Two of the hottest new stage shows in town

Soulpepper has dramatic punch while Stephen Harper does punchlines

IT ISN’T EASY to try to make a connection between two (probably) very entertaining theatrical pieces playing in downtown Toronto in July,but that’s why I get paid the big bucks.

Stephen Harper! The Musical is the promising new show co-written and co-directed by the brothers Shehori (Daniel and Steven) — the first “outside show” ever given a regular evening slot on the Second City’s mainstage.

It will run from July 5 to 25,preceding the present (and very good) Second City for Mayor production pushing the latter’s start to 9:30 each night, and there are discounts if you wish to see both ( for info).

Daniel, 36, is almost a typical Torontonian: born in Winnipeg, raised in Scarborough; his father was hatched in Russia and moved briefly to Israel before coming to Canada (“Shehori is a variation on the name Schwartz, or Black”).

Daniel Shehori’s roots in the theatrical world stretch back to an ushering job at Second City a dozen years ago.He wrote and performed stand-up and sketches at the studio theatre next door and began creating comedy with his brother. He has been involved with 300 productions of our city’s beloved Second City,including two credits as assistant director on two of their better shows, Facebook of Revelations and Tased and Confused. He says he is delighted to be given “this great opportunity to write and direct” Stephen Harper! The Musical.The premise is ripe with comedic potential:The Prime Minister’s handlers put on a Broadway show so Canadians will take notice of him.The seven songs are by Jay McCarrol, one of Second City’s musical stalwarts.

“We had to find a way of making fun of Harper without directly making fun of him, but it is a grandiose vision of his life,”Daniel chuckles, which sounds as tough as bringing peace to the Middle East. I, personally, am looking forward to seeing it, and I wish this young brother team the best of luck (after all, George and Ira Gershwin were fabulous). And we are the country which gave SCTV to a world that didn’t deserve such brilliance and excellence.

And I am always excited to see a new production by Canada’s finest theatre company, Soulpepper ( for info). Their latest production is A Month in the Country, by the superb Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev, running from July 6 to Aug. 7 at the Young Centre in the Distillery District.

The Soulpepper production is based on a new adaptation by the wonderful Susan Coyne (Kingfisher Days) and directed by the inspired Hungarian Laszlo Marton, who co-adapted Chekhov’s Platonov over a decade ago, to many awards.Turgenev’s best-known play was written nearly a half-century before the glorious Chekhov’s best works, but in its refusal to judge its characters, nor mock their lovesick obsessions, it predicts Chekhov and therefore should not be missed.

All this, along with Stratford’s and Shaw’s seasons in full swing? We are so blessed to live in Toronto, are we not?


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