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Ontario’s Stratford Festival Places entire 2020 Season on Hold



After weeks of consultation and deliberation, Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, Executive Director Anita Gaffney and Board Chair Carol Stephenson have come to the conclusion that the Stratford Festival’s entire 2020 season must be put on hold, with a plan to revisit programming as soon as it is safe to gather in theatres.

While they anticipate that theatres will not be able to reopen until next year, they have not ruled out the possibility of mounting specially scheduled fall or holiday programming should public health conditions allow.

This is devastating for the Festival and for the city of Stratford,” said Cimolino, speaking on behalf of the leadership team. “Beyond the heartbreaking loss of our work and our inability to open our spectacular new Tom Patterson Theatre is the economic impact of this terrible situation. The Festival is an engine for this region, driving $135 million in economic activity each year. Thousands of people and hundreds of business owners rely on the Festival for their livelihood.”

Rendering of the Tom Patterson Theatre, opening in 2020 at the Stratford Festival, designed by Siamak Hariri of Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini. Image: the Stratford Festival website.

It is a terrible irony: the Stratford Festival was started in 1953 to save the city of Stratford from economic disaster and now its closure in the face of this pandemic poses its own economic devastation for the region.”

This is a crushing announcement, for which we at once feel terrible responsibility and yet is entirely beyond our control.”

The Festival had been preparing to mount one of its most ambitious seasons in its 67-year history: 15 productions in four theatres, including its dazzling new Tom Patterson Theatre, which having reached 98% completion is now shuttered.

Rendering of the Tom Patterson Theatre, opening in 2020 at the Stratford Festival, designed by Siamak Hariri of Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini. Image: the Stratford Festival website.

Our disappointment at not being able to open the new theatre and dedicate it to our founder, Tom Patterson, on what would have been his 100th birthday, on June 11, is monumental,” Cimolino said, “as is the loss of these 15 productions, which our artists were bringing to such beautiful fruition.”

We have heard from hundreds of our members, patrons, and donors who share in this disappointment. These are people who make the journey to Stratford each summer, many of them with multiple generations of their families, and wrote to express their concern for the Festival and for the many members of the community who help make their visit here unforgettable.”

The Festival’s four theatres range in capacity from 260 to 1,800 seats, with lobbies, washrooms, box office facilities, and parking lots through which large numbers of people must flow.

The interior of the Tom Patterson Theatre, opening in 2020 at the Stratford Festival, designed by Siamak Hariri of Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini. Image: the Stratford Festival website.

Additionally, as a repertory theatre company with 150 actors, each one performing in two or three of 15 productions concurrently, the risk of contagion is extremely high amongst artists and crew.

Sadly, we have to come to terms with the fact that, as it relies on large public gatherings, theatre will be one of the last sectors to recover from this pandemic,” Cimolino said.

And yet, while the creation of a vaccine and anti-viral drugs will cure this pandemic, ultimately what will cure society in its aftermath is art. We look forward to the time when we can gather together again to, in the words of William Shakespeare, ‘live, and pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh.’”


In an effort to bring people together, particularly after this sad news, the Stratford Festival will continue to stream TWELVE Shakespeare productions in the coming months. They have broken the selections down into 4 categories exploring themes that directly relate to our current global pandemic and will (hopefully) encourage contemplation and discussion: Social Order and Leadership, Isolation, Minds Pushed to the Edge, and Relationships. The first selection for Social Order and Leadership is King Lear and premiered on Thursday April 23rd beginning with “An Actor Prepares with Colm Feore” who plays King Lear followed by the production at 7 pm EDT. This theme will be rounded out with Coriolanus and Macbeth premiering over the next two weeks. “Many of the qualities that put a leader into a position of power are not the same as those required during a crisis. The leaders in these films – King Lear, Coriolanus, and Macbeth – were each warriors who rose to power because of their martial skills. As such they did not have the qualities of compassion, consensus-building, and vision – qualities we know today are vital during a crisis.” (You can read the frontmezzjunkies article about Stratford’s streaming schedule by clicking here.) I believe each of these will be available for 3 weeks following their premieres.

Colm Feore in King LearStratford Festival. Photography by David Hou.

For those who are able in these trying times, please consider donating to this or any arts organizations, as they strive to provide artistic beauty and intellectual stimulation to the world during this pandemic. My hope is that this time will remind people just how vital the arts are to our communities, our sense of self, and (for many of us) our sanity.

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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

Out of Town

Tarragon Theatre Announces Their 2024/25 Season




TORONTO – Artistic Director Mike Payette and Managing Director Andrea Vagianos excitedly announced Tarragon Theatre’s 2024/25 season earlier today. The 53rd season, they stated, will embrace the impact of coming together while celebrating the rich scope of bold Canadian storytellers. It’s a diverse season that focuses on collaboration, featuring stories of revitalization and courage, unveiling an electric year of new works that hopefully will inspire, move, and completely delight.

It’s an exciting moment for Tarragon as we champion the breadth of powerful artists that create, explore, and premiere beautiful stories that speak to today’s world. In the 24-25 season, we are steadfast in our mission of inviting audiences to undiscovered worlds in a season that welcomes back and introduces groundbreaking Canadian storytellers on and off the stage. We look forward to a year of laughter, passion, and heart in this unforgettable collection of stories,” reflects Artistic Director Mike Payette.

Tarragon’s season begins with the Toronto Premiere of GOBLIN:MACBETH, a Spontaneous Theatre Creation from Rebecca Northan and Bruce Horak. Having wowed audiences in Stratford and Calgary, the Goblins make their home in “the Six”, bringing their hilariously unique, partly improvised, and entirely immersive take on Shakespeare’s text of Macbeth. From the team that brought smash hits Blind Date and Undercover to Tarragon, it’s the perfect way to begin, as we enter the season of wicked delights. This Toronto premiere is onstage October 3  – 27, 2024.

Across the lobby, Tarragon welcomes back Governor General’s Award finalist Rosa Laborde (Léo, Light) for the world premiere of Interior Design. Directed by Dora Award-winner, Kat Sandler (Mustard, Yaga), Interior Design is a fast-paced and timely comedy where an attempted intervention leads to a series of messy truths between a tight-knit group of girlfriends. Featuring four powerhouse performers, including Sara Farb (Fun Home, Musical Stage Company) and Anita Majumdar (Boys With Cars, Nightswimming/YPT). The world premiere of Interior Design will be onstage from October 15 – November 10, 2024.

