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Farewell to Brent Carver, a Canadian theatre legend

Farewell to Brent Carver, a Canadian theatre legend

on
August 18th, 2020
Farewell to Brent Carver, a Canadian theatre legend

Brent Carver passed away at the age of 68 on August 11, 2020. The actor from Cranbrook, B.C. amassed a long list of accolades from his decades-long career in theatre. He won the 1993 Tony Award for best actor in a musical for his starring role in Kiss of the Spider Woman. In 1999, he was nominated in the same category for his role in Parade. In 2014, Carver received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. That’s just to name a few. Even longer, however, is his list of contributions to Canada’s performing arts community. His natural zeal for theatre meant that Carver gave his utmost to every gig, drawing casts and audiences alike into performances that are absolutely unique. To honour Carver’s legacy and invaluable contributions to the arts, here’s a retrospective of his work featuring three incredible performances.

Leo and Me (Sitcom)

A carefree bachelor is pushed into adulthood when he’s trusted with the care of a child. Their relationship starts off rocky but, eventually, they form a deep and unbreakable bond and live happily ever after. If that storyline sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a tried-and-true formula for a lot of sitcoms (think Two and a Half Men) and films (think Life as We Know It). Back in 1981, that storyline was still novel and made the CBC sitcom Leo and Me a Canadian favourite. The show was actually filmed just four years into Brent Carver’s career as an actor and was launched in 1978. The natural chemistry between Carver and the then-teenaged Michael J. Fox in his debut role endeared the two to Canadian audiences and cemented Carver's reputation as a Canadian screen favourite. The show is no longer on air, of course, but here's a snippet if it on CBC's This day in History.

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Journey Through the Night (Short film)

Brent Carver puts his theatrical mastery on full display in this powerful one-man show. Created in 2014 by the NFB in cooperation with the National Arts Centre and the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation, this short film marks the occasion of the 2014 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards, when Carver received a lifetime achievement award. Accompanied by a single celo player, Carver combines his passion for singing and acting in a beautiful tapestry of song and Shakaespeare verses.

Watch the film here.


Recommendations by Canadian artists on what to watch at home:
There is a Time (5 minutes)

The ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus said, “Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” In Brent Carver's case, his most valuable commodity was spent honing his craft and enriching Canadians’ lives with art. This moving performance with the Art of Time Ensemble, in retrospect, is made even more poignant now following his passing. In his rendering of There is a Time, Carver sings: We know the time we have cannot be replaced. True, the time shared with his audiences in the past few decades can never be replaced, but his legacy is here to remind us how much beauty, passion and joy one artist can bring.

Watch the performance here.

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