Imagine a world where Juliet goes on to survive after Romeo. What lessons would she have learned in her life about controlling her own destiny? Standing up to her parents? Or throwing it all away for the one she thought she loved? Even William Shakespeare himself must face the Music (thankfully for us, a Soundtrack of Pop Icon Max Martin‘s Greatest Hits) in Mirvish Productions’ & JULIET, against values like equality and inclusion of today.
Toronto is extremely lucky to get to enjoy a run of this phenomenal new Musical, as it continues its extended run in London’s West End currently. Playing at Princess of Wales Theatre till August 14, 2022, & JULIET with its current Cast, will head straight to Broadway.
Emmy-winning Schitt’s Creek Writer David West Read pens the Play, which speaks to an audience of today, bringing pure, blissful joy. Telling its story of Juliet‘s liberation and a catalogue of songs which defined and continue to define an era, it is impossible not to walk away feeling uplifted.
& JULET is empowering, wild and full of heart. Not to mention some outstanding performances from the likes of Broadway veteran Betsy Wolfe (Waitress, The Last Five Years) as William Shakespeare‘s wife Anne Hathaway, Justin David Sullivan as the non-binary May, Melanie La Barrie as Juliet‘s confidante Nurse, and up-and-comer Lorna Courtney in the starring role of Juliet. West Read‘s smart writing, delicately yet at once brazenly approaches angles not pondered by Shakespeare when it comes to asking what his female characters wanted,that the world contained more than just white people and that same sex love existed.
So seamlessly and brilliantly is this Soundtrack interweaved into the story line. Case in point, Bon Jovi‘s “It’s My Life” contains a line “Like Frankie said, I did it my way” and a character, Frankie (Philippe Arroyo) randomly comes out and does the line. Pure genius.
The level of detail is astounding and visually, it is like a Pop Concert-meets-Shakespeare-meets-Moulin Rouge with a relentless energy throughout this two-and-a-half-hour runtime, plus intermission.
& JULIET is invigorating and the perfect lift in spirits we needed this Summer with a huge potential to crossover as Pop Culture phenomenon. More on tickets here.
Some Snaps with the Cast:
We were so lucky to meet Max Martin, in-town recently for the Musical. More here.
You’ll probably not even recognize him, but you know and love him. Trust. Legendary Hitmaker Max Martin is in Toronto for Mirvish’s Production of & Juliet! After a successful run in London’s West End, Toronto is so lucky to get to see the Musical, which asks what would’ve happened if she didn’t end it all for Romeo?
Martin is responsible for the most iconic Pop Hits of our time. And not just one. Several!
…Baby One More Time As Long As You Love Me I Want it That Way Bang Bang Break Free Blinding Lights California Girls DJ Got Us Fallin in Love Dynamite Hot N Cold I Kissed a Girl It’s Gonna Be Me Lucky Love Me Harder Oops!… I Did it Again Part of Me Quit Playing Games (with my Heart) Roar Save Your Tears Shake it Off Show Me Love Since U Been Gone Style Teenage Dream That’s The Way It Is U + Ur Hand Who Knew (You Drive Me) Crazy
You try picking a favourite from this partial list of hits he’s responsible for penning! I love all these songs and I’m sure you do too!
This was an incredible honour. I don’t think he’s used to being recognized as he is so humble, but as a lover of Pop, he is an Idol! Even more important than the stars he’s worked with!
About & Juliet
Set against a Soundtrack of megahits by Martin, & Juliet is from Emmy-winning Writer of Schitt’s CreekDavid West Read, with Choreography by Jennifer Weber, and Director Luke Sheppard.
& Juliet runs at Princess of Wales Theatre from June 22 – August 14, 2022.
After resounding commercial and critical success, HAMILTON finally has arrived in Toronto at Ed Mirvish Theatre now through May 17, 2020. The Musical centering around America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been setting the world on-fire since its debut off-Broadway at The Public Theatre in New York back in 2015. Since then it has won a whopping 11 TONY Awards and Pullitzer Prize with an inclusive, modern way of telling American history through Hip-Hop and R&B. The Production makes its way now in Toronto – known as the Phillip Ty our – with a Touring Cast led by Joseph Morales in the leading role. Morales will be in Toronto till end of March, when the role will be taken over by a new star. As expected, ticket sales have been feverish with Torontonians resorting to a daily digital lottery in hope of tickets.
See some of this talented Cast!
Joseph Morales as Alexander Hamilton
Jared Dixon as Aaron Burr
Stephanie Jae Park as Eliza
Marcus Choi as King George
Elijah Malcomb as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton
Desmond Sean Ellington as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison
Hot off the success of runs in the UK, Chicago and Broadway, 17-time Grammy winner STING brings his musical THE LAST SHIP to Toronto.
Based on his Album The Soul Cage and his own personal childhood experiences growing-up just north of England, The Last Ship is centered on family, community and defiance in the face of deindustrialization.
