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Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Toronto Announces 2023/24 Season



The world’s longest-running queer theatre marks a milestone 45th anniversary with a dynamic slate of productions and programming. The 2023/24 season features an epic from the queer canon, stages two new works developed at Buddies, and welcomes two productions from the Prairies. The mainstage season is accompanied by festivals, guest company productions, and a special 45th-anniversary presentation series, alongside opportunities for artistic development, celebration, and creative community exchange.

I know for sure there are a number of shows on the slate for next season that frontmezzjunkies is super excited to see. That is for sure.

And as the neighbourhood surrounding the theatre continues to change, Buddiesalso remains a critical space for events hosted by local queer communities and is making building improvements to better fulfill that role.

Managing Director Daniel Carter, who has programmed the season, remarks, “Welcome to our 45th season. Our 2023/24 programming offers moments of reflection, celebration, and in some instances destruction as we look back to honour our queer histories and look ahead to forge new paths for our queer future. Familiar and new partnerships animate our season, showcasing not only the wealth of queer talent in Toronto but also highlighting enthralling stories and performances from across Canada.”


Kicking off the season is a groundwork redux and Buddies co-production in association with Obsidian Theatre: daniel jelani ellis’ speaking of sneakingoriginally created in the Buddies Emerging Creators Unit and further developed through Why Not Theatre’s RISER project. A mash-up of dance, poetry, and pantomime that tracks the journey of young Ginnal to a place called “Foreign,” from Jamaica, the play is directed by d’bi young anitafrika, and was nominated for multiple Dora awards for its previous incarnation. Later in the fall, Buddies presents Albertan artist Tiffany Thomas’ The Rocky Mountain Special, a guitar-driven, one-woman highway opera taking the audience on a journey of self-discovery. The show will be paired with a different local band for each night of the run. In December, That Theatre Company stages Tony Kushner’s epic two-parter, Angels in America. Directed by Craig Pike, this timeless piece of theatre tackles the AIDS crisis head-on as New Yorkers grapple with life and death, love and sex, heaven and hell.

In the new year, Buddies welcomes back irreverent Winnipeg-based duoDasha Plett and Gislina Patterson with an anthology of works from their collective We Quit Theatre: i am your spaniel, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare by Gislina Patterson;  805-4821 (presented as a Google doc performance in 2021’s Queer, Far, Wherever You Are series); and Passion Play. The Rhubarb Festival returns for a 45th edition in February, fostering both artistic experimentation and international exchange. A production coming out of the residency program has its world premiere in March—Raf Antonio’s WHITE MUSCLE DADDY. A co-production with Pencil Kit Productions, supported by Charles Street Video, this fantasy-horror thriller uses projection art alongside performance to tell a chilling story of a vampiric predator, exploring the destructive impact of the white supremacist construct on queer desire.

While the building’s doors are always thrown open for the Queer Pride Festival in June, this year the festival atmosphere starts early with an eclectic 45th Anniversary Series, headlined by Vag Halen. Stay tuned for an assortment of one-off performances, readings, concerts, and parties in May, celebrating our histories and imagining the possible futures of this theatre and the communities who make it what it is.

Buddies also hosts, for the first time, The Toronto Fringe’s Next Stage Theatre Festival, with six shows ranging from sketch comedy to musical theatre landing in October. In the new year, the theatre welcomes back longtime guest company Theatre Rusticle, following 2020’s acclaimed adaptation of Midsummer NIght’s Dream. Allyson McMackon directs an adaptation ofThe Tempestin a physical piece that collides head-on with Shakespearean myth, magic, harsh history, and all the ways we make theatre.


Alongside its mainstage programming, Buddies continues its commitment to developing queer voices with programs like the Emerging Creators Unit; an emerging artist platform in QueerCab, curated by Julie Phan 潘家雯 ; and the return of The Disability Collective as Buddies’ Emerging Company-in-Residence. Residency artists Bilal Baig (Kainchee LagaaJhooti), Celia Green (SOWWY), Julie Phan 潘家雯  (Never Walk Alone), and Heath V. Salazar (MARIPOSA) continue to develop their works with space and support from Buddies, and the legendary Bruce Dow joins the Seeding Work micro-residency to develop a new solo piece, A Funny Proposition, in collaboration with director Rob Kempson.


