The Chocolate Soldier is gloriously fun and immaculately sung, now playing on the Toronto stage
Love and war seem to go hand-in-hand in Toronto Operetta Theatre’s The Chocolate Soldier, with neither being quite so noble as they first appear. From the boom of canons to the final love arias of couples brought together in the aftermath of war, this light and frothy comic tale is a joy from start to finish, as much a delight to the ears as chocolate is to the tongue. Continue reading Review: The Chocolate Soldier (Toronto Operetta Theatre)
Soulpepper brings Stratford hit The Last Wife to the Toronto stage
Originally produced by the Stratford Festival, The Last Wife details the relationship between Henry VIII (Joseph Ziegler) and his sixth and final wife, Katherine Parr (Maev Beaty), during a time of impending war with France and a fraught political landscape. From Kate’s perspective, we witness the tumultuous end of Henry’s reign, and come to know the essential role she played in restoring Mary I and Elizabeth I to the line of succession. Continue reading Review: The Last Wife (Soulpepper)
For the first ten minutes or so, Western, a play with music (playing as part of Next Stage Theatre Festival) is somewhat misty and disorienting. It doesn’t sit you down and hold your hand and walk you through it’s premise, but rather introduces it in a slow burn, a collaborative campfire fantasy that’s equal parts blood and poetry. Puppetry and clever staging introduce you slowly to the characters and the shared trauma they’re all determined to relive: the accidental killing of one boy by another that kickstarts a manhunt across a great unidentified landscape. Continue reading 2017 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Western, a play with music (The Harvey Dunn Campfire)
It’s 1880, and the theatres of Paris are under the thrall of the elegant and cutthroat Madame Clothilde (Michelle Langille), a sinister “Chef de Claque” whose band of professional “clappers” can manipulate any audience in town.
It’s into this den of theatrical vipers and vampires stumbles Victor (Victor Pokinko), a hapless young Canadian musician–and thus begins Clique Claque, a period melodrama now on stage as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival.
Continue reading 2017 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Clique Claque (Pea Green Theatre Group)
Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic comedy operetta is joyfully silly, now gracing the Toronto stage
To my eternal shame, I have never in all my years of theatre-going managed to see a Gilbert and Sullivan show. Aside from a few parodies, I went into the Toronto Operetta Theatre’s production of The Pirates of Penzance, currently playing at the St. Lawrence Centre, totally blind—I knew the “Modern Major General” patter-song, but only through cultural osmosis. One of the nicest surprises about the TOT’s production was how accessible it felt, without sacrificing the broad humour and joyful silliness of the era and genre it belongs to. Continue reading The Pirates of Penzance (Toronto Operetta Theatre)
Peter Pan plays across Toronto breweries in this charming musical rendition of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale
The scene at the Henderson Brewing Co. was an oddball one: lost boys tumbling around, playing music on box-drums and guitars, while folks out for a Saturday evening drink chattered away in the background.
With giant silver vats all around and no real backstage to speak of, the scene was set for a unique theatrical experiment: putting on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in various breweries across the city, dubbed by Bad Hats Theatre as the “Toronto Brewery Tour.”
There’s no real thematic link between beer and Peter Pan that I can think of—but it was a nice bonus for many of the parents in the audience. Continue reading Peter Pan: The Toronto Brewery Tour (Bad Hats Theatre)
The Numbers Game, the six episode mini-series, concludes in Toronto
After six ‘bite-sized’ plays performed over the past month, The Numbers Game–a theatrical miniseries following the conflict between two gangster operations in the post-Prohibition New York area–is finally drawing to a close. Will the battle between Dutch Schultz (Jamie Cavanagh) and Queenie St. Clair (Karine Ricard) end with peace, or will it all go down in a hail of bullets?
Continue reading Review: The Numbers Game, Episodes 5 & 6 (The Pulp Collective)
The Numbers Game continues with episodes 3 and 4, now on stage in Toronto
A few weeks ago, I binged episodes one and two of The Numbers Game, the multi-part play series currently running at Toronto’s Storefront Theatre. The idea is to replicate the experience of a Netflix-style miniseries, the type you can burn through episode-by-episode. When transferring the idea to the theatre, this takes the form of shorter plays running throughout October and into early November, with opportunities to catch past episodes just before the new one comes out.
Having really enjoyed the first two episodes, I was eager to get back to the world of these plays, where the racially-charged turf wars of two gangster operations in the post-Prohibition New York area had only begun to play out between Dutch Schultz (Jamie Cavanagh) and Queenie St. Clair (Karine Ricard). Continue reading Review: The Numbers Game, Episodes 3 & 4 (The Pulp Collective)
The Numbers Game, on stage in Toronto, is a unique adventure in storytelling
The Numbers Game, the Pulp Collective‘s post-Prohibition mobster play now on stage at the Storefront Theatre, is something of an experiment in storytelling. It’s set up like a TV miniseries, with six short episodes playing over the course of the run. You can either binge episodes (the previous week’s episode always plays at 7pm before the current episode) or go on a weekly schedule to catch all six.
There’s about an hour break in between if you choose to binge, during which (if you’re anything like me) you’re able to chat about where you think the story is going with your fellow theatre-goers. And you will, because The Numbers Game is a total blast, and part of the fun comes from being able to speculate about its twists and turns. Continue reading Review: The Numbers Game (The Pulp Collective)
Soulpepper tackles classic Michel Tremblay play in Toronto
It’s Halloween, and Montreal drag queen Hosanna has just returned home from a party in near-tears, still dressed as Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra. Her biker boyfriend, aging stud Cuirette, is not far behind. What ensues during Soulpepper’s production of Hosanna, written by Michel Tremblay (and translated by John Van Burek and Bill Glassco), is a little over two hours of claustrophobic emotional drama that examines the boundaries between gender and sexual desire, aging anxieties, and—perhaps most importantly—the terror of facing who we truly are once unmasked. Continue reading Review: Hosanna (Soulpepper)