Category Archives: Whimsical

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.



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.


Why I Never Want to Have a Wedding

I don’t know about you, but the idea of a wedding really freaks me out.  But, contrary to what you might think, I don’t shrivel up into a ball of fear when I think about the “most important day of my life” for the most conventional reasons. I’m not scared of committing to one person for the rest of my life, nor am I hesitant about the love I have for my partner.  I don’t squirm at the prospect of waking up beside the same guy every morning, and I’m not repelled by the thought of someone knowing all of my dirty little secrets.  I love the idea of spending the rest of my life with the person I love, but I don’t feel the need to stand up in front of a bunch of my friends and family to prove it.  I want to show my love without a caterer, flowers, and dresses; I want to see everyone happy for my love without the need to buy me a gift; I want to spend the money I have on paying off my school debts and maybe thinking about buying house.  And so, dear reader, I give to you:

The four reasons why I don’t want to have a wedding.

1. Money.

It really is the root of all evil.  But honestly, if I’m going to drop 20,000 dollars on something, it’s going to be for something worthwhile, like debts, mortgages, or a really awesome bedroom with a fridge built into one of the walls.  I’m not going to spend seven thousand dollars on ONE dress that I can only wear once.  I’m not going to ask four to six of my friends (depending on where we all are in life, and, you know, if they became weird or not) to drop at least 200 bucks on something that will always clearly be a bridesmaid dress, no matter what colour it is (and face it, even the most neutral colour will always have that braidsmaids-y feel to it).  And, most importantly, I’m not going to fork over God-only-knows-how-much to get bland food that is almost never finished.  I mean, I understand that the most important part of a wedding is the open bar (for those of you who are NOT planning an open bar: stop.  Stop right now.  You are failing at weddings already.), but why do I need to do the ceremony part too?  Can’t I just have, like, a really sweet party at a bar with everyone I care about there?  And they can all wear whatever they want: tank tops and shorts, jeans and a blazer, an old bridesmaids dress, anything is possible!  I know I’ll probably show up in jeans, boots, and a t-shirt.  And do you know why?  Because that’s what I’m comfortable in, and I’ll be damned if I’m uncomfortable on my wedding day!  Which leads me to my next point…

2. Comfort

I know that there are a lot of women out there who LOVE dresses and can’t wait until summer to slip into one.  They love how flowey and free dress make them feel, the breeze blowing lightly against their nether regions, and the materials come in a variety of cute colours and pretty patterns, almost irresistible to the feminine brain.  But whenever I wear a dress, all I can think about is what would happen if a zombie apocalypse happened, like, right now?  I’d be stuck wearing that stupid dress while I tried to run away from those cannibalistic cretins, probably trip over it, get eaten, and die horrible.  And I always picture myself hanging out with Daryl Dixon when the dead inevitably rise, so the dress thing is kind of ruled out for me.  Now, if that’s how I feel about dresses that are cheap and made in China, can you image how awkward I would be in a really expensive dress that’s made of white fabric and is all pretty and pure?  Ugh, the thought of wearing something like that makes me cringe, let alone walking down an aisle in front of a ton of people.  And, knowing me, I’d probably spill something on myself, or have an overwhelming urge to fart halfway through the ceremony, and ruin the whole thing for everyone.  Gross.  Next!

3. Effort

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m really not a lazy person, but the idea of planning a wedding just exhausts me.  It’s not just because everything has to perfectly mapped out for, like, at least 50 people to be happy, and—if television has taught me anything—I’ll probably be freaking out when things inevitably go wrong.  I don’t want this; no one wants this!  I want my wedding to be a completely relaxed affair without all the fanfare that seems to be a requirement.  Stag and doe?  No thanks.  Bridal shower?  Pass.  Another bridal shower for the other side of the family because my mother-in-law couldn’t make it to the one my mother threw for me?  Um, no. Bachelorette party?  Well, if you insist…  But honestly, I could just go out with my friends and get drunk any old time.  I get that it’s kind of a tradition and the symbolism behind it is quite appealing (last night as a single person…even though we’ve been dating for eight years, have lived together for five, call each other husband/wife already, and are completely committed to each other in every way imaginable.  But still last night as a single, woo hoo!).  And it’s not just I who has to put all the energy into getting this thing out of the way: my parents, friends, in-laws, acquaintances all have to contribute in some way.  People have to fly in from out of town, buy new socially appropriate attire, fret about losing weight, get their hurr all did, get their makeup done, write speeches, pretend they care, etc.  Really, all of this just requires far too much…

