Category Archives: Triple Sensation

Impresario Drabinsky Sentenced to Seven Years; Out on Bail Pending Appeal

Former Livent head honcho Garth Drabinsky was finally sentenced today to seven years in jail after being convicted of fraud and forgery last March.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, Drabinsky has been alternatively sainted and damned by various circles of Canadian theatre society.

Former Livent Executive Garth Drabinsky

Former Livent Executive Garth Drabinsky.

Some Canadian media and bloggers had scoffed at the notion put forward by Drabinsky’s legal team that he should receive house arrest and perhaps lecture at universities as a form of community service.

Even after his name had been dragged through the mud for over a decade, Drabinsky was able to drum up some glowing character references from no less than Martha Henry, Christopher Plummer and E.L. Doctorow.

The criminal conviction will now likely be followed by multiple civil suits, so Drabinksy’s days in courts are far from over.  It probably also puts the final nail in the CBC reality show Triple Sensation which Drabinsky executive produced.

UPDATED, Thursday August 6, 2009 : Don’t expect Drabinsky and his co-convicted Myron Gottlieb to spend time behind bars anytime soon.  After spending the morning in a courthouse jail cell, they were released on bail by the afternoon, pending appeals of their convictions and sentences. The appeals could take as long as a year.

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CBC’s Triple Sensation: Finale

Before the finale of CBC’s Triple Sensation, it seems a foregone conclusion that Leah Cogan will be crowned the winner.  As much as I’d like to lay claim to being prescient, all credit goes to the formulaic editing of the show that pretty much told the audience who was going to win back in week three.

There were some good performances out of the top six, and all the focus really was on the talent.  The personal interviews were kept to a bare minimum, and each finalist sang, danced and acted separately.

Excluding the personal stories and the offstage likeability of the performers made the show an entirely different creature.  It also helped me come to a more-or-less final conclusion as to my relative indifference to Leah Cogan.  She is most definitely a triple threat, but she isn’t suited for reality television.  With all of the personal distractions swept aside, she shone brightly in all three of her solo performances.

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Newfoundland’s Liam Tobin was the runner up and he completely won over the panel.  Tobin is all charm and smiles and his acting and singing weren’t too bad either.  He is definitely leading man material.

Cayley Thomas did a competent version of “A Quiet Thing” from Flora the Red Menace.  It wasn’t bad but it didn’t really stand out, especially in the face of such strong competition.

I was surprised that Kaitlyn Semple wasn’t in the top three.  Her “Cabaret” was sexy and confident, but not good enough apparently for the judges.

I really enjoyed David Light’s “Sara Lee” from Kander & Ebb’s And The World Goes Round.  He was funny in a way that we haven’t seen before and it made for a nice change of pace.

Hailey Gillis infused herself into “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret and you could feel her strength and determination.  I was a little put out by the judges’ comments that she wasn’t playing a character; she was just singing it as herself.  There was some truth to it though, but I still thought it was a personal high performance for her.

As I already predicted, Leah Cogan of Embrun, Ontario was declared the winner of the $150,000 scholarship and the Triple Sensation title.  And I’d say that she definitely earned it.  Whatever it is that you need to be a star, Cogan has it it spades.

That brings this season to a bittersweet end.  It seems unlikely that there will be a third season anytime soon.  This second season was already shot and finished last fall, but the airing was delayed until now.  With Executive Producer and marquee panel judge Garth Drabinsky already convicted of fraud in criminal court last spring, the future of Triple Sensation does not look bright.  Drabinksy’s sentencing has been delayed multiple times, but is currently scheduled to be handed down on August 5th.

Week 5: Workshop Presentation

Week 4: Master Class (part 2)

Week 3: Master Class

Week 2: Vancouver Auditions

Week 1: Eastern Auditions

CBC’s Triple Sensation: Workshop Presentation

This week is the fifth in a series of six Triple Sensation episodes, and my attention is waning.  I’m really ready for this show to be over.   There are eight finalists left to compete before the judging panel.  Wylmari Myburgh, Tess Benger and Vancouver’s own Andrew Cohen and Alyssa Brizzi have already been eliminated over the past two episodes.

