The Barber Will See You Now: Sweeney Todd The Musical arrives at The Lyric Theatre

“Step right up, Sir. Hop into the barber’s chair and lie back. Just a little off the top?”

Sweeney 2

We have all heard of the legend of Sweeney Todd; the demon barber of Fleet Street, London. And for those who have not…well…you’ll be his perfect customer then. You see, Mr Todd; he prizes himself with running a private and profitable business, and much to the delight of Belfast city, he has brought his livelihood inside the doors of the Lyric Theatre.

But who is Sweeney Todd? Well, some say he existed in the 1800s where he carried out a killing spree in the most gruesome of manners. Others, however, believe it is simply an urban legend to teach us a lesson in life. Nevertheless, we all can rest assured that the version of Sweeney Todd playing in Belfast right now, is not only an enjoyable experience but one that will have you telling all your friends and family about.

Sweeney Todd The Musical, tells the story of a gentleman known as Benjamin Barker. Loved by his wife Lucy and daughter Johanna, he seems to have everything…a family, a prospering career and respect within the community.

However, within the London hamlet which he lives, also resides a wealthy, ruthless and jealous man, known as Judge Turpin, who wants what Benjamin has and will do anything to steal it from him.

Unfortunately for Benjamin, Judge Turpin convicts him of a bogus charge, leading to his incarceration and deportation. Sadly his wife Lucy is preyed upon by Judge Turpin, and is brutalised by him in many ways. After her rejection, he throws Lucy onto the streets. Broken by her loss and the abuse, she supposedly poisons herself.

But what of Benjamin’s only child Johanna? She is taken into the Turpin household under the care of the Judge, but he has more selfish reasons for this. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Judge Turpin’s supposed generosity at taking Johanna in as a child, quickly changes to him pursuing her as his love interest and possible wife.

Cue the long overdue return of Benjamin Barker, to a city he once knew. Many things have changed…faces, businesses and his reputation. When he hears of the dreadful news regarding his wife and daughter, Benjamin sets out for revenge.

sweeney 3Adopting the new name of Sweeney Todd, he creates a new identity for himself in the town he once called home. His mission is to kill Judge Turpin and those involved for what they did to his family…but how?

Why, a barber is always needed…am I right? Setting up shop in the ruins of his old Barber Shop above Mrs Lovett’s Pie Shop, he sets out to use his business as a simple and effective way of getting his razor near enough their throats to carry out his terrible deed.

The only worry is, what of the bodies? However, Mrs Lovett, has that all covered. The only person to know Todd’s true identity, Mrs Lovett loves this troubled man, and will do anything for him. With a failing pie store and lack of meat based resources for the pie fillings, she concocts a plan to use the victims’ remains and bake them into pies.

Sweeney 1As you sit back and enjoy this show, you will laugh, gasp and cry throughout. Will Sweeney Todd succeed on his quest for vengeance, will Mrs Lovett’s customers find what truly is in their delicious pies, will Johanna escape the clutches of Judge Turpin and find true love… or will this murder spree be all in vain?

So what are you waiting for????

Get down to The Lyric Theatre, at 55 Ridgeway Street, Belfast, BT9 5FB (Stranmillis Embankment), and see this wonderful show for yourself.

Written by Christopher Bond, the musical thriller will also showcase memorable musical numbers, written by the legendary Stephen Sondheim. This show graced the stages of Broadway since 1979 and the West End since 1980 for many years now, and has proven to be the definition of theatrical excellence. So much that a film adaption of the classic was made in 2008 starring the talented Johnny Depp in the title role.

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Stephen Page will play the lead character Sweeney Todd, who will wow you all with his portrayal of this sinister, yet broken character. Bringing this dark comedy to the stage, will also be Julie Mullins in the role of Mrs Lovett, who is most notably known for her time on hit Australian show, Neighbours.

The entire cast are fantastic and are already entertaining audiences since February 2nd; making this a stage classic that is not to be missed.

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The show runs from 2nd February until 23rd February 2019, in the Lyric Theatre, with Tuesday to Saturday performances at 7:45pm, and added Sunday Matinees at 2:30pm.

Tickets range from £17 to £24.50, with concession prices of £12 for Students, Unemployed, Under 20’s and over 65’s.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the theatre box office, or online by clicking the link provided HERE.

Take a seat, relax and enjoy this phenomenal performance. Just make sure you don’t accidentally sit in the Barber seat folks. Sweeney Todd is waiting for you.


