NOW Magazine


Put Dixon Road on the musical map Her Next Stage Festival solo show may have been called She’s Not Special, but in it Fatuma Adar proved she is in fact very, very special. Now she’s back with her much- anticipated musical about a Somali family who emigrates to Canada in the 90s and settles in the Dixon Road area in what is still the heart of Toronto’s Somali community. Adar wrote the book, music and lyrics to this show, which features a cast that includes Starr Domingue, Germaine Konji, Danté Prince and Shakura S’aida. One of her idols is Hamilton’s Lin- Manuel Miranda, so just you wait and see where she goes. ( See related story, page 38.) ° June 3 to 19 at the High Park Amphitheatre ( 1873 Bloor West). canadianstage. com Take a day trip to the Stratford Festival It wouldn’t be summer without a trip to Stratford to catch a play or two. After last year’s mostly outdoor season, the festival is back in a big way with the theme “new beginnings.” New certainly defines the Tom Patterson Theatre, whose reopening was celebrated last month with the first public performance of a new staging of Richard III, the same play that launched the festival back in 1953. Other big shows include the iconic musical Chicago, a new production of Hamlet starring Amaka Umeh in the title role and a rare production of Nobel Prize- winner Wole Soyinka’s Death And The King’s Horseman, set in Britishoccupied Nigeria. ° In rep through the fall in Stratford, Ontario. stratfordfestival. ca The Shaw must go on Although the Shaw Festival presented several shows last summer – some even indoors – they’re back with a full slate of offerings this summer and fall, including at their largest venue, the Festival Theatre. Among the popular offerings are Damn Yankees, Gaslight, The Importance Of Being Earnest and The Doctor’s Dilemma. As usual, some of the more intriguing offerings will be staged at the intimate Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre, including Everybody, by the hot playwright Branden Jacobs- Jenkins ( whose An Octoroon made several best of lists in 2019), and August Wilson’s Gem Of The Ocean. ° In rep throughout summer and into the fall, Niagaraonthe- Lake, Ontario. shawfest. com Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd Any chance to see Barrie’s Talk Is Free Theatre in Toronto is a treat. We’re still kicking ourselves that we missed their Into The Woods last year. This one- of- a- kind production of Stephen Sondheim’s Grand Guignol masterpiece first played London ( UK) in 2018 as part of the company’s extravagant three- day, across- the- ocean experience The Curious Voyage. Mitchell Cushman directs a top- notch cast ( Michael Torontow, Glynnis Ranney, Tess Benger, Gabi Epstein, Cyrus Lane, Jeff Lillico and others) in a promenade style, immersive performance at the Neighbourhood Food Hub in the east end. Great venue; just beware the meat pies. ° June 6 to July 3 at the Neighbourhood Food Hub, Glen Rhodes Campus ( 1470 Gerrard East). tift. ca Check out Hasan Minhaj’s latest show Every Torontonian who caught Daily Show correspondent Minhaj’s JFL42 show in 2016 still talks about it. That material formed the basis of his breakthrough Netflix special Homecoming King, and likely secured him his short- lived but critically acclaimed series Patriot Act. Now he’s back with his latest solo show, The King’s Jester. Demand is so high for this Just For Laughs show, he’s had to add dates. ( See related story, page 34.) ° June 10- 11 at Coca- Cola Coliseum ( 45 Manitoba). hasanminhaj. com Watch queer comics destroy at Pridezilla Rush Kazi and Robert Watson host a groundbreaking night of queer laughs to help kick off Pride, with headliner Elvira Kurt, special guest Brandon Ash- Mohammed and comics Coko Daphney, Tom Hearn, Dave Kim, Bobbi Summers, Peter Knegt and more. See cover story, page 10. ° June 10 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre ( 12 Alexander). buddiesinbadtimes. com Dive into Swan Lake Dance lovers have waited more than two years to see Karen Kain’s newly imagined version of the classic story ballet. The legendary dancer, of course, is intimately associated with the role – in 1971 at the age of 19, she debuted in the lead role while a member of the corps de ballet, replacing an injured Veronica Tennant. Now, inspired phasized the emotion and humanity in the story, set to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score. Dancers Jurgita Dronina and Harrison James, among others, will debut this new staging. ° June 10- 26 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts ( 145 Queen West). national. ballet. ca Celebrate Pride with some Gay AF comics Producer