Local group bringing to Windsor a play on an immigrant child's experience 

AE - Dennis Foon playwright May 27 2023

Shō Studios s bringing renowned Canadian playwright Dennis Foon’s play about the immigrant experience, New Canadian Kid, to Windsor. The Walkerville based arts organization has obtained a $5000 arts grant from the City of Windsor and is seeking additional funding for a play that will largely appeal to elementary students. Calling it a “great little play” Shō’s president Lorraine Steele says she’s in the process of getting local schools on board. “We think grade 4 is a good age” to view it, she says. “We’re fundraising for that play so that we can offer it to the school children at a relatively low ticket cost.” Foon (photo) was born in Detroit but has long made his home in British Columbia. He is the recipient of numerous global arts awards and has a specialty in writing stories of themes related to young people. He was co-founder of Vancouver’s Green Thumb children’s theatre. New Canadian Kid is considered one his most influential works and is about a young immigrant’s experience. “It’s a play that hopefully expands our empathy to other people,” Steele said. “It’s just as relevant today as it was when he wrote it maybe 25-30 years ago,” she says. ”To tell you the truth it’s more relevant today particularly in cities like Windsor where we have newcomers all the time.”


Song of the Nereid takes a novel approach to the subject of sexual abuse

AE - Nereid May 10 2023

Song of the Nereid is the latest production by the Three Friends Productions film company and will start shooting this summer in the Windsor and Sarnia areas. The production recently received a $3000 City of Windsor arts grant. The film is co-directed by Maria Belenkova-Buford and Lori Zozzolotto, who also wrote the script. The third member of Three Friends is Christine Hann, and the women rotate roles on different film projects. The short film is expected to be shown as this fall’s Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) and filmmakers hope it will be screened at other fests around the world. The theme is a novel take on a dark topic – sexual abuse. Employing the myth of mermaids – an interpretation of the Little Mermaid ferry tale as a nereid is a kind of mermaid – the story follows the story of a beautiful nereid’s kidnapping by an enamored man with god-like powers, thousands of miles away to where she’s imprisoned. Trying to win her love he builds a salt water pool not knowing that salt water empowers a nereid. We won’t give away the ending. But Zozzolotto, who honed her writing skills in one-act plays, says the theme is “entertaining and engaging and trying to discuss a tough topic in an interesting way.” A key scene will be shot at Windsor’s LaGuardia restaurant. When writing the film Zozzolotto says she discovered how much of a ”phenomena” mermaids are, with numerous mermaid festivals around the world. “I had no idea people were so obsessed with mermaids,” she says. Co-director Belenkova-Buford, treasurer at the Windsor area arts council and U of Windsor film production grad - who now has several short films under her belt since starting filmmaking only three years ago - says the topic is “serious” but dealt with in “an unusual way.” Her favourite part of filmmaking is “the teamwork, how everything comes together when the team is working smoothly.” The film's key role will be performed by Carol Ann Matus, an “up and coming actor” from the Toronto area. Anthony Zita, a recurring character in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, also stars. Rounding out the cast is Bernard Applewhaite.

The Broadway Bunch is closest you'll come in Windsor to the real thing

AE - The Broadway Bunch April 26 2023

Get ready for Broadway-style music but also a Broadway style production in its fullest sense. It’s unique musical theatre that has been playing in Windsor for the last several years and set to resume this September. Known as The Broadway Bunch, producer and performer Kaitlyn Karns says the production is one of the few theatrical productions in the area that pays performers “where people are getting paid professional union rates,” both the musicians and the vocalists. “So that’s our main mission, that people are paid fair artists’ wages,” she says. The production recently received a $3000 City of Windsor arts grant. Karns says the production started in 2016, takes place over two nights, and has evolved into different forms with The Broadway Bunch name and format taking hold over the last few years. Shows are at Meteor, a club upstairs across University Ave. from the Capitol Theatre downtown. There are six or seven performers altogether and a five piece band. But from year to year the performers often change. “We keep some people the same and we bring in new people and then we have a special guest,” Karns says. She says this year’s program is still in the planning stage. Public reaction has been overwhelmingly good. “We’ve sold out every show we’ve ever done,” she says. Karns says the group is thinking of expanding into other locations and with other shows, such as one being perhaps “more family friendly.” All three show producers are University of Windsor grads. “It’s a passion project for us,” she says. Other than being in performing arts Karns is executive director for outreach at the Arts Council – Windsor & Region and executive director of the Ford City BIA.

20th Jewish film festival Apr 24 - 27

AE - Haffman movie April 11 2023

The Windsor Jewish Film Festival is back for its 20th season, running April 24 – 27 at Devonshire Mall. Ten films are on tap, ranging with themes about the Holocaust to modern Jewish life. Farewell Mr. Haffmann (photo) is set in Vichy France as Jewish residents are forced to identify themselves. Where Life Begins is a tale of an Orthodox family moving to rural Calabria and the freedom the family daughter experiences in her new surroundings. Hitler’s Aunt is a story about life in German-occupied Poland when a rural citizen risks his family’s life by hiding Jews. Barren is another tale of an Orthodox Jewish woman rebelling against the constraints of her “conservative” social structure by being forced to become a mother. Tango Shalom is a fun play on getting around Orthodox rules in a dance competition, all for the sake of saving the rabbi’s school from bankruptcy. In Image of Victory, set in 1948 Palestine, Hassanin attempts to liberate farmers, his values tested as “both sides re-evaluate what they understand about war.” The Replacement, set in Spain, is a police procedural about a strange murder of a police inspector the main character has replaced. Those Who Remained is a “lyrical story” through the eyes of a young girl about the healing process of surviving Holocaust victims. In Time to Say Goodbye, another comedy, set in contemporary Germany, a 12-year-old is humorously torn between the demands of his recently divorced Jewish parents. And in Four Winters, the “myth” of Jewish passivity during WW II is shattered through interviews with former partisan fighters.

"BioCurious" exhibit on nature links is at Windsor's downtown art museum

AE - AGW Disruptive Body art March 23 2023

Perhaps riffing on the gender identity “BiCurious” label a new art exhibit at Art Windsor Essex, formerly Art Gallery of Windsor, is called BioCurious. The 18 artists’ works “compliment and expand on the themes established by our current exhibits around, our complicated relationships to our environment, the land and living bodies,” the museum says in a release. They use “living matter to organically intertwine scientific and cultural knowledge to propose alternate understandings of living bodies and the land.” For example, Windsor artist Catherine Hois’s “Disruptive Body” (photo) “explores the body becoming a site where anxieties and traumas are materialized and negotiated.” Gordie Howe International Bridge artist Sara Graham’s work is also featured. Graham was chosen to provide art for one of the bridge building facades. Her “Cut-outs, Offcuts, and Cast-offs” looks at “ideas and issues of the contemporary city.” Graham is interested in “connections and disconnections between the built environment and the landscape it occupies.” Much of her work is inspired “through walking or using public transit.” Walking allows “room to think while moving through a city, to notice, to wonder.” Meanwhile, artist Richard Leong’s “Hard Look Soft Gaze” reflects on how other artists – many in the museum’s massive 4000 work collection – depict the natural landscape “and the place that they occupy in our lives and our collective imagination.”

Photo: Art Windsor Essex

Stratford productions now online 

AE - Stratford at Home March 9 2023

Now you can savor the theatre productions of Stratford with a monthly $10 subscription. Stratford@Home features selected productions from the 2021 and 2022 seasons, acclaimed Shakespearean films and commentaries. The latest addition to the series begins this Sunday with Northern Tracks, a selection of songs by famous Canadian songwriters and sung by Stratford performers. The releases features songs of Leonard Cohen including Bird on a Wire, Suzanne and Anthem, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Until It’s Time for You to Go and Universal Soldier, and Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Helpless and Harvest Moon. Other featured artists in the series are Oscar Peterson, Rufus Wainwright, Susan Aglukark, Joni Mitchell, k.d. lang and Gordon Lightfoot. Three Oscar Peterson songs are featured, ones that have never been recorded with lyrics. “Current and former members of the Stratford Festival’s acting company reimagine the classics in new and exciting video performances captured in a variety of locations throughout the new Tom Patterson Theatre,” says the performing arts company. New episodes will be released on the next eight Sundays.

