A TONY-AWARD WINNING MUSICAL “COME FROM AWAY” TELLS THE STORY OF 38 PLANES GROUNDED IN GANDER, NEWFOUNDLAND AFTER SEPT. TERRORIST ATTACKS.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the townsfolk of GANDER including Claude the mayor, Oz the police constable, Beulah the teacher, Bonnie the SPCA worker and others who described life in Newfoundland and how they’ve learned about terrorism in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. “Come From Away” has been playing on Broadway since 2017, and is now set to return to Toronto in 2024 following a run at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada’s Capital. This version of the Canadian miracle musical played in London’s West End, and with touring companies in Australia, New Zealand and North America. When the home-bound passengers and crew few away, they joyously exchange stories of the immense kindness that was shown to them by Newfoundland strangers in this time of need.  <Images below – 1) ‘How ‘Come From Away’ came back – from The Toronto Star . . . and the second fine photograph is a vast Broadway crowd planning to see Tony Award Winner “Come From Away”It’s really going to be a big night out in New York.>

CINEPLEX IS LOSING CASH DESPITE SOARING REVENUE, MEANING THE CINEMA BUSINESS IS ON ITS WAY.

From The Canadian Press —- CINEXPLEX INC. reported a first-quarter loss of $42-2 million, as its revenue soared up with customers returning to movie theatres. CEO Ellis Jacob put it this way: “Operating restrictions have now been completely lifted across theatres. And customers are returning. They’re seeing positive results and momentum across business lines. Revenue totaled $228-7 million, up from $41-4 million in the first three months of 2021.I’d say that’s an amazing improvement!

TORONTO STAR – ‘WHEELS’ WANTS TO VISIT THE GTA & OAKVILLE – IF COVID-19’S SITUATION IS KEPT SAFE

From Kathy Buckworth – Special to The Star – “This series of daytrips and longer drives highlight great experiences you can have in the province, and shows you why Ontario is “Ours. To Discover”. (The Greater Toronto Area, is commonly referred to as the GTA,) It’s rare to find a place that exudes a small town feeling, but has amenities found in larger urban centres. #1) – First stop – drive from Toronto west along The Queen Elizabeth Way and exit from within about 20 minutes to Oakville with its impressive homes, restaurants, the shore of Lake Ontario, Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park;  #2) – Usually street parking available on Lakeshore Road East for clothing, coffee, home furnishings, food shops and restaurants, etc; #3) – ‘By Consignment Shop’ for amazing deals; – Tocca Finita for women’s fashions; – ‘British Grocer’ for Cornish pastas; #4) – Oakville Museum at the Erchless Estate, once home to the town’s founders – the Chisholm family, with exhibits on Black history, The Underground Railroad – Next Stop Freedom presentation; #5) – Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre, a 12-acre property, 1826 house and barn with space for art exhibits by well-known and emerging artists; 6) – Dinner choices varied in price & cuisine include The Works Craft Burgers and Beer (with kids), Colossus Greek Taverna (a family favorite), Oliver’s Steakhouse, Cork’s Restaurant; and ten minutes from Oakville centre The 5-Drive-In located on The Ninth Line, screening a variety of movies (if it’s open). For the rest – do a more walk-about and explore.

TORONTO STAR – BE SURE COVID-19 CONDITIONS MAKE IT SAFE ALONG THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER

From Josephine Natyas – Special to The Toronto Star – “This series of day trips and longer drives highlight experiences you can have in this province, and show you why Ontario is ‘Ours to Discover’. <A Canadian First – The Brockville Railway Tunnel – photo above.>#1) Drive from Toronto on Highway 401 to Brockville; 2) Head for downtown King Street, home to Tait’s Fresh Start restaurant; 3) Drive east for a half-hour to historic Upper Canada Village; 4) Then the outskirts of Cornwall at Long Sault and its restored heritage buildings, The Lost Villages Museum is between the city of Cornwall, and the Village of Morrisburg 5) Cornwall is known for The Riverside Trail, St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project construction; 6). Bed down at Auberge Chesley’s Inn, b&b in the heart of Cornwall; 7) Or stay overnight at Montgomery House on the edge of Upper Canada Village; 8). Drive along Highway #2 to the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary, just past Ingleside; 9). Get back onto Highway 401 and head again for Brockville and lunch. 10). Before you know it Toronto traffic and skyline will appear on the horizon.>