The Cast includes new talent and veterans of stage and screen including: Frances McNamee, Jackie Morrison, Oliver Seville, Marc Akinfolarin, Joe Caffrey, Rebecca Gilhooley, Philip Childs, Orla Gormley, Sophie Reid and more! Lorne Campbell directs the Musical which is told in the Geordie dialect.
On Valentine’s Day, Sting and the Cast ventured east to Oshawa at Tribute Communities Centre to show their support to GM workers who are facing something very similar to the characters in the story.
The Mirvish Production runs till March 24, 2019 at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Sting has committed to appearing at every performance.
Running February 11 through April 9, 2017, THE BODYGUARD THE MUSICAL graces Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre after a smashing debut in London’s West End from 2012-2014. Since then, the production based on the 1992 Blockbuster starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, has toured Seoul, the U.S., Netherlands, and Cologne, among other parts of Europe (including a London revival!) and it next is set to reach Australia. Reprising the lead role is award-winning British Soul Songstress Beverley Knight, while others like Deborah Cox, Heather Headley and Alexandra Burke also have had the distinction of playing the lead role of superstar diva Rachel Marron.
After much debate, we decided finally to see THE BODYGUARD and although we were expecting some degree of melodramatic campiness based on our recollection of its source material, we pleasantly were surprised by some of the performances which the Musical very much is dependent on. Penned by Alexander Dinelaris, this stage adaptation incorporates even more of Whitney Houston‘s phenomenal repertoire, doubling as a tribute to the career of the deceased megastar and also a stage translation of the Film.
Knight is outstanding, a vision of stamina who powers her way through the show’s two-and-a-half hours plowing through Houston’s demanding catalog of hits. Also fantastic is Rachel John, who plays Rachel Marron‘s sister Nicki. While Knight and Lead Actor Stuart Reid Frank Farmer might lack the chemistry Houston and Costner had on-film in part due to issues with the script, this is outshone by the dazzle of Knight‘s solo numbers. It is impossible not to be affected by the power of nostalgia when you hear Run to You, I Have Nothing and powerful finale I Will Always Love You. You come to The Bodyguard wanting to reconnect with Houston‘s legacy and because you want carefree, soapy escapism and that you get.
Don’t forget to check-out the “I Will Always Love You“-inscribed cookies and the official Queen of the Night Cocktail!
At around the ¾ mark of FOREVER PLAID, they do a three minute and 11 second homage to the Ed Sullivan Show. The first time I saw this Musical (oh so many years ago) and that particular piece of theatrical brilliance, I laughed so hard I literally fell off my seat and landed in the aisle. Not wishing to repeat that rather embarrassing moment and firmly ensconced in my aisle seat for the long awaited return of this show to Toronto, playing for a limited engagement at the same venue where it first triumphed, the Panasonic Theatre, I had forgotten just how good and entertaining and joyous and wholesome this show is before and after that still hysterically funny bit.
Whereas Elvis may have been King in the late 50s, music on the radio and television variety shows were still dominated by four-part guy groups, harmonizing songs that every mom and grandma would sing along too. FOREVER PLAID is a musical about Sparky, Smudge, Jinx and Frankie: four lads who meet up in high school, form a group, and perform regularly at supermarket openings and proms. On the night they finally get their big break to perform at the Airport Hilton cocktail bar, the 4 are tragically killed in a car accident. This musical is all about the show they would have given had they survived.
Vocally, the actors on the stage are above reproach. The harmonies are text book perfection. As Jinx, Dora award-winning actor for playing Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, Jeff Madden’s hypnotic soprano soars. Jonathan Cullen (Frankie) and Matt Cassidy (Smudge) encompass their roles with joie de vivre, finesse and gusto. I was completely mesmerized by Scott Beaudin’s portrayal of Sparky. From the snapping of his fingers or stomping his foot to the beat of a song to his vocal chops and swaying dance movements, it’s a transformative, deceptively natural and a beautifully modulated performance.
FOREVER PLAID will melt the heart of even the most hardened audience member and put a silly grin on their face to boot. For those of us of a certain age who actually remember watching the Perry Como show with the family or the lyrics to Catch a Falling Star or Topo Gigio, it’s a MUST SEE!!!
FOREVER PLAID runs through June 12, 2016 at Panasonic Theatre. Click here to learn more.
Based on the life of Oscar Wilde and his tragic condemnation, The Judas Kiss premiered in Toronto this week at Mirvish Theatre. Starring English star of screen and stage Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Shrek), the play runs in the City through May. The Show – which be warned – features nudity and mature themes, makes its way here after a massively successful sold-out run in London’s West End.
Rupert Everett plays Oscar Wilde in David Hare’s The Judas Kiss —a compelling drama about the power of all consuming love and the cruelty of betrayal. It is 1895 and Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, is playing in the West End after a triumphant premiere, but already the wheels are in motion, which will lead to his imprisonment, downfall and vilification.
