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The cast of Forever Plaid (above), a musical tribute to guy groups of the ‘50s.

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Comedy ensues in the spring arts season

For the first time in 20 years, Forever Plaid, a playful homage to the boy bands of the 1950s, returns to Toronto. In this case, it's the clean-cut quartet, the Plaids, who seize the spotlight after a tragic accident cuts short their road to fame. However, the group gets one final shot at showbiz glory by returning to the stage from the afterlife (May 17 to June 12, Panasonic Theatre).

The play's harmonious mix of comedy and hummable songs has amused theatregoers since 1990 when it premiered in New York as an off-Broadway musical revue. Its popularity sparked a film version in 2009 starring a couple of the original cast members (Larry Raben and Daniel Reichard) with David Hyde Pierce serving as narrator.

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In the upcoming Toronto stage production (directed and choreographed by Dayna Tekatch), the newly announced cast stars Scott Beaudin (as Sparky), Matt Cassidy (Smudge), Jonathan Cullen (Frankie) and Jeff Madden (Jinx).

Belle Soeurs: The Musical, playing at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa from April 27 to May 14, ticks all the boxes with audiences, thanks to its blend of cheeky, smart humour and memorable tunes. It brings Québécois playwright Michel Tremblay's iconic tale about pride and greed to life as housewife Germaine Lauzon wins one million trading stamps and invites her friends over to celebrate. However, Germaine's windfall and big dreams unleash resentment and hilarity in equal measure as envy sets in.

First performed in 1968, Les Belle Soeurs has been translated into more than 30 languages and has become the most produced Québécois play of all time. Inspired by French Broadway, a lighter musical version debuted in Montreal in 2010 to rave reviews and packed houses. That, in turn, sparked the creation of an English production that hit the stage there in fall 2014. Soon, it will be Ottawa's turn to laugh.

Stand-up comedy is a sink-or-swim proposition. Crowds give a thumbs up or thumbs down as they judge the success of every joke and punchline. The NAC provides more opportunities for audiences to vote on a comic's success at The Chris Timms Comedy Cabaret (April 16) which brings together Canada's brightest rising stars in a one-time-only showcase hosted by comedian Chris Timms. The popular Toronto Comedy All Stars (May 6) returns this year, boasting top talents performing their best material in front of what is likely to be another sold-out audience.


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