“There’s A New Family In Town”: The Addams Family arrives in Dundalk, just in time for the Halloween celebrations


addam family 1

“Wednesday’s at that age when a girl has only one thing on her mind?”


“No, Homicide.”

As dark as this famous Morticia Addams‘ quote is, the humour of this unusual, eccentric family unit has been a comedic hit since their debut in the 1930’s.

addams family movieIf you were to mention The Addams family to anyone today, your immediate memory is of the tall, striking beauty of the talented actress Angelica Huston, in her role as the loving yet unconventional matriarch, Morticia.

addams family sketchBut this peculiar family crept onto the the pages of the New Yorker newspaper as a cartoon sketch in 1938, through the artistic talents of cartoonist Charles Addams. His dark humour was an immediate hit, and everyone adored the creepy characters, simply because of their strange, unapologetic; yet comical attitudes.

Even though Charles created only about 24 sketches for this newspaper; the popularity of these characters soared and in 1964, The Addams Family television series was created, which finally gave names to the people in question. This remarkable family now included the romantic Gomez Addams and his wife Morticia, their gullable son Pugsley, their slightly psychotic daughter Wednesday, misunderstood uncle Fester, dangerously experimental Grandmama, monotone butler Lurch and their pet disembodied hand, named Thing.

addams family tv

But as mentioned before, I believe everyone remembers this family from the widely loved movies The Addams Family (1991) and The Addams Family Values (1993), which made household names out of Angelica Huston, who was the perfect actress to play Morticia, and of course the most memorable cast member, Wednesday, who was portrayed by the wonderful Christina Ricci.


From its debut on newspaper, to its adaptions for TV and film, these hilarious characters have continued to delight us time and time again.

So what more could we ask for? Why not a Musical?

So to all our delight; including my own, the musical adaption, which debuted on Broadway in 2010, and once again in the West End in 2016, is being revived by the Dundalk Musical Society and is set to fly onto the An Tain Theatre stage from Wednesday 10th OctoberSunday 14th October 2018.

And no better time to bring this show to life than the month of October; the season of ghosts, witches and everything that goes bump in the night.

With a brand new storyline never seen on TV or film, the musical adaption is a fresh, new take on a lifelong classic. Quoting Dundalk Musical Society:

Dundalk Musical Society bring America’s darkest family to life in this original musical about love, family, honesty and growing up. The Addams Family features an original story, and it is every father’s nightmare. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family, called Lucas Beineke; a man her parents have never met. And if that wasn’t upsetting enough, Wednesday confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. Now, Gomez Addams must do something he’s never done before – keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s ‘normal’ boyfriend and his parents.

From my own experience with shows produced by this talented crew, The Addams Family will surely deliver outstanding reviews and positive reactions, as the Dundalk Musical society never fail on giving us a show to remember.

CarolPlaying the role of Morticia will be the delightful actress Carol McCourt, whose acting skills, perfect vocal range and confident stage presence, will make it a night to remember.

I last saw Carol on stage strutting her stuff in a pair of thigh high purple boots, with a quick change into a Nun’s habit, as Delores VanCartier in Sister Act The Musical, back in 2015. Now she’s ditching the vestments for the all black wardrobe of the Addams family matriarch. Not a sequin in sight.

FB_IMG_1538148789678Plus, one of our most popular DMS alumni, Paudie Breen is playing her romantic counterpart and smooth talking husband, Gomez Addams. Paudie never fails in delivering the laughs and we are all looking forward to seeing him embrace this classic character.

Hannah Mullen, of course has a huge role to take on, as Wednesday Addams, who is the premise of the story itself, which I am sure she will live up to all expectations.  With big musical numbers such as the song “Pulled,” we will be excited to see Hannah raise the roof off the An Tain Theatre.

an tain 2Not only is the rest of the cast something to look forward to, but this theatrical society always pull out all the stops in creating a wonderful set for a show. Get ready to see the An Tain stage like you have never seen it before.


Plus…the musical numbers; written by Andrew Lippa for this production, are not only catchy, but through them you get to see each member of the Addams family from a whole new perspective.


This show is set to be a delight for the entire family, and for all generations.

an tainTickets are now on sale and can be purchased in person at the An Tain Theatre, Crowe Street, Dundalk.

You can also purchase your tickets online, by clicking HERE.

Ticket Prices for the Wednesday 10th debut are €12, and from Thursday 11th – Sunday 14th are priced at €16.

What better way to spend your weekend than enjoying this entertaining and memorable show. It is the perfect way to delight in the buildup of the Halloween Season.

So come on down to see The Addams Family. Don’t worry…they don’t bite…much.

