Chelsea Hotel — “the make out show” — makes its Toronto debut this month

The production, being put on at Theatre Passe Muraille, combines the music and lyrics of Leonard Cohen with on-stage action


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‘Chelsea Hotel’ combines movement and the music of Leonard Cohen

In 2012, when the theatrical production Chelsea Hotel had its world premiere in Vancouver, the team quickly dubbed it “the make out show,” alluding to the number of patrons that were caught sucking face in the lobby following the production. It’s Leonard Cohen, after all. 

Chelsea Hotel makes its Toronto debut this month, running Feb. 3 to 21, at Theatre Passe Muraille, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Tracy Power is the show’s creator and director. She explains that the show is a melding of movement and the music of Leonard Cohen. There is no dialogue other than the Canadian songwriting legend’s poetic verses.

“His songs just kind of came to mind as far as being able to interpret them,” she explains, of her interest in telling a story through music and movement.

“The lyrics are open to interpretation more than most other artists because they are so poetic. In theatreland, that inspires imagination and creativity.”

The show is set in the dingy Chelsea Hotel. The central character is a writer who is striving unsuccessfully to write about love. But why? Cue the music. 

“We fall into his personal life in a way through the songs and the lyrics, the journey of his mind and what’s going on,” says Power. “The show features 17 instruments, 27 songs; all the artists are multi-instrumentalists — performers, dancers, singers. The piece is created very much around their skill set.”

The cast includes Power along with Rachel Aberle, Sean Cronin, Christina Cuglietta, Benjamin Elliot and Jonathan Gould.

Find more information on their website.

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Ron Johnson is the editor of Post City Magazines. Follow him on Twitter @TheRonJohnson.

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