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.
Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers, written and performed by Makambe K. Simamba, is the story of Trayvon Martin’s first hours in the afterlife, and it is utterly gripping and rendered with great tenderness and bravery. It’s also surprising, which was unexpected with such a well-publicized story. Simamba had her work cut out for her trying to make theatre that didn’t feel like a simple rehearsal of the brutal facts. But Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers is so, so much more.
Canadian Stage presents a wordless, slapstick comedy show from France in Toronto
What, you might be wondering, might a wordless, slapstick, burlesque, Francophone show – such as Bigre – be like? I went to Canadian Stage to discover, and found the answer to be: a little lewd, a little rude, and ultimately pleasing, if you come ready to laugh.
Hot Brown Honey is a dazzling socially driven cabaret, a “brilliant spectacle” on stage in Toronto
Near the beginning of Hot Brown Honey, an Australian export co-produced by Why Not Theatre and Native Earth Performing Arts and presented to lucky Toronto audiences by TO Live, Queen Bee Busty Beats exclaims from the hive-top “Fighting the power never tasted so sweet!” They are unimpeachably correct, so please stand by for several paragraphs of effusive, lavish praise for this spectacular piece of work.
Mirvish with Opera Atelier presents the striking tale of Idomeneo to Toronto audiences
With Opera Atelier, a company renowned for bringing a corps de ballet and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra to the opera, there’s little chance of a dull moment onstage – which, to be perfectly honest, is exactly as I prefer. Idomeneo does not disappoint on this score, nor on hardly any other. It’s a banquet of delights, really, though some of the tastes were unexpected.
With a three-year-old and a nine-year-old to consider, it can be difficult to find shows that are accessible to the little one but not boring for the big one (to say nothing of boring for the semi-responsible adult accompanying them). When a show that’s pleasing to all three comes along, like The 26 Letter Dance, it feels like an entire March Break miracle
Since Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special, Nanette, started doing big business in views and reviews, all sorts of comedians have written or dusted off longer solo pieces that combine comedy, storytelling, and a little good old theatrical flair. Franco Nguyen’s Good Morning Viet*Mom, playing in the Aki Studio theatre after a solid Next Stage Festival run, is an entry into this category (and a solid one at that).
The Stratford Festival production of Molière’s satirical play is currently on stage in Toronto
355 years ago, the Catholic Church considered Tartuffe so threatening to the moral fabric of society that they pressured the king of France into banning it’s performance. The two most satisfying facts about Canadian Stage‘s completely delightful production of the classic work, honestly, are these: this Tartuffe doesn’t remotely feel 355 years old and yet somehow it still feels dangerous.
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?”
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.
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.