Friday, September 30, 2011

It's a Bitch of a Living - A Spring Awakening Review

A couple of years ago, well before this blog existed, we had the pleasure of seeing Spring Awakening at the Canon Theatre and fell in love with the controversial story. So when we came across tickets for a local production of the play at the Lower Ossington Theatre (LOT), we jumped on it, anxious to relive the wild production and see Spring Awakening in the Fall! (Lame joke ©Veronica.)

We have never been to the LOT before and actually walked right past the entrance the first time around. There are no flashy signs and no big theatrics, an indication that the show itself would be a smaller, more personal production than our previous encounter, which we actually prefer.

Up on the second floor of the old building, the theatre itself was a very intimate atmosphere, so much so that you could hear the performers warming up in their dressing rooms through the wall in the two-stalled ladies bathroom. Our seats were in the third row from the stage, which also happened to be the third last row, giving you an idea of the limited seating space. We felt almost as if we were sitting right on the stage, which will make our next trip to the LOT at the end of October with front row seats to the Rocky Horror Picture Show even more interesting. But we digress.

Spring Awakening tells the story of a group of teenagers at a Catholic school in Germany coming of age and learning about their sexuality. The masterpiece itself was so daring for its time that it was banned from the stage and not performed in its complete form in English for nearly 100 years.

Rebellious Melchoir Gabor (Jonathan Logan), a self proclaimed atheist, paves the way to their inevitable self awakening by writing a detailed and graphic essay for classmate and close friend Moritz Steifel (Andrew Ball), who is tormented by sexually charged dreams and plagued with guilt and shame as a result. Melchoir blames religion for Moritz’s reactions and begins questioning the structures of the Catholic Church and everything he has been taught.

Naive Wendla Bergmann (Courtney Lamanna) is the perfect example of repressed adolescence, all her growing questions about reproduction and self awareness go ignored by her mother and every authority figure in her life. She’s left feeling confused and ashamed for her naturally awakening sexuality. After stumbling upon Melchoir one afternoon in the forest, the two strike up a flirtatious friendship which later fuses into a sexual relationship that Wendla doesn’t quite understand.

The three, along with their classmates, are left to struggle with their arousing sexuality, the pressures of schooling and the consequences of their actions. Their journey from youth to adulthood and struggle with morality and sexuality is a confusing, complicated mess of emotional exploration that is passionately expressed on stage with a fusion of sexual energy in among a flurry of rock and roll anthems.

The age appropriate cast seemed to all be recent graduates from various local theatre programs, a refreshing change from the weathered theatrical veterans we usually see. But despite being relatively new to the stage, a small stage with little room or set to work with, each performer carried the pressure of the performance like a professional.

Ball gave Moritz the emotional depth needed to convincingly portray the tormented character and being so close to the stage we could actually see his eyes glistening with pain. At first he seemed a little overzealous, but as his character developed, Ball’s enthusiasm was fitting as he was driven to a state of complete helplessness. And each solo rock performance made us think he would be the perfect candidate to form a rebellious Green Day-esque punk-rock band in his down time.

Logan, on the other hand, seemed to resemble a young Neil Patrick Harris in the way he carried his self confidence and coy smile. He just had that suaveness to him that makes it believable that he would be the go to guy. And Lamanna’s level of naivety was spot on for the young girl-like presence she encompassed. Her chemistry with Logan and their youthful flirtations were familiar and reminiscent of our own blossoming years.

As with every play we see, there is always one scene that steals the show for us. This time it was Hanz (Graham Parkhurst) and Ernst (Aaron Wolfe) expressing their secret – and not so secret – lust and sexual desire for each other in an outrageous reprise of The Word Of Your Body.

Parkhurts’ mischevious expressions and Wolfe’s hesitant but longing reactions created an electrifying cat and mouse chase and when they finally came together and gave in to their desires, the audience was in stitches and cheering on their union.

While some of the bigger more aggressive numbers like Totally Fucked had a lot of movement happening on the small stage and seemed a little congested, it’s always amazing to see how a cast of talented performers and a creative team behind the scenes can adapt such a big production and still pull off the same kind of professional and stimulating performance.

Spring Awakening
runs until October 8 at the Lower Ossington Theatre. Tickets are available online.

images from google images and the LOT website

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fish Bar

It’s not every day that Veronica can convince Ashley to try something new, so when we were invited to Fishbar, a Canadian oyster and seafood small plate wine bar, Ashley had no choice but to put on a brave face and prove that she’s not just a small town girl by downing several (three) raw oysters.

Fishbar is located on Ossington Avenue just south of Dundas West, nestled amongst other trendy, intimate restobars. Our first impression was good. There are plenty of tables set close together but not so close that you’ll feel as though you’re on a double date. Each table was immaculately set and immediately inviting. We chose to sit right in the window so that we could get the fresh post rain evening air and enjoy our favourite past time – people watching.

