Cabaret in Toronto - CanWest Cabaret Festival (Oct 29-Nov 1)

Canwest Cabaret Festival
The Distillery District
60 concerts. 5 intimate club venues
150 of Canada's greatest performers.
All under 1 roof. October 29 - November 1

What do you know about cabaret in Toronto? Even if you consider yourself a downtown denizen who's up on the latest club openings and closings, you may not realize the city's diverse entertainment scene also includes a healthy dose of good old fashioned glitzy, torchy, funny and fascinating cabaret shows. One of the great things about cabaret, of course, is its intimate atmosphere, along with the great variety of acts you can sample - and also that you can have a drink and nosh while you're enjoying it!

The Festival:
Whether the scene is new to you or old hat, the Canwest Cabaret Festival this coming weekend promises to deliver an incredible potpourri - a slew (60 to be exact) of shows that feature some of the country's most talented performers, including Steven Page, Molly Johnson, Brent Carver and Sarah Slean. Offerings run the gamut from traditional faves like the Rodgers & Hart Songbook to Cuban music, amusing theatrical fare like the Clown Cabaret and sexy crooners like Andrew Craig. The Young Centre in the Distillery District gets a makeover into five intimate concert venues, and best of all, at $20 a pop, (and with food and beverage service in every venue,) you can afford to make it to more than one show. Other notables include Sharron Matthews, Heather Bambrick, Patricia O'Callaghan, Mary-Lou Vetere, John Alcorn; Albert Schultz and Don Francks' Tribute to Danny Kaye.

Shopping Cart of Love:
Patricia Zentilli and Patti Loach will be familiar names if you've sampled the cabaret scene in town at all, and the two dynamic blondes team up again in The Shopping Cart of Love, part of the Canwest Festival (Oct 31, 3:45pm show). Pianist Loach wrote the lighthearted show featuring pop, musical theatre and contemporary cabaret songs by Christine Lavin, Jason Robert Brown, Maltby and Shire, John Bucchino and more in a look at love, life, and retail therapy. Check the Canwest Cabaret website for tickets. (Photos of the show by Tracey Nolan.)

The Scene:
If you're too busy handing out candy and can't make it to Canwest this weekend, here's a (very) brief primer on where to start sampling cabaret Toronto-style. (That's Josephine Baker on the left, by the way, from a Paris show in 1927.)