Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes - TARRAGON THEATRE

RUNNING UNTIL FEBRUARY 22ND


Matthew Edison and Alice Snaden in Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes - Photos by Joy von Tiedemann.jpg

A riveting drama, with complex and contrasting comical moments that turns the teacher student relationship inside out and provides post modern strategies that give no easy answers but lots to consider.

Alice Snaden and Matthew Edison are compelling as the blighted 'couple' who traverse a circuitous route through the confusion, the betrayal, and the multi-marriage/family/fidelity discourse that attempts to hold one man's self-fractured life together in the face of his own greatest obsessions - and ensuing lack of self-restraint under the guise of 'love' and all its pithy foibles.

Given the fact that the professor character, played with great angst and power by Matthew Edison, utlilizes on a few occasions, complex almost parodic allusions to literary theory, misidentifying the terms performance and performativity repeatedly, the script is at times a bewildering journey through sexual misconduct in the academy and its many implications. It is hard, at times, to take this professor seriously when he refuses, perhaps unconsciously, to take himself seriously. And that may be what the script gets at in what could be an unconscious, somewhat unrealized way when it comes to the complexity, or lack thereof, or particular academic pursuits..

By imposing a self-reflective/referential structural pose within the script, playwright Hannah Moscovitch gives the character of of Annie a deceptively upper hand element as she navigates her role as young student and aspiring playwright. This allows the drama to unfold in an at times bewildering manner. And yet, this may very well be the dramaturgical genius of Moscovitch as she supplies no simple solutions, or even layered resolution by the end of this emotionally demanding two hander.








Alice Snaden takes on her role as Annie with great emotional layering as the character moves in and out of the very confusion, attraction, desire, and self-doubt that the power imbalance, initiated by her professor, Jon (Edison), creates at the outset. She moves gradually toward a creative solution/anti-solution that affirms and questions the power of art as a simultaneously healing and hurting agent in the lives of the two people involved, and anyone in the audience susceptible to their own forms of identity crises.

Sarah Garton Stanley's carefully measured direction, combined with Michael Gianfrancesco's pulsing blood red set of almost farcical doorways, lending a kind of Georgia de Chirico surrealist angle to the dizzying narrative, creates a powerful setting and blocking landscape that effectively absorbs and alienates an audience and an actor drawn into both participation and observation.
Rife with doubt and self betrayal on the part of the male character, and peppered with both self empowered engagement and necessary retreat by the young woman, Sexual Conduct of the Middle Classes raises many questions through a kaleidoscope of near impossible answers.
   

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL - APOCALYPSE WOW!!!

TH
SPONGE
BOB MUSICAL
NOT TO BE MISSED, FROM START TO FINISH, WITH THE SHOW STARTING / SHOW STOPPING NUMBER BIKINI BOTTOM
THE SPONGEBOB MUSCIAL IS 
A FAMILY FEEL GOOD MUSICAL ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD!!!
Standout numbers include I'm Not A Loser - a classic kick line tap dancing ensemble backing Squidward Q. Tentacles, a loveably unloveable character who turns the plight of the misunderstood, unsung character into a spectacular four-legged creature that everyone loves to hate and hates to love. Cody Colley takes the part of Squidward and milks every musical move and moment for all its worth. A collision between Busby Berkeley and A Chorus Line, his feature number is a fabulous culmination of a two hour, one intermission, high power non-stop tour de force of fun and fantastical frolic.
A seamless ensemble brings the breakneck pace of this astounding musical tour de force to life with impeccable executed choreography, music, and physical gags galore.
The Sponginess of SpongeBob becomes a metaphor for all the nuance and splashiness that this extravagant and crowd pleasing show absorbs from every classic Broadway musical that has come before it. 

Lorenzo Pugliese in the title role showcases his amazing vocal range as he sings dances and leads the story of an apocalyptic moment in the lives of Bikini Bottom inhabitants. His strong vocals move effortlessly from powerhouse belting out to quiet moments that possess a childlike storytelling quality - providing a contrast that warms the heart with memorable moments, finding a wonderful finale near the end of act two when a supposed doomsday moment is represented in the song BEST DAY EVER.

l-r Daria Pilar Redus, Lorenzo Pugliese, Beau Bradshaw
Beau Bradshaw as Partrick Star, SpongeBob's bumbling sidekick matches his comrades vocal power and charms in every scene and powerful musical features. 

