Wicked the musical has come to town my fellow Montrealers, Montrealites, Montrealians, Munchkins, and it all kicked off August 1st at Place-des-Arts. But don’t despair if you haven’t got a ticket yet, the show will be on until the 26th, so plenty of time to stitch up your witch hats and get yourself down there for an amazing extravaganza.

The composer Stephen Schwartz has created something truly unique and worth seeing. Wicked is based on a 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire titled “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”, which takes place before the story of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” written in 1900 by Lyman Frank Baum. It is how the two witches became who they are, one bad and one good, but as all good stories recount, everything is not always as it seems. Nothing is clear cut. Just imagine Studio Ghibli films and you get a sense of where the actors are taking you.

My interest in musicals has grown over the years, and one of the reasons is the use of technology to create spectacular art. From the set design, to special effects and from elaborate costumes to the performances, everything art has set to achieve can be seen in those theatres. But it doesn’t stop there, what we are seeing in musicals currently is unity between the Arts. Visual, literary, music, fashion and dance are all summoned by the creators to take us on a journey. Oh and how we are mesmerized for a couple of hours of pure joy.

Films came very close to uniting the Arts, but somehow the viewer feels left out, we feel as if we are in a safe place watching, not interacting, not in any danger, not involved. We are at a distance with cinema, just enjoying the story and the magic of the visual which we are fully aware is fictional. However, with theatre the magic is happening before our eyes, and one becomes part of the show through the proximity of human contact.

Wagner knew this all too well. Richard Wagner believed in the harmony of the senses, and the composer introduced the idea Music of the Future or “Zukunftsmusik” in which he proposed a harmony between music, performance and poetry, this unity was picked up by many artists throughout the ages who tried to paint music, or perform poetry and so on. Later on John Cage produced shows inspired by colour theory to show the visual spectacle accompanied by flow of poetry and sound.

Noted artists, who believed in the harmony between senses, include: Wassily Kandinsky, Miro and Picasso. Kandinsky was fascinated by a condition called Synesthesia where the subject can actually sense the notes of music as different colors, this lead to him trying to paint music. Some say he suffered from the condition himself, however this cannot be proved one way or the other.

Miro was also interested in the harmony between the Arts. In “Photo: This Is the Color of My Dreams, 1925” he created a painting which was ground-breaking in uniting the senses. The written language with visual arts, accompanied by that dreamy blue cloud which invites you to use your imagination, including the audience.

Picasso was no stranger to theatre, apart from marrying the Russian dancer Olga Khokhlova, he designed the curtain and costumes for the ballet “Parade”. Cubism, dance and music all united to beguile the viewer in 1917.

There is something romantic about the Arts coming together, a sense of irrevocable, unprecedented, enticing beauty. Musicals have so far achieved this notion best, and without fuss given us a sense of belonging. Wicked is right up there with Oliver, Lion King and Les Misérables, and why not allow yourself to be taken away on this new voyage?

Wicked the Musical will be on at Place-des-Arts, Montreal until 26th of August 2012.

Six years ago, he landed his first comedy gig at a corporate office Christmas party. No mic, no stage, and no one at the party expecting his comedic interruption, Dan Bingham wooed the stodgy crowd with enthusiastic zeal and jokes about Batman. Since then he’s been on the midnight train to success, moving at full momentum with no plans of slowing down.

His award-winning one man show Adopt This! is back by popular demand for a special night at this years Zoofest run on July 23rd at Theatre Ste-Catherine. Adopt This! has received great reviews across the country and has won several Comedy awards. Not bad for his first attempt at a one man show.

As the title subtly hints, Adopt This! is all about Dan’s experience growing up adopted. Surviving his childhood in suburban Montreal with a strict Irish Catholic mother and her hoarding, abusive boyfriend, he finally meets his biological family for the first time in adulthood. Luckily for his audience, Dan’s turbulent childhood has supplied him with plenty of material to produce a hilarious and reflective show about his experiences. In fact, Dan told me that after he’d completed the writing process, he had 60 pages of preliminary script to work with (a thesis-worth of comedic content) which was eventually cut down to a fourth of that size.

“Honestly,producing this show was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I think I just wanted to recreate it again” said Dan about bringing his show back. “I would love to tour this show worldwide. Already we’re applying it into the Sydney Comedy Festival, and I’d love to do the Canadian Fringe Tour next year.” And of course, Edinburgh is the aspired final destination because in what better place to end a long run, then at the world’s largest Fringe Fest?

Although it’s something he’s wanted to do since high school, Dan only got into comedy six years ago. The final push he needed was more of a kick-in-the-face, when at the Just For Laughs Festival he ran into an old classmate who was there as a comic, while he was there as a busboy. “It was just pure shame” he said. “I hadn’t seen her in almost ten years and I was so ashamed of this path I had taken that wasn’t anything, and she was there living her dreams kind-of-thing.”

“I’d done so many different things, so many other paths, you know. I went to Concordia, I graduated in communications, and then started down this PR kind of path. I was working at this events planning company and they’re like, well, sure, but we’ve gotta start you at the bottom as busboy’ which was tough even at the time for me, cause I was a waiter. But there was something about the fact that it was a Just For Laughs event, and full of comedians and agents and stuff, I just knew I had to be there for some reason. That was the last gig I ever worked for them and then two weeks later I started doing stand-up.”

Last year after the holidays, Dan decided to take a month off from his full-time day job as a writer for a web marketing company. “I was doing that full time for the last three years, and it’s really draining. You’ve been writing all day and you come home, and the last thing you want to do is start writing jokes, you get lazy.”

