English theatre shines in Montréal

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

This article was updated on April 16, 2024.

Theatre goers will enjoy blockbuster dramas and rip-roaring comedies produced by some of Canada and Montréal’s most exciting professional and independent English-language theatre companies this Spring 2024.

Musicals, comedy and drama!

Montréal’s two big English-language theatres – the venerable Centaur Theatre Company in Old Montréal, and the Sylvan Adams Theatre at the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts in the west end – offer varied programming.

 

Centaur Theatre

Seven of Montreal’s top actressesDeena Aziz, Leni Parker, Joy Ross-Jones, Espoir Segbeaya, Warona Setshwaelo, Felicia Shulman and Julie Tamiko Manning – explore what it means to be a woman working with Shakespeare today in Thy Woman’s Weeds (April 23 to May 12). Directed by Amanda Kellock and written by Erin Shields, this feminist take on Shakespeare’s works highlights the contemporary social dynamics that challenge women’s full participation in the performing arts.

 

 Segal Centre for Performing Arts

 

 

The Segal Centre presents Fifteen Dogs (March 31 to April 21), based on the Giller Prize-winning novel Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis, and adapted and directed for the stage by Marie Farsi. It tells the story of 15 dogs kenneled at a veterinary clinic who are suddenly gifted by the gods with human consciousness and language. In this modern-day fable of fate, faith, love and language, six actors embody the pack as they reckon with morality, mortality and the profound relationships they share with humans. There will be audio-described performances on April 14 at 2 and 7 pm.

 

 

After debuting on Broadway to rave reviews, the Segal remounts playwright Selina Fillinger’s critically-hailed comedy POTUS or Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive (May 12 to June 2). POTUS is about seven brilliant women who try to keep the President out of trouble when a White House PR nightmare spins into a global crisis. There will be audio-described performances on May 26 at 2 pm and 7 pm.

 

Montréal Fringe Festival

After a record-breaking 2023 edition, the bilingual St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival returns May 27 to June 16 when 500 artists from some 90 producing companies present more than 700 indoor performances at this year’s 34th edition. The OFF Fringe runs from May 29 to June 16.

Outdoor programming at the hugely popular Fringe Park – located at Parc des Ameriques, corner Rachel and St-Laurent – will feature live bands, as well as the festival’s marquee event, drag icon Mado Lamotte’s 22nd annual Mado’s Drag Race on June 15, featuring  Cabaret Mado drag stars versus a bevy of Fringe fest beauties in a knock-down Battle Royale of skill-testing obstacles!

As Mado once told me, “Don’t expect Mado to be nice to anyone! I’m excited every year because drag queens are the best runners in the city! And we prove to the world that being ridiculous never killed anyone!”

 

Festival TransAmériques

A festival of contemporary dance and theatre, the 18th edition of the Festival TransAmériques will present some 25 shows from May 22 to June 5. Some FTA highlights include the radical theatre satire of Carte noire nommée désir at Usine C (May 23 to 26), Catarina and the Beauty of Killing Fascists at Théâtre Jean-Duceppe (May 26 to 28), and the free outdoor Multitud show (May 23 to 25) in Place des Festivals in the Quartier des Spectacles.

Click here for full festival programming.

 

Montréal, arts interculturels

Located in the Plateau-Mont-Royal, the innovative Montréal, arts interculturels cultural organization – better known as “The MAI” – presents an eclectic slate of multi-disciplinary productions (visual arts, dance and theatre) each season. 

Highlights of the MAI’s current 25th season include Mexican choreographer and performer Sonia Bustos who explores the phenomena of reminiscence through theatrical dance in her solo show Je ne vais pas inonder la mer (May 15 to 18). 

 

Other theatre

Infinitheatre presents renowned Indigenous playwright Drew Hayden Taylor’s Open House (April 18 to May 5) at Cité 2000 (located at 2000 Notre-Dame Street East). Directed by Dian Marie Bridge, Open House is a “literal and philosophical examination of our tendency to compare and compete, frequently along cultural lines, and the human tendency to attach ourselves emotionally to the concept of land-ownership.”

Brave New Productions remounts the hit Broadway comedy An Act of God at the Mainline Theatre from May 2 to 4.

The Hudson Village Theatre presents Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s Skin Flick about a cash-strapped middle-aged couple who think making an adult film will make them a quick buck. Directed by John Sheridan, the comedy runs from May 16 to 24. 

 

 

Magjusjen Entertainment presents dinner and the classic Broadway play 12 Angry Jurors, based on the Emmy Award-Winning television movie by Reginald Rose and directed by theatre legend Vittorio Rossi, at the Maison Principale on May 15. 

Cabaret Mado presents the latest instalment of The Golden Girls on May 29, with drag legends Marla Deer and Tracy Trash with Prudence and Velma Jones lip-syncing their way through the classic Hollywood sitcom. This is a very popular live tribute show, I recommend buying tickets early.

 

 

Under the direction of Bob Bachelor and Cathy Burns, the 40-voice Lyric Theatre Singers will hit the downtown Concordia Theatre stage (formerly the DB Clarke Theatre) with their latest Broadway revue show BROADWAY DREAMS for four performances, from June 13 to 15.

Dawson College’s Professional Theatre Department presents award-winning playwright Ellen McLaughlin’s Lysistrata, a fast-paced comedy inspired by the Aristophanes play about the Athenian who persuades the women of Greece to help end the Peloponnesian War by refusing lovemaking until the men negotiate peace. Runs April 29 to May 11 at Dawson’s gorgeous New Dome Theatre.

Also, click here for updates on upcoming National Theatre School productions at the Monument-National

Over at the Rialto Theatre on April 20, Broadway Bound is a musical cabaret with musical director Nick Burgess, performed by some of Montréal’s most talented theatre kids to raise money for the Montréal Children’s Hospital, produced by Full Circle Productions with the Segal Centre Academy and the Montréal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

 

 

Using puppetry to bring life-like dinosaurs to the stageDinosaur World Live will delight children aged 3+ in a Jurassic adventure with a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Segnosaurus, at Théâtre Maisonneuve on May 7. 

 

Circus arts

 

 

The only presenter specializing in contemporary circus in North America, La TOHU presents three shows this spring: SLAM! is a hyper-theatrical wrestling show between titans of theatre and circus, Ex Machina and Flip Fabrique, directed by theatre legend Robert Lepage (March 19 to April 7); ESQUIVE features six acrobats from Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde exploring and paying tribute to the trampoline (April 24 to 28); and the National Circus School presents their Graduating Students’ Show (May 30 to June 9).

The 7th edition of the Montréal Clown Festival presents indoor and outdoor programming in the Quartier des Spectacles from April 25 to 28.

 

Cirque du Soleil presents KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities under the Big Top in the Old Port from May 23 to July 14.

 

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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