UNEXPECTED NEWS WHERE ALEXANDER STREET COMES CLOSE TO YONGE IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO

Who would have thought? Toronto’s venerable ‘queer’ theatre and company. <Photo above – from The Toronto Star>. Buddies in Bad Times is in need of a new Board of Directors. The previous Board ended up in a burst of departures – directors and employees nearly all. The company is known for its achievements. Among them Toronto’s Luminato Festival, The Edinburgh International Festival and The Festival Cervantino in Mexico, as well as a regular series of productions for the locals. However Buddies has been without an artistic director since September, 2020. Both The Globe and Mail & The Toronto Star, on Saturday, January 29, 2022, published in-depth stories about this “state-of-affairs”.

CANADIAN THEATRES ARE DOING THEIR BEST TO GET BACK INTO ACTION (WITH LIVE AUDIENCES)

*At their best Canada’s theatre companies have been facing more shutdowns because we’re way deep in the pandemic.
*Newfoundland, Ontario and Quebec – were shut down again.
*Calgary – avant-garde theatre festival, cancelled its’ 36th edition.
*Metro Theatre in Vancouver, announced at the last minute it would be rescheduling until March the comedy ‘Nunsense’.
*Vancouver Arts Club rescheduled the new comedy ‘Made in Italy’
*The Firehall Arts Centre is now one of the only spots in Vancouver where audiences can catch a live show.
*Grand Theatre in London, Ontario – ‘Room’, Emma Donoghue’s adaptation of her novel with Scottish songwriters Kathryn Joseph and Cora Bissett.
*Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto – will show part of a rejigged Mirvish Productions Season, with ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ replacing the departed Leopoldstadt.
*The Frank Theatre Company, Vancouver’s oldest professional queer theatre company, is running an audio adaptation of ‘I Cannot Lie to the Stars That Made Me’ by playwright Catherine Hernandez.
The ray of hope to be found in Canadian performing arts now comes from companies postponing rather than cancelling shows. Many are hoping that stages will operate again in March.

<From J. Kelly Nestruck, Opinion Section, The Globe and Mail, Ontario Edition, January 13, 2022.>

YESTERDAY TWO OF US TOOK THE COVID-19 SELF-TESTING PROCEDURE, AND SUCCEEDED

A good friend helped us read through the instruction pages, and to make a long story short – we both came through successfully in little more than 20-30 minutes. I kept the clever card, which looked like a lollipop, as a reminder. On December 11, 2021 I read a Globe and Mail story on Lori Laumbach, and her  daughter, Jenna Schlender who planned a quiet Christmas holiday at home in Edmonton. They decided this was the safest thing to do. “Other years often we would go and join friends at house parties, but I think that still doesn’t seem like a responsible thing right now, especially because I want to go away,” said Ms. Laumbach. Her travel plan was to visit Punta Cana. Already, she’d double-checked her travel insurance, partly because she’s losing faith given the emergence of notorious Omicron. “I’m not getting my hopes up for this trip because I don’t have confidence that things aren’t going to go south quickly again.” So, like many of us, our Christmases will be celebrated at home – in Edmonton & Toronto.

ONE SECTION I ENJOY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, IS ‘BOOK REVIEW’ – LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.

This weekend I focused on The Nightstand. Ted Gachot wrote on December 5/2021 – “It’s not the books writers name, but the assumption they have a Nightstand. I’m surprised so many give straight answers, and don’t say something like ‘Do you mean on top of the box of chocolates or under it?’ The Book Review assumes one has bought heaps of expensive books one might read, and keeps them piled up on that Nightstand. When I find a book . . . there’s no Nightstand. Or if there was we didn’t notice.” On this week’s agenda, actor and singer, Bette Midler, wrote – “A better question is what’s NOT on your Nightstand? There are things I’ve been hoarding, things I don’t have the courage to tackle just yet, gifts, books I buy on impulse and P.G. Woodhouse, a perennial. Politics, race, acting, history, religion, arts, the environment, detective stories – I recently reread ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” – hand’s down one of the greatest I’ve ever read. I finally got around to reading it.Unforgettable.”