“And the whole time I had this nag inside me. All my jokes are a lot of fun, they’re very playful, but I’m not a dealing-with-the-issues comic. I’m also not a talking-about-my-life comic. You know, I tell stories and stuff, but I’ve never talked about being adopted. Ever. I’ve never talked about coming from parents who are divorced. I’ve never talked about meeting my biological family before. And these are all huge things, but I just never had time. So after the holidays I decided to go down to LA where my biological dad lives.”

After a month of routinely writing, Dan came back, quit his day job and began writing full time. After four or five months, Adopt This! was ready for rehearsals.

At the end of October, you can catch Dan on The Comedy Network’s Comedy Now. Out of 25 Montreal comics, he was one of three chosen to fly to Toronto and film a half hour TV special. He also started doing improv around the city, which he says gives him an adrenaline rush and the ability to just be in the moment and be natural. “When you’re relaxed and just feeling natural and joking around with the crowd, that’s when you’re yourself and you can make people laugh genuinely.”

“Even when I do stand up, let’s say when I’m hosting and I’m talking to the crowd, for some reason I feel better about a joke that I create on stage then one that I’ve written at home. It’s spontaneous and it’s you being you, and that’s the ultimate goal in comedy I think, just to become the person that you are that got you into comedy in the first place.”

If you missed it the first time, you can redeem yourself and see Adopt This! at Theatre Ste-Catherine (264 St-Catherine E) on July 23rd @ 10 pm

Tickets are $15 through the Zoofest website.

Photo creds: Darren Curtis (actaeonphoto.com)

In the old fashioned opulence of the National, we were treated to a new take on the literal underdogs of the circus scene: the ‘undermen’ of Undermän.

Though a Swedish term, the name works perfectly in English, too. An undermän is the stable part of an acrobatic duo, that is to say the one responsible for the heavy lifting. The three main performers in this piece by Cirkus Cirkör are all ‘undermen’ who have lost their partners and are now trying to readjust and reinvent themselves in the wake of this shift.

The acrobatic partner of an undermän (a topwoman, perhaps?) seems to frequently end up becoming a romantic partner, as well. This is unsurprising, what with the trust their work requires, the hours and hours spent together, and the close physical nature of the duo’s relationship. Not to mention the fact that both of them will have similar interests and fit, well-trained bodies that must be constantly grabbed—that can’t hurt.

The three main players in the show are all scruffy, sturdy boys, and they’re all musicians too, taking breaks from the acrobatics to play drums, guitar, bass, accordion, looping machines. Their accompanying musician friend, Andreas Tengblad, (who did at one point manage to pull off a somersault) added his talents on cello and electric guitar, as well. He even performs a lovely solo at one point that involves him on his knees, singing as he plucks away at the strings of his cello.

The show begins with a monologue by one of the acrobats about how he met his partner. There is no denying that the two were in love, and that once that love crumbled, working together as a duo became next to impossible. I can’t imagine having to train for hours on a daily basis with someone who just broke my heart, or whose heart I just broke.

Melancholic, theatrical, and sometimes angsty, this show is deeply intertwined with its live musical score. The timing of the performance and the atmosphere of some pieces rests heavily on the music. Despite some simple theatrics, which were effective and not at all heavy-handed, the actors and the show itself feel very casual. The boys smash stuff, throw things around, and take time to monologue on fights, anger, and having “issues”—it is not a show about sunshine and roses.

There’s a piece involving a huge hoop and a single feather, which begins almost as a slow dance between the undermän and his hoop. Sometimes the hoop gets the stage and spotlight all to itself, as the undermän stands back, underscoring perhaps that he is used to being the less flashy member of a performance.

As the show progresses, the undermen juggle heavy kettlebells and bouncy clubs in complicated and impressive patterns, often shouting and smiling. There’s a playful edge to the way they treat each other, making it obvious that they are friends as well as co-workers. They are also pleasantly unfazed when they mess up, making for an overall very sweet and casual show.

They execute some impressive undermän-on-undermän lifts, meaning these boys were each heaving something around two hundred pounds over their heads. Though undermen, and so maybe not trained for the really flashy moves, they still pulled off some awesome lifts, tumbles, flips, and jumps. Despite the sort of self-deprecating nature of the show as a whole, these performers are still powerful, highly-trained acrobats.

After humbly thanking us for the applause, the undermen invited us to stay behind for a musical performance, a band made up of the undermen’s musician friend Andreas and a songstress from their homeland. Given that I’m not used to deciphering Swedish phonemes her name was, unfortunately, lost on me. She and Andreas have recently released an album together, though.

The music that these two make together is very soft and indie-sounding, haunting, and driven mainly by the beauty of their vocal harmonies. Clearly talented vocalists, the two of them held tight, sometimes vaguely (though obviously purposefully) discordant harmonies, Andreas’ smooth tenor melding nicely with his partner’s timbre. The lyrics of their often short little tunes were creative, cute, and touching—my favourite was probably “Peaches”, a song about staying behind in a small town, even when all your friends leave for broader horizons, because “my peaches grow here”.

The musical arrangements were light-handed and sparse, as they accompanied themselves on guitar, glockenspiel, and a small, Celtic-style drum. Like much of the Undermän show, the music these two played for the crowd had a melancholic tinge, Andreas’ guitar playing resonating chords with a folksy and sometimes almost surf quality.

