I’m a firm believer that everyone has seen Grease at least once, or at least know one of the catchy songs from the 1978 classic. I mean, how many times have you heard a group belt out Summer Nights at a karaoke bar or have the popular Grease melody fill the dance floor at a wedding?
It’s one of those movies that stand the test of time! I was thrilled to become a Grease ambassador for the musical making its way into Toronto. I was booked to see it on one of the early opening nights and soon found out a few other friends of mine snagged seats too! (Great minds think alike!) We booked a table a restaurant nearby to catch up before the show.
I talked about how I used to watch this movie until the film strip on the VHS tape almost blurred. I would have dance parties with my friends in the basement. I longed to be a Pink Lady and loved how Rizzo didn’t take crap from anybody (but had a secret soft side!).
The thing I love about this musical is not only the perfect setting because how gorgeous is the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre!? (if you want to have some extra fun, be sure to come by early and enjoy the mini fairground set up by the merch table and bar area! What a great touch!) but just how much fun the audience had. I could see couples,mother and daughter dates and girl squads singing along in their seats.
Do you like live theatre? Ridiculous zombie movies? How about a mix of both? That’s exactly what The Secret Sessions brings to the table with their Movie Experiences.
Their most recent experience is based on the Shaun of the Dead movie (One of my personal zombie favourites!). They’ve transformed the Monarch Tavern into the Winchester Pub from the 2004 comedy horror flick. They have main characters from the movie walk around the pub to interact with some audience member before the show starts. I believe they were well cast; a lot of them really resembled the characters from the movie. Unfortunately for us, zombies were a part of that cast as well and soon, my buddy Chris and I were ‘bitten’.
Let me start off by saying The Little Mermaid is my all time favourite Disney movie. I know the words to all the songs, I could recite it line by line and to me, it’s almost sacred! Having said that, I was more than a little exited to see the Lower Ossington Theatres (LOT) production of it! This was the first time that I saw a play from the LOT play at the Randolph Theatre. It’s a lot bigger than the stages at the Ossington location and used for the bigger production plays. It used to be a church so our seats in the balcony were actually pews (surprisingly comfortable).
Keep in mind, the LOT doesn’t have a Mirvish budget, but I almost always walk away from one of their productions impressed and I always really enjoy seeing their new plays.
The Little Mermaid play closed on Broadway in 2009 and I was pretty sad that I didn’t get the chance to see it. The original production underperformed and didn’t last too long, and to be honest after seeing the play, I can see why. There were some inconsistencies & its generally tough trying to portray half of the characters being ‘underwater’ (some main underwater characters used roller skate sneakers to create the illusion of floating and gliding). Things that I enjoyed about the play were new songs, ‘I Want The Goods Times Back’ which gives a little more backstory between Ursula & King Triton & ‘Positoovity’ performed by Scuttle and his pals.
The classic musical numbers ‘Under the Sea’ & ‘Kiss the Girl’ were well done& a joy to watch. The costumes were adorable & creative. My friend & I were particularly fond of the giant snail.
The play is cutesy and definitely made for children, so know this before making your purchase. I knew this going into it but as a 30 year old woman, still enjoyed it. My friend & I actually ended up coincidentally whispering “Yaaaay” together when the lights went down to start the second half of the play.
Ariel is played by Kate Suhr and is a true professional. She’s no stranger to playing leads; in fact, I recently saw her playing the role of Mary Poppins at the LOT as well. Her voice sounded a lot like the Ariel from the movies and she’s a great singer, so that was a lot of fun. The kids in the audience were really excited to see her and kept waving or squealing whenever she floated out onto the stage.
Who really ended up stealing the show was Ursula played by Saphire Demitro. Saying she was fantastic would be an understatement. She was excellent at playing the villain, and her voice is absolutely incredible. I felt that she was so good that she was almost out of place in this play. I feel like she is on her way to something big and wonderful and is definitely one to watch!