After the required recap, the episode starts off with the group song and dance number “They’re Playing My Song.”  David Light goes before the panel performing “Why God Why?” (Miss Saigon).  The judges largely pan his performance.

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Liam Tobin who sings “Maria” (West Side Story) has both the voice and the fresh-faced matinee idol good-looks of a leading man.  The judges are equally divided as to his musical talent.

Kaitlyn Semple’s “I Wish I Were in Love Again” (Babes in Arms) seemed to be over her head.

Hailey Gillis’ “I Had Myself A True Love” was a great piece of musical theatre and she immediately went up in my estimation.  The judges seem on the surface to agree with me.

Cayley Thomas’ “I Feel Pretty” (West Side Story) was strong and full of confidence.

Jen Shaw sings “That’ll Show Him” (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) and is thoroughly trashed by the judges for not catching the subtext of the song.

Glen Mills and Leah Cogan received good reviews for their joint acting scene from A Doll’s House.

Mill’s version of “The Apple Tree [Forbidden Fruit]” (The Apple Tree) was not as universally liked, though I still find him to be a strong performer.

Cogan’s “I Have Confidence” (The Sound of Music) was praised by the judges as has been their custom.

After another group number from The Wild Party and the judging begins.  I thought perhaps that my ears had deceived me when I heard some criticism of can-do-no-wrong Leah Cogan.

In the end it was Glen Mills and Jen Shaw who were eliminated.  I’m a little disappointed to seem them both go.  Mills has had some passionate vocal performances and Shaw’s energy on stage is something special.  But the judges have spoken.

Next week will include guest appearances from Jason Alexander, Albert Schultz and composer John Kander. The winner and runners-up are revealed in the final episode next week of on Triple Sensation, Monday July 27th on CBC.

Previously on Triple Sensation:

Week 4: Master Class (part 2)

Week 3: Master Class

Week 2: Vancouver Auditions

Week 1: Eastern Auditions

CBC’s Triple Sensation: Master Class (Part 2)

Vancouver’s last contender on CBC’s Triple Sensation, Alyssa Brizzi, was sent packing last night along with Toronto’s Tess Benger.

The inherent transparency of reality television frustrates me in countless ways.  I resent the casting of real-life people as stereotypical characters.  I dislike how editing shapes our opinions of who we should be rooting for.  But mostly, I don’t like the way producers feel the need to telegraph which contestants are likely to go home in a particular episode.

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In last night’s episode of Triple Sensation, it becomes readily apparent within the first 15 minutes that the two most likely candidates for elimination are Alyssa Brizzi and Tess Benger.  Benger has been heavily featured in the series so far, but has not really received any rave reviews from the judges and instructors.   That suggests that the producers found her personality to be a good source of material for reality television and are milking her presence for screen time for as long as she is around.  But it doesn’t bode well for her chances at winning the competition.

The same issues that I had last week with the acclaim showered on Leah Cogan are still very much at play. Her talent is not in question; she seems to excel with all of the guest instructors.  And to her credit, I found myself liking her rendition of “I Won’t Mind.”  But I still don’t why she’s consistently at the top of the class.  Maybe, it’s as I said last week, something extra she has in person that is lost on film.  Maybe, I’m biased.  Or maybe I’ve been suckered by the show’s editing to fall for our plucky-but-doomed heroine, Tess Benger.

The men in the competition all appear to be relatively safe, for the moment.  Glen Mills, Liam Tobin and David Light are all extremely likeable in different ways and relate well to the guest instructors.

Two more finalists face elimination on Triple Sensation next week in part five of six, Mondays on CBC, through July 27th

CBC’s Triple Sensation: Master Class

In a total surprise (at least to me), Vancouver actor Andrew Cohen was one of the first eliminated from the top 12 on Monday night’s episode of CBC’s Triple Sensation.

