Entertainment Beat

East End resident Courtenay Stevens is part of the cast of Melancholy Play, written by Sarah Ruhl and presented by The Empty Room.

Courtenay Stevens
Courtenay Stevens

Stevens, playing Frank, has worked across the country as an actor, from community theatre groups in Vancouver, to CanStage’s touring production of The Overcoat, from the Stratford Festival to the Toronto Fringe Festival. He recently finished a 19-country tour as a clown with Cirque du Soleil.

Melancholy Play, billed as a contemporary farce with music, deals with depression and mental health issues. Performances run from Jan. 29 to Feb. 8 at The Collective Space, 221 Sterling Rd. in the West End. Tickets start at $15, and are available online.



The Cello concert series continues at Seicho-No-Ie Centre on Sunday, Feb. 1, with Winona Zelenka.

Winona Zelenka PHOTO: Bo Huang
Winona Zelenka
PHOTO: Bo Huang

Zelenka is known for her tone, and is one of the country’s finest soloists. She has performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and often performs with conductor John Barnum, including appearances with the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra, the Scarborough Philharmonic, and the Huronia Sinfonietta. Zelenka formed Trio Arkel with violinist Marie Bérard and violist Teng Li, and regularly appears in numerous other concert series.

The Cello series runs for six installments, with half a dozen acclaimed cellists performing Bach’s cello suites along with other solo material. The show starts at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 1 at Seicho-No-Ie Centre, 662 Victoria Park Ave., just north of Danforth. Tickets for Winona Zelenka are $20.



Mark Eisenman’s trio will expand to a quartet for two special in-home jazz performances as part of the recurring Jazz in the Kitchen series.

Eisenman, a jazz piano institution in Toronto, is backed by bassist Steve Wallace and John Sumner. For these two performances, alto saxophonist Campbell Ryga will add his Juno-winning and Grammy-nominated sound to the mix.

Jazz in the Kitchen takes place at a private Beach home, with an audience of only 30. No club in Toronto can match the intimate atmosphere or the feeling of almost being part of the band.

The shows take place on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 2 and 3. Find out more or order tickets online.



Due to popular demand, Beach United Church is bringing back the George Olliver Duo for the Beat the Winter Blahs fundraiser on Friday, Feb. 6.

Olliver, billed as “the blue-eyed prince of soul,” is a prolific songwriter, producer, and recording artist, having played keyboards in Mandala. He has opened for the Rolling Stones and performed alongside Whitney Houston, Junior Walker, Etta James, and Wilson Picket among many others.

Peter Mueller has spent his career as a guitarist backing the likes of Tom Cochrane, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Anne Murray, and more, and played in the Canadian Idol backup band for six years.

Tickets to Beat the Winter Blahs with the George Olliver Duo are $25, available from the church office, at the door, or online.



Acoustic Harvest presents Trent Severn (the musical group, not the canal system), with opening act Shawna Caspi, on Saturday, Feb. 7.

Trent Severn
Trent Severn

Trent Severn consists of three Stratford musicians: Emm Gryner, Dayna Manning, and Laura C. Bates. The trio combines violin, guitar, banjo, bass, and percussion to back their harmonizing voices on songs based on stories and tales that are distinctly Canadian. Gryner and Manning have performed alongside each other for years, and according to the group’s bio, Manning wrote her first song while baby-sitting Bates.

Caspi has peeled back the layers to match her latest album, Apartments for Lovers, to her live show, which consists of her and a guitar. Her honest songs and fingerstyle guitar playing have seen her perform across the country, from cafes to festival stages.

The show takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7 at Robinson Hall, St. Nicholas Anglican Church, 1512 Kingston Rd., just east of Warden Avenue. Tickets are $25 at the door or $22 in advance.



Beach Jazz and Reflection returns to Beach United Church on Saturday, Feb. 7, with an appearance by Jeff McLeod and Alex Dean.

The theme of this concert is Songs of Peace and Meditation, and McLeod, an organist and pianist, will be playing the church’s painstakingly restored pipe organ. Originally from Saskatchewan, McLeod, recently came to Toronto after spending six years at Rochester, New York’s Eastman School of Music, where he taught while earning his doctorate.

Dean is a renowned saxophonist, having performed and recorded with countless fine players and musical legends, including Gil Evans, Mel Torme, Aretha Franklin, Harry Connick Jr., Ray Charles, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Beach Jazz and Reflection is free to attend, though a freewill offering is collected. The performance runs from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7 at Beach United Church, 140 Wineva Ave., just north of Queen Street East.



Jazz drummer Greg Pilo’s weekly quartet gigs continue at the Salty Dog, 1980 Queen St. E. The shows run every Tuesday from 7 to 10 p.m., with no cover charge to see some of the finest jazz players in the country.

Tonight, Jan. 27, features Shawn Nyquist on saxophone, Eric Boucher on piano, and Clark Johnston on bass.

On Tuesday, Feb. 3 Pilo will be joined by Pat LaBarbera on saxophone, Brian Dickenson on piano, and Neil Swanson on bass.

On Tuesday, Feb. 10, Mark Kieswetter will cover piano duties, with Ryan Oliver on saxophone and Ross MacIntyre on bass.

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