Here are my choice Montreal arts and culture highlights for March 2018:
Rod Stewart is my favourite rock star, now more-than-ever after my all-out media campaign to get Rod to perform my all-time favourite song, Sailing, at the Bell Centre back in December 2013.
“While I know the song is not on your setlist, you have never sung Sailing in all your years performing in Montreal, a city where you headlined the Montreal Forum more than any other performer in the 20th century,” I wrote to Rod in an open letter in the Montreal Gazette. “Your December 14 concert at Montreal’s Bell Centre will be my 31st Rod Stewart concert, and I’m bringing my mom Diamond Lil who will be attending her 30th Rod Stewart concert. So, on the eve of your Montreal show, I have just one last request, Mr. Stewart: Will you sing Sailing? Please?”
Not only did Rod sing Sailing, he also projected my open letter onto the big screen.
“This chap has waited long enough!” Rod said before he and his band delivered a kickass live version of his anthem, a moment fab Montrealer Don Morgan caught on video, which now has more than 13 million views on YouTube, thanks in large part to the hundreds of news outlets worldwide that picked up the story, including Ultimate Classic Rock.
Rod also added another rare song to his setlist that night, The Killing of Georgie (Pts. 1 & 2) – an elegy for a murdered gay friend and the first-ever Billboard Top 40 song about gay characters – which Rod dedicated to “my friend, Richard Burnett.”
It truly was a concert for the ages.
Rod – who turned 73 on January 10 – returns to Montreal to headline the Bell Centre on March 27. Diamond Lil and I already have our tickets, eighth row on the ice. See you at the show.
Other Montreal concerts of note this month include Our Lady Peace & Matthew Good (MTELUS on March 7), “Weird Al” Yankovic (Théâtre Maisonneuve on March 7), The Sheepdogs (Corona Theatre on March 8), Dashboard Confessional (Corona Theatre on March 8), Craig David (Fairmount Theatre on March 15), Beth Ditto (Fairmount Theatre on March 16), Demi Lovato (Bell Centre on March 17), MGMT (MTELUS on March 17), classic rock legend Santana (Bell Centre on March 21), P!nk (Bell Centre on March 23), Reverend Horton Heat (Café Campus on March 31) and hip hop legend Nelly headlines the Olympia Theatre on March 25.
Click here for the list of final shows at Divan Orange.
Last but not least, Montreal Soul Queen Michelle Sweeney and her band headline the downtown House of Jazz every Friday night this month. Showtime: 9:30 pm.
Under the direction of Artistic Director Boris Brott, the McGill Chamber Orchestra will present Leonard Bernstein’s opera Candide, in collaboration with Opera McGill, directed by Patrick Hansen (March 23-24-25 at Pollack Hall) and conducted by Maestro Brott.
In fact, Bernstein was Brott’s mentor: “I was 23-24 when I worked with Bernstein,” Brott recalls. “It was a wonderfully inspiring time. He lived and breathed music and life. The two intertwined in a most wonderful way. He truly was a genius and a wonderful teacher. His love of education and teaching inspired me to do the same at various orchestras over the decades.”
Meanwhile, the Opéra de Montréal’s 38th season continues with their production of the a cappella chamber opera Svadba (March 24 to 31).
Then Grammy-winning conductor and rock star of the classical world, Maestro Kent Nagano – in his 12th year at the helm of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, will conduct a blockbuster production of Verdi’s Requiem, with world-class voices – soprano Patrizia Ciofi, mezzo-soprano Marie-Nicole Lemieux, tenor Ovidiu Purcel, bass Nicolas Brownlee and the OSM Chorus – on March 21, 24 and 25 at the Maison symphonique de Montréal.
ART AND MUSEUMS
The Gabor Szilasi – The Art World in Montreal, 1960-1980 exhibition at the McCord Museum features 43 black and white photographs from the artist’s personal collection. They are an extensive photographic record of the individuals who made up Montréal’s visual arts community, many of whom would shape the history of art in Canada.