As part of Buddies’ commitment to intergenerational programming, this year sees the launch of The Rainbow Seniors Project. This year-long program will be co-designed with leZlie lee kam and is dedicated to the artistic engagement of queer seniors, culminating in a Cabaret showcase to be presented as part of the annual Queer Pride Festival.

The programming has had a huge impact on me because, as a rainbow senior, I feel that I am seen: my existence is acknowledged very specifically,” says previous Youth/Elders programming participant and co-facilitator lee kam. “It’s crucial that we continue doing this kind of work. We keep hearing that Rainbow Seniors have paved the way for queer and trans youth. We have, but we need to continue working together from an intergenerational and intersectional perspective.

Over the summer, with renovations to the neighbouring Alexander Street Parkette blocking public access to the building, physical improvements are being made to the frontage and interior pathways of the building. These changes will increase access to Buddies’ physical space, and complement the complete renovation of the ante-chamber space and other accessibility improvements implemented over the last three years, including providing ramp access to both stages, acquiring hearing assist devices, installing more push-button-operated doors, and providing basic ASL training for front-facing staff.

Throughout the 2023-24 season, Buddies will continue to welcome parties, fundraisers, musicals, and more in Tallulah’s Cabaret.


A groundwork redux and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre production in association with Obsidian Theatre
speaking of sneaking

by daniel jelani ellis
directed by d’bi young anitafrika

September 19 – October 1, 2023

Ginnal is sure like never before: he must make it to Foreign. When he meets a Spider who sets him on the journey, Ginnal faces the cost of freedom.

Inspired by experiences of growing up queer in Jamaica and finding home in Canada, speaking of sneaking is a multidisciplinary mash-up of dance, poetry, and pantomime, where the archetypal Jamaican Ginnal and the mythical African Anansi meet.

First created in Buddies’ Emerging Creators Unit, and further developed with the Anitafrika Method for Why Not Theatre’s RISER (where it garnered five Dora nominations, including for outstanding production and outstanding new play), speaking of sneaking returns to the Buddies stage for a full production this fall.

daniel jelani ellis // creator, performer + producer
d’bi.young anitafrika // dramaturg + director
Fairy J // choreographer
Lexi Sproule // stage manager
Rachel Forbes // set + costume designer
Andre du Toit // lighting designer
Stephon Smith // sound designer

The Next Stage Theatre Festival
Presented by Toronto Fringe

October 18-29, 2023

Experience the best in performing arts with the 16th Annual Next Stage Theatre Festival from October 18 to 29, 2023. The Toronto Fringe is delighted to be partnering with Buddies in this new chapter of Next Stage with six unique pieces by a dynamic set of artists covering dance, sketch comedy, music, and drama – all ready for their next stage.

Dance: Black in Canada (Shameka Blake and Artists in Motion)

Theatre: Bremen Town (Gregory Prest)

Sketch: Dead Parents Society – a dark sketch comedy revue (Shohana Sharmin)

Theatre: ECHO (Kole Durnford)

Musical Theatre: Guildwood (Braeden Soltys)

Theatre: Something in the Water (S.E. Grummett)

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents
The Rocky Mountain Special

by Tiffany Thomas

November 14-19, 2023

An elderly trans woman is haunted by her cringe-worthy younger self aboard the Rocky Mountain Special, a luxury coach from Calgary to Vancouver that she’s been riding for the last forty years.

A guitar-driven, one-woman musical tour-de-force about the quintessential Canadian urge to run from your past, The Rocky Mountain Special is a prayer for healing, a love letter to the lost kids of fragmented diasporas, and a playlist for the road-trip home.

Tiffany Thomas // Writer/Composer/Performer

Anna Dalgleish // Production Designer

A That Theatre Company production in association with Buddies in Bad Times


Angels in America: a Gay Fantasia on National Themes

by Tony Kushner

directed by Craig Pike

November 23 – December 17, 2023

In a Reagan-era New York City beset by the AIDS crisis, a recently-diagnosed Prior struggles to make sense of his mystical visions and visitations, along the way colliding with friends, lovers, and a Mormon couple whose marriage is on the brink of falling apart.

