Rexall Centre remade into concert venue: ‘It kinda comes in and hugs you’

This week, 11 sea containers and three flatbed trucks from the United States are starting to be unpacked and a stage, lighting and sound systems assembled: the Rexall Centre is being transformed for the Capital One BlackCreek Summer Music Festival, wrote the Toronto Star May 27.

Ordinarily, the sounds you’re likely to hear at the Rexall Centre are the thwack of a tennis ball, a player’s anguished grunt, perhaps even occasional polite applause.

It’s known as the temple to tennis – the 14,000-seat octagon-shaped amphitheatre and entertainment complex at York University is home to top-tier tournaments as well as the Toronto offices of Tennis Canada.

BlackCreek production manager Don Finlayson (he also has PM credits for Barrymore and the Shaw Festival), says he was amazed when he first entered the facility. “I had seen it from aerial photography, but it wasn’t until I walked in that it’s like ‘Oh my God!’ It’s far more intimate than I ever imagined. It kinda comes in and hugs you.”

The transformation of the Rexall Centre is temporary, of course. Even in the middle of the festival everything will be disassembled for the Rogers Cup and then reassembled, itself no small feat.

Kevin Albrecht, one of the festival’s producers and president and CEO of iSport Concerts Ltd., though gearing up for the inaugural festival launch, is also looking down the road. With a subway stop soon to be built near the Rexall Centre, he sees a bright future for the venue as home to future music festivals.

  • On Saturday, July 9, the lights of The Great White Way are going to shine all the way up to the Rexall Centre on the York University [Keele] campus, when The Very, Very Best of Broadway creates a singular sensation for the BlackCreek Summer Music Festival, wrote the Toronto Star May 27.

A truly amazing selection of award-winning performers has been assembled, with numerous Tonys, Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and even a Pulitzer Prize attached to the seven starring participants.

Marvin Hamlisch, Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski and Raul Esparza are the dazzling septet in question and every one of them possesses their own particular magic.

Bunny is re-energized to help the environment

The Energizer Bunny is still pounding away at his drum, but these days his musical score may sound a little bit more upbeat than it did in the past, wrote the National Post May 27.

But what do Energizer batteries, the bulk of which are used to power children’s toys, have to do with making the world a better place? Moreover, how exactly does the raucous, sunglasses-wearing bunny fit in to that message [of “Now That’s Positivenergy”]?

Alan Middleton, marketing professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University, said Energizer’s new messaging may tap into a certain millennial zeitgeist, but also runs the risk of being too obscure for the brand.

"When you get a brand icon as effective as the bunny with its old slogan, using the bunny [in new ad executions] brings back the old slogan and positioning, not the new one," he said. "It will take money and time to associate Energizer with this new positioning and the strength of that bunny could block the new positioning from getting across. The second problem is that ‘positive energy’ is a much softer, mushier message. ‘It keeps going and going’ might have annoyed some people over the years, but it really stuck. This is a more abstract, cerebral concept. And those don’t usually work in advertising – they either get dramatically misunderstood, or ignored."

Average won’t cut it

Raw statistics and images paint a picture of a fairly average group of people living average lives, wrote the London Free Press May 27 in a story about its campaign to promote the Ontario city, featuring comments by Alan Middleton, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University.

That’s great for quality of life, Middleton suggests, but tough to sell in the marketplace. “It is important. Cities are in a competition for where companies put their employees.”

Toronto had a similar image problem decades ago. Toronto the Good hardly inspired a bohemian culture. That culture, though, was already there, just underground, Middleton says. “Toronto just blew it into the open.”

That’s a key, he says. Once a city has a consensus on identity, it needs to shout it out.

Inquest called into former teacher’s death

An inquest into the 2009 jailhouse death of Vaughan high school teacher Terrence Thomas Lithgow [BA ’77] begins July 4, the province said today, wrote May 26.

Lithgow, who taught at Father Bressani Catholic High School in Woodbridge, was convicted in 2007 of sexually exploiting and using the Internet to lure a female student when she was between the ages of 14 and 18.

When Lithgow, 54, was found dead at the Toronto West Detention Centre Aug. 6, 2009, he was there on another charge that was not laid by York Regional Police.

Lithgow was certified to teach in 1978. He attended York University and the University of Toronto and was qualified to teach physical education, accounting and religious education, according to the Ontario College of Teachers.

On air

  • Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of political science in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, took part in a panel discussion about government policy and standards of living, on AM640 Radio’s “The John Oakley Show” May 26.
  • Perry Sadorsky, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about quarterly reports from Canadian banks and other companies, on Ottawa’s 1310News radio May 26.
  • Richard Irving, professor of operations management and information systems in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about recent glitches that crashed the Skype network, on Global Television May 26.