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 ...
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 ?