Love You To Death: A Murder Mystery Cabaret

imageYesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a performance of Love You To Death: A Murder Mystery Cabaret created by the wonderfully talented folks of Small But Mighty Productions.

To be truthfully honest, this was the first ever cabaret that I attended in my history of theatre adventures. What’s the saying? You always remember your first time? Well after seeing this show hit the stage at Buddies In Bad a Times Theatre…one simple word…WAOW!!!!

Love You To Death premiered on October 27th to immediate rave reviews, which only excited me even more to attend. The news that this show would have you laughing from beginning to end, was perfectly accurate, and brought something new, bold, fun and joyful to the Toronto Theatre scene.

The show follows the tale of privileged, playboy millionaire Derek Van Hout and his six lovers. Married to his gracious and perfectly composed wife Kim, he is confronted by his 5 other lustful indiscretions and a surprise gathering ensues. Within moments of Derek trying to explain himself, and justify his scandalous behaviour, he drops dead.

What has happened? Poison! Who would have done such a horrible, inhuman thing? Well…just look around…six lovers…six lovers scorned…six lovers’ revenge….and now…six lovers desperate to prove their innocence. But what we know is true, is that the killer is in the room.

Without ruining the ending, I will simply say that, as dark as that description of the show may be, you will never see a performance that will make you cry with laughter, as much as this one. Through their theatrical expertise and natural flair for drama and comedy, Melly Magrath, Caitlin Turner & Victoria Dunsmore have collectively brought something to the public that is the perfect amount of drama, mystery and comedy, all in one.

imageBut what about the cast themselves? Bryan Kling played the role of millionaire Casanova and player, Derek Van Hout. He was outstanding in this role, as acted as smooth , entitled, confident and unapologetic as his character was meant to be.

But it was his wife and secret lovers that had me bent over laughing, as they each told the audience and the hilarious police officers Larry & Gerry (Milton Dover & Sarah McGowan) the story of how they met Derek; how he swept them off their feet and how he eventually betrayed them.

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Jacqueline Godbout was divine in her role as the trophy wife Kim. Jacqueline had the crowd laughing with her Little Miss Perfect ways, and the way she showed her disgust towards the other lovers was terrific. Her perfectly timed reactions and cheeky insults, had me giggling in the audience.

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In her dual role as both co-creator and actress, Caitlin Turner exuded confidence and passion in the role of Gilly. Not only is she fantastic in the creation process, but she just proved herself to be a master of many talents, through her performance.

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Lauren Mayer played Vanessa with every fibre of her being, bringing to life the risky, edgy and dangerous element in Derek’s cheating circle of lovers. Being already familiar with Lauren Mayer from my trips to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I still get blown away by the wonderful impact she has on the musical theatre scene.

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As time went by, we were introduced to Bianca, another perfectly composed character that truly rivalled Derek’s wife, Kim. Bianca was brought to life by the delightful, Rebecca Horvey, who not only has obvious choreography dance skills, but has a equally fabulous singing-voice to match.

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But much credit must be given to 2 people who won the crowd over, with their outrageous, dramatic, and downright loveable characters. Ali Hand played the lustful, immature, younger lover of our male protagonist, Carley. Her childish outbursts and dramatic reactions to her female competition was perfect in every way. Her character reminded me of a few of my friends, which made me warm to the role immediately.

imageNevertheless, it was Danik McAfee in his role as the sassy, outspoken male flight attendant and final surprise lover of Derek, who shone brightly on performance night. His role brought even more laughter, fun and comical moments to an already wonderful show.

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But what is a cabaret without the musical numbers? This did not disappoint in the slightest. With cleverly remastered and rearranged lyrics of classic songs known by all, this was what tied the show together and most of all, it is what allowed the cast to show us what they do best. With numbers such as Cell Block Tango, this had the audience swaying to every lyric of the famous showtune. There were moments that made me tear up, with Jacqueline Godbout’s haunting rendition of the emotional and meaningful, With You, and times when I laughed like a child to the sweet-revenge number, called What Did I Ever See In Him?  But we don’t truly get to hear the beauty of all their voices combined until the performance of the popular, I know him so well. Caitlin Turner and Ali Hand were ecstasy to the ears during this tune, and as each performer stepped in, their combined brilliance transformed the song and left me in awe.

