Getting judgey with Guys and Dolls

Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Gloria Epstein will have a cameo role in this year’s Nightwood Theatre’s annual The Lawyer Show.

More than 40 lawyers will put on the Guys and Dolls musical next month in Toronto, and Epstein is slated to appear in a June 10 show. The event, which runs from June 9-11, will raise funds for Nightwood Theatre’s production and training programs.

“There was someone who is close to [Epstein] in the cast this year and so that individual approached [her] on our behalf,” says Beth Brown, managing director at Nightwood.

She adds Epstein’s role is so far being kept a secret and she will not join the rehearsals until it moves into the theatre down the road.

Mark Hart, vice-chairman of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, is regular participant in the show. Other legal show guys and dolls come from private practice, government, and corporations.

It’s the first time The Lawyer Show is presenting a musical; in the past, the legal thespians performed Shakespearean plays like Twelfth Night and A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

Preparing for the musical has been different in a lot of ways, says Danny Kastner, a repeat participant.

“It’s a huge undertaking, much more than any of the shows we’ve done before. These musical and dance numbers I can tell you personally are grueling,” he says.

Set in prohibition era New York, Guys and Dolls is “a funny take on gangsters and the women in their lives,” says Kastner, who plays Nathan Detroit, a nervous gangster who makes a living by organizing underground gambling.

While some of the lawyers have backgrounds in acting and singing, others simply have the interest. They spend two months rehearsing lines, nailing down choreography, and fine-tuning their vocals. A paid, all-lawyer orchestra for the musical this year means a higher than usual number of lawyerly participants.

“There’s been a lot more technical training . . . but it’s also been incredibly fun, partly because this show is ridiculous and hilarious,” says Kastner.

“What’s so special about The Lawyer Show is that for all of us lawyers who are used to interacting with each other in serious context and very professional context, it’s a chance to work on something artistic and something silly,” he adds.

Tickets for the show and details on the cast and band are here.

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