The boys from Undermän stayed behind to support their friends, and we were treated to them bantering playfully with the singers onstage from the back rows of the theater. It made the crowd smile, and further reinforced my impression that these are all just young buds who found a productive way to vent some of their angst about life, and put it on display for us to sympathize with.

An effective, touching, and talent-filled show, Undermän will be at le National until the 14th of July, part of Montréal Complètement Crique.

Photos Courtesy of: Montréal Complètement Cirque

A decade old this year, the Montreal collective Les 7 doigts de la main claims to try to create shows encouraging the audience to identify with the characters and themes on the stage. Their latest show, simply titled Séquence 8, succeeds in this—it is an intimate, funny, and touching show, simultaneously very familiar and utterly surreal and jaw-dropping.

The show opens with a cute and funny monologue that relaxes the scene and reminds us that we are experiencing something in real time, without commercials or FX. There is in fact a running theme of announcers, interviews, and voice-overs throughout the show, all very playful and self-conscious. At one point two of the acrobats even take a few moments to explain the deeper meanings of some of their pieces, and in the same breath mock the concept of there even being deeper meanings.

The stage is plain, with a desk to one side and a tall pole to the other. Though Chinese hoops, banquines, and Korean planks are involved, the show is, on the whole, very body-based, with few props and tools involved. The performances verge on modern dance, at some points, and the movements are often very sensual and sexy, with hints of aggression in some cases.  Fluid and controlled, the eight acrobats work together to form human ladders, crash-pads, and cages.

Often divvied up by moments of blackout and other effective uses of light, the different pieces in Séquence 8 were all highly emotive. Some are downright anguished, like the dance-tumble act which explores the sticky entanglement of our relationships through the cunning use of black tape. Some are intriguing and beautiful to watch, like the trapeze piece that seemed to suggest a struggle between the trapeze artist and the seven others. Some are simply impressive, and will have your eyebrows almost reaching your hairline, like the piece I like to call the Box Dance. Some are based on music the acrobats make together, onstage. Some are light-hearted and make the crowd laugh out loud, like the night’s “intermission”, which involves a question-and-answer period and displays just how young and silly the performers can be.

Fearless and flexible, the members of 7 Doigts throw themselves to the ground and into each other’s arms, making eye contact with the crowd and with each other. The displays of strength and balance are astounding, and the riskier acts had the crowd gasping, hands flying to cover gaping mouths. And no, no one was hurt.

With these eight young acrobats working together, there is sometimes so much talent and action on the stage at once that we didn’t know where to focus our attention. In this Séquence, the performers—and their choreographers–do a wonderful job of exploring the concept and reality of connections. One acrobat will pant into the mic in time with another’s movements, or something whispered in one acrobat’s ear will cause another several feet away to laugh—and the laughter turns almost immediately to sobs, a transition both effective and surprising. There are moments when they echo each others’ movements, when something happening on one end of the stage spurs a reaction from those on the other. It’s a poetic thing to see.

This show is overall a transporting experience. You will walk out of the theatre feeling maybe a little disappointed by the real world, in light of the beauty and extraordinary feats you just witnessed. At least, that’s how we felt. Highly recommended, 7 Doigts performs Séquence 8 every night at Tohu until the 15th of July, 2012!

Spending last weekend Fringing made me feel warm and tingly all over. Not the kind of feeling one might contract frequenting the seedier parts of the Plateau, but rather the puppy and unicorns gee shucks kind of warm and tingly. I shamefully admit that I’ve had those moments where I find myself falling out of love with this fair city of ours and I start to see myself in other parts of the world. But then those moments come along when you find yourself chilling at Fringe Park with a beer, good buds and amazing tunes, and you can’t possibly imagine being anywhere else.

The love continued into Saturday, and in the most unexpected of ways.  On a Fringe friend date with fellow FTBer Jess Klein, we headed down to the Cabaret du Mile End to check out the show Zombie Apocalypse: A Love Story. Still on a zombie kick after getting hooked on The Walking Dead this spring I was definitely interested to see how the Fringe Festival would handle the walking undead.

Despite hearing some mixed word of mouth reviews amongst my colleagues here at the website before heading down, Jess and I had a great time at this show. It was the little touches that I personally really appreciated. A zombie ripped our tickets at the door, and then as people took their seats for the show zombies casually made their way around the theatre. It wasn’t creepy to see zombies wandering around the cabaret du mile end but rather set the light-hearted tone that was to continue throughout the show. As soon as I sat down at the venue a big smile crossed my face and didn’t leave until I’d left.

The premise of the show was simple enough; four friends meet up on a  rooftop for beers and a few laughs, and instead find themselves in the middle of a full on zombie apocalypse. As some friends are presumed dead and others lose their mind, two bickering friends must finally admit their love for each other. Oh yeah and its a musical.

While the plot may sound like a bad romantic comedy I found the writing to be very clever and the line readings to be razor sharp from the show’s actors. Unfortunately not everyone had the singing chops to really carry off all the musical numbers, but that didn’t really bother me too much. What you did take away from the show was just how fun it was to fall in love during the apocalypse.

*Photos By Chris Zacchia

The Harvester

fringe for all

The 22nd Annual St Ambroise Fringe Fest kicked off last Monday night in the opening fun-filled event: Fringe for All!

In a light-hearted evening of persuasion, the players of Fringe had the chance to impress the audience in a succession of preview performances. Vying for the audience members’ attendance at their upcoming shows, each performance group was granted two-minutes of stage-time to entice, persuade and promote.

