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Dancap….exit stage left…

July 12 marks the last opening night for Dancap Productions…ending a five-year ride that saw great highlights as well as lows.  Once again the Toronto commercial theatre landscape has shrunk…which doesn’t bode well since healthy competition keeps everyone on their toes.  Theatre is one of those businesses that can see great success one day then bankruptcy the next.  It is a credit to Aubrey Dan that he hung in there this long….through some very tough times.

It was a pleasure working on Dancap’s first foray into the marketplace, Jersey Boys.  A terrific team was behind bringing this production to Toronto audiences and proved to be one of my career highlights.  Wishing Dan the best in whatever his next chapter is….and thanks for the memories.

Al Pacino returns to Broadway

This fall will see the return to Broadway by veteran actor Al Pacino in the 30th anniversary of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross.  In the 1992 film version Pacino played Ricky Roma, however in this incarnation he will play the role of Shelly Levene.  Previews begin October 16 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre with the opening scheduled for November 11.

Beatles Musical set for the fall

Jamie Hendry Productions, the producer of Legally Blonde the Musical, is one of the producers behind Let It Be, which is due to hit the Prince of Wales Theatre in London on September 14.  The premiere of this theatrical production will mark the 50th anniversary of the debut of the Beatles single Love Me Do which was released in Britain in October 1962. The engagement is limited to January 19, 2013 which means, if successful, it will probably appear in North America soon after.

War Horse extended in Toronto

As expected, no sooner did the stunning War Horse production open, the producer announced its stay at the Princess of Wales Theatre is extended until September 30.  Although I’ve only seen a dress rehearsal (seeing the show on April4)I knew it was going to be a hit with critics and audiences alike…and it is!  It is a stunning production…what theatre is all about.  Thrilled it’s sticking around…and who knows…maybe even beyond September 30th.

The Blue Dragon…Brilliant Theatre

I had the opportunity to see the current production of The Blue Dragon at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto recently…and what a delightful surprise.  Having no expectations entering the theatre the play transported the audience, as theatre should, to a land far away.  The clever set gave the feeling of more than three characters on stage throughout the almost two hour performance.  The creators Marie Michaud and Robert Lepage have delivered one of the finest theatrical experiences in recent memory.  The Blue Dragon continues until February 19th. Let’s hope this piece reaches beyond a Canadian audience.

Into The Woods…on the big screen

Following on the heals of the Jersey Boys movie announcement, we hear there is an adaptation of the 1987 Tony Award winning musical Into The Woods heading to the big screen.  This project will be directed by Rob Marshall, who has a track record for transitioning musical theatre pieces to film.  He is responsible for the films Nine and Chicago, which won the 2002 Oscar for best picture.

Jersey Boys…the Movie

In the works is the next stage to screen project.  Look for Jersey Boys to hit movie screens in the future.  The story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, which won the 2006 Tony Award for best musical, is in the hands of John Logan, writer of Martin Scorsese’s latest hit Hugo.  Frankie Valli has signed on to executive produce the film.

Shatner Goes to Broadway

Just when you thought there was nothing else on his to do list, Montreal-born actor William Shatner will be taking his one-man show to Broadway for a limited run in February.  Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It was tried out on Toronto audiences last November, resulting in the upcoming run at the Music Box Theatre in New York.   This will launch the 80 year old Shatner’s 15-week American tour….boldly going where many have gone before!

John Neville – Theatrical Legend

The recent death of theatre luminary, John Neville has left Canada’s stage dark.  The English theatre and film actor moved to Canada in 1972 to become the artistic director for Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, which was only the beginning of Neville’s Canadian theatre career.   His achievements as a leading Shakespearean actor with the Old Vic Company in England’s West End, during the 1950’s included roles in Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Richard IINeville performed with the greats: Richard Burton, Dame Judi Dench and Vanessa Redgrave.

His Canadian career included stints at Halifax’s Neptune Theatre, and most noticeably was his position in 1986 as artistic director of the Stratford Festival of Canada.  Neville’s first year at the Stratford Festival indicated adversity when the Festival was in financial trouble.  As a risk taker, Neville was known for putting three of Shakespeare’s lesser-known romances on the Festival’s main stage as well as introducing musicals to the stage, effectively saving the Stratford Festival from their economic woes.

Neville’s claim to fame was his title role in the 1988 film, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and in the 1990’s was the popular and recurring guest role as the “Well-Manicured Man” on the X-Files.

Neville was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2006 for his extensive work in Canadian theatre and drama.  After devoting his life to the development of live theatre, Neville’s talent and inspiration is admired for what he has accomplished in Canada’s theatrical industry.  Neville passed away recently at the age of 86.

By Kristen Black

Mary Poppins…Simply Magical!

I had the pleasure of attending the Toronto opening of Mary Poppins, the musical produced by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh…and what a night it was.  Right from the first note it was an enchanting ride with stellar performances by all characters especially Mary and Bert.  In the second act Bert has a gravity defying number that has to be seen to be believed.  It doesn’t matter what your age is…this is production delights and promises to deliver a magical night of theatre.  The show is only in town until January 8 and is playing at the Princess of Wales…