Windsor getting own Caribana fest

AE - Toronto Caribana February 25 2023

Windsor is getting its own Caribana festival. It will be called WIDAFEST (Windsor International Diaspora African Festival) and will run four days in late July. The setting will be the Riverfront Festival Plaza July 28 – 30. The event is being produce by Windsor-based Zalent Creatives Inc. A city report says the event “will capture the vibrancy and excitement through music, food and cultural experiences….to celebrate the richness of Windsor’s Black history and culture.” The event will include ticketed and free events. There will be local and regional food. Merchandise and arts vendors will host displays. And just like Toronto’s famed Caribana parade Windsor will also see a similar one on Saturday July 29 along Riverside Dr. E. between Devonshire Rd. and Glengarry Ave., ending at the riverfront plaza. The parade will include floats, dancers, fashion displays and musical acts. Beyond the immediate festival plaza  there will be workshops highlighting the Black and African communities, focussed on business and social-economic topics, and take placing at various city locations. They’ll feature local, regional, national and international speakers. The event will culminate in an awards ceremony recognizing the community’s unsung heroes. 

Photo of Toronto Caribana:

Motown Musuem reopens Feb. 22 with exhibit about its classic Revue tour

AE - Motown Revue February 10 2023

While work continues on the Motown Museum’s $55 million expansion the museum itself is finally re-opening after much of that work has now been completed. You’ll be able to visit the famed home of Motown records – Hitsville USA – on West Grand Blvd. in Detroit beginning Feb. 22. On tap is the new exhibit The Motown Revue (exhibits change twice a year) which shows Motown on the road. The revue assembled artists ranging from Marvin Gaye to Junior Walker and the 4 Tops as they travelled by bus across the USA performing in venues large and small. “Sixty years ago, in October 1962, Motown’s roster of young singers, musicians, and staff boarded a crowded bus that would carry them for the next three months as they performed more than fifty one-nighters in towns across the United States,” the museum says. “In an era of racial division, the African American artists faced discrimination as they performed to integrated and segregated crowds in the North and South. Teenagers pressed their way to the venues, standing in lines that wrapped around buildings, anxiously waiting to see their musical idols.” The revue became an annual event that saw the stars even travel to Europe. It was instrumental in introducing “new audiences” to the Motown Sound. Said Martha Reeves, “The plan behind the Motown Revue was to send all of the label’s biggest recording stars and young hopefuls out on the road to promote our latest recordings, turn those recordings into hits, and return as ‘stars.’” Meanwhile, at Hitsville USA you can also tour founder Berry Gordy’s former apartment and the legendary Studio A, where so many of the great hits were recorded. And your tour group may even be divided in two to sing both sides of the Temptations’ famous ‘My Girl.’ Once the expansion is complete the museum will boast a 50,000 square foot “world class entertainment and education tourist destination.”

Photo: Motown Museum

Controversial painting draws crowds at Detroit museum's Van Gogh exhibit 

AE - Van Gogh Novel Reader January 27 2023

Well, that’s one way to get them to pay attention to a picture. For the past month the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has been in the centre of a legal storm over one of the paintings in its blockbuster show Van Gogh in America, which closed Sunday. No doubt the international controversy also happily kicked-up attendance numbers for the exhibit of 74 paintings - media reports showed crowds swarming the art work - outstanding for any art museum, the artist having the name he has. The latest turn in the soap opera was yesterday when a federal appeals court ruled the DIA could keep the controversial painting until the tug of war ends between the museum and a Brazilian man who claims ownership of the multi million-dollar work called The Novel Reader (1888). Art dealer Gustavo Soter claims he lost track of the painting until he found out it was on display at the Detroit museum. Soter’s lawsuit says he bought the painting in 2017 for $3.7 million but never took possession (the painting ia apparently worth more than $5 million now). Instead it was stored by a third party with whom he lost contact. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court ruling that the DIA did not have to give up the painting because it was protected by a federal law granting immunity to foreign artwork on display in the United States, the Immunity from Seizure Act. “The DIA will fully comply with the order from the U.S. Court of Appeals regarding the custody of The Novel Reader and will be responding on January 30 to the plaintiff ’s recent pleading,” DIA spokeswoman Megan Hawthorne said. “The DIA will have no further comment prior to a ruling by the court.” The exhibition opened in October and obviously ended with a bang.

Counselling available for audiences negatively affected by play content

AE - Theatre curtain December 20 2022

If you’re attending a University of Windsor student play and are somehow negatively affected by its contents you can call up to four counselling services affiliated with the university. The Need to Talk? program is appended to the University Players schedule of upcoming plays such as 365 Days/365 Plays in February and Twelfth Night in March-April. It’s uncertain whether the U Players are among the first Canadian or campus theatrical groups to post trigger warnings for counselling services for play content although more and more institutions and particularly universities have set up “safe spaces” for a variety of matters where people may be emotionally affected. Says the University Players website: “Often, theatre productions present content that may deeply affect some patrons. Please heed any warnings in our show descriptions. If you're feeling overwhelmed, in need of support, or just need to talk with someone, here are some great places to start.” The counselling services include the Sexual Misconduct Response & Prevention Office on campus, the Windsor-Essex Community Crisis Line, the campus Peer Support Centre and Good2Talk. No one at the university responded to several requests for comment. Twelfth Night of course is the Shakespearean romantic comedy about a “shipwreck, mistaken identity, unrequited love, and fools who speak the truth.” It’s a confusing farcical love tale where “love triangles are resolved.” The play is suitable for ages 10+, the Players say. Their other upcoming play is 365 Days/365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks, a US Pulitzer winning playwright. The play takes a “deep dive into the human condition, at turns hilarious, touching and gut-wrenching.” It’s recommended for ages 14+. More and more theatres appear to be adding “trigger warnings,” a controversial area. Mark Shenton of The Critics’ Circle says “You can’t protect people from everything. It will ruin the theatre.” But, said reviewer Brandon Lorimer, “People have always had concerns and sensitivities; it’s just that our society is finally giving space for these opinions amongst the emotionally hardened."

Intriguing downtown "bio art" studio at the intersection of art and science 

AE - Incubator Art Gallery Dec. 2 2022

Downtown denizens and passerby may have noticed an intriguing arts space on University Ave W., right across from the Capitol Theatre. It’s the University of Windsor associated Incubator Art Lab, a unique “bio art” gallery and studio. The lab actually opened in September 2021. The School of Creative Arts affiliated space describes its design as having an “Art Nouveau decorative/biological marquee” and is “unique nationally and internationally.” But getting anyone to talk about the studio and what bio art is proved next to impossible. put out several requests to the lab and associated parties with no response. Only one artist, listed on the website as being associated with the lab, Alana Bartol, said “I am no longer based in Ontario and I am not currently associated or working with the Incubator Lab on any projects.” The lab director is an acclaimed bio artist named Jennifer Willett, on U Windsor’s faculty. Again, from the website, the original lab, located elsewhere, was founded as far back as 2009 and is “at the intersection of art, science and ecology.” It says the lab “functions both as an apparatus in which environmental conditions can be controlled towards the assisted growth of life, but also as a site that supports the development of new ideas and artistic practices.” So, the lab seems to function at the intersection of science and art. Willett has taught at Montreal’s Concordia University and Netherlands’ University of Leiden. She has exhibited around the world including in Australia, the United States and Germany. Her installations include 'When Microbes Dream,' 'Gratitude Offering for the Organisms,' 'Calling all Untethered Organisms' and 'Baroque Biology.'

