Category Archives: Theatre

“IN THE ROOM” tv show taping this Sunday featuring top Canadian talent

My friends at RDG Entertainment Inc. are taping another episode of their IN THE ROOM actors’ round-table series this Sunday at the Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto and I’m thrilled to learn that some of Canada’s most popular actors will be appearing.

RDG producers and show hosts, RAFAEL KALAMAT and JASON BARBECK (below, L-R) will be welcoming …..

photo 1 (5)…..the star of TV’s Lost Girl, KRIS HOLDEN-RIED (below) who was also one of my faves from The Tudors series and, of course, The Listener.

Kris HR KHR2Also on this week’s panel are Canadian stage & screen icon Art Hindle (Black Christmas, FaceOff, Murder She Wrote, ENG) – below…..

Art H Hindle

…..multi-award winning Shawn Doyle (below) of Endgame and countless Canadian television appearances (Rookie Blue, Covert Affairs & Reign)….

Shawn Doyle Shawn….recipient of this year’s ACTRA Award of Excellence Tantoo Cardinal (below) of Dances with Wolves (my personal fave performance of hers – she brought the heart and soul to the story) , Legends of the Fall, Blackstone

Tantoo dances….Total Recall’s Philip Moran (below)…

Philip….and young Zoe deGrand Maison (below) currently making a name for herself with appearances on Orphan Black, Murdoch Mysteries, Rook Blue and this year’s Bad Hair Day (TV movie).

NicoleI’m looking fwd to watching the taping and meeting these incredible ambassadors for the Canadian TV and film industry.  To learn more about In The Room and other RDG projects, please visit:  http://reeldealguys.com/  and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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SUNNY THOMPSON GIVES BRAVURA PERFORMANCE IN “MARILYN: FOREVER BLONDE”

Marilyn Forever Blonde - Sunny Thompson diamonds - photo by Howard PetrellaGentlemen may prefer blondes, but this blonde prefers Sunny Thompson and her re-imagining of the life of the legendary blonde bombshell in her one-woman show Marilyn: Forever Blonde that runs now thru Sunday Feb 15th at the equally beautiful Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge Street (just N. of Queen), Toronto.

The American singer/actress brings years of Monroe research to the stage with this theatrical tour de force that takes us from the bubbly ingenue Norma Jean up her ladder-climb to success and subsequent fall from grace that never gets maudlin or self-indulgent. I never caught Sunny acting – she WAS Marilyn. Thompson inhabited the character and took her time narrating Marilyn’s life story with a few wink-wink nudge-nudge moments when justifying the road Marilyn took to reach the top….detours and potholes and all.  She seduces us with tales of her many lovers, husbands and betrayers.

Marilyn Forever Blonde - Sunny Thompson blue robe -  photo by Howard PetrellaThe seamier side of her later life is not dwelt upon too harshly; yes, we “meet” Jack and Bobby Kennedy and a few other bad good guys, but as Marilyn drifts away from us on stage, the audience feels protective and carries her gently into Hollywood folk lore upon waves of applause.

The numerous costume changes were done modestly on stage behind a back-lit screen that teased us with Marilyn’s/Sunny’s gorgeous bod, and the dresses…oh those dresses…were dripping in “diamonds” and jewels that shimmered as she shimmied across the stage, speaking and singing in that breathy voice we remember so well.

sunnyThe two-act musical play, written & produced by Sunny’s husband, Greg Thompson, has toured the world for the past 7 years and I encourage you to grab your tickets a.s.a.p. for the 4-day run at the Winter Garden. The experience with leave you breathless…and humming the tunes that should bring back a few memories. Songs like My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Some Like it Hot, Let’s Make Love and of course, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, are all included, some sung a capella, others with recorded music, and even Ol’ Blue Eyes makes an audio appearance, too.

After the show, we attended a brief reception to celebrate opening night and I ran into some old friends, including the incomparable Micah Barnes (below with handsome actor/bartender David).

