Monthly Archives: May 2017

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The reviews are in: La Boheme

By | AtG in the News, La Boheme, Press | No Comments

"Modest in concept but rich in imagination, it’s the don’t-miss performance of the month."

− Toronto Life

"AtG's La bohème is just as likely to make you laugh as it is to make you cry."

− Schmopera

"The production’s accessibility to Toronto audiences is unmissable, with references to familiar locations like Future’s Bakery and William Lyon MacKenzie on the Canadian currency."

− Musical Toronto

"With this production, they now stand as one of the most creative theatrical and musical groups in the country."

− The Globe and Mail

"It's intelligent, funny and very millennial... Topher Mokrzewski seems to play more notes on the piano than two hands have ever played — his orchestral reduction is lush."

− Broadway World

"A raucous, energetic, site-specific version of La Bohème, performed in an Annex club and featuring characters who are completely true to the spirit of Puccini’s original while also commenting on contemporary issues like soaring rents, hookup culture and millennial underemployment."

− NOW Magazine

Read the reviews:

La Boheme set in contemporary Toronto soars | NOW Magazine

AtG’s La Bohème six years on | Operaramblings

Hype for a reason: AtG’s La bohème | Schmopera

Rent in the 6ix Meets Opera in Against the Grain Theatre’s LA BOHÈME | Broadway World

Read the previews:

Against The Grain’s La Bohème is back for round 2 | The Globe and Mail

A very Bohemian undertaking | Schmopera

How A Toronto Neighbourhood Inspired A Homegrown La bohème | Musical Toronto

A comprimario amid a “huge, sweeping, romantic love story” | Schmopera

A free Meat Loaf concert, an opera in a bar and six other things to see, do, read and hear this week | Toronto Life

CRITIC’S PICKS: 9 Classical Music Shows You Should Absolutely See This Week | Musical Toronto

 

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The Rent is Too Damn High

By | La Boheme | No Comments

Each week, the editors of  La Bohème newspaper pick a theme for their issue, and solicit real stories from real Torontonians. This week’s story: “The Rent Is Too Damn High”

Recently, Craigslist listed a semi-private studio apartment for $1,750/month. This apartment, which the ad described as being “full of character” and offering “a unique immersive experience of Toronto’s vibrant street life,” is actually an unroofed laneway off Brunswick Avenue.

“When you look around, there’s no realer place for a writer. This is what Balzac and Hugo were talking about,” Rodolfo said. An aspiring screenwriter, he rents the laneway with an OCAD student named Marcello, who is is transforming their refurbished furniture into an art project for GradEx. “It’s a conversation-starter with our guests. Or any pedestrians that wander into the laneway, really. And the silver lining is there’s always a parking space available. If we ever have a car, that’ll be cool.” Originally from Ottawa, Rodolfo was unfamiliar with Toronto’s neighbourhoods, but he’d seen Kids in the Hall, and, he said, “I pretty much knew I was going to live in the West End.”

Rodolfo continues, “The rent is pretty reasonable for this area.” He’d checked out one-bedroom apartments in Queen West, where the average monthly rent is $1,900 (plus utilities) a month. He almost signed one of those apartments but he didn’t have the necessary paperwork to close the deal: landlords now demand 10 post-dated cheques, first and last month’s rent, a cleaning deposit, a repair deposit (your landlord isn’t going to fix that thing on their own), a reference letter from all former employers going back five years, dental records, access to social media accounts and, in some cases, a fresh urine sample. So, Rodolfo eventually landed here: the Mirvish Village laneway with “unbeatable” rent.

The laneway is prone to intermittent power outages. The thin insulation makes heating a wild fantasy. (From the ad: “This laneway has EXPOSED BRICK! The brick from the outside of the building is visible from inside the laneway!!!”) The smell can only be described as “ripe.” And the landlord prefers the housemates have “NO guests and MUST be there as little as possible during the day.” But its location boasts the the Holy Trinity of “B’s” worshipped by every twentysomething: Beer, brunch, and BMV.

And, Rodolfo adds, “It could be worse. At least it’s not Liberty Village, right?”

When asked for comment, landlord Benoît Baule stated that he planned to raise the rent by $250 a month when the current lease expires in June.

In this issue, we tackle the beast that is the Toronto rental market (will it cool down with Ontario’s recently introduced Fair Housing Plan?), hear from the other side (the landlord), and profile broke folks still living large and aspiring to the bourgeois life.

Image: blogTO

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What I learned from trying (and failing and trying again) to evict my deadbeat tenants

By | La Boheme | No Comments

Gregory FinneyBy Benoît Baule, special to La Bohème

Each week, the editors of La Bohème newspaper pick a theme for their issue, and solicit real stories from real Torontonians. In our “Rent Is Too Damn High” issue, our Perspectives Column was penned by concerned citizen and landlord Benoît Baule.

We’ve all read stories about the lousy kinds of landlords around our great city. In the last few years, “The Six” has seen a spate of terrible, just terrible landlords treating their tenants badly. They ignore repairs, raise the rent, or evict without notice — you name it. But, I have to ask: What do you do if it’s the tenants who are the problem?

I live in the West End* and I’ve been a very successful, very trustworthy landlord in Toronto for many years. I rent properties in Corso Italia, Little Italy, the Annex and the former Mirvish Village area — and I have to tell you, nobody’s ever had a problem with me. Ask any of my old renters and they’ll say, “Benoît? Big Ben? Most trustworthy landlord I ever had. What a guy.”**

Now, the problem tenants in question, who are a couple of young guys, rent an apartment on Brunswick Street. I admit it’s no Palais Royale. But I charge a modest, competitive rate and I include hot water and a parking space — and they still act like they live in a cave. I just heard complaints that they were burning a fire — a literal fire — in the living room for heat, which I’m sure is because they had their electricity cut for not paying their bills. I haven’t gotten a rent payment from these two “artists” in months, but whenever I show up to get my money, guess what? There’s always drinks available! I have a line of potential renters who would kill for a great apartment like this one, and wouldn’t stiff me month after month with promises of “Once my script gets picked up” and on and on…

I’m a patient guy, and I’ve tried many, many times to get them out of there. Somehow, they end up appealing to my sense of goodwill and charity, and I give them another chance. My wife was right, I need to be tougher with these tenants. But I can’t help it. I guess I’m just a humanist.

I’ve got no choice left but to go over there and give them official notice that come the New Year, New People will be living in that space — ones who’ll understand that you can’t take advantage of Big Ben.

———

*Oakville

**Note from the Editor: Former tenants declined to respond to our request for veracity.