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Cabaret Circles Berlin Triumphantly Deep Inside London’s West End

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Welcome to Berlin,” we are told, and quite accurately in this deliciously baked wedding cake reinvention of this iconic musical. Expertly crafted together by director Rebecca Frecknall (NYTW’s Sanctuary City), the overall icing effect of the new staging of Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club is utter magnificence, pulling us in completely to the idealistic framework of that cultural and historical complication. The energy is sublime. Divine decadence, one might say, with its creative eye wide open in amazement with a sneaky intelligence, gifting us with a production that easily soars into the revival-strewn atmosphere with a stunning shining force. I was a bit worried, I must admit, as I sat neatly in the most cleverly redesigned theatre for a revival of one of my all-time favorites. We are told quite insistently, to the point where they placed a sticker over my phone’s camera lens, that what happens inside the Kit Kat Club, aka the completely redesigned Playhouse Theatre right there, down by the Thames, needs to be only seen, not shared through social media. No pictures. No videos allowed. All had to remain a secret, for the ones who got into this sold-out event. The curiosity created was infectious, I must say. Making us all wonder what was inside those doors. What exactly would they have in store for us?

Eddie Redmayne as Emcee and Jessie Buckley as Sally Bowles in London’s “Cabaret”
(Photo: Marc Brenner)

Inside that fringe-edged red-lit environment, oozing of sexual adventurism and voyeurism, the pre-show gestulations started from the moment you drank down your shot at the bottom of the stairs. The whole space, I’ve been told, has been reconfigured, and we see it as soon as we get ushered in to our assigned table and seats. Carousing around the carefully crafted space, the preshow begins in earnest, energizing the space as the clock ticks towards the show’s beginning. It feels like they want to shock us, titillate us, excite us, but I must admit the sensual festivities pales somewhat to the more dynamic preshow delivered by Broadway’s Moulin Rouge! The Musical. The corseted energy feels a bit forced and somewhat bland visually, causing an insecurity to rise up within, making me wonder if this was a signal of what is to come, but I couldn’t be more mistaken. Maybe, I thought later, this monotone creation was a trick, to lull us into complacency. Because, without a doubt, the beginning, and really, the whole show, is the furthest thing you can imagine from bland or forced. It’s epic and organic, stirring up the discomfort and edginess of that particular time and place in history with a drizzling of an intelligence that is divinely decadent and fascinatingly captivating. 

Eddie Redmayne as Emcee.
(Photo: Marc Brenner)

Revolving upwards from down below like an ornament on a multi-tiered birthday cake, Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl“; Broadway/Donmar’s Red), the star attraction, conducts the entrance with a solid drum roll. It’s a spectacular engagement, with the dramatic reveal of the shrouded ladies making any hesitation within vanish in an instant. This magnificently crafted re-conceived confection by the uber-talented Tom Scutt (Broadway’s King Charles III) is everything one could hope for. With the audience wrapped precisely and intimately around its small bare circular stage finger, Redmayne as the ever-elusive and elastic Emcee drives forth a dycotomy that unearths an electric appeal under his wide secretive grin and his pointed birthday hat. His performance hits strong and hard, unpacking layers upon layers of devilish glee at every turn of the screw. The tense engagement is complex and enticing, rotating out with athletic force a crew of magnificently clad gender-non-specific dancers, knowing with all confidence that we are roped and tied in completely.

Not giving one inch over to Liza Minnelli’s iconic portrayal in Bob Fossie’s masterpiece film version, the astounding Jessie Buckley (NT’s Romeo and Juliet) rivals all as the damaged and desperate Sally digging in deep, never letting the tension of the moment flag. It’s an edgy portrayal, void of any sentimental connection but brimming with a raw, and almost volatile concoction. Her “Maybe This Time”, pushed to the forefront by musical director Jennifer Whyte’s tight use of her seven-piece band, gives us a much-needed glimpse inside the impatient Sally, which only makes her ferocious “Cabaret” more devastating, and insightful to the pain and disengagement she feels towards Clifford. It’s ruthless almost, her rendition, and is only enhanced by the Emcee’s physical and emotional response. Her performance shines bright like a shattered broken star, filled with anger, pain, and some aspect of sadness. It is as unique and electric as Redmayne’s highly stylized Emcee that is also both enticing and dangerous. The two, along with the rest of the solidly connected cast (Anna-Jane Casey, Josh Andrews, Emily Benjamin, Sally Frith, Matthew Gent, Emma Louise Jones, Ela Lisondra, Theo Maddix, Chris O’Mara, Daniel Perry, Andre Refig, Christopher Tendai, Bethany Terry, Lillie-Pearl Wildman, and Sophie Maria Wojna), rounds around the space, presenting this hypnotic and complex treat with an expertise boardering on tawdry delciousness, something I thought the pre-show was lacking.

