All posts by Wayne Leung

Wayne is a writer, editor and corporate communications professional who is thrilled to be a part of the Mooney on Theatre team. Wayne has loved theatre ever since his aunt brought him to a production of Les Misérables at the tender age of ten . . . despite the fact that, at that age, the show’s plot was practically indiscernible and the battle scenes scared the bejeezus out of him. Wayne’s current list of likes runs the gamut from opera, ballet and Shakespeare to Broadway musicals, circus and Fringe theatre. Outside of the theatre Wayne’s interests include travel, technology and food.

Review: Obeah Opera (Luminato/Asah Productions)

Nicole Brooks with the company of Obeah Opera. Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh.Luminato brings a new version of the a cappella telling of the Salem Witch trials to Toronto

Obeah Opera tells the story of the Salem witch trials from the perspective of the first woman accused: a Caribbean slave named Tituba. Sung through entirely a cappella, the latest incarnation of this surprisingly vibrant and uplifting show is currently presented in Toronto as part of the Luminato Festival. Continue reading Review: Obeah Opera (Luminato/Asah Productions)

Review: The Full Light of Day (Luminato/Electric Company Theatre/Canadian Stage)

Photo of Gabrielle Rose and Jim Mezon by Don LeeA new show using cinematic techniques in live theatre is now in Toronto as part of Luminato

Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre has returned to Toronto with their new show, The Full Light of Day, co-presented by Canadian Stage and the Luminato Festival. The company is known for its innovative shows like Tear the Curtain! and Studies in Motion that blend live projections overlaid on top of the action on stage. Their new show continues that tradition but I was curious to see if they would bring anything new to the table this time. Continue reading Review: The Full Light of Day (Luminato/Electric Company Theatre/Canadian Stage)

Review: August: Osage County (Soulpepper)

Photo of the August: Osage County Ensemble by Cylla von TiedemannSoulpepper presents the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts in Toronto

I had invited a friend to join me for the opening night of the new production of August: Osage County by Soulpepper on Friday night but when I mentioned it was a three and a half-hour family drama with two intermissions he decided to pass. His loss; he missed out on an absolutely riveting evening of theatre. Continue reading Review: August: Osage County (Soulpepper)

Review: Tchaikovsky: PRO et CONTRA (Eifman Ballet/Show One Productions/TO Live)

Image of Eifman Ballet: Tchaikovsky. PRO et CONTRA provided by Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg.Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg returns to Toronto with a ballet inspired by Tchaikovsky’s life

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of the the most well-known and widely-loved classical music composers of all time. He’s the auteur of monumental and enduringly popular ballets, operas, and symphonies. The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg has created Tchaikovsky: PRO et CONTRA, a show inspired by the composer’s life and drawing music and imagery from his numerous compositions. Continue reading Review: Tchaikovsky: PRO et CONTRA (Eifman Ballet/Show One Productions/TO Live)

Review: Antigone: 方 (Young People’s Theatre)

Photo of Members of the Antigone:方 ensemble by Cylla von Tiedemann.Toronto playwright Jeff Ho adapts the Sophocles play for young audiences

Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre is ending its 2018-19 season with the world premiere of Antigone: 方, a contemporary adaptation of the Sophocles play by Jeff Ho, a Toronto-based playwright originally from Hong Kong. Recommended for audiences aged 12 to 18, you may be wondering how it’s possible to make an ancient Greek tragedy relevant to a contemporary, young audience. Ho approached the adaptation from a surprising angle and the results are brilliant. Continue reading Review: Antigone: 方 (Young People’s Theatre)

Review: Next To Normal (The Musical Stage Company/Mirvish)

Photo of Ma-Anne Dionisio and Brandon Antonio by Dahlia Katz.A gripping, new, Canadian production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical is now on stage in Toronto

Next To Normal is a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about a suburban family’s struggle with a mother’s mental illness, as well as a critical examination of psychiatry and psychopharmacology. It’s an intelligent, hard-hitting drama that also happens to be a rock musical featuring a big, bold contemporary rock score with music by Tom Kitt and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Mirvish is currently presenting a new production of the show by The Musical Stage Company in Toronto at the CAA Theatre. Continue reading Review: Next To Normal (The Musical Stage Company/Mirvish)

Review: Hand to God (Coal Mine Theatre)

Frank Cox-O'Connell and Tyrone photo by Kristina RuddickCoal Mine Theatre presents the Toronto premiere of this dark, irreverently funny play

In the dark comedy Hand to God, a Texas teen’s Christian ministry puppet comes to life becoming a foul-mouthed, troublemaker and slowly takes over the teen’s life, wreaking havoc on everybody around him. I first saw this play on Broadway in 2015 and though I had forgotten most of the plot details, I distinctly remember laughing so hard I nearly cramped up so I jumped at the opportunity to catch the first Toronto production by Coal Mine Theatre, performed in their intimate storefront venue on the Danforth. Continue reading Review: Hand to God (Coal Mine Theatre)

Review: Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Mirvish)

Photo of Chilina Kennedy by Joan Marcus.Mirvish presents the return the Carole King bio-musical starring Toronto’s Chilina Kennedy

Carole King is one of the most prolific American pop songwriters of the last half-century. Even if you’re not familiar with the material she recorded herself you undoubtedly know songs she has written for other artists: “The Locomotion,” “One Fine Day,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” to name a few. 

It’s no surprise her expansive body of work would be fertile ground for a jukebox musical. Mirvish has brought the touring production of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical back to Toronto for a return engagement at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Continue reading Review: Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Mirvish)

Review: Shove It Down My Throat (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre/Pandemic Theatre)

Photo of Willard Gillard, Johnnie Walker, Anders Yates, Kwaku Okyere, Daniel Carter, Heath V Salazar, and Craig Pike by Jeremy MimnaghToronto theatre artist Johnnie Walker debuts his new play based on a true criminal case

It was an initial whiff of injustice—a gay man wrongly imprisoned for defending himself—that sparked Toronto-based theatre artist Johnnie Walker into action. The playwright spent years investigating a complex criminal case and processing his findings into a new play, Shove It Down My Throat, now playing at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

True Crime is a genre that has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Podcasts like Serial, Atlanta Monster, and CBC’s own Someone Knows Something, all roughly follow the same formula of unpacking a historical crime and examining it from multiple angles in hopes of drawing new and interesting conclusions. Shove It Down My Throat borrows heavily from that formula but Walker puts a spin on it by examining his subject through a queer lens. Continue reading Review: Shove It Down My Throat (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre/Pandemic Theatre)

Review: Wedding at Aulis (Soulpepper)

Photo of Derek Boyes and Stuart Hughes by Cylla von TiedemannSoulpepper presents an intimate adaptation of Euripides’ Greek tragedy Iphigenia in Aulis in Toronto

We tend to think of Greek mythology as the realm of epic battles and larger-than-life gods but the characters we find in Greek myths can also be used to tell compelling, human-scale stories. Euripides’ play Iphigenia in Aulis is an example of how an outsized conflict between gods and mortals can translate into a gripping family drama. Wedding at Aulis, an adaptation of Euripides’ play by Iranian-Canadian playwright Sina Gilani, is given a new, intimate production by Soulpepper.  Continue reading Review: Wedding at Aulis (Soulpepper)