Next, a co-production with Modern Times Stage Company, innovators supercharging the voices of marginalized communities. Written by Rouvan Silogix (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Modern Times/Crow’s) and Rafeh Mahmud(Daytime Emmy Award-winner) with direction from Tarragon Artistic Director Mike Payette (Cockroach 曱甴; Choir Boy, Canadian Stage), Craze is a sexy, surrealist, laugh-out-loud comedy, featuring an outstanding cast including Augusto Bitter (Year of the Rat, Factory Theatre), Ali Kazmi (Behind the Moon), Kwaku Okyere (Choir Boy, Canadian Stage), Lisa Ryder (Orestes – Online) and Louisa Zhu (Lady Sunrise, Factory Theatre). The biting Craze evokes the traditional living-room comedy into a sensorial feast for a modern audience. This world premiere is onstage November 19 – December 15, 2024.

The new year starts by welcoming Nightswimming Theatre, as an in-association partner for an intimate and exciting world premiere offering. An engaging and powerful theatrical exploration, The Wolf in the Voice invites performers Neema Bickersteth (Treemonisha, Volcano in association with Canadian Opera Company/Soulpepper/Luminato/Movable Beast), Jane Miller (These Are The Songs I Sing When I’m Sad, Nightswimming) and Taurian Teelucksingh (My Fair Lady, Shaw Festival) to share their stories of vocal artistry through song, and asks audiences “Is your voice warmed up?” Created by Martin Julien and Brian Quirt (Why We Are Here!, High Performance Rodeo – Calgary) in collaboration with the performers, The Wolf in the Voice will have its world premiere February 4 – February 23, 2025.

Next, the thrilling Toronto Premiere of Guillermo Vedecchia’s Feast. Directed by Dora Award-winner, Soheil Parsa (Wildfire and Monster, Factory Theatre), Feast is a charged look at the globalized world in which some are movers and some are moved, and how long we can last when family falls apart. Featuring Rick Roberts (The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Stratford) in a powerful return to Tarragon’s stage. This Toronto premiere is running from April 1 – April 27, 2025.

From the lauded creative mind of Kevin Matthew Wong (The Chemical Valley Project) comes the world premiere of Benevolence. Developed in part during our inaugural Greenhouse Festival, this intimate and revelatory story speaks to intergenerational legacy and heritage; opening a world into the experience of a thriving Hakka community. Guided by Mike Payette’s direction, Wong makes his Tarragon mainstage debut in this world premiere run from April 8 – May 4, 2025.

Closing the season is the highly-anticipated co-production of Tarragon‘s 2023 Bulmash-Siegel Award Winners Rose Napoli (Mad Madge, Nightwood Theatre) and Suzy Wilde’s (Retold, Musical Stage Company) new musical After the Rain. In partnership with Musical Stage Company – the first time Tarragon and Musical Stage Company have partnered on a project – this premiere is based on a heartwarming true story that unflinchingly embraces the throes of growing up and growing together through the exceptional healing power of music. Directed by Marie Farsi (15 Dogs, Crow’s) and featuring Eva Foote (Fall On Your Knees, Canadian Stage/NAC/Grand/Neptune) in her Tarragon Theatre debut, After the Rain is sure to be an unforgettable spring treat. This world premiere is onstage May 27 – June 22.

Tarragon is also excited to welcome dance Immersion as 24/25 Company-in-Residence, which will invite unique mentorship opportunities to artists, as well as the Toronto premiere of the acclaimed touring presentation Black & Rural; an artistic inquiry into the hearts and minds of Black folks tucked away on Canada’s countryside. With 30 years of experience producing, promoting, and supporting dancers and dances of the African Diaspora, dance Immersion is one of the city’s most dynamic dance companies that will bring an exciting disciplinary and new creation bridge to Tarragon.

For the past year, Tarragon has been proud to offer programming that invites young people and the young at heart to experience the magic of theatre together. We look forward to furthering this mission with the continuation of The Sally Stavro Family Series. Welcoming programming for a variety of artists with a youth focus to Tarragon, this initiative is supported through the Steve and Sally Stavro Family Foundation.  The series offers free tickets to youth under 12 years old on select Saturday mornings throughout the season and beginning in October.

Closing the series, Tarragon looks forward to hosting the 11th edition of the Wee Festival, a unique curated offering of presentations inspired by theatre and performing arts from around the world created for children 0-6 years and their families.

Tarragon’s 2024/25 season emboldens the scope of Canadian voices and their stories within an ever-shifting world, bringing communities and theatre-goers together in celebration of the breadth of artistry and generations. We hope you’ll join us.


GOBLIN:MACBETH (Toronto Premiere)
A Spontaneous Theatre Creation
by Rebecca Northan & Bruce Horak with music by Ellis Lalonde

October 3 – 27, 2024

When three Goblins come across a copy of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, they’re eager to take over a theatre and take a stab at Macbeth. A unique blend of comedy and tragedy, with a spatter of improvisation, GOBLIN:MACBETH is a fresh-blood take on a Shakespearean classic.

Created by Spontaneous Theatre, who brought you Blind Date, and Undercover, this is like no Macbeth you’ve ever seen.

INTERIOR DESIGN (World Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre Production
Written by Rosa Laborde
Directed by Kat Sandler

October 15 – November 10, 2024
Tarragon commissioned

True friends stab you in the front. – Oscar Wilde

An attempted intervention between a group of girlfriends backfires spectacularly in this new play from award-winning playwright Rosa Laborde (Léo, Light), directed by Tarragon favourite Kat Sandler (Mustard, Yaga), Interior Design is a comedy of messy renovations and even messier truths.

CRAZE (World Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre and Modern Times Stage Company Co-Production
In Association with Theatre ARTaud
Written by Rouvan Silogix and Rafeh Mahmud
Directed by Mike Payette

November 19 – December 15, 2024

Out of the storm and straight into the inferno.

Two couples shelter from an epic storm for a late-night drinking session where technological mayhem and sexual frivolity may turn into something more… At times surrealist, dangerous, and laugh-out-loud outrageous, Craze is sure to keep you right on the knife’s edge.

