All posts by Michelle Barker

Review: Catalpa (Blood in the Alley Productions)

Catalpa comes to Toronto theatre with one man and a lot of talent

To say that one-man shows make me nervous would be an extreme understatement. In fact, I sat down with my show partner, Shirdil, in the backspace of Theatre Passe Muraille and audibly groaned when I opened my programme for Catalpa and saw only one actor listed. I’m pleased to report, however, that this is one of two circumstances when my fears of one-man shows were completely unfounded. Continue reading Review: Catalpa (Blood in the Alley Productions)

Review: The Crucible (Soulpepper)

The Salem Witch Trials come to Toronto theatre with Soulpepper’s “emotionally profound” production of The Crucible.

It dawned on me as I sat in the Baillie Theatre waiting for The Crucible to begin that I find it super funny that audience members get so much delight when they enter the space, house lights on, to find an actor already onstage – sleeping, comatose, what have you. “That’s a real person! She’s breathing!” I heard a woman exclaim in delight. “And I expect there will be more where she came from.” I muttered under my breath. She politely ignored me. Bless. Continue reading Review: The Crucible (Soulpepper)

Review: Rent (Lower Ossington Theatre)

A fresh take on the classic Rent plays at Toronto’s Lower Ossington Theatre

I know what you’re thinking: another review of another production of Rent. Well, read on, my cynical friends. Read on.

For those of you that are just joining the world of musical theatre, Rent tells the story of a group of 20-somethings struggling to make it in New York while trying to overcome financial woes and the AIDS epidemic. As you might have guessed from the description, Rent is part feel-good romp, part emotional social commentary, all woven together with catchy rock-operatic numbers. Continue reading Review: Rent (Lower Ossington Theatre)

Review: The Last Five Years (Clearwater Theatre Company)

You know what they say: “There’s two sides to every story”. The Last Five Years, presented by Clearwater Theatre Company in Tarragon’s Extra Space, is an exploration of this very notion.

The Last Five Years is a musical inspired by Jason Robert Brown’s failed marriage. It’s a two-hander where Cathy’s story is told in reverse-chronological order and Jamie’s is told chronologically. It explores the complexities and heartbreaks involved in the declination of a relationship. Continue reading Review: The Last Five Years (Clearwater Theatre Company)

Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Lower Ossington Theatre)

Remember when Donny Osmond did the film version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat? I remember when his performance made my 11-year-old heart flutter when I watched the VHS every day for two months. Embarrassing. Regardless, Joseph (sans Donny) is currently playing at the Lower Ossington Theatre.

Joseph is a story from Genesis, the first book of the Bible. It tells the tale of Joseph, one of Jacob’s 12 sons. Joseph was his father’s favourite son and, as such, was hated by all of his brothers who opted to sell him to be a slave. Through a bizarre series of events, Joseph becomes to right-hand man to the Egyptian Pharaoh. Continue reading Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Lower Ossington Theatre)

Review: Rocky Horror Show (Lower Ossington Theatre)

I’m going to start by saying this: do not expect to see toast thrown. There is a strict no-toast-throwing rule. I know. I was disappointed as well.

Rocky Horror Show is currently playing at the Lower Ossington Theatre. And while you’ve probably seen different versions of this show a million times, this company has managed to breathe new life, new energy, and a new look into the Transylvanian classic. Continue reading Review: Rocky Horror Show (Lower Ossington Theatre)

Review: The Queens (Glasswater Theatre)

It seems to be my lot in life – at least my Mooney on Theatre life – to review all things pertaining to Richard III. And they are many, very many, as of late. So many in fact, that I probably don’t need to reiterate the plot of Shakespeare’s history play.

I went into Glasswater Theatre’s opening night of The Queens at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse thinking that I was going to see an in-depth look at the women of Shakespeare’s Richard III. This may have been a mistake on my part. Continue reading Review: The Queens (Glasswater Theatre)

Review: Crookback: An Adaptation of Richard III (Beacon Theatre Company)

by Michelle Barker

I need to start by saying that Tim Welham, creator and performer of Crookback: An Adaptation of Richard III, is a genius. Good. That’s out of my system. More on this later.

Crookback is a look at the well-known story of murderous King Richard of Gloucester. Richard, notorious for murdering all those who were blocking his path to the throne of England, is one of Shakespeare’s most vilified characters. In Welham’s adaptation, we see the action of the play through Richard’s point of view. And there is no point of view that’s scarier or more disturbing. Continue reading Review: Crookback: An Adaptation of Richard III (Beacon Theatre Company)