Make Em Laugh

Hey Whazzzuuuuuup Brucesters!

My shits and giggles on funny dudes continues with this guy, Jeewan Gill. Now I gotta say he was all in my funny books until I learned he doesn’t really like Toronto. Stop me in my tracks! I mean, I love Toronto. The reason I got this blog going in 2010 was my love affair with this incredibly diverse city. And now I’m reviewing Jeewan funny guy to find out he disdains my city. As Madonna would sing, “Where do we go from here?” This is where I put my personal opinion aside and just tell you how funny this guy is. Jeewan? Does it mean funny man? No, in fact it doesn’t! However it does mean “Bringer of Life” so really it could mean funny guy! Being funny brings life to those sitting in the bell jar. His comedy was sharp and relevant. He was incredibly disarming and I even thought he would be even better with a larger audience. Jeewan is a west coast boy. He truly believes he was bred from birth to disdain Toronto. A city that seems to be doing good by him. Maybe he’ll change his tune on that one. He’s a Border City Comedy Festival finalist. He seems to enjoy creating humour out of incidences that normally find it missing. Of course that means touching on subject matter that may cause the squeamish to squirm.
I thought his stand up was good and solid. I’d go check him out again if given the opportunity. Hey wait! He’s opening for Chris Robinson May 13th at comedy bar and apparently the show is being taped. I might just have to crash that party! You can find him on twitter for more info @jeewangill2

4 kisses out of 5


Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

BJ Cinema…Our Reviews Will Blow You Away! #1

Posted by Bruce on January 01, 2018
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Here we go, Brucester’s! Our very first movie review on Bruce in the City! BJ Cinema….Our Reviews Will Blow You Away! I’m excited to work with John, my partner of 12 years, to bring you our points of view on motion pictures! I’m certain there will be a lot of laughs and a lot of sass! Maybe even a bit of class. Certainly from me! Not sure what John’s got planned.
Without further ado, let’s get the show on the road! Our first film review is The Shape of Water directed by Guillermo del Toro. John and I were actually planning to see a different film but our good buddy, Bobbie, made a suggestion to see this one with her. I watched the trailer and thought it looked dark and mysterious. Just like me. So I said sure! I’ll be a gentleman and so John you may go first.
Unlike Bruce, I didn’t know anything except the title of this movie before taking my seat in the theatre so I was greatly moved by the experience and the 2 hours and 3 minutes of sitting was not even noticeable to me.
Do you remember the days of “B-movies”? I remember seeing some of them on the telly in my youth. Admittedly, I never really got into them. Likely, it was because of my age….. The Shape of Water, however, reminds me of those “B-movies” I never really got into, but has been done with an “A-movie” story/script and an amazing cast that make the events that take place in this Baltimore of 1962 feel legitimate and not corny in the slightest. The pacing of the story is so well handled that I was swept into the events that unfold and never felt the pangs of “Oh, that is just sooooo contrived!!” The only complaint I have with the movie is that during the opening credits, Richard Jenkins character, Giles, introduces us to “the Princess without voice” but I ended up feeling confused if I should accept this as “factual” information to the establishing of the story or if it was intended to be “impressionistic” in relation to his particular character. It didn’t help that the imagery floating across the screen during the voice over was so mesmerizing that trying to take it all in was a challenge. (I will be watching and listening more closely when it comes out on DVD, or should that be rewinding endlessly to catch every detail then shutting the volume off to just watch the visual magic!)
So I guess your going for simplistic in this first round of reviews? Less $10 dollars words if you will. I’m already feeling exhausted like taking in the opening credits of Schindler’s List. As for me,the director Guillermo del Toro, who also directed Pans Labyrinth, has an edgy style and a persuasion for the creatures that lurk in dark places. Of course, as I’m writing this, John is in the back ground filling me on some fun facts that all you Murdoch Mysteries fans will love. Did you know there were at least 13 actors in this film that appeared on Murdoch Mysteries! Just for that alone every Murdoch fan should go see this film and play find the Murdoch Actor! I think it may be possible Yannick Bisson was the pond creature. For the subject matter in this film the acting was right on point and surprisingly stayed away from the ridiculous. This film could have easily gone there if not handled properly. The line between the fantastical and the absurd were respectfully drawn. I had a bit of a problem with the creature’s special ability causing continuity issues for me but a beautifully strange film and captivating non the less. A stand out performance for me was Octavia Spencer in her supporting role. She nailed the need for humour but also switched to dramatic character when the scene called for it. The one thing I just gotta say for this movie is it gave a whole new meaning to giving someone the finger! John?
I couldn’t have said it with my $10 dollar words. I think it’s time for our rating! We would like to give The Shape of Water….
4 Cosmopolitans out of 5!!
Bruce Christopher & John Sigerson for Bruce in the City!