A Tarragon Theatre production in association with Nightswimming
Created by Martin Julien & Brian Quirt

February 4 – February 23, 2025

An exploration of the very first musical instrument…the singer’s voice.

From Nightswimming (These Are The Songs I Sing When I’m Sad, Tarragon Greenhouse Festival) comes a trio about trios. Join Neema Bickersteth, Jane Miller, and Taurian Teelucksingh for an intimate and uplifting evening as they swap stories and songs about their struggles and triumphs as singers, and the mystery of The Wolf in the Voice.
FEAST (Toronto Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre Production
Written by Guillermo Verdecchia
Directed by Soheil Parsa

April 1 – April 27, 2025

A culinary tour, a global crisis, and yet, still always hungry.  Can one ever be truly full? From celebrated artist Guillermo Verdecchia, Feast is a biting look at a world where some are movers and some are moved, chaos, and how long we can last when your family is falling apart.

Mermaid or siren? Paradise or dystopia? Travel the globe, just don’t forget your loved ones…or your soul.

BENEVOLENCE (World Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre Production
Created and Performed by Kevin Matthew Wong
Directed by Mike Payette

April 8 – May 4, 2025

Kevin is a theatre creator. Kevin is Hakka (客家)…he thinks. Out of the blue, he gets a phone call asking him to write a play about Hakka identity. For seniors. In Markham.

From creator and performer Kevin Matthew Wong (The Chemical Valley Project) comes a charming and intimate story that transforms into a layered Chinese-Canadian tale spanning continents, migrations, and generations.

AFTER THE RAIN (World Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre & Musical Stage Company Co-production
Supported by the Bulmash-Siegel Foundation
Written by Rose Napoli & Suzy Wilde
Directed by Marie Farsi

May 27 – June 22, 2025

Tarragon and Musical Stage Company co-commission

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 centred around a devastating discovery, After the Rain is a musical based on a true story about the healing power of music.



Subscriptions and tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at 416-531-1827 or in person at the Tarragon Theatre Box Office at 30 Bridgman Avenue.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: Tarragon Theatre continues to offer the most flexible subscription packages in the city, allowing patrons to choose their productions and change their dates free of charge, and offering many different price points to suit all schedules and budgets.

2024-25 Earlybird Subscriptions

7-Play, 5-Play and 3-Play subscriptions are currently on sale, with discounted subscriptions for Students and Artsworkers. Early bird Subscriptions are available until June 30, 2024.


Tarragon Theatre is a creation and playwrights’ theatre. We seek to create theatre that investigates artistic form, which may incorporate non-traditional practices and methods of storytelling, and may integrate other disciplines such as movement, music or non-text based performance – all toward creating enriching and provocative theatre experiences for the artist and audience. Our philosophy is to create an environment that fosters artistic discourse within the ecology of Canadian theatre, new play development and dramaturgy practice. We open our doors to celebrate and learn from the scope of voices that make up our country and the various artistic practices that resonate within them. To that end, Tarragon is equally a hub for creation and development as it is a production company, with the ultimate goal of creating a meaningful experience for our artists to thrive and bridge their ideas from concept to realization. Mike Payette has been the Artistic Director since September 2021.

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Out of Town

“Women of the Fur Trade” Soars (even with all those controlling men looking down on them)




Portraits of distinguished men stare down at us, surprisingly, as we enter the space. I did not expect those domineering men’s faces peering at me, with three rocking chairs out front giving off a feeling of waiting and wanting, comfortably and leisurely, for movement without too much proactive action. It’s a captivating portrait highlight, filled with power dynamics and control, that ushers in the Women of the Fur Trade, presented strongly and dynamically by Native Earth Performing Arts. Rocking back and forth with a hypnotic clarity, the three emerging women play a quoting game with glee, one that I would definitely lose without a doubt. The ladies in fur and formal period form engage in a manner that makes us want to lean in with wonder and curiosity. We watch them prattle and dabble on with a modern air of compellingly fun dialogue and gossip, wondering where this is going, and how the essence and themes will be delivered.

With an eccentric electric energy, dropped and messaged in by a basket post, the play, written with a strong sense of self and history by Frances Končan (Space Girl), unleashes ideas and captive arguments about rebellion and colonialism that are drenched in historic fact and laced with symbolic fiction. The play intends to find meaning and understanding of that particular time and place in Canada’s dark treatment of the indigenous population, and the women, representing different fractions, find themselves, trapped, for reasons unknown, in a fort on the banks of the Reddish River in Treaty One. The dividing politics and approaching violence hang over their heads like those black and white male faces, pressing down and inflicting themselves in every engagement, as the three causally and with a modern vernacular that is impressively smart, unpack themes of racism, misogyny, and the challenge of remaining united while having differing views. Its comedic delivery and contemporary colloquialisms keep the space light, delivering empathy and care inside ideas without shame or defensiveness.

Jonathan Fisher and Jesse Gervais in Native Earth Performing Arts’ Women of the Fur Trade. Photo by Kate Dalton.

It’s quite a challenging premise, met with sharply constructed success by Končan, to find pathways through windows and disappearing doors without sounding preachy or heavy-handed. Yet, the playwright manages the space with perfect formulations and structure, giving an intelligent space on the banks of the Reddish River to discuss advancing British troops, confederation, and whether the hot nerd Louis Riel, played beautifully by Jonathan Fisher (VideoCabaret’s New France) is truly worthy of the undying adoration of a young Métis woman, Marie-Angelique, played brilliantly by Kelsey Kanatan Wavey (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s The Rez Sisters). Or whether the momentarily pregnant Cecilia, portraying a nervous married settler woman to perfection by Cheri Maracle (Firehall’s White Noise), is correct to think that Riel’s assistant, Thomas Scott, played hilariously well by Jesse Gervais (MTC/Grand’s Clue), is the actual true heartthrob of the pair (I’m leaning towards Gervais, even if he is, ultimately, the bad guy of the lot). Their portraits hang above their heads proudly, setting up a battle of more than just one superficial dimension, while the free-spirited Ojibwe, Eugenia, perfectly and powerfully portrayed by Lisa Nasson (Stratford’s R+J), watches on with amazement, knowing that they both have a lot to learn and understand about these men. As do we.

