All posts by Keira Grant

Review: Hadrian (Canadian Opera Company)

Thomas Hampson and Isaiah Bell in Hadrian at Canadian Opera Company

Hadrian, on Stage at the COC in Toronto is one for the history books

The world premiere of Hadrian by Rufus Wainwright, currently being produced by the Canadian Opera Company, has nothing to do with a guy building a big wall. Since I really didn’t know anything else about Hadrian going into this performance, I had very few expectations plot-wise.

Being familiar with Wainwright’s singer-songwriter style, I had more expectations about the music. Still, I wasn’t sure how this would translate to the operatic form. It transpired that I was entranced by both the compelling story and the towering score. Continue reading Review: Hadrian (Canadian Opera Company)

Kitchen Sink Drama (Kitchen Sink Productions) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Mladen Obradović and Kelly Marie McKenna in Kitchen Sink DramaKitchen Sink Drama, by Kitchen Sink Productions is playing at Ralph Thornton Centre until July 14 as part of the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival.

The performance is comprised of four short plays, each inspired by one of four tastes: Salty, bitter, savoury and sweet. Food and cooking are involved in each play in some way, and the dramas unfold in a kitchen at Ralph Thornton Centre.

Continue reading Kitchen Sink Drama (Kitchen Sink Productions) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Review: Oklahoma! (Civic Light Opera Company)

Civic Light Opera Company brings the classic musical Oklahoma! to the Toronto stage

Oklahoma! is an excellent choice for the Civic Light Opera Company. The North York-based company specializes in frothy musical comedies, and there are few shows frothier than Oklahoma! The 1943 Rogers and Hammerstein classic is a sweet coming of age story about Curly, a happy-go-lucky young rancher and Laurey, a beautiful farmer’s daughter. Continue reading Review: Oklahoma! (Civic Light Opera Company)

Review: Orphee (Against the Grain Theatre)

Cabaret and burlesque meet opera in Against the Grain’s take on Orphee, on stage in Toronto

I did not know what to expect from “an electronic, baroque-burlesque, descent into hell” when I took my seat at Against the Grain Theatre’s production of Orphée. I knew what to expect from the work, having seen Opera Atelier’s interpretation of the same work in 2015, but I couldn’t really imagine how an electronic, burlesque aesthetic would fit in. Continue reading Review: Orphee (Against the Grain Theatre)

Review: The Return of Ulysses (Opera Atelier)

First performed in 1639, The Return of Ulysses by Claudio Monteverdi is currently being produced by Opera Atelier. It is one of the earliest operas you are likely to see performed on a 21st century stage. The timelessness of this universally-known story likely has something to do with the work’s ongoing popularity. It’s based on the second half of Homer’s Odyssey, wherein Ulysses (Odysseus), the King of Ithaca, returns home to his faithful wife Penelope. In order to reclaim his kingdom and his wife, he must fight off three evil suitors with a little help and hindrance from the gods. The Opera Atelier production is beautifully rendered and, as usual, a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Continue reading Review: The Return of Ulysses (Opera Atelier)

Review: The Nightingale and Other Fables (Canadian Opera Company)

Opera blends with puppetry in a breathtaking performance captivating Toronto audiences

The Nightingale and Other Fables (Canadian Opera Company) is a hauntingly beautiful production that innovatively weaves several short works by Igor Stravinsky into an integrated dramatic presentation. It is comprised of song cycles, short stories and instrumental pieces that are dramatized through puppetry, culminating in Stravinsky’s charming opera The Nightingale. Crafted by celebrated Canadian stage director Robert Lepage, The Nightingale and Other Short Fables is rapidly becoming part of the 21st Century operatic canon internationally. Continue reading Review: The Nightingale and Other Fables (Canadian Opera Company)

Review: Addicted (ADEDO Collective with The Watah Theatre)

Raven Dauda performs her new one-woman show Addicted in Toronto

Addicted, a new one-woman show produced by ADEDO Collective with The Watah Theatre is a confessional and spiritual exploration of intergenerational substance abuse stemming from colonial trauma that straddles the line between realism and surrealism. The use of mime, physical comedy, wry humour, storytelling and puppetry created a united whole that cuts a little too close to the bone emotionally. Continue reading Review: Addicted (ADEDO Collective with The Watah Theatre)

Review: The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring (Tapestry Opera/Vancouver Opera/Canadian Stage)

Tapestry Opera with Canadian Stage brings The Overcoat to Toronto in movement and opera

Tapestry Opera and Canadian Stage ’s world premiere co-production of The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring by playwright Morris Panych and composer James Rolfe is an atmospheric and clever interpretation of the original 1842 short story The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol. On the surface, the premise of the story is simple. A bean-counter caught in the nine-to-five hamster wheel needs a new coat and finally gets a beautiful one tailored, with unforeseen results. Adapting this story as an opera is ingenious because music is used to engagingly illustrate the deeper subtext of the tale. Continue reading Review: The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring (Tapestry Opera/Vancouver Opera/Canadian Stage)

Review: Les Misérables (Theatre Smith-Gilmour)

Theatre Smith-Gilmour presents a stripped down black box take on the Victor Hugo classic in Toronto

The story of Les Misérables is well known to most as the 1980 musical by Claude-Michele Schöenberg, be it on stage or the movie starring Hugh Jackman. This theatrical adaptation by Dean Gilmour and Michele Smith, co-artistic directors of Theatre Smith-Gilmour, dives into the pathos of the story without relying on any of the big scores and big sets audiences have grown accustomed to. For me, this stripped down retelling of the well-known tale underscores some of the most timeless elements of the story. We do not need as much stuff as we think we need, and adhering to the status quo is not always the right choice. Continue reading Review: Les Misérables (Theatre Smith-Gilmour)