Some faces familiar to anyone who’s enjoyed a Bard in the Park performance over the past decade can be seen in a new theatre company’s production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, with dates in February and March at Gerrard Art Space.
Melissa Beveridge, co-founder along with Keith Williams of Mortar and Pestle Productions, said starting a new theatre production company has taken much hard work and dedication, but has been worth the effort.
“It’s a new experience for me, but it’s very rewarding,” she said.
Working with old friends, most of whom have been involved with the Community Centre 55-affiliated Bard in the Park productions of Shakespeare, has been a definite plus, said Beveridge.
Not only does she know where their acting strengths lie, most Mortar and Pestle members also contribute beyond acting to the production: along with being actors, the co-founders and board members of the company include director, producer, artistic director, dramaturge, costume designer, seamstress, and graphic designer among their collective credits.
The art gallery venue is both a challenge and a blessing, according to Beveridge. While the small space means no complicated sets or set changes, it also means the staging becomes very important.
Another plus is that the cast can actually rehearse in the space where the play will be performed.
“It’s been a wonderful place to become a part of,” said Beveridge, who said Joanne Filletti from GAS was looking for a theatre group to use the space at the same time her new company was looking for a venue.
“It’s kind of exciting, because it’s a first for Gerrard Art Space and also for our company,” said Beveridge.
Blithe Spirit is a farce that tells the story of novelist Charles Condomine, his second wife Ruth, and a dinner party they host featuring spiritualist Madame Arcati. After a seance brings back Condomine’s first wife, the resulting jealous ghosts, misunderstandings and catastrophic blunders result in a fast-paced comedy full of laughs from start to finish.
Mortar and Pestle’s production of Blithe Spirit runs at 8 p.m. from Feb. 25 to 27 and on March 3 and 4, with 2 p.m. matinee performances on Feb. 27 and March 5. Tickets are $15 at the door or in advance from GAS. Reservations can be made by emailing email@example.com.
Seven Siblings Theatre, founded by East End residents, presents Picasso at the Lapin Agile, on now until Feb. 28 at Round in Kensington Market.
Directed by Danforth resident Erika Downie, Picasso is a surreal comedy written by the legendary Steve Martin. The story features a meeting of Albert Einstein (played by Beach-raised actor Will King) and Pablo Picasso in the years just before each made their most renowned contributions to the science and art worlds. The two debate the meaning of the universe and art’s role in that meaning.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile features actors Dylan Mawson, Jamie Johnson, Danforth resident and Seven Siblings co-founder Madryn McCabe, Erin Burley, Erik Helle, Dylan Evans, Andrew Gaunce and Maxwell LeBoeuf.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. from Feb. 25 to 28, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 27. Tickets are $25. Round is at 152A Augusta Ave.
Jeanine Mackie and her band will be performing their fourth annual show at The Drake Underground since releasing their Live at the Drake CD in 2012.
Mackie’s R&B band includes Bob McAlpine on guitar, Matt Horner on keyboards, Will Jarvis on bass, Turner King on sax, Al Cross on drums and Sherie Marshall on backing vocals.
The Drake is at 1150 Queen St. W. Tickets for the show are $12 in advance or $15 at the door.
On Feb. 25, 26 and 27, Vaché will add his decades of experience on cornet, trumpet and flugelhorn to the trio’s solid rhythms. The trio is Eisenman along with Steve Wallace on bass and Terry Clarke on drums.
All three nights run from 9 to 11:30 p.m. at Jazz Bistro, 251 Victoria St., featuring Eisenman’s favourite Toronto piano.
The inaugural Cold Weather Blues Fest will take place on Feb. 26 and 27, with 14 bands turning up the heat at 13 bars along Queen Street East and Kingston Road in the Beach.
With an aim of offering a break to those suffering from cabin fever, there are plenty of performances to choose from, with all scheduled to run from 8 to 11 p.m. both nights.
On Kingston Road, Alfie Smith will play Saturday at Green Dragon, while Mr. Rick’s Rukus Juice will be at The Grover both nights. On Queen Street, Big Rude Jake will be at the Balmy Beach Club on Saturday night. Breakwall will feature The Burgess Boys on Friday and Clint Ryan on Saturday. Castro’s will host Danny Kroha, while Julian Fauth will play Claret Wine Bar. Julian Taylor will play Saturday at The Gull and Firkin. Sugar Brown will perform at Hogtown Smoke, while Mike Daley and Terry Wilkins will be at Outrigger Friday. Saturday night will see Bad Luck Woman and Her Misfortunes at The Salty Dog. Paul Reddick will play Skwish starting at 9 p.m. Common Ground will be at St. Louis Bar and Grill, and Johnny Max will hold court at The Stone Lion.
Two nights billed as evenings of “song and word for solidarity” will take place on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26 and 27.
The two nights are aimed at welcoming Syrian refugee families to the community, and will feature poetry, stories, and songs in an open mic format. Both evenings will feature poetry from Kate Marshall Flaherty and music from Anne Hurley and Jim Videto.
Friday night’s event will run from 7 to 11 p.m. at Madhus Café, 982 Kingston Rd. Saturday’s will run from 7 to 10 p.m. at Grinder on Main, 126 Main St. Donations will be collected for three refugee families sponsored by local resettlement groups.
Ian White and his band will perform at Hirut Ethiopian Restaurant, 2050 Danforth Ave. at Woodbine, at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 4. White’s band includes former Beach Metro News art and entertainment writer Bill MacLean on bass and backup vocals. Admission is free.
Beach Jazz and Reflection returns on Saturday, March 5, with the Jake Hiebert Trio.
Hiebert, well known under the name Big Rude Jake, has been a fixture on the Toronto music scene for two decades. His performances range through blues, jazz, rockabilly, gospel, folk, ragtime, punk, and more. For this performance, the trio will perform a program called Gospel Jazz: Down by the Riverside, digging deep into Hiebert’s love of music history.
Jazz and Reflection services run from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. Admission is free, but a freewill offering is collected.
The album is a collection of songs written about the area around Coulson, Ontario, where Walker was raised. Though she lives in Toronto, her perspective on rural life is grounded in her family’s five generations of history in the Coulson area.
For the show, Walker will be backed by Paul Mills on guitar and Shane Cook on fiddle, as well as her daughters Erica and Kate singing backup. There will be a multimedia element to the show, with vintage photos projected to complement the songs.
The show takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Robinson Hall, St. Nicholas Anglican Church, 1512 Kingston Rd. east of Warden. Tickets are $25 or $22 in advance.