Toronto Fall Theatre Preview
September signals the transition from summer festivals and attraction theatre, to the general seasons of some of the city's best theatre companies. Both Fringe and Summerworks offered a robust selection of highly polished and developed work. Canstage's The Winter's Tale was a successful translation of a challenging text, and Mirvish attracted some big names — Hugh Jackman and Carrie Fisher — to get patrons through their doors. With over ten new productions opening in September alone, look for the theatre scene to heat up once TIFF comes to a close. Here's a look at some of the more intriguing choices coming to stages this fall:
MacHomer / Factory Theatre / September 13 - 25
Rick Miller's stage piece is the ultimate marriage of high and low art: Shakespeare and the Simpsons. Miller has toured the show throughout the globe, and it's no wonder the play has been met with incredible acclaim. With 50 of Springfield's most memorable characters doing Shakespeare's text, fans of both the television show and the seminal playwright have reasons to applaud. Miller is an absolute tour de force in the one-man show. In addition to MacHomer, Factory will be presenting Miller's collaborations with Daniel Brooks, Bigger Than Jesus and HARDSELL. You'd be hard pressed to find a better one-two-three punch.
Tale of a Town - Queen West / Theatre Passe Muraille / September 14 - October 9
The site-specific romp through Queen West is back this season led by the ultra-blonde Lisa Marie DiLiberto. Tale of a Town takes the audience members on a journey through Toronto's most legendary strip — with stops at graffiti alley, a vintage clothing story, and the Cameron House. A mix of oral history, site-specific and site-activated performance, and live music, the diversity of the presentation reflects the street at the centre of its study.
Private Lives / Mirvish / September 16 - October 30
Cue the star power. Kim Cattrall of Sex and the City fame (and don't forget the 1987 hit film Mannequin) stars with Canadian Paul Gross in Noel Coward's Private Lives. The two play Amanda and Elyot, ex-lovers who find themselves at the same hotel on the French Riviera. Cattrall tackled the role in London back in 2009 with Matthew Macfadyen. It will be interesting to see if she can drum up the same type of chemistry with our Canuck gem before they take the show to Broadway.
The Maids / Buddies in Bad Times / September 17 - October 9
Jean Genet's classic The Maids gets a treatment from the same creative team that brought vision to Sarah Kane's Blasted, one of the more difficult modern plays to translate to the stage. Like Blasted, The Maids is a dark psychosexual thriller with compelling yet very human characters. It's the type of queer classic that a place like Buddies should have the gall to tackle alongside new work — Artistic Director Brendan Healy brings yet another elevated play to his lineup.
Ghosts / Soulpepper / October 10 - November 18
In my opinion, Ghosts is Henrik Ibsen's most interesting play. While The Doll's House and Hedda Gabbler steal much of the attention (and rightly so — they're great plays), Ghosts was once described by an English critic as "a dirty deed done in public" at a time when such topics were unthinkable as the subject of drama. In 1881, you can be sure no one was talking about syphilis onstage. Soulpepper has an incredible track record with Chekhov, let's hope Ibsen gets the same treatment with Morris Panych's new translation.
The Children's Republic / Tarragon Theatre / November 8 - December 18
Hannah Moscovitch returns to the stage with a full-length play after Little One, an undisputed hit at Summerworks. In a co-production with the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company, The Children's Republic is a portrait of an important humanitarian, Dr. Janusz Korczak, a champion of children and signatory to the League of Nations' Declaration of the Rights of the Child. As a followup to East of Berlin, Essay and The Russian Play, the bar is high for Moscovitch, but with Alisa Palmer at the helm, magic could very well be made again.
The Rez Sisters / Factory Theatre / November 5 - December 11
Thomson Highway's play The Rez Sisters, a staple of the Canadian canon, is a feature of the Factory Theatre season. With direction by Ken Gass and a powerhouse group of culturally-diverse performers, the play follows seven women on the Wasaychigan Hill Indian reserve who dream of winning the Biggest Bingo in the World. Following the three play series with Rick Miller, Factory has a strong fall performance schedule.
The Addams Family / Dancap / November 16 - 27
"They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're altogether ooky, The Addams Family." OK, so for a musical in which the theme song rhymes "spooky" with "ooky" and even "see'em" with "screa-um," the expectations shouldn't be that high. Critically panned during its run in New York, which squandered the talents of Broadway darlings Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, the macabre family brings its coffins to Toronto for a limited engagement. Unfortunately Lane and Neuwirth aren't along for the ride.
RED / Canstage / November 19 - December 17
Following on the heels of the AGO's Abstract Expressionist New York, RED, by John Logan, is a portrait of abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko at the moment he has been asked to create a series of murals for the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York, the largest commission in the history of modern art. As Rothko works feverishly to deliver the masterpiece, under the watchful eye of his young assistant Ken, the pressure of producing sends him to the breaking point. Winner of the 2010 Tony Award for Best Play, Director and Canadian Stage Associate Artist Kim Collier brings this stark and passionate play to life.
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