Category Archives: Music

Concert Review: Stromae


A crowd of two thousand gathered at TD Echo Beach last night to see the impeccably-dressed, French-singing Belgian electropop superstar Stromae. Until recently, I hadn’t heard of him either.

This changed when I lived with a French exchange student who introduced me to the “bête de scène” (their term for charismatic showman) and his infectious hip-hop sound. As the New York Times succinctly put it, “his music mingles electronic dance beats with hints of African, Latin and cabaret styles. He sings and dances with long-limbed aplomb; he’s a striking video presence with a flashy and sometimes androgynous fashion sense.”

Listening closely to (or Google translating) his lyrics reveals the deep and often sombre subject matter of his songs, with topics ranging from absent fathers, breakups, unemployment, gender stereotypes, social media’s impact on our relationships and, most recently, cancer. However, this does little to stop his fans from dancing like crazy. Stromae’s live vocals and spectacular audio-visual displays are legendary.

The tracks chosen for the concert strayed little from his biggest hits, Stromae likely aware that his Toronto audience would not be familiar with the lesser-known songs in his repertoire. He closed the show with a trippy extended drum solo and an a capella version of “Tous Les Mêmes”, showcasing his sheer talent and artistry on full display.

Aware of his Kanye-like, million-selling status in Europe, is was exhilarating to be fewer than twenty feet away from Stromae in this intimate concert venue. As the performance concluded and the crowds dispersed towards the streetcar, all anyone could say was that the concert had been “formidable”.


Reviewing Crazy for You and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival

I had the pleasure of seeing two wonderful shows at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival yesterday: the musical Crazy for You and the comedy classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They were equally extraordinary, but in totally different ways.

Continue reading Reviewing Crazy for You and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival

Interview with Victoria McEwan, Director of Sweet Charity

Following on the successful heels of last semester’s drama, UC Follies will be producing the legendary Broadway musical Sweet Charity from January 31 – February 8. I had a chance to sit down with director Victoria McEwan, several kilometres away on my laptop, to ask her a few questions about herself and the show.

Continue reading Interview with Victoria McEwan, Director of Sweet Charity

Musical Review of The Wedding Singer at Hart House

The Wedding Singer is a musical adapatation of the 1998 movie of the same name. Because most of you have seen it, and are familiar with the plot (even if you’re not, it’s a predictable rom-com) I’ve decided to skip to the good stuff. This is a review of Hart House’s ongoing production of The Wedding Singer, set to the music of the main theme/opening number of the show. Enjoy!

I saw this play 3 hours ago
I’m still humming some of the songs
‘Decided to write a review
Of what went right and what went wrong.
Now indulge me a moment, if you please;
I have a lot to say about this show,
and the actors I thought were good
and bad.
Here it goes:

Isaac has that “X-Factor” –
an accessible actor.
But his pitch control could
use improvement.

Ashley Gibson wasn’t bad,
and her singing really had
a lovely quality
that makes us all love her.

Cortina was a great, strong crooner
even when her mic went berserk.
But she couldn’t bring the humour
to her lines – they needed some work.

Horsman was a delightful dancer,
and her songs really brought
us to the moment.
Cattel was a rapping grandma –
what can I comment?

The ensemble was quite strong,
even in the weaker songs,
and their dancing was all
This show is just lots of fun
(‘cept for those who’ve seen it once).
I would recommend
you see it sometime soon.

(L to R) Ashley Gibson as Julia and Isaac Bell as Robbie. Photo credit to Scott Gorman.


Note 1: Yes, it’s not perfect. Considering the constraints – a review deadline and an imposed rhyme scheme and working in people’s names and accurate descriptions of their performances – it’s really not that bad. Seriously, if you’re looking for someone to write the opening for the next Tonys…

Note 2: Apologies to Mr Bell, who is treated with undue familiarity for the purpose of meter.

Note 3: There is some precedent for the moment/comment rhyme, imperfect though it may be. See Shakespeare’s Sonnet XV. I take full responsibility for the mangled syntax.



Win Free Tickets to See Evil Dead – The Musical!

When I introduce a show or event to you, my dear readers, I often begin with some sort of context, like a comment about the writer or my expectations for the show. I don’t need to do that in this case, though, because all I need to tell you is that Evil Dead – The Musical is a musical with a splatter zone. A zone, where you can get splattered.

