While I had to miss opening night of Night of the Living Dead Live — damn you, Dark Prince Bunnykins! — the theatrical version of the classic zombie film, put on by the fine folks of Hamilton, Ontario’s Nictophobia Films at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille, looks to be a fun (and funny) take on George Romero’s debut feature. The DLB spoke to co-writer/director Chris Bond, the man behind Evil Dead: The Musical, and executive producer Phil Pattison about resurrecting NotLD on stage.
Archive for the Theatre Category
The fact that it was a dark and stormy night the evening I ventured onto a sketchy stretch of Toronto’s Queen Street East to find the secret locale in which was being staged Eldritch Theatre’s newest production, Doc Wuthergloom’s Haunted Medicine Show, only added to the sense of anticipation and apprehension I felt as I approached the venue, gave the secret knock, and whispered the password to gain entrance.
Concocted by local dark-minded theatrical scallywag Erick Woolfe (Madhouse Variations, Sideshow of the Damned), this one-man show (save for the pre- and post-show hawking of Doc Wuthergloom’s Home Exorcism Almanac by the Doc’s lovely and persistent assistant) finds Woolfe himself in top form and top hat in the role of Doctor Pretorius Wuthergloom. A skeleton-faced carnie-cum-trickster with a deep knowledge of the arcane, Wuthergloom uses puppets and simple props to tell spooky stories of madness, lost love, and revenge from beyond the grave. Woolfe – or Wuthergloom – is also an accomplished magician, and his card tricks and sleights of hand are all in aid of selling us his almanac (only a measly five dollars)… all for our own protection, of course, against the malevolent forces being called upon this evening.
The fact that Wolfe can make us shiver as well as shake with laughter is a testament to not only the strength of his writing, which calls upon the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft and his ideas of old gods and revenge from beyond the grave, but also to the power of lighting, sound and suggestion. Doc Wuthergloom’s Haunted Medicine Show is a fine-tuned little theatrical engine best seen in a small venue like this where Wuthergloom himself can reach out and pluck you from the audience – if you are female that is.
Doc Wuthergloom’s Haunted Medicine Show runs until November 6. Tickets are available for sale online at www.eldritchtheatre.ca, and the location of the show is only revealed to those brave enough to buy a ticket. Be brave.
Toronto theatregoers with a taste for the macabre and the comical got a special treat last night when Eric Woolfe of Eldritch Theatre previewed his latest work, Doc Wuthergloom’s Haunted Medicine Show. Currently staged as a one-man show, Doc Wuthergloom is Eldritch’s follow-up to last fall’s Madhouse Variations and casts the actor-puppeteer as a traveling exorcist whose tales of the macabre are all in the service of selling you a spellbook to protect you from malevolent spirits.
Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassell
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin
“Lose yourself” is the advice artistic director Thomas (Vincent Cassell) gives to Nina (Natalie Portman), the ambitious young ballerina he has chosen to dance the lead in his company’s new production of “Swan Lake.” But Nina is a scared, tentative young dancer whose fragility embodies the White Swan. Her technique is flawless, but does she have the guile and the sensuality to effectively play the Black Swan? Or will Thomas replace her with the provocative Lily (Mila Kunis), Nina’s perceived rival and could-be best friend?
One of the greatest experiences a fan of genre cinema can have is traveling to Montreal for the FanTasia film festival. Each year Mitch David and his crew program dozens of amazing films from all around the world in the realms of sci-fi, cult weirdness, action, Asian and, of course, horror. This year’s schedule is still weeks away, but the FanTasia press office just announced a few special events and screenings.
From the press release:
THE COMPLETE METROPOLIS – A GALA EVENT AT PLACE DES ARTS
Seldom has the rediscovery of a cache of lost footage ignited widespread curiosity as did the announcement, in July 2008, that an essentially complete copy of Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS had been found. This prompted an incredible year-long restoration project, the results of which will be unveiled for the first time in Quebec this summer, at Fantasia. Featuring over 25 minutes of new material (1,257 shots, including entire new sequences), the complete METROPOLIS will be screened as a special gala event at the 3000-seat Wilfred Pelletier theatre in Place des Arts on July 28. For this special night, internationally renowned silent film composer Gabriel Thibaudeau is writing a new score for the feature, which he will perform with a 13-piece orchestra live at the screening. It will be a fantastically historical night in every sense of the word!
Notes on the music for Fantasia’s METROPOLIS event by Gabriel Thibaudeau:
“For the last 22 years I have been resident pianist and composer for the Cinematheque québécoise. METROPOLIS is one of the first films I played to. Writing a new score for this film represents, for me, a long cherished dream. The film’s modern feel and visual treatment lends itself well to experimentation and is a pure joy to create sound for!
How to express musically the class struggle and dialectic that are the foundations of this work? By utilizing not one, but two chamber orchestras! Quite simply, at stage left the orchestra represents the elitist spirit of the city through a string quintet and keyboard. At stage right a brass quintet with organ will form the second orchestra, symbol of the strength of the workers in the subterranean city. The percussion section in the center will form a link between the two worlds/ensembles.