Another successful WIFF and some parking and security observations

AE - Dual parking meters Nov. 16 2022

The following is abridged from Ron Stang’s Windsor Detroit Film blog:

Another great year at the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) and in the wake of two years closure due to Covid, more than 45,000 tickets sold – a new record. Here are some general observations not so much about the festival but about its downtown footprint. Why can’t the city suspend parking meter enforcement during WIFF’s 11 days? Arguably WIFF draws more people downtown than any other event except fireworks and parades and they last only one day. Yet blocks and blocks of streets remained empty of cars because filmgoers were reluctant to pay the parking meters. The two-hour meter maximums also inhibited use since most films verge on two hours or longer. The meters also charge a rather pricey $2 hourly fee. Sure enough, despite the few parked cars, a parking enforcement Commissionaires vehicle was seen tagging expired cars. Suspending parking enforcement would be a show of further support by the city and would benefit downtown retailers. Two, could not the block immediately in front of the main festival venue - the Capitol Theatre and WIFF ticket office - have been blocked off? The next block east where WIFF’s entertainment tent was set up had been cordoned off. But regular traffic continued immediately in front of the theatre where filmgoers spilled out on to the street or crossed to walk to the Chrysler Theatre. Third, the surrounding neighbourhood could be more secure. Walking west along University Ave., especially at night, there were often sketchy individuals. A woman I spoke with was reluctant to park more than a block away from the Capitol Theatre for fear of her safety. And I in fact was attacked. Nothing serious, but an individual broke from a group of about a dozen people, some apparently drunk, and pretended to punch me out. There could be a better security or showing by police.

Stratford again buying major advertising in Michigan market

A & E - Stratford Det News ad October 18 2022

Big full-page ads in The Detroit News last week were the latest in renewed mass advertising into the Michigan market – one of the most lucrative - for Ontario's Stratford Festival. And it just happens to coincide with the lifting of the compulsory use of the ArriveCAN app by the federal government at the end of September. "Welcome U.S. Visitors" proclaims the ad, adorned with fall colours, as the festival continues its post-Covid seven month run until October 30. "News: ArriveCan is no long required! Come visit us this October and enjoy picturesque Stratford in its autumn glory." It adds, "Bonus: Your dollar goes further in Canada!" Stratford spokeswoman Ann Swerdfager said the ads were a "mini-campaign, featuring a print and digital push" after a season-long buy of broadcast and digital advertising in Michigan. Stratford obviously took a huge hit with the border closed or traffic heavily limited during the Covid era but as border restrictions were lifted a considerable amount of that traffic actually came back. "In a typical, pre-pandemic year attendance is around 500,000, with about a quarter coming from the US. I don’t have figures for this year yet," she said. "However, we’ve been very pleased to see large numbers of Americans returning to Stratford this season after the pandemic intermission, as border restrictions have been lifted." In pre-pandemic times as much as 25 per cent of the audience came from the US, with half from Michigan and 20 per cent from New York state. American visitors aren’t just key to the theatre festival. "Our American visitors are vital to our success," Swerdfager said. "They tend to settle in for a number of days in Stratford during which they see many productions. We look forward to welcoming even more back next year and beyond." At one time the festival ran a chartered bus service from Michigan. Will it resume? "Not at this time, but if there is demand we would look at it again," she said. Stratford won’t disclose the cost of the campaign. But Swerdfager said the print campaign was specifically launched "after the mandatory use of ArriveCAN was lifted." 

Let there be 'Light' - WIFF's opening film for first full festival since 2019

AE - WIFF opening film Empire of Light Sept. 20 2022

The Windsor International Film Festival kicks off its 11-day post Covid extravaganza this year with director Sam Mendes’s Empire of Light starring Colin Firth and Olivia Colman. Set in 1980s Britain the film is a love story set against the economic and social background of the era. Appropriately, it’s all about the movies, since the two main characters work in a local cinema; hence the name. The closing film, from France, is Hawa directed by Maïmouna Doucouré. This coming-of-age story about a precocious teen is about finding respite amidst personal upheaval. Other films announced so far are documentary Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On about the famous Canadian native folksinger and Indigeneous activist, who rubbed shoulders with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Another is Triangle of Sadness, winner of Cannes Palme d’Or, a kind of love boat gone far awry and starring Woody Harrelson. It's described as a “troubling, gleefully misanthropic social satire.” From Iran, Holy Spider is based on a true-life serial killer, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, who targeted prostitutes in his killing spree, and whose case is explored by an investigative journalist. Close, a France-Belgium co-production which won the Cannes’ Grand Jury Prize, is a searing story about the pitfalls of teenage friendship. Finally, from South Korea, Broker explores the phenomenon of “baby boxes” – child trafficking - where babies are dropped off and cared for by others. Says WIFF executive director Vincent Georgie, “We are bringing some of the biggest films of 2022, and that is only the beginning.” Opening night is Oct. 27 and the festival closes Nov. 6. The festival, the first in-person event since 2019 (the 15th edition), has been expanded by one day to 11 days.

Book on pro wrestling, film on town of Ojibway, awarded city arts grants Sept. 15 2022

A book on pro wrestling in Windsor, a film on Ojibway as a company town and a continuing art vending machine installation were among art projects receiving thousands of dollars in the second round of the city’s annual arts grants. Jamie Greer got $2000 for a book called Killers, Butchers, Cry-Babies & Canadian Destroyers: The History of Pro Wrestling in Windsor, Ontario. Walter Sviatoslav Petrichyn obtained $1000 for a film called Ojibway, a feature length documentary about a local company town known as Ojibway. Kristina Bradt was awarded $2500 for her ongoing Tiny Art Vending Machine. The travelling vending machine features miniature art from local artists. A person pays $4 and can reach in and grab a piece of art often from lesser-known area artists. Filmmakers like Frank Varga received funding for a film Dolores Goes Downtown. Filmmakers Michael Grainger Harris received  a grant for a film about Windsor rock band Huron Lines, and Elliot Hale for a venture called Falling Through a Dream. Gavin Booth obtained funds for a dramatic short film called Sunset Junkies. A couple of ethnic groups – the Filipino community and Bangladesh-Canada Association – got grants for a festival and exhibition. A couple of Trans and LGBTQIA+ associations received grants. Other monies went to artists in dance, choral music and opera, music videos, theatre, music, poetry and visual arts. The five-member jury awarded 27 grants – 21 to individuals and six to organizations. No grant was higher than $5000. There were 47 applications. A pot of $59,000 was available. Since the launch of arts funding in 2014, 750 applications have been submitted to the city and 393 funded. $832,000 has been awarded altogether

Comedian Dave Merheje - probably not exactly Windsor's best ambassador? Sept. 2 2022

Let’s assume it’s all a joke as Dave Merheje’s references to Windsor might not be the most flattering in the world. The comedian, who’s won international fame and now makes Los Angeles his home, grew up in a Lebanese household, the child of immigrants, in the City of Roses. He’ll be returning for a “Homecoming” performance Oct. 7 at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts, the college where he’s an alumnus. “His multiple award-winning act has gained a loyal following across North America with his ‘no fear’ approach on stage and a comedy style best described as aggressive in-your-face funny,” says a press release. According to St. Clair VP John Fairley, Merheje’s “stories of growing up in Windsor have been a part of his shows.” tried to reach the comedian for an interview but got no response. But a perusal of some of Merheje’s routines online left some of the following impressions. On Windsor: In a 2019 Just for Laughs comedy festival performance and referencing how people across Canada widely hate Toronto, he says “There’s rage. I understand that. I wasn’t born there. I was born in Windsor. That’s a shittier place. Do you understand that? It’s a way shittier place. They shut down the Tim Horton’s. Do you know how bad your town has to suck to shut down a Tim Horton’s? ‘What happened to the Tim Horton’s?! No more double doubles.’ Move, right now! You’ve gotta get out. There’s trouble coming.” And in a 2012 Absolute Comedy Club show: “I grew up in Windsor Ontario” (some Windsor audience members cheer) “Nice,” he replies. Then, he says, “Windsor’s a shithole (the Windsorites in the audience go “ahhhhh!”) He retorts, ”You know it is, calm down, they just shut down the Tim Horton’s - relax. You know how fucked up your city has to be to shut down a Tim Horton’s?” And here’s Merheje on Windsor’s relationship with Detroit: “If you live in Windsor (you) go to the ghetto in Detroit by take a weird exit, there’ll be construction and you’re fucked.” And on his Lebanese background: “I grew up with Lebanese parents so its hard to, like, there’s no emotion ….like my dad, you know, keeps it in here… mom’s like too much, she cries like it’s the Oscars.” Merheje also riffs on his seven-year-old niece, who told him he wasn’t a man because he couldn’t afford to buy her something. “How about I take you to a bus stop and just leave you there and then you start a panic attack because you don’t know what the bus route is? You want to play around like that? I pay rent. You understand that? (crowd applause) But this is why I don’t want kids.”