These condensed, preview versions give fest-goers the opportunity to praise and appraise and to start shortlisting their must-sees. As a new friend of the Fringe, overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the festival, I was very pleased at the chance to sample what is to come. Personally, the night functioned as a sort of test. In preparing for the upcoming weeks, I shortlisted a few shows, based mostly on hearsay and the flyer-filled press package.

But “Fringe for All” acted as a preliminary control for my previous purely “cover-judging” opinion. Perhaps not surprisingly, what brilliance cannot be contained a leaflet, can definitely be relayed in two minutes on stage – even if sandwiched between hours of other snippet long performances. In some respects, I was impressed with my gut but there was plenty of room for short-list revision.

Here are a few memorable moments that have warranted my attendance in their upcoming shows:

The Harvester
The Harvester at the Fringe

The Harvester

Silencing and holding the audience under a darkened stage, a figure dressed in radiation suit and nuclear mask slowly enters the scene. A grimly composed voice-over captivates with a tale of a post-apocalyptic world in which “time”, liquid and commodified, has cured illness, ended famine, and now, promises eternal life. But through this promise, liquid time has fallen into grave shortages. This is the story of those who hold the power of harvesting time. I later found out that this show is written and directed by the notable Paul van Dyck. But what is truly notable is that the preview was convincing independent of name-dropping.

Venue: Mission Santa Cruz – Performance dates: June 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23rd


Pitching Knife Fight

(Win free tickets through ForgetTheBox by guessing the film’s body count!)

Opening on the 15th, Walter J. Lyng puts on what will undoubtedly be a riotous good time. Centered around the movie franchise “Knife Fight”, the show will feature a series of promotional materials, as presented to potential investors. Well-known for his comedic ability, Walter is sure to deliver an energetic and contagious performance.

Venue: Théâtre MainLine Theatre – Performance dates: June 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24th

*** To win tickets to this show simply leave a comment below or on FB @forgetthebox or send us a tweet @forgetthebox guessing what the body count for the film #KNIFEFIGHT will be.



Put on by the Montreal Improv duo Zoe Daniels and Carmen Rose, this “two-person, one PowerPoint play” centres around Dr. and Mrs. Doverman-Brack’s entry for the illustrious GASSBAM prize. Hard-hitting and hilarious, this preview earned a room full of laughs.

Venue: OFF A – Montreal Improv – Performance dates: June 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24th


The Little Prince as told by Machiavelli

A short-list revision: “The Little Prince as told by Machiavelli” takes a heartwarming favourite and turns hilariously grim. Giving a colourful and animated preview, the Capricornucopia group retakes a classic inspiring story and adds totalitarian ruling advice. In a convincing and keenly entertaining performance, The Little Prince is sure to delight.

Venue: Théâtre MainLine Theatre – Performance dates: 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23rd

glam gam if looks could kill
Tweet us @forgetthebox and make us blush with a caption for this picture! The one we like best wins.

As Forget the Box gets ready to swing into full Fringe mode we are pleased to announce that along with coverage from myself and new arts writer Robyn Dickson, we have in our possession several tickets to Fringe shows to give away! And who on earth doesn’t love free stuff?

First up for grabs is tickets for Montreal burlesque troop Glam Gam’s production of If Looks Could Kill, They Will!  After a successful run of the production last summer  the “Glamily” as they affectionately call themselves went on to clean up at the 2012 Montreal Mirror’s best of list, in which they won just about every award out there including best play for If Looks could Kill. In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what this hotly anticipated play is all about, here’s a little description for yah from the group:

Something is not quite right over at Glam Gam headquarters! Ever since the polyamorous triad Sarah, Michael and Julie invited the members of their Glamily over for a reunion dinner party cabaret, tensions have been rising on the set… and so has the body count!!!

Sounds fun? Of course it does! I was lucky enough to catch a production of the show last September when they brought the show to Toronto, and cannot wait to check them out at their real home: Café Cleopatre. If you want to win two free tickets for what is one of the hottest shows at this year’s festival you have one relatively simple task ahead of you: Tweet us @forgetthebox and make us blush with a caption to the picture in this post! The one we like the best wins. (If you’re afraid of twitter, simply leave a comment below, and the best one will win!)

Make sure you regularly visit the site for more ticket giveaways, and we’ll see you at this year’s Fringe!


Pheobe Greenberg, founder of the DHC/ART foundation for contemporary art, backs another remarkable project: Old Montreal’s smart building for art, the PHI-Centre. The four-floored, redefined historical building opens its doors as an interactive and collaborating centre for the arts. With the technology and capacity to house a variety of events from film screenings, to music concerts, to artist talks, the space presents itself as helping to “make Montreal a global hub for arts and creativity”.

The opening show “AMENTIA: A Moment of Insanity” delivers in many aspects of the PHI Centre’s vision: evolving, open-ended and interactive. Artist Jean-Francois Mayrand’s project centers around each viewer’s reactions and interactions with a madman (portrayed by actor Gaetan Nadeau). Unfolding in a three-screen walled room, each individual is invited to enter a “dialogue of gestures” that progresses in response to the viewer’s movements. The experience is then mapped into an ink-blot like print and offered for purchase.

While the aura around the secluded darkened room added hype to the experience, the building itself is truly worth writing about. The space is striking, the art is commendable and the potential is grand. With the most advanced technology and entirely versatile space, the PHI Center truly holds the potential to develop as Montreal’s artistic hub.

And pulling at our principled, progressive heartstrings, the PHI Centre further promotes environmental awareness. The center is aiming for a gold standing of LEED certification, an international grading system for the design and construction of green, sustainable and energy efficient buildings.

