The story of a dreamer-turned-outlaw gets a lively retelling in an acclaimed stage show featuring some of Jamaican music’s best-known songs. —By Lindsay Hope
Performers in The Harder They Come (photo by Robert Day).
The infectious rhythms and memorable melodies of the latest musical to hit Toronto come by way of a recent London stage sensation and a 1970s cult-classic film. This month, Mirvish Productions brings The Harder They Come to the Canon Theatre for its much-anticipated North American premiere.
Faithfully based on the 1972 movie of the same name—its co-writer and director, the late Perry Henzell, also penned the musical—this stage version was first performed in 2006 by the Theatre Royal Stratford East and has since garnered rave reviews over a number of sell-out runs in the U.K. The Toronto production features much of the original’s vibrant, youthful cast, not to mention a live reggae band with a groove so energetic, it rouses audience members to dance in their seats. Among the British stars are Joanna Francis as the God-fearing Elsa, and Rolan Bell, who hits all the right notes as the show’s tragic hero, Ivanhoe Martin. A poor Jamaican farm boy with stars in his eyes and a dream in his heart, Ivan heads to Kingston with ambitions to become a reggae hit-maker. Soon enough he is faced with the harsh realities of the music industry and veers sharply down the path of drugs, crime and vengeance, earning infamy for his exploits as an outlaw just as his musical star begins to rise.
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Places to eat, shop and see before or after seeing Anne of Green Gables—The Musical.
—By Amy Baker
EAT Anne’s rousing nature and appetite for adventure on Canada’s East Coast may inspire a hankering for some fresh seafood delicacies. Within walking distance from the Elgin Theatre, Bâton Rouge serves delicious tuna steak, seared rare and drizzled with lime and ginger dressing, while nearby Superior prepares steamed mussels and pan-seared spicy calamari for appetizers. If you’re in the mood for Italian, try the rustic offerings at Osteria Ciceri e Tria (106 Victoria St., 416-955-0258), and for a memorable, upscale dining experience, order chef Lorenzo Loseto’s tasting menu at George. After the show, unwind with a premium cocktail in the refined yet casual environs of Pantages Martini Bar & Lounge.
A duet of classic Italian operas hits all the right notes.
—By Amy Baker
Soaring arias, stunning sets, tales of tragedy—this month, experience dramatic performance at its finest as the Canadian Opera Company presents tour de force works by Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi.
One of the most celebrated operas in history, La Bohème sets the stage for a love affair guaranteed to captivate the whole audience. Based on French novelist and poet Henri Murger’s autobiographical novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, this four-act opera tells the story of Mimi and Rodolfo, two bohemians struggling over issues of infidelity, jealousy and poverty in 1830s Paris. Created by Puccini and his two librettists, Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, the show premiered at Turin’s Teatro Regio in 1896 and received mixed reviews. However, more than a century later, it is a staple of the Italian repertory and one of the most widely performed operas in the world. As Thomas Edison once said: “Men die and governments change, but the songs of La Bohème will live forever.” The COC’s production, starring Canadians David Pomeroy and Frédérique Vézina in the lead roles, is sure to be a worthy addition to the canon of this timeless classic.