4. Time!

For every hour that I spend planning my wedding I lose one hour that could go towards me playing StarCraft.  I’d rather play StarCraft.  In fact, there are a lot of other things I’d rather be doing with my time than deciding on a theme or colours for the wedding.  I can’t think of anything right now, but I’m almost positive there are more productive ways to spend my time.  And it’s not just my time either; everyone has to rearrange their schedules to fit whatever I want.  What about those weirdos who decide to have their wedding on a Friday?  What the hell is that all about?  Not only does everyone have to take at least two days off of work, but a lot of people will have to cancel at the last minute because something important came up.  I recently had to do this myself: I had an exam (in Toronto) scheduled for the time the wedding (in London) was supposed to start.  The out-of-towners have even more to think about, because nobody is going to fly into Toronto from Vancouver for just a weekend!  I guess it helps eliminate the extra people that were invited for the sake of it, but come on!  Just don’t invite them if you don’t want them there!  It’s your wedding, after all.

So, there you have it, the reasons I will not be having a wedding.  Of course, this isn’t to say that I won’t do a common-law marriage and then just have a really awesome party afterwards where everyone can show up and get sloshed without worrying about the tab!  Because THAT’S what a good wedding host should do: make the party fun for everyone.  Nobody wants to sit through the boring ceremony, so just go do that on your own time.  We go for the free booze, the dancing, and all the other shenanigans that come with a wedding reception, so if your wedding is just going to be me getting wasted with you on your special day, I’m game.  As long as it doesn’t fall on a day that I’m busy, feel bloated, or have my period; nor will I have to spend money on a dress, or wear any kind of dress for that matter, then I will officially deem your wedding a success and you may proceed with a happily married life together.

The 50 Hour Film Festival (or, A Character, a Line of Dialogue, and a Prop Walk into a Bar)

We come to university to learn, or at least that’s what my dad says when he sees me blogging and shakes his head. It is true that classes impart a lot of useful (or not) information, but it is also true that much of what we learn comes not from lectures or exams, but from frantically preparing for lectures or exams. By half-way through their first year, the average student has mastered the all-nighter, the cram session, and the ability to meet a seemingly-impossible deadline on nothing but determination and Red Bull. We learn these skills to help us learn other things, of course, but it’s also so satisfying when we can apply them to other situations.

Take, for instance, Lost Episode Festival Toronto‘s upcoming 50 Hour Film Competition. A creative contest open to anyone and everyone with a camera and some friends, this local challenge encourages aspiring film-makers (or anyone else interested in winning terrific prizes) to re-create “lost” scenes from famous TV shows, or to make fake advertisements or trailers, all in only 50 hours. Remember those consecutive all-nighters for that econ final? Remember cursing the time and energy spent in learning something you thought could not have any practical application? Well, now you can put at least some of that experience to use.

The competition begins on the night of Friday, May 3, when each team is given a character, a line of dialogue, and a prop to incorporate into making a film. The teams then have only 50 hours to write, shoot, and submit their masterpieces. The entries will be evaluated by the festival’s judges and the winning teams will be awarded cash, prizes, and all the glamour and prestige that comes with winning a film festival. There’s also an audience choice award, for the film-makers who somehow manage to go commercial in under 50 hours. All entries will be screened in the big, beautiful, fully-licensed Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, only a few blocks from campus

To participate, simply sign-up on the festival website here. Participation costs less than a statistics textbook and is, I’ve been told, at least twice as enjoyable. Anyone of any level of skill and experience is welcome to enter, and a team can be of any size. It’s the perfect activity for those, like me, who have only a few weeks between the end of exams and the beginning of summer school to have a little fun. Or a lot of fun. Or 50 hours of fun.

A Night at The Rex

Dear BlogUT reader,

Before you take a look at the title of this article, roll your eyes, and choose something less pretentious, please know that I am far from a jazz connoisseur. In fact, while something of a music enthusiast, I know next to nothing about jazz; all I’ve really had to go on for the past 21 years are stereotypical mental images of some fat guy blasting away on a trumpet while a sweaty tweaker bounces around uncontrollably in the audience. So, since I value your time as much as the next girl, and simply know too little about the genre, I won’t be boring you with jargon or technical details, or insightfully describing the “virtuosity of the alto sax”. This article is meant to be the thoughts, recollections, and recommendations of a jazz beginner, noob, philistine, or whatever other degrading term you’d prefer to call me. So, looking to get up close and personal with some real jazz, and not just the one Coltrane album in my collection, I decided to head down to The Rex Jazz & Blues Bar located in the bustling Queen St. West area and get initiated.

