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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Calling all pinball wizards and Game Show fans



   One-Tank Trip for May 11/13

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Stratford Festival will be doing Tommy and the pinball wizards proud.
   That’s when Pinballapalooza hits Toronto in conjunction with a production of the rock musical Tommy at the Avon Theatre.
   And the venerable Stage West Theatre Restaurant faces its final curtain after Game Show and Shout wrap up next month.

Tommy features Paul Nolan (centre) as Cousin Kevin and members of the Stratford Festival company. (Photo by Michael Cooper)
   Going full tilt
   The Stratford Festival is calling all “pinball wizards” to try to make history at Pinballapalooza on May 16.
   That’s when the festival seeks to set a Guinness World Record by logging “the greatest number of pinball machines being played simultaneously at a single venue,” said Ann Swerdfager, publicity director.
   There will be 100 pinball machines in the lobby of First Canadian Place (100 King St. W.) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the attempt time at 12:40 p.m.
   “The event will feature free game play, exclusive Tommy ticket deals through an on-site pop-up box office and spectacular live performances by Tommy cast members Robert Markus, Paul Nolan, Gabriel Antonacci and Matthew Armet,” she said.
   The live performances are at 12:15 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. on the Waterfall Stage.
   The festival also offers two other opportunities to practise pinball moves: a Tommy-inspired pinball machine at several locations in Stratford and a virtual pinball game at http://tommypinball.com
   Tommy is the biggest musical ever mounted in Stratford, executive director Anita Gaffney said.
   A technical marvel, the show will feature massive LED screens and extraordinary automated set pieces that light up, explode, spin and tilt.
Stratford Festival’s Avon Theatre

   Pinballapalooza will showcase the theatre to a wider audience and promote a new daily return private bus service between Toronto and Stratford.
   Stratford Direct departs once daily through May 25 and from Oct. 1 to 20, and twice daily from May 27 to Sept. 29 (on performance days only), with the round trip costing only $20.
   For event details, go to: stratfordfestival.ca/pinball

   See me, feel me
   Previews of Tommy have started, 20 years after its Broadway premiere, and officially opens May 30 and runs until Oct. 19.
   It’s based on the Who’s 1969 concept album that tells the story of Tommy, who despite having lost the faculties of speech, sight and hearing, becomes a pinball virtuoso.
   The explosive rock opera by its original director Des McAnuff (who co-wrote the show with the Who’s Pete Townshend), features hits such as Pinball Wizard, See Me, Feel Me, Acid Queen and We’re Not Gonna Take It.
   The production features Robert Markus as Tommy; Jewelle Blackman as the Gypsy; Kira Guloien as Mrs. Walker; Jeremy Kushnier as Captain Walker; Paul Nolan as Cousin Kevin; and Steve Ross as Uncle Ernie.
   Stratford Festival’s season runs until Oct. 20 and also features Romeo and Juliet; Fiddler on the Roof; the Three Musketeers; the Merchant of Venice; Blithe Spirit; Othello; Measure for Measure; Mary Stuart; Waiting for Godot; Taking Shakespeare; and the Thrill.
   There are some 150 events at the Forum, a series of activities “designed to make a visit to Stratford an immersive, all-encompassing cultural experience.”
   One forum event is the Tommy Guitar School when guests bring their electric guitars and learn riffs from the rock-and-roll score.

   Sad day for live theatre
   There was shock in the entertainment community and the public when it was learned that Stage West Theatre Restaurant in Mississauga will close on June 30.
   The closing does not affect the Ramada Plaza Toronto Airport Hotel of which Stage West is a part.
   Dwindling fortunes with fewer patrons were blamed for the demise after a 27-year run of offering a Las Vegas-style show and buffet.
Charles Shaughnessy in Game Show, an interactive comedy at Stage West Theatre Restaurant.
   But, the show will go on for the recently opened Game Show, cut short to wind up now on June 2, and a moved-forward engagement of the “swinging ‘60’s” musical revue Shout from June 6 to 30.
   Charles Shaughnessy from Mad Men and the Nanny stars in Game Show, an innovative and interactive comedy.
   Audience members are selected to play in this “live broadcast” of a fictional, long-running TV game show.
   The audience also witnesses all the backstage back-stabbing antics that go on during the commercial breaks of the show.
   “It’s like watching a real game show with some great ad-libbing,” said publicist Laurie Wallace-Lynch. stagewest.com; 1-800-263-0684

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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