Review by Danny Gaisin
The locale is the upper West Side (168th – 190th) but it certainly ain’t the Upper West Side where one would find CCNU; Columbia, the Lincoln Center and Columbus Circle. Nope, thees Hites [sic] is the brown ghetto of New York where Latino immigrants have settled. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s recent off-Broadway success became a mainstream blockbuster and DANCAP once again has grabbed its tour’s starting position. The plot covers three meaningful days in the community, and especially in the lives of its denizens. Failures, inapt decisions; financial difficulties and personal relationships are all brought to the fore and depicted in song and especially dance. Think of “West Side Story”; Avenue ‘Q’; “A Chorus Line”; ‘Abie’s Irish Rose’ & any episode of ‘The Millionaire’ and one would have Miranda & story-line writer Quiara Hudes’basic recipe. More…
Review by Dr. Sharon Letovsky
An interesting and very unique production, “Creation” gives audiences a perspective on how plays were performed in England from the 10th to 16th century. It is a step back in time with a contemporary twist and quite a few laughs thrown in for good measure. With the book of Genesis from the Old Testament as inspiration, author Peter Anderson re-investigates the “Mystery Play”, a form that brought biblical stories from the confines of the church to the popular community marketplace through pageantry and song. These plays were an essential part of the evolution of theatre as we know it.
Performed in the round by ten equally highly talented members of the NAC English Theatre Company, “Creation” is interesting and entertaining; a treat for those who enjoy good theatre. This reviewer has only one caveat: do not see this play when you are tired. More…
Review byBrian Hay
Puccini’s opera, TOSCA, which takes place in Rome during Napoleon’s invasion of Italy, has all the good stuff: – love, jealousy, bribery, murder & suicide. Designer Kevin Knight’s sets are fixed units that allow all the movement to come from the performers. The first has cathedral walls ringing the perimeter with smaller panels near the forefront on either side. The panel farthest from where the characters enter is where ‘Cavaradossi’ is creating a portrait of the ‘Madonna’. The other (which has to be passed first) is an altar for worship. The second has lustrous paneling around three windowed doors that divide the back wall. Actual furniture was used for the props. The third has a wall in the middle, a walkway above and bars framing either side. The flooring of black and white diamonds remains a constant.
Lighting Designer David Martin Jacques used a combination of warm and cool hues to create a shadowy atmosphere while subtly brighter spotlights accentuated movements. Action off the stage was hinted at with fiery tones that gave it a sense of immediacy. More…
Review by Mark Andrew Lawrence
Three items to note about Encore Entertainment’s production of The Laramie Project:
1. Arrive early – evening performances begin a 7:30 and matinees at 1:30
2. Plan to stay after the show for the talk-back with cast members
3. Bring lots of Kleenex… you will need it!
Theatre is a collective experience. Bringing an audience together to observe a story being acted out can sometimes provoke wildly divergent responses. If the script is good and the performers are committed, that shared communal experience can be overwhelmingly exciting. That kind of excitement permeates this staging of The Laramie Project, a fascinating piece of theatre that essentially chronicles its own creation. More…
Review by Danny Gaisin
Disclaimer: This scribe grew up in Quebec and vaguely remembered a French fable “Belle et Bête” written by Gabrielle Villeneuve in the 18th century… never made the connection to the play cum cartoon cum stage musical 250 years later. Last night seated at the rear of Meadowvale Theatre next to Ursula & Les who were kind enough to reiterate the modern version, thus prepping me for what THEATRE UNLIMITED was about to offer.
Alan Menken, Howard Ashman & Tim Rice collaborated on a musical adaptation of the Disney interpretation that is rather far removed from my childhood recollection. But, it’s actually a more interesting & imaginative story. Director Richard Henry exhibits an amazing penchant for detail, and has certainly motivated his forty-odd cast members to fully explicate all aspects of their individual roles. The set is intricate and creative, the costumes are first-rate and the 12-piece orchestra led by Jan Stapleton is so talented as to perform faultlessly. More…
Review by Mark Andrew Lawrence
Soulpepper Theatre launches its 2012 season with Kim’s Convenience by local author Ins Choi who describes the play as “a love letter to his family and to all 1st generation immigrants who call Canada their home.” It is a play filled with passion, honest sentiment and a good deal of humour. Thanks to remarkably understated direction by Weyni Mengesha, it succeeds because in a very short time the audience starts to care about these people and wants to know what will happen to them.
Kim’s Convenience was first seen last summer at the Fringe Festival where thanks to word-of-mouth it very quickly sold out its entire run, sparking a bidding war amongst Toronto’s commercial theatre producers. Appropriately, since Choi is an alumnus of the Soulpepper Academy, that company won the rights to produce the play. More…