After being coached by the likes of Stratford Director/Choreographer Donna Feore and celebrity Acting Coach Patsy Rodenburg, Cohen and Wylmari Myburgh were the first to leave the competition.

Judging based solely on editing and who was heavily featured on last night’s show, it seems that Glen Mills, David Light and Leah Cogan are the favourites to win.  Light was an early standout, and Mill’s emotional performance of “Soliloquy” (Carousel)  made him a powerful contender.   However, Cogan’s top ranking both at midpoint and at the episode’s conclusion, puzzled me.

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Cogan is clearly talented, but whenever a coach/judge pointed out something masterful that she had accomplished, I didn’t see it.  Perhaps it can be chalked up to something lost in translation between live in person to television.  I found so many of the other performers to be far more compelling, albeit in heavily-edited minute-long clips.

That leaves only Burnaby resident Alyssa Brizzi representing BC in the run for the $150,000 first prize scholarship and the Triple Sensation title.

Cohen has already moved on from the experience having recently starred as leading man Gordon in A New Brain (Pipedream) and is currently studying at UBC in the BFA acting program.

Master class continues on Triple Sensation next week in part four of six, Mondays on CBC, through July 27th.

CBC’s Triple Sensation: Vancouver Auditions

Triple Sensation made its way to Vancouver for the Western Canada auditions in its second episode on Monday night.  Last week, I said I’d be keeping an eye out for any familiar faces.

I was struck with déjà vu not once, but twice, by two of the featured auditioners.  Georgia Swinton and Andrew Cohen, who both recently impressed in A New Brain (Pipedream Theatre), were among forty hopefuls trying out for six spots.

Swinton was critiqued for her performance of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (Funny Girl) by the judging panel.  Composer Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line) arbitrarily panned her song choice and suggested something funnier would have been better suited.  Swinton does have ample comedic charms as evidenced in A New Brain, and will hopefully soon have a chance to show off her range to Vancouver audiences in future roles.

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A New Brain’s leading man Cohen sang a stirring rendition of “The Old Red Hills of Home” (Parade).   His strong vocals, along with his monologue and dance audition, landed him one of the six Vancouver spots in the finals.

Next week the Vancouver and Toronto top sixes join in a master class session, a kind of theatrical boot camp.

Triple Sensation airs in six parts, Mondays on CBC, through July 27th.

CBC’s Triple Sensation: Season Two

Musical theatre and reality television are not always a winning combination (think NBC shudder-fest Grease: You’re The One That I Want).

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I was, however, glued to the 2007 season of CBC’s Triple Sensation.  The reality show has performers, aged 16-26, vying for the title and a $150,000 scholarship towards the theatre school of the winner’s choice.  The finalists are put through their paces in a weeks-long master class that spans everything from musical theatre to Shakespeare to clowning.

The first season boasted two young BC talents among the 12 finalists, Port Coquitlam’s Joel Ballard (Jesus Christ Superstar, TUTS) and Delta’s Kazumi Evans (West Side Story, RCMT).

There has been a lot of mixed reaction to Triple Sensation, much of it circling around the involvement of producer and former Livent impresario Garth Drabinsky (Ragtime, Show Boat).  Drabinsky, who has been under a perpetual cloud of legal troubles since Livent went bankrupt in 1998, was convicted this March of fraud and forgery in Ontario and is currently awaiting a July sentencing.

This second season has already been filmed, so the show will go on, regardless if one of its judges ends up behind bars.

Along with Drabinsky, the judge’s panel includes actor Cynthia Dale (TV’s Street Legal), composer Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line), choreographer Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys), and director Adrian Noble (Royal Shakespeare Company).

Triple Sensation returns for a second season, Monday, June 22, with the first round of auditions taking place in Toronto.  Make sure to pay special attention to next week’s Vancouver audition episode.

Triple Sensation airs in six parts, Mondays on CBC, through July 27th.