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article imageReview: Holiday-Themed Toronto Theatre Special

By Bryen Dunn     Dec 20, 2014 in Entertainment
Toronto - The holiday season is upon us whether we are ready for it or not. Take time to escape the madness with one of these theatre productions currently running in venues across the city.
1. Disney on Ice Presents Treasure Trove
Nearly every Disney character imaginable dons a pair of skates for this holiday family spectacle. Watch for everyone from Snow White and her Dwarfs, Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Goofy, to Alladin, Captain Hook, and Peter Pan. The stage set up works perfectly for this more intimate layout at the cavernous Rogers Centre, which makes every seat a prime viewing location. The first couple of rows of VIP floor seating have spectators front and centre in all the action. Clocked in at around two-hours with intermission, it’s just about the right amount of time before the youngest in the crowd start getting antsy. The cast do their best to encourage audience participation of clapping and advising Snow White not to eat to apple, but unfortunately without much fanfare. This one is for the whole family to enjoy.
On now until December 28th - Rogers Centre, One Blue Jays Way, Toronto, Ontario
2. Cinderella – The Gags to Riches Family Musical
A more twisted than traditional interpretation of this classic fairy tale presented by Ross Petty Productions. Each holiday season this company presents a unique version of a children’s classic tale that takes on a rollercoaster sideline story of its own, all the while keeping with the original plot. Ross Petty himself always plays the villain, booed and hissed by the audience each time he makes his appearance on stage. The rest of the cast are top notch and the set design is over the top, even incorporating two horses and a buggy to close out the first half of the show. The adlibbing of lines, use of Toronto references throughout, and the sponsor “commercials” also add to the comical aspect. Cinderella is definitely a not-to-be-missed theatre presentation for adults and children alike.
On now until January 4th - Elgin Theatre - 189 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario
3. The Dog and The Angel
The best part about this production is it being staged both indoors and outdoors at Evergreen Brickworks. It’s the tale of a one family’s woes leading up to the hectic holiday season. Parents, grandparents, children, and comatose dog collide in a situation comedy that’s quite spirited and rousing. Audience members gather in the main corridor and follow the lit acorn outside around the back and past a group of carollers to where the first stage is set up and the story begins. It seems each family member has their own objective of how they see Christmas unfolding, with the underlying premise lying around how to bring the family dog back to life, and where the broken tree angel has disappeared two. Could the two be related? Follow the cast along as they move to various stage areas within the confines of warehouses and other outdoor areas. As with any good family fable, all’s well that ends well. Dress warmly for this one, which is truly a unique experience in the city. Presented by Theatre Columbus.
On now until December 30th - Evergreen Brickworks - 550 Bayview Ave, Toronto, Ontario
4. Venus in Fur
This one is for “adult time” only, when parents can sneak away from the kids for a night of their own. This play-within-a-play about an aspiring actress auditioning for a seductive role opposite the writer/director is based on a 1870 novel by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. It was originally staged in New York City in 2010, and had a film adaptation done by Roman Polanski in 2013. This two actor production works well when both are “acting” the roles from the novel, but often falls flat when portraying the characters on stage. It seems each is trying too hard to engage the audience with humorous anecdotes and expressions, perhaps to alleviate any uneasiness some might feel around the topic of kink. However, the mostly middle-aged crowd, heavy on the female (50 Shades of Gray) gradient, seemed to quite enjoy the production. The show begins early at 7pm, and runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission, so there’s plenty of time to get home, tucked into bed, and reminisce about the play. While not necessarily holiday-themed, there are stockings. Presented by Canadian Stage.
On now until December 28th - Berkeley Street Theatre 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto, Ontario
5. Holidazed and Confused
Another one for adult ears only is Second City’s holiday themed ruckus of skits that parody all the trials and tribulations we experience around this time of year. As with any sketch comedy, there are hits and misses, and some skits will appeal to some and not to others. Overall, the cast of newbies give it their best, and present everything from shopping experiences to company parties and family gatherings. One of the longer skits also was one of the better, where grandmother and grandson look back over the years, remembering the past and embracing the present. The show runs about two hours with an intermission, with table service beverages and snacks available. There’s also an improv session with the cast after the show that the audience are welcome to stay and enjoy.
On now until January 1st - Second City - 15 Mercer Street, Toronto, Ontario
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