Reviews: Woogie Boogie and lots of free stuff at the Junior Festival at Harbourfront.

by Lynn on May 19, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

Activities at the Junior Festival, Harbourfront, Toronto, Ont.

Harbourfront is hosting the Junior Festival for the second year in a row, over this long weekend, that caters to children 4 to 10 and older. It’s billed as ‘big thoughts for growing minds.” It’s a mix of ticketed shows in its various theatres and a lot of free events all over the Harbourfront site.

Woogie Boogie

Bush Theatre, (Republic of Korea)

Director, performer, Youngkyun Yeom

Performer: Heeae Lee, Seungeun Lee

Musician, Eunjae Sohn

“Woogie and his friend Boogie embark on a magical sea expedition when their trouble-making pet turtle drifts into the open water.”

The two performers: Heeae Lee and Seungeun Lee are young women and so I’m going to imagine that Woogie and Boogie are young women.  Woogie and Boogie are not identified clearly by who plays whom so I can’t attribute the actress to the character.  They establish the show by each drawing a large circle with a black magic marker on a portable whiteboard. Each woman takes her whiteboard into the audience and says “This is my face” and asks the child to draw her eyes, or nose or cheeks, mouth etc.

When they return to the stage and show the finished drawings to the audience the laugh level goes up. The two then draw on a large whiteboard on stage showing fish, a balloon with a face and all manner of sea animals. With the magic of technology the balloon with the face moves around the whiteboard; the features change from a smile to a frown. There is a bit of comic business with lights on the board. Each woman stands on either side of the board and draws a light switch with an on and off button. As one woman ‘pushes’ the “on” button on one side, the light goes on and goes dark on the other side of the board. When the other woman on her side presses her “on” button her light goes on and the light goes off on the other side. The split-second shift in light and dark is mighty impressive.

One woman draws a circle close to the edge of the board and then ‘pretends’ to blow into it as if it were a balloon. It expands with each puff. She ties it then it floats around the board. The imagination from this young company from Korea is very impressive. Musicians play keyboard and percussion. Another man takes care of technical bits. There are puppets, very clever drawings on the board that are eye popping.

The young boy beside me did not look too happy to be there. His father was beside him and talked to him sparingly. Before the show one of the performers gave high-fives to various kids in the theatre. He wasn’t one of them.  As the two women came into the audience with their whiteboard he slumped in his seat. One woman came over to him and asked him to draw her cheeks on her whiteboard. He didn’t hesitate. He drew a circle on either side of her round face on the whiteboard. He sat up after that. She ‘got’ him.’ He sat forward when the show started, concentrating on what was going on on stage. He laughed a lot. And he clapped at the end.  Wonderful.

May 20 is a relaxed performance.

For kids 4 +

Free Stuff.


Polyglot Theatre, Australia

Life-sized ‘ants’ roam the Harbourfront spaces encouraging young kids to leave ‘bread-crumbs’ all over the area. Several performers wear huge black headgear that look like the exaggerated head of an ant, with antennae, two large feelers, black tights with puffy knees, thighs and ankles. The feet are a regular person’s feet wearing black shoes. And the ants click when they walk; their hands are covered with black stretchy material and they hide castanets or something similar in their hands and click as they walk, letting people know they are coming. They are never intrusive. They lay down large pillow things (bread crumbs) and create a pattern. The kids then follow suit or not.  The ants are industrious, always working, walking, clicking and creating.

Fay and Fluffy’s Storytime

From Ontario

Drag performers Fay Slift and Miss Fluffy Soufflé read stories in the outdoor Stage in the Round. They make corny jokes and read stories with gentle morals about being kind and courageous—if they see someone being mean to another person they are to say “stop!” The costumes and wigs are outrageous, big and colourful. One wears a dotted muumuu,  an orange wig and has a full beard. The other has a white wig, a polka dotted top and a wild skirt. Their shoes are big and look comfortable.

Potato Soup

Laika from Belgium

On-line registration is recommended even though it’s free.

A woman enters the space breathlessly hoping she’s not too late. She has been asked to prepare soup for the classroom, so she gets comfortable. She puts on an apron and comfortable shoes. She has bowls, a contraption on which to chop and collect stuff for the soup, and even a portable sink that with the press of a foot dispenses water.

She brings out a huge pot and puts it on an element on which to cook the soup. She has a huge tub full of veggies. (she and her assistant had been chopping and dicing all morning). She tells us the secrets of an onion. I’m not telling. You see the show for yourself.

She pulls a parsley plant out of her purse and picks off some leaves for the soup. As she delicately does this she talks about her country of Slovenia and how it was plagued with war. And how her family was starving except for potatoes. Woow, what a segue. She talks about bombs dropping and accentuates this with aggressive chopping. A mandolin slices furiously through more veggies as she talks of machine guns. The juxtaposition is jarring but mighty impressive and appropriate. And the soup is delicious. She gave us the recipe.

Fashion Machine.

 Theatre Skam, British Columbia

“Imagine a live fashion show where the designers are children and audience members are the muses.” The young fashion designers pick willing participants in which their clothes will be reconfigured, decorated etc. culminating in a fashion show at the end.

The Jerry Cans

From Nunavut

This says it all: “Drawing inspiration from their hometown of Iqaluit, Nunavut, The Jerry Cans blend traditional Inuit throat singing with Inuktitut language roots-rock, adding a bit of Celtic punk to the mix to shake things up. Celebrate the May long weekend with a true-North concert that feels like a party.”  YES! They rock. They are loud and they are joyous. They did a cover of “Ahead by a Century” by the Tragically Hip, in Inuktitut.  How cool is that!

The Lemon Bucket Orkestra


Toronto’s original guerrilla-folk music ensemble. The self-described Balkan-Kretzmer-Gypsy-Party-Punk Super Band had the people up and dancing at the Stage in the Round even when they were doing their sound check.

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