Review: ROM Friday Night Live (#FNLROM): Mardi Gras, June 21, 2019


The Royal Ontario Museum’s Friday Night Live (#FNLROM) series transformed Canada’s largest museum of art, culture, and nature into Toronto’s hottest adult-only social event. On Friday, June 21, we brushed off your carnival beads, polished our dancing shoes, and got ready to experience a New Orleans-style party #FNLROM: Mardi Gras. The event was programmed in partnership with TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

The summer is upon us and let’s face it – we needed a bit of a breather after a week of work and other responsibilities. Does anyone else’s week sometimes get ahead of them? We hear you. We encourage you to check out #FNLROM at the Royal Ontario Museum for a reset.

This week’s Mari Gras #FNLROM theme was epic as usual. Full of jovial vibes, delicious drinks, food and let’s not forget about the New Orleans style tunes. We loved Heavy Weights Brass Band! They have built a reputation as Canada’s reigning champions of feel­-good horn music. Their unique style never fails to move any audience, and has earned them a loyal following from fans across all genres. They were instrumental in getting the crowd up and moving.


We moved on up to Bronfman Hall and grabbed some drinks while munching on Gushi Toronto’s famous chicken and Tita Flip’s tasty Palabok. It was the sustenance we needed to get down with Notorious BIG and some hype 70’s throwback tunes with the support of DJ Medicineman. DJ Medicineman is the founder of Electro Swing TO, with a unique cross-cultural style that connects vintage rhythms and progressive beats. His radio show “NO MAN’S LAND” bridges the sounds of world and electronic music.

After an hour or two we wandered over to Earth’s Treasures for some dessert and some catch up time with friends. Have you tried My Crème Caramel and Ice Volcano Ice Cream? Talk about delicious treats that make for a wonderful end to a robust evening out at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Friday June 28, 2019 is the last night for #FNLROM for the summer season until they return in the Fall of 2019. If you haven’t checked out #FNLROM, grab your ticket for next week fast! They will be sure to sell out!

Happy week!


Other Artists and Food Vendors represented at ROM Friday Night Live: #FNLROM: Mardi Gras, June 21, 2019


DJ L’Oqenz is a producer, music director, sound designer and cultural curator. Her undeniable skills on the turntables and innovative musical vision bring together the worlds of music, theatre, visual arts and multi-media.

Heavy Weights Brass Band have built a reputation as Canada’s reigning champions of feel­-good horn music. Their unique style never fails to move any audience, and has earned them a loyal following from fans across all genres.

DJ Agile’s style is as diverse as Toronto with a proven ability to captivate a crowd. Agile is a Stylus DJ Award winner, NXNE Rising Star Award winner, five-time Juno nominee and a five-time MuchMusic Video Award nominee.


Alex Pangman is known as Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing. This Juno nominee possesses the taste, talent and the historical knowledge of an avid record collector to breathe new life into the sturdy standards of the classic jazz era.

Allison Toffan has been busy stirring up momentum in the Canadian tap dance community for over a decade, and has been recognized by the Canada Council for the Arts, FACTOR, and the Toronto Arts Council.

Gareth Burgess has been playing the steel pan for more than 15 years and has developed into one of the finest jazz soloists in the city. He also teaches steel band classes at high schools in the GTA.


Scarlett LaFlamme Burlesque specializes in creative, character-driven, themed burlesque and variety shows inspired by everything from classical paintings to Game of Thrones.

Food Fare

Delight Bite, Gushi, Tita Flips, ChotiPLATE, My Crème Caramel, and Ice Volcano Ice Cream.

Parkbus, Your Ride to the Great Outdoors!: Let’s Check out The Elora Gorge!


Being a city gal I have always wanted to escape on my weekend and see a part of Ontario through a different lens. If you don’t have a car and want to leave the driving to someone else after a busy week at your stressful office job – it’s time to stitch in some restorative healing into your overall health and well being.