Jessie Buckley as Sally Bowles in London’s “Cabaret”
(Photo: Marc Brenner)

Frecknall’s direction is to captivate, slicing into the multi-layed cake in order to serve us up every delicious slice and crumb of Joe Masteroff’s devious book and John Kander and Fred Ebb’s magnificent score. The final product delivers with an inventiveness that is both curious and demanding all at the same time. The circular energy insinuates itself within like that charming smuggler, Ernst, perfectly portrayed by Stewart Clarke (Playhouse’s Fiddler), bringing in illegal Paris treats for his Berlin customers. We recognize the danger, but are too smitten to withdrawal. The inspiration of every simple structure, including all the ingenious props laid out before us that are displayed within this stellar and detailed deconstruction, vibrates the piece forward with a historic energy. It hits hard, particularly when Germany’s history stamps its way into the circle. I don’t recall ever being moved to tears by any staged rendition of Cabaret, – well, maybe the first time I watched the film on my mother’s bedroom television one night when I didn’t feel well – and I’m not sure if it was the jet-lag or not, having just landed in London that morning, but they certainly came rolling down my cheek that evening in London. The historic layer crashes in to this Cabaret with an emotional force to be reconned with, particularly when it becomes clear that “Tommorrow Belongs to..” them, and not to the glorious Fräulein Schneider, gorgeously portrayed by Liza Sadovy (Donmar’s Company) and her grocer, Herr Schultz, touchingly played by the wonderful Elliot Levey (NT’s His Dark Materials). Their engagement literally “Couldn’t Please Me More.”

That Goodbye to Berlin by Isherwood that inspired John Van Druten’s 1951 play I Am a Camera, which in turn, brought forth this brilliant musical, plays out the historic details exquisitely. Sadovy rises to the occasion at every moment given, particularly when she destroys all with her simple and shockingly emotional “What Would You Do.” It slaps hard making me sit back in my seat as the sting and the sadness tingled for a bit of time on my cheek. Julia Cheng’s monstrously good choreography finds all the aspects of that Berlin iconography and tightens it in and around that small exquisite stage. It’s an impressive adventure in the way it shines with a seedy ravishness, heightened by Isabella Byrd’s seductive turntable lighting. The only aspect that didn’t register as completely intoxicating was Omari Douglas (Donmar’s Constellations) as the Christopher Isherwood stand-in, Clifford, but I must admit, that standing next to Buckley who is giving us one of the most ferociously complicated Sally, his straight man/gay man appeal isn’t as interesting or as compelling. 

I couldn’t help but notice as this magnificent revival rotated forward, the young gentleman sitting beside me in that redefined space. His reactions and his youth made me ask at the interval if he had ever seen this show before, thinking, quite honestly, that he must have seen the film, and I was curious his take on it all, as the film and the stage show are quite the different beasts. He was a young Italian actor, it turns out, fresh out of university with a degree in theatre, and on a graduation holiday gifted to him by his parents. He had never seen the film, which I must admit I was a bit shocked, nor the stage show, but all I could think was how lucky he was. What a completely stunning entry into this wisely crafted poverty-stricken Weimar Republic world, where a musical can be both wildly entertaining, yet also historically and emotionally devastating. You could tell that he would be forever changed after this wonderfully electric night, singing the praises of exactly why “Life is a Cabaret, old chum. Come to the Cabaret.” And you really should, if you can. It will be a night you won’t forget.

