Toronto Theatre Reviews

Review: Evita (Scarborough Music Theatre)

Scarborough Music Theatre’s passionate production of Evita will wow audiences

I was a fresh-faced adolescent with a burgeoning interest in musical theatre when I first encountered this rock opera. Inspired by the content, I went on to participate in a scholastic speech-writing competition with my piece on the rise and death of Eva Perón. Since then, I’ve acquired several cast recordings and my obsession has blossomed, but alas—I’ve only seen one prior staging. So it was with great excitement that I attended Scarborough Music Theatre’s handsome production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical Evita. Continue reading Review: Evita (Scarborough Music Theatre)

Review: Marine Life (Tarragon)

Environmentally conscious theatre lights up the Tarragon stage in Toronto

Marine Life is an original romantic dramedy written and directed by Rosa Labordé, about a dysfunctional activist who falls for a selfish lawyer and persuades him to change his ways. It’s a cute, funny play with a great message to take home, encouraging the audience to be empathetic and caring activists. Marine Life is playing at Tarragon Theatre and I highly recommend giving it a watch.

Continue reading Review: Marine Life (Tarragon)

Review: Poison (Coal Mine Theatre)

Fiona Highet and Ted Dykstra in PoisonPoison explores the human relationship with loss, playing at the Coal Mine Theatre in Toronto

The Canadian premiere of the award-winning Poison by Dutch playwright Lot Vekemans, Coal Mine Theatre’s first commissioned translation, features a gaping hole at its core by design. Despite (or perhaps because of) this, it’s one of the most fulfilling plays I’ve seen this year. Continue reading Review: Poison (Coal Mine Theatre)

Review: DISGRACED (Hope & Hell Theatre Co./Mirvish Productions)

DisgracedHard-hitting Akhtar play returns to the Toronto stage

The thought-provoking, bear-poking, conversational fire-stoking play DISGRACED (Hope and Hell Theatre Co., presented by Mirvish Productions) returns to the Panasonic Theatre. Previously produced in Mirvish’s 2016-17 season, this sprawling stage is stacked with 80% of the original cast, and 100% of the hard-hitting political theatre we all need right now.

Continue reading Review: DISGRACED (Hope & Hell Theatre Co./Mirvish Productions)

Manwatching (Royal Court Theatre/Tarragon Theatre)

Manwatching explores cis men delving into sexuality from a woman’s perspective, on stage in Toronto

The concept of Manwatching, on now at Tarragon, is both simple and novel: a male comedian reads, sight unseen, a script written by an anonymous woman that reflects on sex with men. There is no doubt that the text of the monologue was not previously released to the comedian who, on opening night, was Arthur Simeon. Simeon stumbled, reread bits to get it right, had authentic expressions of incredulity and surprise, and sometimes seemed to blush — none of which detracted from his delightful stage presence. The concept demands that there be a different performer each night, and the lineup is great. Most of the names are ones I recognize from my habit of listening to CBC Radio comedies, such as The Debaters. Continue reading Manwatching (Royal Court Theatre/Tarragon Theatre)

Review: Weesageechack Begins to Dance 30 (Native Earth Performing Arts Inc.)

Weesageechack Begins to Dance celebrates Indigenous theatre, on stage in Toronto

The Weesageechack Begins to Dance festival, produced by Native Earth Performing Arts is a two-week appetizer of Indigenous theatre that leaves the sensory pallet receptive and excited for the feast to come. The annual development festival is in its 30th year and celebrates emerging Indigenous talent across multiple disciplines and Nations. Opening night of Weesageechack 30 featured a workshop style reading of an excerpt from Weaving Reconciliation, a new play by Renae Morriseau, Rosemary Georgeson and Savannah Walling of Vancouver Moving Theatre. Continue reading Review: Weesageechack Begins to Dance 30 (Native Earth Performing Arts Inc.)

Review: Mr. Shi and His Lover (Tarragon with Macau Experimental Theatre)

Tarragon Theatre brings a “bold” and “alluring” Chinese-language musical to Toronto audiences

Playing at the Tarragon Theatre is a production that is quite revolutionary: the first Chinese language musical performance to grace the Tarragon stage, and one that already delighted audiences at the SummerWorks Festival in 2016. Mr. Shi and His Lover, written by Wong Teng Chi, captures the unique facets of Chinese opera that have always spoken to me — bold bravado and delicate nuance — in ways that will entice and intrigue western audiences.

Based on a true story that was adapted into the play M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang and featuring live chamber music performed on stage, this performance blends traditional Chinese opera with modern pop seamlessly. Mr. Shi and His Lover is alluring and a pleasure to watch.

Continue reading Review: Mr. Shi and His Lover (Tarragon with Macau Experimental Theatre)

Review: Evil Dead: The Musical (Starvox Entertainment)

The cult-classic horror/comedy musical dazzles Toronto audiences again

Currently touring across North America, Evil Dead: The Musical is currently on its stop in Toronto. This marks a triumphant return to the city in which the musical first debuted in 2003, and it’s hardly slowed down since. As much fun as I had at this show, it makes me wonder if my job as a theatre critic isn’t a wee bit redundant. I am supposed to unpack this production, and explain its quality in layman’s terms, and whether you, dear readers, should see it. The thing is, this show speaks pretty well for itself.

Continue reading Review: Evil Dead: The Musical (Starvox Entertainment)

Review: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Hart House Theatre)

Photo of Erin Humpfrey, Vanessa Campbell, Braelyn Guppy, Amy Swift, Hugh Ritchie, Kevin Forster, John Wamsley, Hart House Theatre’s rendition of this campy musical is “imaginative” and “unique”, on stage in Toronto

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is now in session at the Hart House Theatre and after personally seeing four productions of this campy musical comedy in my lifetime, I’ve decided that Hart House’s rendition is by far the most imaginative and unique I’ve ever seen.

Continue reading Review: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Hart House Theatre)

Review: Daughter (The Theatre Centre/QuipTake)

Exploring the dark side of manhood and toxic masculinity, Daughter is on stage in Toronto

Daughter, onstage now at the Theatre Centre, dives into the dark side of fatherhood and manhood, ostensibly in a critique of toxic masculinity. It’s a compelling performance from Adam Lazarus, a well known figure in Toronto’s clown community. He’s also the writer, blending elements of autobiography into the story. The audience is supposed to be unsure at any given moment if we are hearing from Lazarus the man, or the monster he has created.

Continue reading Review: Daughter (The Theatre Centre/QuipTake)

Review: Reflector (Theatre Gargantua)

Louisa Zhu - ReflectorUnique multimedia experience arrives on the Toronto stage

Reflector is Theatre Gargantua’s opening production of their 25th season, and the play is at the heart of the company’s goal of exploring compelling subjects in their multi-discipline style. You understand that goal as soon as you walk into the theatre, with various large projections of photographs that flip through a wide variety of images behind four microphone stands on the main stage at Theatre Passe Muraille. Continue reading Review: Reflector (Theatre Gargantua)