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Archive for July 17th, 2012

Antoni Cimolino unveils first season as Artistic Director @SSF

- July 17th, 2012

Des McAnuff to direct Tommy . . .  just as the buzz was. Read on, friends, read on.

31/12

Antoni Cimolino unveils first season as Artistic Director

 

July 17, 2012… Antoni Cimolino today announced the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s playbill for 2013, his first season as Artistic Director, and began to outline his vision for the Festival’s future during his tenure.

 

Combining intimate chamber pieces with works of larger scope, the 2013 season offers a rich variety of repertoire, from classics to light-hearted comedy to powerfully emotive musicals. It also invites audiences to enhance their enjoyment of the productions by exploring various thematic strands that run through the playbill as a whole.

 

“I have selected a season that I hope will touch both the hearts and minds of our audiences, not only engaging them emotionally but also provoking discussion and debate,” said Mr. Cimolino. “These plays complement and reflect one another, while at the same time connecting with contemporary social issues. Each will offer a complete and fulfilling experience on its own – but the experience will be even richer for those who see several of the productions and take advantage of the opportunity to draw connections among them.

 

“Our audiences have always expected us to tell the great stories, and to tell them superbly,” he added, “but I believe that today they also want to explore, to ask questions, to interact with us and to better understand the artist’s goals.”

 

To that end, Mr. Cimolino will complement his playbill with a new initiative, the Forum: an interactive program of talks, discussions, music and dance, and other ancillary events that will offer a diverse range of perspectives and invite debate on the season’s themes.

 

“Many of these plays, for instance, deal with the bonds that hold communities together and the differences that divide them,” said Mr. Cimolino. “Several of them feature characters whose ‘otherness’ challenges the status quo. The Forum will invite our audiences to pursue these and other topics raised on our stages by participating in a lively exchange of ideas.”

 

Acclaimed directors featured throughout the season

 

The 2013 season will open at the Festival Theatre with Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s great tragedy of young lovers who defy their families’ ancient hatred. It will be directed by Tim Carroll, who helmed 2010’s Peter Pan and is currently directing Mark Rylance in Richard III andTwelfth Night at Shakespeare’s Globe in England.

 

Donna Feore, whose previous work on the Festival’s thrust stage has included such hugely popular productions as Oklahoma! and Oliver!, will direct and choreograph one of Broadway’s most celebrated musicals, Fiddler on the Roof, the humorous yet heart-wrenching story of a community whose traditions – and very existence – are assailed by the winds of change.

 

The solidarity of comrades-in-arms is pitted against the machinations of church and state in the swashbuckling adventure The Three Musketeers. Based on Alexandre Dumas’s classic novel, this adaptation by Peter Raby was written in 1968 especially for the Festival stage and will appeal to audiences of all ages. It will be directed by Miles Potter, whose Stratford productions include the highly lauded Richard IIIMedea and Orpheus Descending.

 

Brian Bedford to play Shylock

 

Completing the line-up at the Festival Theatre will be The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s perennially popular yet always controversial story of a despised outsider who seeks horrific vengeance for the abuse to which he has been subjected. It will be directed by Mr. Cimolino, whose prior Festival productions include the current season’s widely acclaimed Cymbeline. The production will feature Brian Bedford as Shylock.

 

Mr. Bedford, whose recent double triumph as director and star of The Importance of Being Earnest thrilled audiences first in Stratford and then on Broadway, and was broadcast in high definition on cinema screens, will also direct Blithe Spirit, Noël Coward’s hilariously witty comedy of ghostly visitation from the “other side.” The production will be presented at the Avon Theatre.

 

Des McAnuff returns to direct Tommy

 

Also at the Avon, Des McAnuff, whose tenure as Artistic Director ends after the 2012 season, will return to direct The Who’s Tommy, which he co-wrote with Pete Townshend and for which he won a Tony for Best Director in 1993. The spectacular rock musical tells the story of a young man who, despite having lost the faculties of speech, sight and hearing, becomes a pinball virtuoso – and the centre of a celebrity cult.