With that goal in mind, I chose the Elora Gorge tour with Parkbus ( This summer, Parkbus is offering a shuttle service from four Canadian cities to four national and provincial parks. Pack your lunch, hop on board, and spend the day in the great outdoors! This service is made possible through the generous support from TD, Mountain Equipment Co-op and Parks Canada.  If you live in Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax and Vancouver – now is the time to book your next road trip.

For us city folk who rely on public transit, Parkbus will pick you and your friends at 34 Asquith in Toronto which is located about 100 meters from Bloor-Yonge subway entrance (Yonge Street Entrance). It’s that easy! They will drop you off at the same location.


One of Parkbus’ most popular day trip destinations, is the Elora Gorge. The Grand River rushes through the gorge with 22m-high cliffs in a gorgeous conservation area, before entering one of the most scenic towns in Ontario. Depending on the time of year, you can enjoy tubing down the rapids. I chose to do a three hour hike along the banks of the Grand River, I rested at a few spots under some shady trees, checked out the camping grounds, had some lunch at a glorious picnic spot in the sun, read and then casually commenced my hike into town.

A hot tip, your Parkbus ticket includes park admission for the day. I would begin your day at the Elora Gorge Conservation Area which is located about 30 min away by foot to the local Town of Elora. It makes for a nice day getting some exercise in and then grabbing something to eat in town. If you prefer to skip the hike and stay in town, the Park Bus stops at the LCBO parking lot located on 23 Metcalfe St. so you can enjoy your day with the locals. Keep in mind, my hike was a solo trip and not part of a guided tour.


The Town of Elora is perched on the edge of a spectacular gorge along the banks of the Grand River. Restaurants, cafes, art galleries and boutiques line the main street. I grabbed a Kawartha Ice Cream, in Rum Raisin at the local ice cream shop and walked around taking in the sites. I checked out the Farmer’s Market where some local Mennonite women were selling their fresh produce and then took a stroll into the village to take pictures of the colourful cottages. I then made my way down to the Quarry to take in the rushing water, sat down for a moment and took some more photographs. I had 5 hours in Elora on $49 return bus trip price point. The trip was safe, affordable and reliable.

If you are a foodie and want to sample the amazing menu at the Elora Mill, I would suggest making a reservation in advance and wear your nicest outfit.

For those of us with fur babies, you are allowed to bring your dogs onto the bus. You would need to purchase a pet ticket ($10 each way) before hand. The pet must be transported either in a carrier or with a muzzle, and you assume responsibility for a cleaning fee in case their pet makes a mess on the bus. Dogs must be on a leash when in the park.

If you want to grab a 5% discount using @parkbus this month use the referral code, 1039euiwod. Tell them I sent you and have fun! 🙂 @ParksCanada @Parkbus @mec @environmentca @OntarioParks @TourismeOntario #OurNature #goodtimesoutside #parkbusgotmehere @EloraON

Have fun! Looking forward to my next trip with Parkbus!

Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2019 (June 6 – 27, 2019) – TOP PICKS


Love’s Twisting Path – Actress Mikado Tabe in Attendance

Saturday June 8 @ 7pm

Runtime: 93 min / 2019

Director: Sadao Nakajima

Starring: Kengo Kora, Mikako Tabe, Ryo Kimura

North American Premiere

After a 20-year hiatus, master jidaigeki director Sadao Nakajima returns with an action-packed throwback to the days of classic “chambara” films.

Kyoto in the final years of the Edo Period. Tajuro, a masterless samurai, can barely making ends meet. His neighbour, the beautiful izakaya owner Otoyo has fallen in love with him. When Tajuro’s brother Kazuma arrives in Kyoto, there is suspicion he is there to overthrow the Shogunate. The authorities pounce and Tajuro, with Otoyo’s help, must fight to protect his brother.

A loving throwback to the action, romance and intensity of the golden years of samurai films.

