all star surprises
Caught one of two live studio tapings last week of CBC's upcoming All Star Comedy Homecoming special.
The show, marking 50 years of laughs on the mother corp, drummed up lots of usuals, like the This Hour and Air Farce crews, Dave Broadfoot and -- most movingly -- Don Harron as Charlie Farquharson, a character who appeared on CBC-TV's very first day, in 1952.
Thankfully, all was not middlebrow reverence. The Air Farce's Roger Abbott got a couple of off-air digs into Tommy Hunter. And Dave Foley smilingly flirted with Abbott after a taping of a so-so Wendy Mesley interview spoof, an off-the-cuff moment funnier than the five-minute sketch the Kids in the Hall resurrected for the show.
Best of all was Kenny Robinson's perfectly justifiable rant about the absence of blacks on CBC-TV, and Jeremy Hotz's gut-bustingly funny deconstruction of the Saturday-morning lineup.
If, as these two bits show, the CBC can make fun of itself at 50, it may even survive to 100.
The gala airs on CBC-TV Sunday (September 8) at 9 pm.
It's not often that we get a chance to catch three versions of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 10 days, but that's what this busy theatrical summer presented.
Allegoria's Toronto-centric take offered few insights, but the other two productions of the Bard's often-done comedy were worth catching.
While there were strengths in CanStage's 20th-anniversary Dream In High Park -- notably a multicultural cast, Michelle Polak's energy and comedy skills as Hermia, Zaib Shaikh's handling of the text as her lover Lysander, Robert Persichini's broad Bottom and Maggie Huculak's fascinating, eerie Titania -- the better overall production was out of town, in Barrie.
The newly formed Theatre by the Bay premiered with a Dream led by Daryl Cloran, staged in a tent beside the lake. Though the drone of motorboats sometimes distracted, the company drew the sell-out audiences back to the play without much effort.
Cloran had the mischievous, very physical fairies active from the first scene, with Benjamin Clost a quicksilver, multi-toned Puck -- one of the best, in fact, in our memory, especially with the genuine fun he took in his tricks. Jacklyn Francis made a strong, imperious Titania, Steve Ross an endearing Bottom, Kerry Ann Doherty a gangly Olive Oyl of a Helena, Patrick Conner an intentionally tentative Peter Quince and Holly Lewis a comically vicious Hermia when her love was thwarted.
There's already talk of a second season. If it happens, it'll be worth the drive to Barrie.
The number of talented performers in The Lion King is awesome. Here's a chance to see some of that energy directed into other work, and all for a worthy cause. Cast members and their friends present Hope 2002, a benefit evening of variety entertainment, music and dance in support of CRY (Child Relief and You). The organization helps children in India, offering financial and non-financial initiatives across the country. Monday (September 9), 8 pm, at the Betty Oliphant Theatre (404 Jarvis). 416-872-1212.
It's always a pleasure to see young artists given the chance to develop new skills. Playwright, director and producer Kilby Smith-McGregor just received the Urjo Kareda Residency Grant at the Tarragon, which allows her to work for 20 weeks at the theatre in collaboration with staff and artists.
Smith-McGregor is co-artistic director of feminist theatre collective Stranger Theatre, which premiered locally in SummerWorks 2001 with East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon. The company's SummerWorks show last month, The Clown Of God, demonstrated that they'd grown impressively in the space of a year.
Smith-McGregor also assistant-directed two Soulpepper shows and teaches for Soulpepper in Toronto schools. She'll definitely use this grant to grow as artist and producer.