All posts by Ilana Lucas

Ilana Lucas has been a big theatre nerd since witnessing a fateful Gilbert and Sullivan production at the age of seven. She has studied theatre for most of her life, holds a BA in English and Theatre from Princeton and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Script Development from Columbia, and is currently a professor of English and Theatre at Centennial College. She believes that theatre has a unique ability to foster connection, empathy and joy, and has a deep love of the playfulness of the written word. Her favourite theatrical experience was the nine-hour, all-day Broadway performance of The Norman Conquests, which made fast friends of an audience of strangers.

Review: Actually (Harold Green/Obsidian)

Photo of Claire Renaud and Tony Ofori in Actually by Joanna AkyolRacial tensions run high on Princeton’s prestigious campus in Actually

When I was accepted to Princeton, a family friend I’d perhaps met once took it upon himself to send me a message. He urged me not to go, despite my dreams, due to the school’s less-than-stellar history with minority students and Jewish students in particular. Believing that the events he referred to were in the distant past, I disregarded his note and matriculated, and I fell madly in love with my school and the brilliant people populating it. That didn’t mean, however, that the journey was completely smooth.

Take an elite college full of self-reflective, high-achieving teenagers under pressure to succeed, mix in insecurities, alcohol, hormones, and class tensions, and you have a recipe for angst and bad decisions. It was with that background that I was eager to see Anna Ziegler’s Actually, a production by the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company in association with Obsidian Theatre Company, now playing at the Greenwin Theatre at the Meridian Arts Centre in North York.

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Review: The Band’s Visit (Mirvish)

Photo of Sasson Gabay and Chilina Kennedy in The Band's Visit by Matthew MurphyEgyptian musicians wind up in a small Jewish town in The Band’s Visit at the Ed Mirvish Theatre

“You probably didn’t hear about it. It wasn’t very important.” That’s the tagline to the events of the David Yazbek/Itamar Moses musical The Band’s Visit, now playing on tour at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. The show, based on a 2007 Israeli film, won 10 Tonys in 2018, and comes highly celebrated for such a supposedly small story.

In 1996, the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, from Egypt, gets invited to play a show at Petah Tikva, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Instead, due to a miscommunication, they wind up at Bet Hatikva, a (fictional) small desert town where absolutely nothing ever happens. As they wait for the next day’s bus ride out, the band members accept the initially-wary townspeople’s offer of their homes, hospitality, and the potential for unexpected, fly-by-night connections.

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Review: Comedians Stand-Up to Stigma (Distress Centres of Greater Toronto)

Comedians Stand-Up to Stigma

We lose approximately 4,000 Canadians to suicide each year. Many of us have felt the heartbreak that comes from a friend, family member, or colleague’s very final action taken in response to a struggle with mental illness. Comedians Stand-Up to Stigma is a comedy event supporting a wonderful organization, Distress Centres of Greater Toronto, which is the recent result of a merger between Peel’s Spectra Helpline and Toronto’s Distress Centres.

The organizations’ crisis lines are open 24 hours a day, trained volunteers fielding more than 118,000 calls and texts, while 60,000 outbound calls are made a year to at-risk seniors, and volunteer grief facilitators support families and friends through their losses. As September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day, the Thursday event felt timely and urgent, and it was good to see a large crowd at the Royal Cinema.

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Review: The BFF Variety Hour (Waycik Productions)

Promotional image for the BFF Variety Hour by Waycik Productions The BFF Variety Hour is “bright, bubbly and fun,” now playing at the Comedy Bar!

The BFF Variety Hour, Susan Waycik’s new rotating-guest show at Comedy Bar, is a mix of stand-up, solo sketch comedy, singing, dance and magic, all wrapped in a cozy cocoon of ‘90s friendship-necklace nostalgia and scored by a soundtrack including Britney Spears, the Spice Girls, and, of course, Vitamin C’s seminal “Graduation (Friends Forever).”

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Worry Warts Performance (Convergence Theatre) 2019 SummerWorks Review

Picture of Julie Tepperman in Worry Warts by Aaron WillisWorry Warts, presented by Convergence Theatre at the 2019 SummerWorks Performance Festival, is an experience in two parts; the first, detailed in a previous review, included a short interview and activities about the things that keep your heart rate up and your eyes open at night.

The company then took the 147 recorded interviews and cut excerpts of them together to create a performance piece, or “sharing,” for the last weekend of the festival. Interviewees received a ticket to the performance, booked separately, with limited tickets available to others. It’s fascinating to hear what other people are nervous about, and the “sharing” feels like just that – an attempt to make us feel less alone in our fears.

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