Born in Hungary in 1928, Gabor Szilasi settled in Montréal soon after immigrating to Canada in 1957, and is one of Quebec’s best-known living photographers. These photos – 40 of which have never been published – were snapped at exhibition openings and other artistic events held in Montreal between 1960 and 1980, at a time of great social and cultural upheaval in Québec. These images not only chronicle an era, but also capture Szilasi’s longstanding fascination with people—and, in particular, artists. Gabor Szilasi – The Art World in Montreal, 1960-1980 continues at the McCord until April 29.
Over at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, check out the critically-acclaimed Leonard Cohen – Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything which explores the themes that marked Cohen’s life: darkness, light, religion, politics, love, desire, intimacy and poetry. This major exhibition runs to April 9.
While at the MAC, check out That’s How The Light Gets In which explores light as both subject and material. The collection brings together works by some 15 Québec and Canadian artists painters who were asked, “How does light come into your work? How does it infuse your practice?”
Responses by artists Marie-Claire Blais, Leopold Plotek, Claude Tousignant and others are displayed along the route through the exhibition and shed light on the importance of light in our lives and the world. The exhibition runs to August 19.
One of Montreal’s many outstanding art galleries, the Youn Gallery on the Main presents the debut solo show Man Enough by Canadian artist Andrew Moncrief, who explores themes of queer identity, masculinity and idealism with a focus on portraiture and figuration. Moncrief’s solo exhibition runs to April 7.
On March 11 at the Salon Urbain located in Place des Arts, AIDS Community Care Montreal (ACCM) will host its eighth annual ARTSIDA art auction which will benefit the volunteer-based community organization which works to enhance the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS, to prevent HIV transmission, and to promote community awareness and action.
ACCM’s signature art auction has become an important fundraiser on the Montreal social calendar each year. This edition features 62 pieces by such established artists as Kent Monkman, Daniel Barkley and Zilon, as well as by emerging artists. Check out all 62 art works here.
The ARTSIDA8 auction on March 11 begins at 6 pm. To purchase VIP or general admission tickets (you will also get a $50 tax receipt), click here.
I quite enjoyed the star-studded ensemble cast (stage legends Clare Coulter and Ellen David, Tyrone Benskin and Eloi ArchamBaudoin in his Segal debut) of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize nominated play Marjorie Prime by Jordan Harrison, which explores artificial intelligence as the 85-year-old title character loses her memory. The haunting play continues at The Segal Centre for Performing Arts until March 18.
Over at the Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal, world-renowned puppeteer provocateur Ronnie Burkett’s The Daisy Theatre – a bawdy one-man cabaret packed with 40 of the most outrageous characters you’ll ever encounter, such as Canada’s oldest and worst actress Miss Lillian Lunkhead and lounge singer Rosemary Focaccia – has been extended until March 25. The show is breaking Centaur box office records, so reserve your tickets well in advance.
The Saturday Night Fever musical runs at Théatre St. Denise from March 14 to April 1. The show runs two hours 20 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission.
Montreal sketch comedy duo Employees of the Year (a.k.a. Ross Wegscheider and Emelia Hellman) premiere their first full-length solo show Libro Magico at The Wiggle Room on March 15. The 90-minute theatrical comedy also features kickass Montreal actors Adam Capriolo and Maxine Segalowitz.
Last but not least, Black Theatre Workshop presents the acclaimed one-woman show Rendez-vous With Home written and performed by Djennie Laguerre, about two sisters, Josephine and Suzette, who are sent by their mother on a trip to Haiti to bury their father, a man they barely knew. Josephine, who has scant memories of her father, is anxious. Suzette, on the other hand, has no memories of her father and considers the trip an all-expenses paid vacation. Their journey of discovery proves to be more moving than they bargained for. Rendez-vous With Home runs March 6 to 11 at the MAI Theatre (French presentations on March 7 and 9).