The inescapable reaction to their history and predicament hangs heavy and true, like the watchful male oppression made clear within the subtle and wonderful set design by Lauchlin Johnston (RMTC’s The Secret to Good Tea), with strong lighting by Jeff Harrison (Arts Club’s Hand to God), a spot-on projection design by Candelario Andrade (Bard on the Beach’s Julius Caesar), and a clear sound design by composer MJ Dandeneau (RMTC’s YAGA). This lively historical satire of determined survival and cultural historical inheritance plays out like a romantic comedy with an untimely preference for twenty-first-century slang pulled through the dark waters of racism, oppression, and colonialism. The women speak of undying and unknown love of rebellious strangers and symbolic heroes. But out front, the two men travel and engage in a strong game of sideways Cyrano with rollie-bags, giving signals as to where they stand. They are a hypnotic pair, drenched in fascinating dynamics of conflictual power, which ultimately leads to one of the funniest and sharpest scenes of cross-haired love and mistaken admiration that I have seen for a long time, thanks to Wavey and Gervais’s impeccable timing, physicality, and perfect comic delivery.

Cheri Maracle and Lisa Nasson in Native Earth Performing Arts’ Women of the Fur Trade. Photo by Kate Dalton.

The irreverent and pointed humor is as clever as can be, finding empathy and care in their comic humanity, and timelessness. The three actors portraying these women are perfect in their rocking situation sometime in the year “eighteen hundred and something something.” They excel in all aspects, guided most wisely by the original direction of Renae Morriseau (“Angela’s Shadow“), with revival director Kevin Loring (Battle of the Birds/playwright) coming in to assist in the last month of this production. The energy of the well-crafted piece, with disarmingly clever costuming by Vanessa Imeson (A Company of Fools’ Hamlet), hilariously and wisely unpacks history, religion, and rebellion, inside a framework of teenage girl gossip and lust, and it works most mystically and spiritually in a manner I never expected.

This was one of the only shows I, unfortunately, missed at the Stratford Festival last summer, and I was so pleased to be given a second chance to take it all in. But I had no idea how funny and charming this play actually is, and how accomplished this production and its cast & crew would be. I’m not sure I was able to fully take on and take in every symbolic plot point or focused line. It’s clear that the three represent differing polarities that could cause a break in the camaraderie of these three women. Their coming together against overwhelming historical odds while being trapped and controlled by the men of the times is the contemporary point that needs to be taken. But some of the details and points of storyboard friction were lost on me. Or was I looking too deep within?

The written colonial representation of our history, including Louis Riel, Thomas Scott, and the unseen, but much-discussed John A. MacDonald, needs a whole lot of rewriting in our history books to even come close to the reality. Končan does a fantastic job trying to present forward an alternative with hopes of expanding our understanding of how our complicated Canadian history was not as neat and wholesome as we were taught in high school. Being a card-carrying status indigenous person, the platform that Končan has dutifully and skillfully created is a welcome wonder, filled with unquestionable laughter and sharply aimed shots, fired from weapons more powerful than a few random sticks in the woods. Women of the Fur Trade is as precise and clever as one could hope for, and a wonderfully clever, entertaining adventure into some dark Canadian history. Don’t try to resist. Just go if you can, even if it means climbing out a window, and join these well-crafted characters on the banks of the Reddish River in Treaty One Territory to laugh and fall hopelessly in mistaken love with a pretty perfect piece of theatre and enlightenment. Every dog will bark in support.

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Out of Town

Tarragon’s El Terremoto Rises and Faulters Inside its Cracks




The Latin music and the birds chirping draw us into the scene, that is, before the tremor sounds blow their nose all around us. We feel the vibrations throughout our bodies as we sit up and take notice of Tarragon Theatre‘s compelling but ultimately disconnecting El Terremoto, written with an earnest determination to engage by playwright Christine Quintana (Someone Like You; As Above). “Why do you get so tense?“, one caring neighbor asks the oldest of three sisters, Luz, portrayed by Mariló Núñez (Aluna’s La Communion), as she busies herself preparing for a sweet birthday party that no one really seems to want to be at, beyond a few outsiders. And it’s no wonder, with the energy that exists at the core of this half-interesting, half-disjointed play that is trying to tell us a lot of things, without having a stable foundation to stand on.

Rosalba Martinni, Monica Garrido Huerta & Juan Carlos Velis in El Terremoto – Tarragon Theatre 2024 – Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Directed with an unfocused vision of constant movement by Guillermo Verdecchia  (Tarragon’s The Jungle), the fault lines appear way before the foundations of this familial home are shaken to its ghostly roots. A grandmother, Abuela, played with heart and nuance by Rosalba Martinni (Nightwood/Aluna’s The Solitudes) stands before us, paying dear homage to the lost parents of these three Jurado sisters who will come together like a different kind of terremoto. The set-up sizzles with possibility, but somewhere along the road to reconciliation, which is clearly the desired outcome in this messy play, too many inauthentic cracks and travels take place for one to fully engage with these three. Based on the way these sisters argue and attack one another, the faultlines that become visible from the onset make me care more for those poor souls who hang around hoping for some breadcrumbs of love and affection. A connection that is in short honest supply in this family’s East Vancouver home.

 Margarita Valderrama, Caolán Kelly, Miranda Calderon, Michael Scholar Jr., Rosalba Martinni & Mariló Núñez in El Terremoto – Tarragon Theatre 2024 – Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

It’s been twenty years since the parents of these three died suddenly in an automobile accident, but rather than bringing them together, the crash has only made them more fractured and distant. Núñez’s Luz tries with all her anxious might to hold and keep the family unit working, even as she forgets to care for her own self along the way. She needles and micromanages those who have come together, pushing them away and reaching out for them like a desperate yoyo. The middle sister, Rosa, portrayed conflictually by Miranda Calderon (Stratford’s Birds of a Kind), is clearly the mess of the family, lashing out relentlessly at almost everyone who looks her way, including the man who got away (maybe luckily), Henry, dutifully portrayed by an engaging Michael Scholar Jr. (Alameda’s The Refugee Hotel). Like a lot of this play, the relationships are clear from the very beginning, leaving little to fully understand except maybe why one would travel across town, and kayak across dangerous waters to see, only to be told to go home with a wave of a messed up wrist. And leave without question. That exit didn’t make any emotional sense, like a lot of the comings and goings in their home.

