Interested in checking out what’s on this week? We’ve rounded up some reviews so you can pick the play that’s right for you. 

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, Shakespeare in High Park

Photo by Dahlia Katz

Toronto Star – Carly Maga

Jacobs goes all in with her theme-park theme, called here, understandably, Fairyland.”

NOW Magazine – Jordan Bimm

“…director Tanja Jacobs takes her vibrant, animated approach from last year’s 70s-disco-hotel-set Twelfth Night up a notch for this fabulous Fellini-styled circus-themed romp.”

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

It’s big on energy and laughs with some detail cut.”

AN IDEAL HUSBAND, Stratford

Globe and Mail – J. Kelly Nestruck

“But director Lezlie Wade’s mostly sparkling new production at the Stratford Festival, reading the tenor of the times, alters what Wilde has to say to make his essential message more universal – and then, also, smartly raises an eyebrow to add: Up to a point, Lord Goring.”

Toronto Star – Carly Maga

Wade’s production keeps its light tone by presenting a group of characters who, despite their predicaments, seem to be enjoying themselves, thank you very much.”

Stage Door – Christopher Hoile

Where Stratford’s current production fails is in not looking deeply enough into the characters of Lord Goring and Mrs. Cheveley.”

COME FROM AWAY, Mirvish

Globe and Mail – J. Kelly Nestruck

“And the new Toronto cast provides a chance for some Canadian performers you may know from ‘supporting’ or ‘featured’ roles to take the lead in this kinetic ensemble production directed by Christopher Ashley.”

Toronto Star – Carly Maga

“This new cast reveals humour as one of the driving forces behind the musical’s identity and message — it builds bonds, it invites, and it makes unimaginable circumstances bearable to start, and eventually joyous.

NOW Magazine – Susan G. Cole

“Christopher Ashley, who won a Tony award for direction, keeps everyone moving non-stop, ingeniously recreating the vibe on a plane, on a careening bus or in a packed bar. If anything, it all moves at almost too much of a breakneck speed.

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

“It’s a wonderful story told in this glorious musical and yes, in these troubled times, this show is needed. See it and take Kleenex.”

Stage Door Christopher Hoile

“The result is a musical where the acting and singing of the cast and the folk music–inspired playing of the nine onstage musicians combine in the united goal of telling a story in the most effective way possible.”

GRAND HOTEL, Shaw

Photo by David Cooper

The Globe and Mail – Kelly Nestruck

“Whatever once appealed to make this musical a smash on Broadway has checked out of this production.”

Toronto Star – Carly Maga

“It’s complex, if a bit muddy.”

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

“…it’s a strong cast, but an odd production of a musical that won a lot of awards almost 30 years ago but now seems just dreary.”

LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, Stratford

Toronto Star – Carly Maga

The pairing of Scott Wentworth and Seana McKenna as the heads of the Tyrone family is ingenious — not only do they share decades at the festival (his 24 to her 27), he’s also directing her turn as Julius Caesar this season.”

Stage Door – Christopher Hoile

“Those who have seen the play before will find that the work is so rich there is always more to learn, especially when the two brothers are so well played as here.  Three-and-a-half hours may seem long for a play, but when it is so involving as this, the time passes by almost too swiftly.”

MYTHOS, Shaw

Photo by David Cooper

The Globe and Mail – Kelly Nestruck

It’s storytelling. It’s lecture. It’s a live podcast. It’s durational performance art. But is Mythos theatre?” (Full review accessible to subscribers only)

Toronto Star – Karen Fricker

“On all three nights I attended, the same question arose between me and my companions: What is Fry actually trying to say?”

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

“Stephen Fry is articulate, erudite, mellifluous and just so buoyant in the storytelling (myths means ‘stories’.)”

O’FLAHERTY V.C., Shaw

Photo by Emily Cooper

The Globe and Mail – Kelly Nestruck

O’Flaherty V.C. is one – a short comedy written and set a year into what we now call the First World War – and it drips with as much anger at his homeland as it does at the war.”

