Meanwhile...Our Online Magazine

  July 28, 2020  

Meanwhile 16
Relationships are like comedy. They can both bring laughter, self-awareness, joy, at times discomfort, and meaning into our lives. In this edition of Meanwhile we aim to bring you a little bit of each of these things.

Check In From Away features hilarious guests Colin Mochrie and Deb McGrath, we look at our favourite funny stage duos and we reminisce about Once Date Night when 1,200 people were set up on blind dates at the theatre. Also featured is a personal essay written by our own Erin Frey entitled, "My Dramatic (not quite) Mid-life Crisis" that explores her relationship with theatre as she enters a new decade of her life.

So, don't hog all the laughs, share this edition of Meanwhile with someone who means something to you!


My Favourite Duos
By Antonio Tan

We’re in one of those zany, comical moods that come over us every so often. The kind that tickles our pickles, our pinkies and our funny bones!

In this issue’s Check In From Away hosts SnL and their special guests talk about two of your favourite things: comedy and dating! So we thought we’d take a look at one of our favourite things: funny stage couples – in both the platonic and the romantic sense.

Yessiree, we’re talking about the Baracks to their Michelles, the Sonnies to their Chers, the Howards to their Caroles, and the Ringos to the rest of the Beatles – but FUNNY! And THEATRE!

Since “funny” is subjective, and my taste in comedy is questionable (I find Ibsen plays to be a riot), we thought we’d ask the staff here at Mirvish Productions who their favourite comic theatrical duos are. And below, dear reader, are the results: our staff picks for stage couples that had them rolling in the aisles!

Phoebe and Sibella
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder 

“I love me a good soprano as well as archetypal characters, so my favourite musical comedic duo would have to be Phoebe and Sibella, played by Adrienne Eller and Kristen Beth Williams in the 2016 touring production of A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder that played the Princess of Wales Theatre. These two women are incredible! Vocally their technique is flawless and balanced with one another. I loved how well they showcased the polarity between their two characters – the haughty vixen mistress versus the sweet and kind fiancée – all while keeping it sincere, funny as hell and without ever compromising the music. This type of operatic singing and comedy requires so much from the body and these two brought their A game to the stage each night!” – Tiffany Grace Tobias

Vlad Popov and Countess Lily

“My favourite on-stage comic duo is Vlad Popov and Countess Lily from Anastasia. Their rendition of ‘The Countess and the Common Man’ is the best part of the show. Physical comedy at its best, with a great song to go along.” Isabela Stille

Reno Sweeney and Moonface Martin
Anything Goes

“My favorite funny stage duo is Reno Sweeney and Moonface Martin from Anything Goes. Their song ‘Friendship’ is my favourite Cole Porter song and it’s hilarious. I like the sentiment of it and the lyrics capture that playful feeling between friends. For example: 'If they ever make a cannibal stew of you. Invite me too!" It makes me smile whenever I see it performed.” – Alexandra Lean

Velma Kelly and Matron “Mama” Morton

“I'd have to pick Velma Kelly and Matron “Mama” Morton singing ‘Class’ as my favourite musical comedy duet. This moment in the show, when these tough-as-nails ‘broads’ from the wrong side of the law lament the loss of good manners and decorum in the modern world is, for me, a highlight in a show chock full of highlights. The humour is dark, smart and witty but not cynical, a perfect blend of grit and softness which is my favourite kind of comedy. This number never fails to touch my heart and make me laugh out loud, all at once. And, man, what a showcase for powerhouse female talent!” – Denise Anderson

“Velma and Mama are my favourite duo. Velma and Roxie are a natural pair, but for me Velma and Mama are the standouts. They have the only genuine relationship in Chicago which leads to the highlight song, ‘Class.’ A murderess and a corrupt prison matron bemoaning the lack of decency in the world makes me laugh out loud every time.” – Erin Frey