20150211_222900Sunny made it out of the dressing room and kindly signed autographs and posed for photos with her adoring fans (below), much like Marilyn did.

20150211_222953 20150211_223034 20150211_223048As we left, I took a few shots of the theatre itself…if you’ve never been to the Winter Garden, you can take a tour during the day – definitely worth a trip. And the theatre has a ghost, too. Wonder what she thought of Marilyn tonight?

20150211_223400 20150211_223448 20150211_223459Big thanks to Flip Publicity for the great seats for opening night. And finally, one more bravo and a big standing O to Sunny Thompson who you can follow via her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sunnythompsona

Sunny Thompson as Marilyn in Marilyn Forever Blonde - photo by Howard PetrellaStudio shots courtesy of Howard Petrella.

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COMEDY ACES BACK ON STAGE AT THE PILOT, YORKVILLE.

20150129_215343That Canadian Guy Glen Foster (above) brought his comedy pals back to The Pilot Tavern in Yorkville (Toronto) again tonight for the last show in his Comedy Aces series of stand-up showcases. This week’s show featured more of Canada’s greatest headliners and as special guest MC for the night, TV and Newstalk 1010 radio personality Mike Bullard!  Mike hit the ground running, chatting with a group of ladies in the front (below) who were ready for a really good show…

20150129_201435…before introducing the first act, Mark Walker (below) who regaled us with spot-on impressions including Sean Connery and Col. Klink (of Hogan’s Heroes) that was not lost on the predominantly 45+ audience.

20150129_202520Mike then intro’d a Canadian comedy legend who paved the way for so many comics now working the clubs. The one, the only…Mike MacDonald!

20150129_204103Mike (above) shared with the audience that it’s been a year (in March) since he received a new liver; the fact that the transplant took place on St. Patrick’s Day 2014 had the entire room raising a celebratory glass…oh the irony of it all!
Next up, another legend whom I had the honour of rep’ing along with Mike, Mike and Glen waaaay back in the 80’s – Mr. Kenny Robinson. Last year, Kenny was the recipient of the Phil Hartman Award at the annual Canadian Comedy Awards.

20150129_205344Mr. Bullard closed out the first half of the show amidst raucous applause, cheers and a quick rush to the bathroom for all of us who had been laughing so hard for the past hour we nearly pee’d ourselves!

20150129_212219 20150129_212157Opening the second half of the show was stand-up comic and tv writer extraordinaire, Lawrence Morgenstern, who was one of the writers from Mike’s TV show back in the 90’s. Lawrence is currently working on a number of new TV and web-based comedy projects but I hope he keeps up with his stand-up as he was f*cking hysterical.

20150129_212356 20150129_212421…and then it was time for That Canadian Guy himself, Glen Foster (below)20150129_214657So for the past 3 weeks, Glen brought some of the funniest comedy pro’s to The Pilot where the mainly “boomer” audiences finally got the entertainment they deserved…..that made them (us) laugh, giggle, and occasionally scream with delight (thank you for that one, Mike Bullard) and brought back memories of the last great era of stand-up that was the 1980’s.
My friend and fellow ex-comedy agent Leatrice Spevack and her husband Greg were there again tonight, along with other comedians in the audience like Simon Rakoff (who killed as MC last week) and Ronnie Edwards (pictured with Leatrice below)

20150129_224120Thanks for all the memories and laughter, Glen….we want more, lots more, please.

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Check out Glen’s website for news of the next series of Comedy Aces, hopefully coming soon. http://www.thatcanadianguy.com/ 

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THE KINGS OF CANADIAN COMEDY RULE YORKVILLE….AGAIN!

It’s been thirty years since I watched them on stage, thirty years since I booked them on tours around the country in to fancy theatres, colleges, bars and dives. But they’re still brilliant, hysterically funny and the crowd went wild…the boys are back in town!

