Since its humble beginnings in the back room of Toronto’s Tranzac club back in 2003, Evil Dead The Musical has steadily risen in infamy as a ridiculously fun, tongue-in-cheek, gore-soaked musical experience. From those earliest shows, the musical has gone on to make an off-broadway debut, to win and be nominated for several Dora awards, and to play in dozens of cities around the world, from Montreal and Vancouver to Tokyo and Madrid. It was high time that the show make a triumphant homecoming to a stage in Toronto, and it finally has, at the Randolph Theatre.
Every revolution needs a leader. And though the movement to bring the classic 1980s musical Les Miserables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After Wednesday night’s official opening performance at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the audience likely would have followed London-based, Richmond Hill-raised performer Ramin Karimloo (as the story’s golden-hearted protagonist, Jean Valjean) anywhere he would lead.
The world is a shockingly small place; just being in it will inevitably, repeatedly, and involuntarily bring you face to face with people you’d rather not meet more than once. In the case of Linda Griffiths’ new play Heaven Above Heaven Below, the wedding of a mutual friend reunites two nameless characters, He and She, twenty years after a short-lived fling resulted in She getting an abortion (which Griffiths detailed in her 1991 hit The Darling Family, to which this is the real-time sequel). The premise is enough to make anyone swear off large gatherings with undisclosed guest lists.
Winners and Losers is a play by Marcus Youssef and James Long based on a game of the same name the two theatre artists sometimes play. They pick a person, place, or thing, and debate whether it’s a “winner” or a “loser.” But it probably wouldn’t be fair to pick their director (and Crow’s Theatre artistic director) Chris Abraham as a topic, particularly since he was recently declared the winner of the Siminovitch Prize, Canadian theatre’s most prestigious (not to mention lucrative) honour.
The plot of Joan MacLeod’s The Valley, on now at Tarragon Theatre, is unfortunately all too familiar: an 18-year-old recent college drop-out experiences his first psychotic episode on Vancouver’s SkyTrain. The exhausted police officer called to the scene arrests him for causing a public disturbance, spurring debate over whether or not he used excessive force in the process. A Toronto audience only has to think of Sammy Yatim’s shooting this August to be reminded how common these situations are. A perceived threat to public safety coupled with the absence of a solid understanding of mental illness can—and often does—lead to violence.
What happens when your common household plant develops a taste for blood? Well, naturally it turns into a feisty, R&B-singing beast vying for global domination. Or at least that’s what happens in the cult classic sci-fi spoof, Little Shop of Horrors. Check out this off-Broadway hit at the Lower Ossington Theatre during its three week run.
They’re as fast as the Red Rocket, and able to leap over turnstiles in a single bound—they’re the Special Constables! Faced with a Metropass counterfeiting ring, former Constable Jameson reunites the once glorious TTC Transit Police force. Will they redeem themselves and save the city from corruption? Circlesnake Productions’ Alec Toller directs this action-comedy starring Colin Munch, Chris Wilson, Tim Walker and Mikaela Dyke.
Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage is justifiably one of the most buzzworthy plays of the past decade, a status it attained partly as a result of an acclaimed production on Broadway starring James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels—and the 2011 Roman Polanski film adaptation. But besides star power and Reza’s intricate writing, its popularity can also be attributed to an easy marketing sell: two couples meet to discuss a physical altercation between their two 11-year-old sons. Simply imagining the sparks to ensue practically causes ticket money to fly out of your hands.
Once upon a time, there was a film called Once. It was made for dirt cheap in 2006 by writer and director John Carney, shot in 17 days, and starred two unprofessional actors. Fast-forward seven years, and those stars—Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová—are Oscar winners, the movie has grossed almost US$9.5 million, and a Broadway musical based on the story walked away from the 2012 Tonys with eight awards, including Best Musical.
Now Toronto gets to take part in Once‘s Cinderella story, as the touring production continues its run at the Royal Alexandra Theatre until early 2014, rounding out Mirvish’s holiday offerings: Aladdin for the kids, Les Misérables for an outing with your parents, and for a romantic night at the theatre with your folk-music-loving significant other, this simple story of two broken-hearted Dubliners who find a connection through music.
Theatre Columbus had a hit on their hands with The Story, their walkabout Nativity show that ranged around the Evergreen Brick Works. This year, they have a new holiday tale, Weather The Weather, written by last year’s Virgin Mary, Haley McGee. McGee, who’s been busy touring the world with her own solo show (and premiering George F. Walker’s latest play), “was inspired by winter, the Canadian Shield and our spirited compulsion to get home for the holidays.” There’s a free shuttle service from Broadview Station that’ll take audience members down into the valley to the Brick Works, and back again after the show.
New theatre group Company Kid Logic is bringing Saskatoon playwright Rob van Meenen’s new play Repetitive Strain Injury to Toronto for its world premiere. The dark comedy, about a group of thirtysomethings who get tangled together in love and lust, features a cast drawn from across Canada with a fair amount of TV credits, including Robin Dunne (Sanctuary), Amy Matysio (Insecurity), and Pat Kiely (Being Human.)
The Company We Keep cabaret series is a brand-new monthly event that features an evening with Theatre 20′s founding artists. Some of the upcoming performances include a tribute to musical theatre, an evening of entertainment in French and English, and an “At Your Request” evening. Also, if you’re willing to pay more, you can get a Prix Fixe dinner before the show starts.
Theatre Brouhaha is celebrating a banner year in 2013, a year that included raves in our Fringe Festival and SummerWorks coverage (for We Are The Bomb and Delicacy, respectively), plus new shows this fall: Secrets and Lies and Sucker. For its holiday party Brouhahannukah, artistic director Kat Sandler and the collective have brought back actors from the company’s history— including Andy Trithardt (Rock), Victoria Kucher (LoveSexMoney), and Tim Walker (Help Yourself)—to read the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. It being a holiday party, semi-formal dress (including ugly Xmas sweaters) is encouraged.
What has 5 actors, over 30 characters, masks, puppets, and a trunk? The Humber River Shakespeare Company presentation of A Christmas Carol, of course! Join them for a special one-night performance of the classic Dickens tale about ghosts, greed, and redemption, set in the atmospheric Casa Loma.