All posts by Jeremy Gardiner

Review: Sweeney Todd (Alexander Showcase Theatre)

Alexander Showcase Theatre's Sweeney Todd

The classic Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd takes to the stage at Toronto’s Al Green Theatre

Alexander Showcase Theatre’s production of Sweeney Todd now playing at the Al Green Theatre is a fresh, funny take on Steven Sondheim’s classic musical about a revenge-seeking, murderous barber and his pie-making neighbour. While some of the aspects of this musical are definitely not for the squeamish or the faint of heart, this production emphasizes the musical’s comedic aspects, making it a laugh-out-loud fun night at the theatre.

Continue reading Review: Sweeney Todd (Alexander Showcase Theatre)

Review: My Dinner With Casey Donovan (The Cabaret Company)

My Dinner With Casey Donovan

My Dinner with Casey Donovan is a ‘hilarious gay romp’ on stage at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto

The Cabaret Company’s current production of Sky Gilbert’s My Dinner With Casey Donovan playing at Theatre Passe Muraille is a hilarious gay romp mired in the queer sexual politics of the 1970s. What else would you expect from a play in which a nerdy fan boy invites his favorite pornstar to dinner with his parents?

Continue reading Review: My Dinner With Casey Donovan (The Cabaret Company)

Review: R-E-B-E-C-C-A (Theatre Passe Muraille)

R-E-B-E-C-C-A, on stage at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille, explores living with a developmental disability

R-E-B-E-C-C-A-268Sara Farb gives an absolutely must-see performance in R-E-B-E-C-C-A now playing at Theatre Passe Muraille. The writer-star of the show draws on real-life experiences with her sister to craft an interesting what-if look at what life might have been for the developmentally delayed title character had she been born just two months later.

Using a Fight Club-like double character, Farb tells the story of two Rebeccas: the developmentally delayed Rebecca born in May who longs to go to a summer camp and the profoundly depressed Rebecca born in July who is a camp counselor. The story starts on “May’s” 18th birthday when she gets in trouble after asking for a second piece of cake and ends on “July’s” 18th birthday when she feels like her world is going to end.

Continue reading Review: R-E-B-E-C-C-A (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Review: Spring Awakening (Lower Ossington Theatre)

Spring Awakening (Lower Ossington Theatre)

The Lower Ossington Theatre presents the rock musical Spring Awakening in Toronto

The current Lower Ossington Theatre (LOT) production of Spring Awakening draws heavily from the original Broadway production with varying amounts of success. The production adequately recreates most of the shows iconic moments to the delight of the audience, but its most outstanding moments are those where the production takes risks and freshly re-imagines the show. Anyone who missed the original Broadway production and the National tours but still loves Spring Awakening– like me – will leave the LOT satisfied with their experience with the show.

Continue reading Review: Spring Awakening (Lower Ossington Theatre)

Review: The Stronger Variations (Theatre Rusticle)

Stronger Variations

The Stronger Variations is “dark Christmas magic” playing at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Theatre Rusticle’s current production of The Stronger Variations is pure Christmas magic – if, like me, you like your magic to have a dark side and the potential to drive you mad. Given the range of interpretations of the play’s source text covered over the evening, there should be something to whet every audience member’s whistle.

The experimental play is a series of variations on August Strindberg’s 20 minute play The Stronger, in which two women – a wife and her husband’s mistress – meet in a chance encounter on Christmas Eve. The wife then expresses her complex feelings towards the mistress in a long monologue. In The Stronger Variations, each of the play’s five actresses alternatively plays the wife and the mistress one right after the other, running the gamut of nearly every possible interpretation of the scene. By the end of the play, I was left as mentally exhausted as the heaving, panting characters were physically — and every bit as satisfied.

Continue reading Review: The Stronger Variations (Theatre Rusticle)

Review: What I learned from a decade of fear (Aluna Theatre)

What I learned from a decade of fear Aluna Theatre

Toronto’s Aluna Theatre’s What I learned from a decade of fear is a thought-provoking play about terrorism

Aluna Theatre’s What I learned from a decade of fear is a thoroughly fascinating, complex interrogation of the concept of global terror. I came to the performance prepared to be challenged, stimulated, and frustrated and it delivered in abundance on all three fronts.

Continue reading Review: What I learned from a decade of fear (Aluna Theatre)

Review: The Femme Playlist (b current)

b current The Femme Playlist

The Femme Playlist is an intense autobiographical piece on queer feminism on stage at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times

b current, sulong theatre company, and Eventual Ashes‘s production The Femme Playlist (currently playing at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre space) is a fascinating look into the life of a queer femme woman of colour: Catherine Hernandez. Hernandez invites us into her space for 45 minutes to reveal to us the realities of her life from masturbation to motherhood, body shame to burlesque. By meeting the show on its own terms I feel like I learned a lot and was left heartily entertained and wanting more time with this talented performer.

Continue reading Review: The Femme Playlist (b current)

Review: The Velveteen Rabbit (Canada’s Ballet Jörgen)

Canada's Ballet Jörgen Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit is a Perfect Ballet for Young Audiences

Canada’s Ballet Jörgen’s production of The Velveteen Rabbit is as enjoyable an afternoon at the theatre as an educational introduction to ballet aimed at children needs to be. It is full of enough wonder and spectacle to keep the attention of a house full of small children entertained and is impressive and nostalgia-inducing enough to appeal to parents too.

I’ll have to admit that as a post-grad university student with no children I don’t think I’m really a part of the audience the Canada’s Ballet Jörgen is targeting with this production, but my companion and I both really enjoyed spending an hour watching this show this afternoon.

Kathleen Rea, the choreographer, has distilled the well-known story into a short series of dances weaved together with some brief narration in a way that blends forms of storytelling that might be more familiar to children with ballet storytelling in a way that I think was really successful. Continue reading Review: The Velveteen Rabbit (Canada’s Ballet Jörgen)

Review: American Buffalo (Unit 102 Actor’s Company)

Intimate, hyper-realism transform Unit 102’s American Buffalo into a unique theatrical experience in Toronto

American Buffalo is Unit 102 Actor’s Company’s final production before they become The Theatre Machine and it’s a relief that this valiant effort isn’t the last we’ll see from the members of this company or in this space. Their production of American Buffalo will always remind us of their great ability to stage fascinating, complex theatre in an intimate setting.

Continue reading Review: American Buffalo (Unit 102 Actor’s Company)

Review: Romeo and (Her) Juliet (Headstrong Collective)

Gender bending adds LGBTQ appeal to Romeo and (Her) Juliet on stage at Toronto’s Bloor Street Church

The Headstrong Collective’s Romeo and (Her) Juliet thrives under the direction of Urban Bard Productions‘ master director Scott Emerson Moyle. He leads the cast to thrilling performances that alternate between side-splittingly hilarious and deeply emotionally resonant.

Continue reading Review: Romeo and (Her) Juliet (Headstrong Collective)