All posts by Samantha Wu

Samantha is a writer and a fan of the arts and has been able to find numerous ways to pair the two. Aside from being an editor here at Mooney on Theatre, she’s a photojournalist for Lithium Magazine which gets her writing and shooting about everything from Dave Matthews Band to Fan Expo, and a copy editor/writer for Art Katalyst. She’s passionate about music, theatre, photography, writing, and celebrating sexuality — not necessarily in that order. She drinks tea more than coffee, prefer ciders over beers, and sings karaoke way too loudly. You can follow her on various social media including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Review: King Charles III (Studio 180/Mirvish)

Photo of Jeff Meadows, Shannon Taylor, David Schurmann, and Rosemary Dunsmore from King Charles III provided by the companyStudio 180 and Mirvish presents King Charles III, on stage in Toronto until March 4 2018

Mirvish presents the Studio 180 production of King Charles III to the newly rebranded CAA Theatre (formerly the Panasonic Theatre). This production saw sold out crowds on Broadway and London’s West End, and will likely cause waves in Toronto. The story takes a look at what could be for our beloved British royals in this future history play written by Mike Bartlett and directed by Joel Greenberg.

The Queen is dead and Charles, the “King in Waiting”, ascends the throne. While attempting to assert the power of the crown, he defies an age-old tradition, sending the country into turmoil.

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Review: Declarations (Canadian Stage)

Canadian Stage presents the latest production by Jordan Tannahill at the Berkeley in Toronto

Jordan Tannahill, the mastermind behind Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom, returns to Canadian Stage with Declarations — a unique and certainly unusual multidisciplinary exploration of memories, the here and now, and what will transpire. It’s an introspective look at mortality, that of Tannahill’s own, his mother’s and of mankind.

This performance combines a non-linear script presented in an almost spoken word manner with improvised movements that are made up on the spot, meaning no two performances will be alike. What transpires on stage is surreal, metaphoric, and entirely up for interpretation.

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Review: Calpurnia (Nightwood Theatre and Sulong Theatre Company)

Calpurnia is “provocative”, “uncomfortable”, and “deeply nuanced”, on stage in Toronto

Calpurnia–written and directed by Audrey Dwyer and produced by Nightwood Theatre Company and Sulong Theatre Company–is a highly relevant and provocative look at racism, classism, and sexism in a story that is at times humorous and at most times painful and uncomfortable in the best possible way. The performances are dynamic, as is the writing, making this a show that is well worth the watch.

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Review: A Delicate Balance (Soulpepper)

Photo of Laura Condlln, Oliver Dennis, Derek Boyes, Nancy Palk, and Kyra Harper in A Delicate Balance by Cylla von TiedemannSoulpepper Theatre’s opening of A Delicate Balance a success, on stage in Toronto

Soulpepper Theatre Company has never shied away from embracing intriguing and engaging theatre, and their latest production of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance is no difference. This sardonic, sarcastic and highly entertaining piece of theatre features fantastic performances, a stunning set, sharp and witty dialogue, and a plot that will have you experiencing a wide range of emotions from irritation and shock to laugh-out-loud amusement. It all makes the show’s three-hour run time fly right by.

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2018 Next Stage Festival Review: Moonlight After Midnight (Concrete Drops Theatre)

Photo of Vanessa Quesnelle and Martin Dockery in Moonlight After Midnight by Will Ohare

Moonlight After Midnight, a hit from last year’s Fringe Festival, makes their Next Stage Theatre Festival return this year. This enigmatic tale involving a close encounter in a dark hotel room blends and blurs the barriers of time, reality and linear story telling for one captivating tale.

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2018 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Birthday Balloon (Mauzy May Productions)

Photo of Renée Hackett and Craig Pike in Birthday Balloon by Tanja-TizianaIn Birthday Balloon, playing as part of this year’s Next Stage Theatre Festival, David and Millie are at war. Their marriage is at stake and though Millie is desperate to salvage whatever it is they have left, David fears it may be too late. They’ve both already suffered the greatest tragedy that neither of them have been able to recover from.

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Review: Mr. Shi and His Lover (Music Picnic/Point View Art/Macau Experimental Theatre)

Tarragon Theatre brings a “bold” and “alluring” Chinese-language musical to Toronto audiences

Playing at the Tarragon Theatre is a production that is quite revolutionary: the first Chinese language musical performance to grace the Tarragon stage, and one that already delighted audiences at the SummerWorks Festival in 2016. Mr. Shi and His Lover, written by Wong Teng Chi, captures the unique facets of Chinese opera that have always spoken to me — bold bravado and delicate nuance — in ways that will entice and intrigue western audiences.

Based on a true story that was adapted into the play M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang and featuring live chamber music performed on stage, this performance blends traditional Chinese opera with modern pop seamlessly. Mr. Shi and His Lover is alluring and a pleasure to watch.

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Review: Bat Out of Hell (Mirvish)

Photo from Bat out of HellBat Out of Hell is a fiery jukebox musical playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto

Jim Steinman, Grammy Award winning record producer, songwriter, lyricist and composer, is likely responsible for many of the power rock and pop ballads you heard on the radio throughout the ’90s. He’s also worked closely with such rock megastars as Meat Loaf, in particular their collaboration in creating the albums Bat Out of Hell  and Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which inspired the stage production. Together, they’ve put together the latest jukebox musical sensation Bat Out of Hell, now making its North American debut on stage at the Ed Mirvish Theatre just in time for Halloween.

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Review: Waiting for Godot (Soulpepper)

Photo from Waiting for GodotSoulpepper Theatre presents the 20th Century classic play Waiting for Godot in Toronto

For many who have studied acting, Samuel Beckett‘s Waiting for Godot is likely part of the curriculum. And rightly so, as there is much to be learned from studying this play, especially if you’re learning the tricks of the trade for good audience-captivating comedy. The careful nuances of timing, repetition, monumental silence, mime and mimicry, as well as wholly absurd dialogue is what makes up Waiting for Godot. This is a 20th Century classic for a reason and, as usual, the creative forces at Soulpepper have delivered this unique performance with aplomb.

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Landline (XO Secret) 2017 SummerWorks Review

Photo from Landline

What XO Secret is doing with Landline, playing during the final weekend of the SummerWorks Festival, is breaking apart every notion of what traditional and standard ‘theatre’ actually is. Here, one individual doubles as both audience member and actor as they traverse the city on their own, listening to audio cues on an MP3 player. While on their journey — which, without this element, can feel rather isolating — they are texting back and forth with an individual in Hamilton, taking part in the Hamilton Fringe, who are simultaneously embarking on the same journey but in their own way.

This is the kind of interactive performance that takes ‘audience participation’ to a whole new level where everything that you can take out of it is entirely dependent on what you put into it.

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