2009

The touring production of the Broadway version of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein is currently at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto, and anyone who spent their youth spouting lines from the original movie to whomever was in earshot would be well advised to check it out. In fact, anyone with a taste for the zany would find their bum-in-plush-seat time well spent.

This advice does come with a caveat; Young Frankenstein purists will be confronted with a more colourful and vivacious rendition than they may be expecting, and theatre purists will be confronted with a surprisingly lengthy...

Roger Bart and Sutton Foster; photo by Paul Kolnik

Toronto’s fifth annual Sketch Comedy Festival has (long) come and gone, leaving behind a wake of satisfied audiences and enthused sketch artists.

There is never a shortage of sketch performances in Toronto, but there is also no substitute for the convenience and positive energy that a festival provides. Capitalizing on that convenience and energy, PLANK’s own comedy afficionados, Justin Haigh and Ryan West, took in a broad swath of this year’s performances. Here are their distilled takes on the troupes, the performers, and even a little socio-cultural fat chewing.

Justin’s Hits:
Right off the bat I’ll say I...

This is not a picture of Justin or Ryan

A Beautiful View is Daniel McIvor's latest work.

Although it marks a new direction for the renowned Canadian playwright, moving towards a more understated form of story telling than he has employed in the past, it nonetheless bears the hallmarks of a McIvor play: sympathetic but flawed characters, cutting emotional insights, and weighted silences that precede moments of revelation and push the story towards the surreal.
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Colleen Wheeler and Diane Brown

In court masques designed by Inigo Jones in the seventeenth century, Charles I, King of England, enjoyed a perspectival vision that could be seen properly only from the king’s seat.

Flattered by this artistic creation, the king thought he was the center of the universe and clung to his divine right to rule in the face of revolution, eventually losing his head on the scaffold. This bare-bones historical tale suggests...

MACHiNENOiSY's Open Spaces Project

Naked, beautiful, natural, and perfect symbols of the male and female bodies, dancers Alison Denham and Billy Marchenski, in one full hour of a most intriguing interpretive performance, tell a history of man and woman, of the body and the soul. A piece of intricate choreography ranging from animalist primal movements to sophisticated modern gestures, their bodies reveal the rawness and the evolutionary change of the human form.

 

The choreographer, Alvin Erasga Tolentino, collaborates with the two dancers to weave together a unique and deep...

ADAMEVE/Man-Woman, Alison Denham and Billy Marchenski

One would be forgiven for not having heard of Canadore College (based in North Bay, Ontario), nor their graduate theatre company, Rep 21.

But their lack of brand name recognition is obviously not indicative of their worth as artists considering their solid production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore which just finished its run at the Berkeley Street theatre.

Having said that, this is one of those cases where the script is the real star of the show and a positive end result is virtually guaranteed as long as the production team and acting talent don’t do anything to...

The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Vladimir John Cubrt takes a bold risk with his creation, The Weeping Salsa produced by Zocalo Toronto.

Written, directed and performed by Cubrt, The Weeping Salsa tackles the dynamics of passion and subjugation through a mixture of drama and dance.

The dance elements are certainly the highlight, as both Cubrt and his co-star Donna Christo deliver solid performances. Their technique is strong, and Caryl Cuizon’s choreography is sexy and, occasionally, harsh. Lighting by Geoffrey Rutherford is basic but strong. This Toronto-based production is an adventure, giving many fresh contributors an opportunity to build their professional resumes. Rutherford is...

The Weeping Salsa

Displacement, produced by HCA Dance, faces its audience with stark, painful, unfixable realities.

Through dance, visual arts and music, it confronts us with the most feared elements of the human experience: lostness, separation, loneliness and death. It offers no solutions, not even a clear narrative, simply a powerful portrayal of leaving home and starting again alone. For that, we owe its creators our gratitude.

Canadian artists Robert Glumbek (choreographer), Vessna Perunovich (visual artist) and Christos Hatzis (composer) collaborated to make this mixed media piece, performed by seven dancers with the Penderecki String Quartet. It explores the immigrant...

Displacement

At the beginning of after homelessness, David Diamond, Artistic Director of Headlines Theatre, tells us to view the piece with an open heart, and I did just that. Unfortunately, by the end of the night, the strain made me in danger of suffering an aneurism.

The production is promoted as policy making theatre; a community scribe, Gail Franklin, will make note of ideas from the audience each night, write up a policy report, to be presented to different levels of government. Diamond tells us that “Tonight, we have the potential to create change”.

Forum theatre or “VCR Theatre”...

after homelessness

I remember a review for an REM album – I think it might have been for New Adventures in Hi-Fi – where the reviewer started his critique with the following: “You already know whether you’ll like this album or not”.

He was referencing the fact that REM had been (and still is) guilty of producing basically the same album over and over again.

That immortal line rang through my mind as I was watching the Arts Club’s production of White Christmas. Not so much that the Arts Club has fallen into a rut but rather in thinking of...

Check out the frocks! Monique Lund and Sara-Jeanne Hosie wearing jaw-droppers in White Christmas. Photo by David Cooper.

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