Entertainment Beat

Tom Allen & Company PHOTO: Submitted

Inspired by true events, Dandelions in the Wind follows the love story of a young white woman and a young black man during America’s Civil Rights era.

As part of a biracial couple in the sixties and seventies, playwright Jennifer Dance and her husband, Keith experienced racism firsthand. Sadly, it culminated in an attack which left Keith with a severely fractured skull and later resulted in his early demise, leaving Jennifer widowed with two young children and a third on the way.

Beach actor Jillian Rees-Brown is in Dandelions in the Wind.
Beach actor Jillian Rees-Brown is in Dandelions in the Wind.

 

The musical brings issues of racism and civil rights to the forefront while using a variety of music that ranges from slave chants to gospel songs and catchy dance numbers, to both entertain and

inform the audience about racial issues that still exist in our world today.

The cast features a slew of talent that includes names such as Jivaro Smith from Kinky Boots, Karen Jewels from The Lion King, and the Beach’s own Jillian Rees-Brown, who plays the role of Caroline and has appeared in shows including Billy Elliot the musical, Hey! Good Lookin’, and Toronto’s first professional production of the Rocky Horror Show. Young Beach starlet, Charlotte Hutchison-Hansen who is currently in Grade 4 at Balmy Beach School will be playing the role of young Sarah in Dandelions in the Wind. Born and raised in the Beach, Hutchison-Hansen takes ballet at Creswell Dance Academy, musical theatre at For the Love of It, and has appeared in the National Ballet of Canada’s Nutcracker for the past four years.

CharlotteHer mother, Stephanie Hutchison, who is a Principal Character Artist with the National Ballet of Canada, said that Hutchison-Hansen has reacted to the role with “total enthusiasm.” But noted that “it’s a good learning experience for her to understand that a lot of people do experience racism, discrimination, and bullying.”

Dandelions in the Wind runs February 10, 11, 14, 17, 18 at 7 p.m. and February 11, 12, 18, 19 at 2 p.m. and plays for student groups February 8, 9, 15, 16 at 10:30 a.m. at Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas Street East.

Tickets are $45 online and $50 at the door.

For more information, email dandelionsinthewindtoronto@gmail.com

Take an afternoon to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary with Toronto Beach Chorale at Beach United Church February 26 at 3 p.m.

Maple Sugar Music, the 60-voice concert choir’s second concert of the season, features a celebrated French Canadian fiddle mass as well as many well-known Canadian songs. With artistic direction by Mervin W. Fink, the event showcases Québec composer Pierick Houdy’s tribute to the folk singer, La Messe Québecoise, for choir, folk fiddle and spoons.

The choir will also perform Canadian songs like Leon Dubinsky’s “We Rise Again”, Alistair MacGillivray’s “Song for the Mira” and Paul Halley’s “Song for Canada”.

Beach United Church is located at 140 Wineva Ave., just north of Queen Street East. Tickets can be purchased from a choir member, with cash at the door, or through www.torontobeachchorale.com. Kids seven and under are free.

The Danforth’s intimate, idealistic, and independent Coal Mine Theatre continues its third season with Tracy Letts’s Superior Donuts, directed by Ted Dykstra.

Described as a “cross-racial, cross-generational comedy with a wallop of a social conscience”, this is the Canadian premiere of the play, which debuted at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in 2008,

Alex Poch-Goldin and Robert Persichini in Superior Donuts - photo by Shaun Benson
Alex Poch-Goldin and Robert Persichini in Superior Donuts – photo by Shaun Benson

opened on Broadway in 2009 and is tapped to become a network television comedy.

The play centres around the relationship between a despondent older donut proprietor (Robert Persichini) and a troubled 21-year-old black writer (Nabil Rajo) who talks his way into a job at the donut shop.

The nine cast members include award-winning Beach actor and playwright Alex Poch-Goldin, who plays an “arrogant yet lovable” Russian DVD store owner.

Superior Donuts runs through February 26 at 1454 Danforth Ave. For showtimes and tickets visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2595274.

It’s that time of year again. Toronto’s Winterfolk Blues and Roots Music Festival is on the Danforth Feb. 17-19, 2017 and Acoustic Harvest will be there with bells, and guitars, and dancing shoes. Its showcase is Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. at the Globe Bistro at 124 Danforth Ave.

Featuring Mary Kelly with Tom Leighton, Anne Walker, Missy Burgess, and John Prince and Bruce McDaniel, this is Acoustic Harvest’s fourth Winterfolk showcase. Last year, the East End-founded outfit was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for commitment to the development of music and community in Ontario.

Winterfolk is a weekend-long winter music festival with summer festival vibes. With 150 artists at five venues over three days, the “weatherproof” event is a unique way to experience music in Toronto and learn about the city’s roots, blues, jazz and folk scene.

Kingston Road United Church presents From Weimar to Vaudeville, with CBC’s Tom Allen and Company Sunday, Feb. 26 at 1:30 p.m.

Featuring Patricia O’Callaghan, Bryce Kulak, Kevin Fox, Lori Gemmell, Peter Gemmell and Tom Allen, the part musical, part dramatic production is set in the ‘20s and ‘30s during a time of great change and turmoil (sound familiar?).

Described as  “the story of two men, both sons of musical royalty,” From Weimar to Vaudeville takes place “as America emerges from the Great Depression and Germany descends into darkness and chaos. Two musical princes, one rich, one poor, reach to each other across hardship and time as the world tilts again toward war.”

Allen’s production features music by Richard Strauss, Charlie Chaplin, Kurt Weill, Fletcher Henderson, Mozart, Brahms, as well as cast originals.

Tickets are $30 for adults, free for children under 12, and available through the Kingston Road United Church website, www.kruc.ca. Kingston Road United Church is located at 975 Kingston Road.

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