Edited by:
Bruce Christopher and John Sigerson

The Diana Tapes–Riveting!

Posted by Bruce on October 01, 2017
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Diana means heavenly, devine. A notable bearer was Diana Spencer (1961-1997), the Princess of Wales.
I was thinking about this as I sat in a quaint, rustic theatre in this up and coming area Leslieville.

As Brucesters, you know my review/previews are a little unorthodox so bare with me as I get us there. I had an opportunity to catch a new play that is running for a short time here in Toronto. The Diana Tapes. I also had the opportunity for one on ones with all four actors which I always find extremely pleasurable. The theatre is called Red Sandcastle Theatre. This rustic and simple theatre was the perfect space for this narrative about a subject so taboo, so off broadway, that when these folks travelled from New York City I needed to be there.

I’m going to quote this theatre company’s “What Will The Neighbours Say” mission statement: “Creating theatre that examines historical, social, political, and economic narratives that have been disregarded, misrepresented, or otherwise untold in order to provoke discourse in our audience and community.” That seems like an incredibly daunting task. Setting the bar and expectation for an audience, I personally was a little nervous for this acting foursome. In “The Diana Tapes” were they going to be able to deliver this ladder of self expectation?

James Clements as Andrew Morton takes us into the bell jar.

Bruce: James tell me about your inspiration to open up this kettle of fish. I mean not an easy task.

James: I was inspired to write this piece as we approached the 20th anniversary of her death, to try and better understand her huge impact on the world and why she came to symbolize so much for so many of us. With the exponential growth of media culture, and the advent of social media, her story seemed relevant in another way too – how we present ourselves, how we wish to be seen, and what we choose to conceal. I also wanted to humanize an icon. I wanted to find her humanity rather than either defying or dismissing her.

Bruce: I certainly think you casptured the very essence of who Diana may have truly been and her importance in the world. How did you prepare yourself to play Andrew Morton?

James: In my preparations to play Andrew Morton, I studied interviews and documentaries to get a sense of his accent, his mannerisms and the way he carries himself. I was struck, as many reviewers have noted, by how similar we looked – it almost gave me a strange extra affection for him. I have also had the pleasure of emailing with him recently about the script, and getting some further sense of who he is from that. I also tried to think of my own experiences, as a Scottish person, with class, identity, and deference – the monarchy is an ancient part of British culture, for better or for worse, and my ideas of what Andrew would think of that informed my performance. I tried to embody his fears, hopes, desires, ego – and I hope I succeeded!

Bruce: You truly commanded the stage and nailed Andrew Morton, the person. Your performance was riveting. Thank you so much for your time.

James: Thank you for coming.

James commanded the stage from lights up. I felt like he was performing for a room of 2000 in the most subtle of ways. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance. Jorge Morales Pico played the valuable role as Diana’s dearest confidant James Colthurst. As they discussed the deepest, darkest secrets of the Princess the plot built with a smart and sensitive verbiage.

Bruce: Great meeting you! Tell me what it’s like to be part of something so historically provocative.

