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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Review: "The Father" at The Coal Mine Theatre

Review: "The Father" at The Coal Mine Theatre

I would bet that Coal Mine’s production will probably be nominated for some Dora awards this year. The social justice issues of examining dignity confronting a debilitating and ultimately life destroying disease has been handled with great respect in ‘The Father’. Beg, borrow or plead to get a ticket and to see true ensemble perfection.

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Review: ‘Little Menace: Pinter Plays’ at Soulpepper

Review: ‘Little Menace: Pinter Plays’ at Soulpepper

Rarely have I ever had a chance to see a Harold Pinter play because one hasn’t been done so far.  So, when I heard Soulpepper would be doing a series of Pinter one acts, I was intrigued and ventured forth to the Distillery District. 

I don’t remember reading Pinter plays during my undergraduate years at Western in studying English Language and Literature.  For shame, for shame, I know but I learned more about the term ‘Pinteresque’ from conversations with others in my involvement in community theatre or in discussions with other actors there.

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Review: "Oslo" by Studio 180 Theatre

Review: "Oslo" by Studio 180 Theatre

In this humble guy’s opinion, ‘good theatre’ should entertain an audience while ‘great theatre’ should entertain and teach us something extremely important about the human condition.

For me, playwright J. T. Rogers has created great theatre with ‘Oslo’, but it is a text richly laden with dialogue so the audience will have to pay close and careful attention. Under Joel Greenberg’s astutely-handled direction, thirteen actors channel emotional and passionate driven performances highlighting the first-ever peace deal between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. (PLO).

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Review: "Mules" by Scotiabank Community Theatre at Streetcar Crowsnest

Review: "Mules" by Scotiabank Community Theatre at Streetcar Crowsnest

‘Mules’ is a dark comedy about choices, trust, friendship, circumstances, poverty and drug smuggling. In ninety minutes with one set and three actors, this play achieves what plays aspire to be. It is dramatic, suspenseful, comedic and emotional. The dialogue is engaging, the characters are complex and the performances are superlative.

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REVIEW: "Come From Away" (Canadian Cast)

REVIEW: "Come From Away" (Canadian Cast)

‘Come From Away’ is billed as the remarkable true story, and that it most certainly is. What made this story remarkable for me when I first saw it was its’ belief in the triumphant and restoring human spirit of kindness and compassion of the people in Gander, Newfoundland, to the stranded passengers on thirty-eight planes on September 11, 2001.  The spirit of goodwill, kindness and compassion still transcends throughout the entire Canadian production.

Is it still remarkable? Yes. Did it bring a tear to my eye? Yes. Is it a story that needs to be seen again? Yes, especially given the tempestuous times in which we now find ourselves worldwide. ‘Come From Away’ continues to touch deep to the very core of who we are as human beings and what we can do under the most horrifying and terrifying of circumstances.

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Review: "Hamlet" by Why Not Theatre

Review: "Hamlet" by Why Not Theatre

A bold, inventive and remarkable retelling of Hamlet produced by Why Not Theatre opened Thursday at the Berkeley Street Theatre.  It is a remounting of a successful run in 2017 at The Theatre Centre in Toronto.  The classic tale is invigorated with a gender bent cast and a bilingual component.  Gender reallocation is not an entirely new format to Shakespeare audiences – consider Stratford Festival’s recent Julius Caesar or Prospero.  Shakespeare himself experimented with men playing women playing men – consider Portia or Viola.  What is more unique and creative is the combination of the spoken word and American Sign Language which elevates this production in profound new ways.  The use of signing has two effects – most importantly, it brings the story to a deaf audience.  Secondly, it adds a brilliant dimension of intensity to the emotion –packed story.

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Review: "After the Fire" at The Theatre Centre

Review:  "After the Fire" at The Theatre Centre

Award winning Albertan playwright Matthew MacKenzie enjoys a recent successful run of his production of Bears, a foray into the politics of oil pipelines in our country.  With After the Fire, MacKenzie examines an equally large topic with the Fort MacMurray fires of 2015 and their devastating costs, both human and environmental.  The fires were the costliest disaster in terms of resources that Canada has seen.  Political and societal implications were vast – from South African “volunteers” on strike to a prime minister bent on pride.  Mr. MacKenzie has chosen a very wide issue that fragments into many sub-strata.

