Thursday, June 4, 2009

Will I be watching the Tony Awards this Sunday ?

Uh, yeah!

Where else can this Anglophone in Montréal get his Broadway Musical fix? Not that musicals don’t exist in Montreal, but when they do, they usually involve a bus and truck tour of a tired old chestnut that is mediocre at best. Or, such shows as Chicago that I’ve seen a number of times – loved it, but after seeing Gwen Verdun and Chita Rivera in the roles of Roxie and Vera, well…

There’s the French scaled down version of Fiddler on the Roof - Un violon sur le toit - directed by Denise Filiatrault who has become synonymous with mounting Québecois versions of Broadway Musicals. Other than that and a few revues, pickings are pretty slim as they were in my hometown, Moncton when seeing a musical meant catching whatever crumb of Broadway number on the Ed Sullivan Show. Or much later, on the Rosie O’Donnell show (before she got testy).

Nope, now it’s all about scouring Youtube videos for snippets of classic performances; hard to find among the countless high school productions.

But apart for the incredible entertainment value of the show (my hubby is totally rolling his eyes), this year, we have a Montreal born actor up for the Tony in the best performance category: David Alvarez. All three Billy’s are; he’s joined by Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish.

Montreal's Billy Elliot star among Tony Award contenders

David Alvarez in Dress rehearsal for Billy Elliot Pt 1

David Alvarez in Dress rehearsal for Billy Elliot Pt 2

As a young kid who felt like an alien growing up gay and “theatrical” in a city far removed from the romantic allure of Broadway, I certainly relate to the story of Billy Elliot. Although, like most, real life didn’t play out like a “great big Broadway show!”.

So, come Sunday, I’ll be enjoying the show and reliving for a couple of hours my youthful dream of being a contender.
AND, I can’t wait to see Every Little Step, the documentary about the remounting of A Chorus Line
“Every Little Step explores the incredible journey of A Chorus Line from an ambitious idea to international phenomenon. It compares and contrasts the original musical with the current revival…an revealing the dramatic journey of the performers…unfolding a story of life imitating art.”

Every Little Step - trailer

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Woodstock spirit alive and well in Washington

(from JMG)

Forty years after the famous "Mud-in" in Woodstock NY, it's nice to now that the joy of outdoor music, dance and community still reverberates with those young-uns.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Alberta grudgingly enshrines gay rights in human rights code

Alberta passes law allowing parents to pull kids out of class

What is it with Conservatives that make them so mean? It took them 11 years to finally abide by the Supreme Court ruling to add sexual orientation to their human rights code and when they do, they do it in such a way as to stigmatize the very minority that they are supposed protect.

Rob Wells was the lone protestor with a sign who showed up at the Alberta Legislature to protest Bill 44, June 1, 2009. This bill affects teaching religion, sexuality or evolution to school students
"I am so very embarrassed to be an Albertan today. This government had a very simple task to do," longtime gay activist Murray Billett said Monday morning, noting the Supreme Court of Canada urged the province to enshrine gay rights 11 years ago."
Alberta legislators passed legislation early Tuesday that will give parents the option of pulling their children out of class when lessons on sex, religion or sexual orientation are being taught.
The parental rights clause is included in a bill intended to enshrine gay rights in Alberta's human rights code.

But the buried clause had drawn objections from teachers, schools boards and human rights groups, who argued Bill 44 makes it possible for parents to file human rights complaints against teachers and school districts, creating a chill with regard to what is taught in the classroom.
Critics had argued the clause should be scrapped and the issue should be dealt with under the Schools Act rather than being enshrined as a human right.

Frank Bruseker, president of the Alberta Teachers' Association, said he's advised the group's lawyers to prepare to defend any teachers who are brought before the human rights tribunal.

"We'll need to review curricula right across all subjects and all grades to see where there might be a minefield, if you will, that a teacher might step in and suddenly find themselves in deep trouble," Bruseker said.

Here is a brief summary of this original process that precipitated todays legislation.
(from an article last year in The Court.)

The extension of rights to LGBT populations began in 1969 with the passage of Bill C-50, which decriminalized homosexuality. While this was important legislation for the nation, incidents of discrimination towards gays and lesbians continued to occur.

One such case involved Delvin Vriend, an openly gay man, who, in 1991, was fired from his position as a laboratory coordinator at Kings College, a private catholic university. The college defended the dismissal, claiming that Vriend’s homosexuality was in conflict with their board of governors’ newly adopted position statement on religious practices.

Following his discharge, Vriend attempted to file a discrimination complaint against his former employer with the Alberta Human Rights Commission. He was subsequently rejected on the basis that sexual orientation was not protected under the province’s human rights code. As a consequence of this roadblock, Vriend sued the Government of Alberta and its Human Rights Commission.

In 1992, an Alberta court ruled that sexual orientation should be considered a protected ground under human rights legislation and that the legislation was inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The provincial government appealed and, in 1994, the decision was overruled by the Alberta Court of Appeal. The Alberta Court of Appeal decision was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, with the support of several legal intervening groups, including LEAF, whose mandate is to advance the equality of women and girls, along with other marginalized communities in Canada.

In 1998, the SCC finally ruled that provincial governments could not exclude lesbian and gay individuals from human rights legislation and that the exclusion of protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was an unjust violation of s. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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