Review: "Henry VIII" at Stratford Festival

Review: "Henry VIII" at Stratford Festival

As we left the auditorium, I heard some audience members behind me say this production was quite a historical lesson.  A young girl and her father sat next to me.  She turned to him at the end and said, “I understood a bit of what was going on”.  I turned to both and thanked them appreciatively for their support of live theatre and for learning a bit of history.

You should come to Stratford and learn a bit about the history of the Tudors too.

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Review: "Bloom: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fable" by 4th Line Theatre

Review: "Bloom: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fable" by 4th Line Theatre

Beau Dixon asks some important questions in his Playwright Notes: ‘What does it take to reach success?’; ‘How do you determine success?’ and ‘What do you sacrifice to get you to the next level of success?’ Three extremely important questions which I wished we could have discussed with the playwright and the director post performance. In any event, ‘Bloom: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fable’ is a worthy evening of theatrical entertainment.  Get to see it if you can.

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Review: "The Black Drum" by Deaf Culture Centre

Review: "The Black Drum" by Deaf Culture Centre

I attended The Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto’s Distillery District for the world premiere of the first production in the history of Canadian theatre, specifically musical theatre, of Adam Pottle’s ‘The Black Drum’, produced by The Deaf Culture Centre. After viewing a vibrant opening night production, I predict the deaf culture voice is one which will continue to make its mark within Canadian culture and particularly in the arts community.

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Review: "Little Shop of Horrors" at Stratford Festival

Review: "Little Shop of Horrors" at Stratford Festival

We need The Stratford Festival’s production of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s musical sci-fi spoof right now.  A little wacky, escapist fun is good for the soul and, under the supreme direction and choreography of Donna Feore and sublime music direction of Laura Burton, this ‘Little Shop’ takes us away for two- and a-bit hours to be thoroughly entertained from the score’s first note.

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Review: "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at Stratford Festival

Review: "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at Stratford Festival

A rollicking new version of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor swept through the Festival theatre Saturday night as patrons were treated to an evening of bellicose laughter.  Many academics agree that this is not Shakespeare’s best work – perhaps rushed writing.  But on this night a colleague correctly reminded me that, still, it is Shakespeare.

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Review: "Billy Elliott: The Musical" at Stratford Festival

Review: "Billy Elliott: The Musical" at Stratford Festival

Rumour buzzed about Stratford that Sir Elton John was to have been in town for the opening of ‘Billy Elliott’.  He wasn’t present, but what an exhilarating feeling instead in seeing a young performer’s talent soar past the roof of the Festival Theatre. Look out, world, there is Nolen Dubuc who is on his way in becoming a Canadian performer to hit the stages of North America and the world.

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Review: "Against Nature" with Citadel + Compagnie

Review: "Against Nature" with Citadel + Compagnie

From a 21st century perspective, I found the story line just a tad unnerving as I wondered how a theatrical presentation could be presented of a ‘doom and gloom’ story. An interesting connection was made in the programme. This story is widely believed to lead to the downfall of Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ and caused the protagonist to lead an amoral life. A rather interesting connection.

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Review: "The Brothers Size" at Soulpepper Theatre

Review:  "The Brothers Size" at Soulpepper Theatre

A compelling drama, The Brothers Size, opened last Friday as a Canadian premiere at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto.  Written by academy award winning American playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, it follows the lives of young black brothers in a small bayou town of Louisiana.  Although the plot is relatively uncomplicated, the great depth of this play comes from the often searing relationships among the men, the embracing of the difficult themes of race, poverty, and misguided male identity, and a unique and astounding style born from the African religion and culture of Yoruba.

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Review: "Old Stock" at the Tarragon Theatre

Review: "Old Stock" at the Tarragon Theatre

Playwright Hannah Moscovitch’s project was to learn more of the story behind her paternal family, especially her great grandfather, Chaim Moscovitch (Dani Oore) and her great grandmother Chaya (Mary Fay Coady). They came to Halifax, Canada, in 1908 on a boat. Chaim’s family were all killed in a pogrom in Romania.  In a chilling narration, he recounts to Chaya and to all of us how he found their bodies which is a moment he will never forget. Chaya was coming to Canada with her entire family. Her first husband died in Russia while trying to leave from there.

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Review: "Antigone" at Young People’s Theatre

Review: "Antigone" at Young People’s Theatre

Whenever I see a production of a classic Greek play, I’m always a tad leery of what to expect for the fact I have never found these stories particularly interesting. I know, an English major/French minor who should have studied and respected these works.  I know, I know, and I did. I’ve always enjoyed most of the Shakespearean works but there was something about the Greek plays that just never intrigued me to want to attend.

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Review: 'Hand to God' at The Coal Mine

Review: 'Hand to God' at The Coal Mine

Robert Askin’s ‘Hand to God’ might come dangerously close to brash irreverence for fundamentalist or deeply devoted/devout Christians.  For this practicing Catholic who still holds the tenements of the faith close to his heart, I wasn’t offended whatsoever at the very dark elements of black comedy hidden within the tightly wound script.

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Review: 'Chicho' at Theatre Passe Muraille

Review: 'Chicho' at Theatre Passe Muraille

I was pleased upon my arrival at Passe Muraille and being told the production is not pronounced ‘Chico’ as in Chico & The Man but ‘Cheech’o (as in comedians “Cheech & Chong”). I am hoping you are old enough to remember these two references. Mr. Bitter also refers to this fact at the top of the show.

Theatre Passe Muraille has billed ‘Chicho’ as “an ashamed-queer-Catholic-man-boy from Venezuela who hilariously attempts to feel beautiful despite his warring identity politics”.  So much inferred within this statement that I had no idea what I was about to see; however, what I’ve been discovering lately is the theatre of which I know nothing about leaves an indelible mark. This was my first visit to Passe Muraille so I was looking forward to attending.

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Review: "New Magic Valley Fun Town" at the Tarragon Theatre

Review: "New Magic Valley Fun Town" at the Tarragon Theatre

A rather odd and quirky title, but man, oh, man the Toronto premiere of Daniel MacIvor’s ‘New Magic Valley Fun Town’ masterfully said so much for me in those moments where not a great deal was said. This will make sense when you see the production as I’m trying not to spoil where the story leads.

And when an exceptionally remarkable cast played and toyed with my emotions and thoughts right up to the play’s enlightening conclusion, I was completely taken and moved by the journey I had just experienced. Another bonus was the talkback after the performance so, future audiences, stick around for the dialogue and post show conversation.

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