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 March 16, 2023.

Theatre goers will enjoy Broadway musicals, 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 2023.

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

The English language premiere of the Théâtre Duceppe production of Alexandre Goyette’s King Dave was translated by and stars Patrick Emmanuel Abellard who was last seen onstage at the Centaur in Choir Boy (Season 50). Playing an impressionable young Haitian man living in Montreal North who falls prey to the toxic culture surrounding him, Abellard shines in a charged story that confronts clichés, gun violence and revenge. Runs from March 28 to April 16.

A Silk Road Theatre Production in collaboration with Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal, Uzma Jalaluddin’s humourous play The Rishta is about Samah, a young South Asian woman who has fallen in love with a Moroccan man, Hussain. But her parents forbid intercultural marriage, so Samah employs a rambunctious and enterprising matchmaker to introduce them to a few terrible suitors so they will be dazzled by the last one, Hussain. Runs from March 30 – April 8.

Master puppeteer and Canadian national treasure Ronnie Burkett and his Daisy Theatre are back with Little Willy, a hilarious brand-new production based on Romeo and Juliet. Runs from May 2 to 14.

Segal Centre for Performing Arts

The not-for-profit Segal Centre for Performing Arts presents playwright Sanaz Toossi’s heartfelt and humourous play English about a group of adults in Iran preparing for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) in an “English Only” classroom. Runs from March 19 to April 2.

NYC playwright Joshua Harmon’s Prayer for the French Republic about a Jewish couple in 1944 Paris who face the aftermath of the Holocaust. More than 70 years later, their great-grandchildren find themselves facing the same question as their ancestors: “Are we safe?” Runs from April 23 to May 14.

Tymisha Harris delivers a sensational tour-de-force performance in the highly-anticipated multi-award-winning production of Josephine, the biographical musical of iconic African-American superstar Josephine Baker. Runs from May 28 to June 18.


Bright lights on Broadway!

Adapted from the animated Disney film and centuries-old folktales including One Thousand and One Nights, the hit Broadway musical Aladdin sweeps audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five songs from the Oscar-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage. Evenko presents eight performances of the national tour at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier at Place des Arts, from March 28 to April 2.


Festival Trans Amérique

The world’s most innovative dance and theatre productions will perform at the 17th edition of the Festival TransAmériques which runs from May 24 to June 8. Festival shows include L’étang, a short play that combines the personal and the political through a teenager’s rebellion against family and society (May 31 to June 3); and White Out in which a trio of artists from the Quebecois theatre company L’eau du bain play with sound and dreams (June 2 to 4).

Montréal Fringe Festival

The St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival returns with 800 artists from Montréal and around the world performing in more than 20 venues, including several “OFF Fringe” ones. Founded in 1990, the Montréal Fringe runs from May 29 to June 18, with the bulk happening from June 8 to 18.

The Fringe Park at the corner of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Rachel Street is where artists and theatre-goers gather to see free outdoor live performances and share tips about shows.

The Fringe Park is also come to the festival’s marquee event, the annual Mado’s Drag Race, this year being held on June 17 from 4 to 6 pm. Montréal drag legend and Fringe favourite Uma Gahd will guest-host at the request of Montréal drag icon Mado Lamotte who cannot host this year due to other engagements.



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 24th season include the interdisciplinary Because You Never Asked (April 19 to 22) performed by David Albert-Toth, Marie Lévêque, Brianna Lombardo, and Maxine Segalowitz; and Laundry of Legends II presents death poems transformed by dancing bodies (May 17 to 20).  

Indie theatre

Contact Theatre presents Reefer Madness, a satirical musical which spoofs the 1936 propaganda film of the same name, at Mainline Theatre from April 20 to 29. Presented as a “show within a show”, Reefer Madness explores various seemingly ridiculous notions of what could happen when clean-cut kids fall prey to a new “deadly” drug menace, marijuana, while society is exploited by propaganda’s greatest tool, fear.

La Chapelle Theatre presents Landscape Grindr written by and starring  Michael Martini from April 11 to 15.

Hudson Village Theatre presents Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s Brush (April 26 to May 7) about two painters hired to repaint the home basement of a widow whose husband died when he “accidentally” fell in the very same basement. A comedy with just the right amount of mystery.

In the Wings Promotions presents the Québec Premiere of LIZZIE: The Musical live at Théâtre La Comédie de Montréal from May 6 to 13. Based on the case of Lizzie Borden, LIZZIE is directed by Montreal English Theatre Award (META) winner Nadia Verrucci, features a live band and a cast of established performers including META nominee Noelle Hannibal as Emma Borden. LIZZIE is American mythology set to a blistering rock score with a sound owing less to Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber than to Bikini Kill, the Runaways and Heart.

The National Theatre School of Canada’s second-year students present As You Like It, a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare presented at the Pauline-McGibbon Studio of the Saint-Denis Campus (May 2 to 5).

Dawson College’s Professional Theatre Department presents Steven Berkoff’s brilliant adaptation of Franz Kafka’s masterpiece The Trial which has become a classic work of 20th century theatre and a widely studied syllabus piece, 52 years after its first performance in London. Runs from April 24 to May 6 at Dawson’s gorgeous New Dome Theatre.

Circus arts

The only presenter specializing in contemporary circus in North America, Le TOHU presents Passagers (March 23 to April 8) by Les 7 Doigts, the arts collective that expands the boundaries of the stage experience by combining dance, physical expression, acrobatics and projection; and La Nuit du Cerf - A Deer in the Headlights (April 25 to 30), an original creation by Cirque Le Roux inspired by various events, mixing the French New Wave and the American Grindhouse movement of the 70s.

The blockbuster Cirque du Soleil ECHO runs Under the Big Top in the Old Port of Montreal from April 20 to August 20.

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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