Enjoy folks!!! xoxo

Little Gem (Alumnae Theatre, Toronto) February 15th-March 3rd 2018

imageOn Thursday evening, with the snow finally thawing around our feet, but a lingering crisp cold air silently threatening more to come, I made my way to the Alumnae Theatre on 70 Berkley Street, Toronto, for opening night of the Toronto Irish Players production of LITTLE GEM.

LITTLE GEM has been garnering awards and special recognition since its debut back in 2008, when it sailed onto the stage at the Dublin Fringe Festival; winning the award for Best New Writing. Within a year, it made its way “over the pond” to Edinburgh, where its popularity soared, winning the Best of Edinburgh Award at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Since then, the play written by Elaine Murphy has been travelling across the globe, entertaining audiences in major cities such as Dublin, Belfast, London, New York and Sydney, Australia.

But now it’s Toronto’s turn in bringing this popular show back to life. At the helm of this Irish stage show is director Cliona Kelly (Winner of Best Production at the ACT-CO Thea Awards) and producer Alan Hunt (Winner of Best Director & Best Drama: ACT-CO Awards, and Best Production: Acting Irish International Theatre Festival).

So lets get started. Little Gem tells the story of 3 generations of women in the same family, living in Dublin City Centre, Ireland. The comedy is presented to the viewers in monologue manner, where we get the chance to learn the deepest feelings, secrets and thoughts about what is not only going on in their lives, but their other female counterparts.

The three characters consist of grandmother Kay (played by Barbara Taylor), mother Lorraine (Rebecca De La Cour) and teenage granddaughter Amber (Billie Jean Shannon). As the play starts, we get to know each character intimately…Amber is a party-loving, wild child, who if not picking fights with the nearest girl who looks at her wrong, is devoting her time to waster boyfriend, Paul. Its not long before she gets some personal news that turns her life onto a whole new, unexpected path. Her mother Lorraine, who works in retail is stressed to the max in not only her job,  but at home also. When she is not agitated by careless customers, she is bringing her anger back home and taking her frustration out on her self created, rigorous cleaning schedule.  Unlucky in past relationships and picky in new ones, Lorraine craves some intimate attention, but remains afraid of being hurt (like she was by Amber’s estranged drug-addict father, Ray).

Grandmother Kay, on the other hand, is dealing with the events and side effects following her husband Gem’s stroke. With his psychological, social and physical impairments taking their toll, Kay is left wondering what is to become of their relationship, and whether they will ever recover what they lost.


Each woman is going through their own emotional turmoil, and we can see how each of them perceive each others dilemmas, when the separate monologues are performed. Despite their troublesome situations, you would be very surprised to hear that the play is indeed quite humorous.

Typical of the Dublin nature, the three of them do what they do best and bring humor to mask the struggles they are experiencing; with laugh out loud scenes and quite relatable situations.

With each scene, the audience becomes to love each character; flaws and all. The characters soon come to realize that the ones who will always be there for them is each other… but it wouldn’t be family unless there were several arguments along the path to that discovery.

In terms of the acting, the 3 ladies were outstanding. Used to seeing Barbara Taylor behind the scenes, it was great to see her up on stage, as she was the perfect person to play strong willed Kay; portraying her tough and soft side perfectly. She definitely brought the laughs, as it was hilarious and actually refreshing to see the ‘grandmother’ of the story discussing the physical aspect of her love life.

Billie Jean Shannon played teenage granddaughter Amber in such a realistic and believable manner. A native of Ireland’s capital herself, she truly brought authenticity to this Dublin set play. As a past Dublin university student myself, I could see several of my friends all rolled into the character of Amber, which brought me back to my carefree years.

As always, Rebeccca De La Cour did not disappoint in the role of Lorraine. I think I related to this character the most. Seeing her act out her frustration working in the retail environment, had everybody laughing, as we all have experienced this in one way or the other over our careers. This was the second production I had seen Rebecca perform in; the last being “The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down,” and once again, she delivered a fantastic performance.

Throughout the show, these three entertaining actors help us to appreciate the journey that their characters have travelled to overcome their problems. We see Kay come to understand that its OK to not be strong sometimes. A mother’s instinct; especially a grandmothers’, is to put everyone first before herself, but at what cost? We see Amber overcome her worst fears, only to see the beauty of healing from hurt, disappointment and loss. We finally get to see Lorraine believe in herself and be open to more of life’s gifts.

imageAll of this…plus a barrel full of laughs. The Irish humor, particularly the Dublin one, is in a league of its own. Just when you think the laughs are over, there is a smart one-liner thrown into the mix.

