Leroy Street Theatre presents a taboo and comedic look at family dysfunction in Toronto
The last time I had walked into Unit 102 Theatre, the set was the inside of a barn, covered in dust and bales of hay. Not a speck of dust was in sight when I walked back into Unit 102 to see Leroy Street Theatre’s The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? The barn was flipped into an impeccable living room.
The furniture and precise decoration gave off the impression that the homeowners were desperate to be featured in an interior design magazine. The set looked like it had been ripped out of the centre of Style at Home with minor details of family life, like a framed photo and a work table with work still in progress. I felt like I was sitting in the midst of perfectionists. After the show, I realized that Leroy Street Theatre must be full of perfectionists too, because I was blown away by the show.
Continue reading Review: The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? (Leroy Street Theatre)
Gambler Productions presents two unique shows, on stage in Toronto
I opened the front door to the snug Red Sandcastle Theatre and saw, to my surprise, a man dressed to the nines. He was in full blackjack-dealer garb, including a crisp white button-up and a bowtie. He welcomed me to the First Show Spectacular, waving his hands like I had just stepped into Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas strip. He took a playing card out a pile, snipped it in half, and handed it to me. I’d never had a headless Jack of Hearts as a ticket before. If anything, I was impressed with Gambler Productions‘ dedication to a theme.
First Show Spectacular is a one-hour production of two half-hour plays: The Waiting Room by Jen Farr and Your Path To Happiness by John Rowntree. The program states: “One play isn’t enough to contain our excitement, so there are two in tonight’s show.” Both plays are solo performances, written by their star actors.
Continue reading Review: First Show Spectacular (Gambler Productions)
Toronto’s Unit 102 Actors Co. presents an intimate production of John Steinbeck classic
The doorway of the Unit 102 theatre was jammed with guests when I arrived. We were all clustered together, eagerly waiting to pile into our seats for the production of Of Mice and Men. After a quick announcement, the doors were opened and the guests flooded inside. I sat in the second row and took in the view. I felt utterly transported. I had somehow traveled space and time, or jumped into the pages of a book, because I was no longer in Toronto. I was somewhere else entirely. Continue reading Review: Of Mice and Men (Unit 102 Actors Co.)
Dead Roads, now playing in Toronto, is ” like a dream, disjointed and unreal.”
The only description given for Dead Roads (presented by The Dead Roads Collective) was: “Something strange is happening in small town Alberta.” That sentence could describe a quirky comedy or a riveting mystery, but the tone felt ominous as the lights of the Theatre Centre suddenly went down and the audience was plunged into darkness.
The theatre rumbled with a sound that sent the hairs rising at the back of my neck. It sounded like the roar of a great turbine or like a rocket ship about to take off. It sounded like a flying saucer lowering to lift an unsuspecting loner into a light beam before disappearing into the night. “Strange” was definitely the right description.
Continue reading Review: Dead Roads (Dead Roads Collective)
Toronto’s Voicebox: Opera in Concert premiered new Canadian opera Isis and Osiris: Gods of Egypt
The seats of the Jane Mallet Theatre of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts were practically full; an amazing turn-out for a Sunday matinee. Attendees talked with hushed excitement as the orchestra tuned their instruments, preparing for the lights to dim. Within moments, I would be treated to the final showing of Isis and Osiris: Gods of Egypt. The premiere of the new Canadian opera and finale of Voicebox: Opera in Concert‘s season. Continue reading Review: Isis and Osiris (Voicebox: Opera in Concert)
Sunny Drake presents his hilarious, neurotic and touching show No Strings (Attached) in Toronto
On St. Patrick’s Day, I was lucky to avoid the green-tinted debauchery by going to see No Strings (Attached) at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. I handed over my tickets and was absolutely delighted when I was rewarded with a small white rose … It was fake, but it was still sweet. I held my “token of romance” as I walked through the doors toward the cabaret stage, when the white rose was taken from me and tossed into a basket. I was given a lecture about restraining myself from the trappings of romantic tokens. I looked down at a button in my hand, which said: “1 DAY Romance Sober”. Continue reading Review: No Strings Attached (Pink Pluto/Eventual Ashes)
North Toronto Players celebrates its 50th anniversary with original musical Chelsea Moor Castle
The Jubilee United Church was filled with excitement. The North Toronto Players were celebrating their 50th anniversary with a special gala performance of Chelsea Moor Castle (or, The Contract To Marry). The attendees were dressed to impress and eyeing the stage with eager smiles. I was swept up with the buzz of the crowd, ready for a performance worthy of the big 5-0.
Chelsea Moor Castle (or, The Contract to Marry) is an original show inspired by WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The script and lyrics were written by stage director Michael Harms and actress Barb Scheffler. The playwrights were compelled to answer the question “What would Gilbert and Sullivan do if they were writing a show today?” Their collective response results in an operetta full of secrets, love, and death.
Continue reading Review: Chelsea Moor Castle (The North Toronto Players)
The stage of The Box theatre had been transformed since I last saw it. The night I went to see Matchstick Theatre’s production of Oleanna, the stage had changed into a small office. The office had the typical look of academic interior design: a large desk, wooden chairs, and a mug full of pencils. The set gives an impression of the mediocre. Suspiciously mediocre. I knew that Oleanna couldn’t be about a simple office chat. The banality of the scenario, the set, and even the professor’s tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, began to feel like an obvious trap.
Oleanna was introduced in 1992 by the well-known playwright David Mamet. Oleanna is a story about Carol, a young and confused student, who meets with her professor John to discuss her failing marks. John decides put aside his other responsibilities to help Carol improve her grade. The meeting ends and they part ways. When they meet again, the circumstances have shifted in an unexpected way. Continue reading Review: Oleanna (Matchstick Theatre)
A Mickey Full of Mouse opened in the Red Sandcastle Theatre. A map drawn out in chalk is on the set wall, showing the passage through the United States, with Florida as the ultimate destination. Dawna Wightman moves around the stage, sweeping the floor with a janitor’s broom. She sings to herself, blocking out the audience in front of her. As we know with most Disney productions, a song is just the beginning of the story.
A Mickey Full of Mouse, written by Dawna Wightman and directed by Josh Downing, describes itself as a comedy about a trip to Walt Disney World with an alcoholic. Anna, played by Laura Kyswaty, meets up with her old friend Margaret, who shows her a magical snowglobe. When the snowglobe is used three times, the holder is transported to a childhood memory, and must live through the memory to return. The memory brings Anna and Margaret to the summer where they went on a impromptu roadtrip that took them to Walt Disney World.
Continue reading Review: A Mickey Full of Mouse (Red Sandcastle Theatre)
Circlesnake Productions presents Slip, a fractured murder mystery, at The Box Toronto
The Box Toronto is a re-purposed loft, hidden behind a small alley like a secret. The theatre looks like a regular apartment with a plain kitchenette tucked in the corner, but there are stage lights all across the ceiling. The walls are covered with newspaper clippings, post-it notes, and letters. Ripped pages are strewn across the floor. The audience tip-toes around the un-moving body of an actress. We all shuffle in our seats, trying to get comfortable at the scene of the crime.
Slip is a story about an investigation of a possible murder. The victim has died of mysterious circumstances, which Toronto detectives Lynne and Mark try to uncover with their expertise. The investigation becomes more trying as more information about the victim is discovered, along with another unexpected obstacle: Lynne’s memory is failing her. Lynne tries to focus on solving the crime, even when her mind can’t seem to focus with her.
Continue reading Review: Slip (Circlesnake Productions)