TORONTO—Howard Swinson, a veteran actor who made his name in show business 50 years ago, said Shen Yun Performing Arts lives up to the hype.
“I found the show very wonderful. I am a performer myself,” said Mr. Swinson as he shared his thoughts about Shen Yun during the show’s intermission Friday evening at Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
“It is just what I thought it would be from what I hear. I heard some wonderful things. Lovely.”
Now semi-retired, Stinson still does the odd commercial or film, but is best known from his work with Wayne and Schuster, a popular comedy duo that had a series of television specials and were Ed Sullivan’s most frequently recurring guests.
Mr. Swinson was also half of his own successful comedy duo, Authors & Swinson, alongside Barry Authors. The two were inducted into Oshawa’s Walk of Fame in 2008.
More recently he has appeared in “Red Lights,” staring Sigourney Weaver and Robert De Niro, and the BBC series “Wallander.”
“I am enjoying the show very much. I think it is very colourful,” said Mr. Swinson.
Shen Yun’s colours come from the hundreds of hand-tailored costumes designed for each year’s all-new world tour, as well as its digital projections—vividly animated backdrops that set the stage for each dance. The scenes on the projections sometimes interact with the performers onstage.
“I just love the colourful costumes and the way they dance. And the effects of the background, and the water, and people coming from the water. The illusion is really good, I like it very much,” he said.
The scene he described comes from the dance Sand Monk is Blessed, which presents a scene from the Chinese classic novel “Journey to the West,” about a Buddhist monk on a pilgrimage for Buddhist scriptures. In the dance the monk and his companions come across a shape-shifting ogre who is menacing a village.
Mr. Swinson said that while Shen Yun is primarily a dance performance, it also tells stories.
“It is done very well, and I appreciate that very much,” he said.
He noted the facial expressions of the performers and how they used their bodies to convey ideas and emotions.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Following 21 successful shows Dec. 20-Jan. 13 in Mississauga, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Hamilton, Shen Yun’s New York Company is in Toronto for five shows Jan. 17-20, completing its tour of eastern Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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