Great to be reviewed by one of our best writers, and especially one whose humour is even darker than mine. Joan Barfoot is one of the few scribes I know who looks into the abyss--and laughs.



The Lambda Awards are far more fun and twice as glamorous. Pumped to be nominated again!



People have expressed surprise to learn that I write literary books and poetry alongside my Lambda-winning mystery series. To me, all writing is genre in one form or another, just as all gender is a form of drag. ;-)

Here are some recently-released poetry videos from a session at City Park Library. Cheers to Jeff Kirby and Don Pyle on these!




The festival was a huge success. Even I was impressed with the offerings from so many brilliant writers and creators. Now it's time to move on to other things. This fall has brought a plethora of rewards, including After the Horses, fourth in the Dan Sharp mystery series. When I interviewed Shyam Selvadurai at the Naked Heart festival last month, he asked how I enjoyed writing mysteries, both of us having come from purely literary backgrounds. "I love it," I answered truthfully. "Because I can say things I can't say in other types of writing." I mean that in all sincerity. I can write in a way that enables me to be free of the weight and oppressiveness of academia and considerations such as canon and concern for the literary landscape. It's my way of keeping it real.


Please join me and 120 fabulous writers in Toronto for a history-making event from October 15 through 18, 2015.



Unless I've missed some obscure part of his oeuvre, I would hazard the guess that no one will ever accuse Neil Simon of creating fully-dimensional, true-to-life characters. Most of them are half-people who exist largely as comic outlines.
Yet in those one- and two-dimensional creations he touches again and again on universal themes that resonate with all of us: the need to belong, the need to be loved, and of course relationship issues. Never for a moment should we assume that his characters do not deal with reality, even if we’re usually laughing at them.
In the opening scene, Charity Hope Valentine meets her "boyfriend" Charlie in Central Park. When he gets his chance, Charlie pushes her in the lake and runs off with her dowry. Some boyfriend.

… the dance and song numbers keep the story moving merrily along without too much technical razzle dazzle.
1297702887994_ORIGINALAt the dance hall where she works as a hostess, the other girls tell Charity to face reality. She refuses. He’ll come back, she claims. How does she even know Charlie loves her? Because when she tells him she loves him, he replies "Ditto." Hopeless, unrealistic, and yet how many of us have been one half of that couple we find so funny on stage, starving for love?
Director Morris Panych brings out these sweetly comic moments with ample flair. More than a month after its opening, the comedy is tight and effective. (I had heard otherwise.) The dancing is mostly in equally good shape, though a tush or two always seemed to be off the beat in the major ensemble opener, Big Spender. (Maybe it's hard to choreograph bottoms, but that's not a good thing.) What is right is very right indeed, however, and the dance and song numbers keep the story moving merrily along without too much technical razzle dazzle. Just like in an old-fashioned musical.
Simon leads us to that emotionally-fraught moment where truth is revealed.
The cast of Sweet Charity.
The cast of Sweet Charity.
As the self-seeking Charity, Julie Martell delivers a highly capable performance, nicely supported by co-stars Mark Uhre as playboy Vittorio Vidal, and Kyle Blair as Oscar, her fussy, purity-obsessed suitor. Their comic conundrums seem comfortingly real.
True to form, after an array of comic silliness, Simon leads us to that emotionally-fraught moment where truth is revealed. Charity fears telling her new boyfriend, Oscar, that she has hoodwinked him and cannot stand it any longer. She must confess. Little does she realize he already knows the truth: she doesn't work in a bank. She works in a dance hall.
For a time, at least, Oscar says it doesn't matter because Charity makes him feel alive. It's what love's all about. For all the characters' lack of dimension, these are moving moments and we're right up there with them sharing in their triumph over petty human foibles. While it may not last, Sweet Charity has her moment of truth, and so do we.
Sweet Charity runs at the Shaw Festival until Saturday, October 31, 2015.
Performances at the Festival Theatre, Niagara on-the-Lake.
Directed by Morris Panych, with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields.
Based on the book by Neil Simon.
Starring Julie Martell, Mark Uhre, Kyle Blair.


First produced twenty-two years ago, Robert LePage's production of two one-act operas, Bela Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle and Arnold Schonberg's Erwartung, makes a glorious return to the COC. For those who haven't seen it, suffice to say there are plenty of visual surprises. For those who have, what's immediately obvious is that the stage presentation now takes its rightful place alongside the music it once unintentionally upstaged. Bartok's richly layered score glows under the baton of maestro Johannes Debus. Bass Dan Relyea gives a superb Bluebeard, fearsome and compelling, as he unveils the horrors of his castle to his determined new bride, Judith, in a glowing portrayal by mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova. Strange to think that performances of Schonberg operas were once almost as rare as they were overly earnest. Thankfully, our twentieth-century ears no longer treat modern works as a strange and difficult adjunct to classical music, but as an extended tonal range on a very full palette. With a new generation of performers and singers like mezzo Krisztina Szabó, who sings the role of the psychologically unbalanced Woman in Erwartung with stunning beauty and agility, these works are now a great pleasure to hear as well as to see. Kudos to the Canadian Opera Company.


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