For more from Ross click here

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 last...so 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 frontmezzjunkies.com

Out of Town

The Wrong Bashir Fits Right at Crow’s Theatre Toronto

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All this play needs is a few doors to go in and out of, or slam, for The Wrong Bashir, the new play at the Crow’s Theatre, to become a full-fledged farce. It’s hilariously and wickedly fast-paced and original, flying forth on speedy laugh-out-loud wings, and as directed by Paolo Santalucia (Soulpepper’s The Seagull) and written with wit and intelligence by Zahida Rahemtulla (The Frontliners), The Wrong Bashir gets it perfectly and lovingly right.

Sugith Varughese, Nimet Kanji, and Sharjil Rasool in Crow’s The Wrong Bashir. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

With a cast of sure-footed professionals leading the charge, The Wrong Bashir whips its way through a farcical family drama of high comedic proportions that quickly starts rolling forward in urgency when Bashir Ladha, the wildly unfocused son played well and true by Sharjil Rasool (FX’s” What We Do in the Shadows“), is chosen by their immigrant community to a distinguished religious position that does not fit him like a glove. That is clear. His parents; Sultan Ladha and Najma Ladha, deliciously played in all the right tones by Sugith Varughese (Soulpepper’s Animal Farm) and Nimet Kanji (Northern Light’s Contractions), are completely over the moon in excitement, early accepting the role before they even inform their wandering bohemian Bashir. Bashir’s sister, Nafisa, played wonderfully by the engaging Bren Eastcott (Tarragon’s Orestes) is privy to the celebratory news, knowing both that this is of the greatest importance to her parents and (soon-to-be informed) extended family, and also a role so unimportant and ill-fitting to her lost philosophizing brother. It is etched within her role that we can see and understand all sides to this wrong choice, and she becomes the simple subtle connective tissue that holds the framework together, all the while sitting on the sidelines helping out on both sides of the aisle.

Sugith Varughese, Nimet Kanji, Sharjil Rasool, Zaittun Esmail, Bren Eastcott, Vijay Mehta, and Parm Soor in Crow’s The Wrong Bashir. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Selected by a pair of pseudo-elders; Al-Nashir Manji, portrayed solidly by Vijay Mehta (Repercussion’s Macbeth), and Mansour, hilariously over-played by Parm Soor (Walt Disney’s “Prom Pact“), the two mosque committee members quickly arrive at the door to share the news, followed soon after by the sari-wearing grandmother and cognitively-challenged grandfather; played by Zaittun Esmail and Salim Rahemtulla (Western Gold’s 90 Days); and their meddling sly family friend, Gulzar, ingeniously portrayed by Pamela Sinha (Soulpepper’s Happy Place). It’s a madcap recipe for family tension and complications as it becomes increasingly obvious that there has been a mistake. But the jubilant energy in the main room is something that the two mosque committee members, bumbling and ridiculously loveable, can’t bring themselves to destroy.

Running interference between generations and ideals, the play manically runs full speed ahead, almost getting away from us before a few surprising twists pull us back into the spotlight of what is actually important. The ultra-realistic set, beautifully created by set and lighting designer Ken Mackenzie (Shaw’s Sherlock Holmes…), with strong costuming by Ming Wong (Soulpepper’s The Guide to Being Fabulous) and a clear sound design by Jacob Lin 林鴻恩 (Tarragon’s Withrow Park), lends itself well to the manic energy being thrown out into the audience bringing full-on laughs with increasing regularity, even though a few more walls and doors could have been utilized to really give the idea of farcical conversations happening out of earshot to the others. But this is a small slight situation in a play that gets it over the top right. Rahemtulla’s writing gives you family, compassion, love, and so many laughs that you’ll walk out smiling at the insanity of it all, while also feeling the love that family brings to one another. Even when pushed too hard one way or another.

Salim Rahemtulla and Sharjil Rasool in Crow’s The Wrong Bashir. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

There’s cleverness in the care that lives in this community, with family values and ties to one another floating down the stream from generation to generation, and even when rocks get in the way of this flow, the love and honor bubble in and around. There is so many moments of people running about, escaping to the kitchen, over-spiced, smoky beverages served, side glances, eye-rolling, and faulty attempts to leave, that we struggle to stay up, yet the play never boils over into complete, disrupted, disconnecting chaos. It is clear early on that Bashir is not their man; to us, to them, and to himself, but there is another level of immigrant understanding, particularly between father and son, that also floats lovingly through the piece. It prompts questions around purpose and personal dreams, fulfilled or not, and in those more humane moments, we can only see what is most right about The Wrong Bashir, and more importantly, whether Bashir may fit the role better than even he can imagine.

