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

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