All posts by S. Bear Bergman

S. Bear Bergman has great faith in the power of theatre to make change, and has been putting his money where his mouth is on that one for some time. A writer, performer, and lecturer, Bear works full time as an artist and cultural worker and loves to see as much live performance as possible – making this a fantastic gig for him.

Kid +1 Review: School of Rock (Mirvish)

School of Rock hits the stage at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre; family fun holiday musical

Here’s what you need to know, from the perspective on an eight-year-old, about School of Rock at the Ed Mirvish Theatre: “That was the awesomest show I’ve ever seen!” While my jaundiced 44-year-old view is perhaps a little less unreservedly complimentary, part of the value for me in bringing actual children to theatre intended for children is to understand what they like, love, or…don’t especially care for. School of Rock fell squarely into the “love,” category and prompted my middle child to ask a question they’ve never, ever asked before: “Do you think they’d let us see that one again?”

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Kid +1 Review: Mary Poppins (Young People’s Theatre)

Family-favourite musical Mary Poppins warms the hearts of Toronto audiences at Young People’s Theatre

“I like how this is looking,” said my eight-year-old companion as we settled into seats for Mary Poppins at the Young People’s Theatre. “It looks fancy on the stage and I see musicians. Is there a lot of music and dancing in this show? I would love that.” When the orchestra swelled and the lights dimmed, they bounced happily in anticipation, which proved well-warranted – there was indeed a lot of excellent music and dancing, and we absolutely did love it.

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Review: Centre Stage (Canadian Opera Company)

For opera fans, there has become a certain electricity around Alexander Neef‘s innovation of the Centre Stage Gala. Centre Stage is when young singers from across Canada compete for cash prizes and spots in the Canadian Opera Company‘s world class internship program, the Ensemble Studio. It’s a little bit like going to watch minor league games but in very nice clothes; looking out for who clearly has the goods and enjoying a sense of having spotted them early as they make a career.

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Review: Now You See Her (Quote Unquote/Nightwood/Why Not)

A new show in Toronto explores some of the many ways women fade from sight in our culture

The late, great Southern writer Flannery O’Connor famously wrote “everything that rises must converge,” and I have always heard that sentence in the back of my mind when I see a piece of theatre that’s so emotionally specific and truthful that the experiences just shimmer up off the stage and, inevitably, converge with the audience’s experience (no matter how demographically different the audience member may be from the performer). Now You See Her, the new collaboration from Quote Unquote Collective, is exactly this kind of extraordinary work. Continue reading Review: Now You See Her (Quote Unquote/Nightwood/Why Not)

Review: Ain’t Too Proud (Mirvish)

A pre-Broadway run of the new musical about The Temptations is playing in Toronto

The latest show to play Toronto before transferring to Broadway, Ain’t Too Proud at the Princess of Wales Theatre is the story of The Temptations, one of the first and best known “crossover” groups in American music. The appetite for jukebox musicals is apparently never going to diminish, and though the writing is workmanlike, Ain’t Too Proud as a musical does what The Temptations themselves did: make bright, easy to enjoy, reasonably talented music on schedule.

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Review: Eugene Onegin (Canadian Opera Company)

The Canadian Opera Company opens its 2018-19 season with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin

There are some excellent things about Eugene Onegin at the Canadian Opera Company to open the season: Joseph Kaiser, the French horn, and the direction of Peter McClintock. While I did not find myself carried away (as I would always prefer to be at the opera) I did feel nicely eased into the season, and felt as though it would be an equally nice way to ease a theatre-lover into opera appreciation.

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Winners and Losers (Chromatic Theatre) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Valerie Planche and Makambe K. Simamba by Diane and Mike Photography

The version of Winners and Losers showing at the 2018 SummerWorks Festival is adapted from the original play of the same name, written and performed by Marcus Youssef and James Long. Youssef and Long, like Valerie Planche and Makambe S. Simamba, are friends, artists making work in Canada, and of markedly different backgrounds (by which I actually mean backgrounds and not “background as a euphemism for race” – though also that). In the show, Planche and Simamba play a game where they throw out nouns from “TTC” to “Space Soldiers” and discuss whether they’re winners or losers.

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The Red Horse Is Leaving (Moleman Productions) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Erika Batdorf and Zoe Sweet by Myriam Rafla

Thaya Whitten, the subject of The Red Horse Is Leaving in the 2018 SummerWorks Performance Festival, was clearly a woman ahead of her time. The performance of her character, drawn heavily from her own writing and speaking engagements, is full of chewy, delicious ideas about art, commerce, relationships, colour, light, music, and fear. Whitten, who convened panel discussion and drew them live, who engaged people about their deep feelings and expectations around artwork, is utterly fascinating.

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Morro and Jasp: Save The Date (U.N.I.T Productions) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

photo of Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee courtesy of U.N.I.T Productions

There’s nothing like a Morro & Jasp show: not in other time slots at Tarragon Theatre, not in the whole of the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival, not ever. Toronto’s favorite clown sisters have a new two-hander in the Fringe this year and it’s everything you ever wanted from them – bickering, antics, deep emotional engagement with the foundations of human connection, belly laughs and snacks.

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The Pansy Craze: A New Musical (Next Stop Productions) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

image provided by the companyHaving loved (and cried during) The Nance on Broadway, I felt somewhat prepared to love (and cry over) The Pansy Craze: A New Musical, showing at the Randolph Theatre as part of the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival. The shows both throw the Gay Wayback Machine back to a liminal time in queerness, exploring a shimmering moment in history when gender-independence was briefly allowable in public before law-enforcement clamped its unforgiving jaws back down. I did love The Pansy Craze: A New Musical, and I did cry, and I am keen indeed to see how this show progresses.

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