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Contortionists perform during the opening night of Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, in Toronto, on April 14.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Cirque du Soleil’s partnership with Ontario Place certainly came and went quickly.

A little over a year ago, Cirque’s then-president and CEO Daniel Lamarre was in Toronto to announce with great fanfare that the Canadian circus giant planned to hoist its big top at the waterfront site in spring 2022 – and that he hoped it would be there at the same time annually for many years to come. “I think this is the perfect site,” Lamarre told me then. (He shortly thereafter moved into a different role with Cirque.)

Well, Ontario Place wasn’t that perfect a site for circus as it turned out. Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities – the big-top show that restarted touring in Toronto last spring – had to end its run a week early “due to logistical implications and extreme challenges customers would face to access the Big Top during the Honda Indy Series.” (Cars cancelling culture is, alas, very on brand for Toronto these days.)

And now comes the news that Cirque will present its classic touring show Kooza in Toronto in 2023 – on a site at 2150 Lake Shore Blvd. West in the Humber Bay Shores neighbourhood. It’ll run there, on what was once the home of a Mr. Christie’s cookie factory, from April 7 to June 18. (Public on-sale for the show, which The Globe first reviewed all the way back in 2007, started yesterday.)

I wondered if this move was also related to the issues with the Honda Indy last year. This is what Cirque du Soleil said in a statement provided by Caroline Couillard, its head of global PR: “Earlier this year, we were informed that it was unfortunately impossible for us to return to Ontario Place due to construction work in the area.”

Ontario Place is, of course, being redeveloped in a plan that keeps undergoing modifications and is very controversial in certain circles. In the years leading up to the pandemic, Cirque du Soleil had been presenting its big top shows in Toronto’s Port Lands – but that site is also under development right now.

So further west Cirque must go.

After Toronto, Kooza will go even further west. It’s set to be performed in Calgary from Aug. 25 to Oct. 8 in Stampede Park, then in Vancouver at Concord Pacific Place from Oct. 21 to Dec. 31.

Cirque du Soleil’s most exciting 2023 plan in Canada is the world premiere of a new touring show called Echo under the Big Top in the Old Port of Montreal (from April 20 to Aug. 20); the company will also visit Ottawa with its arena version of Corteo, which plays the Canadian Tire Centre from June 28 to July 2. That’s what’s been announced to date.

Notable openings this week

Moby Dick, a marionette adaptation of the Melville novel by the French-Norwegian company Plexus Polaire, docks at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto presented by Why Not Theatre (Dec. 13, 15 and 16). It got rave reviews in Quebec City and Montreal earlier this fall and I’m sorry to be missing it.

A Christmas Carol: Big Dickens Energy is a show from the musical improv company Outside Joke; it’s on at Winnipeg’s Prairie Theatre Exchange from Dec. 13 to 23, and I highlight it here to show how far folks are taking the Dickens puns these days.

Six Chick Flicks, or a Legally Blonde Pretty Woman Dirty Danced on the Beaches while writing a Notebook on the Titanic was a hit on the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit last summer. Now Kerry Ipema and long-time Fringemaster TJ Dawe’s romcom spoof is getting a run off-Broadway at the Soho Playhouse from Dec. 12 to 21.

What The Globe and Mail is reviewing this week

Alice in Wonderland, a family musical from Bad Hats Theatre, opens live and in-person to the press at Soulpepper in Toronto on Thursday (and runs through Jan. 7). I previously reviewed a pandemic-pivot filmed version in 2021; Mira Miller will be there to review the real (as in IRL) deal.

A new British production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the family musical that was the very first collaboration between lyricist Tim Rice and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is in Toronto courtesy of Mirvish Productions (until Feb. 18 at the Princess of Wales). Opening night for critics is Friday – and I’ll be there and filing a review on Monday.

Between now and then, I’m headed down to New York for a few days to catch up on three musicals and a play. I’ll keep which ones a secret for now, but you are welcome to try and guess in the comments.

Since most Canadian theatres aren’t opening anything new between now and the start of the new year, Nestruck on Theatre is going on hiatus for a couple of weeks.

If you’re a theatre publicist for a professional theatre, please e-mail me a list of opening nights for your winter and spring shows to feed this newsletter when it comes back in 2023: I’m at

Happy holidays!