Mid to end of January
events to watch for

Theatre, lectures and music to warm up a cold month

By Byron Toben

January 19, 2023
Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his speech “I have a dream” – Image: Rowland Scherman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The third Monday in January was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Dr. King, a Baptist minister, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, he preached peaceful resistance to racial segregation and voting exclusion. The Rosa Parks bus incident in 1955 led to his organizing a series of protest marches from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery. Most famous for his 1963 march on Washington, D.C., where he gave his “I have a dream” speech, he was also active in the anti-Viet Nam war movement, urging that military spending for the war be diverted into social spending.

He was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of only 39. A movement immediately sprang up to declare a national holiday in his honour but it wasn’t until 1983 that legislation was introduced to do so and fully adopted in the USA nationwide in 1986. Some local observance in Canada takes place in Ottawa and Toronto. Should Montreal also consider something of the sort?

Until January 28

As part of the annual Wild Side Festival, the Centaur Theatre and La Chapelle Theatre have banded together to host the latest Talisman Theatre production of Wildfire. Talisman’s niche is French plays translated into English. Here, much awarded Le Brasier, a tragi-comedy by David Paquet, is enacted by Julie Tamiko Manning, Kathleen Stavert and David Chiazzese. I would go to see anything one of these actors is in, and here are all three in one play! Besides, where else can you see a play that includes a “murderous pet tarantula”? It plays at 7:30 pm each night (closed on Wednesdays and Sundays), with one matinee on January 28 at 3 pm.


Le Brasier [Wildfire]… is enacted by Julie Tamiko Manning, Kathleen Stavert and David Chiazzese. I would go to see anything one of these actors is in, and here are all three in one play!

January 23 to 29

Red Bull Theater of New York City, which specializes in Jacobean dramas, offers a free streamed on-demand dramatic reading of Animal Magnetism, an 18th-century farce by Elizabeth Inchbald, one of the very few women playwrights of that era. The preview is on January 23, and it runs until January 29. There is also a “bull session” panel discussion of the play on January 26. It apparently has overtones of Le médecin malgré lui, and includes mesmerism (hypnotism) as well as urging really early women’s lib. Although free, voluntary donations are encouraged, and based on other Red Bull shows I have reviewed, well worth it.


January 25 and 26

Image: courtesy of Mary-Ann Lacey

The Cummings Centre is streaming two fine music-related events. On January 25 at 12:30 pm, Rob Lutes returns with his inimitable The Story Behind the Song series (package of three, includes February 15 and March 22) streamed online.

On January 26 at 2 pm, the Great Entertainers series resumes with presentations from Fiddler on the Roof.


January 26 at 5 pm

Jazz singer Mary-Ann Lacey, in a change of pace, performs with one guitarist instead of her usual trio at the spacious La Petite Marche restaurant. No minimum, no cover. $ 6 snacks are available as well as full meals.


Featured image: Wildfire, by Maxime Côté

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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.

Geordie Theatre Fest - January 25-29, 2023, at La Maison Théâtre

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