Earlier this week, Kate Alexander and David Daniels opened the doors of their contemporary Casa Loma residence to an intimate crowd of 200 guests for an evening dedicated to the Acting Up Stage Company. As executive producer of the company, Daniels hoped to use the event to give patrons a taste of the company’s work by staging a series of performances from Both Sides Now—a musical featuring songs by Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. “I want tonight to give you shivers down your spine in the way only music can,” exclaimed artistic producer Mitchell Marcus, who greeted guests in the front foyer. Among the crowd were Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall (in town for Private Lives), director Norman Jewison, Barbara Amiel, actor Don McKellar and musical guests Arlene Duncan (Little Mosque on the Prairie), Marcus Nance and Bruce Dow.
The cozy gathering began with casual hors d’oeuvres catered by À La Carte Kitchens, followed by a concert in the downstairs ballroom. Vintage stage lights were scattered among contemporary furnishings and collectibles, giving the home an overall theatrical vibe. Prior to the performance, Marcus gave a brief history of the Acting Up Stage Company, emphasizing outreach programs like One Song Glory, which provides free musical theatre training for youth. Guests were presented with the theatre’s three-year plan for growth and given the opportunity to say, “I was there at the beginning” (in other words, we need your support now).
The concert that followed did exactly what Marcus had promised: it left us tingling. Sara Farb’s jazzy rendition of Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning” gave us chills that only intensified with Duncan’s soulful “Ain’t No Cure for Love” and Amanda LeBlanc’s heart-wrenching “A Case of You.” Dow, a Stratford favourite, closed the show with the title song “Both Sides Now,” which had the crowd on their feet in a standing ovation. As guests headed back upstairs for a final glass of wine, the band played “Big Yellow Taxi Cab,” which we took as a cue to leave.