So if you want a show that will lift your spirits, awaken your passions, and most of all keep you laughing….then Love You To Death is a show NOT TO BE MISSED.

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Tickets can be purchased online by clicking HERE.

With only 3 performances left at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street, Toronto), make sure to get your seats booked now. Remaining shows include a 2pm and 7:30pm performance on Sat Oct 29th, and a 7:30pm performance on Sunday Oct 30th.

With the response to and success of this show, I simply cannot wait to see what else Small But Mighty Productions have in store for us, in the near future.

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Announcement: Anastasia The Musical set to hit Broadway

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Calling all musical fans! What I am about to announce will surely blow your minds. Can you recall an animation from your childhood that you wish they would remake, revive or even do a musical version of it?

The 1960’s-1990’s were full of animated musical films, which we have all come to cherish and love. Beauty and the Beast, originally filmed in 1991, is set for a remake in 2017, The Jungle Book from 1967 was reminagined in May 2016 with incredible special effects, and more recently, the much loved Disney’s Aladdin just made its West End Debut in London.

But what of the children’s movies we dream about at night? What about the stories that meant so much to us…stories of hope, love, loss and the struggle to escape the darkness and become who you were meant to be?

Well today is the day I finally get to reveal to you all, that the 1997 Fox Animation Movie and children’s classic, Anastasia will step out onto the Broadway stage in Spring 2017. When I heard of this, my heart skipped a beat and I swam in the delight that my favourite childhood flick would transform into an even bigger passion of mine…a musical.

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For those who are not familiar with the backstory of Anastasia, it follows the early life, disappearance and re-discovery of the Princess Anastasia of Russia. During the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks killed 18 members of the Romanov Dynasty. But what ever happened to the Tsar’s youngest daughter, who was rumoured to have escaped from their clutches…her whereabouts and her legacy to be forever lost.

Through the magical writings of Terrance McNally, the expertise of Bil Taylor & Tom Kirdahy and the directorial excellence of Darko Tresnjak, the story of Anastasia’s escape is finally being told through the medium of musical theatre.

imageThe magical re-telling of this wonderful and mesmerising tale begins with Anya/Anastasia (played by the stunning Christy Altomare), an orphan left alone, after the destruction and terror of the revolution. Completely unaware of who she is and who her family was, she sets out to discover herself… A Journey To The Past, some may call it.

All she has in her possession is a necklace, given to her by someone she presumes once loved her…with the simple inscription, “Together in Paris.” So what is Anya to do? Why go to Paris of course? Wait, but how?

imageIn her attempt to gain exit tickets, she stumbles across 2 charming con-men, Dmitry and Vlad, who have been secretly holding auditions for impersonators of the Princess Anastasia. Their reason for such a thing? Their aim is to return the lost princess to her grandmother, the Dowager Empress Maria (Broadway star Mary Beth Peil) and collect the substantial reward. Whether or not these auditionees are indeed Anastasia, is of no concern to them…as long as she can play the part.

Nevertheless, whenever they get their first glimpse of Anya, they are struck with amazement at her similarities to the princess. With Anya’s lack of memories and wishes to belong to a family, paired with Dmitry (Derek Klena) and Vlad’s (John Bolton) money-making scheme, it seems like a match made in Heaven.

However, as the story develops, a little thing called love gets in the way. After flying to Paris in pursuit of both family and fortune, they get to meet the bubbly, exciting acquaintance of the Empress, Countess Lily (played by the delightful and crowd pleasing Caroline O’Connor).

As the collective belief grows, that Anya truly is Anastasia, so does Dmitry’s love for her, despite the tense, comical and stubborn relationship she has with him. However, as love blossoms and hopes of an imminent reunion on the horizon…something emerges from the darkness; threatening to destroy it all. Gleb, a general of the Bolsheviks; who now control Russia, hears whispers that Anastasia is still alive, and subsequently the belief that the Romanov Dynasty was finished is no longer true.

In a race against time, our brave trio rush to get to the Empress, before Anya’s intended fate eventually catches up with her. Exciting? Heart-warming? Beautiful? It is set to be all of these, and much, much more.

With original songs from the movie, such as the spirit-raising, “A Rumour in St. Petersburg,” to the uplifting and cheerful, “Learn To Do It,” fond memories will all come flooding back to you. Again with numbers such as the heart melting, “Journey To The Past,” and the most famous of all, “Once Upon A December,” this show will not disappoint.

