Archive | May, 2015

Preview: Smile at Us, Oh Lord

21 May

Whole cast of Smile at Us, Oh Lord-smAfter its sold-out 2014 run of Eugene Onegin last June in Toronto, the esteemed Vakhtangov Academic Theatre of Russia returns with a new theatrical spectacle for the international stage: Smile at Us, Oh Lord: an inspiring universal parable about the basic good in every human being. Directed by the company’s noted Artistic Director Rimas Tuminas, Smile at Us, Oh Lord runs Tuesday June 16 and Wednesday June 17 for two shows only at the historic Elgin Theatre, presented by Show One Productions. Tickets are on sale now through or by calling 1.855.622.ARTS (2787).
Of Rimas Tuminas’ Eugene Onegin, the critics raved: “Anyone who saw the Vakhtangov Theatre knows they are a first-rate troupe,” exclaimed The Guardian in London while Paris’ Le Monde proclaimed them “brilliant.”
The Vakhtangov production of Smile at Us, Oh Lord makes its debut outside of Russia with this North American tour and promises to mesmerize audiences as well.

In what is becoming a regular tour for the Vakhtangov, prior to its June 16-17 engagement in Toronto (its only Canadian date), Smile at Us, Oh Lord performs June 5-7 at New York City Center and June 12-13 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston. It is presented in Russian with English surtitles and performed by an all-star cast of renowned actors.

With a plot full of tragi-comedic moments, accented by soulful music, Smile at Us, Oh Lord is the story of an “every man,” unrelentingly opposed to evil and wrongdoing, even as the world around him crumbles. His journey opens his eyes – and the audience’s hearts – to the fate of Jews around the world during the first half of the 20th century.

This poignant and exuberant work highlights the new kind of poetic physical theatre that the Vakhtangov Theatre is spearheading, and with a cast of 40, it tells a larger-than-life story of the common man, linked to a compassionate great love of mankind.

Smile at Us, Oh Lord is based on the novels of Grigory Yaakov Kanovich, one of the most prolific modern Russian-language writers today. While born in Lithuania of Jewish heritage, he spent his childhood in exile in Kazakhstan. His family returned to Vilnius in 1945, he published his first book of poetry in 1948, graduated from university in 1953 and moved to Israel in 1993. Kanovich is the author of an epic saga dealing with the struggles of Eastern European Jewry from the 19th century to the present day. His books, plays and poetry have been translated into 14 languages with more than 1.5 million copies, and counting, printed.

Based in the heart of Moscow, the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia ( was founded in 1921 by legendary Russian theatrical director and Stanislavsky scholar, Evgeny Vakhtangov and continues to be one of the country’s leading theatres. Lithuanian-born Rimas Tuminas is the first foreign director to head the Vakhtangov Theatre, where he has served as artistic director since he was invited to hold the position in 2007.

Tuminas first developed Smile at Us, Oh Lord at the Maly Theater of Vilnius in 1994, which he founded in 1990, and toured extensively across Europe. This current production premiered in Moscow in March 2014, co-created with composer Faustas Latenas and set designer Adomas Yacovskis.

Show One Productions presents

The Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia


based on the works of Grigory Kanovich

Performed in Russian with English Surtitles

Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge Street, Toronto

Tuesday, June 16 and Wednesday, June 17, 2015  @ 8pm

Ticket prices range from $55-$155

Ticket prices do not include service charges or delivery fees

and can by purchased by calling 1.855.622.ARTS (2787) or online at, or

Preview: Panamania

6 May

Culture enthusiasts and music lovers can start making summer plans — the entertainment schedule is now available for PANAMANIA, presented by CIBC, the 35-day TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games arts and culture festival.

Unprecedented in scale, PANAMANIA will feature more than 1,300 artists in 250 performances and exhibitions across Toronto from July 10 to August 15. The festival will showcase the diverse cultures and artistic excellence of Ontario, Canada and the Americas through music, theatre, dance and more, with free and ticketed events.

Major music headliners scheduled to perform free outdoor concerts during PANAMANIA will include Grammy-, Latin Grammy- and Juno-award winning artists. The music lineup includes the Flaming Lips, Calle 13, The Roots, A Tribe Called Red, Janelle Monae, Café Tacvba, Brigitte Boisjoli, Chromeo, Jann Arden, Choc Quib Town, Death from Above 1979, Damien Robitaille, Lila Downs, Lights, Luciano, Dragonette, Colin James, USS, Marie-Pierre Arthur, Tanya Tagaq and the Barra MacNeils.

“The Games will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, unlike anything this city has ever seen. Not only are we going to have some of the best athletes in the world compete in our backyard, we’re going to have 35 days of music, arts and culture that will inspire us and bring the city to life,” said Saäd Rafi, chief executive officer of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015).

PANAMANIA will be spread across the following four programs:

·       PANAMANIA presentations (July 10–August 15, free and ticketed): Will feature 40 national and international performances and exhibitions, including 28 new works commissioned by TO2015 that will have their world premieres during PANAMANIA. The diverse spectrum of music, theatre, dance, visual arts, comedy, circus and fashion will feature distinguished award-winning artists, including Robert Lepage, Sandra Shamas, Edward Burtynsky, Veronica Tennant, Mustafa the Poet, Rick Miller, Crystal Pite and more.

·       PANAMANIA Live @ Nathan Phillips Square (July 10–26 and August 7–12, free): Bright and energetic design elements will envelop the Square, which will feature daily live music and entertainment programming that will culminate with nightly concerts on the main stage and fireworks, co-produced with the City of Toronto. Victory Celebrations, presented by CIBC, will honour medal-winning athletes nightly at 7 p.m. Jumbo video screens will feature live Games coverage and a special live broadcast of the Pan Am Opening Ceremony, created by Cirque du Soleil, on July 10. Additionally, the Parapan Am Closing Ceremony will be held at Nathan Phillips Square on August 15.

·       CIBC Pan Am Park (July 11–25, free): Experience the ultimate street party in the heart of the largest sport competition cluster on the grounds of Exhibition Place. Daily programming will include live music, interactive sponsor activations, food and fun for the whole family. Great tickets are still available to the many Pan Am sports taking place at CIBC Pan Am Park, including beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, rugby and gymnastics. Tickets for these sports will be available on May 8, at 1 p.m. at

·       PANAMANIA Live @ The Distillery District (July 11–25, free): Take in the sights, sounds and tastes of the Americas while strolling the cobblestone lanes. The Distillery District, located next to the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletes’ Village, will be a hub of activity during the Pan Am Games. There will also be multitude of ticketed PANAMANIA presentations taking place at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

PANAMANIA has been financially assisted by the Community Celebrations Fund, a program of the Government of Canada and the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.

For the PANAMANIA schedule and more information, please visit