We ordered our dozen oysters which came on a bed of ice accompanied by a trio of sauces. Veronica prefers just a squeeze of lemon juice to enhance the briny, succulent natural flavour of the oysters whereas Ashley drowned hers in lemon juice to eliminate any sort of oyster taste.

Our mains were two equally impressive plates of swordfish and artic char, complete with roasted veggies and potatoes. Of course, no CityGirls adventure is without several glasses of wine.

The staff at Fishbar were courteous and very knowledgeable, from telling us where the oysters were from to how the fish we ate were caught. They were very quick to clear our table and bring us fresh plates and cutlery between courses or top up our drinks.

We’d definitely recommend Fishbar for your next intimate date, but preferably a night when you don’t have to foot the bill. Next time, we will stay for dessert.

images (c)CityGirlScapes and Fishbar

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Toronto’s Fall Home Show 2011 - Better Living Centre – September 22-25, 2011

Discover innovative products, new ideas and great deals at Toronto’s largest Fall Home Show from Thursday, September 22 to Sunday, September 25 at the Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place, featuring more than 300 renovation and décor specialists offering advice, solutions and inspiration for a wide array of projects for your home.

Runway to Room - Thursday, Sept 22 through Sunday, Sept 25

Using the latest fashion trends to drive and influence home décor, celebrity designers Ramsin Khachi (lounge – Seeing Spots), Glen Peloso (dining room – Mod Men) and Sabrina Linn (bedroom - Swinging Sixties & Seventies), share their creative concepts for fashion-inspired living by designing a room as part of the Runway to Room feature on display during the Fall Home Show from Thursday, September 22 through Sunday, September 25.

Fashion and home decor express a personal style and an individual’s personality, which designers Khachi, Peloso and Linn use as the foundation for their individual rooms. Each designer took their inspiration from a fall fashion trend created by stylist Ji-Yun Timperon and drew upon the colours and patterns of the outfit to add accents and personality to the rooms.

Style At Home Main Stage presented by HGTV - Thursday, Sept 22 to Sunday, Sept 25
From home décor to renovation, local experts and celebrities will offer insight, inspiration and advice on all home improvement needs on the Style at Home Main Stage presented by HGTV during the Fall Home Show from September 22 to September 25.

Celebrity guest speakers include Style at Home Editor in Chief Erin McLaughlin, Style at Home Managing Editor Tamara Robbins Griffith, Style at Home Senior Design Editor Margot Austin, Style at Home Design Editor Jessica Waks, host of HGTV ’s Disaster DIY Bryan Baeumler, Benjamin Moore colour and design experts Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault and Sharon Grech, interior decorator Jackie Morra, home décor expert Vicky Sanderson, financial planning expert Jenn Killins, renovator Michael Upshall, interior decorator and designer Laura Stein, Cocktail Deeva Dee Brun and Runway to Room designers Ramsin Khachi, Glen Peloso and Sabrina Linn.

Guest speakers will discuss renovating and décor tips and designers Khachi, Peloso and Linn will share the design concepts and fashion inspirations behind their Runway to Room feature rooms during a 30 minute moderated panel. Designers will be available in their individual spaces following the panel and Q&A session.

Thursday, September 22 - 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Friday, September 23 - 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, September 24 - 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sunday, September 25 - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Adults: $14.00 at the door / $11.00 online

Senior (65+): $12.00 at the door / $9.00 online

Children 13-17: $12.00 at the door / $9.00 online
Children 12 years & Under: FREE

Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place, 151 Princes’ Boulevard. Visit for more details, tickets and complete schedule.

images provided by the Fall Home Show

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Danforth Sighting

Part of the beauty of this city is the unexpected adventures that present themselves to you if you’re open enough to embrace the opportunity.

Last night, opportunity brought Ashley to The Only for a late night drink, which she ended up sharing with (well, drinking beside) one of her favourite Canadian musicians, Holly McNarland.

Always a sweetheart, Holly politely asked if she could share the sheltered bench and chatted briefly about the weather and the night before giving her attention back to the company she shared.

Holly is currently in the process of recording a new album and often does little gigs in and around the city, keep an eye on her Facebook page if you’re interested. Those pipes – she’s still got ‘em.

image from google images

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

2011 Fall TV Preview - Episode Seven

New Girl (Premieres Sept 20 @ 9pm – FOX)
Starring: Zooey Deschenel

Jess Day is an offbeat and adorable girl in her late 20s who, after a bad breakup, moves in with three single guys. Goofy, positive, vulnerable and honest to a fault, Jess has faith in people, even when she shouldn't. Although she's dorky and awkward, she's comfortable in her own skin. More prone to friendships with women, she's not used to hanging with the boys - especially at home. As their relationships progress, they come to realize they need each other more than they ever thought they would and end up forming a charmingly dysfunctional family.

