Reviewed by Paula Citron
This long weekend I caught the final performances of two shows, and they were both important productions. Angelwalk Theatre is a new company that produces chamber musicals of note. Seventh Stage Theatre’s mandate is both feminist and socio-political.
Angelwalk mounted a terrific production of Jason Robert Brown’s clever musical The Last Five Years. Brown is the current New York musical maven. He’s a whiz kid who does everything – music, lyrics and book. The show follows a couple from courtship to separation. Eric Craig and Adrienne Merrell are both sensational talents with fine direction by Jen Shuber.
Seventh Stages’ searing production of Heather Raffo’s 9 Parts of Desire, also from New York, was made up of monologues spoken by Iraqi women. The text was graphic and powerful, as recited by a range of ages and political leanings. Director Kelly Straughan avoided cloying sentimentalism in this powerful production.
Both these companies produce work of quality. The Toronto theatre scene is enriched by their presence.
The Last Five Years
Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Jen Shuber
Starring Eric Craig and Adrienne Merrell
Toronto Centre for the Arts, May 7 to 23, 2010
9 Parts of Desire
Seventh Stage Theatre Productions
Written by Heather Raffo
Directed by Kelly Straughan
Starring Aviva Armour-Ostroff, Christine Aubin-Khalifa, Toni Ellwand, Lili Francks, Deborah Grover, Maryem Hassan Tollar, Brittany Kay, Anusree Roy and Melissa-Jane Shaw
Theatre Centre, May 19 to 23, 2010