The King and I - Theatre Review

The King and I - Theatre Review

Imagine yourself on a boat, pulling along the shore of Bangkok in 1862. You’re a windowed mother of a young son, about to embark on a new job – schoolteacher for the children of the King of Siam (currently known as Thailand). This is where the King and I begins its story; the titular “I” being the character of Anna Leonowens. 

The classic musical, written by the brilliant, multiple-award winning duo of Rodgers and Hammerstein, is, at its heart, a tale of clashing cultures. British born Anna has lived in the Eastern hemisphere most of her life, but only in countries under the British rule. Siam, much like its King, is still fiercely independent and lives by its own rules. Or rather, the rules of the King – a headstrong man who believes women are beneath him, and only exist to pleasure him and bear his children. When the equally headstrong Anna enters his life, he’s forced to reconsider this view.

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Potted Potter - Theatre Review

Potted Potter - Theatre Review

I like reviewing shows and doing a deep dive into the symbolism of sets and props, the nuances of language and the layers of a performance. I like getting tangled up in the author’s intentions and how that plays out in the process from page to stage. I like the depth, in other words; it’s the complexity of a theatrical piece or a work of art that gets to me. 

Every once in a while, however, something comes along that is simple, uncomplicated, and absolutely perfect that way. That’s Potted Potter, a rather twee-named show that promises to recap all seven Harry Potter books in seventy hilarious minutes. Spoiler alert - the show is seventy minutes, and it’s hilarious. It delivers exactly what it promises, no more, no less, with a joyous exuberance that’s completely lacking in snideness or cynicism. It’s already one of my favourites of the year. 

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Lighters in the Air

Lighters in the Air

It is really and truly summer in Toronto - hot, steamy weather, beer on patios, snatches of music spilling out of bars, arts festivals everywhere. For me, summer is a glorious time, but has a hint of sadness and nostalgia underneath all the sunny fun times. No feeling can ever match the thrill of being a kid on the first day of summer vacation, seeing time unspool in a lazy ribbon into an infinite point in the distance. September seems so far away. As an adult, though, you can’t help but remember other, perfect, past summers and wonder what might have been. 

This week, there’s a show at the Toronto Fringe Festival that combines that nostalgia, yearning, music, bars, and laughs. It’s called Lighters in the Air and it’s the product of musician/writer/actor Kris Hagen. He calls it “not quite a musical, not quite a play, not quite a concept album, and yet at the same time kind of all three.” It’s a show that defies easy characterization, but whatever else it might be, it’s perfect for right now.

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The Art of Banksy

The Art of Banksy

Some of the best conversations I’ve had are about art - or really, what art is. Is it a framed painting of dogs playing poker? A multi-million dollar canvas that’s nothing but three stripes of solid colour? Anonymous street art? How about street art credited to the world’s most famous underground celebrity? Is Banksy’s graffiti art?

Banksy is the street name of an anonymous graffiti artist who has built up an unlikely empire of cheeky, anti-establishment pieces. His earliest and best-known pieces are stencilled onto walls on city corners in Bristol, England, but very soon he expanded into selling screenprints and canvasses. The sale of those prints funded more ambitious projects - wildly popular shows in the UK and US, collaborations with musicians, performance art pieces  - and now Banksy is well-known for huge, satirical installations, like Dismaland (the most miserable place on earth) and the Walled Off Hotel (a hotel with the “worst view in the world,” looking over the Israeli-Palestine border.) There are a few Banksy pieces scattered around Toronto, but if you’re interested in seeing more than eighty pieces in a funky, industrial setting, you can head over to 213 Sterling Road and the retrospective, The Art of Banksy

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Annie - Theatre Review

Annie - Theatre Review

The beloved family musical, Annie is now playing on stage at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

As a child, I had enjoyed the movie and would belt out classics like, Tomorrow and It’s a Hard Knock Life, much to the annoyance of my family. I was eager to see the musical and it was an absolute delight.

Annie is a precocious twelve-year old orphan, who lives with other mischievous little girls in and the evil Miss Hannigan in a derelict orphanage. When she is invited to spend two weeks at the mansion of billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, her whole life, and his completely changes.  

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