Tapeworthy

Monday, October 09, 2017

Sharron, Music and Jam! - Unapologetically Me - Cabaret Review

Unapologetically Me: Sharron's Cabaret for Kids - Young People's Theatre Studio - Toronto, ON
Created and Performed by Sharron Matthews
Runs until Oct. 21st 2017


*


Sharron Matthews was the woman who first convinced me cabarets could be great. Her night time cabarets for grown ups is unapologetically Sharron being her fabulous self, and now she's being Unapologetically Me, for kids! Sharron's mix of heartfelt and honest personal stories (this time of her youth) and singing rearranged pop songs that fit surprisingly well into her stories, is a perfect combo to bring to the young audiences of YPT.

Sharron has a special handle on the rambunctious kids who totally grooved to the songs while Sharron cleverly told intimate stories about her childhood days. With her body positive, confidence owning, anti-bullying stance, there's a positivity about the whole show that manages to crack through even some of the more cynical of the kids. Watching the kids and their natural sassiness, it almost seemed like they hadn't heard this type of uncynical positive optimism as you could see their minds churning in how to take in this messaging, all while they were tapping to the beats (and a few head bangers rocking to the grooves). Sharron seems a natural in guiding her show to the very unpredictable audience of kids, and in our showing, ultimately ended up in a big dance party after one particular dancing kid got into the whole proceedings and Sharron happily went with it. And the kids followed!


Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Reality and Beyond - The Aliens and Mary Jane - Play Reviews

The Aliens - Coal Mine Theatre - Toronto, ON - **** (out of 5 stars)
Written by Annie Baker, Directed by Mitchell Cushman
Runs until Oct. 8th 2017

Mary Jane - New York Theatre Workshop - New York City, NY - ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Written by Amy Herzog, Directed by Anne Kauffman
Runs until Oct. 29th 2017



Watching these plays, The Aliens, an older Annie Baker play now brought to life by Coal Mine Theatre in Toronto, and Amy Herzog's newest play Mary Jane at NYTW, I sat there immersed in these stories and thought, these are not so much plot plays but about people thrown into bad situations and trying to deal with life, and damn is it heartbreaking. It's not obvious at first, but both Herzog and Baker's plays slowly reveal themselves by revealing the humanity in their characters as they deal with life's blows, but also reveal their strength, or "goodness" as we slowly figure out what Mary Jane's life is all about, or how two bro-ish straight "losers" hanging out in a backlot alley reserved for employees only find each other and lend whatever strengths they have to a newbie looking for connection.



Much of what is revealed in The Aliens is unspoken, in the awkward pauses or the silent moments that somehow bond KJ (Will Greenblatt) and Jasper (Noah Reid), two guys who found each other after life sort of failed them. They hang around the employees only backlot alley of someone else's workplace, where they deal with Jasper's latest relationship failure. When a new employee, an awkward 17-year-old Evan Shelmerdine (Maxwell Haynes), discovers the pair behind his new workplace, the older guys take a shine to the newbie and slowly develop a rapport with Evan as Evan answers back in awkward uneasy "cool" while trying to connect. Annie Baker nails the straight guys speak to awkward silence precision and it's in the slow reveals where the 2 older school-drop-outs show their artistic desires, as well as their band (last called The Aliens), who sort of school Evan in whatever advice they can give. It's a beautiful slow burn, and while parts tend to ramble on (much like in real life), it's a fascinating precursor to Baker's Pulitzer-winner The Flick and her latest play john.

Mitchell Cushman's production is beautifully set in the transformed Coal Mine Theatre space with a set by Anahita Debonehie and lights by Nick Blais that places the audience into the back alley (with a clever window detail for the stage manager). Sam Shouldice's sound design adds to the realism that lets Cushman bring Baker's ultra-realism theatre as we spend times with these guys we would normally overlook.

Will Greenblatt is particularly fun as KJ, the college-drop out with a drinking problem. Greenblatt's KJ exudes a cheeky bravado that masks his hidden disappointments and plays nicely against Maxwell Haynes shy awkwardness. Haynes, in a breakthrough debut, manages to convey so much of Evan's hopes and emotions in the very little actual dialogue he has, and his responses to KJ and Jasper help us learn to connect with the two "The Aliens". Noah Reid's Jasper is the "smarter" of the pair, but he seems less enthused by Evan while still showing he secretly cares underneath his cool loner exterior. Reid, who is naturally a warm likeable actor, tries hard to be the slightly hardened artistic type, and while at times his readings start to ramble (of Jasper's writings), it's obvious his Jasper wants to care about his friends, old and new.

There's a lot of talk about nothing (or what seems like nothing at first) but Baker's clever reveals slowly showcase the deep connections these guys have with each other, and their new found friends. They're ultimately depending on one another despite exuding loner independence as they try to exist and understand the reality they were given.




In Mary Jane, we slowly discover the daily life Mary Jane lives through right now, trying to take care of her highly sick son while surviving the reality of life and the health care system on a low income job that she's been rarely attending. In another hyper real setting with the awkward moments of silences and pauses as those around her try to help and understand but ultimately, Mary Jane's sad story is a good person in a terrible situation, and the play just displays that reality as the plot itself.

We see Mary Jane (Carrie Coon) in her apartment survive daily life with help from her super (Brenda Wehle), one of the various nurses (Liza Colón-Zayas) and the nurse's niece (Danaya Esperanza), and as she guides a fellow mother with a child with a similar case (Susan Pourfar). It should all be a big downer with little happiness or hope left in the story but Herzog imbues Jane's story with an internal sense of humour, as Jane's optimism, despite the lack of good news, buoys our own view of Mary Jane, both the person and the play.


The ensemble cast is unifyingly excellent and take on double roles that seem specifically geared to match their first roles. Colón-Zayas is a gentle angel as the home-nurse, but then seems particularly pointed and careful as a doctor on the case. Pourfar meanwhile breaks hearts twice as a mother of a newly diagnosed child, and then a Jewish mother of a child who seems to know the drill too well, and yet also does not. Esperanza is the plucky but heartfelt niece, and then returns as a genteel music therapist. Wehle is the snappy but understanding superintendent and then later doubles as a priest.

At the heart of it, Coon is refreshing as a no-nonsens Mary Jane who keeps advocating for her child without losing her optimism, but in doing so, slowly questions her place in the world, and how it all fits in.

Herzog's Mary Jane presents some very realistic moments in the title characters life, and through her interactions with others, we see the hidden heartbreak she tries to bury with an optimism that only enhances the emotional pull. While the realism is upended with a dramatic change to the story, it continues along moving from dealing with reality to questioning the beyond.



Photos of The Aliens by Tim Leyes
Photos of Mary Jane by Joan Marcus
Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

God Bless You For New Cast Recordings!

I'm giving away more new cast recordings!

New recordings of lesser known shows are being released on CD by Sh-K-Boom Records Friday, July 28th 2017, giving us these shows for posterity with some incredible cast members.


The Encores' Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, the first little heard musical by iconic duo Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid) had a recent Encores presentation at New York City Center and now it's been recorded so that we can listen to early Ashman/Menken through the glorious voices of Santino Fontana, Skylar Astin, Brynn O'Malley, Rebecca Naomi Jones and even James Earl Jones!




A new musical based on the cult 2001 film is now a new musical Bubble Boy by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. It was presented as a special concert at Feinstein's/54 Below with a cast that includes Alice Ripley, A.J. Holmes, Matt Doyle, Richard Kind, Nehal Joshi, and Gerard Canonico. Now preserved wonderfully in this recording, also out Friday, July 28th 2017


Here's your chance to WIN a CD or digital copy of the musical cast recordings! Follow @tapeworthy and ReTweet the tweets linked below:

To win the God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater PCR, retweet this tweet or any subsequent tweets about the contest.