Shooting back shots that taste like lost youth, the birthday party of the late arriving youngest sibling, Lina, played with an air of disconnected desperation by Margarita Valderrama (Roseneath’s Meet Cute), along with her well-meaning and lovestruck partner, Tash, engagingly well played by Caolán Kelly (Stratford’s Hamlet-911), pull us into the dynamics of the family, and because of Tash’s openness to the engagement, we can’t help but notice that the structural ideals of the play make us want to lean in and hold on for support through their trauma. Yet somewhere along the road, past a failed and ignored proposal to Luz by the family’s neighbor, Omar, played compassionately by Sam Khalilieh (Studio180’s Stuff Happens), this dramatic comedy tries with an almost too diligent force to throw us off balance. It shows us its complicated value while never feeling completely true, all before the interval earthquake envelopes us. It’s a tremor of epic proportions, felt by all, that nearly destroys the city of Vancouver, taking down bridges and buildings in an almost unimaginable way, and leaving us wondering how this will throw them off their destructive combative course.

Caolán Kelly & Margarita Valderrama in El Terremoto – Tarragon Theatre 2024 – Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

On a well-crafted set, designed by Shannon Lea Doyle (Soulpepper’s Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train), with distinct costuming by Fernando Maya Meneses (NAC’sNigamon/Tunai), strong lighting by Michelle Ramsay (Theatre Rusticle’s The Tempest), a sometimes clever projection design by Samay Arcentales Cajas (Native Earth’s Where the Blood Mixes), and an environmentally powerful sound design by Alejandra Nuñez (Two Birds/Common Boots’s Apocalypse Play), El Terremotomoves with frantic supernatural (and unnatural) movement forward, delivering the message that nothing really matters, “so everything matters.” So when the doors fly forward and the aftershock releases the parental visuals by Monica Garrido Huerta (lemonTree Creations’s Private Eyes) and Juan Carlos Velis (Alameda’s The Refugee Hotel), we work hard at staying connected to this dysfunctional family. Because we want to see understanding and reconciliation, even with all the acts of inconsistency.

Their urgency in their manic movements, decision-making, and sparring never feel organic or honest, even as the actors work hard to find honest connections with one another. But only in the outsiders do we find the much-needed thread of connectivity. Kelly’s Tash, a beautiful creation that could have easily been a stock figure, finds the formula of play that unpacks the complications of feeling love with a wide-eyed honest observance. They register, that even with the strong feelings attached, this family is too much. The work to find stable connection that feels honest is elusive and probably not possible. I wanted them to find unity and some sort of authentic understanding, but the aftershock of the play El Terremoto at Tarragon Theatre was of sad disbelief.

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Long Island Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame to Celebrate 20th Anniversary Honoring Billy Joel



G.H. Harding

The Long Island Music and entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a concert gala in honor of Billy Joel at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post (720 Northern Blvd., Brookville, NY) on June 7th, 2024, at 7:30 p.m.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame’s acclaimed 20-year history with an extraordinary benefit concert honoring Billy Joel,” said Ernie Canadeo, LIMEHOF Chairman. “This spectacular evening will showcase Long Island’s creative talent and impact on the world, with historic performances by many of our 120+ inductees, exciting induction ceremonies, and highlights of our organization’s educational mission to preserve Long Island’s unparalleled music and entertainment heritage for future generations. It is the perfect complement to the much acclaimed “Billy Joel-My Life” exhibit, currently on display at the Hall of Fame in Stony Brook.”

This epic concert will feature an impressive lineup of musicians who are scheduled to perform, including Alexa Ray Joel, Debbie Gibson, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, DJ Johnny Juice (from Public Enemy), Felix Cavaliere (from The Rascals), Jimmy Webb, Mike DelGuidice, Philip Edward Fisher, Albert Bouchard and Joe Bouchard (former members of Blue Oyster) joined by current band members Jules Radino and Danny Miranda, and the full band Zebra (including Randy Jackson, Guy Gelso and Felix Hanemann).

“It’s an absolute privilege and certainly fitting that LIMEHOF’s 20th Anniversary Concert Honoring Billy Joel take place here at Tilles Center,” said Tom Dunn, Executive and Artistic Director, Tilles Center. “Billy is a longtime friend and supporter of Tilles’ impactful mission, and we are thrilled to celebrate his unparalleled and legendary career with this star-studded group of music luminaries.”

Legendary Music Agent Dennie Arfa, Chairman of Independent Artist Group, will be inducted in the “Music Industry” category. Additionally, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts will be inducted in the “Venue” category.

Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post is honored to be inducted into the Long Island Music Entertainment Hall of Fame,” Dunn said. “For over 40 years – from Bruce Springsteen’s iconic recording of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” to Tony Bennett, from Jerry Seinfeld to James Taylor, Tilles Center has been home to a who’s who of performing artists creating and delivering unforgettable and lasting memories. In the last year alone, we’ve been honored to bring Samara Joy, Brandi Carlile, Trevor Noah, John Legend, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Dancing with The Stars Live to our great and diverse Long Island community.

The show will be hosted by Hosted by LIMEHOF inductee Bob Buchmann (WAXQ, WBAB). Catholic Health is the presenting sponsor for this event. Advanced pre-sale tickets will be available starting March 25th on the LIMEHOF ticket page ( and Tilles Center ticket page (  .

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Out of Town

Canadian Stage Scores Powerfully with Matthew López’s Epic Play, The Inheritance




Arriving at the Canadian premiere of The Inheritance, I could barely contain my excitement (just ask the press person whom I’ve been hounding for months for opening night tickets). Produced by Canadian Stage at the Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto and opening on World Theatre Day, The Inheritance holds one of the greatest places in my theatrical heart, enveloping my soul with its clever and emotional writing and captivating spiritual connection to the ideas of life-long friendship, love, and loss. Hanging out in a focused bubble on the wide sparse stage, around a long table with an assortment of chairs, matching the assortment of men, they sit, processing and tuning themselves into the written task before them and before us as we take our seats.

