Tag Archives: theatre

When a Cell Phone Ruins the Movie

I was at the movie theatre one night, on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, when Dame Judi Dench was in the middle of a long pause, about to utter with masterful precision the words that will earn her next Academy Award nomination… when I was suddenly blinded by a bright blue screen, from the idiot in front of me, checking her phone.

Needless to say, I was devastated to have been dragged out of the precious moment where I completely escaped my own life, to live vicariously through the characters of this cinematic masterpiece. I felt robbed.

I leaned over and whispered sternly, “That’s very distracting!” The idiot turned back and gave me a glare like she was the offended one.

Are you kidding me?

After she turned around, I offered her my look of scorn and severe disdain with one eyebrow raised and one lowered, accompanied by a middle-finger salute, a gesture I reserve for the rare few who crack through my calm exterior and get my blood instantly boiling. With that done, I was able to let it go and reconnect with the movie.

I don’t know why but lately, it seems that every visit to a theatre has at least one person checking their phone during the movie which is completely unfair to the rest of the movie patrons.

A movie theatre is a place where people go to escape from day-to-day reality. It’s a place to forget one’s troubles, to get inspired and to be taken away to a different world. Continue reading


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Inspired by the Creativity of Others

A few days ago, I attended a concert at the National Arts Centre, here in Ottawa, to see The Tenors perform with the National Arts Centre Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly.

Much like all of the Pops series concerts I have seen in recent years, the concert brought me on a roller coaster of emotions, between goose bump moments of arias and their triumphant crescendos and moments where I felt a tad verklempt, hearing favourite songs performed live in brilliant new arrangements.

Throughout great performances like that, I can’t help but ask myself, “How do they do it?” How much of it is natural aptitude and how much is hard work? How many thousands of hours each performer put into their craft over the years, to become one with their instruments and to make it look so easy? How hard did each one have to work to achieve this level of proficiency, to produce such beauty that can elicit such strong emotions from spectators?

This inner monologue replays in my head again and again whenever I feel deeply inspired, whether it’s at a concert, in a museum, in a theatre, reading a book or watching a great movie. It’s like a vortex of creativity, swirling around, reaching out and stirring up my own artistic momentum to keep doing what I love doing, keep practicing, work hard and don’t let go.

I sometimes pause and wonder if I will ever get to the same degree of skillfulness and versatility in writing as someone who can pick up an instrument and play a song, just like that. Then I think to myself that I have been known to pull a rabbit or two out of a hat on a few occasions.

Whether it’s a blog post that I was able to commit to paper in one sitting in under two hours (it doesn’t happen often, but it does), a blog post that successfully reached out and really struck a chord with readers, or writing a piece at work that was exactly what was requested, offering the right words at the right time, and being able to do so under crazy time constraints. I reassure myself that I am on my way. Continue reading

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My Take-Aways from Awards Season

Oscar and me1Ever since I knew I wanted to become a writer, whenever I watched The Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, The Emmy Awards (Prime Time and Daytime) or the Tony Awards, I always found myself walking away feeling inspired that one day that could be me.

When I hear writers’ acceptance speeches of humble beginnings, late starts in life or how a unique little story or unique way of telling a story became the object of much attention, I really do feel validated that there is purpose and potential for a budding writer like myself.

I do not delude myself into thinking that my turn WILL come at the awards podium, I think the odds of that are equivalent to winning the lottery. But I would like to think that my imagination, my creativity, my ideas and my story telling style combined with consistency and persistence, are the foundation for writing stories that will resonate. Where it goes from there, nobody knows. Hope for the best, expect the worst, and hopefully land somewhere in the middle.

This year in particular, the word “diversity” has been a recurring theme, appearing in speeches, editorials and reviews which struck a particularly deep chord with me.

As writers, I think we all have an innate fear, “What if no one is interested. What if no one reads it.” If the appetite for diversity is as strong as it seems to be, I take that as my cue and as my challenge to dig deeply for the stories that can matter and that can resonate.

The appetite for diversity is a sign to me that people want to see themselves in a story, someone to relate to, someone who has felt Continue reading


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A Relaxing Getaway to Niagara-on-the-Lake

Oban Inn GardenWith the Canadian dollar in its weakened state against the American greenback, Canadians might be looking for travel options closer to home. In that same fluctuation, Canadian destinations become more affordable and more attractive to our American friends. A unique travel option for both to consider is Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Located in Southern Ontario, along the shores of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake was the original Capital of Upper Canada from 1792 to 1797 and the location of several battles in the War of 1812.

As Niagara-on-the-Lake had been on our bucket list for some time, John and I decided to check it out in August of last year, in time for the famous Shaw Festival. Regular readers of my blog know that we have a voracious appetite for theatre and we were absolutely delighted with Shaw, a theatre company that draws its inspiration from the works of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries.

Upon arrival at Niagara-on-the-Lake, we checked in at our new home-away-from-home, the Oban Inn. The staff at the front desk ran the operation like a finely oiled machine, always greeting guests as they were arriving or leaving, generously offering tourist information on the fly, while still maintaining the calm and serenity of the Oban Spa vibe. Our room was spotlessly clean, very comfortable and very quiet.

After our long drive from Ottawa, we were starved. Our first stop was the Oban Inn’s beautiful dining room for dinner. I had already called ahead to ensure that they were well equipped to handle a gluten sensitivity, and the serving staff was indeed well-prepared.

Our first Shaw festival theatre experience was a winner, right out of the gate, with the legendary musical, Sweet Charity at the Festival Theatre. We were charmed by Julie Martell’s sweet portrayal of Charity, and were mesmerized by the gorgeous costumes, sets, lights, songs and dance. The entire company was impressive in that performance and kept us wanting more.