Official Website and Trailer (In Japanese):

You may purchase at Ticketweb, or at JCCC Reception, 416-441-2345


Born Bone Born – Director Toshiyuki Teruya in Attendance

Monday June 24 @ 7pm

Runtime: 111 min / 2018

Director: Toshiyuki Teruya

Starring: Ayame Misaki, Eiji Okuda, Michitaka Tsutsui, Yoko Oshima

Canadian Premiere

Four years after their mother’s death, the estranged children of the Shinjo family return to their home on Aguni Island, near Okinawa, to perform the traditional ritual of ‘senkotsu’ or ‘bone-washing,’ a kind of final farewell to a loved one. To everyone’s surprise daughter Yuko arrives alone and heavily pregnant, and son Tsuyoshi minus his wife and children. They arrive to discover father Nobutsuna has been drowning his sorrows in alcohol. But just perhaps an ancient burial ritual is what the Shinjo family needs to heal their wounds and unite once again…

Heartwarming meditation on love, family, and the power of tradition won the Audience Choice Award at Japan Cuts 2018.

Official Website and Trailer (In Japanese) :

You may purchase ticket(s) at Ticketweb, or at JCCC Reception, 416-441-2345.


When My Mom Died, I Wanted to Eat Her Ashes and Every Day a Good Day – Director Tatsushi Omori in Attendance

Wednesday June 26 @ 7pm

Runtime: 108 min / 2019

Director: Tatsushi Omori

Starring: Ken Yasuda, Mitsuko Baisho, Nao Matsushita, Jun Murakami, Renji Ishibashi

North American Premiere

Based on Satoshi Miyagawa’s popular manga. Morbid title aside, this film is a tender, quirky and heart-breaking ode to the love of a son for his mother.

Akiko was always a kind, supportive mother to Satoshi when he was growing up, helping him through tough times saying, “It’s okay, because I am with you. You will survive.”   Satoshi is now in his thirties and remains devoted to his Mom. When she is diagnosed with terminal cancer, it is Satoshi’s turn to say, “It’s okay, because I am with you.” Bring your handkerchiefs!

Official Website and Trailer (In Japanese):

You may purchase ticket(s) at Ticketweb, or at JCCC Reception, 416-441-2345.


The Gambler’s Odyssey 2020 – Actor Takumi Saitoh in Attendance

Sunday June 16 @ 7pm

Runtime: 120 min / 2019

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Starring: Saitoh Takumi, Momo, Becky, Naoto Takenaka

North American Premiere



Boyatetsu, a skilled mahong player, slips through time from the ruins of post-war Japan to Tokyo in the year 2020. He finds a ruined city plagued by a decreasing population, increasing unemployment and social unrest. The 2020 Olympics have been cancelled and an evil organization plans to restage the event as a massive human versus artificial intelligence mahjong competition. Boyatetsu must step forward to represent the human race.

A wildly imaginative and quite out-of-control roller-coaster ride of bizarre characters, surreal transgression and action based on Takehiro Irokawa’s novel and Yozo Shimizu’s manga.

Official Website and Trailer (In Japanese):

You may purchase ticket(s) at Ticketweb, or at JCCC Reception, 416-441-2345

Enjoy!  🙂


The Canadian Opera Company presents “Otello” from April 27, 30, May 3, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 2019

