Our theatre picks for the upcoming season.
Let’s face it: everything’s the worst when it’s so hot outside it feels like you’re walking through the inside of a mouth.
It’s not surprising that more than a few of us are happy to see the signs of fall arrive—things like pumpkin lattes, chunky wool sweaters, and, of course, the theatre. Ah yes, the theatre. Now that the beer-tenting and marathon-playgoing of the summer are finished, the larger theatres and companies are poised to begin their 2013/2014 seasons. Understandably, everyone wants to start with a bang, so there’s a lot of great stuff coming down the pike.
Here are a few shows we’re especially excited about catching on Toronto stages.
Previews September 27, Opening October 9
Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King Street West)
If you want to hear people sing—especially if they’re singing the songs of angry men—this is the ticket for you.
At 25 years old, this epic musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name is certainly the popular girl at the party. Despite the risks involved in following an Oscar-winning Hollywood adaptation, this particular production has been well received already in New York and London. Plus, there’s tons of local talent to be excited about: Richmond Hill-born, London-based Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean, Lisa Horner as Mme. Thénardier, and former Canadian Idol contestant Melissa O’Neal as Éponine. We seriously can’t wait one day more.
Also coming up at Mirvish: Once, a musical based on the hit movie starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (previews start November 26), and God of Carnage, by Studio 180 (opening late November as part of the second-annual Off-Mirvish series—details to be confirmed).
All Our Happy Days Are Stupid
October 24 to November 3
Videofag (187 Augusta Avenue)
Fans of Sheila Heti’s 2012 novel How Should a Person Be?, of which there are many, will find the following premise a little familiar: two families run into each other while on vacation in Paris because their children—a son and a daughter—are friends. One of the kids disappears, and this leads to the unravelling of the trip. It’s the plot of a play that Heti struggled to finish in her novel, and now it’s getting its stage debut with help from director Jordan Tannahill, musician Dan Bejar (of Destroyer), and a group of their friends in performing roles.
October 31 to November 2
Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front Street East)
Every season, Canadian Stage programs two or three dance pieces for very limited runs. And they sell out, for good reason. DESH is this coming season’s first dance piece, starring and created by celebrated choreographer Akram Khan. It’s a solo performance about land, nature, national identity, and work, with Khan handling the movement and Oscar-winning designer Timmy Yip (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) doing the visuals. Last year, it won the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production in London, and a few lucky Torontonians will get to see it here.
Also coming up at Canadian Stage: Season opener The Flood Thereafter, by Quebec playwright Sarah Berthiaume (previews begin September 22); Broadway hit Venus in Fur (previews begin September 29); Robert Lepage’s Needles and Opium (previews start November 22); and Winners and Losers, in association with Crow’s Theatre (opening November 10).
September 14 to October 6
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street)
Buddies in Bad Times Artistic Director Brendan Healy knows how to handle a dark play. The 2010 hit Blasted blew critics and audiences away with its disturbing—but meaningful—commentary about human depravity. Now Healy returns to the “in-yer-face theatre” genre with PIG, from UK playwright Tim Luscombe. It’s about three gay couples who push their relationships’ boundaries sexually, emotionally, and mentally. It’s got an impressive cast, which includes Broadway vet Bruce Dow. We can’t wait to see Healy getting down and dirty again.
Also coming up at Buddies: The Gay Heritage Project (previews beginning November 17).
You Should Have Stayed Home
Praxis Theatre/The Original Norwegian
October 16 to 27
Aki Studio Theatre (585 Dundas Street East)
The riots and ensuing police crackdown during the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto might not be top of mind in 2013, but that certainly doesn’t mean the legal cases that followed are resolved, or that we’ve made enough progress in defending civil rights. So there’s still plenty of reason to go and see You Should Have Stayed Home, a co-production between The Original Norwegian and Praxis Theatre, when it stops in Toronto during its national tour from the Yukon to Ottawa. This straightforward presentation of G20 protester Tommy Taylor’s 48-hour police detainment (adapted directly from a Facebook note he posted shortly after being released) was a critic and audience favourite at the 2011 SummerWorks Festival, and we’re expecting the content won’t have lost its ability to make the blood boil.
More Shows to Catch
The Norman Conquests at Soulpepper Theatre. After a hugely successful venture into marathon theatregoing with Angels in America, Soulpepper gets bigger and better with this three-part series from Alan Ayckbourn (September 27 to November 16).
One-woman shows at Theatre Passe Muraille. Canadian musical theatre queen Louise Pitre stars in a new one-woman, self-penned autobiographical show called On the Rocks (September 25 to 28), and Pamela Mala Sinha returns in a remount of her Dora-steamrolling one-woman show Crash, directed by Alan Dilworth (September 26 to October 19).
The Best Brothers at Tarragon Theatre. Daniel MacIvor’s two-hander about two brothers coming to terms with their mother’s death got rave reviews during its premiere at the Stratford Festival (September 17 to October 29).