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Live Theatre in Toronto

I attended the National Ballet's Onegin on Saturday. I believe that the entire Orchestra section (600 seats) were groupon purchasers; they were a very appreciative crowd. Good for the National to get involved in this group buying thing which encouraged people who otherwise wouldn't have spent $170 to try out something new. I'm not new to ballet as a dance form, but I'm new to "the ballet". I quite enjoyed it as an interesting way to tell a story -- through dance, music and gesture but no words.

The cast was very well rehearsed, and there were some well-executed dance moves. A couple of minor stumbles from some of the principals but nothing off-putting. (And hey, I could never do it!)

So all in all, for me, a very enjoyable afternoon. I hope to go again. And I have no idea, maybe it wasn't well done at all , because I have nothing to compare it to, but I did enjoy it!
I saw the National Ballet's Onegin last year and it was amazing, so PinkLucy, even though you say you have nothing to compare it to, usually one can tell if something is good by whether or not it moved them in some way. I discovered ballet in high school through a friend who was seriously into taking classes and fell in love with it. Fast forward 15-20 years and I rediscovered it last year when I saw Onegin. It was an awesome performance and did so well that they brought it back this year.

I think ballet is one of the most beautiful and amazing of the performing arts as it combines the elements of theatre, music and dance (which in my mind competes with any serious athletics, when you see what some of these dancers can do). So, I'd encourage you to go to "the ballet" again sometime and open yourself up to the experience. Just an FYI, you can buy rush tickets on the day of each performance for only $35. Box office opens at 11 am and you would be wise to get there at least a half hour early. It's a great deal and the seats can be quite good for the money.
Depends what you're looking for. Lion King is opening. Billy Elliott is wonderful.
I saw The Railway Children. It was quite enjoyable despite the uncomfortable seats. I also thought they could cut back on the dry ice since the tent doesn't seem to be all that well vented. I quite liked the way they made use of the movable platforms -- the stagehands must be exhausted at the end of a show!
Double Bill:(re) Birth: e.e cummings in song and Window on Toronto-Soulpepper Theatre

"(re) Birth" isn't a play; it's a series of poems by e.e cummings set to music by a very talented ten-member cast. Everyone plays an instrument, from piano to a plastic frog, and everyone sings. They do both very, very well on a deceptively simple set that more elaborate theatre productions could learn from; this is what creativity looks like. Some of the poems work better than others, but it all works and I had a great time. Congrats to the cast!

"Window on Toronto", the "double" of the double bill, is set in a hot dog stand on Nathan Phillips Square. Jason, the proprietor, sits with the audience, and we see the crazy, wonderful, touching nuttiness of life in this city with him through the window of the stand. The cast plays multiple characters over "a year in the life" of the city. What a year! What fun!

Two acts, one intermission
The Railway Children - The Round House Theatre

"The Railway Children", an adaptation of Edith Nesbit's novel, comes with all kinds of bells and whistles attached to a real locomotive, in a brand new temporary theatre, located at the CPR Roundhouse. Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are three very British children who go to live at "Three Chimneys", a cottage in the country side after their father is unjustly imprisoned for espionage. These are children from another century, or rather children from the fiction of another century; a lot of "stiff upper lip" and "Boys' (and Girls') Own Adventure". They are so much the product of that fiction it's hard to relate to them as real children. But it is a charming play, the actors are good, and the theatre built to house them is impressive. I agree with PinkLucy; the seats are designed to torture you into ramrod-straight posture. But, I kept thinking I've never seen a play that so much wanted to be a musical, that so SHOULD have been a musical.

I hope this temporary theatre becomes a permanent structure; it's in a wonderful location, and the views from it remind me of how much this city has changed in a few short years.

two acts, one intermission.
untitled- la la la human steps- Canadian Stage

I'll give Mathew Jocelyn, the artistic and general director of Canadian Stage, his due; he's certainly delivered a challenging roster of programming for Canadian Stage this past season. That roster has been met with mixed reaction, sort of like my reaction to the opening of "untitled" last night.

Thirty years ago, Edouard Lock, changed the way I thought of modern dance. I remember the violence, the energy, the equal-opportunity athletic flinging that took my breath away. Last night, that energy was contained, refined and put en pointe; intellectual, not passionate, conservative, not adventurous. Two pieces, based on the music of Purcell and Gluck, are presented as as "story about the shadow, the ending of love rather than its romantic faze". And "shadow" is a what the lighting is all about; this is danced in a half-lit world, very effective... for the first ten minutes. The dancers are superb; I'd expect nothing less from this company. But what I missed was that gut-wrenching, grab-you-by-your-privates, emotional, and physical commitment.

ninety minutes, no intermission
Fronteras Americanas-Soulpepper Theatre

This revival of a play that won the Governor General's Award for Best Drama when it was first mounted at Tarragon Theatre in 1993 is an illustration of why some works shouldn't be revived. Guillermo Verdecchia's solo autobiographical show of what it means to be an Argentinean-Canadian may have about sixty minutes of good material in it. Unfortunately, it meanders for one hundred and twenty, searching for "the border", for where he belongs in the Americas. Not Canadian, not really Argentinean, where is “homeâ€? This theme has been explored many times over the last eighteen years, in increasingly edgier, angrier, funnier shows; think of Margaret Cho's first solo effort, or John Leguizamo's latest, or Jonathan Wilson's “My Own Private Oshawaâ€, all trying to find a place in a society that doesn't reflect them. What might have been interesting and novel eighteen years ago, isn't anymore. It would have been a better idea to show how Mr. Verdecchia and our culture have evolved over the last couple of decades; where are the “borders†now?

Having said all that, I must note that the theatre was packed, as it was last week when my friends saw this. The audience then, and last night, gave him a heart-felt and very warm ovation at the end; à chacun son goût.

two hours and ten minutes, including one intermission