To win the Bubble Boy OCR, retweet this tweet or any subsequent tweets about the contest.



The Details: -
The God Bless You Mr. Rosewater PCR contest closes at 11:59pm PST on Sunday July 30th 2017.
The Bubble Boy OCR contest closes at 11:59pm PST on Sunday, July 30th 2017.

Must be following @tapeworthy on twitter to be eligible.

Only winners will be contacted directly the day following contest closing. Winners will be randomly drawn from all entries. If winner does not respond within 5 days, another winner will be chosen.

Only one prize per person. - Contest is open to residents of USA and Canada for the CD copies. Worldwide for the digital copy.   - There will be 2 winners, one for the God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater PCR contest, and one for the Bubble Boy OCR contest, each consisting of your choice of a digital copy or a CD copy. Tapeworthy is not responsible for the shipment of the prize and will solely pass on the shipping information to Sh-K-Boom Records.

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


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Sunday, July 09, 2017

Win the Holiday Inn Musical or War Paint OBCRs!

I'm giving away some Original Broadway Cast Recordings! Thanks to Ghostlight Records and Sh-K-Boom Records, we're going to celebrate the release of the new CD cast recordings for new musicals War Paint and Holiday Inn. Both are currently available digitally, with War Paint OBCR set for CD release on July 14, 2017, and the Holiday Inn OBCR on CD out on July 21, 2017.

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn OBCR stars Bryce Pinkham, Megan Lawrence, Danny Rutigliano, Megan Sikora and Corbin Bleu. The music is of course Irving Berlin's classic music from the film of the same name, now with a book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge.

You probably think of Holiday Inn being famous for its Christmas song "White Christmas" but the musical takes us through all the seasons and every major American holiday with some of Berlin's most famous classics including "Easter Parade", "Blue Skies", "Stepping Out With My Baby", and "Holiday Inn/Happy Holiday"!




War Paint OBCR stars Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, in a new musical with music by Scott Frankel, Lyrics by Michael Korie, and a book by Doug Wright.

The new musical from the writers of the musical Grey Gardens, "tells the remarkable story of Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden—fierce rivals who defined 20th Century beauty. In creating an industry, they reinvented themselves and revolutionized how the world saw women."






Here's your chance to WIN a CD or digital copy of the musical OBCR's!:

To win a copy of Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn OBCR, Quote Retweet (or Retweet and reply) this tweet and tell me what your favourite holiday is, and include the hashtag #HolidayInnMusical


To win a copy of War Paint OBCR, Retweet this tweet.



The Details: -
The War Paint OBCR contest closes at 11:59pm PST on Thursday July 13th 2017.
The Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn OBCR contest closes at 11:59pm PST on Thursday, July 20th 2017.
Must be following @tapeworthy on twitter to be eligible.
Only winners will be contacted directly the day following contest closing. Winners will be randomly drawn from all entries. If winner does not respond within 5 days, another winner will be chosen.

Only one prize per person. - Contest is open to residents of USA and Canada for the CD copies. Worldwide for the digital copy.   - There will be 2 winners, one for the War Paint OBCR contest, and one for the Holiday Inn OBCR contest, each consisting of your choice of a digital copy or a CD copy. Tapeworthy is not responsible for the shipment of the prize and will solely pass on the shipping information to Sh-K-Boom Records.

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


More After the Jump...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Send in the Clowns - Morro and Jasp In Stupefaction - Theatre Review

Morro and Jasp in Stupefaction - Guloien Theatre at Streetcar Crowsnest - Toronto, ON - **** (out of 5 stars)
Created by Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee, Directed and Dramaturged by Byron Laviolette
Runs until Jun 29th 2017


Our beloved clown sisters Morro and Jasp are back in their new show Stupefaction. Still can't exactly explain what it's about and what happened (also, spoilers), but it's quite stupendous and there are snazzy special fx, projections (ooooh) and OTHER CHARACTERS IN THE SHOW! Or well not quite a show since Morro and Jasp enter the beautifully spacious new Guloien Theatre space at Streetcar Crowsnest as late coming audience members only to find themselves at the ire of the usher (Elliot Loran!) who tries to hurry the sisters into their seats. Shenanigans of course ensue until an technical problem ensues and Seften Jackson comes out to fix the mysterious electrical problem.


Eventually Morro and Jasp find themselves in a deliriously surreal situation but their comic warmth (and hilarious asides) takes us along for the ride as the clowns try to figure out what and why this is all happening, eventually questioning a sort of existential theatrical raison d'être. It's a darker turn for the clown sisters, but after growing up and doing Puberty, becoming mice or Morro, going to work, baking, it seems natural in life's progression that the sisters reach that point in life where we question our positions in the world (or in the theatre space). The sisters continue to fight, and at one point Jasp becomes a bit of a dictator (well, more than usual), but all the while the amusement peaks through the darkness (with some help of some snazzy lighting effects).


Add in a Fedex guy (the always comical Anand Rajaram) trying to get a signature for a mysterious package, the zaniness slowly builds with a bit of audience participation and lots of cheezies. Stupefaction is less straightforward than our past encounters with Morro and Jasp but still just as heartwarming and smile grinning. Plus it made me so happy to see Elliot Loran a part of the Morro and Jasp universe (and spoiler: I do agree he should be part of a big Broadway musical with that talent)!



Photos of Morro And Jasp: Stupefaction by Alex Nirta
Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


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Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Need to Travel?



Finally saw the Canadian modern classic Banana Boys (pictured above with Darrel Gamotin, Matthew Gin, Jeff Yung, Miquelon Rodriguez, Oliver Koomsatira) for the first time with the remount of Factory Theatre's terrific Naked Season production and I finally understand why it's now a modern Canadian classic. Also saw Young People Theatre's adorable new show Musnchtime!, based on a collection of Robert Munsch stories, Canadian children's classics in themselves.

Both great shows from local Toronto companies and both also seemed like natural fits to tour and to bring these companies to a wider audience. Factory Theatre will be touring another Naked Season show Saltwater Moon (including a transfer to a larger Toronto theatre for the Off-Mirvish season) and I hope this begins to be a continued effort with the reinvigorated Factory Theatre under Nina Lee Aquino. In fact the Naked Season was so terrific I would highly advocate for a tour of A Line in the Sand as well (which I placed in the top spot in my Best of Stage from last year).


Meanwhile Young People's Theatre has brought in many wonderful productions from other companies in other cities but I still love their home grown productions the most and wonder if they've had the opportunity to tour them. They've been able to remount some popular musicals (with James and the Giant Peach and Seussical returning this season alone), and while they build some impressive sets to fill the vast main stage at YPT, many could be easily scaled down to tour, including their current Munschtime! show (pictured above with Dov Mickelson and Lisa Nasson).

With Soulpepper now bringing some of their faves to New York City this summer on their 42nd Street residency at Signature Theatre's space, and with the success of some Canadian shows in New York City, including both Come From Away and Ride the Cyclone both getting Drama League nominations this season, it feels like finally there is some movement of Canadian shows getting recognized and seem beyond our city limits. Even within Canada, it's thrilling to hear Obsidian Theatre/Shaw Theatre's fantastic Master Harold... and the Boys (also on last year's Best of List) which already got mounted in both Niagara-on -the-Lake and Toronto, will now be seen at Segal Centre in Montreal.