With an extended musical score, written by Stephen Flaherty & Lynn Ahrens, this musical will prove to be the best movie-to-stage adaption that has ever hit Broadway. Already winning awards for Outstanding Production, Director, Lead Actress, Choreography, Costume, Lighting and Projection Design at the Conneticut Critics Circle Awards 2016, I predict that it won’t be long until this show is being performed to audiences all over the globe.

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I plan on getting my tickets as soon as I can, to see this spectacular show for myself. Have you got yours? If not…this is what you need to know:

Anastasia The Musical will be coming to the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway (235 W. 44th Street, New York City)

Previews begin March 23rd 2017, with the public opening night scheduled for April 24th 2017. Tickets start at $69 and can be purchased online via the official page, by clicking HERE

And if that’s not enough to curb your appetite until April 2017, have a look at the first official teaser trailer for the musical, by simply clicking HERE.

Until next time, my fairy followers:

The Entertainment Fairy xxx

Being Emily: LGBT Book Review

imageHave you ever wondered what it would be like to be born into a body that did not match who you really were? Imagine the emotions, feelings, fears and internal struggle that would live with you throughout your existence.

Many people would argue that no one is happy with the body they were born with; that there is always an aspect of their body that they’re unhappy with. However, what if that little issue was your gender? Your biological sex determines several things in life; be that from your upbringing, to society’s expectations of you, and from restrictions of fashion style to controlled barriers of emotion.

However, your gender identity is who you feel inside. Do you feel like a boy or girl, a man or woman? Hard concept to grasp? For many it is, for others it is not. A huge number of people in this vast world live their lives, growing up feeling that their assigned gender at birth does match with what and whom they feel inside. They feel that they have been dealt a difficult hand from the very beginning…and forces beyond their control prevent them from allowing themselves to be their true selves.

I have always been in search for a book that portrayed Transgenderism for what it is. NOT a phase, NOT a choice, NOT a fashion statement and most certainly NOT an abnormal mental condition. As a lover of all things fiction, I searched for a novel that would show the reader that being transgender is not a choice. It is simply a necessary & inevitable way of life that allows the particular person to find out who they truly are, embrace themselves with love and most of all, plan their lives from this moment on; through the acceptance and kindness of others.

imageAfter a long search, I was recommended to read a book that was published in 2012 by the author Rachel Gold, called BEING EMILY. The novel is written in memoir format, as if they are looking back on the journey they have come so far. “Being Emily” follows the story of Chris, a 17 year old boy living in Minnesota, USA. To everyone, Chris is a happy guy. He swims for his local swimming team, has many friends, has a girlfriend who adores him and a close-knit family.

What more could he want? Well that’s the trouble. Chris,deep down, knows he is not Chris. Ever since he was a child, he dreamt of growing up and transforming into the girl he always knew he was. For he always felt that he was a female trapped within a male body, and the person screaming to get out…was EMILY.

As I read, from one chapter to another, I could not help but well-up at the developments. When Chris finally accepts that 17 years is enough of playing a role that was not meant for him, he eventually brings Emily to life, by revealing his feelings to others.

The book is fantastic and one of the best I have ever read, as it documents Emily’s transition perfectly. From the moment she tells her girlfriend Claire that she is transgender, to finding a therapist & support network of people like her to feel loved and accepted. From when she meets Natalie, a pre-op trans girl her own age that welcomes her into the world of being a woman, to the inevitable moment that has been building up from Chapter 1…the disclosure of Emily to her parents.

The novel is perfectly constructed to detail Emily’s transition from male to female, as the first half of the book shows us the internal struggle she has with herself and her fears of telling others she no longer wants to be son and boyfriend that people have come to know her as. However, it is the second half of this masterpiece that had the biggest effect on me. After revealing Emily from behind the mask of Chris, the book then follows the loving support of those few individuals around her, but also the discrimination, the prejudice and the hurt caused from those who refuse to accept.

With the strain that her announcement puts on her relationship with her family, it only highlights to the reader the importance of finding a safe network during transition. At the end of the book, we get to find out what eventually happened to Emily…did she become the girl she always dreamt of, does her parents come to accept her no longer as their son, but daughter, and most importantly what is the message for those who feel the same way?

