English theatre shines in Montréal

Richard Burnett

Theatre goers will enjoy blockbuster Broadway musicals The Phantom of the Opera and Hair, as well as many other award-winning dramas and comedies, produced by some of Montréal’s most exciting professional and independent English-language theatre companies.

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Phantom of the Opera

The year kicks off with the Cameron Mackintosh's new North American touring production of The Phantom of the Opera which critics are raving is “bigger and better than ever before.” This production features new scenic design by Paul Brown, Tony Award-winning original costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Tony Award winner Paule Constable, new choreography by Scott Ambler, and new staging by director Laurence Connor.

Overseen by theatre legends Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh, this production boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier. The score – with songs like “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask Of You,” and “Masquerade” – will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this Phantom one of the largest productions currently on tour.

There will be 16 performances at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier at Place des Arts, from October 4 to 15.

The Age of Aquarius

Back by popular demand, Montréal-based In the Wings Promotions presents its 50th anniversary production of the iconic Tony-winning rock musical Hair. Set in 1967, Hair is the musical story of a group of hippies who celebrate peace and love in the shadow of the Vietnam War. This production runs from August 30 to September 9 at Mainline Theatre, the home of indie theatre in Montréal.

Exploring Sex and Sexuality

Also at Mainline Theatre, the much-anticipated The History of Sexuality is a new play by Dane Stewart which offers an intimate and radically honest examination of sex and power from a queer perspective. Five students take a graduate seminar studying the work of revolutionary French philosopher Michel Foucault. As they argue over issues of sexuality, gender, oppression and free will, these theories begin to rupture and spill out into their own lives. The characters expose the complexities of sexuality as it collides with kink, BDSM, disability, gender, and sex work. The play runs from September 21 to 30.

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Hockey with Heart

Montréal’s English-language theatre scene is anchored by The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts in the West End and the venerable Centaur Theatre in Old Montréal.

The Segal kicks off their 2017-2018 season with the world premiere of The Hockey Sweater: A Musical on October 19. The Segal commissioned the musical adaptation of Roch Carrier’s beloved short story, The Hockey Sweater. The production pays homage to this treasured Quebec story by reinventing the classic tale into a modern musical for the whole family. The production runs until November 12 as part of the official program of Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebrations.

The Centaur Theatre opens its 49th season on October 3 with Shaun Smyth in a tour-de-force performance as hockey great Theo Fleury in Playing with Fire. You don’t need to know anything about hockey to love the exhilarating, heart-breaking and triumphant true story of this courageous Canadian hockey legend. With the odds stacked against him, considered too short to play hockey, the pint-sized Métis kid with huge ambitions from Russel, Manitoba, overcame crushing obstacles to become an NHL All-Star, win the Stanley Cup and represent Canada twice at the Olympic Games where he earned a Gold medal. Playing with Fire –performed entirely on ice – runs until October 29.

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Hit Comedies: Bad Jews and The 39 Steps

The Segal revives its 2016 smash hit Bad Jews, bringing back the original cast of its critically-acclaimed production of Joshua Harmon’s breakout hit. Directed by Segal Artistic and Executive Director Lisa Rubin and starring Jamie Elman, Ellen Denny, Jake Goldsbie, and Sarah Segal-Lazar, this contemporary piece asks the biting question: what do you choose to believe, when you’re chosen? Bad Jews returns to the Studio at the Segal from November 8 to 26.

Meanwhile, The Centaur presents the hilarious Olivier and Tony-winning spoof of Alfred Hitchcock’s spy thriller The 39 Steps. Based on Hitchcock’s film adaptation of John Buchan’s novel, this comic spin on a classic runs from November 14 to December 10, 2017. Richard Hannay, a suspected murderer, is caught in a web of international intrigue and suspense, and – handcuffed to a beautiful woman convinced of his guilt – the accidental action hero must stay one step ahead of Scotland Yard to prove his innocence and stop a lethal ring of spies. Lives hang in the balance and, packed with hilarious film noire allusions, the entire escapade is performed by four actors, switching characters at lightning speed for maximum spoof effect.

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Girl Power

Geordie Productions mainstage production of the teen / young adult production of Boys With Cars runs from November 24 to December 3 at Montréal’s historic Monument National. Written, choreographed and performed by Anita Majumdar, Boys With Cars recounts an audacious pair of stories about the lives of young Canadian women, set in a suburban Canadian high school where cultures collide, women struggle for status, and dance raises the temperature of every moment.

“I Have Been to the Mountaintop”

Canada’s oldest professional Black theatre company, Black Theatre Workshop kicks off its 47th season with playwright Katori Hall’s masterpiece The Mountaintop, which won the Olivier Award for best new play in 2010.

The Mountaintop is about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who – after delivering one of his most memorable speeches, “I Have Been to the Mountaintop”, on April 3, 1968 – retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel amidst a raging storm. When a mysterious stranger arrives at his door, Dr. King is forced to confront his destiny and his legacy as a leading figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. The Mountaintop will be presented in the Studio at The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts from October 14 to 29.

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Romeo and Juliet

Last but not least, if you are a lover of Shakespeare, do not miss the student production of Romeo and Juliet, produced by the top-notch Dawson Professional Theatre Program in their state-of-the-art Dawson Theatre from November 13 to 25.

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogueur

Richard « Bugs » Burnett est un auteur, rédacteur, journaliste, blogueur et chroniqueur canadien. Il écrit pour des hebdomadaires indépendants ainsi que des publications grand public et LGBTQ. De plus, Bugs connaît Montréal comme une drag queen connaît les produits de beauté.

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