Performances in Toronto
Anyone who has attended a USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo can attest that the event provides as much activity, information, and entertainment as one can possibly cram into four very long days. However, in case you get into town the evening before, or leave a day later, or even decide to slip out for one evening, here are some of the performances that will be running during that week in March.
This full-scale musical has been running at the Royal Alexandra for over four years. The 100-year-old theatre is two blocks from the Convention Centre at 260 King Street West.
This is the first stop in the North American tour of the popular Broadway musical. The beautifully renovated Canon Theatre (formerly the Pantages) is three subway stops or a short cab ride north of the conference hotels at 244 Victoria Street. For tickets, contact TicketKing, 416-872-1212; 800-461-3333; 284 King St. West, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario M5V 1J2; www.ticketking.com.
This is the final play from the noted Canadian author Carol Shields. It will play until March 19 at the Bluma Appel Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre, two blocks east of the conference hotels at 27 Front Street.
My Mother’s Feet
This play, by Gina Wilkinson, is described as a play about ‘severe acute mother love’ that runs on the power of words, the hope of salvation, and a pair of prosthetic feet. This production is playing in the upstairs space in a converted gas plant about a mile east of the conference theatres at Canstage, Berkeley Street Theatre, Upstairs, 26 Berkeley St.
Tickets for both Canstage productionscan be obtained by calling 416-368-3110 or 877-399-2651.
Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People
If you are interested in theatre for young audiences, LKTYP has several productions running during the week of the conference. The theatre is about half a mile east of the conference hotels.
The Storyteller’s Bag
This play was developed by Mark Brownell and produced by the Chamber Music Society of Mississauga. It recounts the legends of the Ojibway. Two aboriginal actors are accompanied by a seven-piece chamber music ensemble in this distinctly Canadian production.
Written by Andri Snaer Magnason and produced by special arrangement with Nordiska Strakosch Teaterförlaget ASP, this play has an intergalactic traveling salesman crash onto a small planet inhabited only by children.
Where The Wild Things Are
Based on the award-winning book by Maurice Sendak, adapted by TAG Theatre of Glasgow, and co-produced by Carousel Playersand Manitoba Theatre for Young People, this is recommended for ages three to six. It revolves around Max and his wild imagination.
Check the LKTYP website or call the box office (416-862-2222) for any of these performance times, many of which are during the day. The theatre is at 165 Front St. East.
Written by John Mighton, directed by Daniel Brooks, and co-produced with Necessary Angel Theatre Company, the story revolves around two nursing home residents who rekindle what might have been a wartime romance. The award-winning team behind Possible Worlds brings us this poetic and moving meditation on identity, aging, and the nature of memory. For more information, call the theatre at 416-531-1827. It is located at 30 Bridgman Ave.
The Leisure Society
Originally produced at Le Théâtre de la Manufacture in Montreal, The Leisure Society (La Société des Loisirs) explores the crisis of a 30-something couple who appear to have everything – love, careers, a beautiful house, one child as well a project to adopt another – yet find their lives dangled over an emotional precipice during the course of one highly charged dinner party. Previews start at the theatre, 125 Bathurst St., on March 19. For more information, call 416-504-9971.
Calgary ’s acclaimed One Yellow Rabbit conjures the spirit of the Beat generation in a hallucinogenic, genre-defying musical. Call the theatre, located at 16 Ryerson Ave., 416-504-7529, for more information.
A Suicide-Site Guide To The City
Creator Darren O'Donnel has been noted for his distinctive work, which sometimes challenges the notion of what is "theatrical." Established in 1979, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is dedicated to the promotion of gay, lesbian, and queer theatrical expression. The theatre is located at 12 Alexander St., and those interested may call 416-975-8555 for more information.
The classic is presented by Modern Times Stage Company,which creates innovative productions that blend Western and Eastern theatrical styles. This space, located at 1087 Queen St. West, is shared by several small innovative theatre companies. For more information, click on www.moderntimesstage.com or call 416-538-0988.
This company runs two large downtown concert venues. Roy Thomson Hall, with its distinctive tapered glass exterior, is located just one block north of the Convention Centre. It has recently undergone a massive (and successful) acoustic retrofit, and is home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It also plays host to many other musical artists, and occasional non-musical performers.
Toronto Symphony Orchestra & Lang Lang
The noted pianist plays Rachmaninoff and a new commission by Sichuan composer Guo Wenjing on March 16. Click on www.tso.ca for more information.
China’s Imperial Circus
The celebrated troupe of Chinese acrobats plays several dates during the Conference: 7 p.m. March 18; 2 and 7 p.m. March 19; and 2 p.m. March 20 (2:00 p.m.). Call 416-872-4255 for more information.
Massey Hall was Toronto’s home for classical and popular music for most of the twentieth century. The century-old venue is two subway stops north of the conference hotels, on Shuter St., just east of Yonge St.
Jill Scott in Concert
Jill Scott has toured with the Canadian cast of Rent and has collaborated with The Roots, Eric Benet, Will Smith and Common. In 2003, she earned a Grammy nomination for Best Female Vocal Performance for A Long Walk. She will perform March 16. For ticket information, call 416-872-4255.
There will be many other performances occurring in Toronto during the USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo. Many of the theatres above have second (or third) stages that are rented to other theatre companies. There are many theatres, night clubs, comedy clubs, and music venues within easy reach of the conference hotels.
The best way to track down last-minute arts and entertainment information is the local media. Toronto is served by five daily newspapers (four English, one Chinese). The best for local arts information are: The Globe and Mail, www.theglobeandmail.com, and The Toronto Star, www.thestar.com. There are also two free entertainment weeklies that are widely distributed: Now Magazine, www.nowtoronto.com, and Eye Weekly, www.eye.net. You can also check out the monthly Toronto Life, www.torontolife.com. The most comprehensive guide to current activities – and Toronto in general – is probably www.toronto.com.