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Arts & Entertainment – July 2007

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Arts & Entertainment – July 2007


Toronto Fringe Festival’s KidsVenue (The Palmerston Library) — There’s just one family-oriented venue at the Fringe, but the festival has packed a lot into this single space. There’s the silly-sounding Jurassic Poop Production’s the Coprolite Caper: the Mysterious Case of Who Dung it?, which surprisingly is a science-driven show about dinosaur fossils. Then there’s Just So Stories, based on the stories of Rudyard Kipling, and a series of performances featuring Anansi, that wacky African spider. Shrimp Magnet brings in The Land of I Told You So, which was a hit on Toronto Island last summer, and Solar Stage stages its rendition of Pinocchio. Three more plays for kids, appropriate for a variety of ages, will make it tough to choose what to see. KidsVenue plays show at the Palmerston Library, 560 Palmerston Avenue, from July 4 to 15; visit for more on the plays and the schedule (each show runs eight times). Tickets are $5 both at the door and in advance (you can buy them online), 416-966-1062. – D.P.

Much Ado About Nothing (Driftwood Theatre) – Coming soon to a park near you, Driftwood Theatre’s touring production of one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated comedies. Set this time in post-WWI Canada, Driftwood’s version of Much Ado About Nothing will include some signature a cappella musical numbers along with the traditional war of words between the central characters of Beatrice and Benedick. The show tours southern Ontario with performances at The Waterfront in Burlington July 13,14,15, Oshawa’s Parkwood Estate July 17, the Bradley House Museum in Mississauga July 20, 21, and Toronto’s Trinity-Bellwoods Park July 31, Aug.1 &2. Admission is pay-what-you-can with a suggested contribution of $15. – D.F.


Summer Music in the Garden (Toronto Music Garden) — Not only is this garden — which was inspired by a Bach suite — gorgeous, but it will be filled with 20 gorgeous music and dance performances this summer. And many shows are geared for families. Such as Accordolution on July 22, a performance featuring accordion player Kimberly Pritchard, who explores evolution through her music. Specifically, a piece called Dinosaurus, inspired by those creatures who used to walk the earth, should appeal to young ears. And for the young who like to see other young people strut their stuff, there’s the July 15 show with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. No Strings Attached features just the brass and percussion sections of the group, so it promises to be good and brash and loud. Speaking of loud, Thunder Silence on August 16 shows off the Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble, who will be playing bamboo flues, the three-stringed lute and most importantly the big taiko drums. And, just for kids, The Shoestring Magic Flute on July 1 is a simplified version of Mozart’s already kid-appealing opera. All the concerts are free; Thursday concerts start at 7 p.m. and Sunday shows at 4 p.m. You can also catch a tour of the garden at 5:30 on Thursdays, just before the shows. The Toronto Music Garden is located at 475 Queens Quay West, 416-974-3000. – D.P.


Dusk Dances – Dance – particularly modern dance – is often unexplored territory for families. While many of us flock to classical music and theatre, we stop short of that most physical of art forms. Dusk Dances – a series of performances in Ontario parks – creates an ideal opportunity to cross that bridge. As the sun sets, the dancers emerge. The audience – including families and dog-walkers – is invited to a series of site-specific 10-minute performances in different parts of the park. The two Toronto area parks chosen for this year’s season of Dusk Dances are Firgrove Park (July 5-8), in the Jane/Finch area, and Withrow Park (July 10-15), near Danforth and Logan. Each park features live music to open the shows, host Madame Beaucoup (Lisa Anne Ross) and choreographers from various backgrounds commissioned to create work inspired by the environment. The music starts at 7 p.m. with dances beginning at 7:30 p.m. Admission is pay-what-you-can. Check out – D.F.


The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Friendship Edition (Walt Disney) — Yes, this is just another re-release, but a worthy one, especially if you have Pooh-wild toddlers. The 1977 full-length feature is really a collection of shorts, all taken from the stories of A.A. Milne in about as true an adaptation as Disney ever does. The stories feature the great voice of Sterling Holloway as Pooh, and some classic songs (such as “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers”) by the Sherman brothers. There’s the usual slapstick, but also lots of the charm you expect from older Disney. – D.P.

Bridge to Terabithia (Walt Disney) – Many a school child has read Katherine Paterson’s Newbery Awad-winning novel about two friends who escape the day-to-day pressures of growing up by creating their own fantasy world. Despite the promotional efforts to link this film to Narnia, the two films share little in common. The fantasy elements in Bridge to Terabithia play second fiddle to the development of a loyal friendship between Jess, the only boy in a large family who never seems to win his father’s approval, and quirky Leslie, the new girl in town who doesn’t watch TV and stands up to bullies. The two use their imaginations to invent a world deep in the forest inhabited by flying creatures, trolls and a dark master. But the special effects are really kept to a much-appreciated minimum. Without giving anything away, I’ll let you know that Bridge to Terabithia is a tear-jerker. It is sweet, sentimental and refreshingly free of any rude humour. – D.F.


The Bee’s Knees: What’s the Buzz (Children’s Group) — The first CD for this Toronto trio comes packed with 22 songs. What drives you to the end are strong songs with excellent melodies and a solid production sound. Of the variety of music styles the band tests out, I prefer the country twang of songs such as “Little Mouse” and the folksy “Ferry Boat.” These songs best highlight singer Andie Duncan’s sweet style, who sounds a little too serious for the “come on kids, join in!” tunes. Plus, these songs just display a lot more sophisticated songwriting than the clap along-style songs like “Who Can Find” (with lines like “who can find a red-striped duck?”). On the plus side of this wide range, however, is there’s something for kids of various ages, a must when everyone is listening in. – D.P.