Toronto Star – Karen Fricker

Kimberley Rampersad’s charming production revives the tradition of filling the 11:30 a.m. slot with a short play by the festival’s namesake playwright.”

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

“Lots to chew over in this neat, well-done lunch hour treat.”

OF MARRIAGE AND MEN, Shaw Festival

The Globe and Mail – J. Kelly Nestruck

The most notable aspect of this Shaw Festival production is that three South Asian Canadian actors are starring in a play set in a South Kensington flat – and their background is not ignored, but informs the costumes and a couple of the line readings.” (Full review accessible to subscribers only)

Toronto Star – Karen Fricker

The message seems to be that the foolishness depicted in the play could easily happen amongst people of many national and ethnic backgrounds.” 

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

While I think Philip Akin directs with flair, it seems as if he has envisioned this as part British comedy with a  Bollywood influence. The result is mystifying and uneven acting doesn’t help.” 

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Mirvish

Toronto Star – Carly Maga

Whether a call back to a former style of theatre, or a reminder of past years, or a first meeting with sets, costumes and effects that are meant to impress — we’re glad the music of the night has returned, if only for a little while.”

NOW Magazine – Glenn Sumi

This touring production of the mega-musical about the masked man who haunts the Paris Opera House is aided by a design that efficiently shows off different aspects of the setting, a new effect with that infamous chandelier and strong singers (if not actors) in the leads.”

PYGMALION, Guild Festival Theatre

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

All the music should be cut.  We don’t need to be put in the mood with music. The songs only delay the proceedings. Other than that, I was glad I drove to Scarborough to see this production.”

ROMEO AND JULIET, Shakespeare in High Park

Photo by Dahlia Katz

The Globe and Mail – Martha Schabas

“This a production of incredible emotional honesty − one that amplifies the play’s themes of love and hatred.”

Toronto Star – Karen Fricker

Shakespeare in High Park, a collaboration between Canadian Stage and York University, is a tough brief: classic texts, outside in summertime with all the volatility of weather and ambient noise this brings with it, and on what appears to be a tight budget…”

NOW Magazine – Jordan Bimm

Without giving too much away, it’s a fantastic sequence capable of producing first-kiss goosebumps.”

Stage Door – Christopher Hoile

In this new production, director Frank Cox-O’Connell […] sets the tragedy in contemporary urban society and style with roots in English and Italian soccer’s hooligan culture, with its arbitrary loyalties, and violent expression.”

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

Frank Cox-O’Connell stages this production with verve and imagination.”

THE BARONESS AND THE PIG, Shaw Festival

The Globe and Mail – J. Kelly Nestruck

There’s something unspoken at the centre of The Baroness and the Pig. An open secret. ‘Pretty can be a disadvantage,’ the baroness tells Emily early on. ‘All of our previous maids were pretty.’

Toronto Star – Carly Maga

Instead of a story of female friendship and feminist rage, we get a throwaway reference to violent crimes before the play abruptly ends. Frankly, it’s a reckless and salacious portrayal of sexual violence.”

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, Stratford

Toronto Star – Karen Fricker

Loughran and her company have pushed the boat out with this production, which is welcome, but things could also have been taken further.”

Stage Door – Christopher Hoile

The Stratford Festival’s latest production of The Comedy of Errors is given a potentially intriguing concept if it were used wisely.”

THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW, Shaw

Photo by David Cooper

The Globe and Mail – Kelly Nestruck 

“The 375 elementary-school children who were at the matinee that critics were invited to review seemed rapt – and, afterwards, enthusiastic. One little girl I spoke to felt the show should get five out of four stars – which you can either take as recommendation, or a further sign that Ontario’s math curriculum does indeed need an overhaul.”

Toronto Star – Karen Fricker

It was impossible not to melt inside when a joyful little voice cried out “Narnia!” in response to Aslan’s siren call.”