An Essex County rural playhouse is an idea whose time may soon come August 19 2022

A year-round live theatre likely in southern Essex County would fill a gap in both the local arts and tourism markets. Essex Mayor Richard Meloche is proposing the venture, likely a public-private partnership, that would be similar to other rural theatres in southwestern Ontario like the St. Jacob’s (photo) or Victoria playhouses. Meloche, a theatre aficionado who travels as far as St. Jacob’s for live theatre, says a local playhouse might capitalize on and draw some of the same market that already visits wineries along the County Rd. 50 tourist trail. There might already be an eager local audience. This summer there were six performances of the play Falling Awake in the Colchester Anglican church “and it was packed every show.” Meloche said that while he would like to see the playhouse located in his municipality, he’s not wedded to the idea. “I think Essex is very central and a lot of the wineries are right here, and it could be a very keen part of the County Rd. 50 tourism attractions.” But he thinks “it is larger than that and I think we have to look at the whole region.” There could be spinoffs, boosting the theatre community generally and offering summer spinoffs in amphitheaters like those in Lakeshore and Leamington. Meloche has already spoken with possible investors and has had informal talks with some people in the theatre community. Meloche said the playhouse could be built from scratch or be located in a converted existing building. The mayor also pointed to the large Detroit market to make the theatre a destination point. “People would come over and stay here and wine and dine – the whole works," he said. "And that’s what were aiming at, something that’s going to bolster our tourism and give the locals an opportunity to have it right in their backyard.”

Covid has changed Kingsville folk festival event - and for the better Aug. 3 2022

Covid has changed the concept of the traditional Kingsville Folk Festival with a new name, format and lots of potential. The last time the festival was held was in pre-Covid 2019. The new event is called the Greenway Jam and will be held Aug. 12-14. Whereas the festival was held at Lakeside Park the new event will have stages located within several hundred metres of one another at the very southern end of the popular Chrysler Canada Greenway trail, within the urban town of Kingsville itself. Kingsville Music Society director Michelle Law says the change was necessitated by continuing fears of Covid. Under the former set up more than 300 people would be in a food building for performers and volunteers. “Our thought was, ‘What if one person tests positive’ on the (first day) and then we have to shut that all down,” she said. So organizers decided to spread the festival out with different stages along the trail, all within easy walking distance. They’re the Groverdale House, Kingsville Brewery, Mettawas Station Restaurant and Grove Brewing Co. A wrap up party Sunday will be held a little further east at Pelee Island Winery. Instead of in-house food prep there will be limited outdoor vendors. The new concept also is a bonus for the town’s restaurants “that have been hard hit by the Covid closures,” Law said. Another plus is that, for the first time, daytime concerts will be free, “which is kind of exciting,” she said. And stretching performances along the Greenway opens that trail for a wide array of future events. Says Law, “wouldn’t it be awesome to be on your bicycle and ride along and there’s music and there’s artisans and craft vendors everywhere like an Art in the Park set up along the Greenway.” Otherwise the festival has a similar performance format with five acts each night on the main stage with a couple of headliners, some of whom will also appear on the daytime stages. There will be more than 20 local and national performers altogether. Among headliners will be Kathleen Edwards, Steven Page and Ashley MacIsaac. For more info go to

Image: Kingsville Music Society

'Lucy and Bonbon' - imaginative novel, set in Windsor and Detroit, explores physical and human boundaries July 21 2022

Windsor and Essex County figure large in a new book by author Don LePan. Called Lucy and Bonbon, the highly innovative novel takes a look at a number of issues that might come under the subject of borders. Whether that’s crossing the Ambassador Bridge, to the border between human beings and other animals, the novel is a stark and sometimes humorous telling of a working class Comber woman’s confrontation with both. The book’s cover shows the Ambassador Bridge taken from the Windsor side. (It looks like it was taken during Covid because there is only one car on the bridge!) LePan, who currently lives in British Columbia, chose Windsor-Detroit as a key place for where the story is set. Lepan has never lived in Windsor but visited the area several times and has “vivid memories” of the place. He says the bridge itself is “indeed relevant” to the story. “Lucy (one of the main characters) lives on the Canadian side but ends up having her child across the river in Detroit; she goes back and forth over the bridge at that stage of her life several times,” he told “When she moves to Alberta a few years later she crosses the bridge again, and has a tense moment or two with border security on the American side.” Borders are of “central importance” to the story. “The difference in the legal status of certain sorts of individuals in Canada and the US is a recurring issue, and the book ends with a confrontation at another border crossing, in Alberta,” LePan said. “More broadly still, the central question the novel explores is where we should draw the border between the human and the non-human.” According to one reviewer the novel is a “fascinating exploration” of ideas. Local readers will enjoy the accurate descriptions of both Windsor and Detroit with references to the sometimes anxiety of crossing the border and dealing with Customs to depictions of the rural landscape around Comber, and the urban thoroughfares like Sandwich Street in Windsor and the Cass Corridor in Detroit.

Zombies descending on Windsor as filmmakers cast soon for film shoot July 7 2022

Zombies are descending on Windsor. Or about to. Local filmmaker Mike Stasko will be directing a new spoof on sci-fi and horror flicks, called Vampire Zombies…From Space! at various locations around Windsor. Stasko has made several films including Boys vs Girls (2019) starring Colin Mochrie and Kevin Macdonald and The Birder (2014) starring Tom Cavanaugh, Fred Willard and Graham Greene, both of which can be viewed ion Amazon Prime and Crave, and have been featured in numerous film festivals. Think of the films of Mel brooks, Ed Wood and the humor of South Park, and if you threw them together you’d get an “an over-the-top comedy feature that pays homage to, and satirizes, science fiction and horror films from the past,” the production team says. The plot: From the depths of space, Dracula has devised his most dastardly scheme yet. Residents of a small American town are turned into his army of, well, vampire zombies. A “motley crew” has to track them down: an old school detective, rookie cop, chain-smoking greaser and valiant young woman. Casting begins soon. Since the film is set in the 1950s “we will be utilizing many of Windsor's historic areas, like Walkerville,” says co-producer and writer Jakob Skrzypa. Skrzypa, of Essex, has produced MTV/Paramount’s The Challenge and worked on Survivor, Big Brother Canada and Nathan for You. The movie has secured funding but the filmmakers have launched a Kickstarter campaign to round out the budget and “make sure it’s filled with gruesome practical effects, b-movie miniatures, and gut-busting laughs.”

Group of Seven art headed to A'burg June 27 2022

The Art Gallery of Windsor is coming to Amherstburg. For the first time the gallery, rechristened Art Windsor-Essex (AWE), will bring an exhibition of “pop up” art to the county. The gallery recently experimented with an exhibition of art reproductions in places around downtown Windsor. More pop-ups are expected in other city neighbourhoods. Local A’burg movers and shakers Colleen and Richard Peddie were behind the move. There will be five art works located in the burg’s downtown beginning July 1. The exhibit is called Look Again! Outside: Amherstburg. The reproductions feature Canada’s famed Group of Seven (Arthur Lismer’s Tide Pools is shown above). The 10-day event will be located above the River Bookshop (another Peddie initiative) Hole in the Wall event space at 67 Richmond St. and admission is free. AWE executive director Jennifer Matotek will host an informal Q & A July 9 from 1 – 3 pm. The event is also sponsored by Cooper’s Hawk Winery. “Colleen and I enthusiastically support Look Again! 0utside: Amherstburg because we know it will help make our community an even more beautiful and interesting place to live and visit,” Peddie said in a statement. There will also be a Zoom discussion with author and illustrator Douglas Hunter July 7 at 7 pm. It focusses on Group of Seven co-founder A. Y. Jackson’s coming of age as an artist during World War I. Meanwhile the gallery tells that the reactions to its downtown Windsor exhibit were “overwhelmingly positive” and there was “no graffiti or damage” to the pieces. The Against the Current interactive experience, accessed through a QR code, was visited more than a thousand times. Art Windsor-Essex (AWE) is now choosing Amherstburg in part because “we found a willing and generous and collaborative partner.”  As well, the museum “feels the changes happening in Amherstburg are aligned with the kind of transformations we are looking to undertake.” 

