Reel Beach: Toronto TV shows feature number of rising stars

Laysla De Oliveira has a donut in a scene for Locke and Key shot at Dineen Outpost on Gerrard Street.


The television industry was booming in Toronto before the pandemic shut everything down.

Will filming resume soon? I am trying to imagine a love scene or a fight with physical distancing.

Here are some youth-oriented shows that were finished before COVID-19 changed our world. Catch some diverse young actors before they become famous.

While walking in a park I overheard (from a safe distance) a man say, “I read almost all of Sherlock Holmes when I was a kid…Hardy Boys, too.”

Generations of boys and girls grew up on the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries. Feeling nostalgic?

Now there is an upcoming Disney series (on YTV here) about amateur sleuths Joe and Frank Hardy. Did you know that the first 20 books were ghostwritten by Whitby resident Leslie McFarlane (1902-1977)?

Malvern grad Atticus Mitchell is a series regular. Growing up in the Beach he played hockey at Ted Reeve Arena and delivered Beach Metro News. For his full story read the BMN article From the Beach to Fargo to Calgary (Oct. 20, 2015). ( )

The role of the boys’ grandmother is played by Linda Thorson. You may remember her as the lead on the British spy series, The Avengers, way back in 1968 when she was only 20 years-old.

Thorson was born and raised in Toronto as Linda Robinson in a family that owned chocolate companies. Sweet!

Does anyone remember Jenny Lind candy shops in the Beach, including one beside the Scarboro Theatre on Kingston Road?

Locke and Key is a big hit for Netflix and has been renewed for a second season. It’s a supernatural fantasy about a family that returns to their ancestral home where they find magical keys.

Toronto’s Connor Jessop has the role of the eldest son, Tyler Locke.

The evil demon Dodge is played by another young actor born and raised in Toronto, Laysla De Oliveira. She describes the show as “Harry Potter meets Stranger Things.”

De Oliveira’s family is originally from Brazil. She told People magazine that she “loves playing a villain” and “I’ve found a power in being Latina and I feel very seen.”

She calls herself “a scaredy-cat in real life.”

Locke and Key filmed scenes at Ripley’s Aquarium, U of T., the R.O.M., Maple Leaf Tavern (955 Gerrard St. E.) and Dineen Outpost (1042 Gerrard St. E.) as well as in Nova Scotia.

Will you go back to movie theatres anytime soon? The Stage 3 reopening of Toronto from COVID-19 restrictions started on July 31, and theatres can now open as long as safety rules are followed.

One of the first feature films to return is The Broken Hearts Gallery which filmed at Te Aro restaurant on Queen Street East in Leslieville. The romantic comedy marks the directorial debut of Hamilton-born Natalie Krinsky who also wrote the screenplay.

Other shows which filmed in East Toronto locations include Dare Me (USA Network) with scenes at Monarch Park Stadium and In the Dark (CTV Drama) at Linsmore Tavern and Sidewalk Café, both on the Danforth.

Superhero shows filmed in Toronto include The Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (Disney, July 17), The Umbrella Academy (Netflix, returning July 31) and The Boys (Amazon Prime, Sept. 4).

Let’s hope the day comes soon when we can go back to wondering which young actor will be a rising star.

Until then we can make like superheroes and wear a mask.

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