Why I’m watching: Okay, so I have a weakness for quirky or strong female leads. Sue me. Zooey Deschenel has charmed me with her doe-eyed pixie magic in the majority of her film roles (other than The Happening, but let’s forget that piece of garbage ever happened). While the premise of the show seems to exploit the trend of dorky, awkward people being the new cool and I don’t have much faith in its original comedic or general plot lines, I’m curious to see what the crew of weathered producers can do with it.

The Walking Dead (Premieres October 16 @ 9pm - AMC)

Looking back on season 1, I realized that I was rather underwhelmed by the direction it took. It didn’t follow the comic all that closely and took a couple of turns that I’m not sure I really liked. Season 2 will continue where we were left last fall with the band of survivors of the zombie apocalypse, led by Rick (Andrew Lincoln), look for a safe place to call home. I’m hoping with the 13 episode order this time around, we can expect bigger things. And hopefully better things. If you’ve never read the graphic novel, I highly recommend that you do. It will fill in a lot of the lingering questions you may have from season 1.

Why I keep watching: I pretty much watch anything that has even the faintest whiff of the reanimated dead. And any time a graphic novel is turned into a movie or show, I’ll watch. I’m a nerd at heart.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 Fall TV Preview - Episode Six

The Firm (January 2012 (TBD) @ 10pm - Global/NBC)

The Firm is based on John Grisham’s novel of the same name and will star Josh Lucas as Mitchell McDeere (character played by Tom Cruise from the movie). The show will take place about 10 years from where the film and novel left off and follows the McDeere family as they return from the Federal Witness Protection Program only to find that old and new foes threaten their lives.

Why I’ll watch: Sweet Home Alabama.

Fringe (Sept 23 @ 9pm – FOX)
Starring: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble

Set in Boston, the FBI's Fringe Division was introduced when Special Agent Olivia Dunham enlisted institutionalized "fringe" scientist Walter Bishop and his globe-trotting, jack-of-all-trades son, to help in the investigation of unimaginable events and cases of multifaceted biomedical science.

Why I keep watching: Because the finale of last season BLEW MY MIND and I can’t even imagine what they’re going to do next. Fringe has been at risk of being cancelled almost every season, not because it’s a horrible show, but because it’s not a mainstream filler show that draws in the numbers. It’s smart. It’s complicated. It makes you think and makes you ask questions. Think of it as the good seasons of the X-Files on speed, it is that intense. Honestly, it will blow your mind.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Boys are Back in Town!

For most people, the Labour Day Weekend signifies the end of Summer work hours and leisurely post work drinks on a busy patio. But for Veronica it means a few short weeks before the start of her absolute favorite sport, hockey, and more specifically her boys in blue, The Toronto Maple Leafs!

Yes, they haven’t won a cup since 1967 and haven’t made it the playoffs since the 2003-2004 season. They didn’t make it very far but they still made it. It is embarrassing and a bit sad, but rebuilding takes time. And with a slew of young, new talent, under the helm of Brian Burke, it’s only a matter of time before we return to our former glory. After all, the Leafs are the most valuable team in the NHL, that should count for something!

The boys take to the ice on Monday September 19th against the Ottawa Senators (boooo) at the ACC at 7pm. You can also watch on LeafsTV if you don’t want to spend money on watching a bunch of scrubs play hard for a spot on the roster.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 Fall TV Preview - Episode Five

2 Broke Girls (Premieres Sept 19 @ 9:30 – CBS)
Starring: Kat Dennings, Beth Behrs

Set in New York City, two waitresses in their twenties—Max, who comes from a poor working-class family, and Caroline, who was born rich but is now down on her luck—work together at a Brooklyn restaurant, become fast friends and build their dream of one day opening a cupcake shop.

Why I’m watching: Ever since Charlie Bartlett and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, I’ve been a fan of Kat Dennings. She’s funny, she’s weird (and proud of it) and she can act. It’s refreshing to see her stand out among all the other wannabe actors her age. Not to mention this series was created by Sex and the City executive producer Michael Patrick King, which if nothing else, promises a little bit of sarcasm and a lot of sass.

Glee (Premieres September 20 @ 8pm - Global/Fox)
I’m less excited for the return of Glee this time around. I was rather bored with the “storyline” behind season 2 and it’s become too predictable. We all knew New Directions was not going to win Nationals. Just as they didn’t win Regionals in season 1. Prediction? They’ll win Nationals in season 3, just so they can do a proper send off for Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith) who are now seniors at McKinley. The only hope I have for the show that I so adored in season one is Ryan Murphy’s promise to write a clearer storyline rather than fit a story around a chosen set of songs. The only character I’m truly excited to see again is of course Blaine (Darren Criss). He’s so dreamy.

Why I keep watching: My weakness is musicals. Anything set to song and lyrics has my attention.