Drama 101, A New Musical by Steven Gallagher and Kevin Wong, presented by Bravo Academy for the Performing Arts as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is a beautiful tribute to anyone whose life has ever been impacted by arts education.
The show features a cast of young artists aged 13 to 19 and centres on a high school drama club throwing a retirement party for their teacher. It was commissioned by Bravo Academy for the Performing Arts as a vehicle to allow teens to play characters their own age and reflective of their own experiences on stage.
This production is a rarity. As cute as it can sometimes be to see a fifteen-year-old on stage in an ill-fitting costume and fake beard singing “If I Were a Rich Man” in a student production of Fiddler on the Roof, by giving students a chance to play people like themselves Drama 101 brims with authenticity and heart.
To anybody who’s ever been a high school drama geek this show will feel so familiar. From the cast of characters—the overbearing control-freak, the class clown, the kids in the backstage crew—to the sense of camaraderie and the deep bonds of friendship that form over the course of working together on a show, Drama 101 perfectly captures those little moments that make up the experience of drama club.
Individual students are introduced through featured numbers; the shy introvert who learns to come out of her shell, the gay kid who struggles with coming out, a big production number in tribute to the class clown; it’s reminiscent of A Chorus Line but set in a high school drama club.
The way Gallagher and Wong have written the show incorporating feedback from the young actors means those little slice-of-life moments and observations in the songs just ring through with so much clarity and feel so honest. The material really enables this talented young cast to shine.
I found myself watching with a lump in my throat throughout much of the show, not because it was a particularly emotional moment on stage, but because I was experiencing pangs of nostalgia. This show brought me right back to my own high school drama days.
I highly recommend Drama 101 to all current and former drama geeks. You’ll want to book your tickets early though. The small-ish venue (the Robert Gill Theatre) enables the cast to perform without the need for amplification but it also means tickets are limited and the show has been selling well.
- Drama 101, A New Musical plays at the Robert Gill Theatre (214 College St. 3rd floor)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: Parental Guidance Advised, Sexual Content, Mature Language
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Friday, July 5th, 7:30pm
- Sunday, July 7th, 2:15pm
- Monday, July 8th, 6:00pm
- Wednesday, July 10th, 5:30pm
- Thursday, July 11th, 2:45pm
- Saturday, July 13th, 9:15pm
- Sunday, July 14th, 5:45pm
Photo of the company of Drama 101, Cyrena Fiel, Berkley Silverman, Mya Wong, Sydney Scott, Alan Cui, Nicole Sherwin, Mauranda Nunes, Sydney Cornett, Lucas Romanelli, Cailan Bodnar, Anthony Palermo, Andrew Burke, Sean Lee, and Jamie Graham, by Blake Crawford