 

In his first Shakespearean assignment at Stratford, Chris Abraham, director of this year’s critically lauded production of The Matchmaker, will direct Othello, the classic tragedy of an interracial marriage fatally undermined by the deadly insinuations of a master manipulator.

 

At the Tom Patterson Theatre, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure will explore the problems and paradoxes inherent in the state’s attempts to regulate sexual morality. It will be directed by Martha Henry, whose renowned Stratford productions most recently included Chekhov’s Three Sisters in 2009.

 

Brian Dennehy returns for Mary Stuart and Waiting for Godot

 

Meanwhile, at the same theatre, Mr. Cimolino will direct Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart. This gripping historical drama about the power struggle between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, offers a timely exploration of the often dangerous relationship between religion and politics. Brian Dennehy will return for his third season at Stratford to play Talbot.

 

Jennifer Tarver, who won international plaudits for her 2008 production of Krapp’s Last Tape featuring Mr. Dennehy, will continue her exploration of Samuel Beckett’s work with Waiting for Godot, a 20th-century classic that raises fundamental questions about the meaning of human life in a seemingly indifferent universe. She will once again be working with Mr. Dennehy, who will play Pozzo.

 

Martha Henry takes the lead in Taking Shakespeare

 

Two Canadian plays will be presented at the Studio Theatre. Diana Leblanc, whose remarkable career includes the Festival’s celebrated 1994 production of Long Day’s Journey into Night, returns to direct John Murrell’s Taking Shakespeare, in which a disenchanted professor and her student undertake an exploration of Othello, a journey that leads them to a new understanding of themselves and each other. The play will featureMartha Henry as the Prof, a role that was written expressly for her.

 

Dean Gabourie, who this year is directing the première of Daniel MacIvor’s The Best Brothers, will bring another world première to the stage in 2013: Judith Thompson’s The Thrill. Commissioned by the Festival, this spirited new play concerns a disability activist who confronts a champion of the right-to-die movement – with results that catch them both unawares.

 

Two new initiatives focus on innovation and exploration

 

In outlining his future plans, Mr. Cimolino –­ a 25-year Stratford veteran – said that he intends to build in three specific ways on the achievements that have already earned the Festival its reputation as North America’s leading classical theatre company.

 

“First, I will put the actor and the text firmly at the centre of what we do. That was the principle on which our Festival was founded 60 years ago, and I think it has become even more important today. In a culture that has become so visually oriented, I think people crave the kind of storytelling that relies above all on the uniquely compelling power of the spoken word.

 

“At the same time, I want the Festival to be a world leader in artistic innovation and exploration. The very act of exploration, of trying things in new ways and expanding the skills we have, is critically important to a great company examining the classics. With that in mind, I shall also launch a second initiative, the Laboratory, which will be for the artist what the Forum is for the audience.”

 

Incorporating the Festival’s existing new play development activities into a program with wider aims, the Laboratory will enable playwrights to work on a grander scale, emulating the scope of the classics. It will also provide opportunities to experiment with existing works.

 

“The Laboratory will be a workshop but also a playground,” explained Mr. Cimolino. “It will enable us to work with artists from other countries and to form partnerships with other disciplines. It will encourage innovative approaches to the great classical texts, so that we can find new ways of telling these familiar stories, and it will also enable us to explore classics with which we are less familiar, so that we may discover the overlooked treasures of other eras and other cultures.

 

“My third goal for the future,” he added, “is to establish our Festival and its beautiful city of Stratford as an unrivalled spiritual, emotional and intellectual retreat. Tyrone Guthrie, our first Artistic Director, conceived of Stratford as a place removed from a major metropolis where you could lay aside for a moment the demands of daily life and give yourself time to enjoy, to think and to feel – and then go home refreshed, restored and inspired. Hence my introduction of the Forum as a means of enabling audiences to enjoy theatre in a deeper and more dynamic way, using the work they see on our stages to prompt ideas, raise questions and open the door to good-hearted and open-minded debate.”

 

Specific details regarding casting, the Forum and the Laboratory will be announced at a later date.

