All posts by Ilana Lucas

Ilana Lucas has been a big theatre nerd since witnessing a fateful Gilbert and Sullivan production at the age of seven. She has studied theatre for most of her life, holds a BA in English and Theatre from Princeton and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Script Development from Columbia, and is currently a professor of English and Theatre at Centennial College. She believes that theatre has a unique ability to foster connection, empathy and joy, and has a deep love of the playfulness of the written word. Her favourite theatrical experience was the nine-hour, all-day Broadway performance of The Norman Conquests, which made fast friends of an audience of strangers.

Review: How To Fail As A Popstar (Canadian Stage)

Photo of Vivek Shraya in How To Fail As A Popstar by Dahlia Katz

Vivek Shraya’s How To Fail As A Popstar, now at Canadian Stage, is about confronting failure, showing that it’s not the end of everything, but also not downplaying the disappointment and significance of the experience. It’s about living a life that refuses to conform to an expected narrative arc, and the second-guessing that can occur when that happens. It’s about a love of music that can never quite die, even when it’s in question. It’s about grooving to a ‘90s and 2000s musical nostalgia trip. And it’s about being fabulous and singing your heart out.

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Review: Super Hot Date Night (Super Hot Date Night)

Photo of Tricia Black and Guled Abdi by Brent RobichaudImprov comedy show highlights the best and worst of the dating scene

Many of us, on Valentine’s Day, go the traditional route of flowers, chocolate, and a fancy dinner for two. But, for the more adventurous, the lovelorn, or the anti-V-Day iconoclast, there was a different option this year: a Super Hot Date Night of improv comedy based on stories of our worst or strangest dates.

Several of Toronto’s best-known comics and improvisers, including Guled Abdi (Tallboyz), Andrew Phung (Kim’s Convenience) and Second City’s Tricia Black, Andrew Bushell, and Devon Henderson, gathered at the Paradise Theatre to create sketches from our greatest romantic foibles.

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Review: Hamilton (Mirvish)

Photo of Joseph Morales and company by Joan MarcusThe Hamilton Phenomena Arrives at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto

***NOTE: All performances are cancelled between Saturday, March 14 through Sunday, April 12 to respect social-distancing requests around COVID -19

If you’re the type of person who reads theatre reviews, you’re probably well aware of  Hamilton, now playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. As lyricist-composer Lin-Manuel Miranda puts it, it’s that quintessential hip-hop story of a scrappy young man who starts from the bottom, succeeds by sheer bravado and talent, and is then undone by the same hubris that precipitated his meteoric rise. The story just applies, in this case, to America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, as the country violently transitions from colonial rule to self-government.

Based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton, the show was a cultural and award-winning juggernaut, one of few modern works to actually claim the title of game-changer outside of the insular theatre scene. The only question is: does the Toronto production live up to the quality and hype of the show itself? The answer is: yes, mostly.

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Review: Caroline, Or Change (The Musical Stage Company/Obsidian Theatre)

Photo of Evan LeFeuvre and Jully Black in Caroline Or Change by Dahlia Katz

I’ve always thought that Caroline or Change was a brilliant show, unfairly overlooked.

When I saw the original Broadway production in 2003, I was deeply moved by Tony Kushner’s eloquent lyrics and Jeanine Tesori’s multifaceted mélange of a score. Stuck between the pop powerhouse Wicked and the ironic underdog Avenue Q that year, it won a single Tony for supporting actress, and isn’t as well-known as those brighter, brassier shows.

Thankfully, the Musical Stage Company and Obsidian Theatre’s stunning, riveting remount of their hit 2012 production, directed by Robert McQueen, brings it back into the limelight at the Winter Garden Theatre for a well-deserved ovation. If you haven’t seen it, that should change.

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Review: This Is How We Got Here (Native Earth Performing Arts)

Photo of Michaela Washburn and Kristopher Bowman in This Is How We Got Here by Christie Wong

This Is How We Got Here was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Award for English-language drama, and it’s easy to see why; Keith Barker’s meditation on grief is lyrical and haunting. Native Earth Performing Arts’ production gives the script the sensitive treatment it deserves, resulting in an experience that feels both sorrowful and healing.

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