Saturday, October 5, 2013
Friday, October 4, 2013
|Anisa Tejpar, Erin Poole and Tyler Gledhill performing Shifting Silence, for ProArteDanza (Photo: Geneviève Caron)|
Funky, fast and fierce, ProArteDanza opens with a bang at Toronto’s Fleck Dance Theatre at Harbourfront Centre, affirming its status as one of the most exciting small dance ensembles in the country with a new showcase of original work and hard-core dancing that will have you panting for more.
Three eye-grabbing pieces dominate the approximately 90-minute program, which opened to an enthusiastic crowd on Wednesday night and continues through Saturday. Each is by a choreographer with an association with ProArteDanza (literally, for the art of dance) which was founded in Toronto in 2004 as a vehicle for new creation: Shifting Silence, by company artistic associate Robert Glumbek, is a reprise (and Canadian premiere) of a work the Polish-born dancer and choreographer originally created for Ballett Nationaltheater Mannheim in Germany in 2012. Beethoven’s 9th-3rd Movement is a world premiere created jointly by Glumbek and artistic director Roberto Campanella, while Fractals: a pattern of chaos, the third and final piece, is by guest artist Guillaume Côté, the celebrated National Ballet principal dancer recently appointed to that company’s newly created position of Choreographic Associate in recognition of his burgeoning talent as a choreographer.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
|Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in Showtime’s Masters of Sex|
Michael Sheen doesn’t have the world-beaters’ charisma or the easy, sexy charm that people associate with movie stars. He’s certainly a skillful actor, though, and he’s had the luck to be cast in a string of projects, written by Peter Morgan – Stephen Frears’ The Deal and The Queen, in both of which he portrayed Tony Blair, and as David Frost in Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon. In both films, Sheen played strivers, men whose sheer ambition helped them overcome their limitations and essential mediocrity. These were important men roles that didn’t call for star magnetism, but instead for an actor’s ability to illuminate what might elevate a man who wouldn’t stand out in a crowd to the top of his field. Sheen has another role like that in Showtime’s Masters of Sex, which is the best new TV series of the fall season, by a pretty generous margin.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
|Parris Greaves, Laura Mae Nason, and Ken Chamberland in Tick, Tick ... BOOM! (Photo by Vincent Perri)|
First things first. The production of Tick, Tick … BOOM! currently playing at the Studio Theatre of the Toronto Centre for the Arts is excellent: fast-paced, funny, energetic, well-staged, well-performed and well-sung. It’s a terrific way to spend an evening.
In broad outline, the story of Tick, Tick … BOOM! is kind of old hat: Young artist suffers for his art, agonizes over his future and his talent – is it all worthwhile? – and then, despite all the obstacles, has a great success. What gives this small musical its special frisson, however, is that it’s pretty much autobiographical, and that the show’s creator, Jonathan Larson, is better known as the originator of Rent, the sensational, multi-award-winning rock musical (loosely based on Puccini’s La Bohème) that ran on Broadway for more than a decade, toured all over the world, and spawned a pretty good movie musical.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
|Publishers Prosper and Martine Assouline (Photo by Jordan Doner)|
At a time when electronic versions of books can be downloaded for free, luxury book publisher Prosper Assouline stays the course by continuing to put out titles on a range of subjects which cost top dollar. “My books are expensive,” he says unapologetically. “People, we have discovered, will pay dearly for a book if it is of top quality and beautiful to look at.” While some of his more exclusive books can cost upwards of thousands of dollars each, one of his latest, a history of Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Company is a comparative bargain at $65. But while the price might be lower than the $7,000 being charged for Gaia, the Special Edition coffee table book Assouline published in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Laliberté, Hudson’s Bay Company is teeming with text and more than 200 images, making the book, with a forward by Canadian-born Vanity Fair editor in-chief Graydon Carter, feel rich indeed. Art, fashion, the performing arts and architecture tend to make up the bulk of the books the Paris-raised, New York-based Assouline has published since launching Assouline, his boutique company with wife Martine in their native France in 1995. But there’s always room for the eccentric and the extravagant, which the story of the Hudson’s Bay Company epitomizes in being a history of the fur trade and the formation of a Canadian identity. An ebullient man who started as an art director in magazines when he was 16, Assouline spoke with Deirdre Kelly at The Bay’s Queen St. W. flagship store in Toronto at an intimate lunch commemorating the launch of the book, recognizable for the iconic Hudson’s Bay multistripe Point Blanket on the cover. Here is some of their conversation:
Monday, September 30, 2013
|Mary Zimmerman's The Jungle Book|
Sunday, September 29, 2013
|Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson in Don Jon|
I always thought that pornography appealed to people for similar reasons; it indulges the mechanics of sex, its kinks and fetishes and its carnal veneer, but it doesn’t get curious about what gets people into bed together in the first place. There’s nothing particularly subversive about two people fucking. On screen, as in life, eroticism is in the drama of emotional risk. Don Jon opens with a promising romantic comedy mis-en-scène when Jon, disillusioned by one-night stands, tracks down Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a woman whose refusal to go home with him after an evening of dance floor foreplay makes him think she can supply the depth he’s been missing. Their incompatible sexual fantasies – his based on pornography (which she abhors) and hers on weepy romantic pictures (which he disdains) – is the smartest and funniest idea in the film, but Gordon-Levitt doesn’t follow through on its romantic possibilities; instead he sells out Barbara by turning her into an exploitative prude. When Don Jon turns out to be a small-scale redemption story about a guy who learns to stop jerking off and fall in love – and to give up his porn junkie lifestyle – you realize the movie’s not taking any chances. It gives in to erotic phobias instead of dramatizing them.