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 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.
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.
Theatre Columbus had a hit on its hands with The Story, a walkabout Nativity show that ranged around the Evergreen Brick Works. This year, it has 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.)
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.
We know that Santa brings presents only to good girls and boys, but what about the toys that are too mischievous to be given out? The second annual presentation of Love Letters Cabaret’s The Naughty Nutcracker burlesque show imagines just what all the left-behind toys get up to on Christmas Eve when no one is looking.
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.
Mainstage Theatre Company mixes comedy, music, and cuisine with their production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. This deliciously dark musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler follows the revenge quest of barber Sweeney Todd. After killing the judge who framed and banished him, his bloodthirst turns on his unwitting customers. Will he get away with it? And what is the secret ingredient in his business partner’s fabulous meat pies?
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.
Normally there’s nothing funny about being broke, unemployed and turning 33. But when this sob story is set to music and acted out by foul-mouthed puppets, you get the wildly popular Avenue Q. Follow Princeton, a recent college grad who learns a lot about life after moving to NYC with big aspirations, and empty pockets. Please note that while this play might seem a lot like Sesame Street, it is absolutely not for children. (Unless you really feel like answering a ton of awkward questions about sex, porn, and drinking on the way home).
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.