Did you see the Facebook invitation? Are you going to the party? You’ll definitely want to join the fun at The Monarch Tavern for Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party, produced by Charcoal Sketch Productions at the Toronto Fringe Festival.
The show takes place in a real bar and, as soon as I entered, I felt like I was at a real party. There were balloons, party hats, a pile of gifts, and a group of friends welcoming the audience as if we were really guests. The bar was open, and people were ordering drinks. There was only one problem. Maddie, the birthday girl, had not yet arrived.
Not to worry. Karaoke night begins on time (Fringe shows always begin on time), and Maddie’s friends take turns telling stories about her before belting out their favourite numbers. We meet her co-worker (who has brought his Grindr date), her college roommate, her current roommate, and even her best friend from high school who she hasn’t seen in ten years.
To my surprise, the songs were original (not the karaoke standards I was expecting) with music and lyrics by Barbara Johnston and Suzy Wilde. There was a wide range of styles – from party anthem to over-dramatic pop song – and boy were they catchy. Every number had the audience clapping and singing along thanks to the lyrics projected at the back of the stage.
But these are not your average karaoke hacks. Maddie and her friends can really sing. All the performers were excellent. Erica Peck stood out with a powerful rendition of the above mentioned over-dramatic pop song. Jeigh Madjus’ solo about rediscovering his love of singing through karaoke was also a highlight. Tess Barao, the college roommate teetering around on six-inch platform heels was hysterical. And Joseph Zita and Shane Hollon were the perfect odd couple.
Maddie, played by Kelly Hollif, eventually does show up. She’s having a hard time dealing with turning twenty-five. Hollif’s portrayal perfectly captures the angst of not knowing where you’re going and the feeling that everyone else has their life together. Fortunately for Maddie, she has her friends to sing with and to help her through the hard times.
Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party is a ton of fun. It’s touching and funny and has great performances. Get your tickets now because this a party you don’t want to miss.
- Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party plays at The Monarch Tavern. (12 Clinton St.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warnings: No Minors Admitted, Audience Participation.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
- Wednesday July 5th, 08:45 pm
- Thursday July 6th, 08:15 pm
- Friday July 7th, 07:00 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 06:30 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 06:00 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 08:00 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 08:45 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 08:15 pm
- Friday July 14th, 07:00 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 07:00 pm
- Sunday July 16th, 06:00 pm
Photo of Joseph Zita, Erica Peck, Kelly Holiff, Tess Barao, and Shane Hollon provided by the Company