Toronto Theatre Reviews

Review (Kid +1): Cinderella (Ross Petty)

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Cinderella Makes Kids Cheer, Adults Groan

Though it was my family’s first time to the panto, largely because we’re Jewish, it wasn’t difficult to get Kid (nearly 5) on the right page to appreciate the wackiness, hijinks, and audience participation that the classic Christmas pantomime demands. “Just think of it like a Purimspiel,” I told him.

“I can shout?” he asked.

Well, yes. Also, I explained: things will be ridiculous, and there will be crossdressing and assorted hijinks, and lots of funny jokes. Evil will attempt to take over but good will win out, as it should be, and whenever the villain comes on stage you can boo and hiss as loud as you can. You can even wear a silly costume if you like, I told him (though I put my foot down at another turn as Darth Papa. That cloak is too warm).

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Review: Paulo & Daphne (Theatreworks Productions)

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Paulo & Daphne Sets Mythology In Toronto

There is no curtain at Theatreworks ProductionsPaulo & Daphne. We choose our seats and whisper quietly before the play begins. Our eyes return to the stage, because the allure of the set is too strong to keep in our peripheral vision. The set is a mess of an apartment. The couch is pulled out into a bed, covered in a tangle of sheets, hiding the body of a man. A hand and a leg protrudes from beneath the sheets, but they do not flinch. I find myself hoping that the man is in a deep sleep, instead of being taken by the “big sleep”.

The only light is the small spotlight on a cellist on the side of the stage. The cellist plays a tune full of longing and emotion. The music brings up the feelings that have yet to be voiced. For those who know little of mythology, the cellist’s song forewarns of sadness.

Paulo & Daphne by Ned Dickens is a twist on the ancient Greek myth about Apollo and Daphne. For those of you who have not memorized every myth or deciphered every ancient pot, the story goes like this: Apollo angers Cupid by insulting his bowmanship, so Cupid shoots Apollo with a golden arrow to make him fall in love with Daphne. Cupid also shoots Daphne with an arrow made of lead, which makes her repulsed by Apollo’s love. Apollo chases Daphne through a forest. She runs from him and turns into a tree. Apollo uses his powers to make the tree ever-living and beautiful.
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Review: Soulful Messiah (Ballet Creole)

Ballet Creo;e's production of Soulful Messiah at harbourfront

Soulful Messiah Lights up the Harbourfront Stage: “Passionate, Joyful and Uplifting”

Ballet Creole’s Soulful Messiah opened at Harbourfront as part of the NextSteps dance series last night. What a wonderful way to start winter and the holiday season. Passionate, joyful, and uplifting, it left me feeling happy, a great way to feel.

Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration, the 1992 Grammy Award winning compilation album, was the inspiration for choreographer Patrick Parson. He’s worked on the ballet for almost 20 years adding new segments over time.

The music is an interpretation of Handel’s Messiah using African American musical genres – spirituals, blues, soul, ragtime, big band, jazz, R & B, and hip hop; definitely not your usual Messiah, but Soulful Messiah isn’t your usual holiday ballet. The dancing all has it’s roots in African American dance. It’s world music in the best sense. Continue reading Review: Soulful Messiah (Ballet Creole)

Review: Arcadia (Mirvish)

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Stoppard’s Arcadia Plays with Time at the Royal Alexandra Theatre

Oh, Tom Stoppard. It’s easy for me to imagine that it might be exhausting to be brilliant, to have words and connections, phrases and concepts pinging around in one’s overheated brain at all hours of the day and night. I also understand that Arcadia, currently running at the Royal Alexandria Theatre after doing quite well at The Shaw Festival in 2013, is considered one of Stoppard’s finest plays.

By timeline, it took him five years to write, and it does seem to account for five years worth of thinking. However, I would like to humbly beg – on behalf of audiences everywhere – that if a gentleman has crammed five years worth of his brilliant thoughts into a three-hour play it be given to actors who do not seem quite so very over it.

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Review: Nijinsky (The National Ballet of Canada)

Nijinsky explores mental illness through dance at The National Ballet of Canada in Toronto

He was best known as one of the greatest male dancers of the early 20th Century and in the latest production by The National Ballet of Canada (NBC), we can see why. His name was Vaslav Nijinsky, a risk-taker performer and choreographer who pushed the boundaries in his time becoming one of the world’s first successful male dancers. He pushed the creative envelope and became a trailblazer in his time. His life was incredibly fascinating and the depiction of his life in NBC’s Nijinsky, was just as intriguing and exciting to watch.

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