In a time where being transgender is slowly getting accepted more by others, it is important to look back on how far we have come as a society. Every day we are introduced to someone who identifies as transgender, whether they are just coming out, in transition or those who have completed their transformation. This is what makes me love this world, as it would be very boring if we were all the exact same. It’s what makes the world colourful, bright and ever-changing.

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Many media sources claim that “being transgender” has become popular or fashionable within western society today and ‘that’ is why there is this peak in numbers, in recent years. My opinion on this is that “being transgender” is not what has become popular, whereas “being acceptable” and “being human” has.

With transgender icons and role models such as Laverne Cox, an award winning actress for her role as Sophia in Orange is the new Black, to the stunning actress Candis Cayne who graces the screen in both TV drama and reality, we get to see their true talents and qualities shine.

Also, an important thing I got from the novel was that there is always someone out there to talk to. With transgender youtube royalty such as GiGi Gorgeous and Maya (@Transmermaidx), there is no limit on the information and support you can get from these people, with just a simple click or tweet. Whether it’s an online friend who is in the same boat as you, or even a social media site that allows like-minded people to spread their love and guidance…talking to someone is the first step.

Only through the love, acceptance and support of today’s world, can these beautiful people be able to escape from the confines of their former cocoon and emerge as the wonderful butterfly they were always destined to be.

Being Emily by Rachel Gold, can be purchased in any bookstore worldwide. Hard copies as well as kindle editions of this book are also available via Amazon online.

Happy reading everyone…and remember…in the worlds of the famous Oscar Wilde…

“Be yourself…everyone else is already taken.”

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“Suitcases” at Artscape Sandbox, Toronto: A Journey into the World of the Asylum

a12For years, if not over a decade I have had a deep fascination with the history of mental health and how it was treated or even approached in times gone by. Today we are more advanced in terms of treating mental health, compared to the era of these infamous lunatic asylums. However, looking back helps us to undoubtedly confirm how far we have actually come.

Through her creative genius, theatrical expertise and storytelling gifts, Creator and Director Rosanna Saracino, has brought one of the most talked about discoveries in the past 20 years, to life on the Toronto stage.

Therefore, let me set the scene for all my followers reading this. Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane opens its doors in 1869 in New York State. With the Era of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason to others, just beginning, Mental health institutions are still stuck in their old ways, which many dare not to question; either down to fear or lack of knowledge.

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Years passed and many individuals were admitted to this institution, with very few ever being discharged home. Many stories and articles have been written in the past about Willard Asylum, based on the treatment, the medical experiments, and the quality of life experienced by the residents of this 19th century hospital.

But what about the patients themselves? Who were they? What were they like? Did they even belong there? Many of the individuals who lived here were indeed suffering with mental illnesses, which in today’s world could be treated without hesitation, but there was without a doubt (like many other asylums of that era) a high number of people who were either victims of crimes or simply those who society deemed undesirable.

With very few hospital artefacts available and laws governing patient health records of that time, how would we ever find out who these unfortunates were.

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a13It was not until 1995 when Willard finally closed its doors, that an employee, Beverley Courtwright, stumbled across a find that would turn the asylum’s history upside down. Hidden away in a concealed upstairs attic was over 400 suitcases of patients who resided there between the years 1910 and 1960.
a4As the authorities opened each suitcases, it was revealed that each one contained the prize possessions of these people; from a simple photograph to a hairbrush, and from a family letter to prescriptions. It was through this find that historians could start piecing together, not only who their lives within these inescapable four walls, but the lives they had before they entered.

a11With such a compelling back story, how could creator Rosanna Saracino not jump at the chance to bring this story to life on stage. With the inspiration of the suitcases being unearthed in 1995, and her ambition to tell this story, Rosanna along with 21 wonderful cast members and crew, has created a play based on truth, with the use of fictional characters. This move not only allows the attendees to discover something interesting of those persecuted, but discover something about themselves in the process. Rosanna explains:

Suitcases examines “otherness” in our society, then and now. It is a love letter to anyone who has suffered in silence, and faced the consequences of stereotyping, judgement, social isolation, secrecy or fear. It is a tribute to anyone who has been persecuted for being different. And finally, it is an expression of how hauntingly turbulent our secret lives may be, but also, of the unexpected community which can emerge when individuals find their tribe.

