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Dancap Productions

Where in Toronto: Dancap Takes a Bow

Jersey Boys was Dancap's biggest hit (photo by Joan Marcus)

Last week Dancap Productions, which brought to Toronto Broadway hits such as Jersey Boys, announced that it would not present any programming for the 2013 season. This suspension of operations marks the end of an era (albeit a relatively short one), where two large theatre companies, Dancap and juggernaut Mirvish Productions, introduced audiences to big-time mainstream musicals and stage dramas. But don’t fret; though the scene just got a little smaller, there are still many exciting opportunities across the city for resident and visiting theatre enthusiasts alike. (more…)

Hot Date: West Side Story Takes Toronto

MAY 8 TO JUNE 3 A tale of love amidst a turf war between two New York City gangs, the Broadway smash West Side Story needs little introduction. It’s been more than 50 years since its first performance and the classic take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim continues to mesmerize audiences with its dynamic dance numbers and timeless tunes, including the scintillating “America.” Toronto Centre for the Arts, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 pm, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 pm, $62 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or click here to buy.

Hot Date: Shrek’s a Green Monster

photo by Joan Marcus

MARCH 20 TO APRIL 1 Everyone’s favourite secretly affable green ogre is back at it in Shrek the Musical. Joined by the comedic antics of Donkey, the sharp wit of Princess Fiona and an extensive cast of fairy-tale characters, Shrek sets out to reclaim the deed to his land in an epic adventure featuring 19 all-new songs. The new production offers up stunning set design, rousing dance numbers and, of course, laughs for the whole family. Toronto Centre for the Arts, Tuesday to Sunday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2:30 p.m., $46 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or visit here to purchase tickets.

Where in Toronto: Getting Back to the Theatre

Inside the Ed Mirvish Theatre

Each week, our intrepid interns reflect on life
and times in the big city.

When I think of theatre, I time-machine back to junior high, where I discovered an interest in acting. Encouraged by Ms. Olsen, who was as cool and as in-love-with-Shakespeare as drama teachers come, I auditioned for—and won—a role as a Men in Black–style agent in a ridiculous student-written play called Phlegm and Larry in the Search for Elvis (don’t ask). It was the complete opposite of classics like The Wizard of Oz and Annie that I had seen performed in previous years; of course it was an instant hit.

Unfortunately, after that successful debut, my play-acting ambitions largely took a backseat to academics. It was not until university—and a few courses on Shakespeare—that theater and I were truly reacquainted. In a class full of drama majors, I took comfort in at least knowing the difference between upstage and downstage and being able to identifying a soliloquy. But reading drama isn’t the same as watching it on stage. (more…)

Hot Date: Salsa Meets Hip Hop in the Heights

photo by John Daughtry

FEBRUARY 7 TO 19 Toronto gets a dose of hot Latin flavour this month courtesy of In the Heights, a modern musical that honours Broadway traditions. Winner of four Tony Awards—including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Choreography—the production pulls audiences into the story of a Latino community in Manhattan’s Washington Heights district, and how the immigrant residents cope with life’s struggles while holding on to their dreams. Brimming with energetic salsa-meets-hip-hop music and beautifully choreographed dancing, it’s certain to get your head bobbing and feet tapping. Toronto Centre for the Arts, $40 to $135; visit here for more information and tickets.

Weekend Roundup: January 6-8

Friday: Demar DeRozan looks to lead the Raptors to a third straight victory

Friday, January 6
The NBA lockout finally concluded on Christmas day, the shortened basketball season is starting to pick up and our hometown Raptors are on a two-game winning streak. Cheer them on tonight as they take on the New Jersey Nets (including former “Mr. Kardishian” Kris Humphries) at the Air Canada Centre.

The Next Stage Theatre Festival is back for another year at Factory Theatre. The festival’s first weekend features top independent stage shows including The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go! and Living with Henry.

Drama meets punk rock as Broadway smash American Idiot continues its short-term run at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Featuring tunes such as “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from Green Day’s Grammy-winning album, this contemporary musical is not to be missed.

(more…)

Hot Date: Green Day’s American Idiot

photo by Doug Hamilton

DECEMBER 28 TO JANUARY 15 Punk rock gets the Broadway treatment as the hit musical American Idiot comes to Toronto. Based on the Grammy-winning 2004 album by Green Day, this modern-day rock opera tells of angst-filled youths caught between their dreams and the confines of suburbia. Conceived by bandleader Billie Joe Armstrong, this emotionally charged production combines Green Day’s familiar songs—“Jesus of Suburbia,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and more—with a dramatic story of longing, loss and redemption. Toronto Centre for the Arts, $62 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or visit here for showtimes and to buy.

Hot Date: The Golden Voice of Colm Wilkinson

photo by David Leyes

AUGUST 12 & 13 He’s made a career of captivating audiences on Broadway and in London’s West End. Now acclaimed singer and theatre actor Colm Wilkinson steps charismatically back on to the Toronto stage for two nights only. The Irish-born star—who has made his home in this city since 1989, when he began a five-year stint in The Phantom of the Opera—is set to showcase his much-praised pipes with a mix of show tunes, pop songs and timeless ballads, including “The Music of the Night” and “Danny Boy.” Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m., $52 to $215; call 416-644-3665 or visit here to buy.

Hot Date: What is Next to Normal?

photo by Joan Marcus

JULY 19 TO 31 A bold and harrowing story of psychiatric ethics and suburban life, Next to Normal is not your average Broadway musical. Brought to Toronto by Dancap Productions, this dramatic rock musical—winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, along with three 2009 Tony Awards—tells of a family struggling to care for one another while battling mental illness. Alice Ripley reprises her acclaimed lead role as a mother whose worsening bipolar disorder sends her into a tailspin. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $34 to $129; call 416-644-3665 or visit here to buy.

Hot Date: Donny & Marie Pair Up

photo by Erik Kabik

JULY 5 TO 17 Direct from Las Vegas, famed sibling entertainers Donny and Marie Osmond offer up an exclusive engagement of their theatrical concert showcase. In Donny & Marie Live (page 48), the pair perform their greatest hits like “Paper Roses,” “Puppy Love” and “One Bad Apple” in a multimedia spectacle featuring show-stopping production numbers, a rock band and sizzling backup dancers. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., no show July 11, $52 to $240; call 416-644-3665 or visit here to purchase.

Hot Date: Love and War in the South Pacific

photo by Bruce Bennett

AUGUST 12 TO SEPTEMBER 5 Set during the turmoil of World War II, two parallel love stories comprise the Tony Award–winning Rodgers & Hammerstein musical South Pacific. Amidst a wartime of atmosphere of racial prejudice, nurse Nellie Forbush struggles with her feelings for plantation owner Emile de Becque, while Joe Cable, an American marine Lieutenant, finds himself falling for Liat, the daughter of the local grass-skirt seller. Internationally renowned standards such as “Some Enchanted Evening” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,” provide a tuneful score. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $28 to $200; call 416-644-3665 or visit here to reserve.

Hot Date: Saigon Story

Photo by Matt Polk

JULY 9 TO AUGUST 1 A naïve orphan girl and an American GI fall in love amidst Saigon’s exotic but turbulent landscape in the musical Miss Saigon, inspired by Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. In this tragic tale of doomed lovers, Chris, a young soldier about to depart war-torn Vietnam is besotted with the virginal and teenage Kim, who works as a dancer in a seedy club. The themes of sacrifice, hope and motherhood come together in this dramatic and timeless story as Chris, who later marries an American woman, discovers he and Kim have a son together. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $28 to $175; call 416-644-3665 or navigate here to reserve.