and dancing the musical play that lead to the movie.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2019 and both events were cancelled, with the Mainline’s show going on hiatus for nearly three years. The organizers of the Halloween Ball tried to make up for public health measures with an online screening, but their charging full price admission kept people away.
Though public health restrictions have mostly been lifted, the Halloween Ball has been postponed until September 2023, so people will have to go to the show at the Mainline to get their Rocky Horror fix. Regarding demand, the ticket sales are proof enough, for the Mainline run sold out before its premier on October 20, 2022.
I’ve been a Rocky Horror devotee since my mid-teens. For me, a social outcast, the events signified freedom from alienation where no matter how you presented yourself the cast and crowd were there to welcome you.
For the director of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show at Mainline, Amy Blackmore, Rocky Horror represents home, nostalgia, and escapism:
“I think folks love that when you walk in and sit down you can forget everything else…I think that in our case we have fun with it, it’s campy, and above all, it’s the callbacks.”
For those who have never seen the show or attended the Halloween Ball aka “Rocky Virgins”, the callbacks are heckles in response to the actors. While throwing things is not permitted at the Mainline show, audiences are encouraged to use common callbacks you can find easily online, or invent your own. Blackmore encourages fans of the Halloween Ball and movie to see the live musical.
“The Rocky Horror Show came first. They’re two different experiences but they’re familiar nonetheless….For anyone who’s never seen the live version, I highly recommend it because it can just augment your love and appreciation for Richard O’Brien’s work.”
Though public health restrictions have been largely lifted, COVID-19 is still very much part of life so I was curious as to how Amy Blackmore ensured the safety of cast and crew during the production. Blackmore welcomed the question, talking about the show’s regular hand washing and use of masks, only going without them during the week of the premier.
She spoke also of how health concerns affected the intimacy direction of the show, and how the floor show performers were reduced from the fifteen of past shows to seven, and their physical interaction with the audience was more limited. While audience members are encouraged to wear masks, the Mainline isn’t making it mandatory.
For regular attendees of The Rocky Horror Show at Mainline, myself included, I was dying to know what else had changed from past runs. Blackmore was coyly evasive.
“There’s definitely some fun new little secrets that’ll be revealed. What’s exciting is that we have decided to bring back most of the cast that we all love, Steph (Stephanie McKenna) as Frank, Megan Vera Starling who won the META Award for Outstanding Supporting Role in our production of 2018, and of course Kenny (Streule) as the narrator…We have a new Rocky this year, which I’m pretty thrilled about. It’s a different take! You’re gonna have to come and check it out! We can’t reveal all of our secrets!”
Though my love of Rocky Horror is unconditional, it saddened me to hear that the mostly white cast of past runs was coming back, especially given the ever present need for more diversity in all areas of life. Blackmore admits that because this year was a remount of the pre-pandemic show, they didn’t bother to hold auditions. She encourages people of all backgrounds to come out and audition for future runs.
Mainline presents Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show at Mainline Theatre from October 27 to October 31, 2022. Though the show is sold out, be sure to check out future runs!
As we approach the end of summer and beginning of fall, we’re heading into the part of year where regular shows start mixing with the remaining events of Montreal’s festival season. Since this year, so far, regular shows seem to be returning in full force, we’re bringing back Shows This Week (as opposed to Montreal Arts & Music This Week, which includes releases not tied to an event).
So without any more hesitation, let’s get started:
Andrew Searles’ LA Chocolat! @ Café Cléopatra
Andrew Searles has been a comedian for 20 years (professionally, that is) and a Montrealer for longer. For the past six years, though, his base of operations has been sunny LA.
He still returns to his hometown, though it’s usually part of a tour, and his shows here generally sell out. His latest show LA Chocolat! seems to be following that trend, with the 8pm Friday night show at Café Cléopatra already full.
There are still three shows (as of publishing time) that you can buy tickets for and Searles will also be recording an album on the Saturday shows. Here’s some standup from before Searles left for LA:
LA Chocolat! by Andrew Searles runs August 26th and 27th, 8pm and 10:30pm, at Café Cléopatra, 1230 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, 2nd Floor. Tickets available through Eventbrite
Festival FAR in Montreal’s Alleyways
Festival FAR, which beings its sixth edition this Monday, is a multidisciplinary arts festival that takes place exclusively in alleyways. This means mostly smaller, intimate shows, but also a few events with stages in larger alleys.
This year’s event begins in Parc-Ex and culminates in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie with stops in Ahuntsic, Côte-des-Neiges, Downtown (the Ville-Marie Borough), the Sud-Ouest (Pointe-Saint-Charles specifically) and Ville St-Laurent.
Festival FAR 2022 runs August 29 – September 11 in various Montreal neighbourhoods. For schedule and info, please visit festivalfar.com
Marché des Possibles Every Weekend Until September 25th
Last week we announced that POP Montreal is returning with a full lineup. Today, we’d like to announce that the POP and Plateau Mont-Royal Borough co-production Marché des Possibles is also back, well, back again this weekend.
