Review: A Very Leila Christmas (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Get into the Christmas spirit with Leila in this Toronto show

Through a Persian princess’s eyes, Christmas begins when the Starbuck’s cups turn red, sugar walking sticks are sold, and the arguing begins about when it’s appropriate to play the music with the bells in it. A Very Leila Christmas, presented by Theatre Passe Muraille and A Bad Girl Leila, is the best way to get into the REAL Christmas spirit.

An immigrant to Canada, Leila has an exciting job at a Rogers call centre during the holiday season. As she begins to learn about Christmas, she offers to throw a festive party for the whole office. She realizes that she has no idea what Christmas is as she begins her journey learning all about the “Prophet of Christmas” Santa Claus and riffs on all your favourite Christmas songs — with a Leila twist.

The entire show is filled with audience participation as Leila makes friends and confides in the audience about her feeling and findings on Christmas. At times she hands the microphone to audience members to sing songs so she can have a minute to change into her special Christmas outfits. Beware, Leila will call you out for not knowing the lyrics to her favourite songs. The audience is encouraged to take pictures and videos of the performance… as long as there are no double chins. The innovative intermission presents the performer asleep on stage, as audience members are invited to cuddle up and take selfies with her, with Leila sometimes holding on a little too long.

Although not listed in the program as anything but Leila or Leila’s mother (listed as the Director), the show is created and performed by Izad Etemadi. Etemadi amusingly sings, dances, raps and poses as the Persian princess. Leila’s rendition of the ‘12 Days of Christmas,’ which included her wish list of Gucci bags, Soda Streams and Apple watches, was my favourite part of the performance. Although experiencing a few minor technical glitches, Etemadi always plays them off as the over-the-top character that is Leila.

This performance is part of Theatre Passe Muraille’s 50th-year celebration. Directed by Leila, the audience together sang the birthday song before the final bow, which was followed by an audience dance party. As the third show by Leila, I am sure this city will see more of this comical character again soon. I found it was the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. All I want from Christmas is a little more Leila in my life.

Details:

  • A Very Leila Christmas is playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Ave, Toronto).
  • The show runs till Sunday, December 16, with performances on Saturday at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm and on Sunday and 2:00 pm.
  • Tickets prices range from $15 – $25.
  • Tickets are available in person or online.Photo provided by the company.