Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Transforming the Voices of Montreal

Infinititheatre at Moyse Hall

McGill University 853 Sherbrooke St. West

Arts Bldg.

One-week limited engagement, until Saturday October 27

With: Charles Bender, Shawn Campbell, Ellen David, Manouchka Elinor, Holly Gauthier-Frankel, Carmen Grant, Mariah Inger and Amir Sám Nakhjavani

This production is superbly directed by Guy Sprung who is no stranger to audiences in Montreal and Toronto. Nor is he a stranger to the works of William Shakespeare having directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Russian at the Pushkin Theatre in Moscow. He is also the Founder of the outdoor Shakespeare in High Park in 1983.


Guy has collaborated once more with Brian Smith with whom he worked on projects at the Stratford Festival, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Toronto Free Theatre and Infinitheatre, including Romeo and Juliet and Richard lll. In 2014 at the Stratford Festival Brian served as Mask Master for Guy Sprung’s theatrical reimagining of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, which played to enthusiastic audiences.


The cast consisting of five female and three male actors all perform admirably and on cue while a video plays behind them showing interesting scenery and also a hint at the sonnet being reinterpreted. There is dialogue at times directed at the audience, and even an impromptu sing-along. All in all it makes for a very pleasurable outing and the 75 minutes without intermission will hold your interest throughout. If you like the works of Shakespeare you must see this play. If you don’t like the works of Shakespeare you still must see this play.

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Au Vieux Duluth Revisited


Au Vieux Duluth

1997 boul. Marcel-Laurin

Ville St. Laurent, PQ.


Once again we returned to the place where there is never a parking problem and the greeting is always cheerful. Of course it helps that the menu is always appealing and the preparation is consistently good. Tonight Shirley and I both enjoyed Filet of Dore with garlic butter and accompanied by rice, roast potatoes, and salad. Our friend Gloria left an empty plate that formerly held chicken brochette, rice, roast potatoes, and salad. Our other friend, Ken managed to do the same with a hamburger steak smothered in onions and gravy and the usual trimmings. We didn’t bring wine, but it is permitted and in fact encouraged. We were ably served by Elias who did all the right things at the right time.

I look forward to our next visit.

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Christina Sings

Corina Sings Burt Bacharach

October 13, 2018

Harold Greenspon Auditorium

5801 Cavendish Blvd.


Corina Vincelli performed accompanied admirably on the piano by Daniel Witkowski in front of an almost full auditorium. Her voice was in great form and so was her personality as she glided through the Burt Bacharach songbook supplying anecdotes much to the enjoyment of her audience, many of them peers from Broadway Café. She was right at home in this milieu and the approximately 90 minute performances went by way too quickly. Corina invited three special guests to join her on stage to perform What the World Needs Now and later to sing That’s What Friends Are For. I didn’t get their names but they were extremely talented and not strangers to a majority of the audience. I predict a big future for this very talented diva. Having heard her play piano at Broadway Café, and having recently learned that she teaches piano both privately and at a local school, it would not surprise me to see Corina in concert accompanying herself on piano in the style of Dianna Krall. Probably in a much larger venue and a much more expensive price of admission. If you missed the show tonight you get a chance to see and hear her tomorrow night at 8:00 P.M. same location.

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Choir Boy

Centaur Theatre

October 10, 2018

Till October 28, 2018


The Centaur Theatre opened its 50th season last night with Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play, Choir Boy directed by Mike Payette. The bar has been set high for what will follow in the months to come. The play which runs slightly over 90 minutes without intermission runs smoothly and never leaves you restless. The set is spacious and allows for many scene changes and creative lighting.


Choir Boy is a coming-of-age story buoyed by the joyous harmonies of Gospel music and R&B under the direction of Musical Director and Arranger, Floydd Ricketts.


Principle actor Steven Charles plays the role of Pharus Jonathan Young.  Pharus was born to sing and wants nothing more than to take his rightful place as leader of the school’s legendary choir. Will the school have the courage to accept a gay choirmaster, or will it muzzle this angelic voice determined to be heard?

