The Carnegie Hall show at the Bread & Circus

Bread & Circus

Image by fortinbras via Flickr

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages,

Roll up, Roll up to the Bread & Circus, host to the Carnegie Hall show  – the “Greatest little Show on Earth!”

I give you the most Audaciousssssss

The most Outrageousssssss

The most Sensory challenging, Mind boggling and Dangerous display of Wit, Verve and Mental agility you will EVER encounter.

I give you the National Theatre of the World wiiiIIIIIIIIIIith “The Carnegie Hall” show.

Let the show begin!”

You may think you’ve seen it all before when it comes to improv and yes Toronto abounds with this sort of entertainment, but if you only do one nice thing for yourself next week, go and watch this lot.

Not as “slick” or as commercial as the big-ticket, big name, improv shows such as the recent “An Evening with Colin and Brad” (see post before last). this wonderful, fun and vibe-infused show in the artsy and bohemian setting of the tiny Bread and Circus stage makes the big shows seem almost sterile, formula-driven  and by comparison lacking in any of the intimacy of last evening’s performance.

Juggling the general premise of the show, with audience suggestions and the mostly unpredictable interactions of fellow cast members, the intrepid performers of the National Theatre of the World, stick their heads into the proverbial lions mouth of audience anticipation and expectation on a regular basis. The core ensemble perform weekly and monthly in three separately branded Toronto-based improvisation shows – as detailed below.

With spin-off sideshows segued into the regular schedule; tours; workshops; voice-over and script writing gigs; these guys run rings around the rest of us. This has to be life in the fast lane. I’ve said this before when addressing the subject of improvisation comedy, I am gobsmacked by the talent. When I can’t even remember the end of any given sentence I start these days, these guys are up there like trapeze artists flying by the seat of their pants and with only the safety net of the collective cast, giving up to the minute, verbally acrobatic,  fresh, original and funny performances – and of course all under the dual glare of the spotlight and an audience who in this genre are not averse to heckling. Through imagination, mental recall , visual cues, and team work; employing razor-sharp synapses to make split second strategic connections both verbally and in terms of plot direction and humour , these guys are truly living life in the moment.

As with the ethos of the original Carnegie Hall in New York which was to become one of the world’s most important stages—not only for great music, but also for theatre, dance, and the exchange of ideas, it appears that this company has incorporated the spirit of this philosophy into their Bread & Circus based show. The inclusion of a number of singing and dancing guest slots amidst their two part improv show, coupled with the fact that the whole cast were dressed to the nines in evening dress (we’re talking tuxedos and boa’s), infused the show with old world vaudeville atmosphere as the anachronistic backdrop to a very up the minute setting of contemporary improvisation.

The first part of this show works with audience suggestion and the second section features an improvised radio play again using suggestions from the audience. The whole show  – and this is what makes it a little different from your average improv show – performs with the non-stop and jaw droppingly appropriate piano accompaniment of the incredibly talented Waylen Miki who second guesses the mood and direction of the various segments brilliantly.

The core performers of the company consist of Second City alumni Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus,  Ron Pederson ( MAd Tv)  who are all co artistic directors of the “National theatre of the World” company along with perpetual guest Chris Gibbs and pianist Waylan Miki.

Carnegie Hall Show  – Wednesday nights at 9pm –  Bread & Circus Theatre

Tickets pay what you think – after the show.

 Impromptu Splendor  – Last Sunday of the month – Theatre Passe Muraille – 16 Ryerson Avenue.

Tickets $12 at the door – includes play reading and discussion that takes place at 7.30 – show starts at 9pm.

Show premise: The cast improvise a brand new one-act play in the style of a playwright. For instance last Sunday (27 March), they took on Sam Shepard (True West, Fool for Love etc). Prior to each show – which starts at 9pm – they run a “Reading series” which contextualizes the playwright of the evening and presents scenes from the plays they have written (as always unrehearsed).

The Soaps  – Monday nights @8pm At the Comedy Bar – 945 Bloor Street W, Toronto.

Tickets are pay what you can.

Show premise: “It’s the town of Utopia. For many years this sleepy provincial hamlet has been the humble home to the world famous Réchérché soap making empire. But tragedy strikes Utopia, and when the famous family’s patriarch  – Richard Réchérché –  suspiciously dies, everyone and their slippery cousin seems to come out of the woodwork to lay their hands on a piece of the soap”

Bread & Circus, 299 Augusta Avenue
Toronto, ON M5T 2M2
(416) 925-8898


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