All posts by Samantha Wu

Samantha is a writer and a fan of the arts and has been able to find numerous ways to pair the two. Aside from being an editor here at Mooney on Theatre, she’s a photojournalist for Lithium Magazine which gets her writing and shooting about everything from Dave Matthews Band to Fan Expo, and a copy editor/writer for Art Katalyst. She’s passionate about music, theatre, photography, writing, and celebrating sexuality — not necessarily in that order. She drinks tea more than coffee, prefer ciders over beers, and sings karaoke way too loudly. You can follow her on various social media including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Review: Onegin (The Musical Stage Company)

The Musical Stage Company presents the new Canadian musical Onegin, on stage in Toronto

I had never heard of the musical Onegin, now on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre produced by The Musical Stage Company, until I saw a flyer for the production stuffed in the program of a show I saw last month. The musical is based on the poem Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin and the opera by Tchaikovsky and is a tale of pride, love, and scorn set in wintry Russia. This musical is fun and lively, the cast is remarkable… but it just didn’t pull on all the right heart strings for me.

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Review: Don Giovanni (Odd Opera)

Odd Opera presents Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Commons Theatre in Toronto

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote the music for the two-act opera Don Giovanni, with Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, that saw its debut in 1787. It is a story that, unfortunately, has not lost any of its relevancy over the centuries past — sexual violence, assault, emotional abuse, gender politics, and apologists for all of the above haven’t faded into history. In fact, these crimes are just as prevalent now, which makes Odd Opera‘s current production even that much more haunting.

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Review: Midsummer (A Play with Songs) (Tarragon Theatre)

A wild night of questionable decisions fuels Midsummer, at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto

Just like Shakespeare’s tale of fairies run amok on the shortest night of the year, Midsummer (A Play with Songs), on stage at the Tarragon Theatre, is a story of two lost and unlikely souls finding each other and allowing whimsy, chaos, and chance propel them through one helluva night.

This ramshackle blur of events is punctuated with song, sprinkled with creatively situated audience participation, and fueled by liquid encouragement. Being in the audience feels like you’re following that one friend around on a wild bender — you’re not quite sure where he’s going to end up but it’s bound to be a chaotic ride.

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Review: Banana Boys (Factory Theatre)

The hit show Banana Boys returns to the Factory Theatre stage in Toronto

Banana Boys is currently making its triumphant return to the Factory Theatre stage. Originally developed by the fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company in 2002, the show is now one of the most culturally relevant modern plays currently in production.

The show itself is a fast paced, witty, and at times raunchy look at what it means to be a “banana” — a cultural term indicating someone who is ‘yellow on the outside and white on the inside’. A displaced Asian with roots in the East but born and raised in the West. From the perspective of five young Chinese-Canadian men, they explore their struggles with career, education, love, friendship, identity, and the ever present pressure from mom and dad.

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Review: Liv Stein (Canadian Stage)

Canadian Stage presents the North American English language debut of Liv Stein in Toronto

Canadian Stage presents the North American English language debut of the German play Liv Stein by Georgian playwright Nino Haratschwili at the Bluma Appel Theatre, located within the St Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

This darkly chaotic story focusing on themes of art, obsession, and fiction is a tumultuous spiral of human emotion that, despite a few hiccups in the production, left me mesmerized and enthralled.

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Review: Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Wolf Manor Theatre Collective)

Two troubled souls meet in a bar in this exciting site-specific play on stage in Toronto

Two seemingly mismatched but deeply troubled souls meet at bar, and events spiral clumsily and rapidly from there in Danny and the Deep Blue Sea. The two-hander site specific show takes place in a local bar. Having just completed their run at the Imperial Pub on Dundas, Wolf Manor Theatre Collective will continue their run at the ROUND Venue beginning January 19-22, 2017.

Right from the start, the show is abrasive and uncomfortable. It is vulgar, raw and gritty, but all of these aspects forces the audience to sit and take notice. As the story progresses in this dark and dingy bar, the characters blossom, their relationship gels, and you can’t help but feel for them. Watching this performance is not easy and there are many themes present that may be triggering and will likely stir up uneasy emotions–at first I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy myself, but I found myself enthralled in the end.

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Review: It’s a Wonderful Life (Soulpepper)

Photo of cast from It's a Wonderful LifeSoulpepper Theatre brings the Christmas classic to the Toronto stage

For the holidays, Soulpepper Theatre returns to the St Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts to present the stage version of the Christmas movie classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. Staged as a 1940s era radio play complete with live sound effects and vintage commercials, George Bailey’s Christmas miracle story is brought to life and your family will love it.

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Review: Secrets of a Black Boy (PLAYING with CRAYONS/Theatre Passe Muraille)

secrets-of-a-black-boyAn honest dramedy about black lives and gentrification on stage at the Passe Muraille in Toronto

Playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille until November 20 is Secrets of a Black Boy, an honest yet endearing, funny look at the lives of young black men living in Regent Park while facing gentrification. This collection of stories explores topics from police brutality and racism, to sexuality and domestic violence, and arrives on the heels of the shocking US presidential election — which drives home the relevance that these stories have in the here and now.

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Review: Concord Floral (Canadian Stage)

Concord Floral explores peer pressure in a microcosm of teen life on stage in Toronto

There are three main reasons why I was originally drawn to Concord Floral, on stage at the Bluma Appel Theatre at the St Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts until October 16th. First, its focus is on teen life in suburban Vaughan, Ontario, which was exactly where I spent my teenage years. Second, it’s written by Jordan Tannahill who is pretty much the IT playwright of the here and now. He picked up a slew of Dora Awards for Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom, a show he presented earlier this year with Canadian Stage that simply blew me away. Third, the transformation of the Bluma Appel Theatre, placing the audience on bleacher style seating directly on the stage looking down on the performers, intrigued me and I had to see it for myself.

Having experienced the play and now understanding what it really is — a teen horror flick on stage, reminding me a lot of the movie Unfriended, just in time for Halloween — I see both the emotional underpinnings of the bullying and peer pressure that comes with the territory of being a teenager, and the darkly twisted joy of Concord Floral itself.

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Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts I, II, III) (Soulpepper)

Photo of Lisa Berry, Dion Johnstone, Walter Borden, Akosua Amo-Adem, Marcel Stewart, Daren A. Herbert, Peter Fernandes, Roy Lewis in Father Comes Home From the Wars by Cylla von TiedemannThis American Civil War drama is modeled after classic Greek Tragedy, on stage in Toronto

There is so much to be said about Father Comes Home From the War Parts I, II, and III that I feel this review may not be enough to do this production justice. Set against the American Civil War, the first three parts to this nine part epic deals with the pursuit of freedom and the complex and ever so relevant hot button topic of racism. Constructed as an American Odyssey with all the elements, including the lyrical style, of a Greek Tragedy, this moving, eye-opening and heartbreaking tale is something you won’t soon forget.

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