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On the Funny Side of the Street: A Night of Brighter Laughter

Feb 1st, 2016 Archives Rob Reid 3 min read

Christine Lavin has been tickling the collective heart of the New York City folk/singer/songwriter scene since 1984, when she left hospital work to pursue music full time. Born and raised in Peekskill, a city nestled within the New York Metropolitan area in Westchester County, Lavin became the de facto den mother of the NYC acoustic music community, performing and recording while promoting such artists as Suzanne…

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Songs of Rain, Snow & Remembering

Sep 2nd, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 2 min read

While listening to Lynn’s Jackson’s contemplative Songs of Rain, Snow and Remembering I was reminded of the adage: Every cloud has a silver lining How this old saw relates to the Kitchener singer/songwriter’s eight studio album is self-explanatory. Jackson sings her sad songs with such passion, empathy and eloquence that she draws listeners back from the edge of despair to a safe place of solace…

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Turning Human Baseness into Comic Gold

Aug 26th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

STRATFORD — The Stratford Festival’s 63rd season opened with Antoni Cimolino directing Hamlet with a sure creative hand. The 2015 season’s last production is The Alchemist, an acid comedy written by Ben Jonson — William Shakespeare’s friend, rival and sometime critic — also directed with a steady hand by the festival’s artistic director. The two productions bookend a season that maintained an admirable level of…

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Love’s Labour’s Found

Aug 20th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

STRATFORD — You don’t have to be familiar with the chronology of William Shakespeare’s plays to sense that Love’s Labour’s Lost is an early effort. It’s obviously the work of a young playwright anxiously strutting his stuff. Brimming with ‘poetry, wit and invention,’ Shakespeare negotiates the forest of language, occasionally losing his way, as he edges along the winding path towards dramatic mastery. Paradoxically, it…

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Such Stuff as Dreams

Aug 9th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 3 min read

I am alone on the moon — Mary’s Wedding BLYTH — William Shakespeare said it most beautifully — we are such stuff as dreams are made on. Stephen Massicotte takes Shakespeare’s observation to heart in his lovely dream play Mary’s Wedding. It’s the last of the four main stage plays to be presented by the Blyth Festival this season; it’s the first production to be directed…

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Burton Cummings Stands Tall

Aug 7th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

KITCHENER — American Woman was more than a punch in the solar plexus of a strutting international superpower entangled in an unpopular war. When it hit the airwaves in January 1970 it was a defiant declaration that Canadian rock music had arrived on the world stage. All songs led to the rock anthem Thursday night (August 6) when former Guess Who lead singer/keyboardist Burton Cummings…

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Fury Sinks Under Its Own Steam

Aug 1st, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 3 min read

BLYTH — In the fall of 1913 the deadliest storm ever to strike the Great Lakes sunk 12 ships. More than 250 lives were lost. Of the dozen ships that went down, four have yet to be found. In 2000 the Wexford steamer was discovered in 75 feet of water in Lake Huron, nine miles off St. Joseph. Former Blyth Festival artistic director Peter Smith…

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Many Lives of Nonie Thompson

Jul 20th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 3 min read

It’s always a special occasion when Nonie Thompson returns to the Registry Theatre. In 2008 she suffered an aneurysm on the eve of her concert at the vibrant downtown Kitchener performing arts venue. The scary medical crisis produced consequences both literal and figurative. It compelled the singer/songwriter to leave the familiar surroundings of Kitchener-Waterloo and return home to Penetanguishene on the southeasterly tip of Georgian Bay. It also became a…

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Waterloo Region Festivals Reflect Community Personalities

Jul 14th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 8 min read

WATERLOO REGION — We are fortunate in Waterloo Region to have an abundance of free outdoor music festivals sprinkled throughout the summer. Interestingly, the three festivals that have been around the longest embody and reflect the personalities of the communities in which they unfold. The university city of Waterloo has a jazz festival, blue-collar Kitchener has a blues festival and the early Scottish mill town of Cambridge has…

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Inviting the world to Kitchener

Jul 6th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 2 min read

  KITCHENER — Isabel Cisterna is a sterling example of one person making a difference. Since founding Neruda Arts in 2001, the Chilean-born and raised artistic director, actor, playwright, arts promoter and cultural activist has exerted a singularly significant impact on the cultural texture and artistic life of Waterloo Region. Sure she has the vivacious — and infectious — energy of a devoted publicist, obsessively…

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Looking Ahead at Stratford

Jul 6th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

STRATFORD — Some time ago the Stratford Festival started announcing next season’s playbill mid-summer of the preceding season rather than waiting until season’s end. The practice was likely initiated to prevent programming tidbits from being leaked to the press — eager-beaver scribes with a nose for a scoop. Nonetheless, the annual announcement is like learning in advance what you will be getting from the jolly fellow dressed…

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Transforming History into Drama

Jul 4th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

BLYTH — One of the magical things about the creative process is that you never know where, when, how or even why, an idea, theme or concept — in short, inspiration — will transform into art. Playwright Sean Dixon was in Lucan, Ont. a  few years ago conducting research for The Outdoor Donnellys — a play produced by the Blyth Festival about the infamous ‘Black’…

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Blues in the Backyard

Jul 3rd, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 2 min read

CAMBRIDGE — I love house concerts and backyard folk picnics. I enjoy their causal, informal intimacy. I enjoy the opportunity of meeting and chatting with the artists. I’ve met some wonderful artists — David Francey, the former trio Modabo, Nashville alt country songwriter David Onley, Texas songwriters Slaid Cleaves and Gurf Morlix and Scottish folk singer Robin Laing, to name a few — in the…

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Fishing is Family Fun

Jul 2nd, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 1 min read

KITCHENER — Contrary to what some people might think who while away hours watching The World Fishing Network, fishing is not primarily for professionals. Fishing is for families. It’s something for moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles to share with their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Fishing is family fun. If you are looking for a place and an event to dip your…

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Seeds Grow Into Drama at Blyth

Jun 27th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 5 min read

BLYTH — A dear friend who passed away much too early once described southwestern Ontario as the belly button of Canada, meaning that the area is a lifeblood of sorts. It’s certainly a fertile, agricultural bread basket. This fact has been reaffirmed every summer since 1984, when I began covering the Blyth Festival, first for the Brantford Expositor and then, since 1986, for the Waterloo…

Jonathan Goad, Geraint Wyn Davies. Photography by Don Dixon.

Enough to Make The Bard Smile

Jun 23rd, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 23 min read

STRATFORD — The Stratford Festival’s opening week was its most successful in years. The week launching its 63rd season was strengthened by a pair of solid productions the following week. Of the eight productions, only one — Carousel — was an unequivocal disappointment. An impressive record. Most encouraging was the fact that the works of William Shakespeare were well served. All in all, it was enough…

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Blyth Festival 2015 Season Overview

Jun 16th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 7 min read

BLYTH — There is something old and something new about Gil Garratt. When the Blyth Festival was looking for a new artistic director last fall, it turned to an old friend. The Toronto-based, theatrical jack-of-all-trades has been associated with the festival for much of his professional life. For most of the previous 16 years he served the festival in various capacities before being appointed its…

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Myra’s Story Returns to Kitchener

Jun 16th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

KITCHENER — I love one-person plays. To me they are the dramatic equivalent of short stories. Sometimes the plays are written by others, sometimes they are written by the artists portraying the character or characters on stage. Despite finding the term ‘one-person’ awkward, I’ve enjoyed many one-person plays over the years. Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain, Julie Harris as Emily Dickinson, Douglas Campbell as William…