Sharjil Rasool and Bren Eastcott in Crow’s The Wrong Bashir. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

For more information and tickets, click here.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Comedy On in Noises Off

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Opening their 2024 Season at the Bucks County Playhouse is Noises Off, a farce by the English playwright, Michael Frayn. Definition of “farce” – a comedic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including ludicrously improbable situations. Yes, yes and yes. Synonym: slapstick comedy.
To be in this production, directed by Hunter Foster, you must either be an olympic gymnast or have the stamina of a race horse for there is much hopping up and down stairs, pratfalling, back flipping, slow splits and general rolling about.

Ah, but I digress. Let us get to the plot. The what? Well, actually there really isn’t much of a plot. You see, the play is a play within a play. It is a troupe of second rate actors in a second rate tour of a second rate play, a sex farce entitled, “Nothing On”. It begins at midnight the night before the cast’s first performance and they are ill prepared. Many things go awry. Missing props, missing cues, missing lines, etc. etc. etc. And to top it all off, there are relationship problems amidst the members which become exacerbated as the tour progresses. Act One is the rehearsal. Act Two is a performance viewed from behind the scenes and Act Three is the disastrous results at the end of the tour.

The play premiered in London in 1982 directed by Michael Blakemore. The 1983 Broadway production again directed by Blakemore earned four Tony nominations and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play and Outstanding Ensemble. Since then it has had seven revivals between Broadway and the West End and has become a staple of both professional and community theaters alike. Standout performances are in order for the entire ensemble.

Amanda Kristin Nichols

Amanda Kristin Nichols (as Brooke Ashton) is hysterical in her skimpy underwear preening and posing in the most ridiculous positions, thinking she’s looking sexy.

Jen Cody

Jen Cody is appropriately dotty as the sympathetic Dotty Otley, whether she’s doing a split or hanging upside down.

John Bolton

John Bolton is simply super as Frederick Fellowes, the sensitive actor who always needs to know “why” he must complete an action on stage no matter how nonsensical it is.

John Patrick Hayden

John Patrick Hayden is marvelous as the director we sympathize with for having to deal with these screwball actors even though he turns out to be a cad. Though Roe Hartrampf is hard pressed to express himself with words as Garry Lejeune, he goes ballistic when he mistakenly thinks that Dotty is seeing Frederick.

Marilu Henner

Marilu Henner is the proverbial peacemaker always trying to smooth things over even when they are inextricably fouled up. Barrett Riggins as Tim Allgood, the Assistant Stage Manager, has greatness thrust upon him through no fault of his own.

Folami Williams

Folami Williams as Poppy Norton-Taylor, the Stage Manager is adorable as she reveals her secret at the end of the play.

Richard Kline

And Richard Kline as Selsdon Mowbray, the man with a drinking habit is quite lovable. They say the director’s hand should be invisible in a play, but I’m afraid that Mr. Hunter’s hands are all over this one for this production is choreographed to a “T”. Credit must be given to this director because usually there aren’t many laughs in Act One as it’s all just a set up for Act Two and Three. However, there are a lot of laughs in the first act. And needless to say, it’s a non-stop laugh fest for the next two acts. So if you need a good laugh – and who doesn’t with fire, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes all around us – this show is a very good panacea.

For tickets visit buckscountyplayhouse.org or call 215-862-2121.

Noises Off by Michael Frayn Directed by Hunter Foster
Running now through June 10, 2024 70 South Main Street

New Hope, PA 18938

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Tarragon’s Come Home: The Legend of Daddy Hall Rewinds With Layered Results

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The “sweet, sweet boy” lies in a spotlight, shrowded in Spanish moss and mystic lighting. He’s drowning in the mystic feeling of death with ghostly faces of ancestorial connection shimmering forward to engage and recount. This memory play, written with purpose and desire by Audrey Dwyer (Calpurnia), spans time and place, layering in the histories of both Black and Indigenous teachings that float out the realities of the cultural framing. Spanning generations and one man’s ever-so-long lifelin is as epic in its scope as can be, distinct and smart in its construct, and sometimes lacking in focus, leading us to lean in and tune out with some regularity.


