Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Introducing Argos Productions

by Kelly Bedard

I’m a little bit in love with Argos Productions. With a charismatic artistic director and a mandate to perform original works with the writer involved in the development, Argos is the latest company after my heart. Their inaugural production, however, is a little shaky.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Billy Bishop Went to War a Long Time Ago

by Kelly Bedard

I saw Billy Bishop Goes to War years ago. The version I saw featured a middle-aged Billy boastfully recounting his historical triumphs and the antics of his charismatic younger self. It was light and full of energy, clear but reflective, a really enjoyable and engrossing piece of theatre.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

At the Fringe: The Best of Fringe Uptown

by Kelly Bedard

There were a couple shows that we just couldn't get to (but really wanted to) during Fringe this year. Luckily, there's The Best of Fringe Uptown where the best of the best productions are remounted for a handful of performances each. This year the selections included some of our favourites from our week at the Fringe (Mickey and Judy, Living with Henry, Pitch Blond and Love,Virtually) but also afforded us the opportunity to see three of the shows we tragically missed. Here's the skinny on those shows which proved the very definition of "Best of".

Friday, August 19, 2011

Soulpepper's Summer: The Kreutzer Sonata

by Kelly Bedard

Ted Dykstra’s solo interpretation of Tolstoy’s novella was a fascinating and engrossing work. A dynamic and surprising performer, Dykstra captivated an audience for the entire run time by doing nothing more or less than telling a story. Within the profound piece that framed artistic collaboration as the ultimate intimacy, Dykstra faced the impossibly lonely task of doing it all on his own- adapting, directing, memorizing, performing- it was just him.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Secret Garden

by Brian Balduzzi

We are often surprised to find the world is not what we first expected; brothers can betray us, wives can die unexpectedly, and the world can be a more beautiful place than how we’re accustomed to seeing it.

The MIT Gilbert and Sullivan Players presented a captivating and surprisingly talented interpretation of Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon’s The Secret Garden. The musical tells the classic story of Mary Lennox, a sullen and obstinate child, whose parents are unexpectedly killed by cholera in India. She is sent away to live with her hunchbacked Uncle Archibald in England where Misselthwaite Manor houses more than simply the inhabitants, but also the ghosts and memories of loved ones past. Here, Lennox learns to love again with the help of a pair of brother-sister servants and a forbidden garden that houses its own secrets and magic.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

At the Fringe: Part Three

by Kelly Bedard

We were working hard this Toronto Fringe, taking in a total of 16 plays ranging from dance to drag to one-man displays or neurosis. There were companies of one, companies of ten, staged readings, fully-mounted musicals, lots of laughs, a couple of tears and grades ranging from A to D. Read on for our absolute favourite productions of this year's Fringe.

Newton Country Players' "Into the Woods" Isn’t Your Average Fairy Tale

by Brian Balduzzi

I’ve argued with many friends about the purpose of theater; some people believe that theater is meant to tell a story and entertain, while others maintain that a performance is not complete without leaving the audience with some message or question to ponder later that night. I can think of no finer work to satisfy either group’s desires than Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods. In the hands of the Newton Country Players, the ambitious production featured an especially strong supporting cast, but lacked magic in its execution.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

At the Fringe: Part Two

by Kelly Bedard

We were working hard this Toronto Fringe, taking in a total of 16 plays ranging from dance to drag to one-man displays or neurosis. There were companies of one, companies of ten, staged readings, fully-mounted musicals, lots of laughs, a couple of tears and grades ranging from A to D. Read on for all the productions that scored within the ever-popular B-range, from the so-so to the pretty darn close to fantastic.

Friday, August 5, 2011

FUDGE Theatre Company Does Carousel

by Brian Balduzzi

I was raised on Rodgers and Hammerstein; in fact, I didn’t think there was any musical that I hadn’t seen by this famous musical writing team. And then I remembered Carousel. Richard Rodgers is cited as saying that it was his favorite of all his musicals, quite a compliment given that Oklahoma! preceded it by just two years.

Carousel is a timeless story of carousel barker Billy Bigelow and his intense romantic relationship with the local factory girl Julie Jordan. Most audience members know how it ends, if only because of the very famous and incredibly moving “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. However, Friends United Developing Genuine Entertainment (F.U.D.G.E.) Theatre Company prove that this show is more than a simple love story about two ill-fated lovers. FUDGE’s production is passionate and moving- pulsing with vibrancy- and the production features exceptional performances from, most notably, the secondary characters.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

From the Desk of an Irrational Dreamer, a Much Ado Dream Cast

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival has already announced their 2012 lineup, but other than Christopher Plummer’s return in A Word or Two, the casting still remains largely a mystery. So, before my dreams are dashed by the inevitability of some of my favourites not returning, I thought I’d speculate about what would be my ideal casting.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Flat Earth’s "Bug" Surprises and Excites

by Brian Balduzzi

I think I'm infected, but that’s not always a bad thing.

Flat Earth Theatre’s production of the problematic Bug infected me with inspiration and awe. I wasn't a fan of the play before seeing this version. I thought that it was an actor’s journey into internalized storytelling, but Flat Earth rose to any challenges in the script with gusto and skill. Let’s explore why I’ve been bitten by Flat Earth Theatre’s Bug’s brilliance.

The story, a mere hour-and-forty-five minute suspenseful thriller, begins with Agnes White, a thirty-something cocktail waitress, leaving her abusive husband Jerry Goss to live alone in a seedy motel room. Agnes’ lesbian friend R.C. introduces Agnes to Peter Evans, a young Gulf War vet who's gone AWOL. From there the paranoia, intensity and conspiracy theories build within the tiny confines of the motel room.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Evan Buliung, leading man

I’ve seen Evan Buliung a couple times during his eight years at the Stratford Festival. I’ve always liked him well enough but never really noticed him. I mean, I remember seeing and liking his Mercutio, but was so taken with Gareth Potter’s Romeo that I couldn’t tell you what I liked about the more challenging role. Last season, my first full year covering the festival, Buliung was wasted on the underwhelming original play King of Thieves, leaving the heavy leading man lifting to the likes of Potter and his fellow Gentleman of Verona Dion Johnstone.

But this past week, my second trip to the festival this year turned out to be a bit of a Buliung-fest. I had tickets to three shows and just so happened to be scheduled to see The Little Years and The Grapes of Wrath back-to-back.