All posts by Vance Brews

Review: Click Bait & Switch (The Second City Toronto)

SC - CLICK BAIT & SWITCH - Photo 005Second City Toronto debuts its Fall mainstage sketch comedy revue Click Bait & Switch

It’s that time of year again; as the leaves start feeling the icy grip of fall approaching and start changing colour in some desperate attempt to give their short lives meaning, Second City has opened up their Fall Revue, Click Bait & Switch, for sketch comedy and improv fans alike to enjoy in the Second City mainstage theatre.

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Review: Stories from the Generation Gap (Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies University of Toronto)

University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies presents Stories from the Generation Gap 


Promotional image for Stories from the Generation GapIt’s always a bit of a challenge when first getting involved in a community of any kind, from a subculture to just your local neighbourhood. The LGBT community is no different with its wide array of networks and organizations and incredibly diverse population in Toronto alone. In Cameron Crookston’s Tales from the Generation Gap these challenges are placed under the spotlight, highlighting not only the varied experiences of a variety of individuals within the community but also showcasing a glimpse of not only Toronto’s LGBT history but North America as a whole through a verbatim script adapted from years of interviews.

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Feature: Second City Training Centre Expansion

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The Second City Training Centre in Toronto expands their facilities for more classes and students

Since its doors opened in 1973, The Second City has been a mainstay of the comedy and performance landscape of Toronto. It’s hard to take transit at all in the city without seeing at least one poster for the organization’s Mainstage shows and it seems at times that every other comedian or improviser in the city has taken at least one class from the organization. That’s not just a sweeping statement mind you, it’s also playing the odds.

The current Second City Training Centre has over 1100 people coming in at least once a week for classes, a number that has doubled over the past five years. It’s been an impressive growth for the company and now they’re looking to grow even more, with an expansion of not only their class options but also a physical expansion of their training facility.

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Review: The Art of Being Alone (Moose + Moa Theatre Company)

This one-man show is a “fine debut” for Moose + Moa, a new Toronto-based theatre company.

We all have to deal with loneliness at some point in our lives. For some it’s merely a road bump that we work through and move on from, but we’ve all known that crushing bout of isolation that leaves us curled up in bed listening to the same song over and over again in a twisted spiral of depression and romanticism.

In The Art of Being Alone, Moose + Moa Theatre Company explores this experience in a solid 50 minutes that’s equal parts poignant and hilarious.

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Preview: 10 Years of Sketchfest

sketchcomedy09Over the past 10 years the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival has been a staple of the Toronto comedy calendar, showcasing up and coming acts and veterans troupes alike for ever increasing audiences. Since its humble beginnings as the brainchild of Julianne Baragar and Paul Snepsts with 15 troupes at the Gladstone Hotel, the festival has grown by leaps and bounds, to the point where last year the Kids in the Hall performed a live stage reading of their cult film Brain Candy to a massive audience. With this year being their 10th Anniversary, Sketchfest has set up a killer lineup of headliners and possibly even more exciting for sketch comedy aficionados, the Sketchrospective series showcasing festival favourites from the past ten years, some of whom are reforming for the festival.

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Review: Pajama Men: Pterodactyl Nights (Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival 2015)

marquee-pajama-men1-637x329Kicking off the Headliner Series of this year’s Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival is the Pajama Men at the Theatre Centre. Bringing their pioneering style of scripted comedy blended seamlessly with improvised links and an anarchic energy, there’s been a lot of buzz for this Albuquerque based duo, especially from Festival Producer and Executive Director Paul Snepsts who made the effort to introduce the show to a packed theatre.

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Review: Melancholy Play (The Empty Room)

The Empty Room explores melancholy through a quirky play at Toronto’s Collective Space

There’s something strangely comforting about the state of melancholy. It’s like a warm blanket that you know you really should just shrug off and get on with your day. But, no matter how much you rationally argue it, you continue to stay curled up in a big ball of slightly sad contemplation of the world around you. The Empty Room’s Melancholy Play makes a strong effort to explore the experience of this strange emotion from its manic highs to its crushing lows, all in a uniquely designed and performed package.

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Feature: Festival of New Formats (Comedy Bar)

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Experimental improv, sketch comedy and stand-up at Toronto’s Comedy Bar’s Festival of New Formats

Over the first week of January the Comedy Bar presented their annual Festival of New Formats; a 5-day event of free theatre where sketch troupes, improv teams and stand-up comics pitched their ideas for new shows to be showcased at what could be argued is one of Toronto’s foremost locations for improvisational and sketch comedy. Sadly, I was only able to see the final night of the festival, but if what I saw was anything to go by the Comedy Bar is sure to have some exciting new shows in the near future.

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Review: Potted Potter (Starvox Entertainment)

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Seven Harry Potter books in 70 hilarious minutes, Potted Potter is on stage at Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre

How do you encapsulate 7 books and over 3000 pages of Harry Potter into a mere 70 minutes, as Starvox Entertainment and Potted Production’s Potted Potter claims to do?

Well, honestly, it doesn’t. Not exactly, at least. If you’re looking for an in depth analysis of J.K. Rowling’s famous series about the Boy Who Lived, Potted Potter isn’t going to give it to you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an evening of sheer family friendly fun with Harry Potter trappings, you’re in for a real treat. Originally from the Edinburgh Fringe festival in Scotland, written and performed by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the production has come to Toronto with a new cast and all of the energy that earned it an Olivier award in 2012.

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Review: A Ticket on the 4 (Peacock Productions)

A Ticket on the 4 is a series of vignettes inspired by Charles Bukowski playing at Toronto’s Aluna Theatre

The big selling point of Peacock Productions’ A Ticket on the 4 is its inspiration, namely that of Charles Bukowski. Drenched in alcoholism and that gritty desperation that was so representative of his writing, A Ticket on the 4 is enticing for theatre fans and American literature buffs alike, and director Jennifer Lindsay deserves a great deal of credit for facing the sometimes difficult subject matter head on, even if the play occasionally loses its footing in execution.

A Ticket on the 4 is a bare bones production, using the intimacy of the Aluna Theatre with efficiency — utilizing just a few chairs, a bar and a few extraneous props to establish the world of the racetrack that the most of the narrative takes place in.

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