20150122_223500L to R: Evan Carter, Glen Foster, Simon Cotter & Derek Edwards

Award-winning comedian, writer, TV performer and one-time ad man, Glen Foster, has rounded up several of his best and funniest mates to present a series of comedy concerts at The Pilot Tavern in Yorkville (Toronto), just 2 blocks from where the legendary Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret once stood in the 80’s (another bloody hi-rise condo now stands at 1280 Bay).  Tonight’s show (there’s one more next Thursday) had a dream line-up of headliners – a million dollar show – that had the capacity crowd laughing, clapping, banging their hands on the table in recognition of the observational jokes that hit their marks right between our collective funny bones. We were a room full of boomers – 50 & 60-somethings who had been living thru a comedy drought for the past decade or so…we wanted to laugh, needed to laugh but had no place to go to be amused. Tonight the Comedy Aces delivered!  First up, MC Simon Rakoff (below) whom I frequently booked throughout the 80’s as he was the most reliable host when it came to reading a crowd and delivering the laughs.

20150122_201100Simon http://simonrakoff.com/ immediately took control of the room, warming us up with his sizzling opening set then intro’d Simon Cotter (below)

20150122_202456 20150122_202511Apart from making a good living in the corporate comedy arena, Simon has toured the world performing in Europe, Africa, Asia (I’ve never heard of stand-up comedy clubs in India but apparently he was a big hit there…Black Hole of Calcutta, table for 2?), has won multiple awards and appeared on comedy specials in Canada, the US and the UK.  http://simoncotter.ca/

MC Simon then intro’d the brilliant Evan Carter (below). Evan and I go way back…I had booked him as the opening act for some of the biggest show biz legends including the one and only Marvin Gaye (on his Sexual Healing tour when it touched down in Toronto) http://www.evancarter.com/

20150122_203651 20150122_203658Evan rocked out with teenager/parental relationship jokes and although I’m not a parent, every single reference to teens and their attitudes he made brought me close to tears – I was laughing so hard along with every other person in the room. After Evan, Simon took the stage again…..

20150122_201105….to introduce another award-winning funny man, Derek Edwards (below). OMG…make it stop, Derek is just too f*cking funny, I need Depends. Help!!

20150122_204955 20150122_204959Back in the mid-80’s when I was first booking Derek as an opening act, I never knew who to pair him up with as he was so unique, it was hard to find anyone who could follow him…bravo, Derek, what a career. http://www.derekedwards.ca/

Quick intermission/bathroom break, thank goodness – we needed a time out from laughing…I know my ribs were hurting. Then back we came for David Merry, one of the funniest stand-up comic magicians you will ever see.

20150122_213429 20150122_213443Tonight David stuck to straight stand-up (with a few props) but his fast-paced timing kept us all on our toes as punchline after layered punchline flew off the stage. The multi-award winner currently appears on the new “Too Much Information” tv show.  http://www.davidmerry.com/index2.html

Now…drum roll please….Simon intro’d us to the big man, That Canadian Guy – Glen Foster.

20150122_214853 20150122_21485030 years ago this year, Glen quit his day job with a big time Mad Men-like ad agency and dedicated himself to full-time comedy writing and performing and we are all better for that decision! The audience went wild after his bee imitations (yes, bee – the buzzing kind) and his non-stop banter about adult ADD, OCD and other comedic afflictions had us all begging for mercy. I just couldn’t catch my breath from laughing so hard that I had to reach for my Ventolin inhaler more than once. I was simply….ROTFLMAO!

You MUST go to next Thursday’s show – Lawrence Morgenstern (below) who was in the audience tonight, will be joining Glen along with 3 or 4 other brilliant comics. 20150122_194734

For details of next week’s show and ticket info, visit Glen’s website: http://www.thatcanadianguy.com/

And see what you missed tonight…Glen fueling up earlier for his performance (below)

20150122_194750Crowds filling up the room (below)

20150122_195701And my dear friend and comedy colleague, Leatrice Spevack (below R), was in the audience with her husband Greg. Leatrice was Jim Carrey’s former manager who first took him to NYC and LA and busted down all the doors for the future comedy icon.

