Toronto Fringe’s Next Stage Festival presents The Peace Maker, a play by Natasha Greenblatt about a young Canadian Jewish idealist who travels to Israel on a Birthright trip to make sense of the conflict for herself. She also visits the Palestinian territories as she wrestles with ideas of identity and justice and peace-making, all to the accompaniment of a live band spinning out klezmer, Arabic and other music.
Next Stage also offers Pitch Blond, a lighthearted comedy that explores Jewish actor Judy Holliday’s early career and her “best performance” before the McCarthy inquisitors who questioned her about her Communist sympathies. Actor-playwright Laura Anne Harris has won accolades for this performance that demonstrates just how clever one needs to be to play the ditzy blond.
Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St. Jan. 2 to 13. Visit http://fringetoronto.com and click on “Next Stage Festival.”
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Beatle Ballads: Toronto Beach residents Martin Gladstone and Frank Caruso have released a new CD titled Beatle Ballads, comprising 17 timeless Beatle standards, with guest artist Brenton Chan on cello. Martin was the founder and lead singer in the popular “Beatle clone” band The Grottybeats of the 1980s and works as a lawyer when not attending to his musical and political activities. He is a brother to the compiler of this column. The CD is available for sale at www.cdbaby.com, and a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Friends of Glen Davis Ravine. www.martinandfrank.com
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Come to the Cabaret: Veteran singer Gloria Valentine and pianist Nina Shapilsky perform a Jewish Music Cabaret with songs in Yiddish and English in a program sponsored by UJPO (United Jewish People’s Order), the Winchevsky Centre and the Yiddish Vinkl. $10 in advance, $15 at the door, includes refreshments. Winchevsky Centre, 585 Cranbrooke Ave. Saturday, Dec. 15, 8 p.m. Reserve at 416-789-5502, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Names in the News: The 16 titles on the long list for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction includes Carol-Bishop-Gwyn’s The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca. The book is a biography of the ballet dancer and founder of the National Ballet of Canada, who died in 2007. The daughter of a Jewish immigrant family from Poland, Franca was born in London’s east end in 1921. Also on the long list is Noah Richler’s What We Talk About When We Talk About War.
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Arts in Brief
• Hadara Lazar, Dalia Rosenfeld, Robin Roger and Miri Varon are among the authors featured in JewishFiction.net’s recently released ninth issue, which includes a Chanukah story from Israel. All 14 writers in the latest issue are women. JewishFiction.net
• Teatron Toronto Jewish Theatre presents the Canadian première of Rabbi Sam, by and featuring Charlie Varon, at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St., Jan. 3 to 13. Prices range from $26 to $48, but Teatron has added a specially priced matinee ($19) on Jan. 3. www.teatrontheatre.com
• Woody Allen Past and Present is the topic of Kevin Courrier’s upcoming series of five lectures with film clips as part of the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre’s Media Mondays. Find out how audiences responded to Woody Allen’s movies, from the 1960s to today, from Annie Hall to Midnight in Paris. Jan. 14 to Feb. 11. $56 for the series, $12 per session, $6 for students and Toronto Jewish Film Society subscribers. email@example.com, 416-924-6211, ext. 606.
• Shir Libeynu presents Chanukah in Chelm!, a celebration with menorah-lighting, chazzan, latkes, the Jewstice League Klezmer Ensemble and tales about Chelm. First Unitarian Congregation, Sunderland Hall, 175 St. Clair Ave. W. (near Avenue Road) $20, children $5. Dec. 14, 6 p.m. 416-465-5488, www.shirlibeynu.ca