Daria Pilar Redus as Sandy Cheeks delivers a powerhouse performance as the Bikini Bottom newcomer who assists the team of co-saviours as they attempt to thwart a threatening volcano that could destroy their underwater world.

The perfect holiday musical for the times, when it is hard to feel good about a world on the brink, SPONGEBOB THE MUSICIAL moves from the brink and back again over and over in this magically apocalyptic musical pastiche of glorious sight and sound.

THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL 
AT MERIDIAN HALL, 1 FRONT STREET EAST UNTIL DECEMBER 22

Saturday, December 14, 2019

cash me if you can

DON'T MISS THIS FEEL GOOD ABOUT FEELING BAD ABOUT BANKS SHOW!!! AN ENGAGING SOLO PERFORMANCE BY PATRICK COMBS THAT EXPOSES THE INTRICATE DETAILS ABOUT JUST HOW NASTY BANKS CAN BE AND HOW ONE MAN TRIED TO BEAT THEM 
AT THEIR OWN GAME
The incredible true story of a down-on-his-luck man who cashed a $100,000 phony, junk mail check as a joke, and fought the world's biggest bank when it actually cleared. A true life David and Goliath tale that captured the imagination of millions. The international smash-hit comedy has been featured on The Late Show, ABC Evening News, NBC Nightly News and The View. For more information go to: stageandfilm.com 
 

“One of the FUNNIEST, most FASCINATING and FASTEST moving plays to hit New York”


– BROADWAYWORLD

RUNNING AT CANSTAGE, BERKELY STREET UNTIL DECEMBER 21ST


Artistic Director - Tatiana Stepanova

The Nutcracker 

ft. Stars of Bolshoi Ballet

Meridian Hall ( Formely Sony Centre)
aturday December 14, 2019 Time: 2:00PM & 7:00P




Sunday, December 8, 2019

RED ROBIN HOOD AT THE WINTER GARDEN

LIL RED 

ROBIN 

HOOD


STARRING:
ROBERT MARKUS, AJ BRIDEL, EDDIE GLEN, SARA-JEANNE HOSIE, LAWRENCE LIBOR, MICHAEL DE ROSE
AND DANIEL WILLISTON

 
November 29, 2019 – January 4, 2020 at 
the Winter Garden Theatre, Toronto
The Family Musical That Targets Your Funny Bone!

Director and Choreographer Tracey Flye
Writer Matt Murray
Music Director Joseph Tritt

Starring Robert Markus, AJ Bridel, Eddie Glen, Michael De Rose, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Lawrence Libor, and Daniel Williston
 
Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge Street, Toronto
November 29, 2019 – January 4, 2020
photos by Rachel McCaig

After 23 years of acclaimed holiday extravaganzas Ross Petty productions does not disappoint in it's near quarter of a century Toronto Holiday tradition. A wonderfully entertaining version of Lil Red Riding Hood meets Robin Hood is a slick, beautifully designed tale for all ages. 

Eddie Glen shines in his 17th year with the show and plays a devilish two-sided sidekick to the dreaded Sheriff of Naughtyham, portrayed with powerful vocals and comic skill by Sara-Jeanne Hosie, returning after her fabulous stint as the wicked witch of the west in last years show. 

Glen rises to the occasion with opportunities to present his astounding vocals as he leads an amazing cast through a forest of wondrous and entertaining scenes filled with music and intricate choreography.

The entire creative team and performing ensemble excels at bringing this mixed tale of Lil Red who leaves the trials of high school in his little red vest in order to move back in time and discover how to succeed in a past filled with a new challenge and a new spectacular musical interlude - moving him through the lives of Maid Marion, Robin Hood, and the always fabulous Plumbum and all their attending characters. 

