You know the theatre season's started up when there are seven openings in four days, which was the case last week.
But the schedule for theatregoers was even busier because of the first Canwest Cabaret Festival at the Young Centre, which added nearly 50 more performances to the mix.
Albert Schultz, general director of the centre as well as Soulpepper's head, announced that funding's in place for another seven annual festivals, so if you didn't have a chance to catch it this time around - and there was lots to catch, with four venues in the centre all jumping with great music - you'll have other opportunities.
We caught four of the shows, beginning with Queen of Puddings' All-Canadian Classical Cabaret, featuring Carla Huhtanen and Shannon Mercer, accompanied by John Hess and directed by Tom Diamond. Highlights were an excerpt from Anna Chatterton and James Rolfe's opera Swipe, and Anne Fenn and Melissa Hui's Back To You, in which a woman puts up with an egocentric friend; the dramatically engaging Huhtanen sang both of them.
Points to Mercer and Hess for keeping their cool when, sparked by an overactive fog machine, the fire alarm went off during her final song. They never lost the melody or the light tone of the waltz by Fenn and Harry Freedman.
The Kurt Weill Songbook featured tunes from the composer's Berlin, Paris and New York periods. The star here was Patricia O'Callaghan, whose renditions of Pirate Jenny and the Bilbao Song were well-acted treats, as was The Threepenny Opera's Tango Ballad, performed by O'Callaghan and Schultz.
O'Callaghan also shone in her solo show the next day, where her expressive voice and range of emotional hues served tunes by everyone from Randy Newman to Leonard Cohen and from Purcell to Poulenc. She's as vivid in Spanish, French and German songs as in English tunes.
Arriving early at the Young Centre after a matinee across town, we also sneaked into a portion of the Musical Theatre Salon. Sorry we didn't hear it all, because the numbers we caught by composer/performer Leslie Arden, Kyle Blair and the always exuberant Sharron Matthews were wonderful. Especially liked Arden's two numbers from her updated musical version of Much Ado About Nothing - won't someone produce it here in town?
Wonder what's become of Equity Showcase Theatre after funding cuts and a fundraiser several months ago?
The company's no longer working out of its former home at Dufferin and Dundas, the St. Anne's Parish Hall; for info on its classes, check out equityshowcase.ca.
But the space, thanks to St. Anne's Church, has become the new office for excellent young-audiences troupe Roseneath Theatre, and in the spring Workman Arts moves in while their theatre at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is rebuilt.
Some of the rooms are available for rental as rehearsal space at least through the rest of 2008, and Back Burner Productions Ensemble mounts a mask-and-music show, Robin Muller's adaptation of The Nightwood, beginning October 18.
For space rental, call 416-645-0677 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.