A Chorus Line: the movie– After watching this ridiculously outdated movie musical for the first time a couple days ago, I find myself wondering if perhaps we’re giving the So You Think You Can Dancers too much credit. Watch the dancers in this movie take on the intricate choreography and you’ll never accept a mediocre pirouette again. (Fun side note: watch for future-Javert, Terrence Mann, and his impressive moves in a really sympathetic role)
Julie & Julia– yum. The whole movie was a million calories of happy. AND I learned the proper way to brown a mushroom.
Lost in Austen– this adorably strange British import follows a modern Pride & Prejudice fan as she mysteriously gets trapped in the world of the beloved novel. Currently airing on TVO in Canada, Lost in Austen is pure delight for any P&P fan.
Seth Rogen in Funny People– one of the few films in the Apatow comedy genre that I really enjoyed, Funny People was a pleasant surprise (even if it was almost a full hour too long and a bit narcissistic at times). The most pleasant thing about the movie, however, was not so much of a surprise. Seth Rogen (who, when given the right character, can be incredibly charming) has made this list before (for being the best thing about Undeclared) and has done it again this week for his role as Ira, the sweetly loyal struggling comedian who pulls a pathetic Adam Sandler through the uneven story.
Rachael Ray- lots of people hate her, but I jumped on the 30 Minute Meal bandwagon this week and find Ms. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) entertaining. She talks too loud and too much, she’s always including unnecessary personal details, she drops things and looses things and laughs at her own jokes…it’s great. Who wants to follow the instructions of someone flawless anyway?
Sean Cheesman on SYTYCD Canada– the second episode of the Canadian series aired tonight and though there were some promising dancers and Leah Miller has finally started to grow on me (though she’ll never measure up to Cat Deeley), the judges continued to annoy. By the end of last fall’s season 1, I was so tired of Jean-Marc’s weak metaphors and Tre’s hyperbolic blather that I came to actually appreciate the nutjobs on the American version. Small glimmers of hope, however, appeared with guest judges like Stacey Tookey, Blake McGrath and Rex Harrington. The best of these guests (and choreographers) was always the calm and insightful Sean Cheesman. Cheesman made his first appearance of season 2 tonight and his influence made all the difference. He was quick to the point, was never over the top and made a point of looking for the potential in all the dancers. Add a sexy voice, a snazzy wardrobe, mad choreographic skill and oodles of charm and you’ve got 1 very good reason to watch So You Think You Can Dance Canada.
The Stratford Festival of Canada. I wrapped up my 7 show summer with a weekend excursion that saw me and and a friend ecstatically applauding The Importance of Being Earnest, Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Earlier in the season I’d seen the festival’s colourful West Side Story, beautiful Cyrano de Bergerac, poignant Macbeth and idiotic A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (the only thing I really didn’t like all season).
Highlights included: the incomparable Colm Feore (known to TV fans from Slings & Arrows and 24) as the season’s notable guest star, leading a perfect production of Cyrano de Bergerac (under the direction of his wife Donna Feore, who you might remember as one of Triple Sensation‘s toughest choreographers) and a daring Macbeth that included artistic director Des McAnuff’s insightful vision of the Scottish tragedy as set in 20th century Africa with a semi-insulting forced parallel between an (unimpressively played) Lady Macbeth and first lady Michelle Obama; former Hairspray star Tom Rooney showed off his chameleon-like talents in the polar opposite roles of Cassius (the weasely mastermind behind Caesar’s assassination) and Puck (the charming, trouble-making fairy in Midsummer); Ben Carlson redeemed himself for last year’s horrible Hamlet by playing a pitch-perfect Jack Worthing in Earnest then a chilling multi-dimensional Brutus in Caesar; Mike Shara made me laugh hysterically and fall for his charming characters in Cyrano and Earnest; Relative unknowns Laura Condlln, Jennifer Rias and Andrea Runge stood out in wonderfully vibrant productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, West Side Story and The Importance of Being Earnest, respectively. I finally got to see Slings & Arrows star Stephen Ouimette onstage in the lovely Earnest and the detestable farce A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Another notable Slings alum, Geraint Wyn Davies (who played season 2’s delightful villain Henry Breedlove) brought serious gravitas to his roles as the murdered kings Duncan and Caesar and then serious joy to the (often overplayed) role of Bottom, which he mastered. James MacDonald stood out among the directors for elements of sheer genius that permeated his interpretation of Julius Caesar.
Ultimately, however, my true Stratford obsession of the year is a young actor named Bruce Godfree, who is only in his second season with the festival. An alum of the Royal Shakespeare Company and a highlight of last season’s dismal Hamlet (he played Laertes, other highlights included the aforementioned Wyn Davies’ Polonius, Rooney’s Horatio and Adrienne Gould’s Ophelia),Godfree went into the Dream with the bar set very high (having replaced last year’s Romeo, Garreth Potter, who was supposed to take the role). Armed with incomparable energy, daring, commitment and solid classical technique, Godfree soared as the best thing about the excellent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, effectively making the (often boring) character of Lysander the most interesting on stage. He also kills himself in Caesar and kills other people in Macbeth, but Midsummer is where he truly shines.
If you’re able to get to Stratford, ON this season I seriously suggest 6 of these 7 plays (avoid Forum at all costs!): start with the Dream and make sure to see Cyrano, Earnest and Caesar along the way, you won’t regret it. Oh Stratford, how do I love thee, let me count the ways!