Review: The Magic Victrola (Canadian Opera Company)

This weekend I had the opportunity to take my five-year-old son to his first opera. Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Magic Victrola was at least as much of a delight for me as it was for the kids. My son is already a seasoned theatre goer, being a regular patron of the Young People’s Theatre (YPT) and other children’s programming about town. Opera however is not usually seen as a kid’s genre, despite the world of fantasy and wonder that we are often transported to on the operatic stage.
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Review: Tapestry Briefs: Winter Shorts (Tapestry Opera)

Winter Shorts is an exciting tasting menu of what’s new and up-coming in Toronto opera

Tapestry Brief’s: Winter Shorts is like a flight of operatic amuse bouche, accompanied by wine pairings. Tapestry Opera’s program of shorts is a showcase of new works by composers and librettists that emerged from their 2016 Opera Lib Lab. The Composer-Librettist Laboratory pairs rising talent in an intensive workshop where works are developed “in a crucible” as Artistic Director Michael Mori puts it. Continue reading Review: Tapestry Briefs: Winter Shorts (Tapestry Opera)

Review: Never Swim Alone (Don’t Look Down Theatre Company)

beach with clothes, Never Swim AloneA zany battle of words and wits between two alpha opponents takes the stage in Toronto

Daniel MacIvor‘s play Never Swim Alone opened on Friday at The Commons Theatre. It’s produced by the two year old Don’t Look Down Theatre Company and it’s the first play they’ve produced that they didn’t write. It was a big night for them. They did a fine job.

The play is a 75-minute stylized 13 round match between two alpha males, Bill (Ryan James) and Frank (Cedric Martin) who were childhood best friends, to see who is “the first man”. The Referee (Tyshia Drake) oversees the contest and determines the winner of each round. Continue reading Review: Never Swim Alone (Don’t Look Down Theatre Company)

Review: Heisenberg (Canadian Stage)

David Schurmann and Carly Street in HeisenbergThis tale of a chance meeting is charming and “gently funny”, on stage in Toronto

The Canadian Stage production of Simon StephensHeisenberg had its Canadian premiere at the Berkeley Street Theatre on Thursday. It’s the final play that Matthew Jocelyn is directing as Artistic and General Director and it’s a terrific note to end on.

The play is an unconventional love story that unfolds on an almost bare stage. There is nothing to distract from the acting which makes or breaks the piece, and the acting was fabulous. Continue reading Review: Heisenberg (Canadian Stage)

Review: Moll (Randolph College)

Photo of Armando Biasi and Alexandra Grant by Raph Nogal Timely and engaging Moll arrives on the Toronto stage

In this current world of #metoo, when it comes to sexual violence and predation, there are a few common themes. One, people in power tend to get away with things. Two, women who are victimized are often seen as tainted, and three, the onus appears to be on the woman to prove she is good enough, special enough, trustworthy enough not to have somehow deserved it. Cue the very timely Moll, a world-premiere musical being presented by the Randolph College for the Performing Arts at the Annex Theatre. A loosely-inspired, modern Canadian update of the 1722 novel Moll Flanders, it’s about a woman trying to become self-reliant with the deck stacked against her.

Written by Leslie Arden and the late Cathy Elliott, with Anna Theresa Cascio, Moll is a complex, catchy, and consummately professional show that I hope will have a life outside of Randolph. Even if not, like #metoo, it reminds us of the importance of listening to women’s voices in the here and now.

Continue reading Review: Moll (Randolph College)

Review: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee (LowDown Theatre Company)

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee posterToronto’s LowDown Theatre Company presents Wake Up And Smell The Coffee, a play by Eric Bogosian

I see a lot of theatre. And while Toronto offers a diverse fare with something for everyone you seldom come across a show that will enthrall you as LowDown Theatre’s production of Eric Bogosian’s Wake Up and Smell the Coffee at The Assembly Theatre. Continue reading Review: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee (LowDown Theatre Company)

Preview: The Magic Victrola (Canadian Opera Company)

Like a much, much nicer version of hanging around schoolyards offering kids their first hit for free, our Canadian Opera Company has begun to expand its programs aimed at introducing young people to the wonders of opera early, so that their appreciation for the art form can grow and mature as they do. The Magic Victrola, this year’s specialty offering from the COC, is a magical journey assisted by an old trunk and a record player that a pair of children — Gracie and Sam — find in their grandfather’s attic. As the opera unfolds, not only do they get to hear the music on the old records, but fully-formed and dramatic operatic vignettes spring to life before their delighted eyes. Over the hour, children are introduced to a sort of Greatest Hits of operatic moments (with themes suitable for children, that is) by Bizet, Delibes, Donizetti, Mozart, Offenbach, and Puccini.

To find out what goes into making a piece like this, what to expect and what surprises there might be in store, we spoke to Ashlie Corcoran, the director, and Bruno Roy, who alternates as Papageno (the beloved everyman character from The Magic Flute):

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Preview: In the Heights: In Concert (We Are Here Productions)

Poster for In the Heights: In ConcertToronto artists perform Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical as a benefit for Puerto Rico

Before there was Hamilton, the phenomenally successful hip hop musical that conquered Broadway and much of the English-speaking theatre world, there was In the Heights, playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about a Dominican-American community in New York’s Washington Heights neighbourhood. Now, a group of Toronto theatre artists is coming together to perform an in-concert version of Miranda’s seminal, semi-autobiographical show to raise funds for Puerto Rican hurricane relief via The Hispanic Federation.

We asked director Matt Lacas (Corpus Dance) a few questions about the project.

Continue reading Preview: In the Heights: In Concert (We Are Here Productions)

Playlistings in Toronto for the week of November 27th

Shows That Caught Our Eye in Toronto the Week of November 27th, 2017

With some classics well under way, and a slough of new shows opening this week, there is something for everyone hungry for live theatre in Toronto. Our managing editor Wayne is here to choose his most anticipated shows are highlighted (in red). Check them out below the cut:

Continue reading Playlistings in Toronto for the week of November 27th