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 September 26, 2022.

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 Autumn 2022.

Musicals, comedy and drama!

Montreal’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 Centaur Theatre kicks off their 2022-2023 season with Cyclorama (October 11 to November 5) created by both Centaur and Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui and which takes place at both theatres on the same night! An immersive bilingual documentary performance on the history of both landmark Montréal institutions, audience members get whisked between the two locales on a bus for a fun, informative and unique experience that asks the question, why are we so divided?

Hannah Moscovitch’s acclaimed comedy Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes (November 8 to 27) is a provocative look into the intimate challenges within academia in the #MeToo era. Centaur artistic director Eda Holmes directs this exploration of consent and exploitation that won a Governor General’s Award in 2021.

Jazz and theatre legend Ranee Lee remounts her critically-hailed Dark Divas, a musical journey about the lives and times of Black pop icons Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Pearl Baily, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Two nights only: December 16 and 17.

 

Segal Centre for Performing Arts

The not-for-profit Segal Centre for Performing Arts is back with a full slate of shows this season. This autumn the Segal presents two horror classics, Frankenstein and Dracula.

Adapted from the novel by Mary Shelley by the team that created the mega-hits BOOM and BOOM X, this new stage production blends immersive comic book design and playful theatrical techniques to reanimate Frankenstein for a new generation. This new family-friendly (ages 7+) spin on the literary classic confronts modern issues of climate change, artificial intelligence and our relationship to technology – monsters of our own making! When a young graphic novelist named Mary discovers the journal of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, she’s drawn into his story of secret experiments to conquer death. Runs October 19 to 30 in the Segal Studio.

Over at the Sylvan Adams Theatre (October 23 to November 13), Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors is an irreverent farce combining classic horror fiction with satire. The all-star cast – including Canadian national treasure Ellen David – tackles dozens of zany characters in this exciting romp imaginatively staged and filled with magic and special effects.

 

Bright lights on Broadway!

Evenko presents 7 performances of the national tour of the Tony and Olivier Award-winning hit musical Come From Away at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier at Place des Arts, from January 10 to 15, 2023 (yes, we are getting a little ahead of ourselves, but best to purchase tickets now before this limited-engagement run sells out). Come From Away tells the incredible true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them on September 11, 2001.

The National Theatre School of Canada’s Graduating Class of 2023 presents American playwright Mary Zimmerman’s Tony Award-winning play Metamorphoses adapted from the classic Ovid poem, at the historic Ludger-Duvernay Theatre at the Monument-National, from December 13 to 17.

The Broadway musical The Sound of Music (La mélodie du Bonheur) at Théâtre St-Denis (December 3 to 23) is directed by Gregory Charles, and is performed by the same cast in separate French and English presentations.

 

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. One of highlights of the MAI’s 24th season is the Imago Theatre company production of British playwright Dawn King’s acclaimed rural drama Foxfinder (October 5 to 15) about humans who believe that foxes are solely responsible for the world’s destruction. 

Indie theatre

Renowned Italian-Canadian playwright Vittorio Rossi’s play Paradise by the River is about the internment of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War. The Montreal revival is getting excellent reviews and continues at the gorgeous Mirella & Lino Saputo Theatre at the Leonardo da Vinci Centre has been extended to October 19.

Over at Hudson Village Theatre, Harry Standjofski stars in playwright Douglas Post’s 1950s-set noir thriller Bloodshot, the British drama that has been touring Europe to critical acclaim since 2011. Dean Patrick Fleming directs this one-man thriller which tells the story of an alcoholic ex-police photographer who finds himself with no work or money, so accepts a mysterious assignment and a healthy sum of cash only to find himself thrust into a dark and violent mystery. Runs from October 19 to November 6.

Teesri Duniya Theatre joins forces with Live Action Theatre Project for the world premiere of Meet Me, an audience-interactive theatre experience exploring dating, cancel culture and consent in the post #MeToo era. The audience decides how the story gets told. Runs at the student-run Tuesday Night Cafe (TNC) Theatre at McGill University from September 29 to October 8.

Dawson College’s Professional Theatre Department presents the Tony Award-winning play Peter and the Starcatcher (September 21 to 24) and Trainspotting screenwriter John Hodge’s Olivier Award-winning play Collaborators (October 5 to 8) at Dawson’s New Dome Theatre.

The Acts to Grind Theatre company presents Cherry Docs at Mainline Theatre (September 28 to October 9), David Gow’s play about a neo-Nazi skinhead charged with murdering a South Asian immigrant, and the Jewish lawyer assigned by Legal Aid to defend him. 

Mainline Theatre is also bringing back its hugely popular annual Halloween musical production of the The Rocky Horror Show from October 20 to 31.

Circus arts

The Montréal Clown Festival returns for its sixth edition at the superb Gesù  Theatre in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, from September 29 to October 2. The lineup includes acts from across North America.

Fusing acrobatics, dance, multimedia and theatre, My Island My Heart is a love letter to the city of Montreal, a crowd-pleasing immersive circus cabaret by the 7 Doigts company in the brand-new entertainment complex Espace St-Denis located inside Théatre St-Denis in the heart of the Latin Quarter. There are both English and French versions of this show, so be sure to purchase the proper tickets. Runs to October 16.

The only presenter specializing in contemporary circus in North America, TOHU (located at the centre of the Cité des arts du cirque) presents Muse by FLIP Fabrique in which seven skillful acrobats play with gender stereotypes and blur the boundaries between male and female (November 3 to 13), Ghost Light: Between Fall and Flight by Machine de Cirque (November 9 to 12), and Air Play by Acrobuffos (December 14 to January 1, 2023) – part comedy, part sculpture, part circus and part theatre – already seen by more 150,000 people on five continents.

Evenko presents the Cirque du Soleil production Corteo for 17 shows at the Bell Centre from December 21 to January 1, 2023.

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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