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Theatre Weekend Getaway

by Keith Tomasek, April 13, 2022

So you’ve been dreaming of an amazing theatre getaway?

New York is too much of a bother these days; Toronto is the place!

A two-night, three-day visit to Toronto will rejuvenate your soul.

I’ve just returned from a quick Toronto getaway. I can honestly say that three days of laughing, crying and thinking profound thoughts inspired by wonderful theatre triggered feelings of Joy, belonging and wonder that I’d almost forgotten I ever felt.

Leave the car at home and relax on the train. Once I was in Toronto, it was easy to navigate my way around town on subways and busses!

Three to See.

All three of the performances I saw are receiving RAVE REVIEWS!

Room at The Princess of Wales.

Alexis Gordon, Lucien Duncan-Reid and Brandon Michael Arrington. Photo: Dahlia Katz
You might know Alexis Gordon from her work at the Stratford and Shaw Festival, with “Carousel,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Guys and Dolls” being my favourites.

In “Room,” Gordon reaches new heights in a very demanding role.

Readers familiar with Emma Donoghue’s book, or the Oscar-nominated movie, might be reluctant to attend this show, fearing an evening of claustrophobic drama.

Fear not, I can attest that “Room” is uplifting; it’s a testament to the bonds of family and parenthood under duress.

“Room” closes Sunday, May 8.

Antipodes at Coal Mine Theatre

I was drawn to this because I’m a fan of both the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker and Toronto director/actor/writer Ted Dykstra.

Mark Lawson from The Guardian wrote this about Baker:
“her plays should still be avoided by people who like plot and theme clearly signposted.”

So “Antipodes” isn’t for everyone.

I was awestruck by the production’s emotional dynamism, feeling genuine moments of comedic joy paired with compassion and occasional disgust.

To my eye, Ted Dykstra’s direction is fabulous. The ensemble cast, the set and the sound design all come together magnificently. The whole is genuinely greater than the sum of the parts.

Stratford Festival fans might recognize cast member Sarah Dodd.

As a lone female writer in a room full of male bravado, her performance is understatedly magnetic.

At the Stratford Festival, Dodd has appeared in many productions. Her comically tight portrayal of the French maid Louise in Carey Perloff’s 2019 production of “Private Lives” was one of my favourite comic turns.

Photo: Dahlia Katz
Incidentally, Dykstra will be reprising his lead role in the 25th Anniversary production of “2 Pianos 4 Hands,” a show he co-created with Richard Greenblatt, at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto June 4 – July 17.

If you haven’t seen “2 Pianos 4 Hands,” don’t miss it. If you have seen it, you’ll love this special 25th anniversary production.

“Antipodes” closes Sunday, May 15.

Orphans for the Czar at Crow’s Theatre

Arrive early to spend quality time in the lobby bar or the restaurant next door.

On some evenings, you can bask in the post-show visual atmospherics of a busy street corner while enjoying live jazz. Check the performance schedule on their website.

I arrived early for my performance, and the buzz in the lobby left no doubt that Crow’s Theatre had solidified its place in the neighbourhood.

Come for the sharp writing of George F. Walker; stay for the always entertaining Eric Peterson.

Shayla Brown, Eric Peterson Photo: Dahlia Katz

The entire cast is fabulous, with stand-out performances by Paolo Santalucia and Shayla Brown, the 18-year-old actress headed for greatness. She has already worked on film and TV projects with Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard.

Brown is also starring in the upcoming drama “Women Talking,” with Frances McDormand and Sheila McCarthy, directed by Sarah Polley.

“Orphans for the Czar” closes Sunday, April 24th (it’s held over, and tickets are moving fast).

While in Toronto, I stayed at the Yorkville Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bloor, just west of Avenue Rd. It’s a perfect location, with the Yorkville galleries, restaurants and Wholefoods a five-minute walk away. The rooms have all been recently renovated. The hotel’s steam room was small but mighty hot – the way I like it!

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Theatre Weekend Getaway

Keith Tomasek
13 April 2022
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