It’s season-announcement season once again in Canadian theatre – that time of year when theatre companies across the country reveal their upcoming programming and preshow pleas to renew your subscription join the usual entreaties to turn off your cellphones.
Two major Alberta theatre companies kicked things off on Monday by announcing their 2020/2021 seasons: Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, which has all the details on their website, and Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects, which revealed its shows one by one on Twitter.
Of note, the Citadel will produce the Canadian premiere of a recent play based on the 1976 movie Network starring Jim Mezon as “mad as hell” news anchor Howard Beale; director Daryl Cloran’s production will also play at the Arts Club in Vancouver and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg.
I saw the American premiere of Network on Broadway and spoke to Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black fame about starring in it just over a year ago; it will be interesting to see whether Cloran tries to follow in the footsteps of international auteur Ivo van Hove’s original wild multimedia production or attempts something totally different with it. (Regular readers of The Globe and Mail will know I’m a long-time Ivo-phile.)
Meanwhile at ATP, I’m happy that Calgary audiences will get to see Richard Rose’s production of Daniel MacIvor’s New Magic Valley Fun Town in October. That’s a tragicomedy that really touched me when I saw it at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.
On Tuesday, I wrote about Toronto theatre company Canadian Stage’s 2020/2021 season – the first completely programmed by its new artistic director Brendan Healy. The shows I’m most excited about are the Canadian premiere of Fairview and the English-language premiere of Olivier Chonière’s Public Enemy.
But all those are far in the future. In the near term, there is a flurry of shows about to open in Toronto. The Progress Festival, a three-week showcase of international and avant-garde performance and theatre, runs from Jan. 30 to Feb. 15. (My colleague Kate Taylor recently talked with performance artist Hazel Meyer about her unusual show Marble in the Basement, which examines the legacy of artist Joyce Wieland and kicks off the festival.)
I will have to skip the first week of Progress because I’ll be seeing Marjorie Prime at the Coal Mine (a rare opportunity to see the living legend Martha Henry outside of Stratford) on Tuesday, the Governor-General-nominated drama This is How We Got Here at Native Earth Performing Arts on Wednesday and an early Stephen Adly Guirgis play called Jesus Hopped the A Train directed by Weyni Mengesha at Soulpepper on Thursday.
You can expect reviews of those first two shows online by the end of this week, but you’ll have to wait until early next week for a review of Jesus Hopped the A Train because I’ll be hopping on a plane very early on Friday morning to head west for the opening of The Louder We Get at Theatre Calgary.
I’ve been following the development of this Canadian musical, formerly called Prom Queen and based on the true story of Marc Hall’s fight to take his boyfriend to prom in 2002, for years, but I have yet to actually see it. I’ll be weighing in on whether this large-scale, big-budget production is indeed “destined for Broadway,” as Theatre Calgary’s promo material says.
Look for my interview with The Louder We Get’s up-and-coming Calgary-raised, Toronto-based composer/lyricist team Colleen Dauncey and Akiva Romer-Segal online later this week, and then my review early next week.
My colleague Marsha Lederman, meanwhile, will be in Saskatoon at Persephone Theatre this week for the world premiere of Reasonable Doubt, a new documentary play about the killing of Colten Boushie. Her preview of the show was on the cover of last Saturday’s Arts section, and her review of the show will come next week.
One other show outside Toronto I wanted to highlight this week: The Neverending Story, which runs from Jan. 29 to Feb. 16 at the National Arts Centre. I was tickled by director Jillian Keiley and designer Bretta Gerecke’s clever production of this children’s classic at the Stratford Festival last summer and gave it a very good review.
But more recently, I put my money where my mouth is and bought tickets for my niece and nephew to see it in Ottawa as a Christmas gift. I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.
Stay tuned for a new theatre newsletter launching soon from The Globe and Mail’s critic J. Kelly Nestruck.