Theatre Reviews

Ross Petty Returns with The Little Mermaid

Ross Petty's The Little Mermaid.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

Every year at Christmas time Ross Petty Productions has brought  their unique brand of family entertainment to the Elgin Theatre in Toronto. This year instead of the Brothers Grimm he has chosen Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid as his story of choice. Ontario’s O-Fish-Al Family Musical is the 18th year of his holiday production.

This is theatrical fun at its best; a fractured fairy tale.  The humour is aimed at the entire audience with enough grown up content to keep the adults attention and the humour that has kids laughing loudly and booing and hissing at Petty’s character, the evil  Ogopogo.

“I love it” says Petty who is a serious actor with some serious stage and screen credentials behind him, “I get to be a kid again, put on the mascara and  be the villain. The more they BOO me the better.”

The story has little to do with the Disney movie. Too high a cost for the use of the brand and more to do with the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale , which as a song and dance routine in the prologue says is completely “public domain.”

In typical Petty fashion, 18 crowd pleasing years and counting, the comedy content was topical and current, with thankfully very few Rob Ford references.  I think people are tired of hearing about him so we didn’t do much about him this year,” Petty said.

Beauty and the Beast Delivers the Goods

Beauty and the Beast.png

Submitted by Amanda M. DaSilva

Sitting in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, in downtown Toronto, I was anxiously anticipating the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. I remember the Disney video so well, and couldn’t wait to see how it translated into a stage play.

West Side Story at The Toronto Centre for the Arts

The Gang Fight Photo Credit Carol Rosegg.jpg

May 8 - June 3, 2012
Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Photo Credits: Carol Rosegg


Fifty five years ago, a contemporary musical adaptation of Romeo & Juliet premiered on Broadway and changed the face of musical theatre forever. Dancap Productions presents the first national tour of the smash hit Broadway revival of West Side Story running from May 8 - June 3, 2012 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.


Combining operatic vocals with ballet inspired dancing, The Bernstein and Sondheim score is considered to be one of Broadway's finest featuring songs from the play like the famous gang scene with 'The Jet Song', 'Something's Coming', 'Tonight', 'America' 'I Feel Pretty' and the unforgettable and haunting 'Somewhere'. Although Tony (Ross Lekites) and Maria (Evy Ortiz) are obviously the stars of the ensemble, Anita (Michelle Arevena) and Riff (Drew Foster) Bernardo (German Santiago) held the audience captive as well.


AMERICAN IDIOT - KNOCKOUT MUSICAL BURSTS WITH PASSION!

AMERICAN IDIOT-GREEN DAY.jpg

Guest Journalist: Julia Rytell

NOT only fans of the band Green Day will love this show!  It is a compact and artfully staged musical, showcasing the talents of some amazing young rising stars along with live music from a 6-piece band (and the cast members at times as well). Visual vitality and meaning is added to the music with this interpretation; a true musical, for very little is said, most is sung.

Director Michael Mayer’s script for Green Day’s American Idiot music, with lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong, introduces three young male characters who leave the suburbs for city life to fall into different paths.  Johnny (Van Hughes), electrifies the stage with his frustrations, vices, and confused emotion. He has the most presence and energy of the three; constantly in motion. Will (Jake Epstein) sinks into torpor on the couch for most of the production with a bottle for comfort, unwilling to deal with his girlfriend’s pregnancy, rising from time to time to unleash a sorrowful but glorious voice. Tunny (Scott Campbell) takes another route and joins the military, losing a limb in the service, which brings us a hospital scene with a moving, very sweetly sung and cutely executed soldiers’ quartet, followed by a dreamy morphine-induced aerial dance with the Extraordinary Girl.

BILLY ELLIOT TAP DANCES INTO TORONTO, CANADA

Cesar Corrales as Billy Elliot

By Sandy Graham

 

Music by Elton John.

Book and lyrics by Lee Hall.

Directed by Stephen Daldry.

At the Canon Theatre, 244 Victoria St.

416-872-1212 Mirvish Productions


In may ways the similarities are obvious. Scarborough-born David Furnish, husband and co-writer on the score for Billy Elliot, we would assume had to fight a similar battle. Growing up in a middle-class neighbourhood of Toronto, being gay, being creative. It all matches up. The fact that Furnish was in attendance with Sir Elton John on opening night in Toronto, Canada shows the full circle of the story behind the story.

 

Cashbox Canada was not at the opening night, but we did hear that the audience were leaping to their feet, cheering in the middle of the show`s second act, and that you know is something extraordinary for  Toronto audience, who are usually quiet staid even at the best of times. Most of the applause,they said,  was obviously for young Cesar Corrales, who is hands down the best of the Billy Elliots both  in London and New York.