 

“We are excited about both the 2013 playbill and the vision for the Festival outlined by our incoming Artistic Director,” said Dr. David Goldbloom, Chair of the Board of Governors. “It reconfirms our commitment to classical theatre while promoting new talent and innovation through the Laboratory. Antoni’s plans for the playbill bring a coherence to the offerings that we hope provokes curiosity and discussion – not only before and after performances but also in the Forum.”

 

THE 2013 PLAYBILL

 

FESTIVAL THEATRE

Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Tim Carroll

 

Fiddler on the Roof

Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Book by Joseph Stein

Directed and choreographed by Donna Feore

 

 

The Three Musketeers

By Peter Raby

Adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas

Directed by Miles Potter

 

The Merchant of Venice

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Antoni Cimolino

 

AVON THEATRE

Blithe Spirit

By Noël Coward

Directed by Brian Bedford

 

The Who’s Tommy

By Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff

Based on the album Tommy by The Who

Directed by Des McAnuff

 

Othello

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Chris Abraham

 

TOM PATTERSON THEATRE

Measure for Measure

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Martha Henry

 

Mary Stuart

By Friedrich Schiller

Directed by Antoni Cimolino

 

Waiting for Godot

By Samuel Beckett

Directed by Jennifer Tarver

 

STUDIO THEATRE

Taking Shakespeare

By John Murrell

Directed by Diana Leblanc

 

The Thrill

By Judith Thompson

Directed by Dean Gabourie

World première of a Stratford Shakespeare Festival commission

 

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PHOTOGRAPHY:

Antoni Cimolino: https://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=14311

 

 

Ann Swerdfager
Publicity Director

 

Here is the 2012 Polaris Music Prize short list: Go Canadian music!

- July 17th, 2012

Best wishes to the Top 10 on the 2012 Polaris Music Prize short list . . . don’t know all these albums but have been really impressed by Cold Specks. Grace. Explosive. Blues. Dark places. Sunshine too. May not be as famous as some of these excellent artists or have Polarisbuzz of others. Just really good & definitely deserving to be there.

No bitching from me Arva’s Bry Webb didn’t advance from the long list. Bry is a great one & he will be rawkin on & on.

From this 2008 grand jury member to all involved with the 2012 Polaris fun & creativity, all the best. Jurors of 2012, I envy you for the pleasure & rewarding effort ahead.

On rawk, Polaris & our music.

Over to these media aces for the official word:

Media Contacts:

 

Polaris Music Prize media:

Joanne Setterington

Indoor Recess

(416) 884-4119

joanne@indoorrecess.com

 

Polaris Music Prize media (Quebec):

Magali Ould

(514) 994-6295

magali@polarismusicprize.ca

 

 2012 POLARIS MUSIC PRIZE ANNOUNCES THE SHORT LIST

 

 

TORONTO, ON – Tuesday, July 17, 2012 

 

The 2012 Polaris Music Prize Short List was announced today at The Drake Hotel in Toronto, ON.  Hosted by CBC Radio 3’s Craig Norris, the event was broadcast live on Sirius 152 and CBC Radio 3.  Over 150 members of the music industry and media were present for the mid-day event, now celebrating its seventh year.

 

The 2012 Polaris Music Prize Short List is (in alphabetical order):

 

Cadence Weapon – Hope In Dirt City

Cold Specks – I Predict A Graceful Expulsion

Drake – Take Care

Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur

Feist – Metals

Fucked Up – David Comes To Life

Grimes – Visions

Handsome Furs – Sound Kapital

Japandroids – Celebration Rock

YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN – YT//ST

 

 

“Our jury is showing an ever growing passion and dedication to reviewing, discussing and advocating their selections. This has resulted in a Short List of records that are musically focused, intense and in some cases highly personal. The process of selecting a winner should prove to be an invigorating challenge for our Grand Jury,” said Steve Jordan, Founder and Executive Director of the Prize.