“Otello” beautifully closes up the opera season at The Canadian Opera Company with Verdi’s blistering adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. “Otello” is brimming with drama, darkness, rainy nights and fiery blazes.
Otello is quite the fellow – a professional military man, full of pride and a beaming husband to Desdemona. Retaliation follows as he receives a promotion over his friend, lago. lago’s jealousy takes a malicious turn and leads Otello down a destructive path.
American tenor Russell Thomas returns to the COC as Otello. The San Francisco Classical Voice calling him a “heroically-scaled tenor” with a voice that is a “tower of strength.” Thomas destroys the audience with a strength that runs deep with emotion and stoic in vulnerably. Distinguished Canadian baritone, Gerald Finley is the villainous lago; his manipulative streak and epic moments of contempt makes one’s heart race. Soprano, Tamara Wilson is Otello’s wife, Desdemona. Wilson provides the audience with a moving texture that is unrivaled in this performance. Canadian tenor and Ensemble Studio graduate Andrew Haji illustrates to the audience a complexity that is befitting his role of young lieutenant Cassio.
As per the Canadian Opera Company’s production notes, “the story’s setting has been moved to a crumbling Mediterranean garrison, in the early 20th century. In keeping with the spirit of Verdi’s original creation, the production takes a largely psychological approach, zeroing in on Otello’s inner turmoil over the external influence of other people and circumstance.” The staging creates an atmosphere that resembles the coldest and damp of Canadian Fall days. The Acts are full of uncertainty, questioning and wondering of what is to come. The ambiance of death, dying and a unsettled earth was felt throughout the performance. Grounding is felt in the singular flames rooted into the ground and scenes of a burgeoning dawn that demonstrates an element of hope to the audience.
COC Music Director Johannes Debus leads the COC Orchestra through what is known as one of Verdi’s most daring and complex orchestrations. Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst leads the COC Chorus.
Ensure to make a cool date with “Otello” before the opera season comes to a close in May.
Otello is sung in Italian and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.
This production was originally created as a co-production between English National Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, and Teatro Real Madrid.

The Canadian Opera Company presents “Puccini’s La Bohème” (from April 17, 26, 28, May 2, 4, 5, 7, 11, 22, 2019) at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Now that we have packed away our parka’s, it’s time to embrace the spring. There is nothing like winking at snowy scenes in Puccini’s La Bohème, that make one wish for a little sprinkle of snow upon exiting the performance.
Puccini’s La Bohème, one of opera’s best-known love stories, illustrates that art, life, love and loss collide just as much in the present as it did for a group of struggling young artists in 19th-century Paris. Set to some of the most moving music ever composed, the story has captured the hearts of generations of audiences and inspired numerous adaptations, including the hit Broadway musical, Rent. La Bohème runs for 10 performances on April 17, 26, 28, May 2, 4, 5, 7, 11 (two performances), 22, 2019.
The Broadway musical Rent is brash, full on and overly dramatic. Puccini’s La Bohème is quiet, reflective, and perfect to get lost in during a matinee performance. It is worthy of leaving you contemplating about love and loss for the rest of your evening with a glass of wine or with a favourite book of poetry. As John Caird said in 2013 in his Director’s Notes, “Herein lies the true genius of Puccini’s achievement. By giving every one of Murger’s characters a real musical specificity, Puccini allows them to move from laughter to tears and back again with effortless ease – and his orchestral background overflows with the most lovingly crafted detail in support of their complex emotional journeys.”

A mix of rising Canadian and international stars comprise this stellar cast: American soprano Angel Blue makes her COC debut as the doomed Mimì. Blue is dynamic with a demure lens as she reflects on her life and that of her compatriots. One’s heart can’t help but start to break as her love affair with Rodolfo starts to bloom. Brazilian tenor Atalla Ayan won San Francisco Opera’s Emerging Stars Competition in 2018 plays the role of Mimì’s love, Rodolfo. Sweet, kind and keen to be vulnerable about his heart break. Canadian soprano Andriana Chuchman brings her “sure, glorious sound” (Washington Post) to the role of the lively Musetta. Chuchman, is truly epic. Fully of gusto, sauciness and perhaps an eye brow arching lens towards what is to come. American baritone Lucas Meachem performs the role of struggling artist Marcello. Hardly an easy feat but Meachem provides wonderful moments to reflect upon as he digests the pain of his artist friends.
Tony Award-winner John Caird directs this popular COC production, that was last performed in Toronto in 2014. The creative team drew visual inspiration from France’s Belle Époque period to convey characters’ rose-tinted sense of hope and absolute commitment to their art as painter, poet, musician and philosopher. The set cleverly incorporates a collage of canvases by the painter in the opera, Marcello, effectively framing the story onstage within various Parisian locales. Richly coloured lighting design is by Michael James Clark.