Don't miss yet another spectacular Ross Petty production that brings in the holiday season with plenty of witty political import, lots of fun for children to interact with their favourite characters, to cheer them on and boo their detractors at every delightful opportunity. 

In its first year at the beautiful Winter Garden this is a delightful and action picked show running until January 4th.




Lil Red in the opening high school scenes
Plumbum with Maid Marion


Sara-Jeanne Hosie as the Sheriff of Naughtyham

PRESS RELEASE:
TORONTO (September 24, 2019) Rich or poor, the whole family will be hood-winked by Ross Petty Productions’ original musical, LIL’ RED ROBIN HOODthis holiday season. After 23 years of holiday cheer in Toronto’s historic Elgin Theatre, Ross Petty Productions’ 2019/20 Family Musical is moving to the Winter Garden Theatre on the 6th Floor of the same venue. The Winter Garden has a uniquely magical forest setting that inspired the creation of our brand-new 24th production, LIL’ RED ROBIN HOOD, onstage November 29, 2019 to January 4, 2020.

This original family musical stars Robert Markus as Lil’ Red. Robert was the sensational star of Dear Evan Hansen, and showed an entirely wacky side of his talent in the celebrated Stratford production of The Rocky Horror Show. Returning for her 3rd Ross Petty ProductionAJ Bridel, in the role of Maid Marion, previously played Sleeping Beauty and followed that with the role of Jane in A Christmas Carol, the Family Musical with a SCROOGE LOOSE! And of course, everyone’s favourite farceur, Eddie Glen, now in his 17th Ross Petty production!
 
The adventure begins in 2019 Toronto where the hero, Lil’ Red is magically transported to the 16th century and lands in Sherway Gardens Forest. Robin Hood, played by Lawrence Libor (Grease, Footloose, and American Idiot), Maid Marion, and Friar Tuck, played by Daniel Williston (Rose, Spoon River, and Kinky Boots), join Lil’ Red in defeating the evil Sheriff of Naughtyham, played by Sara-Jeanne Hosie who was a hit as last year’s Wicked Witch of the West. Also returning from last year’s The Wizard of Oz is Michael De Rose, raucous and strangely alluring in the role of SugarBum.
 

Tracey Flye will once again bring her many talents to direct and choreograph the production and Matt Murray will create his 3rd hilarious script. Joseph Trittis the music director and conductor of LIL’ RED’s rockin’ live band.

With pop tunes, ad libs and raucous audience participation, this musical production is a uniquely Toronto family tradition, and not to be missed.

BMO returns as Presenting Sponsor along with Associate Sponsors The Toronto Star, Hilton Toronto and Mucho Burrito Restaurants.

LIL’ RED ROBIN HOOD will play for 42 performances at the Winter Garden Theatre from November 29, 2019, to January 4, 2020.

 
BMO presents a Ross Petty Production

Friday, November 29, 2019

POLY QUEER LOVE BALLAD

POLY
QUEER
LOVE
BALLAD 
The Theatre Passe Muraille backspace is the perfect setting for the intimacy of this wonderfully moving and vastly entertaining evening of spoken word, music, and theatre. The overall effect suggests the possibility of a larger space, even a cinematic treatment, of this simple, uniquely entertaining and enlightening script. 

Poly Queer Love Ballad takes on a much represented romantic theme - monogamy (or lack thereof) - and makes a courageous and fulfilling attempt to find solutions to the unsolvable. In a nutshell - two beautiful young women fall in love. One of them wants the one and only scenario. The other one wants to find sexual fulfillment in more than one partner, but agrees that they can be primary partners, and that their relationship is first and foremost. Once the first sparks of passion ignite it is a bumpy yet lovely roller coaster ride through intricate, story-like lyrics sung beautifully by the very charismatic Sara Vickruckand, with powerful and rhythmic poetic pieces delivered throughout by Anais West.  When dialogue ensues there is a casual and comfortable rapport between the performers as they negotiate the various modes of performance as part of their polyplay romance. 



One aspect of the polyamory equation is brought to life by a quote from a Natalie Barney letter written over a century ago, giving the overall piece a broad historical plane to exist within, and providing beautiful and poetic sentiments from Barney in favour of more than a single lover. 


