The State of Theatre in Toronto
Daniel Shehori has taken part in over 300 staged shows as a writer, performer, director, and publicist. His shows have been nominated for eight Canadian Comedy Awards (one of them won!) Daniel has written comedy articles for the Toronto Star, Chill Magazine, and has written comedy segments for the Naked News. Daniel is the manager of two music acts: GASH, and Calcu-Lator & The Oral Presentation. Currently, Daniel is the publicist for the Second City Toronto.
JG - Daniel , what is your opinion on the current state of theatre in Toronto?
DS - The State of Toronto theatre is either good or bad depending on who you ask, and since you are asking me I will say it's good! Some people have been discouraged with the premature closings of large budget productions like The Producers and LOTR. Those two shows are not a reflection of the overall state of theatre in Toronto.
Toronto is a tough town for any kind of entertainment establishment (not just theatre) to sustain a consistent audience...unless you are the Toronto Maple Leafs. Which is why I am writing, The Toronto Maple Leafs: The Musical! But what I find most encouraging in Toronto Theatre are the grass roots companies. These companies, that can barely afford to cover their venue rentals and are forced to do all thier own PR and Marketing, go into it knowing, damn well, they are not going to make a cent off their work.
JG - What needs to be improved upon?
DS - I have been trying to figure out how to improve things for about 7 years now. Toronto is a strange theatre town. Its always a fight to get an audience. We have a lot of talent and a willing population to come watch. Toronto is fine for the moment. I feel for other Canadian Cities that lose thier talent to Toronto.
JG - How do you see yourself fitting in to this?
DS - I am not sure if I am improving anything...I am just consistent. I haven't
stopped working on live shows in over 6 years. I am usually working on more than one simultaneously, and when one production is done I am immediately knee deep in the next one. I divide my time between grass roots productions, that are either my own or people I like to work with, and The Second City. Second City is like the 'gateway drug' to other forms of theatre for audiences that do not see a lot of theatre. It does a lot for local theatre for that reason.
JG - Is your current show representative of that?
DS - My Current show Swiss "Family Guy" Robinson is also going down the same road as Second City. Here we take a product that a lot of people are familiar with, in this case the animated series The Family Guy and we put it on stage with one man (Brian Froud) as the entire show. It is a comedy that is geared towards fans of the cartoon. Make no mistake, though, this is a tight piece of theatre. Brian works his ass off on that stage for an hour. His role is far more demanding than that Jean Valjean guy!