You might find your pic in huge Devonshire multicultural mosaic June 8 2022

If you look closely you might see your picture in a huge new mural inside Devonshire Mall. The mural went up a few months ago but as foot traffic returns to the mall following Covid restrictions more and more people might take a look and see if they show up among the multitude of photos making up the artwork. The mural was installed, courtesy of Devonshire management, on a large wall in the former food court. It features thousands of photos taken at Carrousel of the Nations’ villages over the past three or four decades. “If you’ve ever had your picture taken at any one of the villages at Carrousel of Nations over the last few decades there’s a good chance that you might be able to find your individual picture in that mosaic,” Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County director Fred Francis says. The MCC got a federal grant to create the mural. “We wanted to do something to showcase the multiculturalism of the area,” Francis said. They contracted local artist David Creed. From afar you see large images of people of different ethno-cultural backgrounds who reflect the wide diversity of the local community. But when you walk up closer you see thousands of photographs of people attending Carrousel events. These make up the larger image. “Obviously everyone has a story and everyone has a unique value – right?” Francis says. “But when you step back and you take all the individuals together that’s where you have community.” Not only that, but the mosaic highlights the MCC’s largest yearly event – the two weekend annual Carrousel of the Nations, which kicks off in-person June 17th after a Covid hiatus. 

Discover art - virtually - around DT May 2 2022

Next time you’re downtown why not whip out your phone, walk around, and discover a little art. Art Windsor Essex, the new name of the Art Galley of Windsor, has launched the Against the Current app. There are eight locations, from the bus station to the riverfront, where you can link virtually to reproductions of paintings that are in the art gallery collection. When someone arrives at the location (directions provided) they’ll see a QR code to see a pop up as well as info about the art. For example, “Champion Innovation” at the Riverfront Trail. “Seth Arca Whipple’s The City of Windsor (1890) shows off an expert technical approach to marine art oil painting.” The app also provides the historical context – for example, the painting used to be displayed in steamship offices across the country. And there’s a mini game: recreate the painting through a drag and drop option. There’s another piece of art at the downtown bus terminal, Even Penny’s 3-D sculpture made of facial features from the artist’s memory. “The sculpture dares to question identity, reality and…life itself,” the app says. Other art works are at the DT Farmers Market, St. Clair College Centre for the Arts, Francois Baby House, Windsor Public Library, UW School of Creative Arts and Capitol Theatre. Artists represented are Emily Carr, Seth Arca Whipple, Prudence Heward, Evan Penny, James Kerr-Lawson, Mary Hiester Reid, Norval Morrisseau and Lawren Stewart Harris. Says spokesperson Petra Nyhuis, the app lists artists’ “accomplishments, how they challenged the status quo, or how they influenced art and thought in their time.” Downtown offers free public Wi-Fi. You can also collect unique “milestones” tied to the artists’ legacy and be invited to the museum “for one last surprise.” With four of eight stations completed you get a 50 per cent museum discount.

Windsor Jewish Film Festival is back in the seats for first time since 2019 April 22 2022

Emmy-winning Ed Asner stars in the Tiger Within, the film that kicks off the Windsor Jewish Film Festival, the first time the festival has been held in-person since 2019. As previous years, the festival takes place at Cineplex Devonshire Mall. Tickets are available only in person and sales start 30 minutes before screenings. The festival runs Monday April 25 to Thursday April 28 with usual afternoon and evening showtimes. Admission is $12 cash only. Tiger Within, set in LA, tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a Holocaust survivor and a cynical homeless teen. Asner stars in his last performance. It screens Monday 8 pm. Tuesday will see Love It Was Not, which tells the story of the transport of Jewish women and girls from Slovakia to the Auschwitz concentration camp and a secret relationship between one and a SS officer. Neighbours is set in Iraqi Kurdistan and focuses on the one Jewish family among a hostile Baathist regime. Berenshtein is the personal reflection of a Soviet army officer, a Jew, who discovered the Nazis' secret V2 rocket factory during WW II. On Wednesday it’s Kiss Me Kosher, a rom-com described as “hilarious and heart-breaking” about an Israeli and German woman about to marry. That’s followed by Betrayed, about the fate of a Jewish family in Oslo when the Nazis occupied Norway. Next is A Starry Sky Above the Roman Ghetto, a unique Jewish area in Rome now frequented by tourists but has a dark history. On Thursday One More Story, a drama comedy based on an Israeli bestseller, about the sometimes hilarious nature of dating and finding love. Valiant Hearts is based on the rescue of six Jewish children in France, hidden, in all places, among Louvre Museum artworks. Finally, Here We Are, an Israeli film, closes the festival, a drama exploring the relationship between a father an autistic son in his 20s, a festival crowd pleaser winning numerous audience awards. For more go to

Serving up Detroit-themed artwork March 3 2022 

Want to buy some Detroit-themed memorabilia? The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is selling Motor City merchandise. The products can be bought in person or online. Some of the art features images of the city itself like the old downtown Hudson’s department store and a street map of downtown Detroit (image). There are also cork boards of the north and south walls of the DIA’s famed “Detroit Industry” murals by Mexican artists Diego Rivera. Besides cork boards there’s aluminum art available on the store's website. Made by local artists and exclusively for the DIA, the designs merge colorful graffiti patterns with historic imagery and are ready to hang in your home, office or wherever you choose. Another image is of the old Michigan Central railway station, which can be seen from the Ambassador Bridge and is now being restored by the Ford Motor Company. It’s not the first time the DIA museum shop has worked with local artists, says the museum’s retail merchandise analyst Gina Thomas. “We like to work with as many local makers and artists as possible, as it aligns with our mission at the DIA,” she says. “We frequently collaborate with local companies to produce one-of-a-kind, high-quality products, often representing the city of Detroit.” Thomas says the museum solicits ideas from the artist community or sometimes ideas are pitched to the museum shop. “There is a good push and pull, sometimes the vendors offer great ideas which we refine before creating a final product, and sometimes we have an idea that our vendors work to expertly execute - both result in producing unique high-quality products that reflect our city and institution.” Meanwhile, each of the aluminum panels as well as the Detroit Map Cork Board “were all designed in collaboration with our local partner-vendor using original graphic designs created in house,” added Jennifer Borthwick, E-commerce and Specialty Sales Coordinator. “As for these unique designs themselves they were all uniquely created.“

Image: DIA

A Windsor book of Covid memories February 16 2022

Got a memory about how the Covid-19 pandemic affected you? Museum Windsor wants to hear. The museum, which runs the Francois Baby Hoouse and Chimczuk Museum, is asking people to fill out their thoughts on pages of a Covid Memory Book. “It is our goal to assemble a COVID-19 artifact, photo, document and journal collection for use in future exhibitions or research,” museum curator Madelyn Della Valle says. There is no date for an exhibition. But the museum will soon be displaying a community quilt. It was made by the Windsor Essex Sewing Force. It honours and recognizes all those “who played a part in getting masks on faces and caps on heads.” This was at the beginning of the pandemic when Windsor Regional Hospital asked the public if they could supply cloth masks. It was a response to a major shortage of PPE. As for the full Covid exhibit, including the memory books, that will have to wait “until we are definitively through the pandemic,” Della Valle said. This will also provide a chance “to let the future historical interpretation mature.” People can submit their memories when they come to the museum. Or they can print out the pages and submit their written thoughts or simply provide their thoughts via email. The website is These contributions will become part of the museum’s Covid-19 collection.....Meanwhile, for Heritage Week Feb 21 – 27, there will be free admission to the Chimczuk Musuem. There will be scavenger hunts, crafts and a display of objects recently donated to the museum, as well as the chance to write in the  COVID Memory Book. Ongoing exhibits are Navigating Our Way, Maps of Windsor and Essex County, and Bustles and Bows:  Women's Fashion from the Victorian Era through the 1920s. The Francois Baby House will also feature a scavenger hunt and children's crafts. 



