Your PLANK Panelists taking in Solo Collective's new black comedy The Project are Andrew Templeton and Kirstie McCallum.

Andrew: In his latest piece, Aaron Bushkowsky attempts one of the holy grails in playwriting:  to create a play that features a cast of irredeemable characters with whom it is impossible for the audience to have a proper emotional investment. Without the usual emotional narratives to build on, the playwright must use compelling situations and characters who intrigue us not through compassion but through (usually horrified) interest.

With The Project, Bushkowsky has almost pulled off this near impossible trick. The first half...

Lindsey Angell and Andrew McNee working on The Project

Your PLANK Panel taking on Steppenwolf's production of August: Osage County are Ashleigh Dalton and Justin Haigh

Ashleigh: I vividly remember the first time I read T.S. Eliot.  There was something dark and yet playful in his poetry that appealed to me, then 17 years old and an aspiring writer.  I wanted to infuse everything I wrote with elements from Eliot - words, repetitions, themes.  Writer Tracy Letts seemed equally inspired by Eliot, with lines from The Hollow Men starting and ending his play August: Osage County.  Eliot was, perhaps, an apt choice to appear throughout Letts' tragicomedy.  August is...

Laurence Lau and Emily Kinney show the dysfunction in Steppenwolf's August: Osage County

When I sat down in the Rio Theatre to watch LiveStage Production of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, I was flooded with memories of my childhood: sitting alone in my bedroom having my adolescent mind blown by the dreamscapes of Pink Floyd.

While I wasn’t big into the whole pot smoking thing, listening to the English band’s albums kind of helped me fit in with that whole reefer madness scene. When I’m at a good live concert, and I’m really into what I’m listening to, I find my brain wandering off into various rooms in my mind. With this...

Messing with Mike's Mind is Pink Floyd's The Wall at the Rio; photo credit: VooDoo Bill Kustom Photography

Mamet’s Speed The Plow* is a rapid-fire dissection of the corrupt world of Hollywood movie making.  In the play, Head of Production Bobby Gould struggles to determine whether he should green light a vacuous blockbuster or an adaptation of an apocalyptic book of revelatory poetry.

“Being a good man” suddenly has multiple interpretations.  Is he good if he does his job and makes money for the studio, or good if he produces a certain flop in the interest of moral art?

Terminal Theatre’s production of Speed the Plow at the Havana Theatre is very well-directed by Sarah...

no artwork for speed the plow...so here's a logo

Footlight Theatre Company’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber is a silly roller coaster of infectious songs and good family fun.

Loosely based on the story of the biblical Joseph, Lloyd Weber’s Joseph transforms a serious retribution story into a multi-genre, musical fluff fest.  It’s colorful, it’s loud, it’s catchy, and it’s sweet.  In director Lalaina Lindbjerg Strelau’s own words, Joseph is “one of the silliest, craziest, most wonderful shows [she’s] had the pleasure to work on.”  What the musical lacks in content, it makes up for in style. ...

Say Cheese: Joseph, the coat and the kids

Your PLANK Panel making sense of the blood and guts that is the Ground Zero (aka The Vogue version) of Evil Dead are: Michael J Unger, Sean Tyson and Franklin T Schneider.

MJU: Initially our requests to review the Ground Zero production of Evil Dead: the Musical at the Vogue were ignored, so when I reviewed the Down Stage Right Production of Evil Dead at the Norman Rothstein, I wasn't expecting to be able to compare the two. The most intriguing part of this whole Evil Dead vs. Evil Dead thing is how much of a war...

Lynley Hall and Tyler Rive are part of Evil Dead: The Musical, the one at the Vogue not the other one

The curtains open to the backs of students sitting and staring at a large ticking clock on the far wall, waiting for 3pm to strike so they can start their summer vacation.

On this stark stage, large opaque panels lit in various colors cover the back wall. Tick tock tick tock. Three o’clock strikes, the students burst with uncontrollable energy, the back panels slide open to reveal a live band situated on multi-levels, the chairs disappear and the musical launches into a frenzy of youthful liveliness and excitement over the freedom of summertime. This is opening night at Centennial...

Suddenly Andrew wishes he taken the HSM2 assignment; Shannon Hanbury, Lexy Campbell, Grace Newson, Julie Trepanier (face covered); photo credit: Rob Sondergaard

With Halloween just behind us, one can compliment Ghostlight Projects for their savvy timing. With sexy costumes and hedonism still lingering in the memories of many of Toronto’s young adults (and die-hard middle agers) the company’s double bill of cult glam classics should help extend the spirit of the holiday.

70s porno revival, Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, and transgender rock spectacle, Hedwig and the Angry Inch run back to back in the Theatre Centre, a former community gym that is now a hub of the city’s independent theatre scene.

Under the direction of Vancouver comedienne, Penelope Corrin...

Seth Drabinsky, left, features in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Jamie Robinson is Debbie in Debbie Does Dallas the Musical