Edna and Wilbur Turnblad

Hairspray is one of the most fun shows ever. Two of the oddest characters to grace the stage are Tracy Turnblad's parents, Edna and Wilbur (played by Jay Brazeau and Tom Rooney in the 2004 Toronto production at the Princess of Wales Theatre). So over-the-top and larger than life (literally) Edna dominates both the story, and the stage. Outlandish and domineering, Edna remains a caring and loving mother, while Wilbur, who's a quiet, gentle and humble man, has turned his career into making people laugh with his comedy/joke shop. We realize soon enough, as mismatched as Edna and Wilbur appear to be, they've always cared very much for one another and have always had Tracy's best interests at heart.” – Randy Alldread

The Thenardiers
Les Misérables

“My favourite, funny, comedy couple are The Thenardiers from Les Misérables (which happens to be one of my favourite musicals!).  They top my list for a few reasons. First, these two characters provide lightness to a dark and complex story. Without them, Les Miz would probably be hard to sit through – especially at almost three hours! Their songs are also very quick-witted, which is my type of humour. Lastly, and what I think is most important, is that these two characters are just not comic relief, but a representation of the lower class of French society during that particular time period, which is necessary to tell this story of evolution.” – Chris Dorscht

Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood
Matilda the Musical

“I love larger than life, over-the-top, outrageous comedic characters, so my favourite funny stage duo is Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood from Matilda the Musical. Not only are they hilarious in every scene they share, but each character also gets a chance to shine with their own comedic musical number. As the self-absorbed parents of the musical’s protagonist, they’re the duo I love to hate, and love to laugh at.” – Mary Askwith

Elder Price and Elder Cunningham
The Book of Mormon

“The juxtaposition of these characters and the ease with which the actors (particularly Gavin Creel and Christopher John O’Neill in the 2014 engagement at the Princess of Wales Theatre) play off each other is comedic genius. I loved how the roles reversed by the end of the show and the arrogant ‘hero’ bows down to the dorky ‘loser.’ Non-stop laughs from beginning to end. Definitely a favourite of my husband and I!” – Daniella Frustaglio

Ogie and Dawn

"My favourite duo is Ogie and Dawn from Waitress. They were an absolute riot! Although they were such a wacky pair, their love for each other shone through all the hilarity." – Franca Longobardi

I'll Meet You at the Theatre

Ed Mirvish Theatre on Yonge StreetEach night as the curtain rises, new connections form between the actors on stage and those in the audience who sit before them. On occasion though, new bonds form beyond the proscenium. The theatre is a natural setting for relationships to begin. With like-minded people gathering to share an experience it's no wonder we've heard so many stories of romance that started in one of our theatres. Just ask Jonathan Morris and Amy Wood who met at our Once Date Night event in 2015.

Have you met someone special at our theatres? We want to hear your stories to include in a future edition of Meanwhile.

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My Dramatic

Photo of woman with a teacup on her headI wouldn’t say I’m a dramatic person. On the whole, I’m pretty laid back and easygoing, but I am at a crossroads. This year I turn 40.  

I’m the first to admit that it isn’t much of a problem, especially this year. There are far more important things to fret about than the inexorable forward march of time. But I have never faced a new decade with dread before. At 10 double digits, AWESOME! 20 couldn’t arrive fast enough. At 30 I was preoccupied with a newborn and had no time for Time. This is an entirely new, and unpleasant, sensation for me.  

You guys, I fear I’m not handling it well. I am speeding toward my next decade holding onto the last vestiges of my thirties with a death grip. Graceful is far in the rear-view a speck at the horizon approaching the vanishing point.  

Theatre was supposed to ease me through the transition. I had the day planned Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 1, dinner, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 2. I would lose myself in Harry Potter he turns 40 this year too (you know, if he were a real person). It was something that we would share. I mean he’s overcome so many hardships, turning 40 is a simple task compared to Voldemort.  

Alas, that is not what will come to pass. 

2020 has taken so much from us. Our health and security, our naiveté, our faith in the systems that govern us, our belief that the problems come from without, not within us. It is hard reckoning with our failures, our false assumptions and the fragility of our own bodies.  

For me the theatre has always been a place of hope. It’s where I go when I’m not sure where I fit. I have found friendship, love and acceptance. I’ve also found heartbreak, disappointment and frustration.  

