My memories of taking in live performance are extensive. From my earliest recollections, I became hooked from the moment the actors walked onstage in the late 1970s for Noises Off in Ottawa. From there I vaulted to dinner theatre in Washington, DC with Bye Bye Birdy in the early 1980s, then becoming besotted by the performances of two personal icons, Brent Carver andSheila McCarthy in Cabaret at Stratford, which was then complimented by TheCherry Orchard the following day in the late 1980s. I then gorged on countless musical, dance and theatre performances through the 1990s and 2000sin global venues from NY’s Broadway, London’s West End, all of Toronto’s stages(and I mean ALL), to San Francisco’s small theatres, Alexandria Egypt’s Opera House, and even Suva Fiji’s underground Birdland Jazz Club, to name a few.
Indeed, I repeatedly remarked for decades that the most amazing thing I could hope to accomplish in my lifetime would be to see EricClapton at the Royal Albert Hall, and I checked that box in 2009. But even that lifetime achievement goal was made after first achieving what will go down as one of my happiest memories of all time in seeing my beloved musicians in Rush from front-row at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1986 (I saw Rush 2 more times in1988 and then again in 1990, before capping it off with Neil Peart’s final Toronto performance in 2015). I have been a die-hard holiday classic goer seeing all versions of The Nutcracker Ballet since I was a teenager and madly in love with Mikhail Baryshnikov. And my most recent live performance to date was Genesis last November. My last online performance is TREATY: A Reconciliation Revelry by Tim Johnson earlier this morning. And I’m eagerly excited to see my next live show This Is How We Got Here by Keith Barker in 10days time.
Performance is and has been a huge part of defining my quality of life. I take immense pleasure in igniting all my senses when it comes to performance, and especially live performance. That is why I’m announcing here that in mid-January 2022, I might have taken on my dream job. For I now get to work weekly with performing artists, agents, producers, and spaces, while also getting to work with the amazing team at Ontario Presents (OntarioPerforming Arts Presenting Network | (ontariopresents.ca), an organizationI’ve been interacting with for many years now.
I’m stepping into some pretty massive shoes with the retirement of Warren Garrett as Executive Director last April. His legacy in raising Ontario Presents to the caliber and status that it currently has, as a standout role model for presenting organizations across the country, is magnificently respected. And I hope that I can do the role and organization justice in sharing the reigns of leadership with the stalwart and sector magician unto herself, Program Director, Judy Harquail. We take on a joint partnership in continuing to steer OP and support our presenting colleagues through the end of this pandemic which saw way too many stage lights dimmed for the better part of 24months.
I look forward to extensively engaging all members of the OP membership, its partners, and funders over the next year as I get my feet wet in this new role. And here’s to all audience lovers of live and virtual performances who see their lives uplifted by the Presenters that surround us! Check out your local performing arts venues online, by phone and in person today!