REVIEW: Dan’s Inferno

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Our AD reviews Dan’s Inferno, playing now as part of the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival.

Till Next We Trod The Boards

You may have seen versions of Dante’s Inferno before, but I doubt you’ve seen one with a talking toilet, and while we’ve all seen plays about the regrets we have at the end of life, chances are you haven’t seen one as strangely funny and sincerely touching as Dan’s Inferno, playing now as part of the 2016 Toronto Fringe.

The show comes from the minds of Toronto’s Fratwurst comedy troupe, and features the talents of Eric Miinch (Fratwurst), Josh Murray (Fratwurst, Second City Education Company), Evan Arppe (Fratwurst, Host of The Watchllist on CHCH), Natalie Metcalfe (2 Humans, CBC-True Dating Stories), Lance Byrd (The Weaker Vessels), Peyton LeBarr, (Twelfe Night- Ale House Theatre) and Chris Murray (Chaisse Gallerie- Red One Collective). It’s a story about Dan (Miinch), a young man who wasted his life on Earth but finds purpose in what comes after. Sound typical? A bit. But the twisted collection of characters (trolls…

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REVIEW: Behold, The Barfly!

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Our AD reviews Behold, The Barfly! playing now as part of the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival.

Till Next We Trod The Boards

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If you’re looking for nudity, strobe lights and God himself, check out Spoon Vs Hammer’s Behold, The Barfly!playing now at the Monarch Tavern as part of the 2016 Toronto Fringe. Written and directed by the very funny Justin Haigh, this laugh-out-loud sketch show features the talents of Elizabeth Anacleto (Mark Purvis Award winner, Toronto Festival of Clowns), Jeff Hanson (Edmund, Storefront Theatre), Steve Hobbs (writer for Second City, CBC Punchline), Marsha Mason (Second City National Touring Company), Kevin MacPherson (Sex T-Rex, Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy), Eric Miinch (sketch troupe Fratwurst, Bygone Theatre’s Wait Until Dark), Ned Petrie (CBC Radio, Second City, Teletoon’s Night Sweats) and Sarah Thorpe (HereticLove Is A Poverty You Can Sell); with a cast like that you know you’re in for a good time.

I won’t describe any of the scenes as I…

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My Top 5, 2016 Toronto Fringe Picks

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Our Top 5 Toronto Fringe Picks! #Fringe2016

Till Next We Trod The Boards

Every year at the Fringe those of us in the theatre community get very excited & very overwhelmed; it’s a chance to see everyone (many describe it as “Christmas for actors”) but also a time when you try frantically to fit into your schedule all the shows you feel you “must” see. I know there’s already a lot of “must see” lists out there but, hell, why not throw one more into the mix? These are 5 that I know will rock because of the fantastic people involved.

Behold, The Barfly!

Where: Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton Street (Site Specific)

When: 
buy tickets  June 29th at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  June 30th at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 1st at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 2nd at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 3rd at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 5th at 7:00 PM
buy tickets  July 6th at 7:00 PM
buy…

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Performer Spotlight: Nicole Byblow

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Today’s performer spotlight is on one of our Retro Radio Hour regulars, Nicole Byblow. A trained singer and huge Judy Garland fan, Byblow is performing two songs that (while written in the 1910s) Judy performed in her early films.

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Gene Kelly & Judy Garland performing a Vaudeville routine in For Me And My Gal

Bio: Nicole Byblow is a graduate of the Berklee affiliate Selkirk College Contemporary Music and Technology program in Nelson, British Columbia. She works in Toronto as a pianist and singer.

Among her career highlights Nicole counts performing at the Juno Awards Industry Gala and recording and performing with Juno award winner Buck 65.

She is thrilled to have had the opportunities, through her involvement with Bygone Theatre, to perform her favourite music from the golden era of show business.

Want to catch Nicole Byblow onstage? Get your tickets online now – only 2 shows left!

Performer Spotlight: Anuka

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Early 20th century Americans (and Canadians) had a taste for the “exotic”, and so bellydancing was a popular act of the Vaudeville stage. While some performers were true bellydancers, hailing from the middle East and other foreign regions, many were simply flappers who realized the audience’s interest in revealing costumes and (at the time) scandalous dance moves. One of the most famous of the era was Margaretha Zelle, better known by her stage name, Mata Hari; she’s one to look up if you like scandal, mystery and intrigue.