In terms of the technical delivery of the comedy, I thought the sound design by Dan Schaumann was well timed and effective in expanding the visual and audible experience.

However, if there was anything I needed to slightly critique, it was the set design. I always find that with shows which are monologue driven, it is important to stimulate the audience through other means, as the character interaction can be limited. I have seen photos of  different sets of this show around the world, and others seemed to showcase more elaborate set design. As this play is set mainly in the home of the three characters, it would have been interesting to see more set additions and props to create the surroundings of each scene.

However, regardless of this, the show was very enjoyable, funny and heart warming. It will make you laugh, cry and then laugh some more. It truly is a touching play that everyone can relate to.


If you would like to attend this comedy show at the Alumnae Theatre Toronto, tickets can be reserved by calling : 416-440-2888. Prices range from $23-$25 per ticket.

For online purchases, you can find all information by visiting

LITTLE GEM will be playing at the Alumnae Theatre from February 15th until March 3rd 2018.

I want to take the chance to wish the Toronto Irish Players, the cast and crew of Little Gem and the staff at Alumnae Theatre good luck for the rest of this run, and on future theatrical projects.

The Crucible: Hart House Theatre (Jan 19-Feb 3)


We’ve all heard the stories that surround the notorious Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693, whether that be through history books or novels, the media, the movies and even TV shows.

It is a story that has intrigued, shocked and undoubtedly baffled people for many centuries, and still to today we ask ourselves…how did this all take place, who was responsible, but most of all…was there any truth in the accusations?

It is a story that has fascinated me since I was a child…when other kids were reading books on their favorite sports star or thumbing through the typical teenage novella series, I had my head stuck in a book which surrounded the mystery of Salem and the accounts of what happened.

However, in many ways, the media has recognized everyone’s interest in this piece of history and run with it. Take shows like Sabrina The Teenage Witch, who unsurprisingly had a cat called Salem. How about the 1993 family classic Hocus Pocus, which starred Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson Sisters; hung at Salem in 1693, only to return 300 years later to wreak havoc on the town that wronged them?


Or the recent fan favorite that had everybody talking; WGN drama series SALEM, which introduced characters not widely known in Salem’s history, and developed the theory that maybe the accusers of Salem where actually the ones guilty of Witchcraft…and therefore not the accused.


So as you can see, even Hollywood loves re-telling this tale, as there are endless ways to approach this troublesome time in history.

Despite the entertainment of seeing these adaptions on screen, one looks for more…we look to experience the panic, and the events that followed for ourselves.

So therefore…go no further that the HART HOUSE THEATRE this January/February Season, as Arthur Miller’s famous play The Crucible will hit the stage; ready to re-open this chapter in history, right before your very eyes.

imageDirected by Michael Rubinstein, the play centres around the historical account of the the Salem Witch Trials, beginning with the discovery of several young girls and a slave, seemingly conjuring spirits within the woods. Rather than be accused and punished for such actions in a Puritan community, the girls begin to accuse others within Salem of the crime of Witchcraft. From here, the line between reality and illusion becomes blurred, allowing the accusers to take advantage of a town now drowning in panic. Love affairs, lies and friends becoming foes are only a few examples to what lies ahead.

The most wonderful thing about The Crucible is that, although it is a somewhat fictionalized account of these trials, it remains truthful to the characters involved and even shows us the scandals that they wished to remain hidden in their own lives.

imageNot only does the Hart House Theatre have a fantastic director on board to breathe life into this play, but a wonderful production team, including set designer Chris Penna, have many surprises in store, as they plan to recreate 17th century Salem on this Toronto stage. As a huge fan of Chris’ past projects like ground-breaking TV show The Strain, I am super excited to see what this artistic genius has planned for us. With both stunning visual and sound effects also in store, this show is sure to stand out among the many.

It goes without saying that this show boasts some of the best performers in Toronto, some new faces making their debut and some Hart House regulars, which adds something really special to the acting skills base.

The wonderful aspect of this play is that every single character gets their story told, which allows each actor/actress to shine in their parts. As a Salem Witch Trial fan, I must admit I will be looking out for my favorite historical characters and their portrayal. In particular, I look forward to the portrayal of MERCY LEWIS by actress Joanna Decc, as there is always a sense of mystery surrounding her actions during the trials.

If you too cannot wait to see this remarkable show, make sure to get down to The Hart House Theatre, Toronto from January 19th until February 3rd 2018.


