Toronto has a vibrant history and many stories to tell. The Ward Cabaret is a musical storytelling journey reimagining the sights and sounds of the immigrants who found themselves gathering in what was once known as the grittier side of town, but full of life. Known as The Ward (akin to New York City’s Lower East Side), it was the city’s first cross-cultural area filled with Eastern European Jews, Chinese, Africans, Irish, and Italians who lived and worked together from the 1840s until the Second World War. They brought with them their culture, songs, stories, and traditions. This area is located where Toronto’s City Hall is now situated loosely between Yonge, University, Queen and Gerrard streets.
The Ward Cabaret was inspired by the book “The Ward” ( Coach House Books) – a collection of over 50 stories from the defunct neighbourhood. It was edited by John Lorinc, Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg and Tatum Taylor. The theatrical musical is under the artistic direction of Grammy-nominated, Juno-award winning musician and composer, David Buchbinder. It most recently celebrated four sold-out performances at Luminato in 2018 as a work in progress. It now premieres its first full production.
This is a rich and vibrant show that features a talented artistic team and award-winning musicians and actors whose backgrounds represnt the cultures of the time, including Michael Occhiptinti, Aviva Chernick, Kaisha Lee, Derek Kwan, Marjorie Chan (writer), Leah Cherniak (co-director). Their voices remind us of how much we continue to need each other today. The stories are what makes the fabric of our society so beautiful and worth celebrating.
The Ward Cabaret is on stage at Harbourfront Centre from December 12 to 22, 2019. A perfect heartwarming break for this holiday season. Tickets and more info can be found at www.wardcabaret.com.