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Blog: The Red Chronicles

Singing tweens (ps they’re away from their phones!!!!)

By December 11, 2017 Performance

We sing more in December. The light disappears and we sing to infuse the dark with magic. In the car, spontaneous karaoke erupts frequently and I’m humming at every turn. It’s in my bones. I come by it naturally so I seek out places where singing is celebrated. Earlier this month, I found it in the voices of the youth programme at Wavestage Theatre. Clearly, these kids don’t limit their singing to December.

I felt instant kinship, as I too connected to drama and performance at their age. If there was a show at camp or school, I was all over it.  Yet, compared to these gorgeous talents, I was a geek at their age. These kids are far more savvy and professional about their commitment to the work. They wowed me. How did they arrive here? A wise teacher, that’s how.

My sister Sarah has been singing too all her life. My own television career might never have happened without Sarah’s prompts at the back of our summer camp rehearsal hall.  I CAN”T HEAR YOU!  She taught me to “throw”my voice, to lend it inflection, nuance, and give character to all my solos and speaking lines. A former opera singer, Sarah has run an outstanding theatre and performing arts school for decades, in addition to directing and producing several shows a year with her company, Wavestage Theatre. She has taught in Newmarket and Aurora, and new this year, due to demand, Sarah is also accepting students here in Toronto. Some come for help with Royal Conservatory exams and university prep; most are keen for the opportunity to be directed on stage by a passionate performer who has turned directing into a true vocation.

I asked some of her youth performers what they have learned from Sarah: most told me showbiz tricks like opening your mouth wider for better enunciation, but all of them had picked up something far more profound about being involved in special seasonal productions like a black box production of A Christmas Carol. Here’s a sample of what I discovered when I met a few of them backstage:

 

For singing and performing lessons, contact Sarah at keepsinging.com and sarahlangfordstudios.com

While the Wavestage production was a one-night special, you can catch their upcoming show Big Fish in January. For all you Dickens nerds (you are my peeps, I bless you all), check out the Soulpepper production as it’s one of the best I’ve seen, and of course, the new movie, The Man who Invented Christmas, starring none other than Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens.  Other reasons to celebrate this movie? The screenplay was written by Canadian actress/writer Susan Coyne.

As for me, if you pass me on the road, I’ll be bopping to Queen Aretha. Kind of like Bieber does here.

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The Gingerbread Queen

By December 6, 2017 Life, Rituals

It’s therapeutic. You can’t really blow it. If you drop icing, you put on a snowflake.

-Judy Taylor, gingerbread queen

 

Meet Judy Taylor. Architect* by day, gingerbread queen by, well, all hours left when it comes to the holiday season!

Judy’s gingerbread houses are works of intricate design, down to the chocolate masonry. Yup. The bricks are edible.

As one of my with love and sugar baking team, Judy’s offerings would put all of the candidates on The Great Canadian Baking Show on their toes. Ask her to whip up a batch of something you need for your book launch and this talented baker delivers a plate of beauties. Tonight the remaining bakers competing for the title of best amateur baker in the country will tackle gingerbread in a special holiday baking episode. I’ll be watching their attempts with the Queen herself.

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This is us: the sugar version

By December 5, 2017 Books, Film

One year ago I was at a bookstore signing copies of my brand new food memoir. It’s been a wild ride since; some of it away from my home office as well as my kitchen, thanks to a summer house flood that rendered the place wonky with exactly the wrong kind of mayhem.

Houses mend, as do spirits. Before too long, what pained becomes a mere blip in a year resounding with buoyancy.

December is now here and with it, a house full of red and readiness (almost) for family and friends coming home for the holidays. Oh how gorgeous that sounds: home for the holidays. Someone should write a song/book/film/play about it? Wait…what? You say it’s been done already? Well then, I’ll just focus on my own version: another shipment of my books has arrived, marked for new readers. Are you one of them? My store is here. It’s an easy process and you’ll have your books by Christmas* if you order by December 18th.  with love and sugar home for the holidays.

Here’s a little film I produced* to give you an idea what’s between the pages. You already know the film nerd. Now meet the home baker, owner of too many aprons and a kitchen never this clean.

 

*Baking cinematography by Gayle Ye. Editing by Sydney Cowper. Home movies by me. I’ve been making movies off and on for years since the days of sitting with brilliant editors at Global Television in my first (professional) iteration as a storyteller. My love for the medium began in a scholarly forum, but my homegrown offerings are anything but: my films are little peeps—making them hatch is my happy place, second only to spontaneous lick-the-spoon soirées with my favourite humans. Sorry Lucy, dogs can’t have chocolate.

For Canadian orders only. Outside of Canada, email me at annehome1@rogers.com for your copy. 

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The Great Canadian Baking Show: a fan report Part 2

By November 29, 2017 Performance

 

Subscribers have the password for this (and the crazy night of the show kick-off!) Want to be part of the hoopla? Subscribe to my monthly buzz sheet. It’s an easy click to join the fun.