20150122_225639It was nice to laugh again to intelligent jokes by comedians who know how to write a punchline and seal it with another. Congrats to Glen and the boys for a fantastic night. See you there next week.

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CATCHING UP WITH THAT CANADIAN GUY – COMEDIAN GLEN FOSTER

glen_foster_banner_v1Back in the early 1980’s, I ran the day-to-day business for Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto, and quickly became the in-house agent for all the comedians, too, as we developed satellite clubs and cross-country tours. I’ve been privileged to witness the debut of some pretty talented local comics as well as play host to now legendary US comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Sandra Bernhardt, Steven Wright and the frighteningly brilliant Sam Kinison. The late, great Robin Williams dropped into the club shortly after Mork and Mindy finished, and he held the club ransom for laughs one night; we were all in tears from laughing so hard. He was manic and marvelous.

This was the golden era for Canadian comedy talent and I’m thrilled to say that one of the outstanding stand-ups from those days is still making people laugh…you may know him as That Canadian Guy…I know him as my  Glen/Glenda “twin” – Glen Foster.

Glen has a series of comedy shows – Comedy Aces – coming up at The Pilot Tavern on Cumberland St (between Yonge & Bay) in Toronto, so I thought I’d invite him to share some stories from the comedy trenches, and I’ll post some photos later from his live show (with special guests David Merry, Simon Rakoff, Evan Carter, Simon Cotter & Derek Edwards) this Thursday. Check Glen’s website (linked below) for dates/times.

aces

Glen, you’ve been performing since the early 1980’s – what first inspired you to get up on stage and where did you first perform?
Short answer?  I wanted to meet chicks but couldn’t play guitar!  Actually, I was always a comedy fan.  My dad was a pretty funny guy, very likable and always telling jokes. When I was a kid, we watched a lot of comedy on TV together like the old Bob Hope comedies. Then later, we enjoyed watching sitcoms like The Bob Newhart Show, The Carol Burnett Show (a big favorite of mine), I love Lucy.

How long did it take you to get from amateur night to headlining shows and where/how did you hone your skills?
Probably took me about 6 months to a year to reach feature status from amateur night, through working regular nights to weekend spots, then headlining.   It was a lot easier back then as there was way more stage time available and a lot fewer comics vying for spots.  I imagine at one point, I was probably doing about 8 to 10 shows a week in an actual club.  I just don’t think it’s possible to have that kind of experience or rapid career growth for comics these days.

head_hands_out_0093The 80’s is considered the golden era of stand-up comedy in Canada – who were your early stand-up heroes (Cdn and/or US) and did you ever open for the big headliners?
The first time I saw Mike MacDonald was about two weeks after doing comedy.  He did nearly two hours and closed with his signature air guitar bit. It was incredible.  I thought to myself, “What am I doing in this business”.  On the more famous side, my early heroes were Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart , Woody Allen and later Steve Martin and some of the SNL crew. There were also a lot of US comics I was exposed to at Yuk Yuk’s such as Steven Wright and Sam Kinison (pictured below)

Sam kWas it difficult to make an actual living as a comedian when you first started out or did you hold down a day job, too?
I was working in advertising as a copywriter. It wasn’t quite the Mad Men days, but it was a good job and I didn’t want to give it up. I finally did give it up when I went moved to LA in 1984 -85. This is actually my 30th year as a professional comic which I count as “thirty years without a day job”!