There seems to be more networks of theatres building up and with the announcement of the cross-Atlantic theatre network to produce new plays with theatre giants CTGLA (Los Angeles), National Theatre (London), Royal Court (London), The Goodman Theatre (Chicago), Second Stage (NYC), seems like an exciting venture to share resources to present new works of theatre which Canadian Theatres could benefit from, or emulate.



Photo of Banana Boys by Joseph Michael
Photo of Munschtime! by Cylla von Tiedmann

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


More After the Jump...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Need for Musicalization? - New Musicals Reviews

Sousatzka - Elgin Theatre - Toronto, ON - **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Music by David Shire, Lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr., Book by Craig Lucas, Directed by Adrian Noble
Runs until Apr. 9th 2017


The Girls - Phoenix Theatre - West End - London, UK - **** (out of 5 stars)
Written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, Directed by Tim Firth


A Bronx Tale - Longacre Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Glenn Slater, Book by Chazz Palminteri, Directed by Robert DeNiro and Jerry Zaks


War Paint - Nederlander Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - *** (out of 5 stars)
Music by Scott Frankel, Lyrics by Michael Korie, Book by Doug Wright, Directed by Michael Greif
(Preview performance)


The View Upstairs - The Lynn Redgrave Theatre - Off-Broadway - New York City, NY - ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Book, Music and Lyrics by Max Vernon, Directed by Scott Ebersold




Sousatzka, the new musical from producer by Garth Drabinsky, seems to have enough intrigue behind the scenes for another show, but lets talk about the musical itself here. Sousatzka is an ambitious new musical that feels like it is from another era. With a cast of 57 trying to tell the tale of Holocaust survivor Madame Sousatzka, a brilliant piano teacher who has taken on Themba, a young prodigy who escaped from Soweto, Africa and brought to 1982 London to pursue his talent. Themba is torn between the world of classical music and strict training from Sousatzka and the ferocity of his mother, who was one of the leaders against Apartheid.

There is a compelling tight story with the clash of different worlds, and the unifying experience of survival. The musical tries to mine it, but then layers it with backstories for everyone, including Themba's father currently imprisoned in Soweto. Then just to keep padding the show, we get the colourful characters of a boarding house where Sousatzka lives, their lives, a look into the classist system in London and the ultimate attempt to get Themba his debut concert. There is a compelling tight story somewhere at the centre of this megasized show.

There are three musicals in the show and while the alternating musical styles could have been an interesting juxtaposition, especially between Sousatzka's classical ways compared to Themba's African musical roots, the creative team have also thrown more typical Broadway music to enrapture the era of early 80s London and moments that satirize the classist art world of the riche. All of which have little to add to our understanding of Sousatzka and Themba themselves (and I had to keep reminding myself that the show was apparently titled Sousatzka and who we were supposed to be focusing upon).

Still, in it's current form, we get to see the always wonderful Victoria Clark in a meaty central (if not focused) role, and Montego Glover in the underused and under examined role of Themba's mother. Judy Kaye, Fuschia!,  and local/Stratford's Jonathan Winsby are terrific in their secondary, if unnecessary roles, while newcomer Jordan Barrow is extremely talented and tries to fill out Themba despite the sketch of the central role. Everyone sings gloriously, but many of the side characters get their own songs that add little to the central story.

Many of the songs are quite lovely, especially those for Victoria Clark, and the African music by Lebo M sound glorious with the large cast (although the staging with a rising sun and the music by Lebo M has been iconicized already in The Lion King). There is a compelling story buried somewhere in this gigantic show, but the emotional effectiveness may have worked better as a smaller, simpler chamber piece, with a smaller cast.





A few years back there was a stage play version of Calendar Girls based on the film based on a true story. Lacking the charms of the film version, the play felt like an unnecessary transition to the stage, and wondered why it wasn't at least turned into a musical, since it felt like it had all the right elements to become one. Well, Gary Barlow (Take That) and Tim Firth apparently felt the same and have written The Girls, the new musical version of the now famed story of a group of older women who decide to make a nude calendar for charity.

What results is an utterly charming musical that uses the calendar theme, a year in the life of this small town in Yorkshire, to follow a group of women struggling with various issues as they get older. The musical also makes the idea of the calendar as a rallying effort as the pinnacle of the first half, and then the courage to actually do the nude calendar as the pinnacle for the whole show, and dramatically it works far better than the play that had the calendar shoot in the middle of the show.

As a big fan of Gary Barlow and his boy band days with Take That, I was disappointed with his music for Finding Neverland, but he redeems himself here with a musical score that fits with the story.

The cast of Girls, with Joanna Riding and Claire Moore as the leaders of this calendar idea, and Debbie Chazen, Sophie-Louise Dann, Michelle Dotrice, and Claire Machin are wonderful, as well as Josh Benson, Ben Hunter and Chloe May Jackson as their teenage kids with their own problems.





A Bronx Tale is a new musical based on Chazz Palminteri's play, but it also owes a lot to Jersey Boys and West Side Story (no seriously, how much are they paying in residuals?) and every Italian American cliché you can fit into a "new" musical that feels done. The show feels lazy with cheap laughs in a story about a young Italian boy whose devotion is torn between his father and a gangster but luckily sharp casting of Nick Cordero (Waitress) and Richard Blake (Legally Blonde) makes the most of what they can. The music by Alan Menken feels phoned it but it's still Menken music so still enjoyable.

Eyes kept rolling along with the clichés but then Ariana DeBose (Hamilton) appears as our young lead's potential love interest and her chemistry with Bobby Conte Thornton brings a new glow to the heavy handed show. Despite the hoary cliché´s and the lazy script and songs, watching Thornton and DeBose was enough to make the show enjoyable and I ultimately left the Longacre with a huge smile on my face.





War Paint tells the story of Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden's lifelong rivalry in the cosmetics industry and their contributions during the war. It's a fascinating story but this musical solely exists to see Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole diva-it out on stage as Rubinstein and Arden, respectively. As their male sales partners (gay BFF, husband respectively) swap bosses and allegiances, the drama of these two women moguls in a time of male dominance is nicely mined, with pleasant, if forgetable songs from Frankel and Korie (with songs that have more mainstream appeal than their Grey Gardens) that give LuPone and Ebersole chances to one-up each other until the characters finally meet in the end.

But for a musical called War Paint, with Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole as rival cosmetic icons, it's surprising that it takes until the end of the show before their characters appear in the same room together. It may be more true to life, but it makes the show a tedium of back and forth scenes between Rubinstein and Arden. While the creative team figure out a way for them to have some moments together, particularly with the final Act 1 song, it lacks any true fireworks you would expect about a rivalry between two divas.

Without LuPone or Ebersole in the main roles, there's a generic traditional musical at its core that is only skin deep. LuPone throws out the zingers but the show isn't fun and campy enough and tries to respect the story yet does not go deep enough to truly understand the characters. The show even starts with the rivalry already in place, and does not really try to explain how it all began. For such a colourful premise, War Paint feels surprisingly flat. It's beautiful to look at, with a beautiful set by David Korins and costumes by Catherine Zuber, but there's very little contour in the show.





The View Upstairs is at its best when it regales in the regular patrons of a 70s gay bar the Upstairs Lounge in the French Quarters of New Orleans. The twist however throws a time-traveling loop, throwing a young millennial entitled fashion designer into the old bar as he learns what it's like to be gay when it wasn't as open as it is now. Lessons are learned and the future boy becomes a better person yada yada but the real fun is with the characters from the bar, especially when Frenchie Davis or Nathan Lee Graham speak or sing. And boy does the cast sing, with some lovely songs by Max Vernon, showing a lot of promise for the future of musicals. Michael Longoria, Ben Mayne, and Randy Redd are excellent as some of the other bar regulars.


