Next Stage Theatre Festival

Next Stage Theatre Festival Preview, 2012

Now in its fifth year, the Next Stage Theatre Festival showcases the best of independent work, culled from the stages of Fringe, Summerworks, and everything in between. This year, there are ten shows running in the three spaces at Factory Theatre from January 4-15. Most of the shows have proven themselves in other venues, so choose blind to have your expectations exceeded. These six are the ones I'm keen to see.

Tomasso's Party / Rooftop Creations
There's a lot to get excited about with Tomasso's Party. Jules Lewis, author of the acclaimed novel Waiting for Ricky Tantrum, brings us his first play, a picture of two lovers whose relationship is marred by jealousy and insecurity. With dramaturgy from Iris Turcott and direction from Dora Award winner Nigel Shawn Williams, Lewis' play couldn't be in better hands. Simon Bracken, who gave one of my favourite Fringe performances in The Particulars and In General, stars alongside Leah Doz as the couple.

LOVESEXMONEY / Theatre Brouhaha
Theatre Brouhaha gets an extension on LOVESEXMONEY, a play about Olivia, a girl who decides to sells her virginity online. The move doesn't go over so well with her boyfriend Jim, who tries to stop her from completing the transaction with Simon, the customer. Playwright Kat Sandler, along with performer Daniel Pagett, are the winners of Fringe's 2012 New Play Contest for Help Yourself (onstage in summer 2012). So for now, LOVESEXMONEY is a sneak peak of the up and coming Theatre Brouhaha.

Living With Henry / Beyond Boundaries
Studio 180's highly compelling production of The Normal Heart proved that a play about HIV/AIDS is just as relevant today as it was when Larry Kramer was writing. Christopher Wilson's Living With Henry follows in the same tradition with a portrait of Michael (Ryan Kelly), who lives with the reality of being HIV positive. Directed by Donna Marie Baratta, the musical explores Michael's relationship with Henry, the personification of his condition, and the family members concerned for his wellbeing. One of the bonafide hits of Fringe 2011, Living WIth Henry is a thoughtful new dramatic musical.

The Washing Machine / Red Betty Theatre
Playwright Radha Menon examines how an Anglo-Indian woman attempts to wash away the stains of her past in The Washing Machine, directed by Sasha Kovacs. After the death of her husband and child, Isabelle returns to India from England ready to update the sacred grounds of her family plantation with a tennis court and washing machine. Featuring Ronica Sajnani, who appeared in Deepa Mehta's Water and Dora-award winner Steve Cumyn, The Washing Machine is as multi-cultural as it is multi-generational.

Hypnogogic Logic / Uncalled For
They have become one of the most successful comedy troupes on the Fringe Circuit, and now Uncalled For's Hypnogogic Logic is gifted a spot as part of this year's festival. The show explores the lighter side of our darker hours with a comedic take on the dream world that awaits when eyes close. Winner of the Just For Laughs Best Comedy Award at the Montreal Fringe 2010, Hypnogogic Logic also made audiences laugh this summer in Toronto. If you're looking for comedy, this is the show to check out.

Modern Love / Theatre Caravel
With credits in a number of successful projects this past year (Tout Comme Elle and Swoon), and an upcoming role in the Toronto premiere of Daniel MacIvor's Was Spring at Tarragon, Jessica Moss continues to impress with energetic and thoughtful performances. With Modern Love, she also showcases her writing, which considers connectivity in the modern age. The question that stands at the centre of Moss' piece is with our ultra-connectedness to online platforms (600 friends and counting), why is it so hard to make real connections?


The Next Stage Theatre Festival runs from January 4-15. Visit the Fringe website for tickets, event times, and the complete festival lineup.

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