At once sprawling and intimate, Angels in America weaves together religion, revolution, and queer (be)longing into an epic, two-part modern masterpiece that speaks to the indomitable human need for change.

That Theatre Company’s Craig Pike helms a new production of Tony Kushner’s seminal plays, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, revisiting a pivotal moment in our queer histories through a contemporary lens.

Jim Mezon // Roy Cohn
Soo Garay // The Angel
Christine Horne // Harper
Brenda Bazinet // Hannah
Allie Macdonald // Prior
Ben Sanders // Louis
Kaleb Alexander // Belize
Wade Bogert O’Brien // Joe

Craig Pike // director
Michael Hart // stage manager
Bonnie Beecher // lighting designer
Sean Mulcahy // set designer
Michelle Bohn // costume designer
John Gzowski // sound designer
Sam Hale // assistant stage manager
Emma Jo Conin // apprentice stage management
Jeff Pybus // associate lighting designer

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents
A We Quit Theatre Anthology

i am your spaniel, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare by Gislina Patterson / 805-4821 / Passion Play

by Dasha Plett and Gislina Patterson

January 16-21, 2024

A week of performances by We Quit Theatre and friends. Rituals for the discontented, diversions for the disenchanted, and a carnival for quitters! A conversation between trans best friends and lovers, and a sharing of the things they created, together and apart, in their basement apartments.

Last seen in a google doc performing an iteration of 805-4821 as part of Buddies’ Queer, Far, Wherever You Are series, Winnipeg-based duo We Quit Theatre takes over the Cabaret space with a collection of three works, including a trans coming out story made out of other stories; an errant lecture on Shakespearean text analysis; and a series of improvised erotic revisions of bible stories, immortalized to cassette tape live on stage.

This farewell performance of 805-4821 will be accompanied by a sharing of Sadie Berlin‘s Enchantment Island: This Alien Nation, a loose political exposé and response to We Quit Theatre’s piece.

A Theatre Rusticle production
The Tempest
by William Shakespeare adapted by the Company
directed by Allyson McMackon

January 18-28, 2024

Shakespeare meets Theatre Rusticle’s physical poetry once again in The Tempest. Their inimitable style cracks open the bard’s final play unearthing a story about freedom, love, and paths to truth. Told by five performers traversing 15 plus characters, Theatre Rusticle collides head-on with Shakespearean myth, magic, harsh history, and all the ways we make theatre.

The Company // Lindsay Anne Black, Brefny Caribou, Jill Goranson, Kelsi James, Brandon Kleiman, Beck Lloyd, Trinity Lloyd, Jessica Lutness, Allyson McMackon, Sarah O’Brien, Michelle Ramsay, Annie Tuma

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents
The Rhubarb Festival

February 2024

Back for its 45th year, Rhubarb transforms Buddies into a hotbed of experimentation, with artists challenging our notions of what art-making and art-watching can be. As Canada’s longest-running new works festival, Rhubarb is the place to encounter the most adventurous ideas in performance and to catch familiar and unfamiliar artists venturing into uncharted territory.

Buddies continues to strengthen international ties with Rhubarb’s curatorial performance network, fostering exchanges of artists and works between performance festivals around the globe.

A Pencil Kit Productions and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre production, with the support of Charles Street Video

by Raf Antonio
co-directed by Raf Antonio and Tricia Hagoriles

March 20-31, 2024

Soon after Jeremy Río clocks in for his first graveyard shift at an exclusive LA gym, he meets Eugene, a fitness influencer who seems to have the life of Jeremy’s dreams—one that’s double stuffed with money, muscles, and parties galore. What begins as an envious crush quickly morphs into an insatiable hunger that threatens to tear Jeremy’s life apart.

A cinematic theatre piece, WHITE MUSCLE DADDY uses projection art, live camera feed, and shadow play to spin a chilling yarn about the politics of queer desire.

