Plum Viewing

Welcome to the latest edition of Plum Viewing, my weekly roundup of arts and culture to view online. Happy viewing!

Well, dear readers, let me start with a very heartfelt thank you for all the lovely messages and well wishes you sent my way last week. It meant so much. Thank you!

I am very happy to report that I am definitely on the mend. I can now sit on my own (I am still on the rubber donut but sitting nonetheless) and getting in and out of bed is no longer a team sport. God bless Mr Fairs, who has earned serious brownie points over these past two weeks! We might even enjoy a cocktail tonight. We’ve earned it!

So, with that, here are this week’s picks. Happy viewing!

This March marks the 25 anniversary of RENT, the ground-breaking musical by the wonderful Jonathan Larson. It first opened at New York Theatre Workshop as a small rock musical and of course, it quickly became the anthem of a generation. As I type this, I am singing the songs. You can’t help yourself.

To properly mark this occasion, NYTW is hosting RENT: MEASURED IN LOVE, a virtual celebration of the musical. Taking place on March 2 and running through to March 6, this virtual event will feature a selection of iconic songs, exclusive content uncovering how RENT came to life, and reflections on the driving force of Jonathan’s legacy in the American theatre. Here are just some of the artists we’ll hear from: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Billy Porter, Ben Platt, Annaleigh Ashford and so many more. The performance starts at 8 pm and tickets are $25 and can be purchased here. I am so excited about this and yep, I am still singing.

Let’s move from one great playwright to another. Tom Stoppard has written so many amazing plays that you could be forgiven for forgetting many of them. Here are just a few to jog your memory: Arcadia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, The Real Thing, Travesties, and of course Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Mr Fairs and I were lucky enough to see this with Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe, but I digress!).

Well, there is a new biographer of Mr. Stoppard by the esteemed writer Heromine Lee (she of Virginia Woolf fame) and the Toronto International Festival of Authors is hosting a conversation with Ms Lee and acclaimed actor Fiona Reid, where we can dig deep into our Tom Stoppard knowledge. Like for example, did you know that he also co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil, The Russia House, and Shakespeare in Love? I had NO idea!!

As if the conversation wasn’t enough, we will also be treated to a selection of scenes from Stoppard’s work, directed by David Storch and presented in partnership with Canadian Stage. Delightful! It’s happening on March 6 at 3 pm ET and you can register here.

Okay, now this is the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon: an encore showing of Oscar Peterson & Friends. On February 27, Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music will be streaming this CBC production from 1981. It features special guests Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Lorne Lofsky, Jimmy Rowles, Butch Watanabe, and Mary Lou Williams. There is no way anything you HAD planned for Saturday can compete with this. Seriously! You can watch the free live stream here.

Let’s move from jazz perfection — something most of us will never achieve — to something we can ALL relate to — bad dates! Written by Theresa Rebeck, this is a comedy that follows the single mother of a teen daughter as she goes in search of cute shoes, the perfect dress and a romantic table for two at a great restaurant. What could go wrong?! This is the first production from George Street Playhouse’s 2021 fully online season. It is streaming until March 14 and tickets can be reserved here.

Last night’s Fall for Dance festival was reimagined in digital form and lucky for us, three of those presentations are now streaming again. “Lady Swings the Blues” by the brilliant tap artist Dormeshia; Kyle Abraham’s “to be seen,” danced to Ravel’s “Boléro” by Calvin Royal III of American Ballet Theater; and “Morani/Mungu (Black Warrior/Black God)” by Jamar Roberts, a longtime member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and that company’s resident choreographer.

Each of these works is a stunning solo and can be enjoyed either all together or as the individual masterpieces they are. All are available for free until March 5 here.

And, finally, a little nostalgia because well, it’s cold and dark, so why not?! The Cabaret Project of St. Louis is taking us back in time with three gorgeous performances in a virtual season of tributes. First, we have Christine Andreas singing Edith Paif. Next, we have Billy Stritch singing Mel Torme and to end, we have (of course!) Frank and Ella, brought to us by Tony DeSere and Capathia Jenkins. This will pair nicely with your favourite cocktail. I promise! You can reserve your ticket here.

See you next week my lovely readers!

And, and ask: While we’re enjoying these wonderful performances, let’s remember that for the arts organizations producing this incredible content, this is their livelihood; not a hobby. If we can, now is our time to continue to support our incredible arts community!

And, if you’d like to receive Plum Viewing weekly, send me a note at maggiefairs@gmail.com and I will add you to my mailing list.

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