Home Quebec music Fall preview: five shows to see across Canada (and five to watch online) as theater returns to normal

Fall preview: five shows to see across Canada (and five to watch online) as theater returns to normal


The Come From Away cast returns to the Royal Alexandra Theater for an indefinite run on December 7.

Cylla von Tiedemann / Mirvish

That theater is a local art form has never been clearer than it has been this fall – with stages in different Canadian cities in very different return states.

Take the example of the two largest theatrical capitals in the country. In Montreal, the performing arts have almost returned to a pre-pandemic level of activity due to Quebec’s ticket office subsidy for reduced-capacity shows. In Toronto, on the other hand, many large theater companies wait until winter or even spring to resume in-person performances indoors.

The public’s desire to regain seats also varies enormously – from individual to individual. With that in mind, I’ve picked out a few in-person shows that I’m looking forward to this fall, but I’ve also offered alternatives online (or vice versa).

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Come from afar

Mirvish Productions will resume operations with large-scale commercial shows in Toronto this fall with a touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Princess of Wales Theater (tentative dates: November 30 – January 2).

But the real moment of triumph will come on December 7 when Come from afar and its Canadian cast returns to the Royal Alexandra Theater for an indefinite run – and this story about the search for kindness in a chaotic time more necessary than ever. Let her large jib pull for a long time!

Online alternative: The Broadway production of Come from afar was shot beautifully on stage and is now airing on Apple TV + with original Canadian cast members Petrina Bromley and Astrid Van Wieren, among those whose performances have been captured for posterity. While Hamiltonlast year’s digital debut was accompanied by a backlash, Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s musical seems to have started airing at a time when her big-hearted comedic sensibility is gaining cultural capital; as one New York Times reviewer put it, the show is “almost impossible to hate.”

Shakespeare with a twist

The Luminato Festival Toronto could not take place in June of this year, so it is instead hosting a mini fall edition. Among its most tempting offers is Henri G20 (October 20 – November 11), the long awaited reset of Christine Brubacher and Constantine X. Anastasakis Henri v in the middle of the G20 summit which created a great uproar in Toronto in 2010.

On two occasions, plans to mount this adaptation of Shakespeare in person under the Gardiner Freeway have been canceled due to COVID-19 – but it will now be available anyway as a six-episode podcast featuring Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah as Henry. The elements of “augmented reality” are accessible via an application while browsing the sites where clashes between the police and the demonstrators took place (or from their homes).

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Alternative in person: The Crow’s Theater is one of the few mid-sized theaters in Toronto to reopen this fall – and it plans to do so with a fresh take As you like it by Cliff Cardinal (September 22 – October 10). Details are still unclear, but it’s never worth taking a look at the work of this dark comedy and controversial playwright / performer (who also happens to be the son of iconic actress Tantoo Cardinal ).

Hello Dolly (Parton)

Country star Dolly Parton is a bigger cultural hero than ever thanks to her role in funding Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine development.

This undoubtedly played a role in the decision of the Arts Club Theater Company of Vancouver to schedule the Canadian premiere of Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol (November 18 – January 2, Stanley Industrial Alliance stage).

This new musical debuted in Boston in 2019 and features a screenplay by David H Bell who reinvents Ebenezer Scrooge as the owner of a mining town in eastern Tenneese in the 1930s. The most original score is de Parton – and this is not the first time that the Queen of the country has participated in this rodeo; she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Original Score for the Broadway Musical Adaptation of the film 9 to 5.

Online alternative: For the latest edition of its popular UnCovered concert series, the Musical Stage Company of Toronto returns to Koerner Hall – and looks to The music of Dolly Parton. Expect inventive arrangements of country tracks from Music Director Reza Jacobs performed by the crème de la crème of Canadian musical theater. You can purchase a ticket to see the show in person (September 30 – October 2) or, later in the fall, to access a digital version (November 24 – December 11).

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Scientists enter the scene

Art has taken over science in the past year and a half, but the two are not always incompatible. One of the best pieces to mix them up was Copenhagen, the tube of Michael Frayn of 1998 which explores the “principle of uncertainty” through a meeting which took place between the physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg during the Second world war. Allegra Fulton, Jesse LaVercombe and Rick Roberts star in a new production at the NAC English Theater (November 4-7) directed by outgoing Artistic Director Jillian Keiley and featuring music by Chilly Gonzales.

Online alternative: The NAC has gone truly national (aka online) during COVID-19 – and it’s not coming back. Copenhagen free live broadcasts on November 6, as part of a series of science-themed events that include the radio play by Jacob Berkowitz Tangled, about the real friendship between Nobel physicist Wolfgang Pauli and pioneering psychoanalyst Carl Jung (November 3-7), a mixed reality production titled Frequencies Heist productions from Nova Scotia (November 5 and 6) and a symposium on theater and physics (November 6 and 7).

Holiday shows

Rebecca Northan is perhaps best known for her improv-based creations such as Blind date, but sometimes she puts pen to paper as well as a playwright. All i want for christmas, his new comedy aimed at ages 12 and up, chronicles a young elf’s first day at work in Santa’s mailroom and has two tours planned – one at the Centaur Theater in Montreal (November 16 – December 5) and the other at the Lunchbox Theater in Calgary (November 30 – December 19).

Online alternative: Getting young children to the theater will remain complicated this fall with immunization mandates in place in many parts of the country. So, unsurprisingly, Ross Petty Productions – Toronto’s premier panto supplier – is going digital this year with a virtual musical called Alice in winter land (December 18 and 19); Stratford Festival’s Kimberly-Ann Truong plays Alice – and Dan Chameroy will be back as Aunt to All Plumbum.

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