As the cast and crew are planning to hit the stage from Nov 1st to Nov 8th 2016, The Entertainment Fairy decided to catch up with one of the lucky cast members, Tyler Burton, and ask him a few questions on what we should look forward to.

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How do you feel about performing in a play, which tells the story of the patients of the Willard Asylum? Is it a challenge? Does it intrigue you?

Tyler: When people hear that the inspiration behind suitcases is an insane asylum, I think the initial impression is that the show will be very dark and twisted. While moments of this show are very dark, I think what I’ve found most intriguing is exploring the “lighter” and more “humorous” sides to life in an asylum. Its a nice contrast to the stereotypical image of padded rooms and straight-jackets.

Did you do any research into this area, when you were given the role?

Tyler: I’ve been in constant research mode ever since I found out about the show. There are so many different areas to explore, that I find I can’t help myself but want to know everything about this topic. I’ve focused the majority of my research on different types of mental illness, as well as the affects of being kept in an asylum might have on any individual; afflicted or not.

Can you tell us anything about you character?

Tyler: The most interesting thing about this process is that our characters are being created and developed as we go. It is important to remember that our characters are not portrayals of real people. They have been created and devised, based on our impressions of what was found in the Willard Asylum Suitcases. For my character, however, I have been playing with the idea of a person who is intrigued by everything…Humans, nature, art, architecture. Although very in tune with his surroundings, he can be dangerously over-indulgent and obsessive.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the show?

Tyler: I’m hoping that the audience will leave the show with many questions. I want people to consider what makes a person “normal” and perhaps question their own sanity, after seeing this performance. The idea that this show is a “love letter to those wrangling with invisible monsters” is important. I hope people will connect with the characters; be it a scene, a monologue, a few lines, and know that no matter what monsters a person is fighting with, they’re never alone.

What’s next for you after “Suitcases?” Have you any further projects lined up?

Tyler: As of right now, I have no specific plans. I guess that’s the beauty of pursuing a career in the arts; you never really know what’s just around the corner. This is why I am so grateful to the cast and crew of Suitcases for giving me the opportunity to create.

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So there you have it folks, this new Toronto Production is set to please crowds this November.

I have my ticket already…HAVE YOU? If not, here is where you can get them.

To purchase tickets online, please click HERE.

Performances will be held from 1st November until 6th November at the Artscape Sandbox, located at 301 Adelaide Street West, Toronto. 

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I’m excited & I hope you all are too. Roll on November 1st. SEE YOU THERE!!!!

(Post-Run Review to follow)

Mary Poppins The Musical: Lower Ossington Theatre Review

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Weather warning, something is on the horizon. What’s that flying in over the CN Tower? Is it a bird, is it a plane…no its the nanny of all nannies, the umbrella wielding heroine of children’s literature…the wonder that is…Mary Poppins.

Last weekend, the lady made famous by the magic of Walt Disney, flew into Toronto under her signature umbrella, with her magical bottomless bag in her possession, ready to give the city a taste of her delightful  British etiquette.

Before the show began, I waited in the lobby anxiously trying to catch a glimpse of the cast of the timeless story I have come adore since early childhood. As we were called into the main theatre of The Lower Ossington Theatre, you could overhear adults whispering to each other with excitement and anticipation, about how much this show meant to them growing up. But to hear the children attending chat to each other about their expectations, honestly filled me with joy, as it just proved how a show created in 1964 still resonates with every age group today.

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As the lights went down, everyone held their breaths, as Bert (LOT regular Bryden Rutherford); the much-loved chimney sweep, with a heart of gold and a face full of soot, appeared on stage. As he sang the opening number Chim Chim Cheree, I could not help but feel the energy in the room rise. It never fails in being the perfect song to begin the classic musical, as it sets the scene, through its perfect narrative lyrics.

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As the stage transformed before my eyes, it simply left me speechless; which in my case, is not very often, indeed. The creative crew, set creators, costume & stage attendants all deserved a standing ovation for their efforts in creating the scenes that appeared before the audience’s eyes. From the black smoking chimney tops of industrialised London to the kitchen of the Bank’s Family, and from the Mrs Corry’s Talking Shop to the Children’s Nursery… I was blown away by how the set moulded itself from one scene to another within seconds.