Raf Antonio // playwright
Raf Antonio + Tricia Hagoriles // co-directors
Khanh Tudo // director of cinematography
Claren Grosz // producer
Nicole Eun-Ju Bell // projection design
Keshia Palm // dramaturgy

Tickets & info: 

For more go to

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to


Santino Fontana Brings Voice, Comedy and Showmanship To 54 Below



Tony Award® winner Santino Fontana brings his tremendous talent to 54 Below and it is a show that wraps you up in his humor, charm, vocal prowess, laid back demeanor, jeopardy style musical choices and over all entertaining. By the end of the show you feel as if you know him or at least a part of him. Starting off with Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’s “Stick Around,” the night turned into a Russian roulette of material.  The audience picked numbers and as Santino put it “if you don’t like the show, it’s your fault.” First up for my show was the naughty but amusing  “Making Love Alone” followed by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella‘s “Do I Love You,” which made for an amusing combination of songs. During Cinderella Mr. Fontana had shoes that were built up 2 inches inside and 2 inches outside, which cause a tremendous amount of pain, so the song told the story of his plight, which made the song take on a much different meaning. Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle,” was sung for a Carol Burnett tribute, that luckily we were treated to.


His guest for the evening was Sarah Steele (“The Good Wife,” The HumansThe Country House) who sang “out There On My Own” from Fame. On the 14th it will be Greg Hildreth (Company, Disney’s FrozenRodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella). Click on the name and you can hear that version.

Showing off his baritone side with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “If I Loved You.” We almost got to see Santino in Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields”s Sweet Charity, instead we got hint of what that would be like with “Too Many Tomorrows.” A hilarious version of “I feel Pretty” from West Side Story lightened the mood and had the room in tears. Recreating his duet “Love Is An Open Door” from Frozen, Santino channeled Dorothy Michaels from Tootsie. Again the room was laughing with the sheer comedic genius that won Mr. Fontana a Tony Award. Bringing the energy to a calmer state was the emotional Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s “Who Can I Turn To?”

Vocally the most impressive song of the night was “Joey, Joey, Joey” from Most Happy Fellow. Mr. Fontana’s voice was glorious in the tones and the subtle texturing. Keeping in the ballad mode and honoring Marilyn Bergman he launched into the iconic “Where Do You Start,”while accompany himself on the piano, which was highly impressive. Back to the uptempo mode “I Met A Girl” from Bells Are Ringing, was given a rigorous, amusing take. This was his original audition song. Lerner and Loewe’s “How to Handle a Woman,” from the recent Camelot, showed how Santino would have made an excellent King Arthur.

Another favorite moment of the night was “Buddy’s Blues” from Follies. Already a personal favorite, this made me want to see Santino play this role at a later date, though personally I would cast him as Ben.

For the finale songs “The Music In You” from Cinderella, told how he and the cast loved watching the magnificent Victoria Clark perform. “This Can’t Be Love” from 1938 Rodgers and Hart musical The Boys from Syracuse, ended up in an encore, of Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones’s “They Were You” from The Fantasticks, which made my guest producer Pat Addiss extremely happy.

Cody Owen Stine

Santino was backed by his musical director and accompanist Cody Owen Stine, who played flawlessly.

Santino Fontana

Santino Fontana opened September 10th at 54 Below and you can still catch this marvelous show tonight September 14th.

This is a do not miss!


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Talking With Mauricio Martínez About His New Show 5’11, Based in NYC and More



I met Emmy Award winner Mauricio Martínez when he was performing in Children of Salt and have watched him ever since. He then became known for the Broadway musical On Your Feet!, but before that he appeared in the Emmy Winning TV Show El Vato NBC, the hit Señora Acero Telemundo and several Mexican telenovela. T2C talked to this prolific actor/ singer to learn more.

His new show at 54 Below talks about all the self-tape sides filling up his Dropbox. In his new show, 5’11, Based in NYC, Mauricio is putting those to good use in a musical “What If…,” sorting through what might have been. Pushing aside the ring light, you will lean more about this uber talented Mexican American.

His show on October 5 and 6 at 7pm is at 54 Below. The show feature Linedy Genao (Bad CinderellaOn Your Feet!) and Alexis Michelle (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”) and is written by Mauricio Martínez & Robbie Rozelle, with musical direction and arrangements by Brian J. Nash. Directed by Robbie Rozelle.

