Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Secret Garden – A Review

We’ve been fortunate enough to see most shows that Toronto has to offer, so when we were given the opportunity to see The Secret Garden at The Royal Alexandra Theatre, we jumped right on it.

This classic children’s novel written by Frances Hodgson Burnett was a staple in our childhood growing up and has been a favorite for many years. In anticipation of seeing it on stage, Veronica re-read the book to keep the images fresh in her mind. And it just might have been a bad idea.

We have always been a little wary of adaptations of books, whether to stage or movies, as they don’t always translate well into a different medium. Unfortunately, The Secret Garden fell into the poorly done category. The actors were fantastic and did take the stage with grace and poise but the story felt flat and the stage itself was uninspired.

We were simply amazed at how talented and clear Sophie Kavanagh, who played Mary Lennox, was. She breathed life into her character and was able to pull off a believable Mistress Mary Quite Contrary. One of our issues with this production, however, was with the presentation of Dickon (Jos Slovick), who is clearly much older than 12. His mentoring of Mary and Colin (Toby Hughes) sometimes bordered on creepy. Martha (Lauren Hood), Mary’s maid, was a delight to watch and her Yorkshire lilt was pleasant and easy to understand.

A lot of what Ms. Burnett’s writing was able to impart on young minds was lost in this production. While not terrible in the least, and we firmly believe everyone should go see it, it just lacked the real story and magic behind it. We never got to see the change in Mary and Colin and how they were able to bring life back into the secret garden and thereby life back into themselves.

The Secret Garden runs until March 17th 2011, and Mirvish is offering a discount on tickets through their website

images from google image search and official websites

Friday, February 11, 2011

CanCanCan You Feel the Love?

For those of you clinging strongly to your last few years before the big 3-0, the Sony Centre for the Performing ArtsUnder-30 Rush Club offers last minute discount tickets to shows and restaurants downtown. While this initiative has been around since last April, it wasn’t until this week we decided to take advantage of Ashley’s pestering youth and sign up. A day later, we were given the opportunity to attend the opening night of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production of Moulin Rouge – The Ballet.

Having never been to a ballet before, Moulin Rouge was the perfect opportunity for our first cultured taste. The passionate story of love, ambition and heartbreak is similar to Baz Luhrmann’s vision in the 2001 movie of the same name, only without the kick ass modern pop rock soundtrack, so we could easily follow the numbers and decipher the story and characters.

That story focusing on struggling painter Matthew (Gael Lambiotte) as he finds himself in Paris in search of inspiration but instead meets Nathalie (Vanessa Lawson), a beautiful dancer vying for a chance at stardom, a chance she is given when the owner of the Moulin Rouge, Zidler (Eric Nipp), sees her dance and offers her a position.

Matthew and Nathalie express their growing love through dance and continue to meet in secret, infuriating Zidler who has become more and more obsessed with Nathalie. The two lovers attempt to flee the Moulin Rouge together, something Zidler will do anything to prevent.

While it would be interesting to see a ballet to Luhrmann’s movie soundtrack, the orchestrated French melodies provide a striking accompaniment to the graceful performance.

With high-kicking choreography and beautifully coordinated lifts, each dancer seemed to float across the stage weightlessly, making their movements seem almost too effortless. It was simply amazing to see how a simple elongation of a neck, an extension of an arm or a lift of a leg can be so expressive in the telling of this story.

Moulin Rouge - The Ballet
is at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts this weekend only, but it will tour through Hamilton, Mississauga, Kitchener, London, Montreal and Quebec city into April, so don’t miss the chance to see this epic love story in its most sensual state. It could, after all, make a great last minute Valentine’s Day gift.

images from google images

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Salon Escape's Smooth Solutions to Wayward Hair

With the unfortunate departure of our favourite hair stylist at House of Mann in Brampton, we have been on a desperate hunt for the past six months for a new set of sheers to shape our ever growing locks.

Our salon wish list was based primarily on location and fee, but we also wanted to be sure we found a compatible stylist who understood what we were looking for and responded aptly. After some thorough research, we decided to make an appointment with Salon Escape in the heart of Yorkville.

Salon Escape prides themselves as “a team of committed professionals…. who want their customer’s well being to be a top priority.” A notion they put into full effect as soon as we walked into the salon, where we were warmly greeted by name, offered a hot beverage and had our coats taken from us before being led to a small but comfortable lounge to wait.

The salon itself is sharp. While there doesn’t seem to be an abundance of space, it’s idyllically laid out to prevent any sense of crowding. You aren’t overwhelmed by salon aromas, the music isn’t blaring and it’s genuinely a calm and relaxing atmosphere with friendly, attentive staff who you can tell have built an easy camaraderie with regular respected clients.

Detailed profiles of each stylist are available on the website to ensure the stylist you pick shares your vision, a helpful tool for when you are hoping for a natural chemistry. We read through these profiles in advance and booked our appointments with junior stylist Luc Ornsby, whose passion resides in long, strong, shiny hair.

With intense trim and treatment routines, Luc sells himself as the perfect stylist for those who want to gain or maintain length and keep a full head of healthy hair. Luc took the time to sit with us both individually to assess our follicle situation and familiarize himself with our morning routine, lifestyle and preferred ‘dos.

His thorough, detailed work is evidence that he takes pride in what he does and is adamant about wanting to give you the best possible results, even if that requires a progressive plan of action that involves different steps and multiple visits.

While there were a few minor miscommunications that are excusable with newly formed client relationships (ie: over styled bangs and unrequested volume), the general experience was just that, an experience, not just a hair cut – and one we will happily continue to endure.

images from official website

Monday, February 7, 2011

Suddenly Ravenous - Barn Board

I assure you, this sweet treat is tastier than the name suggests. And the best part is, it’s simple, easy and you probably already have all the ingredients on hand.

Trust me when I say that you won’t regret making this! Special thanks to my friend for introducing this recipe to me!

For this treat you’ll need:

• 1 sleeve graham crackers (plus a few more crackers if any are broken)

• 1 cup butter (NOT margarine)

• 1 cup packed brown sugar

• ½ teaspoon vanilla

• 2 cups chocolate chips

o1. Preheat oven at 350
o Celcius.

o2. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil (makes clean up a breeze!), lay crackers until the sheet is completely covered, end to end.
o3. In a sauce pan melt the butter, brown sugar and vanilla.

o4. Bring the mixture to a boil and then allow to fully boil for 2 minutes (don’t allow to boil for much longer than the 2 minutes as the caramel will continue to cook in the oven).

o5. Pour and spread the mixture evenly over the crackers.

o6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

o7. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top.

o8. Wait a few minutes for the chips to melt then use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.

o9. Now place the cookie sheet into the freezer for about 2 hours to set. I know, the hardest part is the waiting. But it is worth it, I promise.

1o. Once you take the pan out of the freezer, let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting or breaking to allow the caramel to relax.

I prefer to eat these cold. With a glass of milk. Enjoy!