When you first started touring, who were your favourite comics to share a motel room with…and who weren’t?
I got to be a headliner pretty quick so I didn’t have to share very often at all.  I can’t even remember if I ever did.  I must have.  I know the names of a few people that I wouldn’t want to share a hotel with EVER, and a few people who had a reputation for doing very nasty, gross things to hotels and condos.  I never wanted to be the guy in the condo the week after they came through.  Sorry no names (wink)

Any “gigs from hell” you remember and care to talk about?
Some of the Western gigs could get pretty dicey.  There was a gig in a place called North Battleford, SK (if it has “Battle” in the name…..) and Fairview, AB was another hell hole.  The audience generally started drinking at noon for a show that started at 9:00pm. The hotel was so disgusting that I refused to stay there and got a room in a classier (safer) hotel at my own expense, so I probably ended up making nothing on the gig because of it.

glen-jfl-09You’ve been fortunate to have your own comedy specials as well as appearing on comedy festival broadcasts – any memorable moments you’d like to share?
My very first TV show was “An Evening at The Impov” (1982).  The host was Tony Curtis, yes, screen legend TONY CURTIS!  I was pretty green and went waaay over time with my set. Curtis came on stage and stood behind me with his hand on my shoulder while I finished.  I didn’t even realize that I f*cked up, in fact, I thought it was cool of him to do that…..Duuhh
I got to meet a number of people at the Just For Laughs festival over the years including John Candy (below), who was a really nice guy.  I was also introduced on stage at one JFL gala show by William Shatner (below). He called me back briefly to centre stage after my set and I got to shake his hand.  Craig Fergusson hosted the gala I did in 2008; I was really happy about my set that night because Fergusson was really funny, and you’d always rather have a real comic as MC rather than a non-comedy celebrity.

Candy ShatnerDo you currently contribute to tv or radio shows, either as a writer or performer?
I’m on with Jerry Agar on radio Newstalk 1010 for the “round table” every second Wednesday, and I’m also a contributor to TV’s Sun News Network a couple of times a week.

Your humour is considered relatively clean but with an edge – how do you describe your stand-up?
I guess it’s observational, usually topical and occasionally politically incorrect. It really bothers me that people seem to be so easily offended these days, so I try to push those buttons, but in a thought-provoking manner.

As you’re now one of the “elder statesmen” of the Canadian comedy scene, any advice for up and comers?
Stage time. Stage time. Stage time. You can take all the courses and read all the books, but it all comes down to stage time.  Get on as many stages, even crappy open mics where 98% of the audience is other comedians. And try not to be too scripted – comedy should not sound rehearsed, even though it usually is.

And do you still have any career aspirations or goals not yet achieved?
I keep saying that I would like to write a movie or a sitcom….hasn’t happened yet.  Other than that, I am pretty happy just doing stand up.  Of course, I would like to do more of it in bigger venues for more money, but that’s about it.

Will you have any “My Canada Includes…” t-shirts for sale at your Canadian Aces shows?
Yes I will. I actually did a reprint as part of my 30th anniversary.  I had to change the design slightly to include Nunavut, which did not exist when I did the original shirt.  So I guess this is “My Canada 2.0”

glen_foster-my_canada_t-shirtHow can people find out about your live shows & tours, tv or radio appearances?
I am the most findable guy in the world! I have two websites:
www.thatcanadianguy.com  and  www.comedyaces.com
My Twitter handles are: @fosterfunny  or  @comedyaces
My Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/That-Canadian-Guy-Glen-Foster/33438953821

16742So watch out for That Canadian Guy, coming to a comedy club near you!

 

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“CREAM OF COMEDY” CROWNS WINNER OF TIM SIMS COMEDY AWARD

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the annual “Cream of Comedy” showcase featuring nominees for the Tim Sims Award (presented by the Tim Sims Encouragement Fund & The Second City) and thanks to the comics and especially the brilliant MC, Jeff McEnery, my sides ache this morning from laughing so much.