Daren A. Herbert & Emerjade Simms with Nicole Joy-Fraser & Brandon Oakes in Tarragon’s Come Home: The Legend of Daddy Hall. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The beginning, as staged by Tarragon artistic director Mike Payette (Tarragon’s Cockroach), floats into our system like the smell of ghostly swamp air, hidden behind layers of mist and secrecy. Giving abstract vantage points to breathe in the complexities of this man’s trauma, the play spirits out souls from his epic life for us all to engage with, as well as a future generation stumbling forward while trying to unpack a past, all so he, Billie, played by Troy Adams (TIFT’s The Other Place), a descendant, can understand the present condition and navigate life forward from a wiser perspective. The framing is unique and contextual, letting Hall’s mixed heritage of Mowak and Black Jamaican ancestry find equal footing on that somewhat overstuffed stage, designed by Jawon Kang (Tarragon’s A Poem for Rabia), while giving layers of space to try to understand personal trauma and confusion.

Helen Belay & Daren A. Herbert with Troy Adams, Emerjade Simms, Brandon Oakes & Nicole Joy-Fraser in Tarragon’s Come Home: The Legend of Daddy Hall. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Hall, played forcibly by Daren A. Herbert (Soulpepper’s Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train), finds clarity in his rewinding, looking back over his timeline with curiosity. He fought as a Black loyalist in the War of 1812. He survived capture by American forces and was systematically enslaved in Virginia and Kentucky. He escaped, with his wife, using a threaded map of rice and beans braided into his hair that helped lead him back home to safety in Canada. Throughout his journey, he held true to his yearnings for home, family, and love, marrying, we are told, up to six wives and was father, or should I say “Daddy Hall” to somewhere around 21 children. It’s a lot to cover in this one-act wonder of a play, and even when it falters in its complicated unpacking, muddling the journey with an overly fussy rearrangement of wood pieces and somewhat jarring blocking and movement, the journey has marked moments of wonder that are highlighted and expanded by the gentle fantastical music delivered out from the depths by Unsettled Scores (Spy Dénommé-Welch & Catherine Magowan), the production’s sound designers and composers.

The notes float in, elevating the dialogue with background poetic illusions of ancestorial and cultural undercurrents that consistently save the framing from sinking down underneath the crackling ice. They trigger tragedy and loss, even when the interconnectivity feels jagged and forced. Lit from a place of historic warmth and engagement, designed by Michelle Ramsay (Factory’s The Waltz) with simple yet clever costuming by Christine Ting-Huan 挺歡 Urquhart (Tarragon’s Cockroach), Come Home: The Legend of Daddy Hall works hard to relive all those key moments in this man’s complex life, particularly around the ideas of home, safety, and attachment. The cast, that includes Indigenous actors Nicole Joy-Fraser (Tarragon’s My Sister’s Rage) and Brandon Oakes (CBC’s Diggstown), and Black actors Helen Belay (Soulpepper’s Queen Goneril & King Lear) and Emerjade Simms (Cahoots Theatre’s Sweeter), engages with intent in the non-linear mystical unpacking, allowing us to consider and engage with Hall’s ancestral lineage and all the trauma that has been layered on this man throughout his journey.

Emerjade Simms & Daren A. Herbert in Tarragon’s Come Home: The Legend of Daddy Hall. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The play spirits forth the dynamic from this misty ancestral plane, sometimes finding complete visual and poetic illusions, like in the crackling watery descent of his wife, Mary, played lovingly by Belay. At the same time, other moments feel disconnected from the emotional journey and its overarching themes. The modern stance in Tarragon‘s Come Home: The Legend of Daddy Hall never really finds its connective tissue throughout and feels put upon and not completely organic to the main Hall stance. There’s wonder in their search for bigger pictured themes and answers to complex historical and connective questions, sometimes feeling grounded in emotional truth, and sometimes masked behind layers of Spanish moss. The energy shifts, floating in and out of the murky cold waters of memory and ancestral history, and when it hits its mark, there is clarity, but other times, we swim in cold waters looking for the light and air of understanding.