Video by Magda Katz

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Linda Purl Not Just An Actress



Last night Linda Purl took the audience at The Green Room 42 on a magical journey.

Linda Purl and Ryan Spahn


In 2020 Linda Purl starred as Ryan Spahn mother in Vivian Neuwirth’s Mr. Toole at 59E59 Theaters.

Ms Purl just released her fourth album of standards, This Could Be the Start. If the CD is anything like the concert this s a must have,


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Linda Purl Had The Room In Her Hand at The Green Room 42



You know Linda Purl, for her work on Movies of the Week, Happy Days, The Bold and the Beautiful, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, The Office and more. Recently she released her fourth album of standards, This Could Be the Start, and she celebrated its debut with a special concert Monday, September 11th at The Green Room 42.

Standards such as “This Could Be The Start,” I’ve Gotta Lot of Living,””Shall We Dance,” “Caravan,“Blue Moon,” “Let’s Get Lost,” “Taking a Chance on Love,” “Here’s To Life” and more were given a sultry, laid back, come hither approach. You can tell Ms. Purl is an actress first, as these song, all told stories that wrapped you in their spell. The lyrics become front and center, but are thrown away with a knowing that surpasses time. Part of the magic is the alternating rhythms to the originals that make these versions stand out and draw you in.

Penny Fuller, Lorna Dallas, Linda Purl

Part of this intoxication is her musical director Ted Firth, who is a musical genius. Purl has been working with him for 15 years. When ever I fall in love with an arrangement, inevitably it is always Ted Firth at the helm. Firth was on piano with David Finck on bass and Ray Marchica on drums. Purl smartly uses the best of the best.

Linda and Ted Firth

During Ms. Purl’s patter we learned about her love of hiking, she hails from Colorado, her partner, Patrick Duffy, and their sourdough starter company, as well as painting old trees with paint and glitter.

Kevin Spiritus, Jamie deRoy, Linda and Pat Addiss

Purl knows how to keep her audience in the palm of her hand and wanting more. She is warm, engaging and a song stylist, that will keep you coming back for more.

Pat Addiss, Dan Lauria, Linda Purl, Kevin Spiritus

Penny Fuller, Lorna Dallas, Linda Purl, Richard Hillman, Ted Firth

Linda Purl, Richard Hillman, Ted Firth

All photo’s and video are Magda Katz

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Daisy Jopling and Frank Shiner Raise Money To Give Kids The Gift 0f Music



Classical/rock violinist Daisy Jopling, vocalist Frank Shiner and her fabulous band performed at Chelsea Table + Stage Saturday, September 9 at 9:30 PM. The duo perform an eclectic mix of music from blues and standards to classical. The magical band that accompanied them included Ray DeTone on guitar, Sofia Gould on saxophone, Jeff Miller on piano, Lavondo Thomas on bass and Dan Weiner on drums.

17 year old, Sofia Gould was a Daisy Jopling student and one of the reasons this foundation is so needed.

For a special treat 17 year old Melisa Muñoz played a mean trumpet.

Daisy tours the world with her own band, and also runs a music mentorship foundation.

The Daisy Jopling Foundation has given 6,810 children world class music performances for free.
4,500 hours of time volunteered.
1,000 residents given free tickets to our concerts.
920 children served in their mentoring programs.
Partnered with over 50 non-ройt organizations to.
transform their student’s lives.

Daisy was the first international violinist to perform a major concert at the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt on November 4, 2022, collaborating with Egyptian stars Hany Adel, Wust El Balad and Noha Fekry.

Daisy started off by playing a concerto at the Royal Albert Hall in London at the age of 14, the opening of the Vienna Festival, 53 stunning concert halls in China, creating “Illuminance” on Bannerman Island, NY which aired on PBS in 2021 and 2022, and performing her own “Awakening” Concert at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.

Daisy Jopling, Frank Shiner

Frank Shiner released his debut album, The Real Me, in 2014, A second LP, Lonely Town, Lonely Street, he released on his own Bakerson Records label. He is now writing a musical about his dad, in which he debuted one of the songs.

They ending the concert with  “Joy To The World.” This was a great night of raising funding for children and music.

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