Stage Write: Next Stage Theatre Festival

January. Ahhhh, January. Post-holidays, we can be a bit slow moving but in our ‘hood, there’s always
something exciting happening that helps us pick up the pace. The first month of every year, in the icy cold of winter,
The Toronto Fringe Festival warms us up with the hottest indie theatre in the
city AND a heated beer tent. In true Fringe style, the tickets are cheap, the
beer is cold, and the shows are hot.

at the Factory Theatre and called the Next Stage
Theatre Festival
, this mini-theatre-fest is a curated line-up of the best independent theatre in Canada that runs from today until Sunday, January 13. In its 6th season, at #NSTF, you’ll see raw, uncensored and exciting
new work from the city’s most vibrant up-and-coming talent. Plus, since the
diverse line-up is chosen by a panel of industry pros, you can trust that the
shows will be solid. Past Next Stage hits have gotten Dora Award nods, remounts
at leading theatres across the country and off-Broadway productions in NYC. Oh,
and have we mentioned tickets are just $15 and box office proceeds go right
back to the artists you see on stage?

Our resident drama queens pick the shows you shouldn’t miss this

Image courtesy of Toronto Fringe Festival

Written by brilliant (and award-winning, NBD) playwright Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman, Sudden
examines the dark underbelly of Canada’s
national pastime to uproariously tragic effect. With the dashing (and super
talented) Tony Nappo starring as hockey legend John “Rambo” Kordic
and the stunning (rock-it promo alum) Melissa Jane Shaw, we can’t wait to see
this one.

Factory Theatre Mainspace: January 2 to 13.

Image courtesy of Toronto Fringe Festival

Fan of Game of Thrones or not, audiences will love Throne of
, a hilarious and unscripted interpretation of the bestselling
medieval fantasy novels that inspired the award-winning HBO series. Directed by acclaimed
actor and improviser Colin Munch and featuring a tour de force cast of Canada’s
most brilliant comedic performers, this one promises belly laughs and even
possible nudity (awesome).

Factory Theatre Mainspace: January 2 to 13.

Image courtesy of Toronto Fringe Festival

One of the hottest shows at Summerworks 2010, Post Eden is
a ‘live film’ about a fantastical day in the life of a fractured suburban
family. Inspired by interviews conducted with actual
residents of Richmond Hill, playwright/director Jordan Tannahill creates a
multimedia production that is a blur between a
documentary and a live theatre show. 

Factory Studio: Thursday, January 3 to 13.

Image courtesy of Toronto Fringe Festival

The 2012 Best-of-the-Fringe hit is back a sold-out run. This comedy (with guts)
about fate, pheromones and the TTC follows Anabel, who gives her heart to a
stranger who disappears with it. With playwright Julia Lederer playing the lead
role alongside Martha Ross and Robin Archer, this show touches on a bunch
of things we like: GoogleShrink, purple plaid and

Factory Studio: January 2 to 13.

Image courtesy of Toronto Fringe Festival

Originally performed in a church during Fringe 2011, AWAKE is a
current, cutting show that takes you deep into the heart of one of Toronto’s
most violent neighbourhoods. Set during the funeral of a victim of gun
violence, the production explores the ripple effect of gangs within a
community. Developed over three years, the script was created entirely based on
interviews with mothers who lost sons, gang members, outreach works and police.

Factory Theatre Mainspace: January 3 to 15.

With ten plays on three stages over twelve days you might as well
kick off 2013 by seeing some of the best theatre you’ll see all year. For full
festival listings, to book tickets, or more details, visit or call 416.966.1062. Hell, while you’re at it, why not donate to The Toronto Fringe… didn’t you resolve to be a better person this year? 

See you in the beer tent for a hot toddy (or something colder) between shows!

For complete Next Stage Theatre Festival listings click here.

Fave 5: On stage

Even though we talk a lot about fashion, beauty and events, we also love a good dose of culture on a regular basis. There’s always tons of great theatre happening in Toronto, but here are five of the shows we’re most looking forward to seeing over the next few months. 

1. Kim’s Convenience: We love the premise of this production – a glimpse into the life of a Korean family that owns a convenience store in Regent Park. We’re hoping for a slice of Toronto life that many of us are familiar with and can relate to in some way. Based on the excellent reviews that this play has gotten, we think our hopes will be fulfilled. It’s sold out through it’s original February 11 run, but it was recently announced that it will return to the Yonge Centre for the Performing Arts from Thursday, May 17 to Saturday, June 9. 

 In rehearsal: Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Clé Bennett, Wenyi Mengesha. 
Photo by Sian Richards.
2. Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff: Even if we weren’t helping with publicity for this play (full disclosure) we’d be extremely excited for it. More than a few of us are serious Potter fans, and this is one of the first productions to come out of the internationally popular series. It’s a fun and funny play that has two guys – Dan and Jeff – perform all characters, from each of the seven Potter books, in 70 minutes. They’ve been compared to Monty Python, and we’re suckers for some good British humour. Playing at the Panasonic Theatre from Saturday, February 11 to Sunday, March 4. Buy tickets here
Jeff Turner and Daniel Clarkson in Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff
3. Cruel and Tender: We’re big Atom Egoyan fans (and well, who isn’t, really?) so were very excited when a few of us got to check out a preview of the show. It was definitely not theatre for the faint of heart – there are heavy hitting themes, scenes and monologues. Egoyan’s wife, Arsinée Khanjian gives a strong performance as the wife of the General, dealing with an absent husband and the truth about his actions while at war. Go see it if you want a challenge – those of us who’ve not been yet will see you there! At the Bluma Appel Theatre until Saturday, February 18. Tickets here.
 Thomas Hauff, Arsinée Khanjian and Abena Malika in Cruel and Tender
Photo by Bruce Zinger.

4. Hughie: A short but powerful production in the west end that we’re excited to check out (another client – full disclosure). Hughie has played internationally – notably by Al Pacino back in ’96 – and depicts the conversation between alcoholic gambler Erie and hotel nightclerk Charlie set in a 1920s NYC hotel. The one-act play makes for a perfect way to start our evening with a 2-man cast and intimate audience. And if you’re looking to give back, they’re donating 100% of their proceeds of their Feb 20 performance to Anaphlaxis Canada. At the Theatre Centre Toronto from Wednesday February 8 until March 3. Tickets available at 416.538.0988  

5. Penny Plain: Plays with puppets seem to be popping up all over in Toronto as of late (War Horse, Avenue Q) and we’re most intrigued by this marionette production about Penny Plain, a blind old woman sitting in her living room, listening to news about the end of the world and interacting with a host of complex characters. We’re told that many Kleenexes are needed to sit through this play, which is by turns sad, uplifting, funny and serious. We love a good evening running through the gamut of our emotions, so we’ll be there, tissue box in hand. At the Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes until Sunday, February 26. Tickets here.
 Penny Plain.