For this two and a half hour performance, specially commissioned by the Fantasia Festival, the majority of movements will be precisely written and perfectly synchronized with the images on screen. However, certain passages will be more free, created live through “Soundpainting”, a technique of improvising from coded gestures used by the conductor.”
– Gabriel Thibaudeau
Here is the trailer for The Complete Metropolis:
A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR KEN RUSSELL
Fantasia will present Britain’s celebrated enfant terrible, the director of such one-of-a-kind classics as ALTERED STATES, TOMMY, CRIMES OF PASSION, WOMEN IN LOVE, LISZTOMANIA, GOTHIC, SALOME’S LAST DANCE, MAHLER and LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, with a lifetime achievement award in celebration of his astoundingly unique and bravely provocative visions. On the night of his ceremony, we will screen a rare 35mm print of his explosive and still-controversial 1971 masterpiece THE DEVILS. This notoriously powerful film, which remains unavailable on DVD anywhere in the world, stars Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, and featuring art direction by Derek Jarman. Russell will be in town for a week and our special “Devils’ Night” award presentation will kick off a massive retrospective of his filmography split across Cinematheque Quebecoise and Cinema Du Parc.
THE INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE OF STUART GORDON & JEFFREY COMBS’ CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED EDGAR ALLAN POE STAGE PLAY
Award-winning filmmaker Stuart Gordon, beloved for such films as RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND and STUCK will be returning to Fantasia (after gracing us with the Canadian premiere of EDMOND in 2006) with his staple star Jeffrey Combs to stage their acclaimed one-man play NEVERMORE: AN EVENING WITH EDGAR ALLAN POE, which features Combs in a breathtaking performance as the legendary author. It should be noted that Gordon was a celebrated theatre director for many years before turning to cinema. Among his many impressive credits, the future filmmaker founded Chicago’s Organic Theater in the ’70s and was the first to stage a play by David Mamet, who he continues to collaborate with every now and then. A spellbinding recreation of the public recitals that Poe regularly performed in the years before his death, based on reviews and reports of his actual appearances, NEVERMORE premiered in Los Angeles in July 2009 and was originally slated to run for four weeks. Critical raves and mass audience draws saw the run extended to nearly six months. Combs’ performance is so captivating and mercurial that many critics have championed him as “the definitive Poe,” a claim that we can fully agree with! 2010 also happens to be the 25th anniversary of RE-ANIMATOR, and in celebration of this, Fantasia will be screening an uncut 35mm print of the cult classic, hosted by Gordon and Combs.
For updates on all things FanTasia, go to www.fantasiafestival.com
Toronto’s creatures of the night came out in full force last night to sup on the sinful sounds of local Goth trio Johnny Hollow and the act they helped bring to town, America’s Faith & The Muse. This was FATM’s first local show in 11 years so the 90-minute delay to the start of their set (border troubles, of course) was only a minor impediment.
Johnny Hollow has built up a solid local following in the last couple of years, packing the Horseshoe Tavern on a Monday night this winter (despite the doubts of the ‘Shoe’s booking agents, we were told) and now drawing a solid crowd to the El Mocambo, a nice follow-up to their gig at the same venue on Devil’s Night last year. Here is the band performing their cover of The Sisters of Mercy classic ‘Temple of Love':
And here they are playing their own song, ‘Worse Things':
Not being overly familiar with Faith and the Muse, the DLB was curious, having only heard a few songs and watched the YouTube trailer for the Toronto show:
The result was mesmerizing, a phantasmagorical display of hypnotic rhythms, atmospheric music and a theatrical presentation. Core members Monica Richards (vocals) and William Faith (guitar, vocals, electric cello, drums) were joined by six other multi-instrumentalists to play an alternately beautiful and compelling blend of Gothic, Celtic and tribal tracks. Not being familiar with the band’s catalogue, I haven’t been able to name these songs but feel free to comment if you know their titles:
Here’s hoping we don’t need to wait another 11 years before FATM’s next Toronto show. Johnny Hollow’s, by the way, is June 6 at Neutral (349A College St. at Augusta) with Attrition.
HOT TOXIC LOVE – THE MAKING OF THE TOXIC AVENGER MUSICAL
Sunday, March 7 at 10pm, Citytv
HOT TOXIC LOVE – THE MAKING OF THE TOXIC AVENGER MUSICAL is a multi-camera documentary of what it took for Dancap Productions Inc., to mount The Toxic Avenger Musical, the off-Broadway hit musical based on the Lloyd Kauffman cult-movie The Toxic Avenger, at The Music Hall in Toronto. HOT TOXIC LOVE – THE MAKING OF THE TOXIC AVENGER MUSICAL premieres Sunday, March 7 at 10pm on Citytv.
From auditions to opening night, HOT TOXIC LOVE takes the audience on a journey inside the world of theatre with its technical tricks, backstage antics and tales of heartbreak. The story is told from the intriguing perspective of two lead performers: Evan Alexander Smith, a newcomer making his debut; and Louise Pitre, a multi award-winner and veteran stage performer.
