All posts by Wayne Leung

Wayne is a writer, editor and corporate communications professional who is thrilled to be a part of the Mooney on Theatre team. Wayne has loved theatre ever since his aunt brought him to a production of Les Misérables at the tender age of ten . . . despite the fact that, at that age, the show’s plot was practically indiscernible and the battle scenes scared the bejeezus out of him. Wayne’s current list of likes runs the gamut from opera, ballet and Shakespeare to Broadway musicals, circus and Fringe theatre. Outside of the theatre Wayne’s interests include travel, technology and food.

Review: Prince Hamlet (Why Not Theatre/Soulpepper)

A Toronto adaptation of Hamlet features American Sign Language and a female lead

For its tenth anniversary, Why Not Theatre and director Ravi Jain re-visit their first-ever production: Prince Hamlet, Jain’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. For this new production the director set about—as described in the press materials—to “illuminate the contemporary relevance of the 400-year-old play and ask the question ‘who gets to tell this story?’”

It’s an ambitious challenge and while the result is by-and-large a solid production of Hamlet, I don’t think it quite hit the mark it set for itself. Continue reading Review: Prince Hamlet (Why Not Theatre/Soulpepper)

Review: BUTCHER (Mirvish/Why Not Theatre)

Mirvish presents Nicolas Billon’s theatrical thriller play BUTCHER in Toronto

It’s now hours after I’ve left the theatre and I think I’ve finally caught my breath after seeing BUTCHER, a stunning thriller of a play by Canadian playwright Nicolas Billon, presented by Mirvish as part of their Off-Mirvish series. As I collect my thoughts and sit down to write about the show, I get a text from the co-worker I brought with me tonight: “I’m still thinking about the play … it delivers such a striking note that lingers.” Continue reading Review: BUTCHER (Mirvish/Why Not Theatre)

Review: Sousatzka (Teatro Proscenium/Garth Drabinsky)

Photo of Jordan Barrow and Victoria Clarke in SousatzkaGarth Drabinsky brings Sousatzka – A New Musical to the Toronto stage

Sousatzka – A New Musical marks the return of embattled theatre impresario Garth Drabinsky. The producer has mustered a team of experienced writers and production designers, each with Broadway credits galore on their resumes, as well as a talented cast led by Tony Award-winning actors.

Sousatzka is making its world debut and playing a limited run in Toronto with hopes for a future run on Broadway. However, judging by what I saw of the show on opening night, I don’t think the show is ready for the Great White Way. Continue reading Review: Sousatzka (Teatro Proscenium/Garth Drabinsky)

Review: Cirque Éloize – Cirkopolis (Sony Centre for the Performing Arts/Canadian Stage)

Cirque Éloize brings a unique blend of circus and dance to the Toronto stage with Cirkopolis

Cirque Éloize is the other theatrical circus troupe from Quebec. A younger cousin to the juggernaut Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Éloize is known for creating more intimate shows staged in proscenium theatres. What Éloize may lack in scale and technical complexity they more than make up for in artistry. Evident in their show Cirkopolis, now being presented in Toronto by the Sony Centre and Canadian Stage, they bring a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that surpasses that of their bigger, more famous peer. Continue reading Review: Cirque Éloize – Cirkopolis (Sony Centre for the Performing Arts/Canadian Stage)

Review: The Audience (Mirvish)

Mirvish presents a play about Queen Elizabeth II by the creator of Netflix’s The Crown, in Toronto

Writer Peter Morgan has built a career writing biographical scripts about Queen Elizabeth II, including the 2006 film The Queen and the current Netflix series The Crown. Morgan wrote his play The Audience between these two projects.

The title is a reference to the weekly private meeting or “audience” given by the Queen to the sitting British Prime Minister. The Audience  details the Queen’s weekly audience with the PM from her ascension to the throne in 1952 through to 2016. Continue reading Review: The Audience (Mirvish)

2017 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Two Truths and a Lie (Pressgang Theatre)

truths-1Each night of the Next Stage Theatre Festival , three Toronto theatre artists, Graham Isador, Helder Brum and Rhiannon Archer, will take over the Factory Theatre’s Antechamber and each will impart an outlandish tale. Two of them will be telling true stories from their lives and one will be telling a story that’s made up. The fun for the audience is in guessing which one is fiction. Hence, their new half-hour show Two Truths and a Lie.

Continue reading 2017 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Two Truths and a Lie (Pressgang Theatre)

2017 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Blood Ties (Edge of the Sky)


Anika Johnson and Barbara Johnston, members of the writing team behind some of the most-acclaimed musicals to come out of the Toronto Fringe in recent years (including Summerland and The Fence) bring the latest incarnation of Blood Ties, a darkly comedic musical the duo has been honing for several years, to the Next Stage Theatre Festival.

Keen-eyed observers may recall that the musical was featured as part of the storyline on season 2 of “Orphan Black,” the Toronto-based BBC America/Space cult hit science fiction thriller starring Tatiana Maslany. A musical about a bunch of friends tasked with cleaning up the bloody mess in a bathroom following a relative’s suicide on the eve of their friend’s wedding, Blood Ties is the kind of quirky dark comedy that has the potential to also achieve cult hit status some day but at this point I still think it needs some more work. Continue reading 2017 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Blood Ties (Edge of the Sky)

Review: TomorrowLove™ (Outside the March)

tl-promo-22Toronto’s Outside the March takes on love, sex, technology & the future in a new immersive show

Think back ten or fifteen years ago and remember what dating was like. Who could’ve predicted that today, we’d be able to use apps to swipe and match with dozens of people (whom we subsequently never message), or use geolocation to find someone to hook up with in a set radius, or snap and send nude photos of ourselves that disappear after they’re viewed.

Disruptive technologies have profoundly changed the sociological nature of relationships. Projecting forward, what might the nature of dating, love and relationships look like in the future? That’s the question that playwright Rosamund Small explores in her new play TomorrowLove™, currently being staged in an immersive, site-specific production in Toronto by Outside the March. Continue reading Review: TomorrowLove™ (Outside the March)

Review: Come From Away (Mirvish)

dl_come_from_away_dc_s_0219_edit_v002Mirvish presents Broadway-bound original Canadian musical Come From Away in Toronto

Like many people, I’ve been in a miserable funk since the US election. Since that day, the world has become a much darker place and the future looks so bleak. Come From Away, an original Canadian musical playing in Toronto before heading to Broadway, was the balm I needed to soothe the ache in my soul. It’s an unabashedly uplifting story about the triumph of the human spirit in another dark moment in history. By the end of the show I was so moved that I wanted to leap up on my feet and cheer for the goodness of humanity.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the FAA grounded all aircraft across the US and closed American airspace causing hundreds of flights to be diverted. That day, 38 planes carrying 6,579 passengers and crew members were forced to land in the tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland, nearly doubling its population at the time. Come From Away is about the events of that fateful day and how the community of Gander came together to care for these strangers in their hour of need. Continue reading Review: Come From Away (Mirvish)