Tickets can be purchased in person at the the theatre box office (located on lower level of Hart House), but to avoid disappointment, you can purchase them online by clicking HERE

The Run-time is approximately 2 hrs and 30 mins (including 1 intermission).

“A timeless play and a pivotal work, The Crucible is a tale of caution that warns of the deadly consequences when a society allows fear, suspicion and superstitious gossip to rule over facts and reason.”

This is a play that will not only entertain you, but inform you. Many of us have heard of the Salem Witch Trials, but remain unaware of those involved. Whether you are a history buff or not, there is one thing everyone can agree on from seeing this classic. The Crucible is more relevant in today’s society than ever before. It is a lesson that teaches us to not allow our own fear and lack of understanding to rule over common sense, and most of all, prevent the intentional spread of our own personal insecurities onto others for our own benefits.

Hope you all enjoy the show!!!!

New Business Brings Magic Back To Toronto

imageIt’s just a bunch of Hocus pocus.” We’ve all heard that line a million times over the years; being made famous by legend Bette Midler; in the role of Winifred Sanderson in hit classic Hocus Pocus.

This along with many other productions, may have brought the beauty, history & mystery of witchcraft magic to the big screen, but it was always out of our grasp…unable to touch it and experience it for oneself.

Until now…

Thanks to the hard work, creativity and dedication of The Coven Wolf, including magical duo and power couple Otto Wolf and Star Wolf, the brand new Hocus Pocus Witchery & Lounge has opened its doors in the bustling city of Toronto.


As a witchcraft/wiccan enthusiast my whole life, I couldn’t wait until this enchanting establishment opened its doors to the public…and on October 31st (what better day) I finally got my wish.

Entering the store, I was greeted kindly by the welcoming staff, who were more than happy to help me with all my questions and feed my curiosity. From the moment I entered, the one thing I was immediately blown away by was the authenticity of the store.

As my academic background was in nursing and healthcare, I have always been fascinated by the use of herbs for holistic purposes, but what intrigues me even more is their roots in the Wiccan Tradition. And without a doubt, Hocus Pocus Witchery does not disappoint with their collection of wonderful herbs for sale.


With loose dried herbs, essential oils and many other herbal products, I was spoiled for choice, as my magical mind went into overdrive. Another wonderful thing I noticed about this area of the store was how traditional it felt, and how it symbolized the importance of magic within nature. For my readers and future customers of Hocus Pocus, who are eco-conscious, I was happy to be informed by owner Star Wolf, that they only harvest a small percentage from the original plant, to allow it to continue producing the required herb.

As you move through the store, you are able to appreciate the layout of the Witchery, as it almost felt like it a magical timeline; experiencing the origins of Traditional Wicca at the front, to more modern elements of Witchcraft in other areas.

imageThe amazing products to choose from are endless. And the best thing is, you don’t necessarily have to have prior knowledge to find something that catches your eye. Fashionable clothing, stone, crystal & gem pendants, candles, incense sticks, sage smudges, magically infused mist sprays for all your needs, colorful mugs for all them coffee and tea addicts and a vast collection of books on the history of witchcraft and beginners spell casting…are only a small glimpse into everything that the store offers its visitors.

But the owners and staff of Hocus Pocus Witchery have not stopped there. When one lives in the hectic city that is Toronto, you aim to find a haven where you feel relaxed and hidden from the outside world; one where you can sit down, relax and take the opportunity to appreciate the interesting and peaceful surroundings.

imageWhat more could you ask for, I ask? Coffee, Tea or possibly a cocktail? Check…check and check!!! They have it all. With a fully furnished cafe lounge, and recently opened bar… this place is a MUST SEE for Torontonians and visitors alike.

Admit it, we’ve all want to experience having a Butter Beer in the world of Harry Potter, maybe even tasted some of  Sally’s (Sandra Bullock) witchcraft remedies from her apothecary in movie Practical Magic, or what about tasting the magical cocktails made by barmaid/witch Freya Beauchamp (played by Jenna Dewan Tatum) in hit TV Show, Witches of East End? With eye catching decor and fun atmosphere of this new bar and lounge, you don’t need to dream anymore.


Before leaving my new magical hideaway, I treated myself to a new read (Cunningham’s Book of Shadows), as well as a Citrine pendant and delicious Latte. What more could I want on a winter’s day? A eye-catching stone necklace, a hot beverage and a new page-turner for my collection.

Apart from being the largest spiritual store in the GTA and having wonderful array of products and services, the one thing I must highlight is how fantastic the staff are. They were super helpful with any questions I needed answering and so comfortable to chat to as I sat sipping my caffeine fix.