 

The Polaris Music Prize awards $30,000 to the artist who creates the Canadian Album of the Year. Courtesy of Slaight Music, each of the nine other short listed artists will receive $2000.00.  The prize is judged solely on artistic merit, without consideration of genre or record sales. Past winners are Arcade Fire, Karkwa, Fucked Up, Patrick Watson, Caribou and Final Fantasy.  The eligibility period for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize runs from June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012.

 

The winner will be revealed Monday, September 24th at the Polaris gala. That night an 11 grand jury, chosen from the larger jury pool of over 200 music journalists, broadcasters and bloggers will be sequestered at the historic Concert Hall at Bell Media’s Masonic Temple studios to vote for the winner. The gala will feature live performances by this year’s short list nominees and the entire event will stream live on Muchmusic.com and will be broadcast exclusively on SiriusXM (Sirius channels 151 and 152; XM channel 151) and CBC Radio 3.  Highlights from the gala will air in a one-hour special, exclusively on MuchMusic, on Saturday, September 29th at 10pm ET.

 

 

About thePolaris Music Prize

The Polaris Music Prize is a not-for-profit organization that annually honours, celebrates and rewards creativity and diversity in Canadian recorded music by recognizing, then marketing the albums of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history, as judged by a panel of selected music critics.

www.polarismusicprize.ca

 

 

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Kitty Wells & Jon Lord & Funk Brothers’ Bob Babbitt, RIP

- July 17th, 2012

JBNBlog has been playing the music of three departed heroes last night & this morning.

Country queen Kitty Wells, 92, and Deep Purple’s organist/keyboardist Jon Lord, 71, often played London. I interviewed Kitty Wells, too.

The third of Monday’s losses was someone I should have known . . . now I better track down Standing in the Shadows of Motown on DVD to find out more about Bob Babbitt. The bass player was part of my personal hit parade & hits galore. Wow. One of the famous ones, Scorpio, was Iggy Pop’s choice on a jukebox jury-style compilation Iggy came up with. There is a lot more background here about him down below (the bass part). He deserves it &, after all, the Wells & Lord bios are pretty well known.

kitty-wells-456-071612

Kitty Wells, in an undated photograph, & it’s a classic. Courtesy of theboot.com

Listening to Kitty Wells on an old Decca LP Kitty Wells’ Greatest Hits reissued on tape was a revelation. She sounds tense, mannered, almost intensely even about what’s going on . . . It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels was the first No. 1 country hit by a woman & it’s an amazing performance. Sure it stands out but there’s a fine Release Me & a playful Amigo’s Guitar & a good one for the Rizdales or Hey Loretta! I’ll Repossess My Heart & then Password, when Kitty pretty much says if & when she hears the right emotions/words, that man can come in. You go, Kitty etc. The chorale behind her all over the album is irritating. That’s just me. Focus on the steel, the guitar & Kitty

I’m pretty sure Kitty Wells was at the Western Fair when I reviewed a multi-multi-act country show . . . almost like a history lesson. When you interviewed her, you had to talk to her husband, too. I griped to myself about that the time wanting to fit Kitty into a nice pre-feminist context. Which was pretty immature.

Kitty Wells was true pioneer. Here are some heartfelt words from Rocklands Talent, via media ace Marlene Palmer. Rocklands’ president Brian Edwards pays tribute to her better than JBNBlog ever could.

It is with a heavy heart that the Management and Staff at Rocklands Talent & Management Inc received word (Monday) that Kitty Wells, known worldwide as “The undisputed Queen of Country Music” had passed away at age 92 from complications following a stroke.  Wells last toured Canada in 2006 alongside Roy Clark, Jean Shepard, Stonewall Jackson  and Johnny and Bobby Wright.  The Legends Tour went to Winnipeg, Brandon, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, London, Lindsay and Hamilton.

“Kitty was not only one of the greatest and most respected pioneers in Country Music” said company President Brian Edwards, “She was also a pioneer of our entire operation, as she and her husband Johnny Wright took me under their wing some 32 years ago, and taught me how this business should be run. Together we did over five hundred shows from coast to coast in Canada and Australia. The principals they brought to this business are the reason we are still going strong”, noted Edwards.