With a new and innovative business model, the PHI Centre has been undergoing what was termed an “incubation” period of trial and development. This offers locals a wonderful chance at engaging with the development of the space. Chris Clark, the community manager for the Phi Center, noted that rather than offering up the space for independent rentals, the center would ideally like to incorporate themselves in the process of planning events. Such collaboration provides the center with the chance to develop as the core of Montreal’s artistic community.

Most curiously, I am eager to see what crowd the center will entice. Without a formal press conference, the center portrayed their community-oriented, conversational and accessible intention by presenting the opening night of AMENTIA to a local line-up of bloggers. The space held an easy-going and laugh-filled evening that I unofficially consider my initiation into a group of interested and engaging people, which I further imagine is what the PHI Center intends for its future.

But with their upcoming incubation period, the space will slowly delineate through its events and visitors. Being an emphatic dreamer, I am still hung up on the idea of Montreal’s unfulfilled potential, and look to the PHI Center with naive and enthusiastic eyes. Ideally, I would love to see the center truly develop into an artistic hub. But my idealistic, rather than realistic, perspective prevents predicting what type of frequenters would determine such a space. The young and offbeat; the mature and established?

Luckily, I have not been presented the task of determining the PHI Centre’s business plan and subsequent demographic. But in contributing what will be the beginning of a long and diverse discourse centering around the space, I feel my words play a part.

And so I present, with the meager power invested in my words, an indeterminate and diverse space to be filled by those attracted to the promise of art as an open-ended community. I present the PHI Centre as that promise and the reader, consequently, as its answer. Check it out. Tell me what you think.

The 22nd Annual St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival is fast approaching. As FTB’s newly appointed arts and culture writer, and newer still friend of the Fringe, I was assigned what seemed to be the daunting task of writing a Fringe Fest week #1 Preview.

From June 4th to 24th, the Plateau Mile-End area will be overrun with more than 500 local and international artists, performing an array of music, theater, comedy and dance. By determining the line-up through lottery and keeping ticket prices low, the festival presents itself in the pursuit of wholly autonomous, uncensored and accessible art. But this vast and unrestrained collection can leave someone newly-acquainted with with the festival with an overwhelming sense of beginner’s block.

Luckily, alongside their artistically liberating mission statement, comes some very welcomed words of encouragement: “At the Fringe, word of mouth is king. Ultimately, it’s the audience who decides which shows are good and which aren’t.” These words thereby suitably announce the debut of my entirely unjustified, and mostly unqualified word. And all in the open, egalitarian spirit of Fringe.

Fringe’s success hinges on audience participation and interaction. The unmediated festival is driven by the audience members’ ensuing reaction. And this opportunity leaves every Internet-accessing Fringe-goer the sense of being both pioneer and critique, which is a delightful dream come true in what has otherwise been deemed an overpowering world of inaccessible high art.

In light of this, the first week of Fringe should be approached with inquisition, interaction and a little DIY initiative. “Fringe is about discovery.” It demands fest-goers do some serious research and investigation. Be prepared to take some time working through the many pages of information and multiple links uncovering the vast selection of events. And be sure to keep an open-mind. Allow yourself to be captivated by the seemingly strange and outrageous. The festival invites goers to be shocked and scandalized, so test your intuition and take a risk.

Here are a few considerations…

As reviewed  last August, Glam Gam Productions is staging their roughly-burlesque murder mystery show If Looks Can KillThey Will. If their performance past is any indication of what is to come, the shameless and unabashed Glam Gam troupe is sure to charm audiences in an uproarious and outrageous good time. This is a definite not-to-miss.

Running Friday, June 8th-16th at Cafe Cleopatra.

As part of the Fringe Festival’s “After Dark Series”, Seska Lee presents ACME Burlesque. A risque cabaret of belly dancing, circus performers and a striptease, the show promises to thrill audiences in a “truly interactive experience”.

June 7th, 21h at MainLine Theatre.

As the name suggests, Fringe’s Edition of the Strip Spelling Bee is an adult bee inviting guests to test their spelling skills at the cost of clothing. Get in the Fringe Fest spirit with an interactive After Hours evening of whooping and heckling. Takes place Wednesday, June 6th at MainLine Theatre. Consider overdressing.

Also, for a taste of visual art be sure to check out the Galerie Fringe Vernissage, Friday, June 8th at Studio Beluga.

For information, visit Montreal Fringe Festival’s website.

Esmeralda at ARENA

Lady Josephine as a Centaur
Lady Josephine as a Centaur

Last Friday I was transported back to 8th century BC when some of Montreal’s burlesque beauties took the stage as Ancient Rome’s most desirable (and devious) personas. Cirquantique, Montreal’s newest burlesque and circus company, presented its premiere show ARENA at the gorgeous Bain Mathieu. Combining both burlesque and circus acts in the spirit of Ancient Rome, ARENA was sexy, seductive and above all, a spectacular show.

The audience was greeted with lavish set design, including four large roman-looking statues that stood on each side of the stage, while the Montreal-based band Street Meat played in nothing but their togas as people filed in and mingled beforehand. Then, a few beautiful ladies in crisp white goddess dresses emerged from below carrying tray after tray of roman-inspired appetizers. Not a single table was left bare. I snacked on grapes, olives, brie, baguette, dates and nuts while watching (er, listening to) half naked men play music—and the show hadn’t even started yet! Off to a good start.

