But a Canadian playing Mike Ross was there first and viewers will get to see a wedding with a uniquely Canuck connection, in a tantalizingly snack-sized warm-up to the real deal.
2. Dolan does Donovan
I’m curious to see what Quebec auteur Xavier Dolan (Mommy) has up his designer sleeve with The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, his first English-language film and one loaded with stars from Hollywood (Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, Kit Harington) and Hollywood North (Sarah Gadon, Emily Hampshire, Jacob Tremblay).
Plot details are scarce, but it sounds like a Tinseltown scandal reckoning, very much in tune with the times. Harington plays the title character, an American TV star who gets emotionally involved with an 11-year-old British boy, played by Jacob Tremblay as a child and Ben Schnetzer as an adult. Will Dolan be able to resist the siren song of a Cannes premiere, despite his avowed distaste for the “trolling and bullying” he felt from critics there in 2016 for his previous film, It’s Only the End of the World?
3. The great Canadian concert
It’s not like the room is going dark for good or anything, but the prospect of Massey Hall shutting its doors for at least two years in mid-2018 just shy of its 124th birthday for a massive renovation and expansion still seems unfathomable.
Fittingly enough, however, the overseers of the Massey Hall Revitalization Project have seen fit to bid temporary farewell to the venue with a pair of performances on June 29 and 30 by Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian icon who is as much of a national musical institution as Massey Hall itself.
Still hacking away on the touring trail (without renovation) at 79, Lightfoot isn’t quite as old as Massey, but he comes closer than most working musicians. And with 166 performances logged to date in that very theatre, the living folk-pop legend from Orillia has the distinction of being the one artist, Canadian or otherwise, who’s graced its mythical stage more than any other. It’ll be a bittersweet send-off and there will no doubt be a few misty eyes in the house when the lights come up and Toronto says “See ya later” to what is arguably its most beloved live-music venue, but it’s hard to imagine a more appropriate person to usher Massey Hall from the past to a rejuvenated future. With any luck, they’ll tap Gord again to reopen the place in 2020.
4. Leonard Cohen’s last words
There are plenty of new books to look forward to, but one of the most exciting is poet, writer and songwriter Leonard Cohen’s last one, expected in October. He finished it just before his death in November 2016 at the age of 82. To get a sense of what he was thinking, writing and creating in his final months, The Flame will include poetry that hadn’t been published before, as well as notebook entries and song lyrics. Most of the book, according to the publisher — Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the U.S. and McClelland & Stewart here in Canada — will be new material. Robert Kory, Cohen’s manager and the trustee of his estate, said that, “During the final months of his life, Leonard had a singular focus: completing this book . . . the flame and how our culture threatened its extinction was a central concern.” Our hearts still burn.
5. Lepage meets Le Bard
A new production by Robert Lepage is always going to be news. Lepage making his Stratford Festival debut directing Shakespeare is an all-caps headline!
The revered Québécois auteur (his schedule is so globe-trotting and jam-packed, it’s a feat that Stratford even nailed him down at all) is known for his visually stunning, image-led approach to directing. In the 1990s, he went through something of a Shakespeare phase and, as the first North American ever to stage the Bard’s work at London’s National Theatre, rather infamously set A Midsummer Night’s Dream on a stage floor covered in mud.
Around that same time he directed three Shakespeare plays in French-language translations by Michel Garneau. One of these was a cinema-inflected, modern-dress staging of Coriolanus, a tragedy about the struggles of a warrior hero to lead his country. The text of Lepage’s production was radically abridged, running at just about two hours, and spectators viewed it through a rectangular aperture on a blacked-out stage.
In 2018 he’s revisiting that production at Stratford, where it will be performed in English by some of the ensemble’s top talent. André Sills has the title role with Lucy Peacock as his domineering mother Volumnia, and Tom McCamus, Stephen Ouimette and Tom Rooney (amongst others) in featured roles. The production opens June 22 in the Avon Theatre.
—Karen Fricker and Carly Maga
6. Gosling goes to the moon
One small step for man, one giant leap for . . . Oscar?
It’s never too early to start talking about awards season, right? Penned in for an Oct. 12, 2018 release — ripe for a TIFF premiere the month before — is the upcoming Neil Armstrong biopic starring Ryan Gosling. Teaming up with his La La Land director Damien Chazelle, the Canadian is headed to space courtesy of a script based on James Hansen’s definitive biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, which tells the story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Armstrong during the years 1961 to 1969.
Considering that their last collaboration netted Chazelle an Academy Award for Best Director and that La La Land grossed nearly $ 400 million worldwide — plus that the biopic also stars the queenly red-hot Claire Foy from The Crown as Armstrong’s wife Janet — expectations are Milky Way-wide.
7. La Vida MOCA
We’re hoping it happens this year, given that we’re a good nine months past its initial target date and counting, but when the Museum of Contemporary Art finally opens its doors sometime in late spring, expect it to be the local art-world event of the year. A full year will have passed since it first hoped to be on stream in May 2017, slowed, among other things, by an explosive parting of ways with its inaugural director, Chantal Pontbriand, in 2016.
But with its new space in a reinvigorated urban gem, the Tower Automotive building on Sterling Rd., a new director in globe-trotting local Heidi Reitmaier, MOCA will be on everyone’s minds not for what happened since the former MOCCA went into hibernation in 2015, but what’s actually happening. A light at the end of a very long tunnel.
8. Lepage part deux
It has taken more than eight years since Robert Lepage created The Nightingale and Other Short Fables for the Canadian Opera Company to offer a remount at the Four Seasons Centre, opening April 13. As one of the lucky people who witnessed the premiere of this stage work built on the music of Igor Stravinsky, I am salivating at the prospect of seeing it again.
I thought the show was magical, writing for the Star in October 2009: “In a world that gets debunked and demystified at every turn, the magical is rare — and therefore all the more valuable. . . . No cascade of words can do full justice to Robert Lepage’s brainchild, which combines orchestra, voices and several genres of movement and puppetry into a 90-minute conjuring of fairy-tale worlds that are at once familiar and totally novel.”
See you there when the snow has melted.