Toronto Mayor Rob Ford isn't known for his appreciation of the arts, but even his rivals are praising his dramatic debut in the National Ballet's opening of The Nutcracker on Sunday.
Ford made a cameo as a Cannon Doll, alongside rookie Councillor Michelle Berardinetti. The mayor played the role of the instigator, encouraging a performer dressed like a Russian czar to fire a cannon while Berardinetti waved them off. After the cannon went off the two politicians moved to the side of the stage. Total performance time: roughly two and a half wordless minutes. You can see video of the cameo here.
Despite the mayor's ongoing spat with the newspaper, Toronto Star reviewer Michael Crabb praised Ford for pulling off the performance "in the good-humoured, spirit-of-the-season way intended." Crabb did warn Ford from taking up the theatre full-time, however, warning of "looming arts budget cuts," in reference to the mayor's efforts to cut arts grants.
Appearing in The Nutcracker is a tradition for Toronto mayors, politicians and luminaries. Former mayors David Miller and Barbara Hall were both Cannon Dolls, as was MP Olivia Chow, Mats Sundin, Kurt Browning, Rick Mercer, Doug Gilmore and Margaret Atwood.
While the mayor won a positive review in the Star, Torontoist took a more critical stance pointing to the fact that Ford's proposed 10 per cent budget cut would take nearly $115,000 from the National Ballet's already challenged coffers.
Only time will tell whether Ford's foray into the arts will change his take on funding them.
PHOTOS: TORONTO MAYOR ROB FORD'S BALLET DEBUT