Jorge: This show has been an absolute pleasure to work on. The writing is strong and concise, and Wednesday Derrico, our director, has managed to inject an incredible amount of nuance and significance to even the smallest moments.

Bruce: Tell me about its journey over the past year.

Jorge: The show has been in constant flux, from our beginnings at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Providence Rhode Island, New York City, and now Toronto. It has been fascinating to examine the reactions from our different audiences around our different stops, and the long journey we’ve gone through so far has given the play its own life.

Bruce: Just as Diana’s life has a life of its own. Thank you again for such a solid performance.

Jorge: Thank you.

Bruce: Sam wonderful seeing you. Sincerly. I loved your execution of Michael O’Mara. You just stole the performance and everyone was incredible. Tell me how you saw this character and how do you prepare for such a role.

Sam: Having the chance to play and delve into this role has been a great pleasure. The main challenge I faced in my preparation and performance was finding the balance between honouring who Michael O’Mara is as a real human being and what the text calls for for him as a character. In all of the interviews I could find, Michael is a mild-mannered publisher not used to actually speaking to people outside of his office. In the script however, he is a bombastic and passionate man who believes what he is doing is an act of social revolution.

Bruce: You seemed to transform yourself physically for the sake of the character.

Sam: To tap into this I used my training in Grotowsky and Physically Based Acting to create a mind / body / vocal score that acts as a container for my performance. By über Americanizing my speech, worsening my usually large posture, and finding some little self-grooming ticks (such as picking my nose or cleaning my teeth) I have, hopefully, crafted a performance that is both true to the text and the person himself.

Bruce: It was incredible to watch. I couldn’t take my eyes of you. Wonderful man! Great meeting you.

Sam: Thank you for coming.

I just want to call the man Sam! Sam Hood Adrain wore his role as Michael O’Mara like a glove. The quirky provoking Scrooge pushing Andrew to a questionable soulless tight rope walk between historical relevance and sleazy gossip columnist was artistically brilliant.

Then there was Ana!

Bruce: I came a bit early to the theatre and you were doing some stretching and deep breathing on the floor of the stage. Of course not realizing who you were I interrupted and asked where I could pick up my ticket. You were gracious and stunning. In a kind voice you gave me the information I needed from your position on the floor and I thought to myself she must be Diana The Princess of Wales. How did you prepare for such an iconic role and person?

Ana: In preparation to play such an iconic figure, I researched and studied Princess Diana as much as I could, and continue to do so. There is an abundant amount of information out there on Diana, and there is always more for me to learn. The work never stops. I watch interviews, documentaries, listened to her tapes, and have become very familiar with her life story.

Bruce: What part of Diana’s mannerisms were the most important to get right?

Ana: I was most captivated by the combination of her tight physicality and her incredible warmth. From the way Diana kept her head tilted down and her eyes gazing up, how she cracked a stiff smile every time she was asked an uncomfortable question, and her soft-spoken silk like voice.

Bruce: It was such a pleasure watching Diana come to life in your performance.

Ana: Living in these physical mannerisms are what bring Diana to life in me, and hopefully for the audience as well!

Bruce: Thank you so much, what a pleasure.

She is simply Ana Christina Schuler. I don’t know many, if any, actors who have taken on the role as one of our generations most controversial and beloved women, Princess Diana to a rave review. Not an easy story to tell and certainly a near impossible task of selling a theatrical version of the People’s Princess to a buying public.
All I can say to that is go and get yourself a ticket or two and see Ana become Diana in all of her complexities. Ana was poised, focused and captivatingly Diana. Strong, scared, confused, and dare I say manipulating? Certainly divisible alluring. Ana pealed the layers back like the shedding of the most regal of gowns. Did they achieve that enormous goal in their mission statement? Without a doubt! 


4 kisses out of 5

Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

Photo credit: Pablo Calderón-Santiago

Photo credit: Bruce Christopher

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