The first thing that became apparent as I approached The Rex’s exterior is that it isn’t a stuck-up or intimidating venue in the least. While jazz may conjure up images of stuffy, exclusive clubs, The Rex couldn’t be further from this cliché. The outside of the bar exhibits something of a sleek, retro look, while the interior is Cheers-esque, with wooden finishes and a pervading sense of warmth (Although maybe that was just the central heating. Yowza it’s cold out these days!). I was also heartened to discover that the place was absolutely packed. Although it was a little overwhelming to walk in and be greeted by what seemed to be a wall of people, me and my plus one were lucky enough to find a spot near the back, with seats just high enough to get a glimpse of the stage at the opposite end of the room. The crowd was a mix of all ages, and everyone seemed in good spirits with the drinks flowing and a nice selection of bar food at the standard expensive-but-not-Toronto-expensive prices. I ordered the New York style cheesecake with caramel sauce and was pleasantly surprised: the night was off to a good start.

Up next, a waitress came to our table, but we were told that we absolutely couldn’t be served until we paid our cover charge. Oddly enough, when we arrived there was no one at the door waiting to take our money and stamp us; we had to sit and wait a good 15 minutes before someone came to our table to help us. I also thought the cover was a little steep at $10 a person. It’s nice to support local acts, and so I wasn’t annoyed per se, but considering the place was beyond packed, $5 or even $7 seemed more reasonable to me. Still, for the show that followed, and for the wonderful ambiance of the place as a whole, it was worth giving up a tenner.

The best surprise of the night was when we discovered that the nightly act was the Radiohead Jazz Project, bringing together the Toronto Jazz Orchestra and local tribute band Idioteque. To be introduced to any live jazz that night would’ve been a pleasure, but knowing the songs really helped me get into the spirit of the evening. For the most part, the group sounded very tight and comfortable playing with one another. They burst out of the gates with a freewheeling, beautifully-played version of Bodysnatchers. Without any vocals getting in the way, the trumpets really shone, and the song presented itself in a completely fresh, invigorating way. Paranoid Android in particular was an audience favourite, and had people roaring with delight at every new twist and turn. Yet, as much as I hate to say it, the vocals really let the group down. To begin with, they were far too high in the mix at the start of the night, overpowering the backing band at various points. Yet, even when the vocals were noticeably turned down, the quality of the singing wasn’t up to par, especially when it came to the soaringly high notes Thom Yorke is famous for. In all fairness, few people could ever hope to cover Yorke’s vocals in a convincing or even competent way. Still, it seems to me that the show would be much stronger as a whole if the vocals were simply omitted altogether. It speaks to the strength of the backing band, however, that the lackluster singing didn’t detract much from the overall experience: the show was a rousing success with the crowd, and left me wanting to get out there and explore much more live jazz in the near future.

In summary, while certain elements of the show could’ve done with some reworking, the night as a whole was a wonderful experience, leaving me hopeful that this is but the start of my adventure into the world of jazz. Perhaps I’ll head back on the 25th, when our very own U of T Student Jazz Ensemble hits the stage. Join me?


Junior Editor’s Note: Due to an unfortunate error, this article could not be posted until ten days after it was first written – the “25th” referred to is of February.

The New Music Festival at U of T

U of T is full of unique opportunities. They’re the bread and butter of this blog and my life; there are few things I like more than learning about a hidden spot or quirky club or meaningful volunteer position on campus. I scour the blogs and papers as often as I can, holding up event listings to my mental calendar and wondering if I can fit in a play, philosophy discussion, and homework in one afternoon. (I can.)

That’s why I was surprised and a little embarrassed to realize that U of T has had an entire faculty of performers right underneath my nose (and Museum Station) this whole time. The Faculty of Music is full to the brim of brilliant composers and performers, and features them in free shows at least once a week. Couple in the fact that a sudden epiphany (read: episode of Frasier) made me realize how much culture is missing from my life, and suddenly I’m cruising the Faculty of Music website for upcoming events.

In the past two days alone, I’ve seen the finals of a concerto competition (that bassoonist nailed it), listened to new pop pieces by students with classical backgrounds, and [I’m not sure what the verb is] an experimental theatrical music… thing in honour of the 10th anniversary of the passing of its composer. The last two events were part of the Faculty’s New Music Festival, which runs until the 27th and features nine more free shows. I’ll go to as many as I can.