Toronto Theatre Review/Preview: 2010/2011

I thought I would recap what’s currently showing at the various Toronto theatres then have a look at what’s coming up in 2011.
 
On right now!
 
Theatre: The Royal Alexandra
Dates: Now until January 2, 2011
This jukebox musical featuring the hard rock music of the 80’s and 90’s is good but is definitely for those who enjoyed glam rock. Hurry, the last performance is on January 2, 2011.
 
 
Theatre: The Princess of Wales
Dates: Now until January 2, 2011
This musical comedy is a remake of the 1994 cult classic film. Personally, I found this to be quite the entertaining production and would highly recommend it. But and here’s a big but, this run is over on January 2, 2011 so you will have to hurry. The show leaves for Broadway in New York and was here only on a limited 12 week stay.
 
 
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
http://www.mirvish.com/shows/afunnythinghappenedonthewaytotheforum
Theatre: Canon
Dates: Now until January 16, 2011
This musical comedy with book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim was first performed in 1962. It has been in the repertoire ever since and went so far as to spawn a film version which was made in 1966 starring Zero Mostel. I haven’t seen this production but I know the work and with Sondheim’s name on the marquee, I can say that you are guaranteed quality work. Plus, Canada’s Sean Cullen is in the lead, a marvellous comedian. My wife and I saw him in another play at Stratford a little over a year ago and he was great.
 
The Nutcracker – The National Ballet of Canada
http://www.national.ballet.ca/
Theatre: Four Seasons Centre of the Performing Arts
Dates: Now until January 2, 2011
If you haven’t seen this show, it is a must; it is a classic. The music of Tchaikovsky is absolutely amazing and even if you are unfamiliar with his name, you certainly have heard the music at one time or another. I haven’t seen the production this year but have certainly seen it other years and we should all be proud of our National Ballet; it is a world class troupe.
 
Theatre: CNE grounds
Dates: on-going
This dinner show recreates, according to the publicity, an 11th century Spain with knights, damsels, ladies and lords. It is all great fun for the whole family: swordsmanship, jousting and a little good vs. evil thrown in for good measure. This production is on permanently at the CNE throughout the year so if you don’t catch it now, don’t worry; it will be there for all of 2011!
 
 
Theatre: Behind Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant
Dates: on-going
Funny, topical, irreverent. My wife and I have been over to see several of their shows and have found them quite amusing. We’ve even taken out of town guests over for a night of comedy as a "now for something completely different" type of entertainment. If you want a good laugh and want to make a night of your trip downtown, consider adding this to your list of things to do. Note that they do offer a package of a dinner and the show.
 
Coming up in 2011
 
Wingfield: Lost and Found
http://www.mirvish.com/shows/wingfield
Theatre: Panasonic
Dates: January 12 – 30, 2011
If you don’t know Wingfield, let me explain. This started as a series of humorous newspaper articles written by Dan Needles about a fictional Bay Street stock broker, Walt Wingfield who decides to chuck it all and become a farmer. He doesn’t know anything about farming and the various stories involve him trying to make a go of it with his own farm and his amusing interactions with the locals of some small farming community in southern Ontario. The stories became several books and the author went on to rework them into seven one man stage plays which are just hilarious. My wife and I have now seen 3 out of the 7 and we have been delighted. Rod Beattie, the actor, does each production as a one man show narrating and acting out the various characters making up the story and he is just excellent.
 
I can’t wax enthusiastically enough about Wingfield. The humour is clean, quaint and a slice of Canadiana. I myself have every intention of seeing this show when it starts up in mid-January. It is not to be missed!
 
Theatre: Canon Theatre
Dates: February 1, 2011
This show (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Elliot_the_Musical) is based on the 2000 film of the same name about an orphan who trades in his boxing gloves for ballet shoes. It features the music of Elton John and seems to have won a zillion awards. This is another one to seriously consider.
 
Theatre: Princess of Wales
Dates: April 9 – June 12, 2011
What’s to say? Did anybody not see the Disney movie? My wife and I took the kids to see the stage show when it was here in Toronto years ago and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. If you didn’t catch it the first time around, consider putting this on your list. Yes, you’ve seen the movie but the stage production is something else!
 
Final Word
In comparison to the movies, live entertainment is considerably more expensive. Nevertheless, there is a certain energy, a certain rapport one has when seeing real people on stage giving their all for you. Keep in mind when you look for tickets, there are deals to be had. I know that Mirvish has last minute lottery draws for inexpensive tickets but I also know from experience that buying at the very last minute can lead you to tickets which are less expensive than normal. As I stated in my review of Rock of Ages, I saw tickets were over a hundred bucks but when I bought at the last minute, I got one for fifty. I’m not sure why but I wasn’t going to question that.
 
So, plan out an evening. Come on downtown. Walk around Nathan Philips Square and Dundas Square. Have dinner; catch the lights then enjoy the show!

Click HERE to read more from William Belle.

 
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