Theatromania’s top 13 picks in celebration of the year to come
Ava Jane Markus in Mark O’Rowe’s Terminus (Outside The March Theatre Company).
As another eventful year of Toronto theatre comes to an end, we look back fondly at the most exciting productions of 2012. Here are our top 13 picks in alphabetical order.
1) Alligator Pie (Soulpepper): The Creation Ensemble (Ins Choi, Raquel Duffy, Ken Mackenzie, Gregory Prest and Mike Ross) served up a boisterous slice of theatre this past fall/winter with a joyful tribute to the poems of Dennis Lee. Lucky for Lee fans, Alligator Pie returns to the stage in November/December 2013 as part of the company’s new season.
2) Bloodless: The Trial of Burke and Hare (Theatre 20): Directed by Adam Brazier, Theatre 20′s inaugural production of Joseph Aragon’s Bloodless, a true story about two 19th century Irish serial killers, snatched our hearts at the Panasonic Theatre in October. Next up: a sure-to-be-good production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company (early 2013).
3) Clybourne Park (Studio 180): Presented by Studio 180 in association with Canadian Stage, this powerful production of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play brought the house down at the Berkeley Street Theatre last spring. The satire about race and real estate caught the attention of David Mirvish who picked it up as part of the Off-Mirvish Series (Feb 12 to March 3, 2013 at the Panasonic Theatre). Don’t miss it this time around!
4) Kim’s Convenience (Soulpepper): Set in a Regent Park Korean convenience store, Ins Choi’s debut play was the smash hit of Soulpepper’s 2012 season—a Toronto theatre success story. Directed by Weyni Mengesha, the celebrated production tours London, Port Hope and Calgary beginning in January (additional tour stops to be announced) and returns to the Yonge Centre from May 24 to June 19, 2013.
5) Miss Caledonia (Tarragon Theatre): Melody A. Johnson got top marks from audiences and critics alike in this energetic one-woman show about a country girl with dreams of winning a beauty pageant.
6) No Great Mischief (Tarragon Theatre): Based on the 1999 novel by Alistair MacLeod, this heartwrenching play about the MacDonald family, a Cape Breton-based Gaelic clan with roots in the Scottish highlands, featured outstanding performances by two of Canada’s most respected actors: R.H. Thomson and David Fox.
7) Proud (Michael Healey): From controversial to comical, Michael Healey’s politcal satire about Stephen Harper started a conversation last fall at the Berkeley Street Theatre. Directed by Miles Potter, this provocative play featured terrific performances by Healey as the stiff Prime Minister and an always-on-point Maev Beaty as a rookie MP.
8) Speaking in Tongues (Company Theatre): Australian playwright Andrew Bovell’s dramatic thriller about four marriages that fall into a mess of sex, lies and neglect got a fresh treatment this past November in a sexy new production by Company Theatre in association with Canadian Stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre. Featuring an all-star cast (Yanna McIntosh, Jonathan Goad, Richard Clarkin and Helene Joy), Speaking in Tongues moves to Victoria in the new year (January 22 to February 24, 2013 at The Belfry Theatre).
9) Tear The Curtain! (Electric Company Theatre/Vancouver Arts Club Theatre/Canadian Stage): Written by Jonathon Young and Kevin Kerr, and directed by Kim Collier, Electric Company Theatre’s visually striking film-theatre hybrid offered audiences an out-of-the-ordinary performance experience at the Bluma Appel Theatre in October.
10) Terminus (Outside The March): Directed by Mitchell Cushman, the Canadian premiere of Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe’s Terminus created major buzz in the local theatre scene this year. A hit at the 2012 SummerWorks Performance Festival, the show was recently picked up for the Off-Mirvish Series and performed for audiences of 200 people seated on stage at the historical Royal Alexandra Theatre. The gripping play tells three interwoven stories (performed to perfection by Maev Beaty, Ava Jane Markus and Adam Wilson) in rhyming vernacular.
11) The Arsonists (Canadian Stage): Max Frisch’s darkly funny satire got a smoking hot makeover in Canadian Stage’s 2012 production translated by Alistair Beaton and directed by Morris Panych at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Featuring original music by singer songwriter Justin Rutledge, this funny and thought-provoking show left us snapping our fingers and tapping our toes.
12) The Normal Heart (Studio 180/Buddies in Bad Times): The remount of Studio 180′s 2011 production of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart (in association with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre) deserves a mention as one of our favourite productions of 2012. Directed by Joel Greenberg, this devastating portrait of the rise of the AIDS crisis in New York City between 1981 and 1984 features a first-rate cast in an unforgettable performance.
13) The Penelopiad (Nightwood Theatre): Margaret Atwood’s brilliant retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey from the perspective of his wife Penelope was skillfully adapted for the stage last January in an acclaimed production directed by Nightwood Theatre’s Kelly Thornton at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Megan Follows lead a powerhouse cast, including Maev Beaty, Cara Gee, Pamela Sinha, Sarah Dodd, Monica Dottor, Kelli Fox, and Patricia Hamilton—all returning to the stage with new cast members this winter (January 8 to February 10, 2013).