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Canadian actress Mag Ruffman to perform one-woman cabaret show

September 19, 2019   ·   0 Comments


One of Canada’s most recognizable and beloved actresses, Mag Ruffman, will perform her brand new one-woman show ‘A Self Help Cabaret’  – “for when you can fix anything but yourself” – in Orangeville this month.  The show plays one night only at “Revival 1863” at 7:30 p.m. on September 29.

An actress, writer, producer, and building contractor, Mag Ruffman is perhaps best known for her seven years as “Olivia Dale” on the weekly CBC-Disney series ‘Road to Avonlea’. 

“The cast was very close,” says Mag, “and I still miss them as though they’re my actual family.” 

Since Avonlea, Mag has starred in many well known series and movies; she has created, written and produced; and she was the voice of the Academy Award nominated National Film Board short, ‘My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirt’. Most recently, she has appeared in several Christmas movies for Netflix, and in the highly acclaimed miniseries ‘Alias Grace’, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel.

Mag is also readily recognizable for her popular five seasons as the host, creator and producer of ‘A Repair to Remember’, as well as her syndicated newspaper column ‘Tool Girl’, which ran in various newspapers, including the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun, from 2000 to 2013. 

She learned her tool skills from her husband of thirty years, Daniel Hunter. Daniel was a building contractor when they were first married, and Mag worked and learned by his side whenever she had a break from filming Road to Avonlea.

“Daniel has been an archaeologist, an art conservator, a building contractor, a river guide, and a television producer,” says Mag. “We’ve always worked together on all of our projects. Some couples wouldn’t enjoy that, but it works for us,” she says.

Mag grew up with her family in Richmond Hill, Ontario. 

“It was tiny when we were growing up,” she says, “there wasn’t anything to do but ride bikes up and down our dead-end street.” 

She told the Free Press, “I used to write egregious scripts and force my brother and the neighbourhood kids to perform them. The lead characters were always named John and Elizabeth, and at the end of every script, one of them would die by gunfire. I got into school plays in high school. I really liked it when people laughed, and I remember the director telling me (kindly) to stop milking it. I found that impossible.” 

Later, she went to the University of Toronto to study Physical and Health Education, but after being cast as “Puck” in a musical version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Mag says she knew that she “would never be a Phys. Ed. teacher.” 

As her bio reads, Mag Ruffman has written movies, TV series, advertising copy, plays, infomercial scripts, magazine articles, and a series of novels for young readers, as well as a plethora of other projects. In the late days of this summer, she harnessed her love for words to a one-woman show for the second time in her career – her first, Magcap, played at the Charlottetown Festival in 1981.

“My intuition has been talking to me for years,” Mag says. “Yelling really – insisting that I try another one-woman show. So in August, I booked a theatre in Toronto and had two weeks to write a show. The performance wasn’t a complete disaster, so I was encouraged.”

The trial-run in Toronto, was, in fact, very successful – engaging, endearing and hilarious. 

“I didn’t finish writing the show until the day of the performance,” says Mag, “That was cutting it a little close.” 

Be that as it may, her performance at the historic Black Swan stage was received with resounding applause and a standing ovation. 

“The show is called Self Help Cabaret because I’ve been working at self-improvement since I was four years old,” says Mag. “I still find that every day I make way more mistakes than good decisions.”

The audience is invited into a dressing-room set where Mag warms-up, sings, dances and shares details from her early diary writings. The recollections reveal a funny, creative, imaginative, and relatably awkward youth – fervently navigating life, love and “the holy spirit.” 

With her bright mind, quick wit and natural penchant for comedy, Self Help Cabaret is a very funny, relevant, feel good journey with Mag and her love interest…who is played by “a life-size plastic garden statue of the god Neptune.”  

I asked Mag what she hoped the audience would take away from her show and what  her plans were for its future. 

“Honestly, I just want people to laugh, and maybe leave with something new to think about,” she replied. “I’ve done so many truly weird things and I think that admitting how weird I am allows the audience to relax about their own oddnesses. I think it’s important for each of us to express the things that make us unique and wacky.” She added, “I think it’s poignant and inspiring when I see other artists do that, so I’m giving it a shot.  If the show works, I’d like to tour it. I have a couple of bookings for next year, so I’ll keep polishing it in the meantime.” 

Mag Ruffman says the public is welcome to attend the second trial-run of Self Help Cabaret at “Revival 1863” (below the Barley Vine Rail Co restaurant) in Orangeville. The doors open at 6:30 pm and the show starts at 7:30 pm on September 29. 

“The room is absolutely gorgeous,” Mag says, “with a secret entrance and fantastic food and cocktails.” 

Tickets are $10 each and seating is limited. To reserve call 519-307-2100.



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