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Stellar Reviews for Life After at Canadian Stage

For a guy who publishes a website that links to reviews, I must admit my preference is to see a show cold, without reading the reviews.

When deciding what to see I’ll often scan headlines, seeking an overall impression, but I prefer to read the reviews after I’ve seen a show.

That was the case with “Life After” the new musical from Stratford’s Britta Johnson currently on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre in Toronto.

After seeing the wonderful and deeply moving musical I read all the reviews and it struck me that I’ve never seen such uniform praise for a production so early in its development.

Just two years from its run at the Toronto Fringe Festival the current production of “Life After” is a testament to not only the collaboration of three Toronto organizations supporting the show: Canadian Stage, The Musical Stage Company and Yonge Street Theatricals, but also audiences’ appetite for challenging theatre.

The Show’s Creator is only 26 Years Old

It’s also worth noting that Johnson, the show’s creator, is only 26 years old and the play’s a central character is just 16 years old. The performance I saw was attended by quite a few young people, which was great to see.

I left the show with more hope than ever that Canadian Stage is on track to attract more young people to attend thought provoking Canadian productions. After Johnson’s “Life After” and last year’s “Concord Floral” by Jordan Tannahill (aged 29), which featured 10 teenage performers onstage, I can only wonder and wait with eager anticipation to see what the Canadian Stage’s artistic director Matthew Jocelyn has in mind for 2018.

In the meantime, go see “Life After” then come back and read the reviews and leave your own in the comments below.

Read All the Reviews, Leave Yours Below.

3.5/4 – Toronto Star: Karly Maga
“Johnson’s ability to depict the overwhelming, surreal nature of grief naturally comes from her own experience grieving her father at a young age, but the effectiveness of it onstage — not to mention the hilarious moments she injects into sorrowful — is a testament to her theatrical mind.”
Read the full review.

3.5/4 – Globe and Mail: Kelly Nestruck
“In subject matter, however, Life After ultimately is most like kitchen-sink musicals such as Next to Normal or Dear Evan Hansen, Broadway shows that have shrunk the musical form to chronicle personal tragedies in middle-class homes (and which also include characters singing from the afterlife).

I appreciated Johnson’s show more than those hits, in a way, because it seems to recognize its own narrowness and avoids too much bourgeois bombast.”
Read the full review.

5/5 – Stage Door: Christopher Hoile
“There’s no need to refer to Britta Johnson as an emerging artist anymore. Her chamber musical Life After is a mature, fully-fledged work, rich in musical and psychological complexity that places her in the ranks of other great post-Sondheimian creators like Adam Guettel and Jason Robert Brown.

Newcomer Ellen Denny gives an emotional performance as Alice rising from the paralysis of grief through doubt and anger to heightened awareness and contentment, her voice increasing in richness and power with each step.”
Read the full review.

NNNN/4 – Now Magazine: Glenn Sumi
“The real star is Johnson, who, judging from this score and the maturity of her vision, has a long career ahead of her.”
Read the full review.

Broadway World: Taylor Long
“Director Robert McQueen has created an impeccable piece of theatre – no detail is too small or too extreme. Peter McBoyle’s sound design is expertly crafted, transforming the cold Berkeley Street theatre into a warm, intimate space where Lynne Shankel’s orchestrations are free to flourish. The quality of the orchestra, especially with Reza Jacobs shaping the music, rivals anything you hear on Broadway.”
Read the full review.

Details Details
Life After
The Berkeley Street Theatre until Oct. 22
Details & Tickets
Box Office 416-368-3110

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Stellar Reviews for Life After at Canadian Stage

Keith Tomasek
6 October 2017
News and Rumors

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