All posts by Mike Anderson

Mike was that kid who walked into the high school stage crew booth, saw the lighting board, and went ooooooooooooh. Now that he’s (mostly) all grown up, Mike keeps his foot in the door as a community-theatre producer, stage manager and administrator. In the audience, he’s a tremendous sucker for satire and parody, for improvisational and sketch-driven comedy, for farce and pantomime, and for cabaret of all types. His happiest Toronto theatrical memory is (re) Birth: E. E. Cummings in Song.

Paradise Red (Cocodrilo Triste Theatre Collective/Alameda Theatre Company) 2014 SummerWorks Review

Paradise Red

Paradise Red is a slow-burn telenovela, set in that curious soap-opera universe where every conversation ends with a pregnancy scare, a room-shaking slap to the face, or a lamentable assignation behind the bike shed. Dialing it up even higher, Alameda sets their SummerWorks show in post-coup Chile, where the death of a patriarch — a highly-placed military official — leaves his family in political and economic decline.

What secrets lie beneath the study wallpaper? Who is pregnant with whose child? Who is this mysterious “Captain Schnauzer”? And how much further can this family fall before they hit rock bottom?

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Fuck You! You Fucking Perv! (Leslie Baker) 2014 SummerWorks Review

Fucking

Fuck You! You Fucking Perv! is going to bruise you. This SummerWorks show will disgust you, accuse you of horrible things, spit in your eye, and tell you where you can stuff your good intentions. But while her darts may sting, performer Leslie Baker hits every single one of her targets, nailing the audience square between the eyes.

And, frankly, we deserve the punishment.

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Yarn (Alex Eddington) 2014 SummerWorks Review

Yarn

In Yarn, playing as part of Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival, Alex Eddington — a composer who hasn’t written a decent song in months — explores a radical solution. And once he arrives on the far-flung Isle of Mull, primed for six months of hard labour as a hotel chambermaid in the hopes of clearing his creative block, two things happen.

In this land of ancient tales, standing stones, selkies and solitude, Eddington finds an important part of himself.

But surrounded by sudden death, indifferent nature, and only the voices in his own head to keep him company, he also begins to unravel.

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Review: The Confidential Musical Theatre Project

All is revealed at Toronto’s Confidential Musical Theatre Project

It’s a hell of a thing to keep a secret from theatrefolk. Social butterflies with robust and devious imaginations, they’ll puzzle anything out. It should say a great deal that, walking into the Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs, I had no clue what to expect from the Confidential Musical Theatre Project: they’d kept this secret very well.

I knew the show would be a musical, with a cast who had learned their parts in isolation, but had never rehearsed as a group. Beyond that, it was anyone’s guess.

So when I entered the theatre, I was excited to see parasols — parasols which could only come from one very, very famous painting, and from one of Sondheim’s more obscure (and most celebrated) musicals: Sunday in the Park with George.

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Review: Assassins (StageWorks)

Assassins

This fun musical about presidential shootings is on stage at the George Ignatieff Theatre in Toronto

In simple terms, Assassins (playing the George Ignatieff Theatre) is a musical about shooting the president. Each of the nine men and women featured is based on a real historical figure, and through Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics and music (built around John Weidman’s story), we get a unique perspective on the American dream. How much do these people — the insane, the desperate, the thwarted and the under-appreciated — have in common? How well do we really understand their motives? And what does this uniquely American habit of killing their leaders say about the conscience and nature of that nation?

Heavy stuff for a musical, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s StageWorks. Here, supported by some outstanding character work and several bold staging decisions, they make delightful stuff out of one of Sondheim’s darkest, most difficult, and most rewarding pieces.

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