All posts by Mike Anderson

Mike was that kid who walked into the high school stage crew booth, saw the lighting board, and went ooooooooooooh. Now that he’s (mostly) all grown up, Mike keeps his foot in the door as a community-theatre producer, stage manager and administrator. In the audience, he’s a tremendous sucker for satire and parody, for improvisational and sketch-driven comedy, for farce and pantomime, and for cabaret of all types. His happiest Toronto theatrical memory is (re) Birth: E. E. Cummings in Song.

Mooney on Theatre Recommends – 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival (Part 1)

This past weekend Mooney on Theatre sent its dedicated team of 30 writers and editors to cover every single show in this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival! With the sheer number of options available at the festival, picking the ones you want to see can be a daunting task.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of shows and you’re looking for a place to start, we’ve asked our staff to tell us about their favourite shows they’ve seen at this year’s festival. We hope our staff picks can help you navigate the Fringe.

If you’ve seen something you think is amazing that you think others should go see please let us know by leaving a comment.

And don’t forget to check out our complete list of Fringe reviews, and our Fringe Buzz features, including our new daily summary of Rave Reviews!

Continue reading Mooney on Theatre Recommends – 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival (Part 1)

Daily Picks from our Raves at the 2018 Toronto Fringe (July 7th)

image saying daily raves

We’re almost there, Toronto! We’ve now seen and reviewed 143 out of the ~160 shows at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival — and I’m here to showcase three of our favourites. Tonight, we’ve got a company with an outstanding local pedigree, a touring production that’s been polished until it sparkles, and an ambitious new queer musical about Toronto. Ready for the scoop?

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Tomatoes tried to kill me but banjos saved my life (The Quivering Dendrites Company) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Keith Alessi in "Tomatoes tried to kill me, but banjos saved my life"Tomatoes tried to kill me but banjos saved my life (playing at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival) is a former executive’s musical memoir, fusing his life experiences with his love for banjos.

Your enjoyment of this show will vary in proportion to (1) how much you enjoy roots music, and (2) how charming you find Keith Alessi, the man at the centre of this autobiography.

Continue reading Tomatoes tried to kill me but banjos saved my life (The Quivering Dendrites Company) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Settle This Thing (bick/antzis) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Tamara Bick and Drew Antzis from "Settle This Thing"Settle This Thing (playing at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival) proposes a revolution in relationship therapy. Here’s the model: marriage is a trap, affection is just chemicals, everything’s about sex (until the sex disappears), and arguing just doesn’t work.

But if arguing doesn’t work, we need a new tiebreaker: a way to Settle This Thing. So on your way in the door, you’ll be presented with a voting paddle, and the show repeatedly asks you to pass judgement. Who won the argument? Who’s in the right? And who has to apologise?

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The Truth* (A Muse Zoo) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Cast photo of "The Truth*" by Michael Bryant.

The Truth* (playing at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival) is a clown play about colonialism. A vast new territory opens up, rich in resources and readily-accessible. We meet the rulers of the four nations jockeying for position, and we explore their motivations and histories, and we get to see what happens when these interests collide.

The result is genre-straddling, drawing on tropes from children’s theatre, melodrama, propaganda and patriotic history in order to suggest new perspectives on old stories.

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Al Lafrance: I Think I’m Dead (Thunder Blunder) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Al Lafrance: I Think I’m Dead (playing at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival) feels like it could be a crystallizing show for people with insomnia, depression and suicidal ideation. In this one-man set, delivered with the pace and precision of a military tattoo, he walks us through 15 years of grappling with mental health, and how he uses multiverse theory to understand himself and the world around him.

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Fallsview to a Kill (Low Fidelity Productions) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Jon Blair in "Fallsview to a Kill"

Fallsview to a Kill (part of the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival) is an improvised pastiche of James Bond: six actors play supervillains, mooks, heroes and badgers as S.M.A.S.H Agent Brent (Jon Blair) works to thwart Dr. Thompson’s sinister plan to seize not just Niagara Falls, but the entire greater Golden Horseshoe.

And it works! Concept-oriented Fringe Improv is a field littered with shows that had great concepts and zero follow-through; this company knows their stuff and deliver the goods. It’s polished, it’s beautifully paced, and it all hangs together beautifully.

Continue reading Fallsview to a Kill (Low Fidelity Productions) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Geek! (Socratic Theatre Collective) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Geek! (playing at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival) is a love letter to anime and fandom. Set in the final hours of a convention, our two protagonists encounter obstacle after obstacle on their quest to meet the creator of their favourite series, Dante’s Fire. With fate determined to thwart them, will they succeed, and will their friendship endure?

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Ashley with a “Y” (Botting Productions) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

In Ashley with a “Y (at the Toronto Fringe Festival), Second City vet Ashley Botting invents around 10 songs on the spot, drawing topics from a punchbowl and then improvising with a live pianist (Scott White).

It’s an ambitious exercise, and the thing about Botting is that she’s so damned charming and #Relatable that I would forgive her almost any sin. Luckily, I don’t have to.

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Mooney on Theatre’s Hot Tickets for Toronto Fringe 2018

This year, Mooney on Theatre is bringing a team of more than 25 correspondents to the Toronto Fringe Festival. With a team this big and diverse, no matter what you’ve got to show us, we have someone who wants to see it — and we will! As always, Mooney on Theatre will post a longform review of every show in the festival (~160 shows in all!) by the end of opening weekend.

But for now, a little buzz: our Hot Tickets are the shows which excited, attracted, intrigued and interested our team more than any others. These are the pieces which turned our heads, tickled our brains, and caused stampedes at scheduling time. Presenting, in no particular order, Mooney on Theatre’s Hot Tickets for Toronto Fringe 2018!

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