The Tony Awards have come and gone, and there’s not that much to report on from a Canadian point of view about Broadway’s big night, which saw A Strange Loop walk away with the coveted award for best new musical.
If you missed the entertaining broadcast, however, it’s worth catching up on it on the CTV website – or fast-forwarding to a couple of the best performances, anyway.
Six, the hit musical that reimagines Henry VIII’s wives as a posthumous pop group, won two awards including best original score; it closed out the evening with a punchy rendition of its opening number that featured Winnipeg’s Andrea Macasaet as Anne Boleyn.
It’s hard to believe that just three years ago Macasaet was pivoting to a career in human-resources management when she saw an open call for Six posted on the website of Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, which presented the show on its way to Broadway.
Paradise Square, Toronto producer Garth Drabinsky’s return to Broadway and a show that has been struggling at the box office, went into Tony night with 10 nominations, but only won one, with Joaquina Kalukango named best leading actress in a musical. Kalukango’s emotional performance of Let It Burn, the Civil War show’s big anthem, was widely regarded by Tony viewers as the number of the night. You can catch Canadian cast members such as Chilina Kennedy, too, in the brief ensemble introduction to this solo number.
Broadway is going to get a whole lot less Canadian when Come From Away closes there in October.
What will be the next Canadian-penned musical to reach the Great White Way? There are a couple of current contenders.
Meanwhile, & Juliet, a jukebox musical with a book by Schitt’s Creek writer David West Read, is about to have its North American premiere in Toronto through Mirvish Productions. The run is billed as a pre-Broadway engagement (June 22 to Aug. 14), however no theatre or dates in New York have been announced yet.
Eight shows opening this week across Canada:
1-3: Oscar Wilde is one of the Shaw Festival’s go-to playwrights, but the Niagara-on-the-Lake theatre company has only rarely gone to his best-known play.
The Importance of Being Earnest (on to Oct. 9) opens on the main stage this week in what is only the second production of the “trivial comedy for serious people” in the Shaw’s 60-year history. Artistic director Tim Carroll directs a cast that includes the formidable Kate Hennig as the gorgon-esque Lady Bracknell.
Also celebrating openings this week at the Shaw: Everybody (on to Oct. 8), a new riff on the medieval morality play, Everyman, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon, Gloria); and Chitra, a play by Rabindranath Tagore based on a story from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata that is this year’s “lunchtime one-act”.
4: Another highlight of the Tony Awards broadcast was Billy Crystal, performing in character as the fading comedian Buddy Young Jr. from his new musical Mr. Saturday Night, doing a completely ridiculous and absolutely hilarious “Yiddish scat” routine. Pure Borscht Belt buffoonery.
Actual Yiddish theatre, of course, has a long and important history in North America, and the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre has been keeping its rich tradition alive in Montreal since 1958. Its new production of The Sages of Chelm, a musical described as a “tribute to Eastern European Jewish folklore,” brings the company back to the stage of the Segal Centre from June 19 to 26.
5: White Girls in Moccasins by Yolanda Bonnell just had its world premiere at Buddies in Bad Times in March – and the “irreverent Indigenous reclamation story” is already having a second production, on the West Coast.
A frank theatre company production, co-presented by the Talking Stick Festival & Full Circle: First Nations Performance, and directed by Quelemia Sparrow, runs at the Annex in Vancouver from June 16 to 19. Here’s Robyn Grant-Moran’s review of the original Toronto production.
6: The Thousand Islands Playhouse is located in as pretty a location as you could imagine on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Gananoque, Ont. This week it opens the second play of a whopping eight-show 2022 season. Perfect Wedding, a comedy about a very imperfect wedding by Robin Hawdon that’s had more than 100 productions around the world, runs from June 17 to July 10 in a production directed by Krista Jackson.
7: Three Ordinary Men, Cahoots Theatre’s first production since the prepandemic days, sees the company’s artistic director, Tanisha Taitt, reunite with playwright Steven Elliott Jackson (The Seat Next to the King) for a play inspired by the 1964 murder of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. It’s on at Toronto’s Theatre Centre from June 14 to 26.
8: The biggest opening of the week is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in Toronto at the CAA Ed Mirvish Theatre. I’ve read all the books (or almost all of all the books) and am ready to review this stage-only sequel in its Canadian premiere, which is hoping to draw Potterheads to Toronto for a good long while. Look for my review online at 6 p.m. on Sunday.