Louise Pitre earned a Dora Mavor Moore Award in Toronto and Tony Award® nomination in New York for her role as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!. Louise is also known for her passionate performances as Fantine in Les Misérables and as the title character in Edith Piaf. Days before rehearsals for The Toxic Avenger Musical began, Louise made her Carnegie Hall debut, singing the role of Ulrika in the concert version of Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus’ musical Kristina.
Evan Alexander Smith graduated from George Brown Theatre School in May 2009 and by September he had been offered the titular role in a major commercial production, the Canadian premiere of The Toxic Avenger Musical.
“Our Canadian production of The Toxic Avenger was a first class musical,” said Aubrey Dan, President of Dancap Productions. “We are very proud of having created this opportunity to showcase an incredibly talented group of performers, musicians and production personnel from across the country.”
Both the live show and documentary are produced by Dancap Productions Inc. with Citytv the broadcast partner for HOT TOXIC LOVE. The documentary was commissioned to record and promote the creation of The Toxic Avenger Musical in Toronto, from casting calls through to the production’s opening night, as well as to be used as a tool to further enhance the live theatrical experience.
HOT TOXIC LOVE – THE MAKING OF THE TOXIC AVENGER MUSICAL is scheduled to premiere on Citytv, Sunday, March 7th at 10pm.
Part Three: THE WOODS
“The productions are outright superb” National Post
Award-winning company THEATREFRONT continues their ghost story serial, THE MILL, with Part Three: THE WOODS, written by Tara Beagan and directed by Sarah Stanley.
A Canadian horror story, THE WOODS takes place in 1640, two centuries before Part One and Part Two. The mill does not yet exist. The woods conceal a First Nations burial ground; the former site of a Wendat (Huron) settlement decimated by the imported ideals, and epidemics, of the French settlers.
Alberta born and raised, Tara Beagan has found an artistic home in Toronto. Her first play, Thy Neighbour’s Wife won the 2005 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play (Independent) with Beagan receiving an acting nomination for her role in the production. Writing credits include Dreary and Izzy and TransCanada, (Native Earth Performing Arts); Bad As I Am (Tarragon Playwrights Unit); and the multi-disciplinary site-specific Fort York (Crate Productions).
Former Artistic Director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Sarah Stanley is a director, dramaturge, and theatrical investigator. Directing highlights include the award winning Oedipus (Ned Dickens), Beaver (Claudia Dey), Steel Kiss/Gulag (Robin Fulford) and Romeo and Juliet (under the Bathurst Street bridge).
Part One: NOW WE ARE BRODY, written by Matthew MacFadzean and directed by Daryl Cloran, and Part Two: THE HURON BRIDE, written by Hannah Moscovitch and directed by Christian Barry, which premiered in the fall, will return for the final week of THE WOODS’ run. Part Four: ASH, written by Damien Atkins and directed by Jennifer Tarver, will conclude the cycle next season, with all four plays running in repertory.
THE MILL is the largest and most ambitious project to date for THEATREFRONT. Four plays, created by four playwrights and four directors, span four hundred years in order to investigate Canada’s haunted relationship with its past.
What the critics have said about THEATREFRONT’S THE MILL so far:
“You’ll probably have the shit scared out of you by Hannah Moscovitch’s The Huron Bride. The second installment of The Mill, a four-part series of supernatural tales set in Upper Canada, is full of mysterious things that go bump in the night.” NOW Toronto
“My heart was racing, my skin crawled, and my whole body tensed. I was at the Tank House Theatre and I was terrified.” Twisitheatreblog.com
“When you walk into the theatre you see and smell wood, you smell sawdust, it’s fantastic and incredibly effective. The Mill is a spooky romp, the cast is very fine, effects are eye-popping, and characters fly. It keeps the hairs on the back on your neck spiked!”
CBC Radio One
“Holly Lewis’ Lyca, the frightfully alluring ghost figure is about as creepy as it gets. You’ll be looking under the bed twice before turning off the lights tonight. Is it too early to speculate if The Mill is destined for Shaw Festival country?” TorontoStage.com
“The Mill, set in northern Ontario, is [Theatrefront's] Canadian project. So far, it’s a winner. It may even have invented a new genre, Pioneer Gothic.” National Post
THE MILL Part Three: THE WOODS
Written by Tara Beagan, Directed by Sarah Stanley
The Mill Ensemble: Maev Beaty, Frank Cox-O’Connell, Richard Greenblatt, Eric Goulem,
Ryan Hollyman, Michelle Latimer, Holly Lewis and Michelle Monteith
Set Design – Gillian Gallow o Costume Design – Dana Osborne
Lighting Design – Andrea Lundy
Sound Design and Composition – Richard Feren o Projection Design – Ben Chaisson
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Tank House Theatre, Distillery Historic District
March 18-April 3, 2010
Part Three: THE WOODS previews March 18 & 19, Opens Saturday, March 20
Runs March 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, April 3 @ 8pm, and March 27 and April 3 @ 2pm
Part One: NOW WE ARE BRODY runs March 29, and April 1 @ 8pm
Part Two: THE HURON runs March 30 and April 2 @ 8pm
All Tickets $30 / Students $20 o Previews $15
Box Office 416.866.8666 or http://www.youngcentre.ca