 

Moulin Rouge- RWB Style - Right en Pointe

Moulin Rouge 1

By Natasha Slinko


‘Moulin Rouge - The Ballet’ is in town & they are doing it Cancan Style and right en pointe.  In celebration of their 70th Anniversary The Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) is doing a central Canadian tour.  I had the opportunity to sit down with Artist Director Andre Lewis, who said they were looking for something very special for the 70th Anniversary of the RWB.  He wanted to honour the 1939 founders of the RWB, Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally, who believed in creating versatility, technical excellence and captivating style and the RWB continues their vision of thinking outside the box - to create artistic tradition with a twist. Their goal is to reach a wider audience to draw them into the world of art, of dance, ballet and they have succeeded as they are the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America.



So for this special 70th Anniversary Levis approached Jordan Morris, Choreographer to submit a series of ideas for the production, one of which was Moulin Rouge. 

 

Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye!)  Jersey Boys Final Performance in Toronto, Canada

Jersey Boys Recording

By Natasha Slinko
 
After an extremely successful, two year run, Jersey Boys will be playing their final farewell show on Sunday, August 22 at 7:30 pm. Over the past two years, Jersey Boys has received standing ovation time after time, be it a media filled audience or theatre goers that loved this era and the songs of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  Friends, couples and families have flooded the theatre over one million strong and were charmed and won over, and in true theatre style to show their appreciation, they stood up and cheered.
 
Jersey Boys takes us back to a time in space, when things were a little simpler and showed the true turn of events on the Jersey shores.  The incredible songs, the songwriting and composing and of course, the Boys in the hood, whose vocals and harmonies just made you want to cheer and at times, cry. They were just that good. No wonder Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons took audiences by storm.  They didn’t just slowly walk up to their audience, they roared right up on top of them and the audience just went crazy for their incredible and unique sound.  And this fabulous show Jersey Boys, has shown us, that they still do.
 

A Jew Grows in Brooklyn

Jake

By Ron Bennison
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Venue: The Panasonic Theatre – 651 Yonge St. Toronto
April 28 – May 16, 2010
Performance Schedule: Weds - Thurs 7:30 PM, Fri - Sat 8:00 PM, Weds, Sat, Sun 2:00 PM

This one-man show written, conceived and performed by Jake Ehrenreich, takes us on a journey of what it was like to grow up the son of Polish holocaust survivors in Brooklyn, New York in the ‘50’s. Accompanied by a 4 piece band on a set that looks like a Brooklyn tenement, the show is a coming of age tale of a man who discovers the most important thing in life is Mishpucha.

The show seems oddly disjointed at first as Ehrenreich starts the show with a Yiddish lullaby Yankele , then discusses his boyhood feelings of ostracism around that namesake while we watch a slideshow that seems to poke fun at his father – a man we will soon learn he has the utmost respect for. An immediate segue into back-to-back medleys of classic rock-and-roll songs and classic contemporary Christmas songs feels very out of place until Ehrenreich explains that all of these songs were written by Jewish people. So sets the stage for Ehrenreich honouring his roots, his family and his community for the new heritage they have created in the wake of genocide.

Burn The Floor – It’s a Full-on Inferno!

Burn The Floor
By Natasha Slinko

If you want to have your heart pumping and your foot tapping, and want to feel like jumping out of your seat and dancing, then the high energy Burn the Floor is a must see.
On opening night at the Canon Theatre, audience clapped and stamped and gave this incredible show and cast three standing ovations.

With more than twenty dancers of incredible caliber, some of which were participants in the super craze of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ world-wide - from Russian with Love, to the sultry beat of Venezuela, to incredible talent from Germany, Latvia, the UK, to down under Aussieland, and of course the USA. Also joining the cast, are headliners such as Latvian Anya Garnis and Russian Pasha Kovalev (USA So You Think You Can Dance) to the elegance and grace of Australian couple, Damon and Rebecca Sugden, who took your breath away.

Two drummers/percussionists, Joseph Malone and Giorgio Rojas, filled the back of the stage and kept the flow and beat of the show moving at a high-speed pace. The cast was also joined by two very talented singers, Mig Ayesa and Rebecca Tapia, whose voices filled the air and added that extra little bit that made the show even more entertaining. The music was hypnotic and the orchestra didn’t miss a beat.

My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding

by Ron Bennison

Performances Resume February 26, 2010

First Block of Tickets Now On Sale for Performances Until March 21, 2010

Venue: The Panasonic Theatre – 651 Yonge St. Toronto (just south of Bloor)

My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding returned to The Panasonic Theatre February 26th, 2010 to a sold out house. It was first performed in July 2009 at the Bread & Circus Theatre in Kensington market as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival where it was discovered by David Mirvish, expanded and launched in the Panasonic theatre the Mirvish 2009-2010 season.

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