The weekend event has been running since May, featuring a variety of local performers playing L’Entrepôt 77, a makeshift outdoor performance space in the park under the overpass at the very top edge of Mile-End.
This weekend’s lineup features Thanya Iyer launching the Rest EP with Cedric Noel and Ambroise, Ukulélé Club de Montréal, Blood and Dust, amarior, Girl Circles and Lyndsie Alguire.
Marché des Possibles runs at L’Entrepôt 77, 77 Bernard Est, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until September 25. Lineups available through their Facebook page
Featured Image from last weekend’s Marché des Possibles via MDP on Facebook
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Summer in Montreal means many things for many people. Dirty old men trolling for much younger partners at Grand Prix weekend, The International Jazz Festival, Francofolies, Just for Laughs, and the torrent of construction that torments pedestrians and motorists alike.
For me one of the highlights is Shakespeare in the Park, a chance to take in some fresh air and culture, courtesy of Montreal’s own Repercussion Theatre. After a nearly three year hiatus due to the COVID19 pandemic, they were back with a vengeance, resuming a tour of that went to parks across Montreal and as far outside the city as Morin Heights from July 14 to August 6, 2022.
The play on offer this year was part original play, part medley. Titled All Shall Be Well, the show was a discussion of the Plague in England and Europe during Elizabethan times and how it may or may not have affected Shakespeare’s writing.
There were history lessons and science lessons, all helped by a cast as easy on the eyes as it was diverse, with the actors slipping into simple but effective costumes for when they acted out scenes from Shakespeare’s various works that may have contained subtle references to outbreaks of the bubonic plague.
All Shall Be Well was a fine play, but in many respects it was a disjointed one.
The first half of the show focused heavily on the science and history of the pandemics during Shakespeare’s time, acted with a child-like enthusiasm that felt very much like an after school special. Most notable in this part was Samantha Bitonti who played adorable and excitable in a way that would easily fit among the cast of The Wiggles or any other children’s program.
The second half of All Shall Be Well was closer to what I expected of Shakespeare in the park: passionate lovers, lyrical language, some bawdiness, and portrayals of authority and grief and despair, masterfully played by Tiernan Cornford, Anton May, Andrew Joseph Richardson, and Thomas Vallières. The second half focused more on scenes from Shakespeare’s works and less on the historical context.
It’s as if the play was written knowing full well that most attendees who had brought their kids were going to leave at intermission, leaving the real Shakespeare fans behind to watch the rest. Had I known this in advance and were not there to review it, I probably would have only come for the second half of All Shall Be Well. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the first part of the show; it’s that I was acutely aware of the fact that I was not its target audience.
Though All Shall Be Well was fun, I do hope that next summer Repercussion Theatre will stick to more traditional material like Shakespeare and Molière and employ theatrical tricks within them to keep young kids interested, as they have in the past. In the meantime, this would be a fitting piece to tour schools with during the colder months.
For now, I can’t wait to see what they’ll put on next summer.
After speaking with Rick Mercer the week before the Just for Laughs festival hit Montreal, I had high hopes for the show he was hosting. Comedy Night in Canada was unfortunately a disappointing mishmash of ethnic clichés and other safe topics that left me starving for the edginess that so beautifully defined the other shows I’d seen at Just for Laughs this year.
The roster of Comedy Night in Canada consisted of Mercer, Salma Hindy, Sophie Buddle, Ivan Decker, Dave Merheje, and Eman El-Husseini, whom I remember back when she was waitressing at the now defunct (due to a fire) Comedyworks club in Downtown Montreal. I must applaud the producers of this show for sticking with Canadian comedians, while not shying away from ethnic diversity, making the show reflective of the Canadian Mosaic. That said, I desperately wanted to love this show and I couldn’t.
The material most of the comedians stuck with was brutally safe, and often repetitive. Dave Merheje, whom I’ve interviewed in the past, stuck with family anecdotes and jokes about his own ethnicity, as did Salma Hindy. Ivan Decker and Eman El-Husseini’s stuff was about relationships and mundane activities. Sophie Buddle mainly rehashed the jokes she’d used in The Nasty Show.
Only Mercer and El-Husseini were about to add some edge to their comedy. El-Husseini’s joke about having a boy means having a child “that will masturbate all over your house” was funny, but it came too little too late in her set. Mercer’s material on conversion therapy, naming public property, and the dullness of space were by far the edgiest and funniest the show got.
It must be said that the quality of the comedy cannot be blamed entirely on the cast of Comedy Night in Montreal. As me and my plus one settled in our seats, we saw a sea of Baby Boomer and elderly mainly white faces.
When I saw the cost of the tickets, I understood that the audience was indicative of the generational and racial wealth gaps. The comedians who performed that night were clearly pandering to this audience, and the quality of the jokes suffered for it.
If Comedy Night in Canada comes back, I want the roster to unleash their inner beasts and come out with material that’s actually funny and not just comfortable for white Boomers who love ethnic clichés and bashing young people. I’ve seen these comedians do better and I want them to.