Photo of Sousatzka by Cylla von Tiedemann
Photo of The Girls by Matt Crockett
Photos of A Bronx Tale and War Paint by Joan Marcus
Photo of The View Upstairs by Kurt Sneddon
Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


More After the Jump...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Best of Stage 2016

2016 total: 156 Shows (though 9 of those were for Come From Away, another 3 for Groundhog Day and a few other repeats).

Saw less in New York than usual, but saw my first non-English show with no translation in Amsterdam.

Saw a lot of shows I had seen in previous years and thus ineligible for this year's list.
(For previous years Best of Stage Lists:
Best of Stage 2015 (including Come From Away and Hamilton)
Best of Stage 2014 (including A Streetcar Named Desire and The James Plays)
Best of Stage 2013 (including Kinky Boots
Best of Stage 2012
Best of Stage 2011 (including Seussical
Best of Stage 2010
Best of Stage 2009
Best of Stage 2008 (including Cinderella)
Best of Stage 2007)

So again, any new production I saw for the first time in 2016 is eligible and EVERYTHING I saw this year is listed at the bottom of the post.


Here's the Best of Stage 2016:

1. A Line in the Sand - Factory Theatre Studio - Toronto, ON
Written by Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef, Directed by Nigel Shawn Williams


A beautiful production during Factory Theatre's "naked season" of a political play that is still pointed and relevant, but even more importantly, still emotionally heartbreaking and tragic. We watch as a Canadian soldier befriends a young local Palestinian teen during Desert Storm and the beautiful relationship possible from what begins as fear and a commercial transaction. Nigel Shawn Williams and his sound and design team provides a beautiful portrait of the many layers and many lines drawn between the two men left alone in the desert. Morgan David Jones and Danny Ghantous give gentle nuanced performances and John Cleland adds a tense twist in the dynamics of the three person play by Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef. A harsh critique of the war and Canada's peacekeeping efforts as it draws from the portraits of two young men from different worlds who end up crisscrossing in life altering ways.



2. People, Places and Things - Headlong and National Theatre at the Wyndham's Theatre - West End - London, UK
Written by Duncan Macmillan, Directed by Jeremy Herrin


Another play about an actress? Another play about addiction? Groan. Right? Wrong. Duncan MacMillan's intimate yet epically staged play goes into one actress' addiction spiral as she attempts to seek help. It's unsentimental but fully emotionally engrossing. And then there is Denise Gough in the central role.  DENISE GOUGH DENISE GOUGH DENISE GOUGH! A tremendous breakthrough performance filled with intelligence and wit, in a play full of thought and wit surrounding the harsh realities of addiction.



3. Groundhog Day - The Old Vic Theatre - London, UK
Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin, Book by Danny Rubin based on his film, Directed by Matthew Warchus


The most fun I've had at a big mainstream musical in a long time. The most fun I've had at a big mainstream musical in a long time. The most fun I've had at a big mainstream musical in a long time.

This is Andy Karl vs. a groundhog and the town of Punxsutawney, PA with the help of some extremely catchy and repetitive music from Tim Minchin, whose black humour and sarcasm is used to perfect use here. It's a joyous ode to small town life, the exact life Karl's Phil Connors wants to escape from but can't, and Minchin and Rubin find the right balance of darkness and heart to spin this repetitive tale into a new musical hit.



4. Right Now - Bush Theatre - London, UK
Written by Catherine-Anne Toupin, Translated by Chris Campbell, Directed by Michael Boyd


I had to go all the way to London to catch an English production of Quebec playwright Catherine-Anne Toupin's very sly surreal, often funny and strange but ultimately heartbreaking play about a young couple and their wacky neighbours. To tell more would spoil the fun (and more) but THAT ENDING.



5. Female Fringe
Bright Lights - Toronto Fringe Festival at Tarragon Theatre Mainspace - Toronto, ON
Written and Directed by Kat Sandler
Cam Baby - Toronto Fringe Festival at Factory Theatre Mainspace - Toronto, ON
Written by Jessica Moss, Directed by Charlotte Gowdy



Kat Sandler and Jessica Moss' plays at the Toronto Fringe were hilarious takes on dark subjects. While Bright Lights shone laughs at a meeting for alien abduction believers, it was a sly take on a darker side of culture (I'll try to avoid spoilers and my interpretation) and what we believe in people depending on who is saying it. Cam Baby took a less ethereal approach when a couple is filmed on camera without one knowing it and the fallout when the violated woman finds out. Excellent Fringe plays that are ready to transfer to any main stage right now, but hopefully with the amazing Fringe casts that came along with it.



6. Cacti - National Ballet of Canada at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - Toronto, ON
Choreographed by Alexander Ekman


Part of an excellent selection of shorts that included repeats of ballet classics Rubies and The Four Temperaments, Cacti on the other hand was just plain kooky. Exhilarating and energetic, this weird piece basically mocks the world of dance and ballet and the language we use for it, and the meanings we try to impart on it. A critique of critiques of dance we could say. Also, there are cacti plants everywhere. Simply odd and totally joyous and hilarious.



7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two - Palace Theatre - West End - London, UK
Written by Jack Thorne based on a story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Directed by John Tiffany


A truly magical theatrical event. Using a mix of old school tricks and new technology, John Tiffany and the amazing creative team have created a jaw dropping spectacle that takes us on a ride to Hogwarts. As a grown up middle aged Harry Potter deals with his own kids, particularly as Albus Severus Potter embarks on his journey to Hogwarts for the first time. There's some truly poignant moments as Harry must deal with the parental life despite being an orphan. The plot however takes over and follows along Albus and Scorpius Malfoy in a new set of adventures that ultimately intertwines with some iconic moments from the books.

At times the plot feels like it's catering to the fans a bit too much, as the story is more in service to the stage event, trying to fit all our favourites from the books. Still, the theatrical event is quite the ride and we all sat enthralled with every plot twist and magical moments on stage.



8. The Harvest - Lincoln Center Theater at LCT3's Claire Tow Theater - Off-Broadway - New York City, NY
Written by Samuel D. Hunter, Directed by Davis McCallum


Once again Samuel D Hunter takes us to middle America and our hearts are gripped by people we may recognize but might not really know. In The Harvest, we're in a church basement in Idaho as a group of evangelical Christian teens are about to embark on a mission to the Middle East, but Josh (a terrific Peter Mark Kendall) plans to stay there, a decision which reverberates into the lives of his sister, his best friend (Gideon Glick) and rest of the church group. Never condescending, Hunter and Davis lay out these kids thoughts and fears on life while showing how faith and religion make their marks on these souls while living in a poorer middle America. Refreshing and humbling.



9. "Master Harold"... and the Boys - Obsidian Theatre and Shaw Festival at the Toronto Centre for the Arts - Studio Theatre - Toronto, ON
Written by Athol Fugard, Directed by Philip Akin


A masterful revival that hits deep with a chillingly confident performance from James Daly as "Master Harold". Hally, the young white man who has grown up with "the Boys", the Black workers at his parents' diner, in 1950's South Africa thinks of the boys as part of his life but things begin to reveal themselves in the ultimate example of "white privilege". An excellent André Sills as the more outspoken "boys" Willie and Allan Louis who says so much with so little words as the other "boys" Sam, the trio skirt around the diner as issues of race and class are skirted around the conversations, but ultimately, the young handsome Hally's ugly attitude comes to a shocking display. Fugard's play may be a period piece but sadly seems to reverberate more than ever in 2016.