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

“The story is rich in themes of this sort that would appeal to an adult audience.  But this production certainly aims for a young audience. If my audience of young kids is any indication, they will love it.”

Stage Door – Christopher Hoile

“As if the plot and goals of The Magician’s Nephew were not complicated enough, Michael O’Brien’s stage adaptation needlessly gives the play a frame.”

 

THE MUSIC MAN, Stratford

Toronto Star – Karen Fricker

Two hours and 40 minutes fly by. I didn’t want this show to end.”

NOW Magazine – Susan G. Cole

Seventy-Six Trombones got a standing ovation, something I’ve never seen mid-show. The ensemble, including the kids and led by the brilliant dancer Devon Michael-Brown, has fantastic energy.”

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

So, while the show is lively, energetically danced with the requisite gymnastic moves,  there is a lot more to The Music Man than just out front singing and dancing, and I found that depth missing in this production.”

Stage Door – Christopher Hoile

Buy your tickets now.  This will be, no doubt, the hit of the season.”

THE ORCHARD, Shaw Festival

Photo by David Cooper

The Globe and Mail – J. Kelly Nestruck

The Orchard (After Chekhov), now at the Shaw Festival (and next season at the Arts Club in Vancouver), is a notable new attempt to make Chekhov truly reflect Canada, giving us the first major adaptation that is not white either by default or design – and that really grapples with race, not just class, and with what losing land might mean in our own context.” 

The Star – Carly Maga

But the brilliance of Parmar’s adaptation is that she creates full, relatable, sympathetic characters who are up against challenges that extend far beyond their personal flaws.

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

“A beautiful production directed by Ravi Jain.” 

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, Stratford

Toronto Star – Karen Fricker

Director/choreographer Donna Feore’s production plays directly into this layered nostalgia, which makes for an entertaining evening (with a lot more f-bombs and double entendre than we’re used to at Stratford) but one that sidesteps real engagement with the material’s queer sensibility.”

Stage Door – Christopher Hoile

Eyebrows were raised when the Stratford Festival announced it would present The Rocky Horror Show in its 2018 season and eyebrows will be raised even higher once audiences see the production which is even lewder than the 1975 cult film.”

THE TEMPEST, Stratford

Globe and Mail – J. Kelly Nestruck

I’ve never heard anyone speak the word “art” with quite the passion or the power that Martha Henry does playing Prospero in The Tempest at the Stratford Festival.”

Toronto Star – Carly Maga

Henry’s esteem at the festival after 43 seasons — the first of which cast her as Miranda against William Hutt as Prospero (the first of his two cracks at the role) — shows in her Prospero, which is so comfortable with the language that with a casual and relaxed delivery (even daring to mumble a few words, God forbid) she actually builds upon its strengths.”

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Stratford

Globe and Mail – J. Kelly Nestruck

But in some ways Williams’s production is strongest when it simply embraces the fact that we are viewing a story of Southern racism told through a limited lens.”

Toronto Star – Carly Maga

Nigel Shawn Williams is going in with a bang.”

Stage Door – Christopher Hoile

At intermission and after the show, everyone seems to be talking about how wonderful the child actors are.  They do so with good reason.  The children are wonderful.”

STAGE KISS, Shaw Festival

Photo by David Cooper

The Globe and Mail J. Kelly Nestruck

Put this Stage Kiss on your list: Already, with just its second opening of the 2018 season, the Shaw Festival has a strong contender for best comedy of the summer.” 

Toronto Star – Karen Fricker

There are kisses aplenty, but not nearly enough laughs.” 

Stage Door – Christopher Hoile

What pleasure there is in Stage Kiss lies entirely in Act 1. Its satire of the theatre is quite funny and the progress of He and She from animosity to love is well depicted.”

The Slotkin Letter – Lynn Slotkin

Sarah Ruhl is a smart writer who delves deeply into questions about being human and sexuality, having a sense of place and point….But Stage Kiss is one of Sarah Ruhl’s weaker plays.  You can see what’s coming a mile off, so there are really no spoilers or surprises.”