Theatres and the artists that bring them to life have had a hard time the last few years, but it looks like we will get a long overdue full theatre season and we couldn’t be more excited. From small stages across the city to the largest and most popular theatres in town, the diversity of offerings is immense. Toronto continues to be one of the top stage destinations on the planet, and this season is a good example of just how wonderful it can be.
Herewith is a look at what we are most excited about seeing this season.
Let’s start with Soulpepper, as I’d loved what they had been doing the last couple of years before the pandemic. The season at the Young Centre in the Historic Distillery District kicked off with a new take on King Lear in repertory alongside a companion piece in the world premiere of Erin Shield’s Queen Goneril — same cast, two different shows, followed by Ins Choi’s latest Bad Parent. You might remember the name Choi from another script he penned a few years back called Kim’s Convenience. Next up is the Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale — a one-person show created by and starring Haley McGee. And heading into the holiday season is when Soulpepper would normally trot out its excellent production of A Christmas Carol, but not this year. Instead, we get a very exciting revival of ‘da Kink in My Hair directed by Weyni Mengesha, Soulpepper’s artistic director.
Toronto’s biggest theatre company Mirvish Productions is still riding high on the wave of Harry Potter-mania with its sold-out run of the musical Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but there are more top-notch musical productions ahead. One that is getting the most buzz is, of course, the musical version of the cult-classic high school movie Mean Girls. Comedic tour-de-force Tina Fey created the new version for Broadway alongside product and Toronto native Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live Fame. It’s going to be serious fun. Mean Girls takes over the stage at Princess of Wales Theatre on Oct. 25 as a highly regarded version of the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain closes up its run. Other productions of note include Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical running Nov. 27-Jan. 15 as well as the return of Hamilton in February.
This east-end theatre has been putting together some interesting seasons, including a wide range of productions. The season kicked off with a stunning version of the great classic Uncle Vanya alongside a theatrical song cycle The Shape Of Home: Songs in Search of Al Purdy — a wonderful production featuring a talented quintet including the amazing Hayley Gillis alongside Beau Dixon, Raha Javanfar, Frank Cox-O’Connell, and Andrew Penner. Next up for the Carlaw Avenue arts hub is Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which is a collab with the Modern Times Stage Company opening Oct. 11. Of course, one production already pencilled into the calendar is Fifteen Dogs, based on the award-winning novel by Toronto’s Andre Alexis. Fans of the book will know the story is told entirely by dogs who live in and around High Park. It runs from Jan. 10 to Feb. 5. And, what would one get when pairing Toronto’s leading immersive theatre director Mitchell Cushman with Northern Ontario’s top musical theatre company and let them loose on Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along? No idea what will result, but I can’t wait to find out (Apr. 19-May 7).
Public Enemy, which closes Oct. 8, marks the beginning of the Canadian Stage season; the English-language premiere of a play written by Siminovitch Prize-winning playwright, Olivier Choinière. But the highlight of the season is surely the two-part adaptation of Ann-Marie Mcdonald’s acclaimed novel Fall On Your Knees. The production actually brings together the National Arts Centre, Vita Brevis Arts, Canadian Stage, Neptune Theatre, and the Grand Theatre alongside co-creators Hannah Moscovitch and Alisa Palmer. Fall On Your Knees: Part One premieres Jan. 20 with Part Two opening Jan. 22 and the two will run concurrently until early February. This will be big. Next up for Canadian Stage is Choir Boy, which tells the story of the young leader of a gospel choir. It is described as “a love letter to the healing power of music, featuring gorgeously sung acapella hymns.” Choir Boy runs Nov. 8-19.
The long-running Annex theatre Tarragon has a fantastic season lined up, which began with the opening of Cockroach, Sept. 13 to Oct. 9. We are excited to check out the next production My Sister’s Rage written and directed by Yolanda Bonnell, who was recently nominated for a Governor General’s Award. The play is described as “a story about the nuances of holding trauma and joy at the same time and how laughter is medicine.” Although the entire season is exciting, we are particularly keen to check out the world premiere of Redbone Coonhoud by Amy Lee Lavoie and Omari Newton as well as Anosh Irani’s Behind The Moon.
The Factory kicks off its new season with the world premiere of The Waltz, running Oct. 22 – Nov. 13, a sequel to Marie Beath Badian’s very popular 2018 work Prairie Nurse. And be sure to check out the latest from Toronto’s Rachel Mutumbo. Vierge is a look at faith, community, and sex from an exciting new writer.
Coal Mine Theatre
This tiny gem of a theatre in the east end on Danforth Avenue has mounted some impressive productions over the last few years. Sadly, a fire at the theatre has resulted in the first production of the season having to be cancelled. Fingers crossed that the Coal Mine can stick to its plan to open the season on Nov. 20 with Lucy Prebble’s The Effect. It will be a good one, directed by Mitchell Cushman. The highlight of the Coal Mine season will be Yerma, Feb. 5-26, directed by Diana Bentley and starring Toronto film actor Sarah Gadon. The season finishes up on a very high note with The Sound Inside, written by Adam Rapp and directed by Leora Morris starring Moya O’Connell. This play, described as a gripping mystery, was nominated for six Tony Awards in 2019.
Theatre Passe Muraille
Passe Muraille is the place to go for alternative theatre experiences in the city. The theatre has a newly renovated backspace, so we are excited to check it out this season. The Year of the Cello opens in said backspace on Oct. 15 running until Oct. 29 and we are most excited to witness this original production. Other productions of note in a fine season include the world premiere of Miriam’s World by Naomi Jaye, based on the novel The Indecent Report. The immersive production transforms the theatre into a public library. We love libraries. The annual RUTAS festival of performance kicked off the season and runs until Oct. 9.