Our Winter Stage Preview comes out next week, so you'll get a sneak peek at the season's hottest tickets then. Here are a few things you'll be buzzing about during the rest of year.
Last year, after artistic director Ken Gass was fired by the Factory and writer-in-rez Michael Healey left the Tarragon, ordinary theatregoers began questioning the workings - and the makeup - of boards of directors. That could translate this year into more transparent practices by theatres looking not just at the financial bottom line but at artistic integrity and pleasing their core crowds, too.
And more suspenseful than any show is whether those who were planning on boycotting the Factory until Gass was rehired will support the theatre when it officially reopens January 26 with interim co-artistic director Nina Lee Aquino's play Every Letter Counts. Doubtless they'll be at the debut of Gass's new Canadian Rep Theatre in the spring.
Toronto's seen some super-sized theatre before, like Robert Lepage's Lipsynch (nine hours, including breaks and intermissions) and Playing Cards 1: Spades (three hours, no intermission), last season's Luminato centrepiece, Einstein On The Beach (four hours and 20 minutes straight through) and, of course, the Canadian Opera Company's 14-hour Ring Cycle.
Well, prepare your bladders: 2013 will be full of more epic shows, like new Soulpepper productions of Tony Kushner's two-part masterpiece, Angels In America, and, even more ambitious, Alan Ayckbourn's three-play The Norman Conquests. Also in the works is the Canadian premiere of Sarah Ruhl's tripartite Passion Play, a collaboration by three of the city's most exciting indie companies: Outside the March, Convergence Theatre and Sheep No Wool. And let's not forget the COC's production of Wagner's Tristan Und Isolde, which clocks in at just under five hours.
Some of my favourite shows of 2012 were cabarets by artists as diverse as Brent Carver, Sharron Matthews, Thom Allison, Michael Hughes and Rebecca Caine. And I'm still reeling from Louise Pitre's white-hot La Vie En Rouge from 2011, which she's performing at the swank new 54 Below this week, one of half a dozen great Manhattan venues devoted to the art form. Despite Ossington's Green Door Cabaret and the Young Centre's annual Global Cabaret Festival, there's not much of a cabaret culture in Toronto. But this could change. We've got the talent; now we need the right venues and audiences. The post-show crowd is an untapped market.
David Ives's fine play Venus In Fur features a spectacular role for a female actor. The protagonist is transformed from a streetwise out-of-work actor to a breathtaking classical thespian to, well, a goddess. Now that Canadian Stage has announced it's mounting the play this fall, who will play the coveted part, which won Nina Arianda a Tony on Broadway? Maev Beaty's committed to Soulpepper's season, while Nicole Underhay and Deborah Hay are likely tied up with Stratford and Shaw.
Ford at Fringe
National Theatre of the World's recent It's A Wonderful Toronto got lots of laughs out of the troubles of our beleaguered mayor, and no doubt other Rob Ford-themed shows are being penned right now for this year's Fringe.