L-R: Aldrin Bundoc, Breton Lalama, Hollywood Jade, Ben Page, Antoine Yared, Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Qasim Khan, Landon Nesbitt, Gregory Prest, and Salvatore Antonio in Canadian Stage’s production of Matthew López’s The Inheritance. Photo by Dahlia Katz

The play, after premiering at London’s Young Vic in 2018, where it was called “the most important American play of the century,” transferred to the West End later that year, and then opened on Broadway in 2019. The Inheritance quickly became one of the most honored American plays of this generation, sweeping the “Best Play” awards in both London and New York including the Tony Award, Olivier Award, Drama Desk Award, Evening Standard Award, London Critics Circle Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League Award, WhatsOnStage Award, and the Southbank Sky Arts Award. It is often compared to Angels in America in both a positive and negative light, and rightly so, as it clearly is a homage-creation based on the same epic proportions of its predecessor. It pushes itself solidly before us, somewhere to the right of Kushner’s far more ethereal exploration of AIDS in America back in the day. Engaging with a slightly more aggressive and political stance, playwright Matthew Lopez (The Legend of Georgia McBride, Some Like It Hot; “Red, White, and Royal Blue) dares us to look deep into its imperfect but devastatingly emotional six acts and seven hours.  Angels is considered by many as the “most beautiful and far-reaching introduction to a place and time representing the History of Gay America in the 1980s “, and to even attempt to align himself and his play with that signpost is a brave act of determination. But even in that weighted comparison, The Inheritance is most decidedly a masterpiece, almost measuring up to Kushner’s triumph as it dives head-first into 21st-century queer politics and the economic discrepancies that plague modern culture and society through the eyes of a pack of well-intentioned gay men in New York City.

I just had to watch, read, and rewatch the magnificent Howard’s End, the classic novel by E. M. Forster, before seeing The Inheritance once again (3rd time’s the charm, I might add), after falling in love with the 1992 movie many years ago. That beautifully orchestrated film, produced by Merchant Ivory stars the amazing Emma Thompson as Margaret Schlegel, Helena Bonham Carter as sister Helen, Vanessa Redgrave as Ruth Wilcox, Anthony Hopkins as her wealthy husband, Henry, and Samuel West as the pitiful but lovely Leonard Bast. It has been described as a touching deconstruction and examination of the three social classes of Edwardian England at the beginning of the 20th Century. The Wilcoxes are considered the Victorian capitalists, with the Schlegel sisters as the enlightened bourgeois brimming over with humanistic and philanthropic tendencies, and the young Bast standing in for the struggling working-class intellect fighting hard to survive in London as a mere clerk.

The dual plot of the novel and film delicately revolves around a deathbed wish by Ruth, the sickly and ignored wife of Henry Wilcox, a man of significant wealth, who bequeaths her beloved country house, Howards End, to her dear friend, Margaret, and not one of her children or husband. The Wilcox family deems this request as financially non-binding and decides to not give the house away, nor tell Margaret, even with the knowledge that she has become, over the last little while, a new and very dear kindred spirit to Henry.

Meanwhile, Margaret’s sister Helen has taken a strong interest, mostly philanthropic, in Leonard Bast, a poor married working-class clerk, who slowly descends the ladder of success, mainly because of Henry Wilcox’s un-asked for advice at Helen’s insistence and interference. As Margaret gravitates towards Henry Wilcox after Ruth’s death, eventually becoming engaged to the man, Helen becomes more and more aligned with Leonard. The parallels to The Inheritance are striking and extremely well formulated, thanks to the diligence of playwright Lopez, with clever shifts and alterations that make complete sense, but with a connective depth that really pulls us all in from this very modern and gay-male perspective.

It’s no wonder that the ambitious Lopez was struck by the political and social layers of Howards End, seeing within a construct that could fit somewhere inside the psyche of this new generation of gay men, especially taking into account Edward Morgan Forster’s own personal battle with visibility, authenticity, and hiw own hidden closeted sexuality. Paying a certain homage to the fore-bearers of gay culture, The Inheritance tackles, with aplomb, a tremendous amount of complicated territory, diving headfirst into the political landscape of the last ten years or so in modern America. It owes itself more to the closeted E. M. Foster than Kushner though, delivering a monumental piece about the turbulent lives of a group of young, ambitious gay New Yorkers floundering and excelling, just like the Schlegels. This go-round, Forster’s engaging sisters are now Lopez’s complicated lovers, sometime after the peak of the AIDs crisis in New York City, living the life of the somewhat privileged, even if they don’t realize it.

They are unconsciously strutting proudly through the newly informed gay frontier of sexual liberation and love relationships, with marriage equality readily at hand, and the upcoming and disturbing loss of fellow travelers to addiction with abandonment standing just outside their door. Spanning generations of attachments and the entanglement of lives and loves, The Inheritance bridges the themes of E. M. Forster’s novel and attaches itself to the past and present New York City, while trying with all its might to understand the legacy that threads the two together and what the two worlds owe one another in the realm of care and thoughtfulness.

Qasim Khan with Stephen Jackman-Torkoff behind in Canadian Stage’s production of Matthew López’s The Inheritance. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

One by one the men at the core of this drama find their place in this fantastic unraveling. The space easily serves up this deliciously prepared feast. We aren’t exactly sure who the main storyteller is in those first few moments, but all these men seem to be in need of some guidance to write the stories of their lives. “Let’s have a look“, and so they turn, most delicately and decisively to the wise and structured E. Morgan Forster, played with sweet composition by the glorious Daniel MacIvor (Tarragon’s White Biting Dog). With his steady and kind repressed hand most beautifully crafted and delivered, the hounds of a rethought Howards End are released into the space. Directed with impeccable care, the oral history of flawed engagement goes strongly forward, diving in full force while following the antiquated Queensbury rules as it attempts to know thyself, the mythical story of the healing bark, the implanted pig’s teeth, and the tangled web of The Inheritance.

It all starts with a voicemail, a few of them actually, to introduce us to the gentle and kind Eric Glass, played to perfection by the wonderful Qasim Khan (Stratford’s The Miser) and his boyfriend, the pleasure-seeking Toby Darling, a writer of narcissistic impression, played fully by the captivating Antoine Yared (Groundling’s King Lear). “Eric Glass did not believe he was special“, we are told,  and while that personal affliction never enters the mind of Toby,  Yared’s sensual young writer saunters with an entitled, falsely-created pride, although his past doesn’t support his construct. Toby has written an acclaimed and self-described autobiographic novel, based on that same insincere construct, and then quickly started to adapt it for the stage. He believes in his power far more than the gentle Eric does in his own, and even as they are presented initially as the love-struck couple, we see the cracks and the mismatched puzzle pieces fighting to fit together far before the foreseeable destruction that comes in the form of a duality thrust upon them, reminiscent of Forster’s Leonard Bast. But not exactly.