Montreal’s top dance series, Danse Danse, continues its superb 2017-2018 season with Quebec City choreographer, dancer, director and visual artist Alan Lake’s Le cri des méduses at the Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts, six performances from March 20 to 24.
Montreal’s 36th annual International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) – the world’s largest film festival about art – runs from March 8 to 18. The festival will screen more than 80 films from around the world, including the North-American Premiere of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, A Devouring Passion, about two of the greatest painters in Mexico, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, lovers nicknamed “the elephant and the dove.” The film screens March 10 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Maxwell-Cummings Auditorium with director Catherine Aventurier in attendance.
Another FIFA event of note is the March 17 screening of the documentary La Mission de Kent Nagano, which retraces the childhood in Morro Bay of OSM’ Grammy-winning conductor and rock star of the classical world, Maestro Kent Nagano, and explores the preschool program “Music to children” that he initiated in a Montreal North public school. There will be a Q&A with Nagano following the screening.
The 2018 Oscar-winning Best Foreign-Language Film, A Fantastic Woman, opens at Cinema du Parc on March 6. The Chilean drama (English subtitles) stars transgender actor Daniela Vega as a young trans waitress and singer forced to confront suspicion and contempt after the death of her older lover.
Over at Concordia University, Cinema Politica will screen Another News Story, director Orban Wallace’s fascinating documentary about the European refugee crisis, focusing on the journalists sent by their employers to the Mediterranean to cover the humanitarian tragedy.
Wallace reveals the action behind the cameras of news teams tasked with reporting the refugee crisis and turning it into breaking news. The screening will be held at the Hall Building auditorium on March 19 at 7 pm. Suggested donation of $5-10.
Renowned Montreal writers H. Nigel Thomas, Horace Goddard and Maguy Métellus co-host Lectures Logos Readings, the monthly bilingual reading series of poetry, fiction and spoken word at the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A. Hall at 2741 Notre Dame St. W.) in Little Burgundy, March 12 from 7 to 9 pm. Their readers include award-winning authors and beginning writers. The guest readers this month are Elise Moser, Veena Gokhale, Aldyth Harrison, Horace Goddard, and Maxime St-Juste—followed by an open mic. The event is free, but a small donation is welcome.
Montreal’s uber-fabulous Drama Queen dance party is back with a special Easter Edition in the Velvet nightclub at Auberge St-Gabriel in Old Montreal. Spinning is one of my all-time fave DJs, Montreal’s very own Sandy Duperval, a “sing-jay” who trained her vocal chops with Whitney’s mom Cissy Houston for a year.
“Cissy takes this very seriously and doesn’t waste her time – she’s hard and driven,” Sandy told me about the experience, adding, “Singing (freestyle while spinning records) really came to me by accident, like I started deejaying by accident for eight dollars an hour to pay for school.”
All that hard work paid off: today Sandy Duperval is one of the best and hardest-working DJs in the business. She spins at Drama Queen on March 31.
Over at The Wiggle Room on the Main, Montreal stand-up comedians Tranna Wintour and Thomas Leblanc are celebrating Céline Dion’s birthday (the diva turns 50 on March 30) with their all-new cabaret show Sainte Céline: A New, New Day, on March 29 and 30, and April 5.
Sainte Céline: A New, New Day is a sequel to the duo’s terrific Sainte Céline: A Dion Cabaret, which i saw and loved. So I expect this show will be at least equally fun. This new show will feature an all-star cast performers from the worlds of music, dance, theatre, comedy and drag, notably fab Montreal drag queen Crystal Slippers who does a hilarious Céline impersonation.
The original Sainte Céline run sold out as part of Off Just for Laughs/Zoofest in 2016. Already the March 29 and 30 dates of this run have sold out, so Thomas and Tranna have added a third date, April 5. Purchase your tickets ASAP by clicking here.
Meanwhile, if you can’t make to The Wiggle Room for their Céline shows, tune in to Thomas and Tranna’s podcast, Chosen Family, produced in collaboration with the Phi Centre.