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Mata Hari

As for our Vaudeville Revue, we are lucky to have the very talented, Anuka.

Anuka is a Toronto-based bellydancer. She performs as a soloist and is also the choreographer for her troupe Mirage, creating original dances every year for a variety of shows which have included the International Bellydance Conference of Canada, Ad Astra, Fan Expo, Steam on Queen, and her own productions (Moonlight Mirage in 2014, Twilight Mirage in 2011, Midnight Mirage in 2010 , and Winter Mirage in 2009). 

Tonight Anuka will perform Vintage Oriental Style bellydance. North America developed a unique style of bellydance which mixed influences from many different Middle Eastern countries and the dancers’ own creativity. This style, known as Vintage Oriental Stye or American Cabaret, includes movements drawn from variety of regional dances. The music was mix of popular and traditional melodies from different cultures, including Middle Eastern, Persian, Turkish, and Armenian songs. Some distinctive elements of a Vintage Oriental show are veil dances, floorwork, sword dances, and finger cymbals.

www.anukadance.net

Want to see Anuka onstage? Get your tickets to Vaudeville Revue today.

Performer Spotlight – Mullet the Clown

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While clown shows are a staple of Vaudeville, we haven’t seen anything quite like this before. Of course, what’s more Vaudevillian than that? Novelty acts found fame on the Vaudeville stage.

Bio: Jean-Paul Mullét was born in 1726, died in 1747, then washed up onshore 100 years later.

Now for over 16 years, Mullet has been a fixture of the Toronto comedy scene, making him one of this city’s oldest acts. In 2015, he was voted Toronto’s ‘Best Male Improviser’ in the NOW Magazine Readers’ Choice Poll.

Mullet appears regularly in the Toronto Festival of Clowns and Lunacy Cabaret, the longest running circus cabaret in Toronto. The tragicomedy Mullet’s Make-a-Play premiered in the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival to rave reviews. In 2012, he headlined at The People’s Improv Theatre in NYC to a packed house. Mullet’s Dinosaur Adventure, a family friendly and educational show, sold out at the 2013 Toronto International Circus Festival. From 2011 to 2016, he hosted the hit Mullet’s Night Show, a live comedy variety show done in the style of a late night television talk show. You can see Mullet next in his new play, Mullet’s Ghost Story, every night June 29-July 10 at the 2016 Toronto Fringe.

Television credits include Zoink’d (YTV), the Canadian Comedy Award winning This Movie Sucks (CHCH), and Ed & Red’s Night Party (CityTV/G4), where he was a regular guest star.

For more about Mullet, visit www.meMullet.com.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/meMullet
Twitter: @meMullet

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Toronto’s Top 10 Lost Vaudeville Theatres

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In planning for Vaudeville Revue we’ve learned a lot about Toronto’s former Vaudeville theatres that have disappeared over the years. Whether they were converted into something for a new use or demolished altogether, the are very few Vaudeville palaces still standing in our city today.

Here’s a look at some of the greats that have been lost over the past century.

1. Shea’s Hippodrome

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Shea’s Hippodrome – 440 Bay St., Toronto

When Shea’s Hippodrome opened in 1914 it was Vaudeville theatre in Canada was was quickly deemed one of the top 4 in North America. Sadly, this colossal beauty had a short life;  the Hippodrome was demolished in 1957. For an interesting story about its very unique and very expensive Wurlitzer Organ, check this out.


2. The Standard (The Strand, The Victory, Victory Burlesque)

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The Standard – Corner of Spadina & Dundas, Toronto

The Standard opened in 1921 as a Yiddish theatre and remained a centre of Toronto’s Jewish community until it was converted to a cinema in 1934 and renamed The Strand. In 1941 it was rebranded again, this time as The Victory, part of the Twentieth Century Theatre chain. In 1961 it became the Victory Burlesque, one of only 3 burlesque houses in the city. While the building still remains, the theatre closed its doors permanently in 1975.