10. Waitress - Brooks Atkinson Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY
Music and Lyrics by Sara Bareilles, Book by Jessie Nelson, Based on the film by Adrienne Shelly, Directed by Diane Paulus


Jessie Mueller Jessie Mueller Jessie Mueller! A magical musical theatre performer who whisks us into her world and into her heart as she lovingly sings Sara Bareilles new songs for the musical adaptation to the film Waitress (the wonderful film by Adrienne Shelly). Surrounded by a delightful cast, with the excellent Keala Settle and Kimiko Glenn as her fellow waitresses with love problems, the delicious Drew Gehling as a charming doctor, and the always delightful Christopher Fitzgerald as a blind date who won't go away. The all female creative team manages to bury the creep factors inherent within the story and maintain the air of romanticism and delightful comedy (for better or for worse). Bareilles' first foray into musical theatre is beautiful and subtle, though not helped by the band that buries the melodies under overemphasized drums, but ultimately it is the strong message of female empowerment and sexual confidence that wafts through the Atkinson Theatre.



11. Eclipsed - Golden Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY
Written by Danai Gurira, Directed by Liesl Tommy


Stressful to watch, but nothing compared to the stress the woman in the story have to deal with.
The horrific lives that these woman must face as they are trapped in the Liberian war. As the women attempt to hide from the war, or become exploited in the battle,  the five all-female cast, comprising of Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, Saycon Sengbloh, Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, and Zainab Jah are equally stupendous and empowering in their performances. A harrowing powerful tale of survival, but Gurira manages to interject humour into these lives and giving each of them their own hopes to survive the war.



12. She Loves Me (Musical Revival) - Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54 - Broadway - New York City, NY
Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Book by Joe Masteroff, Directed by Scott Ellis


One of my favourite old musicals with a dream team cast of Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Gavin Creel and Jane Krakowski. Add in the adorable Nicholas Barasch as Arpad.
It's pure musical delight. Love She Loves Me!



13. The Deep Blue Sea - National Theatre's Lyttleton Theatre - London, UK
Written by Terrence Rattigan, Directed by Carrie Cracknell



Helen McCrory takes on Terrence Ratigan play of the unhappy housewife in an era when nosy neighbours and their opinions can smear everything and gossip may lead to ones' ruins. Under Carrie Cracknell's direction, this period piece still felt as suspenseful and earth shattering as it was probably originally meant to, and McCrory is devastating in her pursuit for her own happiness.



14. Jekyll and Hyde - The McOnie Company at The Old Vic Theatre - London, UK
Devised, Choreographed and Directed by Drew McOnie, Music by Grant Olding


Well, I did not expect a new dance show about a nerdy man who turns into a serial rapist and killer to be so much fun! Drew McOnie fluidly tells the tale in dance format, transferring the Jekyll and Hyde to 1950s London, with fantastic new music by Grant Olding, and they hit the right cheeky, fun, and creeping dark undertones in just the right balance. Daniel Collins is wonderfully gawky and winning as Dr. Jekyll, while Jason Winter filled in for Mr. Hyde and his swagger and chiselled build is extremely seducing (and I can't imagine someone else in the role). A beautiful cast fills in the ensemble with some really fun choreo from McOnie who manages to make this narrative dance play work in a thrilling way (and reminded me of the best Matthew Bourne dance shows).



15. The Lorax - The Old Vic Theatre - London, UK
Written by Dr. Seuss, Adapted for the Stage by David Greig, Directed by Max Webster


A dark musical about the dangers of an environmental catastrophe that may only be fixed with the help of a small furry creature. Maybe a bit darker than Dr. Seuss imagined but this wonderful new musical with a game cast, including Simon Lipkin and a team of puppeteers as The Lorax brings an important message with whimsy and some clever staging.



16. Young Chekhov: Platonov - The Chichester Festival Theatre's Production at National Theatre's Olivier Theatre - London, UK
Written by Anton Chekhov, in a new version by David Hare, Directed by Jonathan Kent


Part of the Chichester Festival and National Theatre's trilogy of Young Chekhov, this lesser known earlier work manages to bring all the themes Chekhov later would hone, into a more playful piece. It's Chekhov but actually enjoyable and fun (and more in keeping with the "comedy" he's technically labeled with) with an ace cast lead by James McArdle and Nina Sosanya.



17. Strangers in Between - King's Head Theatre - London, UK
Written by Tommy Murphy, Directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher


As a young gay man Shane comes to the big city in Sydney, he escapes small town life and the terror of his brother Ben and finds new bonds. An older gay man takes him under his wings while he falls for the hot Will. The simplicity in the story and the production is enhanced by clever use of the tiny set (in the tiny King's Head Theatre). Adding an additional layer, having Ben and Will played by the same actor (a mesmerizing Dan Hunter) parallels the emotional significance to Shane in his coming out journey. Surprisingly touching and fresh, with an added jolt of an excited performance by Roly Botha as Shane, Strangers in Between unexpectedly felt new and different despite the simple coming out premise.



18. Three Men in a Boat - Next Stage Festival at Factory Theatre Studio - Toronto, ON
Written by Mark Brownell, Adapted from the travelogue of Jerome K Jerome, Directed by Sue Miner


3 men, in a boat, and a dog Montmercy, in this retelling of an 1889 travelogue. And it was hilarious and pure joy.



19.
Botticelli in the Fire - Canadian Stage Company at Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs - Toronto, ON
Written by Jordan Tannahill, Directed by Matjash Mrozewski 
Body Politic - Buddies in Bad Times Theatre - Toronto, ON
Written by Nick Green, Directed by Alisa Palmer


Part of a double bill of one-act plays from new wonder kid Jordan Tannahill, Boticelli in the Fire is ambitious in style and substance. Despite some pacing issues and slow scene transitions in the direction, Boticelli the play felt fresh with its modernized storytelling of the artist Botticelli as he's forced to choose between his gay lifestyle and his loves or his own survival when religious fervour in the city seeks to burn homosexuals. The mix of contemporary speech and some modern elements with the historical tale invigorated the political message while allowing the soapy dramatic elements of the plot to flourish in the hands of the game cast.


Over at Buddies, this historical drama about the creation of the first local Toronto gay newspaper the Body Politic as a political act and its history turns out to be fascinating theatre. A modern day date interweaves through the historical tale and while at times it slows down the more fascinating journey of the creation of the original newspaper, it eventually helps enhance the importance of those defiant acts in the fight for gay rights the newspaper the Body Politic created.



20. Mockingbird - Next Stage Festival at Factory Theatre Mainspace - Toronto, ON
Written and Directed by Rob Kempson 


The gossip in the teacher's lounge flies when rumours of a relationship between a teacher and student emerge. As taboo subjects and the secret lives of teachers get thrown on the chalkboard, this very funny new play manages to surprise, with both sympathy and shock.