L-R: Daniel MacIvor, Hollywood Jade, Landon Nesbitt, Aldrin Bundoc, Qasim Khan, Salvatore Antonio, Breton Lalama, Gregory Prest, and Ben Page in Canadian Stage’s production of Matthew López’s The Inheritance. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

The contrast expands, especially in that deliciously sexual interaction between these two with the observant MacIvor’s Morgan on the side. The wry wonderfully inventive moment encapsulates all that this play is attempting to lay out; the levels of advancement and the traps we all can fall into. With Lopez replacing umbrellas with Strand Bookshop bags, the introduction of Adam McDowall, portrayed with breathtaking awkwardness by Stephen Jackman-Torkoff (Stratford’s Richard II), one of the threads that will lead to destruction and enlightenment, is off and running with a clarity and authentic-ness that is appealing and forever heart-breaking. Jackman-Torkoff does an excellent job playing the leading man-to-be, a stand-in of half sorts of Forster’s Bast, although dramatically and financially not one and the same. He is basically a hat-trick sleight-of-hand that will become apparent later on. His initial introduction to the cast of found-family:  the proud activist Jasper, dynamically portrayed by the solid Salvatore Antonio (CS’s Domesticated); the best friend Tristan, played somewhat flat by the show’s choreographer Hollywood Jade (Drayton’s Beautiful); the appealing husbands, Jason #1 and Jason #2, joyfully and wittily portrayed by Aldrin Bundoc (Buddies’ Body Politic) and Breton Lalama (Soulpepper’s King Lear/Queen Goneril); and the other young passionate men: Landon Nesbitt (Odyssey’s The Miser), who also beautifully portrays the young Walter; Ben Page (Bad Hats/Soulpepper’s Alice in Wonderland) who also plays the young Henry; and Gregory Prest (Soulpepper’s Of Human Bondage) who also aggressively portrays Charles Wilcox and Toby’s frustrated agent;  leaves us all, including Eric and Toby, wanting more and more of the complex Adam creation. He’s a lucky orphan adopted into wealth and privilege, in a way that only Toby could dream of, but also as manipulative and seductive as the blind and willing writer can be. The impressiveness of Jackman-Torkoff also presents itself later on, ratcheting up the drama most determinedly by playing the other slide of Forster’s Leonard Bast, the downtrodden and emotionally abused and discarded Leo with a powerfully emotional delicacy that makes it harder and harder to see them personified by only one person. It’s a forceful creation, this bipolar splitting of Bast, and one that flowers wildly and beautifully the deeper we go into the unfolding history of The Inheritance.

Jim Mezon and Qasim Khan in Canadian Stage’s production of Matthew López’s The Inheritance. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Another thread that most beautifully transcribes Howards End into this modern and complicated century is the moment we are given the phenomenal MacIvor as the Ruth stand-in, Walter, the ignored husband of Henry Wilcox. “I’m the man who fell in love with Henry,” he says, as he ushers forth a pitch-perfect portrayal of love emerging and being discarded by the powerful and wealthy Henry, played most elegantly and intelligently by Jim Mezon (CS’s The Other Place). Backtracking effectively alongside, we are given a glimpse into the formulation of the love between the Young Walter and Henry, deepening the unfathomable attachment most majestically, compassionately, and intelligently. Their love and bond are given spiritual meaning in that paralleling, and because of that, it also becomes one of the core heartbreaks. Mezon’s Henry doesn’t actually enter into the gathering until much later, but Eric Glass and Walter’s friendship, a beautiful recreation of Redgrave/Thompson’s Ruth and Margaret, finds beautiful form and depth with a tense ease. His dinner party unpacking of what it was like to live through the AIDS pandemic at its height is devastatingly brilliant in its unwrapping, giving the play its strongest moment of emotional heartache and pain. It will truly take your breath away.

In one of the other, most delicious re-imaginings of the dinner scene, lifted straight from the Merchant/Ivory film when Redgrave struggles to understand Margaret and her friend’s feisty involvement in the Suffrage movement, the internal bond between Eric and Walter seems to materialize organically within the political activism of Eric’s friends. Lopez does this alignment a solid slice of justice with a gay oral history told passionately by a greek chorus of gay male friends at Eric’s 35th birthday party brunch. This Camp discourse is full on and deliberate, hitting hard and wide, even when not exactly feeling completely authentic or organic. Lopez can get preachy and informative at times, in a way that feels unnecessary for half the crowd, but possibly very important for the others, like the young artistic Tucker, lovingly portrayed by Nesbitt who stands in for all the young gay men who have no clue. It is left up to Walter and ultimately Henry later on, to make these young men understand the agonies that his generation faced when AIDS devastated a whole swath of their generation, a result that I personally know and carry as deeply and strongly as many others my age. “THERE ARE NO GAY MEN MY AGE. Not nearly enough,” states Henry, and rightly so. It’s a thought that puts a huge lump in my throat every time that truism passes through my brain. Even as I write that line. It squeezes my heart, which lives somewhere between grief/loss and the deep complication of survivor guilt.

Finishing out Part I of The Inheritance, Lopez vividly propels us into the dynamic theatrical destruction of their caring narrator; a device that served the first three acts so well and is somewhat missed in Part II (although it makes complete sense). The emotional tear in our collective hearts that flow testify to the delicacy of the writing and the poignancy of the truth that Lopez is trying to enlist.  It sometimes feels manipulative yet profound, but the depth of disappointment in Henry and his two sons (Antonio, Prest) is magnificently inflamed by their decision to ignore Walter’s deathbed request, and the imbalances of empathy and emotional thought are blatantly exposed. He throws forward the further collapse of our faith in humanity with the Hilary question, “Are you sure she’s going to win?” That scene, election night 2016, and other interactions pile on the parallels between the superficial decadence of the modern gay man’s lifestyle of prosperity and the rigid class system of Edwardian England, stomping forth the complicated inequalities that define our own need for external validation and instant gratification. The social system, although less cleanly defined, still does just that, with Henry Wilcox as the billionaire gay Republican at one end, and the homeless rent boy, Leo addicted to crystal meth at the other, even as the thin thread of disavowed connection between the two comes to the surface for a grasp of air. There is “a difference in morality“, Jasper (Antonio) defiantly declares, but does wealth and privilege, sprouted forward quite remarkably by Wilcox at his brunch meeting with Eric’s friends, negate the advances of civil rights and the gay movements forward? Does this imbalance demolish the concept of equal opportunity for all, even those without a huge bank balance to buy their influence?  Leo’s poverty rings true, but it’s really inside Toby’s destruction of Morgan that decidedly brings Part One to an emotional close. Somewhere, thanks to the beautiful writing, the cruel and ultimately deadly blow to the narrator, Forster, hits hard.