Kitty Wells is often credited as being the one who “started it all” for women in country Music.  When her recording of “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” went to the top of the charts in 1952, she became the very first female in Country Music to have a “#1 hit”.  She went on to have twenty three hit records and recorded well over sixty albums.  Wells won countless awards over the course of her career and in 1976 she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.Jon-Lord--008

Deep Purple’s Jon Lord playing an ARP Odyssey analogue synthesizer on stage in Australia in 1975. Lord has died aged 71. Photograph: Fin Costello/Redferns . . . courtesy of guardian.co.uk

Jon Lord was/is admired by many friends of JBNBlog’s. All of them rate Deep Purple much more highly than I did in the 1970s when they seemed slow & kinda dumb. (You did see immature up there, didn’t you?)

Listening to Deepest Purple this morning with my ears on Lord mostly, wow, fine stuff. Sure, some of it will always be stuck in the 1970s . . . & one of the songs rips off the Blues Magoos (!) . . .  but Lord has great touches of colour and solo spots . . . did he create the riff for Smoke on the Water? Jon Lord wasn’t in the lineup when JBNBlog reviewed the Purps at the RBC Theatre in 2005. Which may be just as well. I bitched about keyboardist Don Airey showing off with Bach. Don, my apologies. Jon, you are missed.

Am I the only one who thinks Dennis Coffey’s Scorpio has some Smoke on the Water flavour to it? Ace Shaft soundtrack styled groove & that bass solo . . . that bass solo . . . read more about it in what follows.

Bob-Babbitt1-214x300

Bob Babbitt, in an undated photograph, courtesy of vintageguitar.com

Here is some of the Detroit News obituary for Bob Babbitt:

Babbitt had a big impact on the Detroit scene well before Motown. He had extended family living in Michigan and his wife, Ann, was from Dearborn, so it was an easy decision to spend most of his time here as a young working musician.

That’s him on several Del Shannon songs, including “Little Town Flirt,” “I Go to Pieces” and “Handyman.” The thrum of his bass can be heard on other seminal Detroit hits such as “Cool Jerk” by the Capitols,” “Love Makes the World Go ‘Round” by Deon Jackson, “War” and “S.O.S. Stop Her on Sight” by Edwin Starr, “Oh How Happy” by the Shades of Blue, among many others.

Babbitt’s bass solo on “Scorpio,” the 1971 international smash by Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band, propels the song along so memorably, that, as Detroit bass player Ralphe Armstrong once said, every bass player in Detroit had to be able to play it or they couldn’t get a gig.

“His bass solo on ‘Scorpio’ has not been equaled, when you get right down to it,” Coffey said. “That set the bar pretty high for bass players.”

That rumbling, funky solo wasn’t planned or written, Babbitt came up with it on the spot at the DM Studio (now Superdisc). Coffey had penciled in a “breakdown” for the middle of the song, and let the musicians do whatever they wanted.

“Everybody went crazy,” Coffey recalled. “First, that wild percussion with ‘Bongo’ Eddie, and then Bob just dropped that bass solo in, it was impromptu.”

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120716/ENT09/207160405#ixzz20sronFwV

Here is some of the Associated Press obituary.

Born Robert Kreinar in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Babbitt — who studied classical bass in his youth — joined Motown after moving to Detroit and building himself a solid reputation as a session musician.

He became one of the very few white musicians to join the Funk Brothers when Motown called upon his services in 1967 to complement the label’s legendary — but increasingly erratic — bassist James Jamerson, who died in 1983.

Babbitt played on more than 200 Top 40 hits in his lifelong career, including the Capitols’ “Cool Jerk,” Smokey Robinson’s “The Tears of a Clown” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours.”

He also featured on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” album, one of Motown’s biggest sellers, before migrating towards the 1970s Philadelphia soul scene, recording “Then Came You” and “Rubberband Man” with the Spinners.

Babbitt’s talents remained much in demand after he settled down in Nashville, and he figured prominently in the 2002 documentary “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” that gave belated recognition to the Funk Brothers’ story.