“The TORONTO FRINGE, 2016” Reply

As in previous years our Ontario Arts Review will endeavor to cover as many of the entries as our time and writer-availability will permit. Having received venue and backing support from Honest Ed’s, the Fringe Administration has decided to caricature the store’s famous logo in the late Ed Mirvish’s honour. We’ll be adding and updating our critiques on a daily basis, so be sure and check out the column regularly.  Remember, many Fringe-style offerings (including Toronto’s) have gone on to mainstream performances. ‘The Fantasticks’; ‘Urinetown’; and ‘Drowsy Chaperone’ are just the most renowned.  If you see us and notice our Press accreditation badges – say hello! We’re Terry, Danny, Jordan, Ellen & Michael.

Finge 2016 Bannerhead


“A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC”; needed – the clowns! Reply

Review by Danny GaisinreviewerDGcolor
It is a theatre tradition that harks back to vaudeville and travelling circus tents, that when ‘S*#t’ happens on stage or in the center ring; the director orders – “Send in the clowns”. Stephen Sondheim’s period piece about love; liaisons; familial relationships and convoluted interaction is a perfect vehicle for Stratford’s extensive reservoir of turn-of-the century costumes. Wardrobe honcho Bradley Dalcourt holds nothing back. Same can’t be said for director Gary Griffin; one gets the feeling that he strictly adhered to the Broadway & Hollywood predecessor versions.

The various coupling duos dancing

The various coupling duos dancing    ( by David Hou)


“A Chorus Line”; it’s done with mirrors! Reply

Review by Danny GaisinreviewerDJG
Talk about magic, or ask about how a trick is accomplished, the response is always “it’s done with smoke and mirrors”. Donna Feore’s directorial take on A CHORUS LINE is creative and immaculate. Originally staged by Michael Bennett with music of Hamlisch & lyrics by Ed Kleban first opened on Broadway just over forty years ago and immediately became a standard. Utilizing the vehicle of a ‘cattle call’ –or audition, seventeen young dancers are trying out for eight spots. The choreographer wants to know the ‘why’s’ as well as the “can’s” of their individual talents.

The Casting Call dancers waiting their turns

The Casting Call dancers waiting their turns  (by David Hou)


Lewis Carroll’s “ALICE”; an extra-ordinary search for identity Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe ReviewerEllen S.
    Most of us remember Alice’s words, “curiouser and curiouser”, as she explored the absurdities of Wonderland, sometimes funny; sometimes scary. In this elaborate and truly extra-ordinary production of Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival, Alice’s curiosity and courage help her overcome fear and confusion, as she journeys through a world of imagination, reflecting Victorian society & turning it upside-down.
Oxford mathematics professor, Charles Dodgson, originally created the story in 1862, while taking the three Liddell sisters – including Alice – on a summer afternoon boat ride. Dodgson published the classic novel under the pen-name, Lewis Carroll, in 1865, and staged in 1886.

the cast of ALICE in WONDERLAND

The cast of ALICE in WONDERLAND   –   photo by David Cooper


MacBush: the Musical – Toil, Trouble, Shock & Awe Reply

Review by Ellen S. JaffeReviewerEllen S.
      Shakespeare may be dead, but his plays are alive, well, and adaptable to modern times. Hamilton author, David Laing Dawson, demonstrates this in his powerful MacBush: the Musical, directed by Ron Weihs.  The play transposes the story of MacBeth to Washington D.C. and Iraq. Mixing clever, biting political satire with direct anti-war statements, showing how power corrupts and evil proliferates, especially when done in the name of “good.”
Judith Sandiford’s effective design places the actors in front of projected photographs, from Bush and his cronies, to scenes of war and human devastation, to the aftermath of returning veterans.   Photo courtesy of Adam Carter

Merovitz; Shand; Emberley; Gillespie & Jamila B, the stars of MacBUSH, the MUSICAL

Merovitz; Shand; Emberley; Gillespie & Jamila B, – the stars of “MacBUSH, the MUSICAL”


“GRAND HOTEL, the musical”; another Sheridan hit! Reply

Review by Danny GaisinreviewerDJG
            “I vant to be alone”: – like ‘play it again, Sam’; ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’; “Go ahead -make my day” and ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’; another one of those movie quotes that have become iconic. ‘Alone’ was Greta Garbo’s most famous line from the 1932 GRAND HOTEL flick she made with Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery & two Barrymores.
The Robert Wright & George Forrest musical version is the latest blockbuster by Theatre Sheridan.  From the almost overwhelming opening number until final curtain, the musical version is a spell-binder.

Staff & residents of Berlin's GRAND HOTEL, circa 1932

Staff & residents of Berlin’s GRAND HOTEL; circa 1932