Sunday, September 28, 2014

If it's Tuesday, this must be Toronto.

I was raised on Musicals. I grew up thinking that all families were obsessed with Musicals.

On car road trips my mom, dad, brother and I, would play a game where someone would sing a line from a song, and someone else would have to sing the next line, or perhaps sing a line from another song from the same Musical. We all thought this was great fun.

My  beloved dad worked as the House Manager at the O'Keefe Centre in Toronto back in the heyday of musical theatre.  The O'Keefe's official opening in October of 1960 was celebrated with the world premier of "Camelot" starring Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet.  Sadly being only 10 years old, I fell asleep and missed most of the second act.  As time went on big musicals would use Toronto, specifically The O'Keefe  as their "try out" location before heading to Broadway with the result that I was immersed in musicals throughout my formative teen years.

I am delighted to report that that love of musical theatre is shared by my daughter, Kaitlyn, who at age eight, asked for row seats to "Phantom of the Opera" for her Birthday.

This all goes to explain why Kait and I flew to Toronto last Tuesday afternoon, saw two musicals, and then flew back to Halifax on Thursday afternoon !

The story begins last June when I discovered that the cheeky musical "The Book of Mormon" would be coming to Toronto in September.  The die was cast when I realized that "Wicked" would be in Toronto at the same time!  On-line tickets were ordered, a Porter Airline seat sale was taken advantage of, and three months later we were off on our much-anticipated adventure.

Toronto's distinctive skyline.  See the SkyDome and the CN Tower ?
Flying into the small island airport on Porter Airlines you are presented with stunning views of downtown Toronto. 

We are lucky enough to have wonderful family who live in the core of the City and let us flop with them, took us out for a lovely dinner and just generally made us not feel like free-loaders.

In a frenzy of flights and transit and walks, the big trip has come and gone.

The Toronto I visited, is so very different from the Toronto of my childhood.  I felt intimidated, thrilled and  over-whelmed by a feeling of not belonging.  As the saying goes: "A great place to visit: but I wouldn't want to live there".  Kait felt quite the opposite: she loved the excitement, crowds and frenzy of of the City.

Took me a bit to figure out how my hand was reflected in that far off building. 
Dundas Street approaching Yonge.

On Wednesday I met up with a dear friend for lunch at Milestones.

Me and my good friend, Bonnie.

I must admit that there is a beauty to the City, but I found the stunning contrasts of the pretty people walking past the beggars most troubling.  I struggled with how to deal with them too: giving to some and speaking to others.  I just wonder if at some point, I too would find it easier just to walk by ...

And then of course there were the shows.

I loved each of them for very different reasons.  I know the music from both shows well, and though I knew the story of each, I found "The Book of Mormon" to be a grittier than I expected.  Each musical won a "Best Musical".   Here is the hit song "Defying Gravity" from the 2004 Tony Awards introduced by Joel Grey who played The Wizard.  Book of Mormon won its award in 2012 and "I Believe" is our anti-hero's touching statement of his suddenly rattled. Mormon faith.

 I think you either like musicals or they just aren't your cup of tea.  There seems to be no middle ground.  Which camp do you fall into ?  



  1. Raising hand wildly. I am in the musical camp! I am in the musical camp for sure! First, am so envious of you for getting to see both of these musicals. Would love to have enjoyed them--and some day may. When our youngest was 12 both of the grandmas took us all to Toronto to see Phantom. It was stunning. Chris is the more musical-loving one of the kids; he and I were transfixed. I wrote a four page spiritual essay describing exactly what it meant in spiritual terms and shared it with my mom. She stared blankly back and said, "Wha...? You got all of THAT out of it?" Anyway could write a four page essay about the wonders of musicals, but won't do that here on your blog. Really, really enjoyed this, Sybil! Glad you had a good time, even though you wouldn't want to live there.

    1. Kathy, I was just talking to a friend about these musicals being "morality plays" and there you go talking about them in spiritual terms.

      Did you follow the links to the songs or do you know them already.

      If I had to pick one to re-watch it would be "Wicked" but I know for Kait it would be "Book of Mormon".

      Do you know "Miss Saigon" ? It is a real gut wrencher. It's an updated version of "Madame Butterfly"... set in Vietnam. Written by the same chaps who did "Les Miserables" ...

    2. I, errr, didn't follow the links to the songs YET. Wicked is the one I really really want to see, but it hasn't happened. And when visiting NYC with Kiah the tickets were way too expensive and we couldn't afford them. Always wanted to see the Lion King. Desperately. Miss Saigon did come to a college near here and we did see it. However, for some weird reason, I didn't love it, even though so many did. Not sure why. My mom loved it.

    3. This was a "Line of Credit" trip. Figured if I waited till I had the money I'd never get to go. lol. Generally folk were VERY divided on "Miss Saigon" about 60/40 against. Mom and I went. We almost didn't go coz we heard what an awful show it was. So we went with low expectations and I think that made a difference. We were both very moved by it. I went sobbing to the lobby at intermission and bought the damn CD right then are there. We saw "Lion King" years ago but on the same weekend as "Mama Mia" (I told you I was a musical nut!). We loved "MM" not so much "Lion King". Again, the latter had been raved about and my expectations were very high.

      Caught "Sweeney Todd" on PBS the other night. Performed with the N.Y. Philharmonic Orchestra. Not the full show but close to it ... and FREE ! Here's a link to it:
      They also did "Company" too. I love Stephen Sondheim. BTW Stephen Colbert was in the cast ! I'm a big fan of his.

  2. My son asked to go see the Phantom when he was 7. We had a fantastic train trip to "the big city", toured the CN tower, went out for spaghetti supper, swam in the hotel pool....then he fell asleep half way through the show :)
    I've always wanted to go to the special screenings of movies (like "Grease") where the audience joins in and sings all the songs. Did you ever watch the old Elvis movies? When I was a teen, I used to stay up late on Sat nights and watch those things...loved them. Nothing like bursting into song at a moment's notice!

    1. Did you got to "The Organ Grinder" for the spaghetti supper. We went there quite a bit before shows when Kait was young.

      I'd love to go to a screening of "Grease" or "Mama Mia". Kait did "Rocky Horror Picture Show" a few times. I gather that is quite the experience.

      Elvis ? Nope. But I did see the Beatles' "Hard Day's Night" TWELVE times !

  3. I think i finally figured out how to get out of my husband's account and leave a comment here from my account.... testing...

    1. Yes! Success!

      What a wonderful mother-daughter adventure you had, Sybil! The only time I saw a musical was way back in middle school, we took a class trip to New York and saw "Fiddler on the Roof" on Broadway. We sat way up in the nosebleed section and the actors were tiny dots way down on the stage. But it was rather exciting, You can't beat live performances on stage and it seems to me that musicals, like operas (seen quite a few operas), combine music and acting in an especially appealing way.

    2. Barbara, I now have "If I was a rich man ...." running through my head on a loop. lol

  4. This looks like a great trip. What an adventure. I love musicals. I'd love to plan a trip like this to NYC since I love seeing shows on Broadway. So very expensive to eat and stay in the city though. But I think if I could plan such a trip with a daughter or two it would be money well spent.

    1. How long a trip would that be for you Karen ? What shows would top your list ? You need to cultivate a friendship with someone in New York and then bunk with them. WAIT ... doesn't one of Kathy's kids live in New York ? lol


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