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What’s going on in Montreal

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If you are an avid reader of Young Adult (YA) books, whether they be the Hunger Games or The Hate That You Give, then you don’t want to miss the 2nd annual Montreal YA! Fest, which will take place at 5151 Cote St. Catherine Road on May 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Presented by the Jewish Public Library (JPL), the festival will feature 25 popular YA authors such as Tim Wynne-Jones (who will be the conference’s keynote speaker), Monique Polak, SK Ali, Jeff Zentner, Sabina Khan and Laura Sebastian, who will be involved in a wide assortment of activities throughout the day such as panel discussions and book signings; as well, there will be a creativity contest, a photo booth, personalized button-making, book merchandise for sale, live music and a lunch.

“The Young Adult literary genre has a demographic that’s tough to appeal to, because teens like to do their own thing,” said Talya Pardo, who is the director of the Norman Berman Children’s Library and is an organizer of the festival. “This festival had its genesis with our mother-daughter book club event called ‘Girls’ Night Out’. Last March, someone proposed to me the idea of having a YA festival, because festivals of that nature were very popular in the U.S. And thanks to generous donations and support from Babar Books and CBC Montreal, were we able to reach out to authors and publishers.”

“And the best thing about YA books is that they’re not just for teens. Adults like to read them, too because there’s plenty of quality writing, they can be complicated and simple, and they deal with many issues and concerns, such as bullying and terrorism.”

Tickets for the Montreal YA! Fest are $20 in advance and $25 at the door; and lunch is also included in the price of admission. For more information, go to www.mtlyafest.com.

Montreal International Jazz Festival

Whenever the organizers from the Montreal International Jazz Festival announces their line-up every spring, I always seek out first and foremost the rock and pop music legends that are going to perform at the festival, and whose respective shows I know that are must-sees for me.

For this year’s milestone 40th anniversary edition – scheduled to run from June 27 to July 6 – I am happy to discover that when the line-up for the indoor shows was revealed, there were a bountiful selection of those music legends – including artists who got their big breaks here – whose shows I hope will be included in the media ticket request form, which will certainly guarantee my attendance with an added sense of reverence.

And here are those rock/pop legends that will grace the jazz festival’s many indoor venues: As part of the Evenements speciaux TD Series at Salle WIlfrid Pelletier of Place des Arts, the festival will welcome veteran Canadian rock group Blue Rodeo (June 28), guitarist George Benson (July 1), concept rocker Alan Parsons (July 4), rock star Peter Frampton, who is making a stop at the festival as part of his farewell tour (July 8), and the double bill of Buddy Guy and Colin James (July 6).

At Place des Arts’ Theatre Maisonneuve, the following legends shows will be part of the Grands concerts Rio Tinto Series: Brazilian jazz vocalist Bebel Gilberto (June 29), and the John Pizzarelli Trio teams up with Montreal singer Ranee Lee to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nat King Cole with “For Centennial Reasons: 100 Year Salute to Nate King Cole” (July 3).

Finally, don’t forget to catch the return of these local vocalists who got their musical careers launched at the jazz festival: Nikki Yanofsky (June 29 at Club Soda) and the Holly Cole Trio (for a four-night run at the Lion d’Or from July 2-5).

Tickets for these and all other jazz festival indoor shows are now on sale. For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to www.montrealjazzfest.com or call 514-871-1881.

Montreal theatre scene

There is a new kid in town regarding the Montreal theatre scene. Its name is Contact Theatre. Founded by Ally Brumer and Debora Friedmann, Contact Theatre is a newly-formed theatre company that is dedicated to presenting Broadway’s most risqué musicals with a fresh approach that is more modern, tackles heavy moral issues and questions the status quo, and showcase a diverse selection of new voices and talent from across the community.

And Contact Theatre achieved those objectives with flying colours with their inaugural production, a musical recounting of the life and violent times of 1930s American outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, which had a successful four-night run last week at the MainLine Theatre. And judging by the full house at the performance I attended, the strong performances by the cast, the way the spirit of the Great Depression of the 30s was faithfully recreated, and the enthusiastic response by the audience throughout the show, then this new kid in town is her to stay for a very long time.

What I liked about this production is how it brought a greater emphasis on the human side of the story of Bonnie Parker (Camille Cormier Morasse) and Clyde Barrow (Joel Bernstein), on how they met, fell in love (much to the consternation of their parents) and thanks to the harsh reality of the Great Depression, led them to a life of crime and violence that thanks to sensational media coverage, became heroes in the eyes of average Americans who were going through that same harshness in their lives during that period.

The live music, the song and dance numbers and the costumes really gave the production a complete air of authenticity that really took you back in time to the early 1930s. And special kudos go to Julia Kennific, for her riveting performance as Blanche Barrow, the mercurial wife of Clyde’s brother Buck; it would have made Estelle Parsons (who portrayed Blanche in the classic 1967 Bonnie & Clyde biopic and won an Oscar as a result) proud.

If the success of “Bonnie & Clyde” is any indication, then Contact Theatre will certainly become a force to be reckoned with in the Montreal theatre scene and the many spectators who enjoy seeing live theatre on a regular basis.

The Dawson Theatre Collective

The Dawson Theatre Collective presents “The Importance of Being Verity”, an original comedy by Victoria Caputo, Mathilde Rousseau, Cate Dunsby, Nadia Trudel and Jeff Gandell, which will have a three night run (May 8, 9 and 10 at 8 p.m.) at the Dawson Theatre, located at 2000 Atwater Street on the Dawson College Campus site.

Loosely based on Oscar Wilde’s classic play “The Importance of Being Earnest”. the story focuses on Jack, a member of the Dawson men’s hockey team. When that team is folded, Jack’s passion for playing the game leaves him no choice but to disguise himself as a women so that he could play for the Verity, Dawson’s women’s hockey team. However, things get kind of complicated for Jack when he meets and falls for Gwen, the captain of the women’s team; and to top things off, Jack’s best friend Algy threatens to blow Jack’s cover as a means to get even with the school’s glee club.

Tickets are $15, $10 for students and seniors. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit two charities: the Theresa Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of grandmothers and orphaned children of AIDS victims in Malawi; and Gender Creative Kids, which offers support, training and workshops that help to create safe spaces for transgender, binary and creative kids everywhere. To purchase tickets, go to www.buytickets.at/beingverity, or the Dawson Theatre box office on the night of each performance.

By: Stuart Nulman – info@mtltimes.ca

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