Congrats to artistic producer Anthony Furey for pulling together five new works written and performed by artists under 21 for last weekend's spicy Paprika Festival. We liked Frank Cox-O'Connell's chameleon performance in Michael And Dr. Mephisto, and the puppets in Binary, but the fest's highlight was The End Of Pretending, written and performed by Charlotte Corbeil Coleman and Emily Sugerman.
A touching, funny, poetic piece about city teens stuck in the country, jealousy, French kissing and a mother's terminal illness, the show also has the pair of 15-year-olds creating a play about the talented, tragic Bronte sisters. (Two of them are also Charlotte and Emily, right?) The sharp writing needs some shaping, but the budding writer/performers dazzled the audience with a rich mix of theatrical tension and palpable affection. More, please.
Vision TV's not known for its sense of humour, unless you count Cosby Show reruns. So tonight's amusing half-hour comedy show called Nothing On is refreshing. Featuring an ethnically diverse bunch of actors, including stage faves Shoshana Sperling and Tricia Williams, the show sends up TV itself, like that revolutionary program SCTV. Targets are up-to-date and political, from a quick poke at Gap ads, conformity and slave labour to infomercials about psychics and fat-reduction techniques. A bit called A Divorce Story hilariously parodies A Wedding Story, each camera angle and music modulation perfect, while Sperling's Britneyesque creation, Shasty, is hilarious in a MuchMusic knock-off. Other fine sketches take on Arab-phobic airlines and car companies with unhealthy family values. Not all the performers are adept at comedy, but the show is definitely worth a look. Vision TV, Thursday (March 21), 9 and 11 pm.
Ladies do more than lunch these days -- they raise money by reading and singing. The Women's Caucus of the Playwrights Union of Canada holds a funder called One Night Stand, which begins appropriately with a selection from the late Carol Bolt's play of the same name. Also on the program are new works by other writers, among them Chalmers winners Florence Gibson, Gail Nyoka and Judith Thompson. Proceeds raised will send members to the 2003 International Conference of Women Playwrights. Tuesday (March 26) at Artword. 416-410-2822.
Leading Ladies is the third funder for St. Stephen's Community House, an evening featuring musical theatre hits sung by some of Toronto's best, among them Charlotte Moore, Sharron Matthews, Melissa Thomson and Ma-Anne Dionisio. They're joined by the Mantini Sisters and a group of step-dancers. Monday (March 25), Jane Mallett Theatre. 416-366-7723.
You want more high notes? The hot voice in opera these days is the countertenor, whose stratospheric top range is aiding the revival of baroque operas -- the singers can take roles that were originally played by castrati. One of today's best countertenors is Canadian Daniel Taylor, an intelligent and articulate artist who's performing in the Canadian Opera Company's staging of Handel's Julius Caesar. He and Isabel Bayrakdarian -- who plays Cleopatra -- take part in Opera 101, the COC's free discussion series held in the NOW Lounge. Friday (March 22). 189 Church.