A veteran photojournalist on the arts and entertainment scene, Julian Bynoe is a Toronto-based cartoonist, artist and arts blogger. From 1996 to 2014, he was the arts/entertainment editor for the street publication The Outreach Connection, and has had articles featured in Realms Magazine, among others.

EDITION #114 - WEEK OF DECEMBER 5-11, 2016

Petty panto not a snoozer

Sleeping Beauty – The Deliriously Dreamy Family Musical (Ross Petty Productions)

Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge Street

Thursday, December 1; 7 p.m.

Theatre Review

There’s no denying that producer Ross Petty’s diminished “King of Boos” stage presence at his annual holiday pantomime Sleeping Beauty – The Deliriously Dreamy Family Musical is slightly felt here. However, the talented cast in the twisted fairytale make up for it with some exuberance played out as usual under Tracey Flye’s direction in keeping it fun and fancy-free.

Celebrating the birth of Princess Rose in the Kingdom of Torontonia, the emaciated King (Laurie Murdoch) and bossy Queen (Lisa Horner) couldn’t be more pleased with the blessings from the three fairies upon their daughter until evil Swamp Sorceress and CEO of decorator firm Dark Designs, Malignicent (Hillary Farr), crashes the party and curses the infant Rose with death upon pricking her finger before her eighteenth birthday for not being invited – plus her distaste for the palace interior décor.

All is not lost, for fairy trainee Sparklebum (Paul Constable) provides a blessing to lessen Rose’s curse, that will only go have her go into a deep sleep that can only be broken by the kiss of true love and her own trio of gold lamé guardian angels (Alexandra Beaton, Taveeta Szymanowicz and Jennifer Mote); to protect her from sharp objects until her coming of age.

Approaching that day, the adult Rose (A.J. Bridel) yearns to get out of that literal protective bubble and experience life itself, which could include the shy court lutist Luke (James Daly) who doesn’t see him anything more than just a brotherly figure to her. Crushed over the chances of being with his crush, he becomes an unknowing pawn of Malignicent’s scheme to have Rose fall into eternal sleep in order to remake Torontonia and soon, the whole world in her own dark image.

Writer Jeremy Diamond – better known for his animated projects Odd Job Jack, Pillars of Freedom and last year’s CBC holiday special The Curse of Clara – doesn’t do too bad a task in scripting the panto by putting in a sweet romance between Rose and Luke among the comic calamity involved. Although the topical jokes tend to lean on the light side when there was so much going on in the world to milk it for all its worth and the typical innuendo took the backseat (as it were) for a change, at least Constable’s draggy Sparklebum and Eddie Glen, the perennial minion to the baddies, fill those gaps well enough respectively.

Farr plays out her hammy best as the residential badness, so it’s highly possible Petty can find good actors to fill his shoes (and/or high heels) for future shows. Murdoch and Horner do well on their dual roles as royal couples of Torontonia and in Act Two’s hippy-dippy Dreamland rulers (and the counting sheep puns go a long way here). As for the star-crossed couple, Bridel is good in voice and comedic turns; as Daly neatly pulls it off as the shy, self-depreciating romantic hero waiting for his moment to come both in song and on acoustic guitar.

One of the show’s funnier moments are the sponsor “ads” where they’re more than willing to spoof themselves (best one goes to the Sleep Country Canada and its president Christine Magee) and their products. Along with the splendid set/costume designs of Michael Gianfrancesco, Kimberly Purtell’s lighting designs and glittery projections of Beth Kates and Ben Chaisson, Sleeping Beauty rates as fairly decent fun-for-all panto to watch and entertains when it does.

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Sleeping Beauty – The Deliriously Dreamy Family Musical continues through January 7. For tickets and information, call 1-855-599-9090 or rosspetty.com.

E.T. phones home for the holidays

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Live In Concert

Venue: Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front Street East

Dates/Times: December 29-30 at 7:30 p.m.

Admission/Information: $49-99; call 1-855-872-7669 or sonycentre.ca

Arts Feature

Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, one of the films that defined 1980s pop culture about an emotionally lost boy and his equally lost alien; comes again to life as performed live by the Motion Picture Symphony Orchestra performing John Williams’ Academy Award-winning iconic score, conducted by Evan Mitchell at Sony Centre for two exclusive nights December 29 and 30 on a vast HD screen.

Put on by Attila Glatz Concert Productions in conjunction with Sony Centre, who also have produced, promoted and manages classical, jazz, folk, country, movie, and video game music performances worldwide. Their best known signature presentation has been is the beloved New Year’s Concert, SALUTE TO VIENNA, presented annually in more than 20 cities across North America, including Toronto, during the holiday season, have now expanded into live orchestrations of modern cinematic classics under their Film Concerts Live! banner with Gladiator, The Godfather, Star Trek (2009), Amadeus and another Spielberg masterpiece set for next year, Jurassic Park.

Prior to the December 29th screening, CTV and local Metro film critic Richard Crouse with special guest film writer and critic Thom Ernst, best known as the former host/producer of TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies and currently the host and producer of Making Movies the Canadian Way airing on Bell Fibe TV1; will discuss the film’s impact on cinema and world culture in the lower lobby concourse at 6:30 p.m.

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Jurassic Park In Concert coming to the Sony Centre next December 2017. For tickets and information, call 1-855-872-7669 or sonycentre.ca.