Fall Stage Preview: 10 artists to watch

Here are some of the brilliant people who are coming soon to a stage near you. You'll definitely be talking about them during intermission.

Sondra Radvanovsky/soprano

What Singer, Norma (Four Seasons Centre, October 6 to November 5, coc.ca).

Why Toronto-based Radvanovsky has emerged as one of the world’s foremost sopranos. Earlier this year she made headlines singing, in one season, all three leads in Donizetti’s Tudor Trilogy at the Metropolitan Opera. She got raves – no surprise for those of us who saw her sing one of them (Roberto Devereux) recently for the Canadian Opera Company. With a commanding stage presence, fiery dramatic instincts and a gorgeous, flexible voice, she should make a brilliant Norma, the pinnacle of the bel canto repertoire. She opens the Met’s 2017 season with the role (replacing none other than Anna Netrebko), but we get to see her do it first. Lucky us!


Diana Tso/playwright

What Playwright of Comfort, which looks at two young people in Nanjing (formerly Nanking) who share a love of opera, and also examines the “comfort women,” Asians forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during the Second World War. (Aki Studio at Daniels Spectrum, November 24-December 10, nativeearth.ca/comfort)

Why Tso, a talented writer (Red Snow) and performer (Chimerica), is committed to exploring the interaction between the Chinese and the Japanese during WWII. Here, in a production directed by William Yong, she focuses on the resilience of women in wartime – an issue as contemporary as it is historical.


Beatriz Pizano/producer

What Co-programmer and producer of the third RUTAS panamericanas, which offers the work of Canadian, Indigenous and Latin American groups. She also performs in Suvendrini Lena’s The Enchanted Loom, about the Sri Lankan civil war. (RUTAS at Daniels Spectrum, October 5-16, rutas.ca Loom at Factory Theatre, November 5-27, factorytheatre.ca)

Why Artistic director of Aluna Theatre, writer, director and award-winning actor (Blood Wedding), Pizano is a powerhouse onstage and backstage. RUTAS includes new works as well as reinventions of Western classics (Hamlet, Antigone) from a Latin American perspective. In Loom, she plays a doctor dealing with the effects of the war on a Tamil family.


David Hein and Irene Sankoff


What Writer/composers of Come From Away, a musical about the people of Gander, Newfoundland, who took in passengers from airplanes diverted from New York City on 9/11 (Royal Alex, November 15 to January 8, 2017, mirvish.com).

Why The talented husband-and-wife team scored a surprise hit several years ago with My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, based on David’s mom’s life story. Come From Away has a broader canvas but just as much heart and humour. (We’ve seen earlier versions.) Don’t miss what could be the Next Great Canadian Musical in its limited run between engagements in Washington, DC (right now) and Broadway.


André Sills/actor

What Actor in “Master Harold”… And The Boys, Athol Fugard’s insightful play set in apartheid South Africa, about a white teen and the two Black men who work for his family. (Toronto Centre for the Arts, October 8-23, obsidiantheatre.com)

Why Sills, who scored in such productions as Twelve Angry Men, Kim’s Convenience and Shakespeare’s Nigga, brings charm and a touch of danger to his work. The combination works splendidly in Fugard’s play, which starts with a specific everyday story but ends as a universal statement about humanity and tolerance.


Mike Ross/composer

What Composer and musical director for a quartet of Soulpepper shows: Manhattan – Midtown – 42nd Street And Broadway (October 31-November 5), Rose (December 16-22), A Very Soulpepper Christmas (December 20) and Alligator Pie (December 27-31). (Soulpepper Christmas at Jane Mallet Theatre, others at the Young Centre, soulpepper.ca)

Why The amazingly versatile Ross has had a tuneful hand in dozens of Soulpepper productions as creator, performer and musical director. His fall work includes an evening of Broadway songs, a work based on Gertrude Stein’s children’s book The World Is Round (co-created with Sarah Wilson), a holiday concert and a revival of Dennis Lee’s energetic poems co-written and co-directed by Ross.


Concord Floral ensemble/performers

What Performers in a teen thriller created by Jordan Tannahill, Erin Brubacher and Cara Spooner, inspired by an abandoned greenhouse in Vaughan and Boccaccio’s medieval masterpiece The Decameron. (Bluma Appel, September 27-October 16, canadianstage.com)

Why When it premiered in 2014, the emotionally and theatrically engrossing, Dora-winning show was the stage debut of a slew of young performers. The current version includes some actors from that production as well as newbies, some of them recent high school grads. Expect an intense look at the world of teens that will surprise many adults.


Anna Chatterton/writer/performer

What Writer/performer of Quiver, a dark comedy in which a single mother and rebellious teen daughter lock horns when a love interest turns their relationship on its head. (Nightwood Theatre at Buddies in Bad Times, October 21-November 6, nightwoodtheatre.net)

Why Skilled actor and playwright Chatterton often collaborates with the Independent Aunties (Gertrude And Alice, Clean Irene & Dirty Maxine), but she’s just as fine writing solo (Within The Glass, librettist for Rocking Horse Winner). Can’t wait to see what she does in Quiver using a mic, laptop and vocal processor to create the tense world of a mother-daughter relationship.


Mark Forward/comedian

What Stand-up performing at JFL42 (September 28-30, various venues, jfl42.com), and taping his new comedy special (Drake Hotel, December 13, thedrakehotel.ca)

Why Many first-rate comics bolt to the U.S. as soon as they can, but Forward – who topped NOW’s Top 10 comedy list in 2014 – is determined to stay here despite the accolades of heavy hitters like Craig Ferguson and Louis C.K. You may have seen him on The Jon Dore Show, Mr. D and on Crave TV’s Letterkenny. But there’s nothing like seeing his stand-up live. Forward can set up dramatic tension in a story like no one else, playing with our expectations and sympathies in a way that’s distinctly his. His JFL42 sets and upcoming comedy special could take his work to a new level.


Aszure Barton/dancer/choreographer

What Awáa, a piece with her company Aszure Barton & Artists, will be excerpted as part of Fall For Dance North (October 5-7 at the Sony Centre, ffdnorth.com).

Why The Alberta-born Barton is a contemporary dance superstar, and she’s collaborated with everyone from Mikhail Baryshnikov and Nederlands Dans Theater to Alan Cumming and Cyndi Lauper. Dance lovers clamour to see her own company perform. Four years ago we had to travel to Brampton to see Awáa now downtowners can see an excerpt of that powerful ensemble piece featuring her fluid, quirky movement and strong point of view.

Get more of this week’s Fall Stage Preview here.



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