Sony Centre celebrates 50 years

JOHN COULBOURN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:19 PM ET

After two years of R&R (renos and restoration), Toronto’s erstwhile O’Keefe Centre will be ready to kick up its heels on its 50th birthday.

On Wednesday, Dan Brambilla — CEO of what is now known as the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts — announced the first year of programming in the newly revitalized Front Street show palace. The year will kick off on Oct. 1, 2010 — exactly 50 years after the facility first opened its doors.

A half-century ago, it was a new production of Camelot that launched things in the cavernous hall — certainly, more traditional fare than what Brambilla has lined up to launch the facility in its newest incarnation.

That honour falls to a new show titled iD, a fusion of hip hop, breakdance, BMX bikes and circus disciplines created by Jeannot Painchoud and Mourad Merzouki. It will run at the Sony Oct. 1-9.

But that’s just a starting point.

Also on the playbill: The Merchants of Bollywood (Nov. 4-14), Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical (Dec. 17-Jan. 2), a week-long engagement of the Mariinsky Ballet performing Swan Lake (March 1-6), a Beatles homage titled 1964 ... The Tribute (opening March 24), as well as the previously announced Toronto premiere of Robert Lepage’s Eonnagata (Nov. 18 and 19).

Also included in the list of 20 presentations announced Wednesday were visits by Liza Minnelli (Oct. 21), the Leahy Family (Nov. 24), the Canadian Tenors (Dec. 2), and a return visit from the Kodo Drummers of Japan (March 11).

In addition to the celebrated Mariinsky Ballet, dance entries include the Beijing Friendship Dance Company (Oct. 12 and 13), the Banyanhihan Philippine National Dance Company (Nov. 1), Mazowsze — Music and Dance of Poland (Nov. 20), and Stars of The 21st Century (Oct. 14).

More fancy footwork will be on display when Breakin’ Convention by the International Festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre takes the stage on May 7, 2011.

For the younger set, Franklin The Turtle goes to Sony on Oct. 23, while Caillou is slated for a visit Dec. 4.

Also on the kids’ menu: the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will provide live accompaniment for two new animation productions, Barbie at the Symphony (Nov. 26 and 27) and Warner Bros. presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony on April 9.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Orchestra will also be along for the ride in Distant Worlds: music from Final Fantasy, performing tunes from video game composer Nobuo Uematsu.

A complete schedule is available at www.sonycentre.ca and tickets for all events go on sale Saturday at 9 a.m.

john.coulbourn@sunmedia.ca


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