Robert Watson has been hosting his star- studded Gay AF Comedy shows for several years now, and during the pandemic he let audiences enjoy open- air queer comedy outdoors at the Campbell House Museum courtyard – during the day ( which is usually unheard of for comedy). Now, for Gay AF Comedy Pride- Stravaganza, Watson’s assembled a stellar lineup that includes Ted Morris, Tamara Shevon, Vong Show, Hillary Yaas and Jade Niles- Craig for a special Pride show at the same classy venue. ° June 18 at the Campbell House Museum ( 160 Queen West). eventbrite. ca Enjoy a pre- Broadway run of & Juliet It’s been a while since Toronto got to see a show on its way to Broadway, so expectations are super high for this West End jukebox musical hit. A comic twist on Shakespeare’s tragedy, the show features a book by Schitt’s Creek’s David West Read and more than two dozen songs by songwriter and producer Max Martin – like Since U Been Gone, Teenage Dream and Oops! I Did It Again. The cast includes Broadway stars like Betsy Wolfe, Stark Sands and Paulo Szot, as well as newcomers Lorna Courtney and Ben Jackson Walker. This could be the most fun at the theatre since Mamma Mia! ° June 22 to August 14 at the Princess of Wales Theatre ( 300 King West). mirvish. com Get set to Fringe your ass off After two years of limited virtual offerings, the Toronto Fringe, the city’s biggest summer stage event, is back in a big way. The complete list of 100 or so shows will be announced later this month, but the festival has teased some names and titles, including the Don Valley Girls, the fierce sketch comedy revue that recently wowed the RISER Festival; Stephen Elliott Jackson’s The Garden Of Alla, starring Fringe veteran Rebecca Perry; Nam Nguyen’s A Perfect Bowl Of Pho, a musical about the Vietnamese diaspora and its foods; and Anesti Danelis: This Show Will Change Your Life, a musical spoof of self- help advice by the hilarious social media viral star. Most familiar Fringe venues are back, but the Daniels Spectrum has been added – as both a theatre and lounge – and the main POSTSCRIPT patio will be at The Tranzac Club, where it was years ago. ° July 6 to 17, various locations. fringetoronto. com Witness the Mashup Pon Di Road Summer is the time for theatre artists to think way outside the box. And co- directors Bahia Watson and Liza Paul are doing just that with Mashup Pon Di Road, their bashment circus variety show performed on a truck in various Toronto neighbourhoods. The duo are joined by Chelsea Russell and Ayaka Kinugawa to perform the vaudevillestyle show with an island vibe and an antipatriarchal spirit. The pre- show warm- up featuring music and local food and drink should get you in the mood for a series of vignettes, songs and circus. After this show, Watson and Paul are headed down to NYC to perform at the legendary Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre. ° July 19 at Assembly Park ( 80 Interchange Way), July 21- 23 at Green P Lot ( 1531 Eglinton West), July 27 at the Bentway ( 250 Fort York). welcometodicircus. com Visit the Dream In High Park for As You Like It Although many performances happened at the High Park Amphitheatre last year, things weren’t the same without any Shakespeare. Now the decades- long tradition of al fresco Bard continues with Anand Rajaram’s inventive staging of the beloved romantic comedy As You Like It. Rajaram, who has kept a foot in both the theatre and comedy worlds, has cast an eclectic group of performers ( among them Marty Adams, Maja Ardal, Belinda Corpuz, Paolo Santalucia and Eric Woolfe), and employed the always popular Shadowland Theatre to create sets, costumes and props. In what seems like a first, there will also be original music by Maryem Toller, Lacey Hill, Serena Ryder and Kiran Ahluwalia to add some different notes. ° July 28 to September 4 at the High Park Amphitheatre ( 1873 Bloor West). canadianstage. com Get ready to laugh with Patton Oswalt One of most popular stand- ups on social media, Oswalt brings his Who’s Ready To Laugh? tour to Massey Hall this summer. As well as being one of the funniest comics around, Oswalt is known for a bunch of other things: he voiced the lead role in Pixar’s Ratatouille, got raves opposite Charlize Theron in Young Adult and helped publish his late wife Michelle Mcnamara’s true- crime masterpiece I’ll Be Gone In The Dark – and took a big role in adapting the book into an award- winning HBO docuseries. Wherever you know him from, you’ll want to catch his comedy act; sure, you can see him in one of his many comedy specials, but there’s nothing like seeing him perform live. ° July 30 at Massey Hall ( 178 Victoria). masseyhall. com