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Casting Announcement: The Ward Cabaret

/By / Dec 12, 2019

David Buchbinder/DB Works have announced their cast for The Ward Cabaret!

Based on the book The Ward (Coach House Books) edited by John Lorinc, Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg, and Tatum Taylor, The Ward Cabaret is a collaborative effort that entranced audiences from its sold-out run at the Luminato Festival. The theatre-music event is the story of a diverse neighbourhood, called “The Ward”. From the 1840s until the Second World War it was a place of refuge for many immigrants of Jewish, Chinese, African-American, Irish, and Italian descent – an area loosely bordered by College and Queen, University and Yonge Streets. This production and incredible ensemble cast immerses audiences into a different time in Toronto and creates an extraordinary experience with the sounds and stories of that time.

The production is produced by Artistic Director David Buchbinder and is written by Theatre Passe Muraille’s Artistic Director, Marjorie Chan. Leah Cherniak, acclaimed theatre director, is co-directing. Monica Dottor is the choreographer with lighting design by Simon Rossiter and costume design by Victoria Wallace.

The Cast:

  • David Buchbinder (JUNO Award, Canadian Folk Music Award;  founding Artistic Director Ashkenaz Festival; Bands: Odessa/Havana, Nomadica, Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band)
  • Aviva Chernick (Juno & Canadian Folk Music Award nominee, Recent album: La Serena; former member of Jaffa Road band)
  • Cara Krisman (Don’t Read the Comments, Segal Centre & Montreal Fringe; Romeo & Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, Repercussion Theatre)
  • Derek Kwan (Mr. Shi and His Lover, Tarragon Theatre & National Arts Centre; The Cave, Luminato Festival; The Tempest, Citadel Theatre)
  • Kaisha Lee (Nathanial Dett Chorale; performed at first inauguration of former U.S. President Barack Obama)
  • Mitch Smolkin (Fall Into Love, Toronto Centre for the Arts; The Yiddish Swingtet, Ashkenaz Festival)
  • Jeremiah Sparks (The Color Purple, Neptune Theatre, The Lion King, Mirvish)

The Musicians:

  • Louis Simão (Award-winning musician, performed/recorded with Nelly Furtado, Dominic Mancuso, Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Jazz Project and more)
  • Cynthia (Zi Wen) Qin (Performed for Opening Ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympics, participated in the performance of “Lesson of Da Ji”, a production from Canadian composer Alice Ho)
  • Michael Occhipinti (Guitarist, composer, performed at major festivals, lead on projects like The Sicilian Project, Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon and more)
  • Jacob Gorzhaltsan (performs with numerous groups in Toronto, part of several production recordings for Soulpepper like The Promised Land: Steinbeck Through Song, 27 Club, Prohibition: The Concert, and many more)

The production is presented by DavidBuchbinder/DB Works in association with Small World Music Society and Harbourfront Centre. The Ward Cabaret starts on December 12, with official opening night on December 14. It runs until December 22 at Harbourfront Centre Theatre. For more information, click here.

The cast of The Ward Cabaret answer the following question:

What do you think Toronto’s ethnocultural diversity brings or has done for the city?

Kaisha Lee

"What an amazing city Toronto is! The strengths of every nation are present in these streets. Our ethno-cultural diversity has given Toronto a confident voice that is heard – especially in recent times with the Raptors championship, urban pop artist Drake, various athletes proudly representing for Toronto and all of Canada – on the world stage. The strength of our diversity makes us a key player regarding socio-economic issues as well. Hopefully our diverse nature continues to rise and can contribute to leading the world towards positive independent and unified works. A form of peace."

Aviva Chernick

"I am part of a group of citizens who have sponsored a Syrian refugee family. Our sponsorship group includes an Armenian woman, her Jewish husband and their son; a Chinese ESL teacher, her German husband and their kids; and a whole bunch of other folks from diverse backgrounds. We get together to eat with our beautiful new friends from Syria and the table is overflowing with flavours from around the world. (We speak many languages and have differing backgrounds, but we connect with ease and share a deep love of being in generous community.) This is Toronto!"

Cara Krisman

"When I spend my time walking around Toronto, I can feel the rhythmic difference between neighbourhoods. The hustle and bustle of Chinatown, the languid energy of Corso Italia… and I often choose where to spend my time by what rhythm I feel like plunging into that day. This rhythmic pastiche is what I think of when I think of Toronto. Torontonians are the privileged beneficiary of many generations of newcomers who together create the beautiful, mosaic of cultures."

Derek Kwan

"Food. Toronto is a good food city and we sometimes take it for granted that we can enjoy delicious foods from all over the world. When I'm away from Toronto, I miss being able to have good injera, jiaozi, pho, jerk, ramen, pupusas, pancit, and samosas within easy reach. With each new influx of newcomers, our palates, as well as our society, are enriched with new flavours and perspectives – how awesome is that?"

Jeremiah Sparks

"I believe Toronto's ethno-cultural diversity brings a great deal of value to Toronto! What happens when cultures come together? The benefits are amazing! We learn from each other! We learn about each other! We laugh with/at each other. Oh ‘n the food!! We are blessed to have authentic foods from all over the globe! That's what I call VALUE!! It's awesome living here!"

Mitch Smolkin

"Toronto's ethno-cultural diversity is a refreshing and poignant model of functional and rich civic life in the 21st century. Our flexible urban landscape is set against the backdrop of international geopolitical unrest where fear of the other has given rise to significant pockets of fundamentalism and paranoia. Through community, food, music and celebration, Toronto offers a deep intelligence around inclusion."

David Buchbinder

"I think you can say that Toronto's diversity has brought Toronto into its own. Partly by historical accident, partly by design, Toronto has found itself the most diverse city on the planet. So what does this mean, outside of a nice – and sometimes overly comforting – statistic? It means that we in this young burg have the daily opportunity to experience the challenge and pleasure of connecting across boundaries: of cultures, of language, of foodways, religion and tradition, and – of course – of music and song. If we choose to fully engage in authentic interactions with the incredible range of people who live beside us, our lives are immeasurably enriched. I know mine is!"

Mariam Ahmed

Mariam Ahmed

Mariam is Associate Editor at Intermission. Mariam earned her Honours BA in English literature from York University and recently completed a Graduate Certificate program from Centennial College in Book and Magazine Publishing. When she's not busy reading books and plays, she takes pictures of books for her "Bookstagram", watches as many movies and shows as she can, and is a self-proclaimed Chocoholic.



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