I have found playwrights that challenged me to think in different ways. To see theatre for everything that it has meant throughout history, and what it is capable of meaning in the future. How it can be interpreted and reinterpreted to find nuance and clarity. How it cannot only entertain, but educate and make change and open our eyes.  

Ultimately, I found a space where the best results come from listening and committing. I love that space. It has helped me find my voice and given me the opportunity to encourage and learn from other voices.  

If history keeps our records, theatre keeps our humanity. It is living, breathing, sweating and ephemeral.  

Just like me, theatre is in a time of crisis. We don’t have a vision of what the next steps look like. We are facing the ways we have not lived up to our potential and remembering a time when things seemed simpler. 

I have hope. I believe theatre will, again, surprise and delight me in ways I could never imagine. Art thrives in times of adversity because upheaval demands creativity. While the theatres are shuttered there is no stopping the hearts and minds that can’t help but create and I can’t wait to see what new adventures are in store.    

Perhaps 40 will make me more creative and vital, too. Hopefully all the knowledge and perspective that this year persistently heaped on me will help me improve and thrive. But man, it would be nice if that could happen without the coarse hair on my chin that grows faster than Harry Potter’s hair after a bad Aunt Petunia haircut.  

Check in from awayIn this episode, SnL host Colin Mocherie and Deb McGrath and talk comedy and dating.


Elvis bust at Honest Ed's

By Franca Longobardi

Over the many years I worked at Honest Ed’s there were so many kitschy items. The most notable being:

The famous Elvis bust which came in red, gold or blue and lined the aisles on the main floor Housewares Department.  It was made of solid ceramic and was 19 inches high and 13 inches wide. It sold for $29.99. We couldn't keep them in stock!

The singing fish always drew a crowd in the Hardware Department. Customers would walk by it and all of a sudden that bass would burst out singing “Don’t worry be happy”. The kitchiest part was when the fish turned its head to look at you as he sang the words “Be happy".

In the 1980's, the 'Gut Buster', an exercise item in the Sports Department, sold like hot cakes. Priced at $4.99 the store moved thousands of units.

Last week we asked you to share your memories of your kitschiest Honest Ed's purchase.

Honest Ed's Contest

Portrait of Donny album coverPortrait of Donny Osmond - the first record I ever bought. - John W.

I grew up in the Bathurst and Bloor area.  As a child in the 1970's, I would love going to Honest Ed's with my mom.  So many fond memories.  She once bought me the prettiest "groovy" flower printed dress.  I wore it till I grew out of it.  As a mom of two daughters now, we still live in the area.  For many years before the doors closed, I was able to buy clothing for my children there as well.  Three generations of women, my mom, myself and my two daughters loved to hunt for clothing bargains at Honest Ed's....we will always have those special memories. - Rose A.

A small metal credit card holder that I bought on a whim just for the reason that it was the same colour as my school's colours.  I thought that it would maybe last for a couple of months before falling apart but five years later it is still going strong! - John F.

My brother and I would take our allowance every December when we were young, maybe $20.00 total and buy Christmas presents for my mom and dad. One year, I remember buying mom fluffy pink slippers. Not sure they were even the right size, but she wore them every day because we bought them for her.  It became a Christmas tradition to always stop by Honest's Eds, something I miss every December. - Karen S.

I purchased a giant ceramic mixing bowl about 55 years ago and had to lug it home on the streetcar and bus. I was just newly wed and used it all the time for baking, salads, etc. - Rosemarie F.

One of my closest friends found a brand of shampoo that she could only buy at Honest Eds. She swore by it! I think she said she bought 10 bottles at a time. I went looking for it but couldn’t find the exact one so I tried another one. It did not work out that well for me! Lol. In one of my first outings as a “Torontonian”, I stumbled about Honest Eds. I was so impressed by the building, I probably spent 2 hours inside. I brought home an assortment of items, but my favourite one is my pizza oven tray, which is industrial size so I am able to use it for multiple recipes! I still own it and love it! - Bela S.

Congratulations! You will each receive an original Honest Ed's shopping bag. You will be contacted via email to arrange delivery of your prize.