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Review: "We Are Not Alone" with 2B Theatre Company

Review: "We Are Not Alone" with 2B Theatre Company

Do I believe that extra-terrestrial beings can exist? Do any of us believe they might exist?

About fifteen minutes into his riveting monologue performance, Damien Atkins asks us by a show of hands how many of us believe in this possibility and how many of us are still not convinced. I did raise my hand in support of other worldly life could possibly exist. Notice I’m not saying ‘does exist’ because I’m not certain of that fact.

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Review: "1979" at Berkeley Downstairs Theatre

Review: "1979" at Berkeley Downstairs Theatre

Joe who?

For most Canadians, it was a blink of an eye in remembering a naively thirty-nine-year-old Joe Clark’s tenure as the 16th Prime Minister of Canada from June 4, 1979 – March 3, 1980. I was just finishing high school and can recall the turmoil in which our country found itself during this time, but I really had no interest in that political spectrum as all my thoughts were turned to beginning post secondary education.

I wish now that I had paid closer attention to said events as they were comically played out to audience delight and standing ovation in Michael Healey’s superb comedy ‘1979’ now on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

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Review: Soulpepper Presents 'A Christmas Carol'

Review: Soulpepper Presents 'A Christmas Carol'

Like Sherlock Holmes, Ebenezer Scrooge is a character whose renown has seemingly outgrown his source material. His grumpy “Bah humbug!” has become as well-known a catch phrase as any in the realm of theatre. Soulpepper is currently taking theatregoers on their annual journey to 19th century London to experience Michael Shamata’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, amid the hustle and bustle of Toronto’s Christmas Market in the beautiful Distillery District.

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Review: "A Christmas Carol" at the Grand Theatre, Spriet Stage

Review: "A Christmas Carol" at the Grand Theatre, Spriet Stage

Yes, we’re told at the end of the story that Scrooge becomes another strong adult influence over Tiny Tim. Yes, the suffragette movement changed this patriarchal thinking but it was a time consuming process that did not occur overnight. From my historical understanding of the Victorian era, women were relegated to the role of raising and rearing children and never ventured outside and never owned businesses. Additionally, there is no other half in Scrooge’s life where she and another person can influence children and young adults. I am looking forward to hearing what others have to say about this

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Review: "The Wizard of Oz – Pantomime" at the Elgin Theatre

Review: "The Wizard of Oz – Pantomime" at the Elgin Theatre

What does a typical pre-theatre agenda look like?  Perhaps a medium rare steak and a bottle of merlot at your favourite lighting challenged restaurant.  This night was different – a grilled cheese sandwich, strawberry milkshake and a sundae!  A perfect gastronomic pairing for Ross Petty’s The Wizard of Oz running through January 5 at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre.  After all it’s a kid’s show and we know that going in.

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Review: "School of Rock"- National Tour(Toronto)

Review: "School of Rock"- National Tour(Toronto)

Need to pay your rent? Try forming your own rock band. Just make sure the lyrics can be heard.

It has been years since I’ve seen the film version of ‘School of Rock’ with Jack Black. I will admit I was never a fan of his to begin and wasn’t certain if I was going to like this production.

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Review: "Every Brilliant Thing" at the Berkeley Street Theatre

Review: "Every Brilliant Thing" at the Berkeley Street Theatre

I have been sitting on this article for awhile because the impact of Duncan MacMillan’s ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ has finally hit me.

It’s a one-person story told in a theatre in the round bare stage setting at Toronto’s Berkeley Street house.  The narrator breaks the fourth wall in speaking to the audience and tells her story how she has coped with her mother’s suicidal thoughts and tendencies. In between moments that are not so pleasant, the narrator has written items and points of interest on every brilliant thing that life has to offer people no matter the darkest hour or fear that we may confront.

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Review: "The Message" at Tarragon Theatre

Review: "The Message" at Tarragon Theatre

Over thirty years later, in an ironic turn of events, I had no idea an antagonistic rivalry of the scholarly minds existed between Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye until I had seen Jason Sherman’s ‘The Message’. These two iconic literary giants for me served as steadfast points of reference for many of my undergraduate papers in English Language and Literature. This new-found knowledge of academia head butting provided many amusing points of interest for me.

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