Honourable Mentions: 

Chasse-Gallerie - Soulpepper
Collapse - Toronto Fringe Festival
Sell/Buy/Date - Manhattan Theatre Club
This is the Point - Ahuri Theatre at The Theatre Centre


Solid revivals of:

A Chorus Line - Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Incident at Vichy - Soulpepper
The Plough and the Stars - National Theatre
Sunset Boulevard - English National Opera
The Threepenny Opera - National Theatre
The Wizard of Oz - Young People's Theatre


Breakthrough Performances (in alphabetical order):

The cast of A Line in the Sand: John Cleland, Danny Ghantous, Morgan David Jones

The cast of Cam Baby: Karl Ang, Ashley Botting, Andrew Cameron, Brandon Coffey, Beau Dixon, Christine Horne

The cast of The Circle: Nikki Duval, Jakob Ehman, Daniel Ellis, Vivien Endicott-Douglas, Brian Solomon, Jake Vanderham

The cast of Eclipsed: Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, Zainab Jah, Lupita Nyong'o, Saycon Sengbloh

The cast of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour: Caroline Deyga, Karen Fishwick, Kirsty MacLaren, Frances Mayli McCann, Joanne McGuinness, Dawn Sievewright

The cast of Right Now: Guy Williams, Dyfan Dwyfor, Lindsey Campbell, Sean Biggerstaff, Maureen Beattie

The cast of This is the Point: Tony Diamanti, Liz MacDougall, Christina Serra, Dan Watson

The cast of Three Men in a Boat: Matt Pilipiak, Victor Pokinko, Scott Garland

Elizabeth Adams in False Start
Matt Alfano in A Chorus Line
Cole Alvis in Body Politic
Sidney Iking Bateman in Cuisine and Confessions
Scott Beaudin in Forever Plaid
Jamie Beddard in The Threepenny Opera
Corbin Bleu in Holiday Inn
Roly Botha in Strangers in Between
Anthony Boyle in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two
Hubert Burton in The Deep Blue Sea
Jordan Cheng in Mr. Shi and His Lover
Sam Clemmett in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two
Daniel Collins in Jekyll and Hyde
Cody Costro in Dead Poets Society
Frank Cox-O'Connell in Hamlet
James Daly in "Master Harold"... and the Boys and Sleeping Beauty
Elizabeth Debicki in The Red Barn
Jason DeRosse in Twist Your Dickens
Shakura Dickson in Women
Dylan Evans in False Start
Diane Flacks in Body Politic
Lora Lee Gayer in Holiday Inn
Denise Gough in People, Places and Things
Jonah Hauer-King in The Entertainer
Arinea Hermans in Seussical
Dan Hunter in Strangers in Between
Tyrone Huntley in Dreamgirls
Stephen Jackman-Torkoff in Mockingbird and Botticelli in the Fire
Lily James in Romeo and Juliet
Daniel Kaluuya in Blue/Orange
Isabel Kanaan in Women
Yolanda Kettle in The Deep Blue Sea
Debbie Kurup in The Threepenny Opera
Kat Letwin in Late Night and Chasse-Gallerie
Hannah Levinson in Matilda
Simon Lipkin in Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Simon Manyonda in King Lear
Julia McLellan in A Chorus Line
Luke Noris in Blue/Orange
Joe Paulik in Stupid Fu**ing Bird
Matias Plaul in Cuisine and Confessions
Joe Aaron Reid in Dreamgirls
Jennifer Rider-Shaw in A Chorus Line
Amber Riley in Dreamgirls
Judith Roddy in The Plough and the Stars
Conor Scully in A Chorus Line
Christopher Sears in Stupid Fu**ing Bird and The Harvest
Shaina Silver-Baird in Chasse-Gallerie
James Smith in Chasse-Gallerie
Jason Sudeikis in Dead Poets Society
Harrison Tanner in Women
Shannon Taylor in Shakespeare in Love
Kimberly-Ann Truong in A Chorus Line
Olivia Vinall in Young Chekhov: PlatonovIvanov and The Seagull
Fionn Walton in The Plough and the Stars
Jason Winter in Jekyll and Hyde


Great Performances (in alphabetical order):

The cast of Bright Lights: Amy Lee, Heather Marie Annis, Chris Wilson, Peter Carlone, Colin Munch

The cast of Disgraced: Raoul Bhaneja, Karen Glave, Ali Momen, Michael Rubenfeld, Birgitte Solem

The cast of Falsettos: Stephanie J. Block, Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, Anthony Rosenthal, Tracie Thoms, Brandon Uranowitz, Betsy Wolfe

The cast of The Harvest: Gideon Glick, Scott Jaeck, Leah Karpel, Peter Mark Kendall, Madeleine Martin, Christopher Sears, Zoë Winters

Gabriel Antonacci in A Chorus Line and A Little Night Music
Nicholas Barasch in She Loves Me
Laura Benanti in She Loves Me
Kenneth Branagh in The Painkiller and The Entertainer
Andrea Brown in False Start and Toronto, Mississippi
Rob Brydon in The Painkiller
Tom Burke in The Deep Blue Sea
Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard
Ron Cook in Faith Healer
Michael Cox in Chasse-Gallerie
Rosalie Craig in The Threepenny Opera
Gavin Creel in She Loves Me
Cynthia Dale in A Little Night Music
Noma Dumezweni in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two
Sara Farb in A Little Night Music
Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Fully Committed
Ralph Fiennes in Richard III
Christopher Fitzgerald in Waitress
Nick Fletcher in The Deep Blue Sea
Drew Gehling in Waitress
Alexis Gordon in A Little Night Music
Haydn Gwynne in The Threepenny Opera
Mark Hadfield in The Painkiller
Nick Holder in The Threepenny Opera
Jane Horrocks in King Lear
Luke Humphrey in Shakespeare in Love
Rhys Ifans in King Lear
George Ikediashi in The Threepenny Opera
Glenda Jackson in King Lear
Derek Jacobi in Romeo and Juliet
Sarah Jones in Sell/Buy/Date
Stephen Kennedy in The Plough and the Stars
Rory Kinnear in The Threepenny Opera
Jane Krakowski in She Loves Me
Ian Lake in Macbeth
Nathan Lane in The Front Page
Richard Lee in Acquiesce
Zachary Levi in She Loves Me
Allan Louis in "Master Harold"... and the Boys
Jeigh Madjus in Seussical
Diego Matamoros in Incident at Vichy
James McArdle in Young Chekhov: Platonov
Helen McCrory in The Deep Blue Sea
Gina McKee in Faith Healer
Patrick McKenna in Twist Your Dickens
Harry Melling in King Lear
Jessie Mueller in Waitress
Jamie Parker in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two
Bryce Pinkham in Holiday Inn
Alex Price in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two
Mark Rylance in Nice Fish
Tyrone Savage in Chasse-Gallerie
Vanessa Sears in The Wizard of Oz
Keala Settle in Waitress
Megan Sikora in Holiday Inn
André Sills in "Master Harold"... and the Boys
Nina Sosanya in Young Chekhov: Ivanov and Platonov
Peter Sullivan in The Deep Blue Sea
Paul Thornley in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two


Great Performances Again (in alphabetical order):

The cast of Come From Away: Petrina Bromley, Geno Carr, Jenn Colella, Joel Hatch, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum, Chad Kimball, Lee MacDougall, Caesar Samayoa, Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, Sharon Wheatley

Gillian Anderson in A Streetcar Named Desire
Graham Scott Fleming in Kinky Boots
Ben Foster in A Streetcar Named Desire
Vanessa Kirby in A Streetcar Named Desire
Alan Mingo Jr. in Kinky Boots

____________________________________________________

Here is every Stage Show I saw in 2016 in alphabetical order. All reviews are based on a 5 stars system (Workshop Labs, Readings, Concerts and Cabarets are not graded):



A Chorus Line (Musical Revival) - Stratford Shakespeare Festival in the Festival Theatre - Stratford, ON - ****

Acquiesce (Play) - Factory Theatre Mainstage - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Agamemnon (Play) - Next Stage Festival at Factory Theatre Mainstage - Toronto, ON - **1/2

A Line in the Sand (Play Revival) x2 - Factory Theatre Studio - Toronto, ON - *****

A Little Night Music (Musical Revival) - Stratford Shakespeare Festival in the Avon Theatre - Stratford, ON - ***

A Man Walks Into a Bar (Play) - Next Stage Festival at Factory Theatre Studio - ***1/2

