as June fades into July
Irish Rep presents Ghosting, Hudson Village Theatre brings back Every Brilliant Thing
By Byron Toben
June 25, 2021
Here are wraps on entertainment events that have recently ended, followed by those beginning in the last week of June:
Events now ended in June
ST-AMBROISE MONTRÉAL FRINGE
The 30th edition of the Montreal Fringe ran between June 1 and 20 with a mix of live and streamed shows in English, French or both. There were no “Frankie” awards or closing ceremony as there was no beer tent area this year. A closing press release with attendance and financial results was not available as of our posting.
But Montréal Fringe is not over yet! Until June 30 you can watch on-demand content on FringeTV!
The 10th anniversary of Bloomsday Montréal, apparently the largest in the world outside of Ireland ran from June 12 to 16. The festival celebrates James Joyce’s landmark 1922 novel, Ulysses, wherein protagonist Leopold Bloom wanders the streets of Dublin on June 16, 1904. Barred for import into the USA as being full of smut, it has since been listed as the most transformative book of the 20th century.
In addition to my coverage of all of its sessions, save two that I missed, the organizers have made all sessions, including the two I missed (A walk through Irish Montreal and How to Make Soda Bread) available free on-demand (see link below).
Joyce fans will enjoy all the sessions. Novices may find the Musical Concert and Cinema in Ireland sessions more easily accessible.
IRISH REPERTORY THEATER
New York’s Irish Rep celebrated its 32nd anniversary with a one-night gala on June 14 dubbed The Indomitable Irishry, after a line in the W.B. Yeats poem, Under Ben Bulben. The event was directed and arranged by co-founder Charlotte Moore and produced by co-founder Ciaran O’Reilly.
New York’s Irish Rep celebrated its 32nd anniversary with a one-night gala… [which] also celebrated the accomplishments of Bill Irwin (Tony award actor as well as MacArthur, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellow)…
Music and song were provided by a variety of Irish Rep performers. The gala also celebrated the accomplishments of Bill Irwin (Tony award actor as well as MacArthur, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellow) and presented a “Champion of the Arts Award” to author Mary Lou Quinlan and marketing powerhouse Joe Quinlan, former president of Time, Inc. Television and senior producer of the MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour.
DAVID NOVEK HOLLYWOOD MUSICALS SERIES
David Novek concluded his Cummings Centre four-part weekly film series of Hollywood musicals on June 17. He plans two more in the fall.
Part One began with the first sound movie, The Jazz Singer (1927), starring Al Jolson. Appearing in blackface, which was common at the time, he has been criticized by a later generation as if he had invented black face and was racist. In reality, he was one of the first to include blacks in his shows and helped introduce black music to the greater population – songs like Mammy, Sewanee and Bye Bye Blackbird. The Warner Brothers film was such a success that they followed in 1928 with The Singing Fool and Broadway Babies.
MGM studios then decided to enter the musical film category. With Arthur Freed producing, they became a major player in that field. They were aided technically by their sound engineer, Westmount-born Douglas Shearer, who invented a process to integrate sound into the film track thus eliminating background noise. His sister, Norma Shearer, was a star actress at MGM, and he became immortalized as the roar of the MGM lion which one hears in watching old MGM films.
Part One then fast-forwarded to discuss the importance of Busby Berkely’s 52 extravagantly choreographed films with a precision he honed with his military background. The depression years enabled him to use hundreds of dancers that would cost too much otherwise.
I will attempt to summarize Parts 2 to 4 elsewhere in the future. Novek liberally supplements his comments with fine clips, many rare or hard to find.
Events beginning in late June
JUNE 22 TO JULY 4
The Irish Repertory Theater, dubbed “New York’s finest Off-Broadway theater” by the Wall Street Journal, presents the North American premiere of Ghosting on its Theater@Home series.
This show, a tragic-comic play, first premiered in London, UK, to sold-out audiences. The writers, Annie O’Riordan (Call the Midwife, Doctors) and Jamie Beamish (Bridgerton, Derry Girls), both from Waterford, Ireland, brought the show home to Theatre Royal, Waterford, in 2019, from whence it streamed in April 2020. It stars Ms. O’Riordan as a restless sleeper who never remembers her dreams.
Free for those who cannot afford to donate at this time, but reservations are required.
JUNE 27 AT 3 PM
The Segal Centre continues its free live Sunday concert series with Jonathan Munro and Marie-Pierre de Brière singing their favourite Canadian musical theatre songs outdoors but moving indoors in case of rain. COVID restrictions apply.
JUNE 30 TO JULY 10
The Hudson Village Theatre revives Every Brilliant Thing, its joint production with the Segal Centre seen indoors at the Segal last May, now outdoors at the Greenwood Centre for Living History, 254 Main Road, Hudson. Tickets are $25.
Feature image: Bill Irwin, frame from publicity trailer for On Beckett/In Screen, courtesy of Irish Repertory Theatre
More articles from Byron Toben
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.
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