This is the first stage appearance in Montreal for Steven Charles, but I predict we will be seeing a lot more of him in the future. He has spent most of his career touring United States, Europe and Japan doing musicals.


Rounding out this beautifully blended cast is veteran actor Paul Rainville, no stranger to the Centaur stage, as Mr. Pendleton. Koodos to the entire cast for a job well done. In particular the a cappella harmonies.

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Broadway Cafe Once

Broadway Café


Once Edition

Segal Centre

Le Studio

Oct. 6, 2018


Broadway Café is the biggest entertainment value and one that never disappoints. The level of talent is amazing and as a reviewer I always feel guilty about paying so little to see and hear so many great artists. Whether singing songs from current Broadway productions or from classics, performers choose songs from the dozens of books of sheet music provided by the venue, and then put their name on a list to be called on to sing.

In keeping with the theme of the musical Once, based on the 2007 movie, tonight’s edition invited performers to bring their own instrument but for those that don’t have one an accompanist was provided in the in the form of Chad Linsley, who with limited prep time played the Grand piano like a master. The evening was hosted by Mikey Samra and Justin Johnson who were personable and kept things running smoothly through the three hours that I stayed for. I left during the second intermission so that I would be able to write this column before bed time. Highlights of the evening for me were as follows: Drag Queen Abby Long who did two songs from her upcoming show, “Drag Yourself to the Bain” on October 18. Read more about it on a future blog. Corina Vincelli once again blew me away with a song from the Burt Bacharach songbook. She too is doing a live concert on the 13 and 14 of October and I will write more in the next day or two about that show. There were at least two performers who accompanied themselves on piano but whose names I didn’t get. Also one amazing performance by a McGill student who only heard about Broadway Café four hours before she walked through the doors armed with a violin and a voice that never quits. I didn’t get her name either, but I suspect there will be other Broadway Café nights. Another highlight of the evening for me was a performance from some of the cast of an upcoming production of Mama Mia. More details to follow on future blog. If you have never attended a Broadway Café evening, watch for the next one.

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Who remembers taking the 17 streetcar through Snowdon Junction, past Garland Terminus, up over the train tracks and down the other side at Jean Talon before the Decarie Expressway was built? We then bypassed the entrance to Blue Bonnets, FDR, the Bonfire,  The Orange Julep, Miss Montreal, and Piazza Tomasso. Continuing North alongside what was then known as Laurentian Blvd, past Canadair and the Astor Swimming Pool. Eventually we arrived at our destination. End of the line. Cartierville. About a five minute walk later we found ourselves at the gates of the place they named Parc Belmont. Long before the construction of Disney Land and Disney World we had our own Magic Kingdom. Admission to the park was thirty-five cents. Strips of tickets could be purchased for the rides. The strips would provide forty tickets with five cent value for $2.00. Most rides would cost between four to 10 tickets so the total cost of the day would not be excessive. I believe the most expensive ride in the park was the Cyclone, a wooden Roller Coaster that even I, was brave enough to ride. On a smaller scale there was the Wild Mouse. Then there were the Salt and Pepper Shakers, the Bumping Cars, The Whip, Laugh in the Dark, and the Magic Carpet which at the end rolled you out on what else, a carpet. All this happening while a big dummy of a woman laughed continuously. There was a penny arcade, where there were actually things to do for a penny including watching hand activated films. There were tents housing shows featuring the strangest freaks of nature, some real some phony. There was a dock where you could board a motor boat and be taken out about a mile and back for about 50 cents. There were also lots of things to do on the grounds for free. There were High Wire performers twice a day; there was Club 800 on Saturday afternoons with Mike Stevens and there was live music for dancing nightly. Sadly, the park which had opened on June 9, 1923, closed permanently on October 13 1983.

Some say that developers found the land had a greater value as residential housing than as an entertainment venue thus today what was once our magic kingdom gave way to condominiums. Others believe that the park closed following a police raid that may have been motivated by City Hall’s displeasure at the park, a private venture taking away business from the then city-owned La Ronde. Unfortunately, the current generation will never have the opportunity to spend a day in what was our magic kingdom. Please feel free to talk about your memories at Belmont Park on

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Broadway Cafe


Broadway Café: Curtains Up edition

Saturday Sept. 8, 2018

The Studio

Segal Centre


If you weren’t part of the capacity crowd you missed out on a terrific evening of music. Hosted by Tranna Wintour and the pride of Halifax Nova Scotia, Ellie MacDonald the entertainment was continuous with one artist performing while another waited in the “on deck” circle and the hosts exchanged banter in between.


