It’s not always easy rocking out at the Toronto Fringe Festival, but Tweed & Company Theatre prove that it’s not impossible with Stalkyard Hurts, a rip-roaring songfest soaking the stage at Lee’s Palace Dance Cave.
The classic rock story of a classic 80s-style rock band, Stalkyard Hurts follows the rise and fall of friendships, romances, shady managers, band mates who spiral into drug abuse, and all the other twists and turns one would expect in the world of rock n’ roll.
Musicals are tough to pull off, with Fringe musicals being the hardest, but I was quickly impressed by both the vocals and live instrumental of the Stalkyard Hurts band. Justin Collette, as writer and composer, does a great job of capturing the classic rock sound in both clever and sometimes soulful ways. Danielle Leger, as leading vocalist Carmen, truly blew me away with her gritty sound. She was like a kooky Janis Joplin, impressively playing up the comedy in her scenes while still maintaining the core sound of the show.
Despite the simplicity of the story, I found the ensemble cast very strong. Granted, Leger’s Carmen and Tricia Black’s Tori (the band’s lovably naive bassist) both stole the show for me.
Director Tim Porter makes some great decisions with the format of the show, allowing the story of the band to unfold with interludes that feel more like a rock concert. There was even an encore at the end. I thought transitions between scenes were smoother at the top of the show, getting a little clunkier midway through, but I’m going to give the team the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to first night awkwardness.
My one gripe with the performance was in the pacing in the last third. I felt like the story slowed down a little and that the show would have still worked well without the final 30 minutes. It did feel just a touch too long.
I think that if you like musicals, rock n’ roll, strong female vocals, live music, hilarity, hijinks and larger than life characters, this show is for you. Looking around at the end of the show, there was not one person who wasn’t tapping their foot or bopping their head. I feel like this one’s going to be a Fringe fave so you might want to grab your tickets in advance.
- Stalkyard Hurts is playing until July 12 at Lee’s Palace Upstairs: The Dance Cave. (529 Bloor St. West)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the peformance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
- This production does include the following: Strobe Light; Fog or Haze Effects; Sexual Content; Mature Language; Audience Participation
Photo of Mike Lee, Tricia Black, Danielle Leger, Cat Montgomery and Justin Collette by Tim Porter.
July 04 at 08:00 PM
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