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Who says New Yorkers don't respect Toronto talent, even when the city is still reeling from September 11? Daniel MacIvor's In On It and Jacob Wren's En Français Comme En Anglais, It's Easy To Criticize are both playing to full houses at the alternate space PS 122. The Times praised In On It, which plays at Buddies in the spring, and the Village Voice applauded both shows. Actor/director Mark Lonergan (Jump), currently working in the Big Apple, caught Saturday's In On It and tells us that performers MacIvor and Darren O'Donnell had to come out for curtain calls, "a rare request by the tough-as-nails downtown crowd." O'Donnell himself says the show is being perceived as timely. "It's about loss, crashing and death, so all the reviews are remarking on its relevance." Lonergan's Velocity opens November 17 at the American Theatre of Actors.
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It's the best comedy deal this week. The five nominees for the Tim Sims Encouragement Fund Award -- Ryan Belleville, Andy Boorman, Deborah DiGiovanni, Levi MacDougall and Alexis Vaughn -- square off in a showcase being held, natch, at the Tim Sims Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way). The annual award gives a big kick-start to a comedy career. Vaughn, also known as Lex Vaughn, is currently in Dark Side Of The Rune (see mini-review, page 75). My money's on Belleville, who kicked ass hosting a tough crowd last Sunday at the Rivoli. Forget his bedhead. His material just gets better and better.