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.

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)

Review: The cosmonaut’s last message to the woman he once loved in the former Soviet Union (Canadian Stage)

Canadian Stage presents the Canadian premiere of Scottish playwright David Greig’s The cosmonaut’s last message to the woman he once loved in the former Soviet Union from April 16 to May 14, 2011 at the Bluma Appel Theatre

 

The Canadian Stage premiere of The cosmonaut’s last message to the woman he once loved in the former Soviet Union seemed appropriately timed to coincide with the recent 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight, made by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961.

Continue reading Review: The cosmonaut’s last message to the woman he once loved in the former Soviet Union (Canadian Stage)

Review: Ghost Stories (Mirvish)


Lyric Hammersmith, Phil Mcintyre Entertainments and David Mirvish present the North American premiere of Ghost Stories by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman at Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre. Now booking through May 8, 2011.

For the past few weeks I’ve watched with “morbid” curiosity as, seemingly from way out of left field, Mirvish announced that it would present a North American premiere production of Ghost Stories, a quirky show from the UK, and then rolled it out complete with a horror movie-style ad campaign.

Continue reading Review: Ghost Stories (Mirvish)

Review: Songs for a New World (Angelwalk Theatre)

By Wayne Leung


Angelwalk Theatre presents Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World at the Toronto Centre for the Arts Studio Theatre through April 23, 2011.

Angelwalk is a relatively new player on the Toronto theatre scene. Focusing on intimate musical theatre productions, this small company already punches well above its weight.

To finish off its second season, Angelwalk chose to present Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown. Brown is also the composer and lyricist for Parade which had its Toronto premiere earlier this year.

Songs for a New World is a musical performance but it isn’t a musical per se. Nor is it a revue of songs culled from other works. The show is a “song cycle”; a collection of stand-alone, original songs loosely related to a central theme.

Continue reading Review: Songs for a New World (Angelwalk Theatre)

Review: paper SERIES (Cahoots Theatre Company)

By Wayne Leung

Toronto’s Cahoots Theatre Company presents the world première of paper SERIES by Governor General’s Literary Award nominee David Yee at the Tank House Theatre, Young Centre for the Performing Arts through April 9, 2011.

paper SERIES by David Yee, is a cycle of six short plays which are unrelated except for the fact that they share a central theme. The plays are packaged together in an intermission-less 90-minute production; it’s the theatrical equivalent of an anthology of short stories.

Continue reading Review: paper SERIES (Cahoots Theatre Company)

Review: Yellow Face (Hart House Theatre and fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company)

By Wayne Leung

Toronto’s Hart House Theatre in partnership with fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company presents Tony Award-winner David Henry Hwang’s semi-autobiographical play Yellow Face at the Hart House Theatre through March 12, 2011.

Playwright David Henry Hwang, winner of the 1988 Tony Award for Best Play for M. Butterfly, is no stranger to race and identity politics.

As is the case with many people of colour who succeed in a field where visible minorities are few and far between, Hwang has become a prominent, if sometimes unwitting, champion for equal opportunity as chronicled in his semi-autobiographical satire Yellow Face.

The play opens with the character of David Henry Hwang organizing a protest in response to the casting of Caucasian actor, Jonathan Pryce, in a lead Asian role in the musical Miss Saigon. Later in the play, Hwang himself mistakenly casts a Caucasian actor as the lead Asian character in his own play and tries to cover up his blunder by passing the actor off as “Eurasian.” Hilarity ensues.

Continue reading Review: Yellow Face (Hart House Theatre and fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company)