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.

Cellar Hotel (Chicken Coop Theatre) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review


Cellar Hotel is a very ambitious production; perhaps a little too ambitious in scope and scale for Fringe. Billed as a rock-musical adaptation of the Faust legend, the production boasts a cast of 24 performers; one of the largest I’ve ever seen for a Fringe production.

The Cellar Hotel is staffed by a saintly hotel manager (later revealed to be God, herself) and the overly courteous, tip-refusing Seven Saintly Virtues. On the ground floor of the Cellar Hotel sits Auerbach’s Lounge staffed by a guileful bar tender (who turns out to be Mephistopheles) and the Seven Deadly Sins. Continue reading Cellar Hotel (Chicken Coop Theatre) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

Suicide(s) in Vegas (MW Productions) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

Suicide(s) in Vegas is the story of two women; the successful, larger-than-life, Suze Orman-like author and self-help guru Lydia (Elinza Pretorius) and the ho-hum, average-Jane toll booth collector Jane (Amber Green).

Jane is struggling with the loneliness and isolation of being “invisible” while Lydia’s world is about to fall-apart as she is revealed to be a fraud in a plot line that mirrors the scandal of author James Frey whose memoir was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club then later revealed to be almost completely fabricated.

Continue reading Suicide(s) in Vegas (MW Productions) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

32nd Annual Dora Mavor Moore Award Winners

The 2011 Dora Mavor Moore Awards were held last night at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. The Doras are held annually by TAPA to honour excellence in Toronto’s performing arts industry.

I once had a conversation with a theatre producer who had produced shows in New York, L.A. and Chicago as well as Toronto in which he observed, “Toronto is unique in that it’s a city that’s large enough to have a theatre industry but still small enough to have a real theatre community.”

The Doras also provide an opportunity for that theatre community to come together to celebrate the achievements of the Toronto performing arts industry as a whole. In a time when government cutbacks are threatening to stifle the growth of Toronto’s thriving theatre scene, coming together to boldly celebrate their achievements and their collective passion for creating art is almost an act of defiance. Continue reading 32nd Annual Dora Mavor Moore Award Winners

Announcement: SummerWorks needs your help

SummerWorks, Toronto’s Indie Theatre and Arts Festival, posted the following message on their blog today.

Heritage Canada has chosen not renew its partnership with SummerWorks for this year’s festival leading to a loss of 20% of the festival’s budget.

Mooney on Theatre strongly believes that SummerWorks provides an invaluable contribution to the development of the theatre and arts scenes in Toronto and nationally.

Please consider lending your support so SummerWorks can continue to do its important work in developing emerging theatre and arts in Canada.

Please click here to donate.

Continue reading Announcement: SummerWorks needs your help

Luminato 2011 Review: One Thousand and One Nights (Dash Arts and Luminato)

Toronto’s Luminato Festival presents the world-premiere of a two-part epic staging of One Thousand and One Nights by director Tim Supple at The Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre (Canadian Opera Company) through June 19.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the Dash Arts production of One Thousand and One Nights commissioned by Luminato ever since it was announced last year. I was absolutely floored by director Tim Supple’s previous production at Luminato in 2008; the stunning, avant-garde re-imagining of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring an Indian/Sri Lankan cast performing in English, Hindi, Bengali, Sinhalese, Sanskrit and a host of other Indian dialects.

Supple’s production of Dream was so dynamic, vibrant, gorgeous, sexy and utterly breathtaking that I couldn’t wait to see what he’d come up with for his re-imagining of another classic story.

Continue reading Luminato 2011 Review: One Thousand and One Nights (Dash Arts and Luminato)

Review: Billy Bishop Goes to War (Soulpepper)

Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company presents Eric Peterson and John Gray in a revival of their landmark Canadian play, Billy Bishop Goes to War at The Young Centre for the Performing Arts through August 4, 2011.

Billy Bishop Goes to War is an iconic Canadian play. First written and performed by Eric Peterson and John Gray in 1978, the show has toured extensively across Canada, performed at the Edinburgh Festival and has enjoyed runs in London’s West End and on Broadway. In fact, it’s one of only four Canadian shows to have played on a Broadway stage and remains one of the most-produced Canadian plays of all time.

Throughout the years Eric Peterson and John Gray have repeatedly re-visited Billy Bishop Goes to War and have updated the play along the way. The two performers are now sixty-two years old; the same age Bishop was when he died. This current version of the play features an aging Billy Bishop at home in his pajamas reminiscing about his past glories from afar. Continue reading Review: Billy Bishop Goes to War (Soulpepper)

Review: Zadie’s Shoes (Factory Theatre)

By Wayne Leung

Toronto’s Factory Theatre presents a revival of the 2001 hit Zadie’s Shoes by Adam Pettle. Starring an all-new cast, this production is co-directed by Adam Pettle and his brother Jordan Pettle.

In the decade since Factory Theatre first produced Adam Pettle’s play about compulsive behavior, Zadie’s Shoes, it has become one of the most prolific contemporary Canadian plays.

Following the original Factory Theatre run the Mirvishs picked up Zadie’s Shoes for a commercial run at the Winter Garden Theatre and, in the years since, theatre companies across Canada and around the world have produced Pettle’s compelling script.

Continue reading Review: Zadie’s Shoes (Factory Theatre)

Review: Agokwe (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and The National Arts Centre)

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in association with The National Arts Centre presents the return Toronto engagement of Waawaate Fobister’s poetic, inspiring and timely play, Agokwe.

In the past year the issues around bullying and gay teen suicide have come to a head in the mainstream media and great strides have been made in raising the profile of the issues of the GLBT community.

However, what’s still often missing from the conversation between the mainstream gay culture and the media are the voices of queer people of colour. The issues and experiences of the “gay community” are, more often than not, presented as a unified monolith and since the mainstream gay culture is predominantly a White culture, it rarely acknowledges the greater diversity within the community. Continue reading Review: Agokwe (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and The National Arts Centre)

Review: Brown Balls (fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company)

By Wayne Leung

Toronto’s fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company presents Brown Balls, Byron Abalos’ irreverent play examining Asian male stereotypes, from May 3 to May 15, at the Factory Studio Theatre.

Brown Balls is an edgy, satirical play that tackles Asian male stereotypes. Being an Asian-American male myself (technically, I’m Canadian but I’m going to use “American” in the broader sense to mean North American), I’m something of an expert on Asian male stereotypes in Western culture.

I’m all too aware of the general (mis-) perceptions of Asian males among Westerners: that we are short, scrawny, effete, bookish, timid, subordinate, asexual, small-dicked, mamma’s boys. For the record, I’m none of the above.

Brown Balls is a long-overdue cri de coeur for the Asian-American male. It explodes the numerous stereotypes and misperceptions and exposes them for what they are: ignorance.

Continue reading Review: Brown Balls (fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company)