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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 21, No. 4 December 2015

This Season in Musicals and English Theatre

by Naomi Gold / December 1, 2015

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Liz McCartney and Kaitlyn Davidson from the Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA tour - Photo Carol Rosegg
Liz McCartney and Kaitlyn Davidson from the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA tour - Photo Carol Rosegg

Penned by English playwright Nina Raine in 2010, Tribes essentially portrays families as tribes, whose members instill values, beliefs and language in their progeny. Tribes’ intellectually-inclined, Jewish/British protagonist family, is highly verbose, rather eccentric, somewhat dysfunctional and mostly entertaining. Youngest child Billy is born deaf, feels like an outsider and struggles to be “heard.” Eventually, he develops a relationship which enables him to fulfill his need for self-expression. This play ultimately celebrates the human spirit via love and language. A Segal Centre production staged through special arrangement with New York’s Dramatists Play Service Inc. Directed by Sarna Lapine. Nov. 29 to Dec. 20. www.segalcentre.org

Cinderella’s slipper makes its “sole” Canadian stop in Toronto, during an ambitious North American winter tour, featuring a thoroughly modern incarnation of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s timeless favorite. Everything about this titanic-sized extravaganza bespeaks of hyperbole. Lavish in the extreme, it’s a feast for eyes and ears. Those quintessential Cinderella moments will shock and amaze with spectacular new twists and surprising turns. Shoe-loving show-goers will surely be rolling in the aisles with “footwear-laced” comedic shtick. A grandiose and opulent production with an orchestra enhance the musical experience, that is highlighted by old favorites like “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible,” and “Ten Minutes Ago.” The stage adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella debuted on Broadway in January 2013, winning a Tony for best costumes. It features Douglas Carter Beane’s book with direction by Mark Brokaw. Dec. 1 to Jan. 10. The Princess of Wales Theatre. www.mirvish.com

Wizard of Oz lovers will be over the moon later this year when Dorothy belts out her iconic aria, “Over the Rainbow.” This production premiered in London’s West End four years ago, prior to its 2012/13 Toronto run. It features all those familiar signature tunes from the classic 1939 film, such as “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” Harold Arlen scored the movie with E. Y. Harburg’s lyrics, and new songs were added by Andrew Lloyd Webber and librettist Tim Rice. They include a song for Professor Marvel: “The Wonders of the World,” along with a new aria for Dorothy entitled “Nobody Understands Me.” Of course it’s all based on Frank L. Baum’s 1900 timeless classic, adapted by Lloyd Webber & Jeremy Sams. Dec. 29 to Jan. 3. Broadway Across Canada. www.nac-cna.com

Based on the late and lamented member of rock ‘n roll’s tragic “27-Club,” A Night with Janis Joplinis an ambitious attempt to recreate the tormented soul who died at 27, whilst celebrating her musical legacy. “Piece of my Heart,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Mercedes Benz,” and “Cry Baby” were not only sung from her heart: they were her heart. Joplin’s raw, searingly honest soul was bared for all to hear. Seeking to assuage her pain, the vulnerable singer songwriter was a true blood & guts performer, continually seeking comfort and solace – where none existed. This new show stars Mary Bridget Davies, aspiring to capture the spirit of Joplin, while recognizing that she was an inimitable performer. Feb. 9 to 14, The Panasonic Theatre, Toronto. www.mirvish.com

On This Day, a comedic drama penned by Montréal playwright Alexandria Haber, makes its world premiere at Centaur Theatre in 2016. Essentially concerned with examining 21st-century issues from global warming to organic foods, this play unfolds as an interpersonal narrative. Driving to a friend’s birthday party, a couple is arguing when suddenly a woman appears roadside. Unable to agree on whether their car had hit the woman, they decide to keep an eye on her by extending an invitation. At the party, everyone unwinds and the curious stranger begins raising profound questions. With her keen intellect, perspicacity and unwavering honesty, she probes marital infidelity, the pursuit of happiness and personal growth. She becomes the catalyst for both couples to re-examine their respective lives as they are forced to confront personal hypocrisies, their closest relationships and ultimately, life’s deeper existential questions. Alain Goulem directs. Feb. 9 to Mar. 6. www.centaurtheatre.com

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