Weekend list: Puppets for grown-ups and holiday music for the soul

The art of puppetry, the peace of holiday music and a glimpse of the world through the eyes of young independent film makers are some of the highlights this weekend.

Sandra Abma makes an arts and entertainment to-do list for the first weekend of December

Puppet Miss Lillian Lunkhead performs with the orchestra in Ronnie Burkett's The Daisy Show. (Jolie Jolie)

Puppets for adults

Canadian puppeteer Ronnie Burkett has landed in town with his troupe of unique and eccentric, perfectly coifed, fantastically costumed, hand-made marionettes in tow, for a one-of-a-kind musical cabaret and political revue he calls The Daisy Theatre.

The usual suspects from the Burkett cast, including campy actress Miss Lillian Lunkhead, and Mrs. Edna Rural from Turnip Corners, are along for the ride.

"The name The Daisy Theatre comes from illegal underground shows that Czech puppeteers did during the the Nazi occupation," said Burkett, as he crouched like a giant among his puppet characters on stage at the Great Canadian Theatre Company.

"They were so-called because apparently daisies grow in the dark, and so these were daring, illegal underground show that speak about all the dangers around them."
Burkett's latest show has received rave reviews across Canada. (Alejandro Santiago)

Burkett and his puppets have often tackled subversive themes and serious subject matters — the Holocaust, the government's handling of the AIDS crisis, and suicide.

This time, he's put together a lighter "modern era vaudeville show" where the marionettes sing songs and tell jokes, laced with stinging satire and bawdy humour, with plenty of room for improvisation.

When preparing for each performance Burkett scours the daily news, and inserts current events into the show. It's dark, politically incorrect and rude, and rated A for adult.

  • Where: Great Canadian Theatre Company, 1233 Wellington St. West.
  • When: Through Dec.18, 2016.
  • Tickets: $38.06 and $45.14.

Around the world in film

The film Hotel Dallas explores what happens when the American soap opera Dallas becomes a hit in 1980's Romania. (Hotel Dallas)

Innovative, experimental and new are the buzzwords for the Mirror Mountain Film Festival taking place this weekend at Arts Court.

Screenings of short, independently made films — ranging from animation to drama, and documentary to horror — from local and international filmmakers are happening day and night beginning Friday. There will also be industry panel discussions and live music performances. 

"We've got films about every conceivable topic, from falcon hunting in Kurdistan to the Edmonton Oilers," said Christopher Rohde, the festival's director.

"Each one is very unique and each one is the product of a unique voice, and a distinct personality." 

  • Where: Arts Court Theatre.
  • When: Dec. 2 to 4
  • Tickets: $20 buys a festival pass, $5 admission for each screening. 

Escape the mall music

Kevin Reeves and Seventeen Voyces in rehearsal. (Shad Young)

It's only the beginning of December, but if the ubiquitous din of over-played holiday jingles makes you want to run and hide, Ottawa choral group Seventeen Voyces offers an escape: two concerts of baroque, renaissance and new seasonal music performed in quiet, contemplative settings of church and chapel.

"I think for people to come and hear concerts like this, it's to get away from the rat race," said choir director Kevin Reeves. 

"Everywhere you go it's carols in the malls to draw people into buy stuff. I think the kind of music we're presenting is the more spiritual — you hate to say art form — but it is. These composers have brought the music onto a completely different level."

Founded 20 years ago, Seventeen Voyces dedicates itself to showcasing classical music that's off the beaten track. Welcome Yule, is a concert of music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Benjamin Britten and Gustav Holst, with a new seasonal work by Ottawa Derek Holman that the choir commissioned.

  • Where and When: St. Matthew's Anglican Church in the Glebe on Saturday, Dec. 3rd, at 7:30 p.m. and in the  Ashbury College Chapel in Rockcliffe on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 4:00 p.m.
  • Tickets: $25 for adults,  $15 for students. 


Sandra Abma


Sandra Abma is a veteran CBC arts journalist. If you have an event or idea you want to share, please do at