Daren A. Herbert & Helen Belay with Nicole Joy-Fraser & Brandon Oakes in Tarragon’s Come Home: The Legend of Daddy Hall.  Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Music

The Canadian Festival of New Musicals Unveils Three New Works

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This Saturday, thanks to the theatre gods of Toronto, I was gifted with the chance to experience the next wave of new Canadian musicals. Getting underway earlier this week, the inaugural season of The Canadian Festival of New Musicals, running from May 23rd – 26th at the Berkeley St Theatre, unveiled a few new musicals. Presented by The Musical Stage Company in association with Canadian Stage, the three new shows were given the grand opportunity to present snippets of their work-in-progress; new musicals that are being experimented with, played with, and developed for our theatrical enjoyment. And what a joy it was to be in the room with all these enthusiastic souls.

New Voices. New Stories. New Musicals.” is the Festival’s motto, as I made my way downtown to join the celebration of creativity, innovation, and collaboration, giving the audience a glimpse of three of the Musical Stage Company’s musicals in development.

Featuring excerpts from IN REAL LIFE, AFTER THE RAIN, and COWBOY TEMPEST CABARET, the Canadian Festival of New Musicals was an electrifying showcase that gave audiences a first look and listen at the new stories being created by some of our country’s most promising lyricists, composers, and writers, and delivered by some amazing performers, such as Brandon Antonio (Broadway’s & Juliet), Raquel Duffy (Coal Mine’s Apppropriate), Eva Foote (Stratford’s Hamlet-911), Brendan Wall (MSC’s Natasha, Pierre…), and the phenomenal Elm Reyes (Factory’s Trojan Girls…). The festival also provided opportunities for music theatre creators to meet new collaborators, learn more from experts in the field, and engage in the conversation around the development of new musical theatre in Canada.

These musicals are all being developed for full-length productions, with AFTER THE RAIN already programmed into the upcoming Tarragon season, a production that I am super excited to have the chance to experience again.

THE CANADIAN FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS

Details and schedule:

AFTER THE RAIN (Double bill with COWBOY TEMPEST CABARET)

May 23RD 8:00pm and May 25th 3:30pm

Co-Commissioned and Co-Developed by The Musical Stage Company and Tarragon Theatre

Book by Rose Napoli

Music & Lyrics by Suzy Wilde

Featuring Eva Foote, Raquel Duffy, Brendan Wall, and Shaemus Swets

Her parents are famous. Her boyfriend is stupid. And Suzie is a mess.

When she accepts a mature piano student obsessed with mastering only one song, Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1”, struggling songwriter Suzie’s life takes an unforeseen turn. Full of family turmoil, life’s complexities, and centered around a devastating discovery, AFTER THE RAIN is a musical based on a true story about the healing power of music.

COWBOY TEMPEST CABARET (Double bill w AFTER THE RAIN)

May 23rd 8:00pm and May 25th 3:30pm

Commissioned and Developed by The Musical Stage Company

Book by Niall McNeil, Lucy McNulty & Anton Lipovetsky,

Music by Anton Lipovetsky

Lyrics by Niall McNeil

Featuring Brandon Antonio, Raquel Duffy, Eva Foote, Dylan Harman, Yousef Kadoura, Elm Reyes, Shaemus Swets, and Brendan Wall

Guns and magic. Love and hurt. When gunslinger Prospero conjures a storm in the desert, he begins a chain of events that forces every cowboy and spirit into a fight for freedom. Created by an artist with Down Syndrome and his longtime collaborators, Cowboy Tempest Cabaret is a totally lawless adaptation of Shakespeare’s Tempest musicalized in the styles of rock, folk and country & western music.

IN REAL LIFE

May 24th and 25th at 8:00pm, May 26th at 2:00pm

Commissioned by The Musical Stage Company and Co-Developed by The Musical Stage Company and fu-GEN Theatre Company

Book & Lyrics by Nick Green

Music & Lyrics by Kevin Wong

Featuring Alicia Ault, Janelle Cooper, Colleen Furlan, Hailey Gillis, Matthew Joseph, William Lincoln, Jacob McInnis, and Daniel Williston

Set in a dystopian future, technological prodigy Max is an ideal student with a bright future, until, with a single swipe, he sets out on a journey to forbidden corners of the Internet, underground societies, and forgotten parts of himself. A story filled with twists and turns, In Real Life examines the complexities of power, technology, and freedom in the digital era.