New honour for woman who singled-handedly restored Mackenzie Hall January 20 2022

Evelyn McLean, the person who single-handedly was responsible for one of Windsor’s first major historic building restorations, Mackenzie Hall, will be honoured with a corner wall memorial in the famed west side building. McLean, who died in late 2020, also founded Friends of the Court, the civic group which has overseen the stately building since it was renovated and converted to an arts and cultural centre in the early 1980s. “From soliciting funding, hiring an architect, overseeing the reconstruction of the inside of the building and cleaning the outside, and maintaining the integrity of the building, Evelyn was the one in charge,” says a letter from the Friends seeking permission for the memorial. The limestone building on Sandwich St. in Olde Sandwich Towne just underwent a $750,000 facelift. Mackenzie Hall was built in 1850s by Alexander Mackenzie, who became Canada’s second prime minister. The building also was a county courthouse until 1963 and then became the county’s administrative headquarters.  McLean herself was accomplished. She was Dean of Women at the University of Windsor, the city’s first heritage planner and author of several booklets and papers on Windsor's oldest buildings. “Evelyn was an extremely talented intelligent person, both in her art as well as in her interest in protecting the built heritage of Windsor and in particular Sandwich,’ the Friends’ Don Wilson said. The memorial will see a framed memorial of McLean herself, flanked by some of her art pieces. McLean died at age 89 of Covid-19.

Famous musicians endorse Windsor sculpture of CKLW's music legend January 4 2022

Two big names in Canadian showbiz have endorsed a local artist’s proposal for a statue honoring former CKLW Big 8 music director Rosalie Trombley. Gordon Lightfoot and Dan Hill wrote in support of local artist Donna Jean Mayne’s sculpture of “The Girl with the Golden Ear,” which could be located on Windsor’s waterfront or in Jackson Park, or even as part of the city’s planned Civic Esplanade downtown. Trombley, who died in November, oversaw the famous pop station’s musical playlist in the late 1960s and 70s. Her uncanny ability to spot hits sparked or helped the careers of Elton John, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and Kiss as well as Motown faves like Stevie Wonder and The Four Tops.  The 50,000-watt station punched way above its weight for the community from which it broadcast, its signal heard widely in North America and even beyond, the music station becoming one of the most influential of the era. Said troubadour Gordon Lightfoot, in supporting the sculpture, Trombley “possessed the ‘ears’ to determine which songs has that ‘hit’ factor.” He said once Trombley picked a song it often was chosen by other radio stations and skyrocketed up the charts. “Personally, I am grateful that Rosalie added/played many of my records in high rotation.” Meanwhile composer and singer Dan Hill said he “cannot think” of anyone who is more deserving of such recognition as Trombley. “I personally benefitted immensely when Ms. Trombley, in 1976, added my single ‘Growing up (in the shadow of the USA)’ to her vaunted playlist.” Hill called Trombley a “mentor” for him and “countless gifted Canadian artists.” Mayne has also received support from Trombley’s family. “Her work is stunning and she is amazingly talented!” Trombley’s daughter Diane Lauzon said of the sculptor. The artist had requested $55,760 from the city towards a $155,760 project, fundraising making up the other $100,000. But in an update to the city’s public art advisory committee she said that the original bronze sculpture could be done in granite, at “approximately half the cost,” adding she can now “fundraise for less money.” Mayne says she contacted CKLW and owner Bell Media but has so far received “no response.” Excess donations would go to St. Clair College’s Music Theatre Performance program.

Image: Donna Jean Mayne

Windsor a market "we can count on" for Asian films, Cineplex booker says Nov 23 2021

You’ve heard of Bollywood. Now there’s Pollywood – the world of Punjabi cinema - and playing at Cineplex’s Silver City cinemas. In fact, Punjabi films have been screening there for several years as part of the theatre chain’s expanding showcase of Asian films. Besides Punjabi there are of course Bollywood, or Hindi language films, as well as Chinese movies. Why has Windsor been selected to screen such a wide variety of films from Asia? “In a lot of Canada it comes down to just regional immigration,” Robert Cousins, Cineplex’s VP of Film Buying, says. “Hindi for years has been the main language of our South Asian business. But Punjabi in Canada is the predominant other language.” Originally, South Asian films booked in Windsor came from US distributors whose advertising in Detroit “was bleeding over into Windsor and who said, ‘why don’t we take a date in Windsor.’” Attendance in the succeeding years “has been good,” Cousins adds. “Windsor has been one of those markets that we can count on when we open up a big film.” In terms of general attendance Asian films, like those of Hollywood, vary in appeal “title by title,” he says. “Big titles do extremely well.” The market is “very star-driven” and themes are important. “For the longest time we used to do extremely well with romances, and then there were more action movies,” Cousins says. Films just don’t last a week. “We treat our South Asian business like we treat out Hollywood business, as long as the public comes to watch it, it plays.” And the films can be watched by the non-Asian community since they all come with English sub-titles. In fact, some non-Asians have discovered this cinema. “They went to one and they realize these are full blown productions,” Cousins says. As well, there are movie styles “that we in North America don’t do anymore.” Melodrama, for instance. “Whether they be Chinese or Indian or other markets heightened emotion – heightened melodrama – is still a big part of the market.” In Windsor Silver City is exclusively the place to watch Asian films. “You want to make sure you can park the films in that theatre” so the audience realizes that’s the place to go to see them. 

Recent titles have been romantic comedies Paani Ch Madhaani and Honsla Rakh. And coming this week Warning and Antim: The Final Truth.

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Fireworks party returns to gallery


Windsor’s main downtown art gallery resumes its annual fireworks night party, the first since 2019. Art Windsor Essex (formerly Art Gallery of Windsor) will host the event June 26. As per the glow of the 65th edition of the Ford Fireworks guests are encouraged to “to dress in their most extravagant attire, reflecting the theme of color, glitter, and light.” There will be live art and musical entertainment with appetizers from Thyme Kitchen and drinks from Maiden Lane Wine & Spirits Bar. Money raised goes support future exhibitions and education programs. Tickets $100 in advance for members, $125 for non-members; $150 at the door. – 1/6/23

Windsor's Cimolino heads up play panel

AE SH - Antoni Cimolino

U of Windsor graduate and Stratford artistic director Antoni Cimolino will helm a series of conversations based on this year’s Stratford Festival lineup. The theme? Duty vs. Desire. Audiences at the live events will also meet the directors “and learn what goes into envisioning and staging performances.” It’s all part of Stratford’s Meighen Forum, a series of talks throughout the season on various themes. The discussions take place July 3 – 9. Cimolino will host July 7 at the Tom Patterson Theatre. Tickets on sale now. – 18/5/23

Photo: Stratford Festival

Museum's new board members adhere to '50-30 Challenge' 


Art Windsor-Essex (former Art Gallery of Windsor) has announced new board members in keeping with the federal government’s “50-30 Challenge” (50 per cent women or non-binary and 30 per cent of “other equity deserving groups” such as racialized or people with disabilities). They are Anthony Youssef, “a Lebanese Canadian art-based researcher whose work focuses on the intersection of politics and material culture.” Anastasia Adams works as a program coordinator at Welcome Centre Shelter for Women and Families providing access “to harm reduction supports,” education, and daily emergency housing for over 100 women and families. Zoja Holman is “a visionary leader” plugged into business strategies who can “create innovative, long term strategies to achieve optimal results.” There are 15 board members altogether.

Hundreds of nominees for this weekend's Detroit Music Awards

AE SH - Detroit Music Awards 2023

Detroit sure has a lot of talent. We always knew that but the flow of musical artists just keeps continuing unabated. We counted more than 100 nominees in six categories alone – about one-third of all nominees – for this year’s Detroit Music Awards, happening Sunday. Categories include Rock, Blues, Electronic-Dance, Country, Classical, Gospel/Christian and R & B. The awards recognize Detroit musicians working locally, regionally and nationally. The first awards show was held in 1992. Besides the award ceremony itself the night is full of performances. These have included acts by such iconic names as Kid Rock, Martha Reeves, Smokey Robinson, Bob Seger, Glenn Frey, The Miracles, Grand Funk Railroad, George Clinton and Parliament, and Ted Nugent. – 20/4/23

Ricci and Danza making an appearance

AE SH - Motor City Comic Con 2023

Christina Ricci and Tony Danza will be popping into the Motor City Comic Con next month in Novi, Michigan, the state’s longest running comic book and pop culture convention which began in 1989. Ricci most recently starred in and produced the Amazon series, Z: The Beginning of the Everything and is known for roles in The Addams Family and Casper. Danza, is best known for co-starring in the TV series Taxi and Who's The Boss? Comic Con takes place May 19-21 at Suburban Collection Showplace located at 46100 Grand River Ave. - 5/4/23