Lady Josephine opened the act with a sexy hilarious act in true Josephine style. No, the tall blonde beauty did not embody the spirit of a love goddess, a seductive siren, or even a sprightly river nymph; instead, she ambled on stage as a gangly centaur, in a costume that included hind legs and a robust rump. Lady Josephine is one of my favourite burlesque performers on the scene right now; she’s captivating to watch and her acts are always intelligent, hilarious, sexy and original.

Sucre a la creme
Sucre a La Creme

Another performer whose creativity and wit result in sexy, hilarious acts is the drool-worthy dish, Sucre A La Crème. Gracing the stage as a sculpture of a beautiful roman goddess, she came to life on a rotating pedestal and chiseled off her pasties for some titillating humor.

Miss Bloody Mary Anne wasn’t the only one to get a little wet after she performed her erotic roman bath act. Playing a captured concubine who decides to embrace her captor’s lavish lifestyle, she splashed around and stripped off her toga beneath a steady stream of water, before completing her cleanse with an oil rub down.

Two of Montreal’s burlesque-scene vanguard, Miss Sugarpuss and Bon Bon Bombay, were part of the show’s stellar roster. In a hilariously dramatic act, Miss Sugarpuss played a she-wolf who fights off a hooded intruder, while Bon Bon Bombay closed the show in a soft and sensual act as Aphrodite.

Lili & Titoo at Arena
Lili & Katoo

From the circus side of things, Lili and Katoo were total show-stoppers. These two women showed off their incredible acrobatic strength, in a performance that appeared effortless and graceful.  Dressed as gladiators, they used the trapeze and their own body strength to create a truly awe-inspiring performance. Aerial rope climbers Natalie and Jon performed a breathtakingly beautiful act in perfect unison, one of the most stunning acts of the evening.

Esmeralda at ARENA
Esmeralda at ARENA

The multitalented Esmeralda impressed everyone with the newest trick up her sleeve. I’ve seen the dark haired beauty perform hoops and burlesque, but she upped the ante Friday night with her sexy pyro act. Before seductively dragging a flaming wand across her bare arms and legs, she tilted her head back, opened her mouth, and wrapped her lips around a ball of fire.

Miss Bloody Mary Ann
Miss Bloody Mary Ann being doused in Olive Oil

Montreal has always had a hot burlesque scene, and it just keeps heating up; Cirquantique’s first show was smouldering—can’t wait to see what it produces next!

Photos: Chris Zacchia

Miss Sugarpuss
Miss Sugarpuss


Bon Bon Bombay
Bon Bon Bombay

This week a version of The Scream painting by Edvard Munch sold for $119 million at Sotheby’s Auction House New York to an anonymous buyer, breaking all previous records but more importantly rendering it unattainable by most public collections. Scribbled on this version was a poem by Munch:

“I was walking along a path with two friends, the sun was setting, suddenly the sky turned blood red, I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence, there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city, my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety, and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”

This scream which has become so synonymous with the chaotic upheavals of modern life, has now gained greater resonance in our financially unstable world simply because a work of art can fetch such high prices when the money could have simply been put to better use. Art has long been one of the most shamefully obscene unregulated markets in the world.

The prices driven up by in house betting, tactical lending and tours, initiated and propagated by none other than the galleries and greedy owners looking to up the prices, whilst the larger public is often denied access and opportunity to experience them fully. In such markets, with such high prices, museums and public collections simply cannot compete.

However it is not all doom and gloom. There is a glimmer of hope in the horizon, and it is by the artists choosing to fight back. The new generation of artists seem to have realized that money alone cannot dictate their lives and art.

Most artists graduating from art schools around the country will not get to show at the glitzy glamorous gallery downtown, and so they get unrelated jobs and work on their art with freedom away from market demand. And the results are astonishing in creativity and beauty.

Lack of supplies and exhibition spaces have driven artists online where they are fast establishing themselves on social networks and communities, and what is important about this movement is the fact that it is on a global scale. An artist can create, modify, enhance, publish, exhibit and market his or her artwork using only digital media.

This phenomenon has not gone unnoticed by older traditional artists; David Hockney exhibited iPad paintings this year, and even went as far as painting the portrait of the Physicist Stephen Hawking on an iPad. Jeff Koons uses digital media to create his paintings on a computer first which are then painted onto canvas by his assistants. The art patron Saatchi, who was responsible for the rise of Damien Hirst, now encourages artists to exhibit their work on his online gallery. Google Art Project has brought the Street View technology to famous Museums and Galleries from around the world, with breathtakingly lifelike high resolution photographs of the great masterpieces. Technology is changing the art world in ways unprecedented and it is all thanks to digital media.

You might ask what the future holds? To that I answer Digitalism as the new ism in Art.

The significance of creating an artwork digitally and sharing it via the internet is the fact that the artwork you get to experience on your screen at home is an original and not a reproduction, because it has been created by the same technology. What is happening here is the opportunity for a global viewing of an artwork in a very cost effective manner.

David Hockney’s Painting created on an iPad and shared on The Guardian online website is an original enjoyed by millions for free. Photography, once flooding the online market by becoming digital, is now playing catch up to art with creations like Instagram aiming to make your photographs more artistic.

Painting isn’t dead, it has evolved with a new medium, and now is more available than ever. It is time for the established art organizations to take notice of Digitalism and acknowledge it as one of the most revolutionary, significant movements of contemporary times. Auctions for digital art have already begun and the Digital Art category on ebay is the living proof.