Oban Breakfast

Our breakfast tray at the Oban Inn dining room

Our Tuesday evening concluded with a special treat at Il Gelato Di Carlotta. Their wide array of tasty gelato won us over immediately. Even though we could get a few different scoops in one cup, there were just too many flavours to try in one visit. We concluded we must return… and we did! (Note: gluten-free cones are available)

Wednesday morning we returned to the Oban Inn’s dining room to start our day with a simple yet elegant breakfast. The big picture window overlooking the garden offers a beautiful view and a lovely opportunity to slowly open one eye at a time as the caffeine kicks in and the brain cells engage, gently easing into the day rather than the hustle and bustle of the daily grind back home. We were starting to feel the vacation vibe setting in.

We decided to take a stroll down Queen Street and check out the shops. We were very impressed by Continue reading

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A Collection of Random Observations – The Sequel

Last November, I posted “A Collection of Random Observations” which seemed to trigger a new hobby in searching and logging those weird moments in life that make you go “Hmmm”. Here is the next installment for your reading pleasure. Can you relate to some of these?

Have you ever noticed?…

People will provide the best advice and worst horror stories about a product or service AFTER you have made the purchase.

Seedless watermelon… how do they make more?

“We hope you enjoy our new store layout” loosely translates to “We’ve moved everything. Good luck!”

Things that are “designed to…” sometimes don’t.

If you leave limes in the fridge too long, they turn green too… or is it that they remain green?

The person who invented “red-eye flights” had to be someone who could easily fall asleep on planes. I am not one of them. After a good number of “red-eye flights”, regardless of how tired I am or what supplements I take to try to induce sleep, I have yet to arrive at any destination looking fresh as a daisy.

If you use dental floss to remove food particles from between your teeth, what do you use to remove dental floss stuck between your teeth? Continue reading

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A Tribute to Mamma Mia!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe hit Broadway show Mamma Mia! will be playing to its final audience on September 12, 2015. Even though I assume that touring companies will probably continue to play to audiences around the world for some time to come, to me, it is the end of an era.

According to my Playbill collection, it appears that I have seen Mamma Mia! 8 times: 3 times in Toronto, 3 in Ottawa, 1 in Las Vegas, and 1 in New York City. I even came close to seeing it once in Stockholm in Swedish which would have been a great time for a student of all things Swedish like myself, but alas, it was not playing the week I was there.

My first time was a rather unique situation in the sense that it was about month after my dad had passed away. This was the first time I had lost a relative who was that close to me. I had a hard time articulating, feeling, validating and working through the range of emotions I was experiencing, and felt up and down like a roller coaster over that time. I was in a very sad place.
My uncle was so kind in that he knew I was going to Toronto for a bit of a getaway, and he so generously offered me a ticket to see Mamma Mia!

He knew I had been a fan of ABBA since I was very young, and he knew how much I enjoyed theatre. It was a pretty safe bet that I would enjoy it. If only he knew what it would mean to me in that moment and for years to come.

Our balcony seat offered us a bird’s eye view of the show and we did not miss a single moment. From the opening scene and the first notes of “I Have a Dream”, I recall goosebumps and chills down my spine with the recognition that this was the closest I would get to ever seeing ABBA music performed live in this lifetime. This was already a dream come true… and the first song just started!

I had never experienced a musical like this before, with Continue reading

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On Broadway (2015)


My partner and I are back from what seems to be turning into an annual pilgrimage to New York City, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. While there is never a shortage of fun things to see and do in a constantly changing landscape of attractions, the focal point of our trips is enjoying the Broadway theatre scene.

Our trips start getting planned months in advance as we not only read the descriptions, cast lists and reviews for each show, but we also try to tune in to the Tony Award buzz online, to get a sense of the shows that will likely get nominated and the ones we must see.

The shows that seem to be attracting the most favourable reviews and Tony buzz, and for which tickets seem to be in short supply, we will buy in advance. At the same time, we will draft a short list of other possible shows which we think might be available at a discount at the TKTS booth in Times Square or for which we will keep an eye out for promo codes from the theatres to purchase tickets at a good price, without standing in line. Then we leave it up to luck after that.

For me, this year’s highlights have been:

The Audience
In my eyes, Dame Helen Mirren can do no wrong so perhaps I might be a little biased. But her performance in the Audience is a genuine tour de force. I was enthralled by her portrayal as Queen Elizabeth II throughout her years on the throne, holding audiences with her Prime Ministers of England. The magic of theatre is alive and well in this production as Dame Helen seamlessly transforms from a mature Elizabeth to a young Elizabeth, or vice versa, in a blink of an eye, masterfully embodying the spirit of the Queen at various points in her reign. Supported by a solid cast of actors portraying the Prime Ministers, as well as Elizabeth as a child, and a script that strikes the perfect balance between politics and the humanity behind politics, this play was a joy to behold and made me appreciate the monarchy so much more. Afterward, we met Dame Helen at the stage door where she so generously signed our programs. She was so kind, so charming and so gracious, it was a delightful chance meeting that made an already memorable evening unforgettable.

It Shoulda Been You
Tyne Daly’s brilliant performance in the play “Mothers and Sons” last year left us breathless so it was without hesitation that we bought tickets to “It Shoulda Been You”, a very funny story revolving around her character’s daughter’s wedding. We both laughed so hard during this production, we may have missed a couple of cascading jokes. The entire cast demonstrated amazing chemistry and impeccable comedic timing to the point that we really felt we had been part of the family, witnessing each character’s pre-wedding jitters and neuroses, from the daughter’s older unmarried sister, to her ex-boyfriend, to the in-laws and throughout the extended family. This production is easily relatable on many levels and was an absolute treat to experience. Continue reading

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