Yeah. Do I actually need to say anything else about it? If so, I could tell you that it is a musical based on the Evil Dead movie franchise, and that it won the Audience Choice Dora Award in 2007. I could refer you to the praise that Toronto critics have sung of it, or even link you to a video of one of the numbers. But I don’t need to do that, because you already know that Evil Dead – The Musical is a musical with a splatter zone. And frankly, if that doesn’t make you want to see it already, I don’t what possibly could. (Descriptions of a clever plot and an awesome score might be helpful for some people, but did you see the bit about THE $&%#ING SPLATTER ZONE?!)

We at blogUT are all about the altruism, which is we why we are giving away two free tickets to the show. All you have to do is comment or tweet a micro-review of the best musical you’ve ever seen. We won’t give you a word limit, but we’ll say that brevity gets extra points. The best – cleverest and most informative – micro-review wins a pair of tickets to see Evil Dead – The Musical.

Evil Dead - The Musical is "Bloody hilarious!" - Toronto Star

 Evil Dead – The Musical

begins October 24 at the Randolph Theatre (20 minute walk from campus)


The (UofT) Student’s Guide to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival

In a Nutshell

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is an annual theatre festival in Stratford, Ontario. Although it is primarily dedicated to the works of William Shakespeare, the Festival also produces musicals, contemporary classics, and new plays. The Stratford Festival has an international reputation for the high quality of its productions. Each show, from the largest musical to the smallest comedy, is the result of the talent and work of dozens of accomplished, gifted artists and producers. The Festival runs annually from April through October, and is the highlight of the summer theatre in Southern Ontario.

Choosing a Show

The Festival programme includes 12 different and diverse plays, but unfortunately, I’ve only had the chance to see 2. That hasn’t stopped me from making this handy-dandy guide as to which of those 2 shows – Tommy and Waiting for Godot is right for you.

I like plays to be…
  • Loud
  • Raucous
  • Exciting
  • Subtle
  • Clever
  • Thought-provoking
I want to talk about the play with…
  • Parents (& other nostalgic folks)
  • Music geeks
  • Professors and classmates
  • Theatre geeks
I go to the theatre to be… Entertained Educated
My ideal souvenir is… A soundtrack A mug with a witty message
I prefer… High-brow pop culture Accessible high culture

I want to see…


Waiting for Godot

Or both!

Of course, you could also go with any of the other ten.

Buying Tickets

As you may have noticed, we at blogUT are really all about the green. That doesn’t end when it comes to theatre tickets – we’ve got the goods on getting the best (and most dramatic) bang for your buck. Play On tickets go for an even $25, but are available only for select performances and not always in advance. Don’t worry – there are plenty of Play On shows left before the festival ends. And if even that’s too much, Play On tickets are available for only $20 when you’re seeing Othello. All you need to do is prove that you are 16-29 years old with photo ID.

Getting There

Road trips and voyages out of town are often seen by students as too costly to be worth it, but the Stratford Festival has that covered. Tickets are only $10 each way on the Stratford Direct, and the bus drops you off at any of the four Festival theatres (pick-up is at Front and Simcoe at 10:00AM and 3:30PM). The buses are comfortable and roomy, and have wi-fi, a bathroom, and undercarriage storage for large bags. An added bonus: riding back into the city in a bus full of people to talk to about your experiences at the Festival. My perfect day at Stratford ended yesterday with a lovely conversation with some other festival-goers, who were sitting behind me. We traded reviews and recommendations for almost an hour.

Other Things to Do in Stratford

Only 30,000 or so people call Stratford, Ontario home, but there’s still plenty to do there. In addition to myriad book and antique stores, the best shopping prospects are the warm, inviting candy and chocolate shops that line the town’s quaint streets. A terrific place to sit down for a hot or cold drink after or before a show is Balzac’s coffee, a small chain with a few locations in Toronto as well. I had dinner at Boomers Gourmet Fries, a small burger shop with a big menu and fantastic prices. And, obviously, delicious gourmet fries. For dessert, you can head next door to Scooper’s Ice Cream, which also serves shakes and frozen yogurt at excellent prices. If you’re more of the picnicker type, I recommend staking out a bench by the water on Lakeside Drive and watching the swans and ducks go by.