But what about the main cast, I hear you ask? Where Mary’s employers exactly what I expected. Well, they were that and much more. Rachel Savlov, who played the eldest child Jane Banks was phenomenal in her role, as she had her character’s privileged characteristics down to a T. As for Liam McAlpine, who played her younger brother, Michael Banks, he never failed once in having the crowd laughing with his trickster antics and funny one-liners. I applauded both their stage professionalism and acting ability, which can be difficult to master at such a young age. Their singing ability was tremendous, as well as their energetic choreography, throughout each musical number.

But what about the heroine herself? Surely that is what you all want to know. Was she as magical as the movie? Did she live up to the character originally created by novelist P.L Travers. After seeing Julie Andrews take the role in the movie, Zizi Strallen dominating the UK’s West End, & Ashley Brown taking its Broadway run by storm…who was next to be passed the torch? Or umbrella in this case. Step forward KATE SUHR. A well known face on the Toronto theatre scene, Kate did not just play the worldwide loved nanny…but she became her in every sense; through every perfectly pronounced line, to her elegant choreographed movements, right down to the familiar graceful presence of our much-loved female protagonist.

With her history of playing leading ladies in recent roles such as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Maria in The Sound of Music, and Nancy in Oliver, this current role only proved to the audience even more, of how diversely talented this actress is.

And what better time to be given the role of Mary Poppins than now. What with the recent announcement of a Mary Poppins film sequel set for a 2018 release, directors should be taking a few pointers from the LOT’s leading lady, after this fabulous performance.

Although hard to chose from the entire show, my top 3 favourite musical number scenes were as follows:

“A Man Has Dreams” – It is a song that always pulls at my heartstrings, as it is a moment when father-figure George Banks (Thomas Davis) shows his vulnerable side in the stillness of the night. Like many fathers both in times gone past and today, they are made grow up and forget childish things, but lose the magic along the way.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – How could I not love this moment? It is the point in the show when every cast member shines equally. With its addictive, funny and a somewhat difficult to pronounce signature lyric, it is a delight to all. It is the moment when the eccentric Mrs Corry (played by the talented Chelsey MacLean), proprietor of the imaginary “Talking Shop,” assists Mary and Bert in helping the Bank’s children to finally believe in themselves.

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“A Spoonful of Sugar” – Another unforgettable number; this is when the magic explodes onto the stage. With the mesmerising magical wonders Mary Poppins performs in front of the audience, accompanied by these slick lyrics, it had everybody swaying and tapping their feet along the aisles.

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Much credit must be given to Saphire Demitro in he role as Mrs Brill, the housekeeper. Her over the top outbursts, perfectionist nature (that could rival Mary Poppins herself) and her insistence on doing things her way, had me in tears of laughter. I have seen Saphire play several roles before, and one thing is for sure…she fits perfectly into a role where her comedic personality can be let loose.

Also Adeen Ashton was astounding in her take on Miss Andrew, the nanny of nightmares…or as Jane and Michael know her as “The Holy Terror.” Adeen portrayed this zero tolerance, no-nonsense and strict nanny with such power and emotion, that even writer P.L Travers (who surprisingly preferred creating dark characters) would be proud off.

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Throughout the musical, there are several magical tricks that had both adults and children scratching their heads, with curiosity as to how they pulled it off. I sat there with my mouth wide open with surprise and excitement. I immediately remembered to close it quickly, in case Mary Poppins flew off the stage and told me “you are not a cod-fish.”

Mary Poppins The Musical  is one of the most enjoyable musicals I have attended at the Lower Ossington Theatre so far. This is not simply because of its Disney popularity and unquestionable popular tunes, but because of the message of the play. I highlights the importance of family, the need for magical moments in times of darkness, and to maintain the hopeful belief; in the words of Mary Poppins… that “Anything Can Happen If You Let It.”

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MARY POPPINS: THE MUSICAL will be performed at THE LOWER OSSINGTON THEATRE until NOVEMBER 20th 2016.

Performances are from Thursday to Sunday at 7:30pm, with matinee shows at 3:30pm on Saturday and Sunday also.

Tickets can be purchased online by clicking HERE or can be purchased at the theatre box office at 100A Ossington Avenue.