Antoine Yared and Stephen Jackman-Torkoff in Canadian Stage’s production of Matthew López’s The Inheritance. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

It’s difficult to even discuss the last few moments of Part One. It floats in with the strongest of punches, introducing and delivering the pain of loss and lives ending far too soon and too young. The Canadian Stage production takes on a different stance than the West End and Broadway productions to differing results. On Broadway, we are enveloped in the emotional loss of lives cut short as a sea of young, beautiful men surround the dumb-struck and honored Eric. It transports the grief and sense of loss as the youthful air of promising futures fade before us. But here, in this delicately crafted and utterly thoughtful production, we are shown the infinite vastness of the disease’s destruction and the wide scope of the affected/infected. It’s a strong compassionate positioning, that unpacks a construct different than its predecessors. It may not have overwhelmed me with tears like the Part One finale did when I saw it before, but it did expand something else. An idea that is worth engaging with, and even when prepared for what floats in, the moment still demolished my heart and senses.

The next night, arriving back for the continuation of The Inheritance, Morgan is gone, for the most part, and the meaninglessness of faux art and Fire Island Pines partying is all the rage. Civil rights have advanced, far beyond the closeted Forster’s era, but trouble remains as clear and disconcerting as ever, with friendships fracturing, partnerships dissolving, and the abandonment of one another being the biggest disease of the modern gay man. The familial gathering of community is fractured, going from communal table to dance floor to graveyard, as the pack finds themselves fighting for our Nation’s soul, while leading us to a ghostlike apparition that digs deep into our hearts and breaks all resistance down. Toby makes his re-entrance in style (“Did you miss me?”) dragging the beautiful, tender, and damaged Leo down a beach boardwalk to destruction, crashing a wedding and himself in that order. “Who said anything about falling in love?” is the phrase of the sun-drenched, awkwardly staged dance party. Leo’s stumble and fall is as scary as they come, but it’s in his engagement with the returning Morgan looking down from up above that makes an appointment with emotional heartbreak.

There are no role models for gay men anymore, no one to pass down the inheritance of history or the bitter inheritance of death and destruction. The responsibility of gay men to care for one another; this is what has not been taught, passed on, or learned. It’s only when Eric removes his high-end dress shoes and returns to himself that salvation comes before us all. It is in the care of the house that forever truly belonged to Eric where we become emotionally transfixed, long before any of us are even aware how perfect a fit it all is.

That return also ushers in the engaging Louise Pitre (Broadway’s Mamma Mia!) as Walter’s upstage house caretaker Margaret, a part that was wonderfully portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave when it first opened in London’s West End, completing a circle of engagement that is deliciously sweet. Margaret’s story is thoroughly engaging and utterly brutal, traversing all that is at stake in The Inheritance. It’s a ‘passing-down’ moment, an Inheritance of history, love, pain, and connectivity with the likes of Forster and Kushner, neatly encompassing all the themes of community, engagement, art, dysfunction, and the alignment of love and care. “You’ve seen them too,” she says to Eric, and in that moment of connection, the play acknowledges all and more of the young men whose lives have been unnecessarily cut short. They arrived at this house with their complicated and tragic need for salvation, and found forever peace inside- although I didn’t love the overly symbolic structuring of the house and its open book visual. Still, it’s heartbreakingly haunting, and deftly unwrapped for us as we struggle to retain what it’s like to be hopeful.

Stephen Jackman-Torkoff (center) with L-R: Salvatore Antonio, Landon Nesbitt, Hollywood Jade, Ben Page, Aldrin Bundoc, Breton Lalama, and Gregory Prest in Canadian Stage’s production of Matthew López’s The Inheritance. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

The performances, even with the occasional Canadian “sorry”, revel in the brittle difficulty of this modern age, finding truth and togetherness against the force of humanity and this difficult time we find ourselves living within. “How much do I matter?” is where the power and thought-provoking center lives. Surrounded by ghosts of men who were lost before their time, The Inheritance is guaranteed to bring forth tears, even when put off a bit here and there with its overly simplistic dive into crystal meth, sexual addiction, and internal political and personal exploration. Those tales are complicated ones, clinging to our flesh like unwanted bacteria, but it’s also an important invader that must be rectified in order for our community to come together. “Heal or Burn“, states a desperate Toby. It’s a rallyingcry that’s as important as any.

Forster’s Howards End, much like his Maurice, is gorgeous and deep, and as told in the beloved Merchant/Ivory film and reformulated by Lopez into this epic masterpiece, The Inheritance delivers on so many levels of observation and deconstruction on class structure and sociopolitical decrees that it is a wonder that it works as well as it does. Lopez finds his way through these themes expertly and constructs them delicately and compassionately into a different time and place while simultaneously holding true to the questions the story raises. It plays on Forster’s Maurice and the gay civil rights movement with clarity and sweet charm, opening up a dialogue on diversity and privilege while developing ideas of prosperity and poverty that impact our fearlessness and pride.

The Inheritance is an exhausting and exhilarating way to spend a few nights in the theatre, whether it is in London’s West End, on Broadway, or at the Blume Appel Theatre in Toronto. The journey is well intended, containing truths that need to be told and a message to all of us to try to do better. The ending struggled to enter my soul as much as the rest of this long “400-page” play that seems to be co-created by its ancestors and predecessors. They speak of a future that we know nothing about, one that feels too rosy and optimistic, especially with all the dreadful realness of the world that we see around us, where the Orange Monster still terrorizes and “faggot” is still a hostile and purposeful snarl. I hope they are right, though, and the difficulty to see brightness and clarity in our collective future is misguided. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

L-R: Antoine Yared, Qasim Khan, Louise Pitre, and Stephen Jackman-Torkoff in Canadian Stage’s production of Matthew López’s The Inheritance. Photo by Dahlia Katz.
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