Forget the big razzmatazz Broadway shows always present in a Mirvish theatre or two in Toronto’s entertainment district.
The following are fine examples of the vibrant theatrical scene underpinning the “big stuff”.
This is Theatre you can almost reach out and touch, visceral experiences that you are so close to you could almost be a part of them. And Toronto’s normally spectacular summer weather brings lots of theatre out into our Parks and open spaces.
Having said that this second tier of theatre is not in the outdoor category but rooted in the 6 month season Festival genre. The Stratford Shakespeare Festival based in Stratford Ontario and The Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake run throughout the summer months too so visiting at this time ensures you get to benefit from glorious days in each of these very pretty areas. Both Festivals are a couple of hours outside Toronto; both last several months and afford theatre-goers the opportunity to see several different plays during a day or perhaps over a weekend.
This year Stratford is showcasing
the usual diverse menu of Shakespeare, musicals and plays.
Choose from the following :
Romeo and Juliet
Fiddler on the Roof
The Three Musketeers
The Merchant of Venice
Measure for Measure
Waiting for Godot
The Shaw Festival at gorgeous Niagara on the Lake, is a staple of the annual thespian calendar. This massive event again stretches through the summer months well into the Fall and is well worth a trip round Lake Ontario. Many folk make a weekend of it spending a night or two in one of the many historic B&B’s.
My favourite B&B – “The Two Bees” http://www.twobeesniagara.com
And so now to the grass roots level of Toronto theatre. Hunting around this level has given me my most rewarding jaw-dropping experiences, this is where the real and unexpected gems lie. With an ever changing menu of plays, and venues; with various theatre companies taking their productions on the road and staging their plays outside in parks or in heritage properties, the possibilities for enjoying highly professional and unique experiences are endless.
What is so amazing about these is that they often operate with very few cast members and literally no props – just relying on honed talent and each other.
Shakespeare in High Park
Why not spend a couple of our gorgeous summer evenings scooched down on the grass of the outdoor amphitheatre of High Park. Shake out a rug/cushion; lay out your special al fresco picnic ( don’t forget the Penguin Bars) and watch as incredible performances play out before you. As the evening draws in, spot-lights pick out the fleeting spectres of bats and moths within the canopy of trees over the stage and the shrill crescendo of the summer cicadas provide the intermittent backing vocals. Nothing better…. Canadian Stage is back with “Shakespeare in High Park” this time with two plays: ” Macbeth” and The “Taming of the shrew” (so you have to go twice).
“Art of Time Ensemble”
These folk did an incredible re-enactment of HG Welles’ “War of the Worlds radio Broadcast as it would have been staged in 1938 and whilst they are primarily a music ensemble they often link up with actors to produce powerful collaborative work.
Following hot on the heels of their Incredible “Sonnet Show ” Fundraiser at Montgomery’s Inn, “The Humber River Shakespeare company” are touring their “As You Like It” throughout the GTA including appearances at The Old Mill, Evergreen Brickworks and Montgomery’s Inn – from July 9 – August 4
See website schedule details
“The Classical Theatre Project” who brought us their hilarious rendition of the “Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” at Casa Loma and Wychwood Barns last year will be performing
Romeo and Juliet
All at Toronto Centre for the Arts
And “Shakespeare in the Ruff” will be showcasing their annual Withrow Park outdoor season – look on their website for upcoming summer production. http://www.shakespeareintheruff.com
“Brant Theatre Workshops” who perform the much loved and delicious “Dracula a Love Story” to awestruck Casa Loma and Sanderson Centre audiences are back at the historic “Bell Homestead” (home of Alexander Graham Bell ). They’ll be performing on the front porch of the Bell Homestead National Historic Site, as they open their season in July with a unique version of the Wizard of Oz ( in 3D) followed by a play about Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, and Annie Sullivan in August. Imagine a play about Bell performed in his own home! Stellar…..
“Red Sandcastle Theatre” on Queen Street West – the tiniest theatre I’ve ever had the privilege to sit in is worth keeping an eye on.
Generally pwyc or minimal entrance fee and always a surprising theatre.
Don’t want to miss a thing?
Look out for/or better still subscribe to the following entities (both theatre companies and theatres):
Red One Collective at the Storefront Theatre
Soulpepper who reside at The Toronto Centre for the Arts in the Distillery district.
Buddies in Bad Times
The St Lawrence theatre formerly the Bluma Appel Theatre – home base of The Canadian Stage company
Yonge Centre for the Performing
Arts – Distillery
The Lower Ossington Theatre
The Tarragon Theatre
Enwave Theatre (on Lakeshore)
Break a Leg……..