For those who wish to experience the Magic of Mary Poppins and save 40% on ticket prices…simply apply the code MAGIC40 when purchasing tickets online.

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Hope you enjoy the show, my little fairy followers. xxx

Junie B. Jones: The Musical… A delight for kids of all ages

j8On Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending a performance of Junie B. Jones: The Musical at the Lower Ossington Theatre (LOT) in Toronto. Who’s Junie B. Jones, I hear you ask? Do not worry. I was asking myself the same question, as I waited in the visitor’s area of the theatre.

For those like myself, who are unfamiliar with the title character, Junie B. Jones is the main female protagonist in a series of children’s books, written by the much loved, late author Barbara Park. The books were individually released between the years of 1993 and 2002, and became extremely popular in both Canada and the US. After noticing how successful the series became, Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich joined forces to finally bring Junie to life on the stage, in the form of a family-friendly musical…now shown across the states. This time around, it was the Lower Ossington Theatre’s turn to give their take on the story.

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As the lights dimmed in the theatre, we were introduced to Junie, who is about to start her first day of First Grade. With her outspoken, energetic and hyperactive personality, Junie is not only excited about this new adventure, but a bit apprehensive also. What is going to happen? Would it be different from kindergarten and will she make new friends? All these tiny worries of a typical 6 year old may seem minuscule in the eyes of an adult, but to Junie they are so much more, with a little extra drama of course.j1

With her 4 friends Lucille, May, Sheldon and Herbert by her side, her secret diary always in her hand (known as her Top-Secret-Personal-Beeswax Journal) and her signature purple glasses, nothing can get in Junie’s way. Or can it?

The musical, as well as the books are a delight to all, but especially for children. The entire musical is a learning adventure for kids; full of fun and laughter, but most of all, it contains important life lessons for both children and adults.

Through the catchy, creative songs and the talents of the cast, led by the very talented Jessica Harb (Junie), the importance of self expression, reading and writing, the power of friendship and the need to search for the silver lining in every dark cloud, are conveyed to the audience throughout.

The entire cast were phenomenal, but what more can you expect from the performers of the LOTJessica Harb was the perfect candidate to play the main role, as she portrayed Junie’s sassy, excitable and sometimes awkward character perfectly. Seanna Kennedy perfected the role of May with humour and wit, whereas Hannah Ehman was adorable as the Queen Bee of first grade, Lucille. Taylor Lavigne and Chris Vergara brought excitement and energy, as well as fun to the kids, in their roles of Sheldon and Herbert. But it was Mark Willett, who had us all laughing in the role of Gladys Gutzman, the lunch lady.

Although I am not a child myself, I enjoyed every scene on stage. As an avid reader in both my childhood and adult life, I admired how well the cast and creative team adapted this well known piece of literature, into a fresh, new addition to the musical scene.j2

Opening songs such as Top-Secret Personal Beeswax had me and other attendees tapping our feet, whereas numbers like Gladys Gutzman and Lucille, Camille, Chenille, had each child giggling. As much as the show is intended for kids, as adults, we can take something from it also.The song When Life Gives You Lemons is meaningful to all ages, and tells us to always look on the bright-side, and if something is not working, change it.

The joy of musical theatre is that it brings you to a world that you can be yourself. Junie B. Jones: The Musical teaches kids that it is imperative to embrace your talents and be the best you can be. As I walked out when the curtain came down, I overheard several children beg their parents and guardians to get them a Junie B. Jones book from Toronto Public Library, as soon as they could. If a simple musical can encourage a child to pick up a book and read, then I can think of no better reason to bring your child or younger sibling to see this show.

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If you wish to attend this musical before it ends on October 30th 2016, tickets can be purchased online by clicking HERE or can be got in the theatre box office at 100A Ossington Avenue. The final  4 performances are as follows:

Saturday October 22nd: 11am and 1pm

Sunday October 23rd: 11am and 1pm

Saturday October 29th: 11am and 1pm

Sunday October 30th: 11am and 1pm

I hope you all enjoy.

Every Parent’s Fear…Every Captive’s Nightmare: “Thirteen” TV Series Review

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For parents of children of any age, their minds are always in overdrive 24/7. Their subconscious plays out scenarios every day, if certain events were to occur that would put their loved ones in danger. These worries are created not only by the natural need for parents to protect their young, but mostly due to an understandable fear that something or someone terrible may put them in danger, which they have no control over.