3. Shea’s Victoria

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Shea’s Victoria – 83 Victoria St., Toronto

 

The Shea Brothers opened their second theatre, Shea’s Victoria, on the corner of Richmond and Victoria in 1910. This 1800 seat theatre included a projector so that films could be screened in addition to live theatre performances.

4. The Uptown

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The Uptown Theatre – Corner of Yonge & Bloor

Loew’s Uptown Theatre opened in 1920, a 3000 seat sister theatre to The Pantages (currently the Ed Mirvish Theatre). This one as well was created for both cinema and Vaudeville. In 2001, new regulations required the theatre to become wheelchair accessible, something that would have cost about $700 000. Despite community outcries, the theatre was demolished in 2003. Sadly, the ill-advised removal of a structural beam lead to its accidental collapse and resulted in the death of a 27 year old man.

5. The Belsize (Regent, Crest)

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The Belsize – 551 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto

The Belsize Theatre opened in 1927, another venue for theatre and film. Unlike many on this list, The Belsize didn’t turn from live theatre to film, but the other way around. In the 1950s the only theatre of note showing live theatre was The Royal Alexandra (who showed primarily American shows and tours) and many felt that a place was needed to showcase Canadian theatre. In 1953 the venue ceased showing films and was renovated and reopened as The Crest, a live theatre venue. In 1971 films began showing again and in 1988 it was again renovated and reopened, this time as The Regent, a movie theatre that still stands today.

6. The Runneymede

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The Runnymede – 2225 Bloor St. West, Toronto

The Runnymede Theatre opened in 1927 as an “atmospheric Vaudeville”house, the first of its kind in Toronto. The venue was meant to make you feel as though you were transported to somewhere magical and exotic; the ceiling was painted blue and bulbs were lit up like stars, silver and blue lights were projected to give the feeling of clouds. By 1999, the theatre was no longer profitable, even as a 2-screen cinema. The building was purchased by a Chapters Bookstore, and in the conversion they kept and maintained much of the interior. Today, it is the location of a Shoppers Drug Mart, and while it still features much of the original trim and interior facade, there’s something very sad looking about its current appearance.

7. Capitol Theatre

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The Capitol Theatre – 2492 Yonge St., Toronto

The Capitol opened in 1918 and showed Vaudeville acts and silent films. By 1933, the theatre was converted to show only films. The theatre closed its doors in 1998 and remained empty for several years, before finally being purchased, undergoing major renovations and reopening as The Capitol Event Theatre. While the seats were removed and a bar installed, much of the original ornate interior remains, much like it does at the Runnymede.

8. Academy Theatre

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The Academy – 1286 Bloor St. W, Toronto

The Academy opened in 1914, a smaller venue than most on the list with only 410 seats. It’s not known when exactly the theatre stopped showing Vaudeville acts, or when it stopped operating as a cinema, but it is likely to have occurred sometime after the 1960s. The venue still stands, though has not operated as a theatre in years.

9. Variety (Arcadian) Theatre

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The Arcadian (formerly Variety) Theatre – 8-10 Queen St. East

I have significantly less information on this theatre, but it housed in a building built in the late 1880s, and was likely built before the 1920s. In the late 1920s its name was changed to The Arcadian, and it seems that by the 30s it was a cinema and no longer live venue. The theatre closed in 1954 and for some time had a retail show that used the old sign. However, it has since been demolished.

10. Madison Theatre (The Midtown, The Capri, The Eden, Bloor Cinema, Hot Docs Cinema)

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The Madison Theatre – 506 Bloor St. W, Toronto

The Madison has had more renos and new names than most on this list. It originally opened in 1913, an early Picture Palace that also featured Vaudeville acts. In 1940 it was demolished and rebuilt as The Midtown, a cinema; all that remained of the original building were the two side walls. Movie attendance declined in the second half of the 20th century, and in the 1960s it was under the new management of the Famous Players chain and renamed the Capri. In 1973 it was again re-branded, this time as The Eden, and the theatre switched from playing mostly double-bills to a heavily censored “adult”films. Come 1979, Famous Players closed The Eden and re-opened it as The Bloor Cinema, now offering first-run, family-friendly entertainment. Soon the theatre introduced memberships and classic theatre runs, and eventually became a part of the Festival Theatre circuit. In the late 2000s the theatre had a bit of an uncertain future (read more here), but eventually it was bought, renovated, and re-opened as what it stands as today; The Hot Docs Cinema.

