live theatre winter toronto

The top 10 live theatre shows in Toronto this winter

Live theatre in Toronto this winter runs the gamut from holiday-themed productions to contemporary takes on modernist classics. Local stages will be home to a diverse collection of comedies, dramas, and even a thriller over the next few months, including the highly acclaimed production of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirt, where Angela Lansbury was all the rave on Broadway. As the weather becomes unforgivingly cold, there's no better time for an injection of arts and culture.

Here are my picks for the top winter theatre productions in Toronto.

Holidazed and Confused / Second City / November 17 - January 1 / $22-$35
Let's face it, the holidays can be a weird and awkward time of year. Whether it's spending time with family members you don't see for eleven months or battling strangers at the mall for the perfect piece of consumerism, there are some wacky activities associated with the festive season. The clever Second City troupe hopes to capture and examine all those rituals in this revue about the trials and tribulations of the holiday season.

Cinderella / Ross Petty - Elgin Theatre / November 21 - January 4 / $27-$93
You can say this about the annual Ross Petty pantomime - you certainly won't be bored. Questionable taste level and overt corporate sponsorship aside (be ready for commercials at the theatre), Petty has a way of cramming each production chock full of local commentary, sight gags, and the year's pop hits. Check out our review from seasons past.

A Christmas Carol / Soulpepper - Young Centre / November 27 - December 27 / $29-$89
Soulpepper presents Michael Shamata's adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic story, A Christmas Carol. The Soulpepper company brings to life the characters from the Victorian tale, which features fated visits from the ghosts of present, past, and future. The correction of Ebenezer Scrooge is, by now, a well-known story, teaching us that, during the holidays and in general, to give is always better than to receive.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? / Storefront Theatre / December 10-21 / $25
While not exactly a holiday story, the evening that unfolds in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? could very well take place at Christmas when families and friends come together, with the help of a little booze, and old stories are hashed and rehashed. George and Martha are one of the theatre's best on-stage couples. If an overdose of holiday cheer is making you nauseous, a little acid and vitriol courtesy of this twosome is sure to level things out.

#UncleJohn / The Great Hall / December 11-19 / $40
Against the Grain Theatre is slowly building a reputation for their presentation of opera turned sideways, having recently won the Dora Award for Outstanding New Musical/Opera for their take on Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Their newest,#UncleJohn, is a modern "transladaptation" of the tale of the seducer Don Giovanni featuring a new English libretto by Joel Ivany. After a summer workshop at the Banff Centre, the show arrives in Toronto for a short run at the Great Hall.

Venus In Fur / Berkeley Street Theatre / December 18-28 / $29-$59
Who needs a roaring fire when you've got a Canadian Stage revival of the steamy Venus In Fur, starring Rick Miller and Carly Street. When casting begins for a new play based on the erotic novel Venus in Furs, from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, a young actress gets so invested in the part that she begins a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the show's director. The play contains allusions to classical art and mythology making this a complex, layered look at sexual dynamics, which was an all around crowd-pleaser in 2013.

Elizabeth - Darcy / Campbell House Museum / December 18-21 / $20
Elevated dialogue is a defining feature of this adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Hallie Burt and Kate Werneburg play the title characters, giving the treatment an innovative gender bend through which to view the classic tale. The Campbell House, which we identified last year as an exciting new theatre outpost for sight-specific period pieces, serves as the backdrop.

The Seagull / Berkeley Street Theatre / January 11 - February 8 / $30-$49
CanStage puts on Chekov's classic existential drama this winter under the directorial guidance of Chris Abraham. The play has a fascinating history, which started with an utter failure on its opening night all the way back in 1896. It's since become one Chekov's most important works, one which resonates today as much as it did a century ago.

Blithe Spirit / Princess of Wales Theatre / February 11 - March 15 / $45-$175
Angela Lansbury plays Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirt, which comes to Toronto after critically acclaimed runs on Broadway and in West End London. The television star has been lauded for her performance in the sophisticated comedy that pits two wives -- one dead, one living -- against one another in a battle for the heart of Charles Condomine.

Abyss / Tarragon Mainspace / February 3 - March 15 / $27
This thriller tracks the disappearance of Karla Richter, a 24 year old who vanishes on her way to the grocery store. Set in the European underworld, the play is at once a mystery and an exploration of the psyche of those who live amidst war. This, the English premiere of Maria Milisavljevic's Abyss, is directed by Richard Rose.

BONUS

The Dog and the Angel / Evergreen Brickworks / December 11-30 / $12-$32
For the past few seasons, Theatre Columbus has presented dynamic outdoor theatre at the Evergreen Brickworks over the holidays. Their past successes include The Story, a wandering Christmas show, and Weather the Weather, an original fairy tale inspired by northern folklore. The latest, The Dog and the Angel, chronicles the holiday happenings of an oddball family and their ailing dog. The Brickworks site is bound to set audiences in the Christmas mood; so too will the local choirs set to take part.

What did I miss? Add your suggestions for winter theatre in the comments.

toyota corolla

With contributions from Derek Flack

Photo from #UncleJohn


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