Stratford Festival Roundup: We’re Crazy in Love With These Shows

Jonathan Goad as Titania (sharing the role with Evan Buliung) and Stephen Ouimette as Bottom with members of the company in Chris Abrahama's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Jonathan Goad as Titania (sharing the role with Evan Buliung) and Stephen Ouimette as Bottom with members of the company in Chris Abrahama's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Michael Cooper.

  • Multiple venues
  • Wednesday, August 6–Sunday, October 19

Only about two hours away from Toronto, madness is infiltrating the town of Stratford, Ontario—but fortunately, it’s the kind that produces delightful results. Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino has designed this year’s season around the theme “Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge,” and explores it through everything from jukebox musicals to Shakespearean tragedies. And with the festival’s increasingly popular twice-daily bus service to and from downtown (in its second year), it’s easy to get a taste of what the mania is all about. Here’s Torontoist‘s take on a sampling of this year’s festival offerings—Ira Glass and his opinions notwithstanding, a whole lot of people would welcome a chance to spend some time with the Bard and some of Canada’s most esteemed artists.

Details: Stratford Festival Roundup: We’re Crazy in Love With These Shows

Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios Creates Steampunk Wonderland

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  • Grand Chapiteau (51 Commissioners Street)
    • Friday, August 29–Tuesday, December 23

Cirque du Soleil is magical. Across from T&T Supermarket on Cherry Street, the pop-up striped tent transforms Polson Pier into a scene of fantastical fun—it’s a better location than any Las Vegas hotel or Orlando strip mall. And when you walk into the Grand Chapiteau venue, you’re welcomed into a bizarro steampunk contortionist dream.

Kicking off its North American tour in Toronto, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities is Cirque du Soleil’s latest show. The official plot explanation is abstract and boring: there’s a Seeker in his own imaginary world called Curiosistan finding inventions with robots that smell like leather. It’s confusing to even layer a narrative over the spinning, jumping, flying and balancing. No one had no idea what was going on–but everyone loved the show. Details.

Details: Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios Creates Steampunk Wonderland

Monday Nights: A Basketball Bromance With Hustle and Heart

The 6th Man Collective is (from left to right): Byron Abalos, Darrel Gamotin, Jeff Yung, Colin Doyle, and Richard Lee. (The sixth man is, you guessed it, the audience!) Photo by Dahlia Katz.

The 6th Man Collective is (from left to right): Byron Abalos, Darrel Gamotin, Jeff Yung, Colin Doyle, and Richard Lee. (The sixth man is, you guessed it, the audience!) Photo by Dahlia Katz.

  • The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West)
    • September 9–20

The Theatre Centre’s latest production,
Monday Nights, has all the hallmarks of a classic sports tale: a team of underdogs, personal and athletic growth, a dramatic final shot, and most importantly, a lot of heart. The only difference is that this isn’t Hollywood, it’s real. So real that the audience is invited to play along with the show’s ragtag team of five Toronto actors (provided they’ve got the appropriate footwear).

Monday Nights, created by 6th Man Collective, has been in the works for more than five years. It’s inspired by a tradition of Byron Abalos, Colin Doyle, Darrel Gamotin, Richard Lee, and Jeff Yung, who would play basketball at the court on the corner of Queens Quay and Bathurst Street until the lights went off. In the theatrical adaptation of their weekly ritual, each member of the audience chooses one of four teams, and each team is captained by one of the creators (the fifth plays the part of referee on a rotating basis). Through a series of drills, each team is awarded points based on how well their captains and “volunteammates” compete. The loser does that night’s laundry (and as you can imagine, two hours of basketball under theatrical lighting creates one sweaty cast).

Details: Monday Nights: A Basketball Bromance With Hustle and Heart

Our Country’s Good

Our Country's Good. Photo courtesy of Mirvish Productions.

Our Country's Good. Photo courtesy of Mirvish Productions.

  • Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King Street West)
    • Saturday, September 13–Sunday, October 26

These days, vacationers flock to Australia for the outback, the Great Barrier Reef, and, of course, kangaroos. But back in 1788, the only people travelling Down Under were the thieves, murderers, and prostitutes exiled from Britain. Our Country’s Good tells the story of some eager convicts who decide to make the best of their situation by putting on a play, unintentionally humanizing themselves in the eyes of their captors.

Details: Our Country’s Good

Ubu Mayor: A Harmful Bit of Fun

The cast of Ubu Mayor in rehearsal. Photo by Yuri Dojc.

The cast of Ubu Mayor in rehearsal. Photo by Yuri Dojc.

  • Artscape Wychwood Barns (601 Christie Street)
    • September 12–21

Theatre company One Little Goat wades into Toronto politics with Ubu Mayor: A Harmful Bit of Fun, an adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s absurdist play Ubu Roi. One Little Goat’s version is inspired by “Toronto’s TwinFord mayors” (as labeled by Margaret Atwood), and features actors Astrid Van Wieren, Michael Dufays, and Richard Harte; a live jazz band; and bacon, which will apparently be cooked onstage. The “anti-musical” has also just been released in book form by local publisher BookThug.

Details: Ubu Mayor: A Harmful Bit of Fun

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon First National Tour Company. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Book of Mormon First National Tour Company. Photo by Joan Marcus.

  • Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King Street West)
    • Tuesday, September 16–Sunday, November 30

To the delight of those who fell victim to ticketing website crashes last year, The Book of Mormon is back! The brainchild of South Park‘s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Avenue Q co-creator Robert Lopez, this expectedly crude musical follows two 19-year-old Mormons as they travel to Uganda in hopes of converting the inhabitants of a small village. As one might imagine, hilarity ensues (with the help of some pretty catchy songs).

Details: The Book of Mormon