A Streetcar Named Desire (Play Revival) - Young Vic at St. Ann's Warehouse - Brooklyn, NY - ***** (Review) (Already in Best of Stage 2014)

Backstage in Biscuit Land (Play) - Touretteshero at Harbourfront Centre Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Behold, the Barfly! (Play) - Toronto Fringe Festival at Monarch Tavern - Toronto, ON - **1/2

Blue/Orange (Play Revival) - Young Vic Theatre - Main House - London, UK - ***1/2 (Review)

Blue Planet (Variety) x2 - Amber Theater on Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise - ***1/2

Body Politic (Play) - Buddies in Bad Times Theatre - Toronto, ON - ****

Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom (Plays) - Canadian Stage Company at Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs - Toronto, ON (Review)
Botticelli in the Fire - ****
Sunday in Sodom - ***

Bright Lights (Play) - Toronto Fringe Festival at Tarragon Theatre Mainspace - Toronto, ON - ****1/2

Cacti and Rubies and The Four Temperaments (Ballet) - National Ballet of Canada at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - Toronto, ON - ****1/2
Cacti - ****1/2
Rubies - ****
The Four Temperaments - ****

Cam Baby (Play) - Toronto Fringe Festival at Factory Theatre Mainspace - Toronto, ON - ****1/2

Canadian Music Theatre Project (Musical Workshop) - Sheridan Theatre at Sheridan College - Oakville, ON
The Journey That Saved Curious George (Musical)
Small Wonder (Musical)
Rumspringa Break! An Am-ish Musical (Musical)

Cannibal the Musical (Workshop Reading) - Masonic Temple - Toronto, ON

Cats (Musical Revival) - Neil Simon Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - ***1/2

Chasse-Gallerie (Musical) - Storefront Theatre at Soulpepper in the Michael Young Theatre at the Young Centre for the Arts - Toronto, ON - ****

Chimerica (Play) - Canadian Stage at Bluma Appel Theatre - St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts - Toronto, ON - *** (Review)

Cinderella (Ballet) - National Ballet of Canada at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - Toronto, ON - **** (Review) (Already in Best of Stage 2008)

The Circle (Play) - Tarragon Theatre Extraspace - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Collapse (Play) - Toronto Fringe Festival at Tarragon Theatre Studio - Toronto, ON - ****

Come From Away (Musical) - Ford's Theatre - Washington D.C. x1, Royal Alexandra Theatre - Toronto, ON x8 - ***** (Already in Best of Stage 2015)

Concord Floral (Play) - Canadian Stage Company in the Bluma Appel Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre - Toronto, ON - ***

Cuisine and Confessions (Circus) x2 - The 7 Fingers at Princess of Wales Theatre - Toronto, ON - ****

Dead Poets Society (Play) - Classic Stage Company - Off-Broadway - New York City, NY - ***

The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA The Negro Book of the Dead (Play Revival) - Signature Theatre in the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center - Off-Broadway - New York City, NY - ***1/2

The Deep Blue Sea (Play Revival) - National Theatre's Lyttleton Theatre - London, UK - ****

Demonen (Play) - Toneelgroep Oostpool at the Stadsschouwburg - Amsterdam, NL - ***

Disenchanted (Musical) - Dress Rehearsal at St. Michael's College - Toronto, ON

Disgraced (Play) - Panasonic Theatre - Toronto, ON - **** (Review)

Dogfight (Musical - College Production) - Sheridan Theatre at Sheridan College Studio - Oakville, ON

Dreamgirls (Musical Revival) - Savoy Theatre - West End - London, UK - ****

Eclipsed (Play) - Golden Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - **** (Review)

Elegy (Play) - Donmar Warehouse - London, UK - ***

The Entertainer (Play Revival) x2 - Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company at the Garrick Theatre - West End - London, UK - **1/2

Evil Dead the Musical (Musical) - Randolph Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***

Faith Healer (Play Revival) - Donmar Warehouse - London, UK - **1/2

Falsettos (Musical Revival) - Lincoln Center Theater at The Walter Kerr Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - ***1/2

False Start (Play) - Toronto Fringe Festival at St. Vladimir Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Finis Henderson (Variety) - Amber Theater on Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise - ***

Forever Plaid (Musical Revival) - Panasonic Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

The Front Page (Play Revival) - Broadhurst Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - ***

Fully Committed (Play Revival) - Lyceum Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - ***1/2 (Review)

Gaslight (Play Revival) - Ed Mirvish Theatre - Toronto, ON - *1/2

A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder (Musical) - Ed Mirvish Theatre - Toronto - **1/2

Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation (Ballet) - Royal Winnipeg Ballet at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Goodnight Moon (Musical) - Seattle Children's Theatre at Young People's Theatre - Toronto, ON - ****

Groundhog Day (Musical) x3 - The Old Vic Theatre - London, UK - ****1/2

Hamilton (Musical) - Richard Rodgers Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - ****1/2 (Already inBest of Stage 2015)

Hamlet (Play Revival) - Canadian Stage Company at Shakespeare in High Park - Toronto, ON - ****

Hangmen (Play) - Royal Court at Wyndham Theatre - West End - London, UK - ****

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two (Play) - Palace Theatre - West End - London, UK - ****

The Harvest (Play) - Lincoln Center Theater at LCT3's Claire Tow Theater - Off-Broadway - New York City, NY - ****

The Heidi Chronicles (Play Revival) - Soulpepper in the Bailie Theatre at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts - ***1/2

Holiday Inn (Musical) - Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54 - Broadway - New York City, NY - ****

Homos, or Everyone in America (Play) - Labyrinth Theatre Company at the Bank Theatre - Off-Broadway - New York City, NY - ***1/2

How to Train Your Dragon on Ice (Skating) - Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise - ***1/2

The Hypochondriac (Play Revival) - Stratford Shakespeare Festival in the Festival Theatre - Stratford, ON - ***

Ice Games (Skating) - Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise - ***

If/Then (Musical) - Princess of Wales Theatre - Toronto, ON - **** (Review)

Incident at Vichy (Play Revival) - Soulpepper in the Michael Young Theatre at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts - ****

Young Chekhov: Ivanov (Play Revival) - The Chichester Festival Theatre's Production at National Theatre's Olivier Theatre - London, UK - ***1/2

The James Plays - National Theatre of Scotland at Luminato Festival in The Hearn - Toronto, ON - ****1/2 (Already in Best of Stage 2014)
James I: The Key Will Keep the Lock - ****1/2
James II: Day of the Innocents - ****
James III: The True Mirror - ****1/2

Jekyll and Hyde (Dance) - The McOnie Company at The Old Vic Theatre - London, UK - ****1/2 (Review)

The Judas Kiss (Play Revival) - Hampstead Theatre's Production at Ed Mirvish Theatre - Toronto, ON - **1/2 (Review)

King Lear (Play Revival) - The Old Vic Theatre - London, UK - ***1/2

Kinky Boots (Musical) x3 - Royal Alexandra Theatre - Toronto, ON - **** (Review) (Already in Best of Stage 2013)

La Sylphide (Ballet) - National Ballet of Canada at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - Toronto, ON - ****

Late Night (Play) - Theatre Brouhaha at ZoomerHall - Toronto, ON - ***

Le Petit Prince (Ballet) - National Ballet of Canada at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Let Me Entertain You (Circus) - AquaTheater on Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise - ***1/2

Life After (Musical) - Toronto Fringe Festival at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Little Black Dress (Musical Workshop) - The Second City's Studio - Toronto, ON