During the play there was an unexpected issue with the sound and the background music suddenly stopped. During the awkward pause where Sebastian the crab (played by Harold Lumilan) was due to sing a solo to Ariel, he decided to sing acapella after a prolonged period of silence. I feel like he couldn’t have done it any better. The audience appreciated it too, and he was met with applause. The delay lasted about 2 minutes. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only sound issue I’ve experience at a LOT production. I sometimes find that the character’s mic’s aren’t loud enough or the microphones aren’t turned on in time for them to read a line and the first few words are quiet. It’s the only complaint I have about the LOT and really enjoy their plays otherwise.
All in all, I had fun with all the nostalgia. If you have children who enjoy Disney productions, I would recommend LOT’s The Little Mermaid as a family night out. I do believe the production is coming to a close, but this is the second year in a row they have done the play, so I’m sure it will be back at The Randolph soon. If you can’t make it in time for closing, Mary Poppins is still playing at the LOT’s Ossington location. For ticket information visit www.lowerossingtontheatre.com or keep an eye out on Groupon, as I’ve seen tickets pop up from time to time. Also, I suggest signing up for the LOT’s e-mail newsletter, as I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails with specials or promo codes.
Until next event!
Comes From the Heart
As a Mirvish subscriber, I was very excited that ‘Come From Away’ was included in my package this year. It’s the unbelievable true story about a small town called Gander in Newfoundland whose population doubled practically overnight when 38 planes had to land in their airport on September 11th when US airspace was closed.
The townspeople of Gander housed and fed thousands of stranded, stressed and scared passengers.
I walked into the Royal Alexandra Theatre wondering how what I thought of as a somber story could become a play (and overnight sensation, to boot). I ended up being pleasantly surprised and immediately won over by the opening number ‘Welcome to the Rock’.
My heart was warmed by the cast, who were so charming and believable as the residents of the small town of Gander, where everyone knows their neighbours. Watching the townsfolk rush to prepare school buses, community centres, their own homes and yes, even a hockey rink to help accommodate their ‘visitors’ made me feel strangely patriotic. They didn’t bat an eye; they didn’t sleep for days, they gave the shirt off their backs and even had people from the town show up to help without being asked. Where else, I thought, than Canada?
Stranded passengers shared stories that were relatable and had you asking what you would do if put in the same situation. There was a scared mother trying to get in touch with her son, a relationship that was beginning to crack under pressure, a young man skeptical of the ‘Canadian hospitality’ he was being shown and a courageous female pilot from American Airlines, Beverley Bass, who’s efforts to keep her passengers calm & help keep the situation under control, hid her own struggle with the situation.
Beverley Bass quickly became my favourite ‘character’, I say character, but I knew from press on the play that she was very much a real person and worked with the cast to help tell her side of the events. In 1986 she became the first female captain for American Airlines and the first woman to fly a Boeing 777 for an airline. Her passion for the industry really shone through and her almost desperation to begin flying again a week after September 11th was touching. As someone who has worked in an airport and where travelling is a very important part of my life, when Beverley Bass told her story of stopping what few passengers were still showing up to the airport to shake their hand and ‘Thank them for still flying’, it hit me hard.
I went from wiping my eyes to laughing and being overcome with joy when residents of Gander opened up the local Legion to invite the stranded passengers to have a few drinks, dance to a live band (and an ugly stick) and get ‘Screehed’ in to become an official ‘Newfoundlander’. If you don’t know what getting ‘Screeched in’ means, it involves hard alcohol and kissing a cod, be sure to Google it. The audience pretty much screamed with excitement when the ‘Screech In’ number ended, and I was one of them. I have never felt so many different emotions while watching a play before. I almost felt like I knew these people, I felt for them and their stories and their unending kindness for strangers in their town. I felt like I knew them.
What makes this play even more interesting was that it started off as a 45 minute workshop piece for the Canadian Music Theatre Project as part of the Sheridan College Music Theatre Performance Program back in 2012. It became a full production at Sheridan in 2013 and from there it played in Connecticut, Seattle and finally Toronto. I loved knowing that this great production was created in our own backyard and hope to see many more from Sheridan in the future.
I would definitely recommend this show; it will be playing until January 8th, 2017 before moving onto Broadway and would make for a great holiday gift. (Be sure to visit Mirvish.com for more info, tickets range from $65-$225). It runs 100 minutes with no intermission.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go book a flight to Newfoundland…. I’ve got a cod to kiss!
Until next event!
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.