Review: AvengerDale (Players)

AvengerDale “in a league of it’s own” on the Toronto stage

Players is a not-for-profit theatre company specializing in TV/movie mashup-inspired theatre that’s been in Toronto since 2004. I can’t believe I’ve been living in Toronto for 6 years now and have never been to a Players show.

Upon visiting their website I take a look at the tites of their past shows: Stranger Friends, MADGlee, The Clueless Dead. This is genius. Their latest TV/Movie mashup is called AvengerDale, and I’m not kidding when I say this… it was one of the most entertaining pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen on a Toronto stage. It’s truly in a league of it’s own.

AvengerDale can only be described as a rock concert meeting a musical comedy. The show takes place at the famed Riverdale High. The students are the kids from the TV show Riverdale and the teachers are Avengers. I know, sounds hilarious already.

 

The second the lights go down, the party begins. The MC lays out the rules for the evening. Every time you hear “AvengerDale”, you shout out “name of the show”. If you hear the title of a song in the script, you yell out “sing!” If you want to get an actor drunk, you pay five dollars (all of which goes to charity) and the actor chugs a beer on stage in front of you, backed up by a musical trill from the band.

The show itself has a really fun narrative involving a Battle of the Bands and a new kid who’s also an internationally-renowned pop star. The script here is incredibly clever. I’ve actually never seen Riverdale and have only ever seen the very first Avengers movie way back in 2012, but despite my lack of knowledge of these two franchises, I still had a great time. Sure, there were a lot of jokes that I didn’t get, but it didn’t really matter because there was always another zinger in the queue.

The laughs are literally non-stop. Jokes are layered on top of each other to the point where we were running out of space to give each moment a solid giggle. The show runs at a rapid pace and only gets more thrilling when these beloved characters eventually burst out into song (at our plea to “sing!”). One of my favorite musical moments is when the Hulk (Steven Suepaul) busts out I by Kendrick Lamar. Never thought I would get to see the Hulk rap like that. It was awesome.

Another stand out moment is Betty Cooper (Merritt Crews)’s rendition of Heart’s Alone as she expresses her love for Veronica. She belts out that song like her life depends on it. Just breathtaking.

Players has managed to create a mammoth of a production in the humble Tranzac club on Brunswick. It has all the bells and whistles you could ask for: a stellar cast of actors who are not only masters of comedy but also immaculate singers, colourful costumes, an incredibly clever script and a full rock band to back them up.

The cast and creative team have made something so unique, so aware of itself and so generous. I left the Tranzac feeling like I was a part of something truly special. I still can’t believe I’ve never been to a Players show before. One thing’s for sure: from this day forward, as long as I’m living in Toronto, I’ll be in the audience.

Details:

  • AvengerDale is playing at the Tranzac (292 Brunswick Ave.) until June 16 2018.
  • Shows: June 7-9 & 14-16, 2018. Doors open at 7:30pm, show starts at 8:30pm.
  • Tickets range from $15 – $25 and are available online or in person at the box office before the show.
  • This venue is accessible.

Photo by Matt Highfield. 

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