For more information, click here.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Music

The Canadian Festival of New Musicals Unveils Three New Works

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on

This Saturday, thanks to the theatre gods of Toronto, I was gifted with the chance to experience the next wave of new Canadian musicals. Getting underway earlier this week, the inaugural season of The Canadian Festival of New Musicals, running from May 23rd – 26th at the Berkeley St Theatre, unveiled a few new musicals. Presented by The Musical Stage Company in association with Canadian Stage, the three new shows were given the grand opportunity to present snippets of their work-in-progress; new musicals that are being experimented with, played with, and developed for our theatrical enjoyment. And what a joy it was to be in the room with all these enthusiastic souls.

New Voices. New Stories. New Musicals.” is the Festival’s motto, as I made my way downtown to join the celebration of creativity, innovation, and collaboration, giving the audience a glimpse of three of the Musical Stage Company’s musicals in development.

Featuring excerpts from IN REAL LIFE, AFTER THE RAIN, and COWBOY TEMPEST CABARET, the Canadian Festival of New Musicals was an electrifying showcase that gave audiences a first look and listen at the new stories being created by some of our country’s most promising lyricists, composers, and writers, and delivered by some amazing performers, such as Brandon Antonio (Broadway’s & Juliet), Raquel Duffy (Coal Mine’s Apppropriate), Eva Foote (Stratford’s Hamlet-911), Brendan Wall (MSC’s Natasha, Pierre…), and the phenomenal Elm Reyes (Factory’s Trojan Girls…). The festival also provided opportunities for music theatre creators to meet new collaborators, learn more from experts in the field, and engage in the conversation around the development of new musical theatre in Canada.

These musicals are all being developed for full-length productions, with AFTER THE RAIN already programmed into the upcoming Tarragon season, a production that I am super excited to have the chance to experience again.

THE CANADIAN FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS

Details and schedule:

AFTER THE RAIN (Double bill with COWBOY TEMPEST CABARET)

May 23RD 8:00pm and May 25th 3:30pm

Co-Commissioned and Co-Developed by The Musical Stage Company and Tarragon Theatre

Book by Rose Napoli

Music & Lyrics by Suzy Wilde

Featuring Eva Foote, Raquel Duffy, Brendan Wall, and Shaemus Swets

Her parents are famous. Her boyfriend is stupid. And Suzie is a mess.

When she accepts a mature piano student obsessed with mastering only one song, Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1”, struggling songwriter Suzie’s life takes an unforeseen turn. Full of family turmoil, life’s complexities, and centered around a devastating discovery, AFTER THE RAIN is a musical based on a true story about the healing power of music.

COWBOY TEMPEST CABARET (Double bill w AFTER THE RAIN)

May 23rd 8:00pm and May 25th 3:30pm

Commissioned and Developed by The Musical Stage Company

Book by Niall McNeil, Lucy McNulty & Anton Lipovetsky,

Music by Anton Lipovetsky

Lyrics by Niall McNeil

Featuring Brandon Antonio, Raquel Duffy, Eva Foote, Dylan Harman, Yousef Kadoura, Elm Reyes, Shaemus Swets, and Brendan Wall

Guns and magic. Love and hurt. When gunslinger Prospero conjures a storm in the desert, he begins a chain of events that forces every cowboy and spirit into a fight for freedom. Created by an artist with Down Syndrome and his longtime collaborators, Cowboy Tempest Cabaret is a totally lawless adaptation of Shakespeare’s Tempest musicalized in the styles of rock, folk and country & western music.

IN REAL LIFE

May 24th and 25th at 8:00pm, May 26th at 2:00pm

Commissioned by The Musical Stage Company and Co-Developed by The Musical Stage Company and fu-GEN Theatre Company

Book & Lyrics by Nick Green

Music & Lyrics by Kevin Wong

Featuring Alicia Ault, Janelle Cooper, Colleen Furlan, Hailey Gillis, Matthew Joseph, William Lincoln, Jacob McInnis, and Daniel Williston

Set in a dystopian future, technological prodigy Max is an ideal student with a bright future, until, with a single swipe, he sets out on a journey to forbidden corners of the Internet, underground societies, and forgotten parts of himself. A story filled with twists and turns, In Real Life examines the complexities of power, technology, and freedom in the digital era.

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