For anyone who has not heard or visited this fantastic new business yet, I would encourage you all to get down to 592 Queen Street West (Bathurst/Queen intersection) to see how amazing this gem of Toronto actually is.

Regardless of what background or spiritual path you are on, we all seek out a little magic in our lives. It’s what makes life that more beautiful. An inviting note written by the staff reads:

Hocus Pocus is a place where it does not matter what religion or spiritual path you follow.

We have created a space where there is no judgement. We understand that we are all on a path. We understand that all paths have mistakes, hurt, anger, fear, anxiety, every color of emotion. Our objective is to provide you the tools necessary to live a life filled with more of the higher emotions such as love, peace, understanding and patience.

We also believe that we are meant to be constantly learning and teaching. We have created an environment where we welcome questions and encourage that there are no rules only guidelines.

Spirituality is an individual journey, so different things will work for different people. We encourage everyone to visit and take in the clean, healing energy of our sacred space.

Contact details and business hours are as follows:

Hocus Pocus Witchery

592 Queen St. W.

Toronto, ON, Canada M6J 1E3

Tel: 416.703.0152


Opening Hours:

Sunday – Monday: 11am-8:00pm

Tuesday: 11am-8:00pm

Wednesday: 11am-8:00pm

Thursday: 11am-8:00pm

Friday: 11am-11:00pm

Saturday: 11am-11:00pm

I would like to take this moment in wishing The Coven Wolf, and the staff of Hocus Pocus the best of luck in the success of their new business. May it bring both you and the Toronto public much joy and happiness for the future to come.



Dreamgirls Hits Toronto, and its the HOT TICKET this fall

imageLast weekend, the glitz and glamour of the 1960’s hit the Lower Ossington Theatre’s main stage, and set it alight. When hair was higher, moves were smoother and the only way to make it in the entertainment industry was to fight tooth and nail, the Dreamettes hit the music scene.

For those who have been living under a rock for the past 30 years, Dreamgirls was and continues to be one of Broadway and the West End’s highest grossing shows of all time, delivering a memorable storyline, as well as a hot, soulful musical score.

Dreamgirls first hit Broadway in 1981, and was an instant hit with critics across the US. Starring broadway legends such as Jennifer Holliday, Loretta Devine and Sheryl Lee Ralph, it was simply impossible for the public to not fall in love with its debut.

And despite this musical being over 30 years old, its popularity just keeps growing. In 2006, Dreamworks and Paramount pictures produced the film version of the much loved show, starring queen of R&B Beyonce, as well as American Idol Superstar Jennifer Hudson.

And just when we thought it had hit its peak in global domination, the West End stage in London UK opened its doors in 2016 to the musical once more and continues to garner fantastic reviews for its lead actress… TV star and Glee alumni Amber Riley.

But regardless of whether you seen its debut in the 1980’s or in worldwide cinemas in 2006, the story has remained the same and continues to draw us in. It is a show that not only has a big heart, but shows how important it is to follow your dream, and never let anyone change you…because being successful means being yourself.

imageSo it was now time for Dreamgirls to hit the LOT Toronto stage, and I find myself trying to find the words to express how FABULOUS I found it to be. The show opens with our 3 main divas Effie (Krystle Chance)Deena (Maddy Eddy) and Lorrell (Alinka Angelova), hitting the stage for a talent competition, with Effie singing lead vocals. With an original song and killer moves, they shine like stars in front of the judges. Unfortunately, they do not win, but opportunity shows itself before the band lose faith.

Music mogul Marty (Richelle Tavernier) and opportunistic entrepreneur Curtis Taylor, convince the girls and Effie’s songwriter brother C.C (Julian Mignott) that the female trio should become R&B superstar Jimmy Early’s (Kyle Brown) backup singer…The Dreamettes. After much deliberation and arguments, the girls agree, but still maintain the hope to have a solo career themselves.

imageSoon we see eccentric Jimmy getting popular by the second, but The Dreamettes are all the public can speak of. However, when fame is concerned, the new manager Curtis puts popularity over obvious talent. He now reforms them as The Dreams, but his choice to put curvier lead singer Effie in the back and Deena up front, sends tensions through the once close friendship. Effie becomes temperamental and accusations start flying, leading to hurtful claims, threatening ultimatums and explosive exits. With replacement Dreamgirl, Michelle (Amanda Mattar) taking Effie’s place, what is to happen of our once leading lady?

