All posts by S. Bear Bergman

S. Bear Bergman has great faith in the power of theatre to make change, and has been putting his money where his mouth is on that one for some time. A writer, performer, and lecturer, Bear works full time as an artist and cultural worker and loves to see as much live performance as possible – making this a fantastic gig for him.

Review: High (Mirvish)

Like Lady Tessie Tura, I like a gimmick, if it’s a good one. And so, when film stars take turns on stage, I have learned to hold my judgement until I see that person in that part (ever since being pleasantly startled by Laurence Fishburne as Henry in The Lion In Winter). Kathleen Turner is indeed a good one in Mirvish’s High, and she is well-used, if not quite as ably supported as I would prefer.

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Review: Lost Lounge (Buddies In Bad Times)

Take a journey with the Split Britches Theatre Company in Toronto

In the interests of full disclosure, I will state my bias plainly at the beginning of this review: I have been a huge fan of Split Britches Theatre Company, and especially of Peggy Shaw who I was privileged to work with when she was an artist-in-residence at my university, for twenty years. I totally fell for Lost Lounge, but I would have been a lot more surprised if I hadn’t.

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Review: Dancing Queen (Cabaret Company)

Sky Gilbert’s Dancing Queen is playing at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times

There are many lovely things about seeing a performance by Sky Gilbert, but perhaps chief among them is: there’s no possible downside. Either it’s great and interesting, as usual, or not to your taste but still, certainly not boring. Dancing Queen, Gilbert’s latest, is squarely in the former category.

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Review: My Granny The Goldfish (Factory Theatre)

You cannot imagine what a relief it was to me to discover that My Granny the Goldfish was a title less about magical realism and more about a alcoholic grandmother. While that may seem a bit strange, the truth is that I am generally fairly averse to magical realism, while playwright Anosh Irani has written one of the funniest drunken elderly ladies since Lady Bracknell. And he could not possibly be any luckier than to have Yolande Bavan to play Granny, lending every bit of her considerable expertise to the role.

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Review: Forbidden Broadway (Civic Light Opera)

Forbidden Broadway presented by Toronto’s Civic Light Opera Company is a musical about Broadway musicals

Forbidden Broadway at the Civic Light Opera Company (whose home theatre is tucked cleverly under the Fairview Library in North York) was full of charming surprises. Some of them I’m embargoed from discussing, at the request of the company, in order to preserve that pleasurable frisson of “That’s not….is he…oh, he is,” that the audience gets to enjoy. As a reviewer, of course, it takes a little of the fun out of the job, but since it might preserve the fun of the reader I’ll play along gladly.

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Review: Visiting Mr. Green (Harold Green Jewish Theatre)

Legendary Theodore Bikel performs in Visiting Mr. Green at Toronto’s Jane Mallet Theatre

In my enthusiasm at the prospect of seeing Theodore Bikel onstage in Visiting Mr. Green, it’s possible that I may have gone on at length to my theatre-partner (and husband) about his myriad accomplishments: originating the role of Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music on Broadway, more than 2,000 performances in Fiddler on the Roof, television, films, folk music.

He’s a living treasure of theatre, with 68 years of performance in five languages under his belt. To the benefit of all, certainly including playwright Jeff Baron and costar Aidan deSalaiz, both of whom must understand how much they’ve been enriched by their association with Bikel in Visiting Mr. Green.

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Review: Hair (Mirvish)


 Hair never fails to please – pretty boys and girls dancing around onstage, all enthusiasm and skin, cheerfully swaying stoned-ly along with whatever the music happens to be when they’re not engaged in some legitimate stage business. Some of the anthems are famous, by now, and the audience can usually be counted upon to sing along (or at least clap at whatever level of rhythm is available to them) by the time “Let The Sun Shine In” comes around at the end of the show and audience members are invited to join the cast onstage for a dancefest.

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Review: (would you say the name of this play*) (Young People’s Theatre)

Just in case The Addams Family hadn’t given me my fill of teenaged theatregoers last week, I stepped it up this week with a performance of (would you say the name of this play?*) at Young People’s Theatre on Wednesday morning. The piece, originally titled nggrfg, appears to have been renamed in a bid to make it play better on school permission forms. Judging from the packed house on Wednesday morning, it was a good gamble.

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Review: The Addams Family (Dancap)

I entered the Toronto Centre for the Arts for the opening night of The Addams Family swept up in a gaggle of young teens, all wearing coordinated black, white and dark-purple outfits, chattering excitedly in anticipation of the show. Accompanied by someone’s patient Dad, who distributed tickets while accepting stern instructions from his daughter not to go near them until the show was over, I found myself carried away in their enthusiasm. I hope they enjoyed the show as much as they wanted to; I must confess that I found it rather uneven.

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