Arena Cirque et Burlesque

Arena Cirque et BurlesqueAs you already know Montreal has a fantastic and exploding burlesque scene. The newest group of ladies to be throwing their nipple tassels into the ring are Cirquantique. Their show, titled ARENA, will be taking place this Friday and will be their first official production. But I’m sure you will recognize these fine ladies, as Cirquantique, is a collaboration between award-winning burlesque performer, Lady Josephine, and professional circus performer, Esmeralda. (Both of whom are performers in the Blood Ballet Cabaret as well) These two exquisite ladies are being joined by seasoned event producer, Simon Skelling.

If women taking their clothes off wasn’t enough to get you out to this event, the show has a sexy theme! The ladies will be baring it all a la ancient times, with the show being set when togas were all the rage. Burlesque performers will showcase artistic, narrative-based striptease acts inspired by marble statues, greco-roman mythology, legendary queens and goddesses. Renowned circus artists will present combat acrobatics, fire manipulation, aerial ropes, diabolo, and trapeze stunts.

As well the event will be taking place at the historic Bain Mathieu, a former bath house converted into a unique theatre venue. (It’s gorgeous!) Lastly the event is hosted by the infamous Plastik Patrick. He’s sexy, surly and sure to put your knickers in a knot.

The show, ARENA, will be presented for one night only so make sure to check it out:

Friday May 11, 2012

Tickets can be purchased for 20$ in advance or 23$ at the door

Doors open at 7pm

The show begins at 8pm


Have you ever thought to yourself: “I really love playing Clue but I wish there was more nudity”? If so, this weekend head to Cafe Cleopatre and catch If Looks Could Kill…They Will.

It’s the new show from Glam Gam Productions, the same group that brought us the sexy Halloween fright-fest Nightmare on Main Street, the raunchy holiday treat Tits the Season and even the Montreal incarnation of SlutWalk. If Looks Could Kill is billed as a burlesque murder mystery, an interesting concept in its own right, but with Glam Gam behind it, who knows what to expect (well, except for some full-frontal, cause there’ll probably be some of that).

According to the event’s Facebook page, the audience will be given a chance to guess just whom the killer is from a roster of your favorite Glam Gam characters and win a prize if you guess correctly. Also, the killer changes from night to night. Presumably to start the guessing early, the group has been releasing a series of videos throughout the summer, each pointing a finger at a different character. Here’s an example (you can watch all the trailers on the group’s site):

This is the first full-on Glam Gam show in Montreal since last December, so you can bet the group wants to come back with a bang (so many potential puns in this piece, no point in saying if they’re intended or not). So, if you want to help Sherlock Homo solve a mystery and win a “slutty prize,” or if you just want to enjoy some good ole raunchy burlesque, then give this show a look…because if looks could kill, they will!

Glam Gam presents If Looks Could Kill, They Will at Cafe Cleopatre, 1230 boul St-Laurent, 2nd   floor, August 19, 20, 21 at 9:30 pm (doors 8:30pm). Admission is $15 or $13 with a non-perishable food item. A benefit for Head & Hands.

Remember how many hours you spent as a kid colouring with crayons, and how much fun you had?? Sixteen rainbow shades, all standing tall and still with slightly blunted points, silently waiting for grubby little fingers to grind them down to a one inch stub. It was always the best colors that met this fate, like jungle green, hot magenta and dandelion. Crayons! Such fun! One waxy whiff of a brand new box and I revert to five years old.

If at this moment you’re contemplating rushing out the door to the nearest DeSerres to buy yourself a box of crayons, then good, do it! But finish reading this first, because there’s an awesome show happening Friday night that you probably want to attend. In Theory presents Crayon Party!, a comedy/sketching show where not only do you get to watch some seriously funny people access their deepest feelings with crayons, but YOU get to too!

Sasha Manoli, the brilliant lady behind January’s Liar Liar Show, has created another genius show where audience participation is a must. An audience-wide drawing contest will top off the night, with the comics selecting the winners and free booze as the prize. Yay! But before you hurry to hone your drawing skills, remember, it’s a comedy show no one cares that your stick man looks like a donut with pretzel appendages.

So Friday night, join Asaf Gerchek, Bianca Yates, Chris Betts, Faisal Butt, Morgan O’Shea, Robby Hoffman and Rodney Ramsey at Theatre St. Catherine for the best of both your childhood and adulthood worlds. Paper and crayons provided!

The Crayon Party!—don’t miss this rainbow mess:
Friday, Aug 12, 8:30 pm at Theatre St. Catherine (264 St. Catherine East)
Tickets are $12. To buy call 514-701-9688 or buy online

Photo cred: www.photographyblogger.net/crayons/

Settling into my seat in the cramped but pleasantly cozy Theatre Ste-Catherine for The Mysterious Case of the Flying Anarchist, the much hyped play by local production company/political statement the Blacklist Committee for Unsafe Theatre, I really didn’t know what to expect.

I have to plead unfamiliarity with the much-acclaimed Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo, upon which this play is based. So I had a vague idea that the plot revolved around the murder of an anarchist by the asshole Rob Ford and little else.

Walking out of the theatre a little over an hour later weeping from laughing so hard, I have only one word: masterpiece. This is, by far, the best piece of live theatre I have seen in a very long time.

To sum up the plot without giving anything away, there’s been an incident following the G20’s return to Toronto in the year 2018, and an anarchist in police custody has fallen to his death. Mayor Ford may have been involved, stories are contradictory but no one seems to care. Except for one mischievous Maniac…

From the opening curtain the infectious energy and pitch perfect timing of Susanna Jones as the Maniac set the bar somewhere in the stratosphere.