As the years pass, we get to see the true story of Dreamgirls… a tale of success, dreams and love…and how they can all come and go in a blink of an eye. But from failure comes awareness and hope, and a way to not only redeem oneself, but to finally be the best version that you can be.


All in all, I cannot express how much I loved the show. It made me laugh and cry…all at the same time. The stage was spectacular as the LOT shows always are, thanks to the magic of set designer Michael Galloro and lighting designer Mikael Kangas. But it was the fashion and style that I truly fell in love with. The 1960’s was well known for its sparkly gowns and elegant presentation, and costume designer Erin Gerofsky without a doubt kept true to that fashion era.

The cast of Dreamgirls, I can truthfully say; with hand on heart, were the best and most talented cast I ever had the opportunity of seeing perform at the Lower Ossington Theatre. Not only were their vocals and harmonies on the money, but the energy they spread out across the audience was infectious. With every scene and musical number, I found myself wishing that I had been a 60’s child in Chicago, and if that wasn’t possible… I would settle for dancing and singing on the stage with this amazing cast myself.

For once, it is impossible to pick out the stars of the show, because each and every one of them was fantastic in every way. Maddy brought elegance to each performance, Alinka was the heart of the show, Amanda provided the crowd with flawless choreography, Julian brought soulful creativity, Bobby portrayed his character with authenticity and confidence and Richelle was perfect as the no-nonsense, tell it how it is, Marty.

But extra credit for the performances of Krystle Chance as leading lady Effie and Kyle Brown as smooth moving, sweet talking singer Jimmy Early must be given.

imageA voice such as Krystle’s is one that comes along once in a lifetime, and I found myself understanding why the LOT wanted her to play Effie White; a character that everybody in the world has come to love. Her voice is one of the best I have ever heard, and when I listened to her perform group numbers like Dreamgirls, and Move, as well as legendary solo songs (And I am telling youI’m Not Going and One Night Only, not only were the hairs on my arms standing up, but the people from their seats too. I actually cannot wait to see her performing again in future shows, as more people need to hear the name Krystle Chance.

Kyle Brown…what can I say? This guy brought the fun factor to the show as Jimmy, as well as the most energetic performances I have ever seen. Although keeping true to the original character, Kyle made the role his own, and made the audience crave more and more. I looked forward to every scene with Kyle in it, as his dialogue was hilarious throughout, but his choreography brought the house down. Performance numbers like Fake Your Way To The Top showed what a talent Kyle is in the entertainment and theatre industry. But for all potential theatre goers, his crowd pleasing performance of Jimmy’s Rap will have you wolf-whistling, dancing and booking future tickets to see it all over again.

If you don’t get down to see DREAMGIRLS before it ends its run, you will regret it later. This is a show to remember, and even a week later, I still cannot get the songs out of my head.

Performances are currently running and will continue to do so until NOVEMBER 19th 2017. Tickets can be purchased in person at the LOT box office at 100A Ossington Avenue, Toronto, or by online advance purchase, by clicking HERE.

“Enjoyable & Endearing:” On Golden Pond…The Review

imageAfter a brief hiatus from the theatre scene, it was great to finally get back into the run of things last weekend. When your life is a bit of a rollercoaster, it is both a joy and a release to escape into the world of fictitious live performance.

Friday evening approached and so did the long awaited opening night of On Golden Pond, performed by the Scarborough Players at Scarborough Village Theatre. As always, a buzz of excitement could be felt as the show attendees gathered in the theatre’s foyer.

For those, like myself, who were unfamiliar with this play, it was very interesting to finally find out what the whole story-line was about, and in the process, come to realize how popular it has been since its initial release. What with its debut onto Broadway in 1979, a 1981 movie adaption starring Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn & Jane Fonda, and a 20th Anniversary Live TV remake in 2001 starring Sound of Music power couple, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, I was eager to learn of the backstory to the show.

On Golden Pond, written by Ernest Thompson, is a play that centres around an elderly couple; Norman & Ethel Thayer. Each summer over the past 48 years of marriage, they have come to their holiday home in Maine beside a lake known as Golden Pond. Each year is the same: Ethel keeps herself busy exploring the wooded areas; picking wild berries and watching the birds on the lake, whilst Norman reads his books in the study; not making much effort to socialize. To make things even more challenging for his wife, Norman is not only a stubborn man, but a pessimistic one too. To Norman, each year at Golden Pond will be his last, and despite this poor attitude, his wife Ethel remains positive. But, in truth, she has to. Norman is already showing signs of memory loss and is already becoming unfamiliar with his surroundings, so her optimism is not only therapeutic but necessary for her husband.