Think we missed some important former Vaudeville theatres? Tweet us your suggestions; @BygoneTheatre #VaudevilleRevue

Want to learn more about Toronto’s theatre history? Check out this amazing blog, where I sourced a lot of our material; Historic Toronto.

We may not have a Vaudeville house to perform in, but we’ll have historic acts on our stage and artifacts and more history like this in our lobby; join us for Vaudeville Revue, June 22-24th, Alumnae Theatre. Tickets on sale now.

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Vaudeville Revue – June 22-24, 2016

Performer Spotlight: Mentalist/Magician Leigh Beadon

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Another classic staple of the Vaudeville stage was the illusionist or magician. Harry Houdini, one of the greatest illusionists of all time, first gained attention as “Harry Handcuff Houdini” performing in the circuit. He became famous for his daring escape routines. Howard Thurston was another star of the stage, becoming the most famous magician of his time and travelling with an act so large it needed 8 train cars to transport it all. Alexander, also known as the Crystal Seer, was a renowned mentalist  who claimed to possess telepathy, and would read the mind’s of the audience members on stage. For our revue, we are lucky to have the talented Leigh Beadon, who, like Alexander, focuses primarily on mind reading and prediction.

Leigh Beadon is a mentalist and magician who performs live experiments in mindreading, prediction, suggestion and other impossibilities. Some people (wrongly) call him a psychic, and audiences at the Storefront Theatre where he performs monthly have branded him a witch. 

Want to see Leigh Beadon’s act? Get your tickets to Vaudeville Revue now, online.

Performer Spotlight – The Vintage Taps

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You can’t really have a Vaudeville show without some kind of tap routine. Hoofers have been a big part of Vaudeville since the early days, with notable performers like Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, The Nicholas Brothers and Eleanor Powell.
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Our revue features a jazzy trio of ladies; Trina Josdal, Amy Lintunen & Geneviève Fullerton. Check out their facebook page to see some of their past performances.
BIO: The sensational Vintage Taps will whisk you back to an era where chorus girls and swinging jazz beats were the trends on the streets.  Inspired by both Broadway and rhythm tap dancing, their fast feet and delightful personalities have been dazzling audiences worldwide.  These dynamic ladies have enjoyed tapping their way across numerous European countries, China, the United States and their beloved Canada.  Collectively, the Vintage Taps boast an impressive resume including productions of 42nd Street (producer – Mark Bramble), Hair, Cabaret, and Dancing Damsels with appearances at the Montreal Tap Festival, Pan Am Games, CP24 Breakfast Television, MTV Canada, PRIDE Toronto, and the Toronto Fringe Festival.  Vintage Taps will make you smile and leave you with a toe-tapping rhythm in your heart.

Friends of Vaudeville – HarbourKIDS Circus

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While prepping for our upcoming Vaudeville Revue we came across some similar events happening in TO in the upcoming months. First up is a great festival for families, the HarbourKIDS Circus, running from May 21-23 at the Harbourfront Centre.

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Keystone Theatre is featured in  A Bit of Business, a collection of comic shorts done in their signature silent film style. As a company that focuses on vintage & cinematic aesthetics ourselves, we think what Keystone does is pretty keen.

Another fun vintage-esq group is Spin Cycle, which you can see in the Sea to Sky Circus Show. Their blurb describes the acts as, “a unique combination of circus skills, infectious comedy and two-person variety routines the likes of which haven’t been seen since the golden age of vaudeville”, which certainly peaks our interest. More info can be found on their website.

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Vaudeville fans are sure to love a classic magic show, and it sounds like Magic With Mark Correia will fit that bill. Apparently his show “uses lots of audience involvement, along with mime, magic and mind-reading techniques” – sounds like a blast?

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And what’s the best thing about HarbourKIDS Circus? The whole event is free! Head on down to the Harbourfront Centre this Victoria Day weekend to get your kicks, and be sure to join us for Vaudeville Revue June 22-24th at the Alumnae Theatre. Tickets on sale now.