Toronto Theatre Reviews

Review: Grease (Irregular Entertainment)

The classic rock n’ roll musical Grease takes over the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto

There are, I discovered last night at the Winter Garden Theatre for the new Toronto production of Grease, a LOT of people in Toronto who are really excited about the classic musical. Like, dress-up-like-the-characters level stoked. I wasn’t able to poll all of them after the opening on Thursday, but the general mood of the people around me was…rather mixed. Though the show’s production values were high and the cast included some very talented people, the production as a whole never really gelled for me.

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Review: The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (Soulpepper)

Photo of Albert Schultz and Raquel DuffyChallenging Edward Albee play brought to the Toronto stage by Soulpepper

The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?,  Edward Albee‘s 2002 Tony Award winning play currently being presented by Soulpepper, is challenging. It’s about bestiality. That’s not a spoiler. The title gives it away, and we find out that Sylvia really is, in fact, a goat early on. For me, the challenging part wasn’t the goat per se. The hard part was being forced to think about how I react to ideas or behaviours far outside my realm of “normal.” Continue reading Review: The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (Soulpepper)

Review: Matt and Ben (Radioactive Ladybird Productions)

A hilarious look at Hollywood’s favorite best friend duo, Matt and Ben took the stage in Toronto

Photo of Laura Salvas and Seema LakhaniOnly someone like Mindy Kaling can write something as outrageous and wonderful as Matt and Ben and Radioactive Ladybird’s production of this trying tale on how Matt Damon and Ben Affleck actually wrote Good Will Hunting is exactly the kind of wacked-out comedy I was hoping for.

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Review: Grimly Handsome (Theatre Animal)

Ben Sanders, Julia Course, and Jeff Irving in Grimly HandsomeStrange but “unlike anything” play takes to the Toronto stage

In keeping with my decision to see plays that sound like they may be outside my comfort zone, I saw Grimly Handsome on Saturday evening at The Assembly Theatre. The press release describes the playwright Julia Jarcho as “a queen of experimental mayhem”–not something I’d usually choose.

It was outside my comfort zone, but not for any reason I might have anticipated. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure that I understood it. I saw it on my own because my friend had a family medical emergency, and I didn’t have anyone to talk with afterwards to help clarify my thinking. Not much in the way of eavesdropping either. The only thing I heard was the woman behind me say, “That was weird. I liked it though. But it was weird.” Continue reading Review: Grimly Handsome (Theatre Animal)

Review: Backbone (Red Sky/Canadian Stage)

A breathtaking look at Indigenous dance, Backbone takes the stage in Toronto

Backbone, playing until November 12, 2017 at Berkeley Street Theatre, is a dance performance for eight dancers who could just as well be a single organism, like those stands of aspen trees that look separate and discrete but are really one very brilliant and beautiful thing with many limbs. It is vigorous, aerobic, living and breathing, shifting, rising and falling and faster than you expect. Continue reading Review: Backbone (Red Sky/Canadian Stage)

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: Grab ‘Em By The Pussy (Theatre ARTaud/Filament Incubator)

Graphic provided by the companyTheatre Passe Muraille presents a politically driven ‘surrealist vaudeville farce’ on stage in Toronto

Watching “Grab ‘Em By The Pussy” – Or How To Stop Worrying & Love The Bomb, a “surrealist vaudeville farce” presented by Theatre ARTaud in conjunction with Filament Incubator at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, is like scrolling through the political parts of your Facebook feed. Alternately depressing and satisfying, it provides plenty of stimulation to keep the viewer entertained and feeling outraged, guilty or virtuous. However, after you look up and realize hours have passed, there’s the overarching feeling of emptiness: what have you accomplished in that time?

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Review: The Valley (East Side Players)

Photo of Janice Hansen and Nathan CostaThe Valley is topical and well-told, now playing on the Toronto stage

Mental illness can sometimes feel like a runaway train, but The Valley harnesses it’s softer moments into a deeply emotional and touching story. Written by Canadian playwright Joan MacLeod and produced by East Side Players, it explores the misunderstood–and frankly, unexplored–relationship between law enforcement and mental illness. Continue reading Review: The Valley (East Side Players)

Review: Lo (Dear Mr Wells) (Nightwood Theatre)

Nightwood Theatre’s nuanced play takes to the Toronto stage

Lo (Dear Mr Wells), a Nightwood Theatre production in association with Crow’s Nest, tells the story of a sexual relationship between a high school student and a teacher. Going into it, I expected the teacher to be a “bad guy”, obviously predatory, allowing the audience to comfortably condemn him. Instead, Mr Wells is a developed character, a likeable human person. I believed that he really did love Lo. Continue reading Review: Lo (Dear Mr Wells) (Nightwood Theatre)

Review: Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools (Buddies In Bad Times)

Kiinalik “deserves to run forever”, now on the Toronto stage

After seeing Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, watching the interplay of languages — English and Inuktitut and the low embellishment of the cello, theatre and dance and music, folk song and throat singing, tools and weapons — I am sure that my attempts to describe this extraordinary, affecting performance in a single-dimensional medium can only fall short. If you want to experience it for yourself — and oh my stars, I believe you do — click over and get tickets this minute (the run is deservedly almost sold out already).

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