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Founder and Director of the Tim Sims Encouragement Fund, Lindsay Leese, created the award and the annual showcase to honour her late husband and comic genius Tim Sims. Back in the early 80’s when I managed Yuk Yuk’s and its talent agency, Tim came to us one amateur night and quickly established himself as a wacky comedian – a real talent to be reckoned with. I remember booking him on his first paid gig and having to sit with him to assure him that he was indeed good enough to focus on comedy as a career. Tim never looked back. So it was with great pride that I sat in the darkened Second City theatre last night watching other relative newbies take the stage with confidence and determination.

20141027_195202MC for the night was the hilarious Jeff Mcenery (below), a comic I had not previously seen and my oh my, he had me at hello! LOL

20141027_220044This year’s nominees were: Sam Burns, Caitlin Langelier, sketch troupe Moist Theatre, Brendan Pinto and Jeremy Woocock and each act had the audiences laughing, giggle and…. considering all the people running out to the loo, peeing their pants!

20141027_223532A winner was finally announced and by all the loud applause and audience cheers, I’d say it was the popular choice – Cailtin Langelier. Damn that girl was funny!

20141027_223748Caitlin (above) thanked Lindsay and the judges for the $5,000 cheque and trophy, and then Lindsay thanked all those involved for their help and support throughout the years (below)

20141027_222339She then introduced show director Deanna Palazzo (below) who was kind enough to give me my ticket to the event. Deanna oversaw all aspects of the live show and she took the moment to thank all the behind-scenes people who helped make the night so special and smooth running.

20141027_222603After 19 years of managing the awards, Lindsay announced the reins were being handed over next year to the Humber School of Comedy and The Second City Training Centre to take the Awards into a grander arena and that this was the final “Cream of Comedy” showcase. Fortunately for us, next year there will be a big 20th anniversary showcase featuring past Award winners so mark your calendars now! Bravo, Lindsay, for all your hard work and dedication in maintaining Tim’s vision and passion for comedy.

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http://www.timsims.com

 

 

 

 

 

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CANADIAN COMEDY AWARDS – On-stage Acceptance Speeches, Tears and Cheers

My tireless PR colleague, Jennifer, managed to capture some of the on-stage Beaver acceptance speeches with her phone camera while tweeting out all the action on Sunday night. Please excuse the less than perfect picture quality but I’m sure you’ll enjoy reliving that special moment when a nominee becomes a winner!   Host Tom Green strode out to centre stage (below) to start the ball rolling….

2014-09-14 19.33.51-2…then on to the presentations.  Kayla Lorette wins for Best Female Performance in a Web Series, then Ron James accepted this year’s Dave Broadfoot Comedy Genius Award 

2014-09-14 19.58.53 2014-09-14 20.40.20-1An emotional and surprised Garry Rideout Jr. (below) accepts the Roger Abbott Award (shared with Kyra Williams of Yuk Yuk’s)

2014-09-14 20.31.37Then….Adam Cawley was crowned Best Improvisor

IMG_20140914_205819Best Sketch Troupe, Peter ‘n’ Chris (below)

IMG_20140914_210029The Sufferettes took home the Beaver for Best Improv Troupe

IMG_20140914_210436Best Comedic Play was won by Peter n’ Chris Explore Their Bodies

IMG_20140914_210605A happy but tearful Kayla Lorette was a 3-time winner, taking home Best Female Improvisor

IMG_20140914_211329Best Variety Act was Morro and Jasp

IMG_20140914_211832And DeAnne Smith was named Best Female Stand-Up

IMG_20140914_212813Chris Locke was named Best Male Stand-up

IMG_20140914_213233And the wonderfully witty Ken Hall was named Best Breakout Artist, much to the audience’s delight!

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Our sincere apologies for those we missed – the pictures were just too blurred or bright to post. But again, congrats to all the nominees, thanks to all the presenters, our host, the team of volunteers, Tim P. and everyone who helped create this fabulous fun-filled evening celebrating Canadian comedy talent.   http://www.canadiancomedy.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

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