THEY MAY NOT ALL BE OPEN YET, BUT HERE’S A LIST OF SOME THEATRES & CONCERT HALLS IN TORONTO

LARGE THEATRES
*Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley Street, http://www.canadianstage.com
*Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front Street East, http://www.canadianstage.com
*CAA (formerly Panasonic) Theatre, 651 Yonge St., http://www.mirvish.com
*Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge Street, http://www.ticketmaster.ca
*Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W., http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/venues/fleckdancetheatre/
*Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (Opera House), 145 Queen St. W., http://www.coc.ca
*Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., http://www.mirvish.com
*Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W., http://www.mirvish.com
*Streetcar Crow’s Theatre, 345 Carlaw Av., http://www.crowstheatre.com
*St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St. E., http://www.stlc.com
*Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St., http://www.tocentre.com
*Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge Street, http://www.ticketmaster.ca
MORE THEATRES
*Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley Street, http://www.alumnaetheatre.com
*Bad Dog Comedy Theatre, 875 Bloor Street West, http://www.baddogtheatre.com
*Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St., http://www.buddiesinbadtimes.com
*Cahoots Theatre Company, staging diversity, 388 Queen St. E., http://www.cahoots.ca
*Coal Mine Theatre, 1454 Danforth Av., http://www.coalminetheatre.com
*Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst Street, http://www.factorytheatre.ca
*Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto, http://harthouse.ca/hart-house-theatre/
*MacMillan Theatre, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, http://www.music.utoronto.ca
*National Ballet of Canada, Four Seasons Centre, 145 Queen Street West, https://national.ballet.ca
*Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Lane, Brampton, Ontario, http://www.brampton.ca/sites/rose-theatre/en/Pages/Welcome.aspx
*Second City, sketch comedy theatre that’s launched many careers, 51 Mercer Street, http://www.secondcity.com
*Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor Street West, pushes creative boundaries, an original, http://www.thestorefronttheatre.com
*Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., http://www.tarragontheatre.com
*Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen St. W., http://www.theatrecentre.org
*Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Avenue, http://www.passemuraille.on.ca
*Toronto Dance Theatre, 80 Winchester St., Cabbagetown, http://www.tdt.org
*Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club, 224 Richmond St. West, https://www.yukyuks.com/toronto
CONCERT HALLS
*Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Av., http://www.thedanforth.com
*George Weston Recital Hall, 5040 Yonge Street, http://www.tocentre.com/theatres/george-weston-recital-hall
*Glenn Gould Studio, CBC Broadcasting Centre, 250 Front St. W., http://www.cbc.ca/glenngould
*Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com
*Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W., http://www.hughsroom.com
*Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor Street West, http://www.rcmusic.com
*Massey Hall, 178 Victoria Street, just renovated, http://www.masseyhall.com
*Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe Street, http://www.roythomson.com
*Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor St. W., http://www.trinitystpauls.ca

THERE’S NO STOPPING CANADA’S RETIRED ASTRONAUT, CHRIS HADFIELD – HE’S NOW A WRITER.

By writer I mean ‘novelist’ and ‘thriller’, his latest is titled ‘The Apollo Murders’, which takes place in 1973 when there was a battle between the Americans and the Soviets for predominance in Space. “It all really happened”, declared Chris. “Almost 95 per cent of the book is real, and I’ve got the experience to bring in the reality of it.” He is heavily involved in teaching at universities; working with a COVID detection technology company; researching and writing his next book; and hoping for the success of this one, “along with choices of fun, challenging, and with hopefully worthwhile things to do.”  <From an interview with Dawn Calleja, The Globe and Mail, October 23/2021>