Toronto Theatre Reviews

2018 Next Stage Festival Review: Moonlight After Midnight (Concrete Drops Theatre)

Photo of Vanessa Quesnelle and Martin Dockery in Moonlight After Midnight by Will Ohare

Moonlight After Midnight, a hit from last year’s Fringe Festival, makes their Next Stage Theatre Festival return this year. This enigmatic tale involving a close encounter in a dark hotel room blends and blurs the barriers of time, reality and linear story telling for one captivating tale.

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2018 Next Stage Theatre Review: Rumspringa Break! (Marigon Productions)

Rumspringa Break! is a lot like Little Shop of Horrors, Book of Mormon and Sound of Music had some sort of polyamorous lovechild. Take two Amish girls determined to see the world before committing to their faith once and for all, add in the gritty city and an illegal weed growing operation, and the result is Rumspringa Break!, a new musical currently playing as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival. Continue reading 2018 Next Stage Theatre Review: Rumspringa Break! (Marigon Productions)

2018 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Good Morning, Viet Mom (Soaring Skies Collective in association with Cahoots Theatre)

Photo of Franco Nguyen

Franco Nguyen is thirty years old and lives with his mother. The Toronto-based comedian’s complex relationship with his Vietnamese immigrant mom is the basis of his touching comedic memoir Good Morning, Viet Mom, now playing as part of the 2018 Next Stage Theatre Festival.

Continue reading 2018 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Good Morning, Viet Mom (Soaring Skies Collective in association with Cahoots Theatre)

2018 Next Stage Theatre Review: Swordplay (Sex T-Rex)

Photo #2- Julian Frid, Conor Bradbury, Kaitlin MorrowBy this point, I’ve practically made a career of seeing and reviewing Sex T-Rex’s fantasy parody epic Swordplay, which is currently playing at the Factory Theatre as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival. It’s the sort of play I saw initially at Fringe 2015, then took a friend to see, then bought tickets for my mother to see (conveniently with me), etc. Turns out, I’m still finding excuses to see this wild, chaotic, hilarious rush of a play again and again.

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2018 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: The Harold Experience (The Assembly)

Of course, the first thing that happened in the performance of The Harold Experience, an improvised comedy show based on true stories from the lives of audience members, playing as part of the 2018 Next Stage Festival (a sort of post-graduate Fringe experience, in theory) was director Rob Norman walking cheerfully down stage and explaining a) that he was not called Harold and b) what a Harold could possibly be. The audience mostly laughed appreciatively at his description, but I fear that we gave the cast the wrong impression about our values.

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2018 Next Stage Theatre Review: JONNO (Rabbit in a Hat Productions)

Glenda Braganza, Alanis Peart, and Erica Anderson in Jonno at Next Stage 2018

JONNO opened on Wednesday evening as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival at Factory Theatre. It’s described as an “An angry comedy about a famous radio personality, the women he assaults, and Mr. Donkey Long-Ears, his only friend.” Not much of a stretch to figure out the inspiration for the play. Continue reading 2018 Next Stage Theatre Review: JONNO (Rabbit in a Hat Productions)

2018 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Birthday Balloon (Mauzy May Productions)

Photo of Renée Hackett and Craig Pike in Birthday Balloon by Tanja-TizianaIn Birthday Balloon, playing as part of this year’s Next Stage Theatre Festival, David and Millie are at war. Their marriage is at stake and though Millie is desperate to salvage whatever it is they have left, David fears it may be too late. They’ve both already suffered the greatest tragedy that neither of them have been able to recover from.

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2018 Next Stage Festival Review: Leila Live! (Laugh With Leila Productions)

Photo of Leila by Stuart Lowe PhotographyI have forever been meaning to see (yet somehow always managing to miss) a show by Laugh With Leila Productions. So I was excited to discover that the self-styled Persian Princess with a cult following is back with a riotous new performance, Leila Live!, playing in the Factory Theatre Antechamber as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival.

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2018 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: The Surprise (Christel Bartelse/DutchGirl Productions)

Photo of Christel BartelseThe problem with a surprise is that you never know whether it’s going to be good or bad. Christel Bartelse/Dutchgirl Productions’s The Surprise playing at the Factory Theatre Ante-chamber as part of the 2018 Next Stage Theatre Festival capitalizes on the unpredictable as the audience tries to help throw a surprise party for Ginger (Christel Bartelse).

 

Continue reading 2018 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: The Surprise (Christel Bartelse/DutchGirl Productions)

2018 Next Stage Festival Review: That “F” Word (SaMel Tanz)

Photo of Melissa Hart and Samantha Schleese

There is an unsurprisingly apt description of feminism in SaMel Tanz’s That “F” Word playing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival. A series of expertly choreographed dances informed by questions of femininity, society, race, body image, and gender roles uses words sparingly, preferring the twist of bodies to try and examine that insurmountable word: feminism.

While hitting the mark technically, with wonderful sequences, it’s the show’s on-the-nose interpretation of the issue it seeks to explore that might be its biggest weakness or biggest strength.

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