Complex direction by Julie McIsaac has the performers effectively traversing tight spaces and using much of the technology of spoken word in clever and powerful ways. The narrative rarely lapses into a realm of complete disavowal and distrust - not that this is a problem, but it is nice to see an alternate equation play itself out as abject heartbreak is too often where this kind of story can go. But Vickruck and West take on a popular sex dilemma and never fully allow it all to go there. Moments of indecision and unfair accusatory repartee do occur and heighten the drama, but all in all it is sixty minutes of queer heaven as two gifted artists share their take on the often impossible entanglements of two lovers where sometimes one of them needs to be three - or more. There is one moment of maddening projection when a dildo is discussed, giving far too much weight to that ever present phallus. But shit happens eh. What can ya do. With two more shows to go don't miss this funny fierce and fulfilling piece of spoken word theatre.

RUNNING UNTIL NOVEMBER 30TH
AT THEATRE PASSE MURAILLE

l-r Sara Vickruck, Anais West

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Theatre Gargantua's The Wager






If this is not done, future ages will certainly look back upon us as a people so immersed in the pursuit of wealth as to be blind to higher considerations.



Alfred Russell Wallace



Theatre Gargantua's The Wager utilizes the real life struggle of Alfred Russell Wallace as he attempted to make sense of a world where the rational became the irrational and swiftly moved toward absolute mayhem and destruction. This dour state of affairs somehow becomes a kind of enlightening and frightening cabaret - at times operatic - that lends virtuosity and playful entertainment value to some of the most absurd events of the past hundred and fifty years. 

Musical interludes performed by a gifted multi-talented cast lift pedantic moments of too much rhetoric and not enough catastrophic detail beyond the informational and into a realm of darkly comic moments and sophisticated musical punctuation. Cutting fifteen minutes of poetic yet somewhat repetitive   forewarnings and replacing those moments with a bit more historical 'fact' could transform Michael Gordon Spences' largely effective and cleverly structured  script into a valuable lesson in how we might contribute to saving the planet, or at the very least, help to alleviate current concerns ranging for global warming to flat earth believers and marginalized individuals who are perceived as "unbelievable" due to the intersections of racist and misogynist discourse. 

Olivia Croft powerfully delivers a directly and powerful monologue midway through the piece that connects the ludicrous claims of varied subjects to the oppression of people caught within irrational worlds that oppress and invalidate them. This significant connection is held tougher in cabaret form by the gorgeous, at times operatic tones of both Croft and Tei Kasahara. Kasahara contributes great skill and versatility to an ensemble that never falters as they move seamlessly through a series of issues that threaten scientific methods that, although fallible, have also contributed to many life saving periods in history. 

Anti-vaccers also play a pivotal role as their dubious claims take shape within an action packed sequence resembling a game show more concerned with money and fame than the lives threatened by the questionable motives of money mongering detractors. 

Francois Macdonald and Michael Spence round out the quartet of performers and match equally the signature physicality and performance versatility of the overall cast - all representing the formidable musical, choreographic, and acting skill that Theatre Gargantua has consistently been acclaimed for.

l-r r - Teiya Kasahara, Michael Gordon Spence, Olivia Croft, Francois Macdonald











By the end of this varied tour de force the question remains, what is to be done? The final tableau is beautifully framed by Laird Macdonald's powerful lighting design that focusses beautifully the overall narrative, combined with the intricate and varied direction of Jacquie P.A. Thomas and Thomas Ryder Paynes high energy sound design throughout.

But there are times when the script does tend to wander through a bit of rhetorical excess. The poetically spoken/near chanting of the rhyming finale, atop precarious ladders framed by sharp spots of light and surrounding darkness, is hauntingly beautiful to watch but requires slightly more detailed and empowered content regarding all that has come before. The final lines lament what may be left for future generations and round out the overall journey with a meaningful at times reassuring lament - an elegantly performed lament that could use more connection to the actual facts regarding a planet and a population that has become increasingly unbelievable and uninhabitable over the past century and a half.

THEATRE PASSE MURAILLE UNTIL NOVEMBER 30TH