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Paying it forward

By November 24, 2017 Books, Life

 All you need is…donuts? A short message from Anne.

See here for information on how to order Landed

See here for donuts. 

 We’re all in it together, folks.

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Sweater Season is here!

By November 9, 2017 Life, Recipes

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Best bakers in Canada: a fan report

By November 3, 2017 Headlines, Life, With Love and Sugar

The Great Canadian Baking show debuted Wednesday night here in Canada and this baker was keen to check this out with my own baking lens. With me: an enthusiastic group of baking fans —we had us some big fun dishing on this Canadian version of this hit British show—and among my guests, a dear friend of many decades, a friend yet to ditch me through all the wonkier stages of my life, including the development of my food memoir. Anyone left standing after that? Friend for life.

Robyn Stafl drives a car as big as her heart— her love of surprising others with thoughtful gifts and gestures would be enough to keep her around (and she has a chauffeur hat to boot), but every posse needs a funny bone and ours is a shared skewer to all things pompous. Whatever our adult successes, we will always be giggling from the school locker room, waiting for the weekend where mayhem is sure to erupt… with our names attached. My lips are sealed.

Robyn is also queen of her own kitchen (when she has the time: this baker is also manager, lease reporting at Allied Properties, a commercial real estate company). Like me, Robyn loves to mess about with sugar and create sweet moments for her family. Emails from my old friend have subject lines, just checking in, how can I help, what do you need? but my favourite has to be: everything tastes better with ice cream. What’s not to love?

Did we like the show? Here’s a sample of our evening. Bubbles and such to start, and then…we’re off.

To watch, you’ll need a password. Subscribers to my monthly buzz sheet will receive that today. What are you waiting for? Sign up here now.

Happy Baking, all!

It’s Friday and here’s what caught my eye this week:

 Is sexual exploitation institutionalized in the entertainment industry? Is that arena so steeped in archaic ways? Do people who are aware of exploitation have no moral compass?There are many ways to interpret the flood of accusations that the Weinstein exposé unleashed. Its possible to suggest that a disgruntlement with Donald Trump has led to the exposure of figures who are symbolic surrogates for the U.S. President, and some sort of instinctive cultural cleansing is unfolding. It’s possible to joke bitterly that, since Spacey plays a scheming, ruthless president in House of Cards, the public has higher standards for fictional presidents than real ones.

What I know for sure: look to our own circles for the good men. Search for answers in art.

  •  Two stunning ballets are playing this month on stage at the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto, and they are both personal favourites; The Winter’s Tale and Nijinsky. If your take on ballet is The Nutcracker, these two dazzling ballets will rightly adjust your frame. The National Ballet of Canada continues to draw in new audiences around the world and just came back from repeat standing ovations in Paris on their recent tour. Critics were particularly impressed with Guillaume Côté, now a father of two. Here he is with his baby. Go ahead, be charmed with this tweet. I know I was.

  • I love this artist who corralled her siblings and friends to star in her own music video and caused an online stir. Halifax sensation Ria Mae is my new jam. 🎶I believe everyone’s with me.

HAPPY WEEKEND. RESIST HOLIDAY CREEP. Daylight savings means dark mornings and dinner hours but there’s a blaze of red on the trees now and it ain’t tinsel. NOPE.

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HAPPY HAUNTING

By October 31, 2017 Headlines

 

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GUEST BLOG: Landed

By October 30, 2017 Books, Guest Bloggers

Our guest blog today is courtesy of Janet Land, a Toronto actor and author of a fascinating new book sure to entice history buffs.

By Janet Land

My father, William “Bill” Land, served in WWII and kept a journal, which I fortuitously discovered some years ago. I wanted to share his unique experiences with a larger audience to contribute to WWII awareness. From the culturally diverse places Bill was stationed in, to the people he met, to his surprising observations along the way, I was compelled to document and share these findings as examples of humanity during a time of such global conflict.

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Yes. You can go back…almost

By October 25, 2017 Life, Travel

Thirty years ago I left Montreal with the kind of longing you pack away but never leave behind. It was here film became a passion, and broadcasting a career path to pursue. Here I learned life begins after midnight, or it did for those college years, where hours stretched into the horizon. Away from home, away from a city where everyone seemed to know someone in my large family— few from my high school came here out of province then— in this exotic place, I was free to dance, dally, and doze if I wanted. Check. Check. Check. We were never going to grow old, fat, or faded. I don’t remember all of it. That’s why journals were invented.

Alas, once I settled on a career in media, I knew my French, merely functional, wouldn’t get me far enough in this bilingual town. Back to Toronto I went, degree and radio demo tape in hand, and the rest you know ...

It’s helpful to forget a little. Now I have a daughter having her own love affair with this magical city. Life on campus is as charmed as ever. McGill Homecoming twinkled for a weekend of memories. Can you go back?

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