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Live Theatre in Toronto

Tewder

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I enjoyed it very much too. The chemistry between Catrall and Gross was great, which is a good thing because so much of the play relies on it. All four leads were excellent though, and the sets and costumes etc were spot on. It all made for a very classy and witty night at the theatre, what!
 

Tewder

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Chess is somewhat of a miss! Great voices and score but terrible, muddied and cheesy production that painfully lacks focus. This production reminds one why it is largely produced in concert form!
 

Tewder

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Yes, I saw that and I was very much anticipating something better than what I feel it delivered... having said this you will not be disappointed in the vocals and the lead performers... I'll be interested to hear what you thought.
 

canmark

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Just discovered this thread. I'll comment briefly about some of the recent productions that were mentioned above.

I liked the way Carrie Fisher personalized her show Wishful Drinking and made it feel like she was your friend and you were just sitting around talking--or that she was an hour long guest on the couch of a talk show.

Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I wasn't overwhelmed by Next to Normal. I liked the staging and a few of the songs, but I felt there wasn't a lot of story or plot there. I saw Alice Ripley near the end of the run (which was the end of the tour) and her voice was husky and overworked. I didn't see the reason for all the raves for her; I could imagine plenty of other people performing that role as well.

Soulpepper's The Glass Menagerie was OK, and brought out a lot of the humour, but didn't move me as much as that play should (I felt similarly about Soulpepper's Death of a Salesman last year). I must admit that for the first time I could see my own mother in Amanda (in a good way--in the sense of a mother always wanting (what she thinks is) the best for her children).

Stratford's Jesus Christ Superstar was quite good, ably sung, nicely staged (strangely, I was reminded a bit of Next to Normal, athough N2N's design and lighting was better), but only Bruce Dow's Herod number really stood out for me (although the title song was good, too). Loved Paul Nolan's (Jesus) singing, but the acting and characterizations of the leads (including Josh Young's Judas and Chilina Kennedy's Mary M.) was underwhelming.

Chess was a mess. Enough said.

Private Lives was better, although I thought the Coward/period-type play suited Cattrall more than Gross. Delivering chauvinistic lines and striking a woman came out a bit phony on Gross, but the wild swings of emotion (anger, frustration, romance, sauciness) suited Cattrall just fine.

Edit to add: forgot Soulpepper's White Biting Dog. That play did not do it for me. Senselessness masquerading as artiness.
 
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Benc7

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Welcome, Canmark! I recognize your name from the Broadway World Message board!
 

PinkLucy

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Saw three plays at Stratford this weekend.

I had been looking forward to Grapes of Wrath; I'm a big Steinbeck fan. We were sadly disappointed, however. The wandering minstrel/narrator interludes were annoying, not in the least because of the discordant rock-a-billyish approach used. The most glaring problem, however, was the dreadful (and I don't use that word lightly) performance by Janet Wright as Ma. She delivered her lines (when she wasn't dropping them) with little to no inflection and it seemed she would rather have been anywhere than onstage. On the plus side, other performances were well done, and the staging was excellent and creative, particularly the truck and the river scenes. Tom McCamus, as always, was excellent.

Camelot was wonderful, campy fun with beautiful costuming and solid performances all around. The cast seemed to be having a wonderful time, as was the audience. It was the surprise favourite of the group I was with.

Jesus Christ Superstar was very good, although the costuming annoyed me. I'd been looking forward to seeing Josh Young's Judas after seeing him in Evita last year, and while he was good, he wasn't outstanding. Chilina Kennedy was Chilina Kennedy; I've seen her in a number of performances, and while her singing is solid, her acting still needs work -- whether she is Mary Magdalene, Eva Perron, Rose of Sharon, Maria or Philia, she's still Chilina Kennedy. Nolan was very good as Christ, but seemed just a bit too distant. As canmark mentioned, Dow was wonderful as only Dow can be. I did feel that the whole thing was rushed, however -- two hours, start to finish, including intermission.
 
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Tewder

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I saw Jesus Christ Superstar too and thoroughly enjoyed it, not surprisingly given all the 'buzz' (pardon the lame musical reference). Funnily enough, I actually loved the overall post-modern vision for the costuming which somehow managed to feel very 'specific' at times yet transcendant... and that yellow robe that Chilina wore was visually stunning...

...and as for Chilina I think she's wonderful! I didn't have great seats and so cannot fairly attest to her acting performance but vocally she sounded amazing, such a rich tone she has!.. and if I couldn't see her performance that well I could definitely hear the emotion in her voice and sense it in her performance, even from a distant back row.

Finally, I loved the staging. Very simple, very powerful... imo.

I really cannot find too much to fault with this production, which is something given the high expectations I had going into it due to the reviews and the buzz etc.
 

canmark

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It's official! Stratford's Jesus Christ Superstar will arrive on Broadway in March 2012.

Interestingly, it will be going up against another Webber-Rice show, Evita, which is supposed to open some time next year. That production has more name-worthy cast, as most of the Stratford players in JCS would be little know in the Big Apple (except for Brent Carver, who won the Tony for Kiss of the Spider Woman many years ago). I wonder if there will be any casting changes? The Evita cast includes pop star Ricky Martin as Che, Elena Roger (an Argentinian, who starred in the London revival of Evita a few years ago--I saw it and thought that production was great) and Michael Cerveris (who played opposite Patti LuPone in Sweeney Todd) as Peron. JCS will have a pre-Broadway run at the La Jolla Playhouse, and I think it could still use some tweaks to improve it.
 
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PinkLucy

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Added interest in that two of the JCS stars starred in Evita last year! Terrific news though -- and it will follow up a run in California in December, so little Stratford theatre is getting some terrific exposure. It's come a long way in the 20+ years I have been attending.
 

Tewder

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I wonder if both Webber revivals will in fact benefit from them both happening at the same time, creating a sort of Webber/Rice tribute kind of thing?

... and PinkLucy I agree with you that this is awesome for Stratford. Did you see Importance of Being Ernest last year? It went to Broadway too with Brian Bedford. It was amazing.
 

PinkLucy

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I certainly did Tewder. It was wonderful. I'm already trying to decide what to see next year :) It will be Stratford's 60th anniversary next year.
 

Tewder

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... Heck, I'm still trying to resist going this year to see Telfth Night. I'll be so sorry to miss it.
 

Benc7

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I'm not seeing anything at Stratford this year, but I'm happy to hear it was so successful a season! "Private Lives" at The Royal Alex was a nice way to pass an evening; Paul Gross and Kim Cattrall are an engaging pair. "Chess" I liked because it had a great set and some superb voices. Also, I'm a sucker for productions that feature actors playing musical instruments; loved it in "Sweeney Todd", "Company" and "Assassins"! Tarragon Theatre's production of "In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play", features a good set and some funny moments, but I can't imagine how this play was nominated for a Tony and a Pulitzer; it's so unfocused.
 

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