Two Windsorites in Cineplex’s Richard III

AE SH - Colm Feore as Richard III

Former Windsor resident and acclaimed Shakespearean and film actor Colm Feore is Richard III in the Stratford filmed production of the acclaimed play, on screen at Cineplex theatres April 16 & 17. The play is directed by another Windsorite, Antoni Cimolini, a University of Windsor graduate. Cimolini says the play “translates brilliantly to the big screen” with a “ruthless, cunning and charismatic protagonist.” The film will also give audiences nationwide a chance to experience the new and intimate Tom Patterson Theatre, described by The New York Times as “the best new theatre in years.” – 22/3/23

Photo: Stratford Festival

Theatre chain charging for those better seats

AE SH - Theatre seating

Movie theatres are taking a page from what airlines have long been doing - charging different prices for how advantageous the seat is. The US-based AMC theatre chain, which has theatres in Canada, has begun testing “sightline” seats. These are the better seats in the house, but for an increased price. The pricing also works the other way - you'll get a discount for an inferior seat like in the neck-craning first row. AMC is also charging more on opening weekends for blockbuster films. - 8/3/23

Fireworks night shuttle returns

LT SH - Transit Windsor bus

Come late June and the annual Detroit River fireworks, Transit Windsor will once again provide free shuttle service. The shuttle ferried thousands – 12,567 in 2019 to be exact – from Devonshire Mall to downtown and back, saving them a car ride and parking on congested streets. Fireworks night is June 27th. Zehrs, just as it was pre-pandemic, will once again be the shuttle's sponsor. – 22/2/23

Film ‘Women Talking’ would be better on stage, critics say 

AE SH - Women Talking

While 'Women Talking' (now playing locally) by Canadian director Sarah Polley won the People’s Choice Award at the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) it didn’t garner a great review from The Detroit News movie critic. Adam Graham lauded the “powerful actresses” including Rooney Mara and Frances McDormand but called the film a “stagey drama.” Graham said the characters “are made to feel like talking heads asked to represent various viewpoints and perspectives more than they feel like living, breathing characters.” And they “come across as overly articulate for a group that has never been formally educated.” Meanwhile London’s Daily Mail also called the acting “superb” but the film is “undermined by its own theatricality. For maximum impact, this story needs a stage, and a live audience,” a conclusion Graham also came to. - 10/2/23 

Noted golfer Alice Cooper live in person

AE SH - Alice Cooper

Detroit native and noted golfer Alice Cooper will be live in person at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor Feb. 3 at 7 pm. The shock rocker, whose albums go back to 1969 and whose best-known hits are School’s Out, Eighteen, Only Women Bleed and No More Mr. Nice Guy, will be on stage to discuss his new film, also being shown, Super Duper Alice Cooper. There’ll also be a book signing with the discussion hosted by Gary Graff, former Detroit Free Press writer and author of Alice Cooper at 75, and WDET DJ Rob Reinhart. Cooper, by the way, is also known for his golf prowess. - 27/1/23

Teacher alert – Stratford interactive is here

AE SH - Shakespeare Hamlet

Stratford is, well, bringing Stratford into the classroom. The Ontario seasonal festival has lunched Classroom Connect that will allow students access to the festival’s vast library of digital content including new and classic plays. There’s filmed theatre productions, dance, podcasts, interviews and documentaries, accompanied by lesson plans and study guides. It also includes Illuminated Text which combines animation, calligraphy and street art to “reveal the intricacies of Shakespeare,” the festival says. The interactive experience, for example, allows students to explore text from  Hamlet (photo)  using the learning style of their choice – rhetoric, imagery or sound and rhythm. Cost for up to 150 users is $180 for five months. – 12/13/22

WIFF festival favourites return to the Capitol Theatre

AE SH - WIFF banner

The Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) is coming back to downtown, less than two months after the yearly 11-day event ended. It will be re-screening "festival favourites" such as French-thriller Black Box, A Year in the Forest, about a local Windsor old growth forest (it actually exists!), Walkerville's Willistead Manor: The Home That Shaped a Community, and Peace by Chocolate, about Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia. Screenings are at the Capitol Theatre Dec. 14, 15 & 16. Check out the WIFF website for more info. - 11/29/22

The Tea Party returning with symphony Feb. 3

AE SH - The Tea Party

The Tea Party will perform for the first time in 20 years with a symphony orchestra when it returns to Windsor for a performance Feb. 3 at Caesars Windsor. The band, which has played the world and calls Windsor home, is known for its progressive rock with Middle Eastern influences dubbed “Morrocan roll.” The band, originally formed 30 years ago, has released eight albums and sold more than three million units. It has received 14 JUNO and 22 MuchMusic award nominations. Its return here will be a benefit for Transition to Betterness and “essential and frontline workers.” It will perform with the International Symphony Orchestra, a 55-member band bridging Sarnia and Port Huron. – 11/15/22

Several public art pieces damaged by elements - good and bad

AE SH - Love for All statue

Public art, being out in public, is subject to the vagaries of the elements. Not just due to the weather but vandalism and theft. Such was the case with several art installations in the city in 2021, the last report available. The Jackson Park Ukrainian Monument granite base suffered cracking and is being replaced. Last spring the Black Historical Murals in Patterson Park in Sandwich Town were vandalized and have now been fully restored by the original artist Jermain Baylis. The Man on the Horse sculpture in the riverfront Windsor Sculpture garden  was stolen but now has been restored “and reinforced,” says the Community Public Art Committee. Meanwhile  Love for All Hatred for None, (photo) a globe raised by sculpted extended arms, on the riverfront and installed five years ago, had its rusting base recast in stainless steel. Finally, the Mary and Henry Bibb plaque located next to Mackenzie Hall was stolen. The plaque was federally owned and Parks Canada was looking at  reinstalling it by the end the year. -10/19/22

Photo: City of Windsor

Yes, it's Comic Con time in the Motor City

AE SH - Motor City Comic Con

Now that we're - almost - free - to cross the border (the Americans still require two shots) you might want to take in the Motor City Comic Con Oct. 14 - 16 at Suburban Collection Showplace located in Novi, Mi. Scores of celebrities from TV, movies and streaming, and Comic and Crafter guests will be on hand for Michigan's longest and largest comic and pop-culture extravaganza since 1989. A vast collection of pop-culture merchandise, like comics, art, t-shirts, movie memorabilia and posters will be available. Over 250 comic book creators, writers and artists attend. Guests can attend panel discussions, attractions and explore various exhibitor vendors. Schedules and additional fees vary per guest and event. To purchase tickets and for more information, please visit - 5/10/22

$200,000 for new museum website

Art Windsor-Essex, the still relatively new name for what was the Art Gallery of Windsor, has unveiled an updated website. Officials (photo) revealed it last week. The bright easy to navigate site breaks down into sections like current exhibitions, what's in the permanent collection and educational opportunities. It was created from a $201,500 grant by the province and Ontario Trillium Foundation. AWE executive director Jennifer Matotek said the website will help get the word to more people. “To meet this demand and maintain our artistic vision, AWE must increase its marketing and communications footprint,” she said. – 9/20/22

It will be a Starry starry night in the Motor City

One of Vincent Van Gogh’s  most famous themed paintings, Starry Night, will have a place of honour at the upcoming Van Gogh exbibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It’s the first time in more than a decade this particular Starry Night from Paris's Musée d'Orsay will be on display in the US. It's not the more well known version, on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit, featuring more than 70 works by the tormented Dutch artist, runs from Oct. 2 to Jan 22. The DIA was the first museum in America to buy a Van Gogh painting, Self Portrait in 1922. Appropriately, the exhibit, Van Gogh in America will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of that acquisition. Tickets are on sale now. – 9/6/22 (Updated with correction 9/8/22)

Rosalie Trombley's greatest hits

Rosalie Trombley - “The Girl with Golden Ear” - the famed Big 8 CKLW’s music director in the late 1960s and 70s, is renowned in pop music circles for breaking some of the biggest hits, and careers of all times. A statue is being made in her honor by Windsor artist Donna Jean Mayne. Here are some of the songs that Trombley, of Leamington and who died last year, made famous.