But this summer is different. It’s Norman’s 80th Birthday and their daughter Chelsea is coming to visit them at the lakeside home. When she does, she brings her significant other, Billy Ray, along for the ride. Accompanying them is Billy Ray’s 13 year old son, Billy Ray Jnr.

From here, the story begins. Ethel asks Chelsea and Billy Ray if their son can stay with them for the rest of the summer, as they travel across Europe. Billy Ray Snr is delighted, but Chelsea remains reluctant, but eventually agrees. Chelsea had always a tricky relationship with her father growing up, and trying to imagine her stepson having an enjoyable time with her parents, is somewhat unimaginable.

The rest of the summer proves to be the most enjoyable the Thayers have ever had, as the young boy brings so much energy to their quiet lives and awakens the hibernating household. Along with this he awakens the inner child in Norman and brings him out of his reclusive shell with every day they spend together.

imageBut On Golden Pond is not all sunshine and buttercups. Although it acknowledges the happiness a child can bring to a family, it also examines the mistakes parents can be responsible for with their own kids, and ultimately how important it is for those to admit their faults and move on as one unit.


So now that you have the background to the story, without too many spoilers (I hope)…how did the Scarborough Players do with this classic?

Although the play was slow to begin, it quickly picked up its pace, once the Thayers had properly introduced themselves.

Chris Hardess played our lead Norman Thayer, and did so with both heart and character. He kept loyal to the original character description, by portraying his stubborn, pessimistic side very well. We all have a NORMAN in our lives…that one family member or friend…male or female…who is constantly complaining about something or someone, and has the most dismal outlook on life. But we love them regardless. Although Norman’s strong-willed attitude was over the top at times, it was a joy to see how Chris was able to believably become a new man, once the child arrived at the house.

Kathrine Tomlinson was a breath if fresh air to watch, as lovable wife Ethel Thayer. She brought warmth, emotion and genuine relatability to her character. She successfully portrayed the hard work that goes into being a wife and mother, by allowing the audience to see what we all know to be true….that you have to remain positive for the sake of your family, that have to encourage those you love to be the best they can be, and most of all; as a wife and mother, that one cannot take sides. All in all, Kathrine definitely was a highlight within the show.

Kerrie Lamb played daughter, Chelsea. Although we only get to see her for small scenes, I enjoyed watching her performance. She depicted very much what a lot of kids go through. When you grow up in a family where a parent does not take the time to know their child, or take an interest in their lives, it can be heart-breaking. It can be even harder, in this case, when she brings her new stepson to visit her parents, only to watch her father give the attention she always hoped for, to someone else. Kerrie was very convincing as Chelsea, as she effectively showed the audience how pain can travel with you, regardless of time passed.

Greg Nowlan played Billy Ray, bringing a fun, uplifting and warm personality to his performance. Like the part of Chelsea, we only see Billy Ray for small scenes, but in those, Greg depicted the strong, protective and caring nature of his character very well.

But the two stars of the show, who really stood out for me, were Will van der Zyl, who played Chelsea’s childhood sweetheart/mail man, Charlie Martin, and of course, Fraser Schaffer who played the child lead, Billy Ray Jnr. Both of these actors brought something different to the table. Will had the crowd laughing in every scene, as he delivered some very funny one-liners and the fact that his character was so innocent in his thoughts and actions, it made their delivery more effective.


However, young Fraser gave us all a delightful performance as the 13 year old Billy Ray Jnr. For such a young actor, it was refreshing to see how comfortable he was on stage in front of a big crowd. He depicted the impressionable nature of this child, as his character spent time with 80 year old Norman. His portrayal of this relationship was so easy to watch, as I loved seeing two generations coming together and teaching each other something they were unfamiliar with.


All in all, the performance was both enjoyable and endearing. It successfully gets across a message surrounding 3 things. Firstly, life is for living and be happy you get to do so. Secondly, people aren’t perfect, and we are all guilty of not being the best version of ourselves at times. And lastly, there are always second chances if we just open our hearts to giving and receiving the necessary forgiveness.


ON GOLDEN POND will be on stage on September 14th, 15th, 16th & 17th, as well as September 21st, 22nd & 23rd, at Scarborough Village Theatre, located at 3600 Kingston Road, Scarborough.

Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office in person, or can be purchased in advance online, by clicking HERE.

Just like our main characters Norman & Ethel, make sure you take a trip to Golden Pond also, before the summer is officially over.

*Production photos courtesy of Thomas Kowal*