We are surrounded by images, newspaper articles and TV reports each year of missing children, whom were happily living their lives, until they disappeareed without a trace. We see the headlines… Search Continues…Still No Leads…They Simply Vanished…Where Were The Parents?…and we get sucked in. We sometimes forget how the lives of those involved are affected and our blame relies on media coverage.

Names like Elisabeth Fritzl, Jaycee Lee Dugard, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus remind us of cases were victims have escaped from the clutches of their captors…and then there are those who are never seen again. We find us silently asking ourselves…WHO WAS TO BLAME? Did the victim go willingly with their kidnapper, were they even a stranger, could the parents have prevented this disappearance, did the family & neighbours of the criminal have any knowledge of what was happening and most of all, how ever did they escape after such a prolonged period of captivity.

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This is where I introduce you to the fantastic five part BBC TV series THIRTEEN. If this genre of TV drama intrigues you and you are looking for a show that will make you look at a child’s disappearance from both a parent and a investigators point of view…then this series is what you have been waiting for.

Click HERE to watch the teaser trailer of the TV series.

Thirteen, a British TV drama, written by Marnie Dickens, is set in Bristol and centres around the fictional character of IVY MOXAM, played by amazingly talented, Liverpool actress Jodie Comer. The story opens up, showing a girl escaping from captivity after being held prisoner for 13 years in the basement of a terraced house, in a built up residential area. As soon as she breathes in the fresh air of freedom, she panics and sets off in search for help. Frightened, unaware of her surroundings and desperate to get home, she finally discovers a telephone box and dials 999. The distress call is answered and Ivy, now 26 years old, explains to the operator how she was abducted from her small village after skipping school at the age of 13. She was held as a prisoner by this unknown attacker for 13 years, and has only now got the opportunity to escape and inform the authorities.

Now, to not risk ruining the fantastic series that it is…all that I will tell you is this. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED. Jodie Comer plays the character of Ivy with such emotion, skill and raw passion that you cannot help but be drawn in by her in every scene. She is perfect in helping the viewers to see the pain and fear she has for everything that has happened to her. But she is exceptional when showing us the secretive and elusive side to her character.

However, much credit must be also given to Valene Kane, who plays the character of D.S Lisa Merchant, who along with her police partner is set the task of finding Ivy’s on-the-run kidnappper, but also the job of delving into the thirteen years of Ivy’s life that nobody knows anything about. Valene Kane, who actually hales from my home city of Newry, County Down in Ireland, plays her role with such power, strength and determination. Throughout the show you are cheering her on in her pursuit of Ivy’s abductor, and is phenomenal with her no-nonsense attitude in questioning Ivy’s ever-confusing stories of her life in the basement.

For people, like myself, who find crime shows and documentaries fascinating, this series has it all. It is perfect in showing the viewers how a child’s disappearance paints everybody as criminals; the closest relatives first. It portrays how relationships may break down and become irreparable as a result of these terrible occurrences. But the reason why I loved this show as much as I did, was because it did not focus entirely on the criminals psyche, like many shows do. It delves into areas that other kidnap shows shy away from, such as what happened during their captivity, what circumstances led to the victim finally being able to escape, what is the victim not revealing to the authorities and how can we unveil those hidden details before it is too late, and another child is abducted.

If you want to check out this show for yourself, and enjoy it as much as I have done, you can watch it online via the BBC iPlayer by clicking HERE.

You can also purchase the series box-set online, if you are looking for that certain birthday present, an upcoming Christmas gift or even something to treat yourself to on these cold autumn evenings.

If you are from Ireland or the UK, you can purchase the DVD by clicking HERE.

If you are from Canada or the US, you can purchase the DVD by clicking HERE.

imageAs a final note, Jodie Comer and Valene Kane, are the cream of the crop among the actresses of our times. Jodie can be also seen as Chloe Gemell in My Mad Fat Diary, and is soon to be the lead character of Elizabeth of York, Queen of England in the adaption of Philippa Gregory’s novel The White Princess.

imageValene on the other hand can be seen as the character Rose Stagg on the ever popular suspense series The Fall. She is also set to hit international stardom when she steps out in December 2016 as the character Lyra Erso, in the new Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.