• Heavy Music and Ramblin Gamblin Man by Bob Seger

• Show Time by the Detroit Emeralds

• Both Sides Now by Judy Collins

• I’m Eighteen by Alice Cooper

• Sweet Sweet Baby (Since You Been Gone) by Aretha Franklin

• These Eyes by the Guess Who

• I Want You Back by the Jackson 5

• Love Child by Diana Ross and the Supremes

• Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Diana Ross

• Do I Love You by Paul Anka

• If You Could Read My Mind and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot

• Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers

• Cloud Nine by The Temptations

• What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

• Superstition by Stevie Wonder

• Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones

• Me and Mr. Jones by Billy Paul

• If You Don’t Know Me By Now by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

• Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith

• Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen

- 8/23/22

Hot Lips and Klinger gracing fall comic con

Hot Lips and Toledo’s very own Klinger will be paying a visit to this fall’s Motor City Comic Con. Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger aka Jamie Farr and Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan aka Loretta Swit, both of TV M*A*S*H fame, will be attending Michigan’s largest and longest running comic book and pop culture get together. They’ll be signing autographs and posing for photos (for a fee). It takes place Oct. 14-16 at Novi’s Suburban Collection Showplace. The TV stars will be there all three days. Both actors trace their careers in film and TV to the mid-1950s. No word on whether Farr will bring wardrobe changes. – 8/10/22

Audition call - The Pride Monologues

You may have heard of the Vagina Monologues. Now there’s the Pride Monologues. These are a collection of real stories set for the stage. They feature stories written by LGBTQ+ people and friends. The monologues are “funny, uplifting and true” and premiered in Chicago during Pride month, according to the producer. Now Windsor will be the second site for the production. Shadowbox Theatre (photo) will host the show Aug. 7. The producers have put out a casting call for volunteer performers, as proceeds will go to charity. Contact

- 7/22/22

Photo: Shadowbox Theatre

You'll pay more to buy movie tickets online

Convenience just got a little more expensive. Those hoping to avoid lineups at the cinema will have to pay extra for the privilege. Cineplex has introduced an additional $1.50 to buy a ticket online or through its mobile app. Canada’s largest theatre chain says the reason is to “further invest and evolve our digital infrastructure.” There will be no such charge if you show up at the box office or theatre ticket kiosk in person, however. Those who are members of Cineplex’s Scene Plus rewards program will only have to fork over $1. And those who are members of Cineclub, a monthly subscription service, won’t have to pay extra at all. – 7/8/22

Plaques remove “inappropriate language” 

Two new plaques were unveiled at two of southwestern Ontario’s most significant Black settlements. Ontario Heritage Trust says the plaques “were rewritten to remove inappropriate language and recentre the experience of Black communities and individuals.” The plaques are for the Buxton Settlement (photo), west of Chatham, in recognition of the legacy of the “thriving free Black community” in the area.  As a testament to the settlement’s legacy, thousands return to the village every Labour Day weekend for a homecoming celebration. The other is for the Wilberforce Settlement north of London. In 1829, a group of free Blacks from Ohio set out to establish an organized colony “where they could enjoy freedom, self-determination and equality,” The Trust says. - 6/7/22

Photo: Wikimedia 

Funk Brother led band at former Windsor club

Joe Messina, one of the legendary Funk Brothers who backed Motown acts in the 60s and 70s and who has recently died, at one time led the Joe Messina Orchestra at Windsor’s Metropole night club. The guiarist died of kidney failure at 93 in suburban Detroit. “That insistent guitar figure that percolates throughout Diana Ross and the Supremes’ ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’ — was Joe Messina,” said a recent Detroit News article.  The Metropole, or Metropole Tavern (photo), was locate at 917 Walker Rd. at the corner of Niagara St., now occupied by the Walkerville Eatery. – 6/3/22

Photo: SW Ont. Digital Archive

Detroit chain ups the customer experience

Detroit’s Emagine theatres have introduced a host of inventive audience amenities. These include sensory friendly screenings. “What does Sensory Friendly mean?” asks the home-grown chain. “First, it means sensory friendly experience (lights up a bit, sound down a bit). Second, if your child needs to get up, move, dance, sing.... No problem. Third, guests are welcome to bring a safe snack for any food allergies or food avoidance/restrictions.” This was for a special screening of the movie Sing. The chain also introduced open captions at select screenings of The Batman in March. “Guests who experience hearing impairments will be able to enjoy the movie-going experience with audio subtitles displayed on the big screen for all to see.” And who says theatres can’t be open in the morning? Emagine will host a breakfast buffet at its Royal Oak location May 1, a 10 am screening of The Bad Guys. - 4/27/22

Detroit whale mural covered - for now

It’s a familiar sight to Windsorites attending a ball game at Comerica Park, the giant “whale” mural on a skyscraper back of right field. That mural has been there since 1997 and was done to show how water, such as the Great Lakes, connects to the ocean. The artist was former Detroiter Robert Wyland. The mural helped spark a renaissance to revitalize old abandoned office towers in Detroit’s downtown core. Now that painting is being covered by another, sponsored by Rocket mortgage companies. It says “Detroit is Home” and features a group of funky smiley faces, also by another Detroit artist Phillip Simpson. The vinyl ad is not permanent. – 4/11/22


Biblioasis features authors' live conversation

Windsor’s Biblioasis, the publisher and bookstore, will be co-hosting a live event with Baltimore's The Ivy Bookshop featuring Canadian author Elise Levine’s latest book, Say This. Levine will be in conversation with Baltimore-based writer Jung Yun, author of O Beautiful.  The book, published by Biblioasis and set in Baltimore, is described as “Two crystalline novellas linked by one devastating crime: Say This is an immersive meditation on the interplay between memory, trauma and narrative.” The event will take place online Wednesday, March 9 at 7 pm on Facebook and Twitter. - 28/2/22

Photo: Biblioasis

WIFF will continue Covid protocols for March screenings

Ontario may be removing theatre capacity and vaccine passport rules March 1 but the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) will keep the current 50 per cent limit when it hosts three films March 3, 4 and 5. “To ensure the comfort and safety of our audience, WIFF will be adhering to the Covid-19 public health measures as set out by the province when tickets first went on sale February 8th,”  the festival says in an announcement. “WIFF understands that the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 restrictions are continuously evolving and we will re-assess these protocols for any future screenings.” To gain admission, filmgoers will have to show a QR code, wear masks, there will be 50 per cent capacity “and physical distancing measures in place.” Screening at the Capitol Theatre will be the Japanese film Drive My Car, Danish film Flee, the Spanish film Parallel Mothers and Norway's The Worst Person in the World. - 24/2/22

Windsor's other film fest celebrates 25th

Windsor’s other home-grown film festival, Media City, will offer all its films free online during the festival’s 25th edition, taking place through March 1. More than 70 films will be available at The festival features unconventional, edgy and experimental work from around the world and is recognized internationally for its critically curated content. Indeed, filmmakers from a multitude of countries have long exhibited their work at the festival. “Audiences will gain unfettered access to incredible new works, world premieres, restorations, amateur films, and historical masterpieces from legendary artists and filmmakers,” says artistic director Oona Mosna. The festival remains online until such time as “public safety allows” resumption of in-theatre audiences, Mosna says. - 16/2/22

Ladies and gentlemen, Pine Knob is back

Pine Knob is back. Or at least the name is back. But, of course, you always called it that anyway. DTE Energy Music Theatre, the name of the venerable outdoor concert site north of Detroit, was always too much of a mouthful anyway. Pine Knob opened in 1972 but the name changed under new sponsorship from DTE Energy in 2001. That 20-year sponsorship ended and two new sponsors have agreed to return the 15,000-seat venue to its original much-loved name and are keeping a lower profile.  The venue has seen thousands of acts over the years and often set attendance records for the top grossing outdoor venue in the US. That includes in 2019, its last regularly scheduled year prior to Covid, when almost 600,000 concertgoers passed through its gates. The facility is run by 313 Presents which also produces events at Little Caesars Arena, the Fox Theatre, Meadowbrook Amphitheatre and Comerica Park. “The renaming couldn’t come at a better time as the 2022 summer concert season will mark the renowned venue’s 50th anniversary,” 313 says in a release. The first scheduled show is AJR on May 27. – 1/25/22