Forced to make a choice between his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, and his freedom, the ever romantic Wilde embarks on a course towards self-destruction.
We caught-up with cast members Cal McAninch (Robbie Ross), Charlie Rowe (Lord Alfred Douglas), Elliot Balchin (Alfred) and Everett earlier as they head out for dinner break. The cast plays an evening show at 8 PM following a 2 PM matinee.
Everett despite being a bit unrecognizable at first, was kind and gracious to stop for Fans along with his cast mates. He next can be seen this September in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. He also is developing a Wilde Biopic, an extension of his longtime fascination of the Writer.
Oscar and multi-TONY Winner Angela Lansbury is in town in case you didn’t know! The Actress, best known for her work as Jessica Fletcher on long-running Series MURDER, SHE WROTE, reprises her Tony-winning role as Madame Arcati in Mirvish Productions’ BLITHE SPIRIT, running at once-endangered Princess of Wales Theatre till March 5, 2015.
Researching for his new novel, Charles Condomine invites the implausible medium Madame Arcati to his house for a séance. While consumed in a trance, Madame Arcati unwittingly summons the ghost of Charles’ dead wife Elvira. Appearing only to Charles, Elvira soon makes a play to reclaim her husband, much to the chagrin of Charles’ new wife Ruth. Now if he wants his latest marriage to stand a GHOST of a chance, he’d better conjure up a solution quickly. One husband, two feuding wives and a whisper of mischief in the air – who will win in Noel Coward’s unworldly comedy?
The Comedy also stars Downton Abbey‘s Charles Edwards as Charles Condomine, the Thespian kind enough to stop for pictures and autographs for Fans in the cold. Lansbury we were advised would not be stopping, although she did advise “You can take a photo of me!”. After asking her nicely she stopped and posed for a Photo with me in it, advising me “I don’t know what you’re gonna do with this!”.The camera unfortunately snapped just one second to slow! Oh nooo!
For more on tickets to see BLITHE SPIRIT, click here.
Now on-stage for a limited engagement, Mirvish Productions present LES MISÉRABLES at Princess of Wales Theatre. I spotted a couple of its Stars, Canadian Idol Winner Melissa O’Neil who plays Eponine, and Ramin Karimloo, who plays the Leading Role of Jean Valjean, out and about earlier today. The latter, like a true Canadian was sporting a warm Canada Goose Jacket and as an interesting tidbit, has played the roles of Marius and Enjolras in previous productions of the Musical by Boublil & Schönberg in London’s West-End.
Both O’Neil and Karimloo were super-kind to stop for a quick Photo and were goofing-about with name badges, which at one point landed on my back. “I couldn’t do that to you!”, says O’Neil, peeling the stick off my back playfully. My Starbucks fortunately had a Stopper in it and got knocked-over, which the handsome Karimloo was kind enough to retrieve for me!
Mirvish Productions‘ LES MISÉRABLES has been winning much acclaim and Tickets can be purchased up till Sunday, December 22, 2013here!
Here for only a five-day engagement in Toronto at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, Jekyll and Hyde comes to the City after a successful four-year Broadway Run, before continuing on its North American Tour in Washington, D.C. The Musical stars American Idol Finalist Constantine Maroulis who since has made a splash on the Great White Way in Rock of Ages and here he plays the Role of Dr. Henry Jekyll and his Alter-ego Edward Hyde. Toronto’s v. own R&B Star Deborah Cox (now a Resident of Miami) also is featured front and center as Lucy. Jekyll and Hyde is an odd story of a Scientist who uses himself as an Experiment in his quest to find a cure to some of Mankind’s greatest medical problems. This however, unleashes his inner-demons, creating far greater a Dilemma than he could have anticipated.
Following their Performance tonight, Maroulis was spotted bundled in a cozy Burberry Sweater, spending time with his Fans and going directly first to one Woman who waited by the Stage Door in her Wheelchair. Humble, he assumed Fans were waiting for his Co-Star Cox, telling everyone that she would be out in a moment, not thinking for a moment that the commotion might have been for him. He tells me and another Fan that he wishes that he could have more time in the City and maybe even a chance to do a Preview Show or two before launching it in each City, but as is the case with a Tour, the tempo is quick. He is pleased with the great feedback he has been receiving for his dual-role Performance, especially as the darker Hyde.
Cox exited soon after, donning much more simple straightened locks than the voluminous wigs she is required to wear in her Role. She spent a fair amount of time shaking hands and posing for Photos and was more than happy to sign one of my favourite R&B Discs, One Wish. The GRAMMY-nominated Singer/Actress states to me that she is hoping v. much to begin work on a full-length Disc, but for now Fans will have to do with a Powerhouse Dance Single she just released last week, (From the Ghetto) Remember Me.
There’s still time to catch Jekyll and Hyde. Click here for Tickets.