Rarely do you see an actor inhabit the character they play so completely, from mannerisms to vocal inflection to stop and start frantic energy and the odd wink at the audience. She played the part with reckless abandon and a heavy dose of physicality, slipping effortlessly between a succession of characters, without once losing the essential underpinning of the Maniac. Perhaps most impressive, she maintained the energy and feverish intensity throughout, never dropping off or losing her breathing.

Vince Benvenuto provided the perfect foil for her hijinks in the opening scene, as the easily aggrieved Inspector Bertrand Bertozzo. But his finest hour would come later, in one of the more perfectly staged pieces of physical theatre I’ve ever seen, as his tightly wound Inspector gradually blows a gasket while being violently shut up by the other characters.

Moving forward, we are introduced to Mikaela Davies as the slightly simple-minded and highly suggestible Superintendent Pam Russell, whose stupidity is only exceeded by the hilariously dense Constable Dick (Playwright and Co-Director Matt Jones). She nails the part, and serves as an excellent straight woman for the Maniac and the man (or moron) himself, Rob Ford.

Kyle Allatt is superb as Mr. Mayor, playing the character to the very edge of buffoonery, without crossing into farce. As he gestures wildly and sputters uncontrollably, he remains a plausible facsimile of a man who lends himself to caricature. He nails both Rob Ford, and an exaggerated and hilariously oafish parody of the man.

Finally we are introduced to Co-Director Caroline Fournier as journalist Maria Felkin. At times probing and sceptical, at others gullible and easily misled, she plays the avatar of modern media perfectly.

The casting is perfect, and each actor seems to stretch and explore their role, bringing terrific comedic timing and a wealth of physicality to the stage. The hand of the two co-directors, and what must have been a great deal of rehearsal time, is clear here, as the actors dance around the stage in perfectly choreographed symmetry.

However, the real lynchpin of this production is the writing. This play had the audience howling with laughter over and over again, with some sustained bursts lasting minutes as jokes or physical gags were layered one upon the other.

As I mentioned, I am unfamiliar with the source work from which this play is derived, but enough was clearly specific to this production to know that Matt Jones is a brilliant and inspired playwright.

I beg you, I really beg you, go see this play. It may be the best thing you do with an hour and a half of your life all summer. If you don’t love it, if you aren’t absolutely blown away by the charm and talent of this ensemble cast, I promise to eat a print-out of this article. So how can you lose?


The Mysterious Case of the Flying Anarchist is playing Saturday August 6 at 3PM and again at 7:30 PM and Sunday August 7 at 3PM at Theatre Ste-Catherine, 264 Ste-Catherine East. Tickets are $10. Seating is limited so get there early!

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What happens when we put our heads together? According to Toronto-based performance group Frenzy, we trip balls and have to scramble to escape our own chaotic creations.

Frenzy Saves Your Brain is a fast, funny and creative show which swings from clowning to sharp dialogue, and twists through a variety of surreal vignettes. For the show playing at the Montreal Fringe Festival, the audience has become a hive-mind through scientific experimentation, while the performers intermittently appear through the maddening haze as they try to pull us back to reality. This unique approach to narrative gives the otherwise unrelated and disjointed sections a twisted logic. Of course it is a comedy show, but Frenzy has taken the time to make the laughs matter!

The show falls just under an hour in length, but the smooth flow and fast-paced humour fills it out nicely without becoming tired. At the beginning, it is difficult to grasp what is happening, with lights flashing, voices swirling and scientists ranting – but the confusion is intentional. We begin to trip before we realize we’ve taken anything. Things progress quickly, snapping from one scene to the next, with something new always appearing, disappearing or swirling past. There is little respite, though the scenes are flanked by fluid transitions that give our minds a moment’s rest before the next wave kicks in.

The sense of humour is quite broad – sometimes silly, and often left of centre – but intelligently conceived and delivered by the five performers who are naturally funny guys. Nor is the show afraid to reference pop-culture, from a fast-forward “Cheers” bar scene, to a hilarious bit in which two DJs compete for a record contract. Each of the many pieces is unique and well thought out.

Frenzy Saves Your Brain makes good use of sound, lights and props to create their ‘head-space’. It also means that a lot of humour in this show is derived from the visuals. The strangely saddening tale of the shop-mannequin’s familial disaster, or the x-ray view of a bullet penetrating a heart, are perfect examples. Both of these pieces, among others, rely on clowning, physical humour and perception. On the other hand, Frenzy includes a lot of hilarious scenes where the performers use nothing but dialogue and their imagination to create the laughs. Both styles work within the show and complement each other well.

Throughout the evening, the audience was audibly and visibly having a great time. The humour was quick enough to keep most people laughing, and varied enough to provide something for everyone. Once it really got going and the audience was nice and warmed up, the buzz in the theatre was great. The performers were clearly having a lot of fun, and this was reflected right back at them. It would appear then that the experimental approach really paid off for Frenzy. They didn’t really care what a comedy show should be. They took a surreal idea and stuffed it full of great humour.

I went to Frenzy Saves Your Brain not knowing quite what to expect. Comedy back in Europe can be pretty unimaginative, and so I had a tendency to steer clear. This show, however, with its blend of humour and performance, reignited a little hope for my relationship with the genre.

The show is running until the 19th at Théâtre MainLine, with details available on the Montreal Fringe website. It’s definitely worth checking out. At the least you’ll be intrigued; at most, you’ll have a riot.

See all the photos by Chris Zacchia of the Frenzy Comedy show on FTB’s facebook page.