The staging as is usual with Canadian Opera Company performances are grand, exciting and full of pomp and circumstance. The dimly lit glow of streetlights, a working stove with a rising smoke stack, snow covered ambiances, treat laden market scenes and dark portraiture make for a cosy performance experience. The joviality that is stitched into the reality of the characters bold and colourful life space is a reminder to the audience, that we are living a Comédie humaine including of genuine laughter, sometimes angry, sometimes joyous but always mixed with tears like that of the artist’s in Puccini’s work.
Italian conductor Paolo Carignani (2012’s Tosca and 2016’s Carmen) returns to Toronto to lead the COC Orchestra through a sweeping score that includes Mimì and Rodolfo’s famously heartbreaking love duets. Italian conductor Antonello Allemandi, making his COC debut, conducts the final performance on May 22. Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst leads the COC Chorus through some of opera’s most memorable melodies.
Ensure you make time to breathe in Puccini’s La Bohème as we enter the Spring. Perhaps we have some new beginnings ourselves that we must nurture and perhaps let go of those that need pruning to the inspiring tune of Puccini’s epic score.
La Bohème is sung in Italian and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.
La Bohème is a COC co-production with Houston Grand Opera and San Francisco Opera.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents the Pops Series with the “Queens of Soul” (May 7 & 8, 2019)

Now that the winter is over, pack your parkas away and get ready to breathe in the spring’s vibe with the Queens of Soul at The Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents three fabulous singers in a program of hits made famous by the legendary divas of soul and R&B. Think Aretha Franklin to Alicia Keys!

Check out the full program for the Queens of Soul and grab your tickets soon:

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 8:00 pm

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at 2:00 pm & 8:00 pm

Jeff Tyzik, conductor

Queens of Soul

Shayna Steele, vocalist

Melissa McMillan, vocalist

Brie Cassil, vocalist

FOGERTY/arr. Tyzik: “Proud Mary”  [5′]

WARREN/arr. Tyzik: “At Last”  [5′]

HULL/arr. Tyzik: “New Attitude”  [4′]

WEATHERLY/arr. Tyzik: “Midnight Train to Georgia”  [4′]

GAMBLE/arr. Tyzik: “Don’t Leave Me This Way”  [3′]

ADKINS/arr. Tyzik: “Rolling in the Deep”  [4′]

KEYS/arr. Tyzik: “Fallin’”  [3′]

ALICIA KEYS: /arr. Tyzik: “Girl on Fire”  [3′]

WHITFIELD/arr. Tyzik: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”  [6′]

BRITTEN/arr. Tyzik: “What’s Love Got To Do With It”  [3′]

MERRILL/arr. Tyzik: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”  [3′]

KING/arr. Tyzik: “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”  [3′]

WINEHOUSE/arr. Tyzik: “You Know I’m No Good”  [4′]

ADKINS/arr. Tyzik: “Hello”  [4′]

REDDING/arr. Tyzik: “Respect”  [2′]

SHANNON/arr. Tyzik: “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”  [2′]

COHEN/arr. Tyzik: “Freeway of Love”  [5′]

KING/arr. Tyzik: “(

Mike’s Murder at The Royal Cinema in Toronto – Friday, Apr 26 – 8:00pm (EXCLUSIVE)

The Royal Cinema is celebrating 4 years of the Neon Dreams Cinema Club with a rare screening of a 35mm print of MIKE’S MURDER, secured for by Debra Winger herself! Yay, Debra! Doors at 7pm, pre show at 7:30pm, intro and the film at 8pm.

Neon Dreams Cinema Club: MIKE’S MURDER (35mm!)