The Lorax (Musical) - The Old Vic Theatre - London, UK - ****

Cirque de Soleil's Luzia (Circus) - Le Grand Chapiteau at the Portlands - Toronto, ON - ****

Macbeth (Play Revival) - Stratford Shakespeare Festival in the Festival Theatre - Stratford, ON - ***

The Maids (Play Revival) - Jamie Lloyd Company at Trafalgar Studios - West End - London, UK - ***

Mamma Mia (Musical) x2 - Amber Theater on Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise - ****

The Master Builder (Play Revival) - The Old Vic Theatre - London, UK - ***1/2

"Master Harold"... and the Boys - Obsidian Theatre and Shaw Festival at the Toronto Centre for the Arts - Studio Theatre - Toronto, ON - ****

Matilda (Musical) - Ed Mirvish Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***

Mistatim (Play) - Red Sky at Young People's Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Mockingbird (Play) - Next Stage Festival at Factory Theatre Mainspace - Toronto, ON - ****

Mrs. Henderson Presents (Musical) - Noel Coward Theatre - West End - London, UK - ***

Mr. Shi and His Lover (Musical) - Summerworks at The Theatre Centre Mainspace - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Mustard (Play) - Tarragon Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***

Nice Fish (Play) - Harold Pinter Theatre - West End - London, UK - ***

OceanAria (Circus) x3 - AquaTheater on Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise - ****

Oraltorio: a Theatrical Mixtape (Musical) - The Riser Project at The Theatre Centre - Toronto, ON - **1/2 (Review)

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (Musical) - National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre at National Theatre's Dorman Theatre - London, UK - ****

The Painkiller (Play) - Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company at the Garrick Theatre - West End - London, UK - ***1/2

People, Places and Things (Play) - Headlong and National Theatre at the Wyndham's Theatre - West End - London, UK - *****

The Pirate Queen of the Stars (Musical) - Toronto Fringe Festival at Factory Theatre Mainspace - Toronto, ON - **

Young Chekhov: Platonov (Play Revival) - The Chichester Festival Theatre's Production at National Theatre's Olivier Theatre - London, UK - ****

The Plough and the Stars (Play Revival) - National Theatre in the Lyttelton Theatre - London, UK - ****

The Realistic Joneses (Play) - Tarragon Theatre Mainstage - Toronto, ON - **1/2

The Red Barn (Play) - National Theatre in the Lyttelton Theatre - London, UK - ****

Richard III (Play Revival) - Almeida Theatre - London, UK - ***

Right Now (Play) - Bush Theatre - London, UK - ****1/2

Romeo and Juliet (Play Revival) x2 - Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company at the Garrick Theatre - West End - London, UK - ***1/2

Romeo and Juliet Chainsaw Massacre (Play) - Toronto Fringe Festival at Randolph Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***

Running Wild (Play) - Regent's Park Open Air Theatre - London, UK - **1/2 (Review)

Salt Water Moon (Play Revival) - Factory Theatre Mainspace - Toronto, ON - ***

Young Chekhov: The Seagull (Play Revival) - The Chichester Festival Theatre's Production at National Theatre's Olivier Theatre - London, UK- ***

Sell/Buy/Date (Play) - Manhattan Theatre Club in Stage II at NewYork City Center - Off-Broadway - New York City, NY - ****

Seussical (Musical Revival) - Young People's Theatre MainStage - Toronto, ON - **** (Review) (Already in Best of Stage 2011

Shakespeare in Love (Play) - Stratford Shakespeare Festival in the Avon Theatre - Stratford, ON - ****

She Loves Me (Musical Revival) - Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54 - Broadway - New York City, NY - ****1/2 (Review)

Silk Bath (Play) - Toronto Fringe Festival at Tarragon Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Situation Rooms (Play) - Rimini Protokoll at Luminato Festival at The Hearn - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

Still/Falling (Play) - A Green Thumb Theatre at Young People's Theatre - Studio Theatre - Toronto, ON - **** (Review)

Sleeping Beauty (Pantomime Musical) - Ross Petty Productions at the Elgin Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***

Strangers in Between (Play) - King's Head Theatre - London, UK - ****

Stupid Fu**ing Bird (Play) - The Pearl Theatre Co. - Off-Broadway - New York City, NY - **** (Review)

The Summoned (Play) - Tarragon Theatre Mainspace - Toronto, ON - ***

Sunset Boulevard (Musical Revival) - English National Opera at London Coliseum - London, UK - **** (Review)

This is the Point (Play) - Ahuri Theatre at The Theatre Centre - Toronto, ON - ****

Three Men in a Boat (Play) - Next Stage Festival at Factory Theatre Studio - Toronto, ON - ****

The Threepenny Opera (Musical Revival) - National Theatre's Olivier Theatre - ****

TomorrowLove™(Play) - Outside the March at The Aorta - Toronto, ON - ***

Toronto, Mississippi (Play Revival) - Panfish Productions at The Box - Toronto, ON - ***

Tuck Everlasting (Musical) - Broadhurst Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - **1/2 (Review)

Twist Your Dickens (Play) - The Second City in the Greenwin Theatre at the Toronto Centre for the Arts - Toronto, ON - ***

The Two-Character Play (Play Revival) - good old neon. theatre at Tarragon Theatre Studio - Toronto, ON - ***

Waitress (Musical) - Brooks Atkinson Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - **** (Review)

Wild (Play) - Hampstead Theatre - London, UK - ***

The Wizard of Oz (Musical Revival) - Young People's Theatre - Toronto, ON - ****1/2 (Review)

Women (Play) - Toronto Fringe Festival at Annex Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***1/2

X (Play) - Royal Court Theatre Downstairs - London, UK - ***1/2 (Review)





__________________________________________________________________
Previous Best-of Lists:

Best of 2014 List:

Best of Stage 2015

Best of 2014 List:
Best of Stage 2014

Best of 2013 List:
Best of Stage 2013

Best of 2012 Lists:
Best of Music 2012
Best of Stage 2012

Best of 2011 Lists:
Best of Music 2011
Best of Television 2011
Best of Stage 2011


Best of 2010 Lists:
Best of Music 2010
Best of Television 2010
Best of Stage 2010
Best of Movies 2010


Best of 2009 Lists:
Best of Music 2009
Best of Television 2009
Best of Stage 2009
Best of Movies 2009


Decadeworthy - The Best of 2000-2009 Lists:
SYTYCDworthy (w/ Videos) - List Format
Theatre of the Decade
Best Films of the Decade
Favorite Films of the Decade
Television of the Decade
Television of the Decade - 1 Season Wonders


Best of 2008 Lists:
Best of Music 2008
Best of Television 2008
Best of Stage 2008
Best of Movies 2008
Best of Television Fall '07 - Winter '08 List


Best of 2007 Lists:
Best of Music 2007
Best of Television 2007
Best of Movies 2007
Best of Stage 2007
Best of 2007 (The Final Wrap Up)
Best of Television Fall '06 - Winter '07 List


Best of 2006 Lists:
Best of Music 2006
Best of Television 2006
Best of Movies 2006
Best of 2006
Best of Television Fall '05 - Winter '06 List


Best of 2005 Lists:
Best of Television 2005
Best of Movies 2005





Photos of:
A Line in the Sand and Cam Baby by Dahlia Katz
Body Politic and Mockingbird by Jeremy Mimnagh
Bright Lights by John Gundy
Cacti by Aleksandar Antonijevic
The Deep Blue Sea by Richard Hubert Smith
Groundhog Day and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Manuel Harlan
The Harvest by Jeremy Daniel
The Lorax by Tristram Kenton
People, Places and Things by Johan Persson
Right Now by Helen Murray

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com


More After the Jump...
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