With the accompaniment  of Chris Barillaro on the grand piano, one by one the vocalists belted out songs from Broadway musicals. The opening number, Bring Him Home, from Les Miserables set the bar pretty high for the rest of the evening, but undaunted each consecutive artist delivered their finest. Taking a break of 15 minutes after about an hour of continuous entertainment the audience agreed that breaks were not necessary and the music never stopped. There were songs from musicals that were classics and some that were from lesser known productions. One of the highlight performances of the evening for me, was from a non Broadway show. The song was beautifully performed by a lady who was a first time visitor to the Broadway Café and who had recently mourned the loss of her Mother. It was from the 1936 movie, Modern Times with Charlie Chaplain. Chaplain had written the music inspired by Puccini’s Tosca. In 1954 John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and gave the song a title; Smile. It was recorded that year by Nat King Cole.


At 11:30, three and a half hours after it started, it did not appear as if the end was coming soon and sadly we had to leave. I look forward to the next Broadway Café October 6.  I hope to see you there.

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Mad Monk Cafe

Mad Monk Café

Madison Baptist Church

Sept. 7, 2018


Gerrie’s Picks


Another grand slam home run for deacon George on vocals and guitars, expertly accompanied by Phil Peters on bass. The playlist was chosen completely as requested by George’s wife, Gerrie. The first set, which ran approximately seventy-five minutes featured songs by Josh White, Howlin Wolf, Blind Willie Johnson and others. George’s voice was at its finest tonight. The ladies who did all the baking turned out their usual great quality of cakes and pastries. My favourites were the lemon squares and the honey cake, the latter which Gerrie pointed out was in honour of  Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year which starts next Sunday. Sadly, due to previous commitments, we had to leave during the first intermission. I know there was still lots of great music to follow.

The capacity audience will have enjoyed a great performance.


Till next time.


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The Algonquin Resort


 184 Adolphus Street, St Andrews  E5B 1T7 Canada


St. Andrews by the sea, New Brunswick Canada sits on the Bay of Fundy. Mere words cannot describe the beauty of this Maritime jewel. From fine dining to eating sea food from a trailer parked in a permanent location, and everything in between. Activities include whale and dolphin watching, and at certain times of day you can walk, or even drive, on the ocean floor.  There are 25 other places where you can book accommodations in hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast places, and then there is the ultimate experience, The Algonquin Resort and Golf Course. We had the pleasure of spending eight days at the hotel. The staff were all friendly, obliging, and genuinely sincere in all facets of our visit from check in to departure. Many famous Canadian politicians as well as U.S. Presidents have stayed there.


As you drive up the road that leads to the main building you can’t help but see a resemblance to the hotel in the movie The Shining. Perhaps that’s because Steven King stayed there when he wrote the book and returns there on occasion. There are many stories told of supernatural experiences and happenings over the years and the hotel staff provide nightly guided tours of the areas that have been reputed to be haunted.


The spacious lobby, the never ending patios, the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and the fitness room provide comfort for the guests. The morning brunch buffet leaves you anxious to start the day and the evening dinner menu can be enjoyed inside in the fine dining room, or more casually in the bar or outside on the patio.


If you are arriving at the St. John airport there are shuttle buses to bring you to the Algonquin. Whether you enjoy golf, cycling, hiking or just relaxing try The Algonquin. You will return.

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L’Original Peddlers Restaurant

7500 Boul. Newman

La Salle, PQ.



Unbelievable menu at moderate prices. I generally eat there on Sunday. They make the best crepes in Montreal bar none. I have never had a meal there that wasn’t surrounded with fruit that tasted like it just came off the vine. Family owned and operated in a setting that once was a private home. Plenty of parking. Great specials for $7.00 Monday thru Friday from 7:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. Tell them Sol sent you.

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