Spring's a time for buds, so here's a garden of new dramatic shoots.
As he showed in the award-winning Radio:30, writer/performer Chris Earle expertly weaves together laughs and discomfort. Suggested by a 1995 TTC subway accident, Russell Hill brings together a group of Torontonians who are caught in a jumble of fate and warning signals that weren't properly understood. Chris Abraham directs a cast that includes Earl, Sam Earle, Shari Hollett, Frank Moore, Mary Francis Moore and Robert Smith. Opens April 22 at the Tarragon Mainspace (30 Bridgman). 416-531-1827.
Sure, she has her own TV show (The Holmes Show), but character comic extraordinaire Jessica Holmes is best experienced live. Whether she's sending up celebs like Céline Dion and Liza Minnelli or skewering Christian fundamentalism with her homo-hating creation Candy Anderson Henderson, the perennially perky Holmes delivers material that's as funny as it is thoughtful. Her show Jessie's Girls opens April 18 at Tallulah's Cabaret (12 Alexander). 416-975-8555.
The term fusion doesn't just apply to food. Belgium's premier modern dance troupe, Les Ballets C de la B, mixes movement, 14th-century music and text in Foi, described by choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui as a medieval/contemporary opera. Confused? Don't be. Apparently, the piece looks at the clash between old and new. Makes sense, right? Opens May 15 at the Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queen's Quay West). 416-973-4000.
Wanna catch some hot new black female talent? The second annual rock.paper.sistahz festival, presented by b current, gives audiences a chance to watch the onstage creative process of a new generation of black stage artists, including Raven Dauda, Ngozi Paul, nicole stamp and Rhoma Spencer. These workshops and productions deal with everything from a father/daughter reunion and ultra-political anarchist chicks to colonialist subversion and ethnic cooking. Previews May 1 and opens May 2 in the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). 416-504-7529.
love and death
The Tristan And Isolde story is best known from the four-hour-plus Wagner opera (it's the one with the Liebestod). Now Ballet British Columbia's John Alleyne has choreographed a full-length story ballet for the National Ballet of Canada -- his dance alma mater -- around the tragic medieval tale of love, death and a magic potion. He's collaborating with playwright John Murrell (The Faraway Nearby). And for the music -- Wagner? Nein. George Frideric Handel, adapted by Michael Bushnell and Owen Underhill. Running time -- or rather, dancing time -- will be less than four hours. Opens May 2 at the Hummingbird (1 Front East). 416-345-9595.
Four friends get together for a dinner party, but there's no light chit-chat. Stem -- presented by House of Slacks and Les Vaches at Buddies in Bad Times -- peels back problems in the group's dynamics the way its members might dispose of an artichoke. Don't expect food fights, but it's probable that shit will fly. With writer/performers Greg MacArthur, Clinton Walker, Erika Hennebury and Ruth Madoc-Jones, the chemistry's there for a multi-level and emotionally wrenching production. Previews begin May 11 and opens May 15. 12 Alexander. 416-975-8555.