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 September 20, 2023.

Theatre goers will enjoy Broadway musicals, blockbuster dramas and rip-roaring comedies produced by some of Montréal’s most exciting professional and independent English-language theatre companies this Fall 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 first show of the Centaur’s 2023-24 season is playwright Drew Hayden Taylor’s alterNatives. Produced in collaboration with Menuentakuan Productions in an English-language revival of alterIndiens, alterNatives brings fresh new life to a classic dramatic scenario – the dinner party gone wrong. This comedy of manners shines a light on the cultural divides that still exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. Directed by Xavier Huard and starring Charles Bender, Natalie Tannous, Étienne Thibeault, Lesly Velázquez, Nadia Verrucci and Xavier Watso. Runs from October 17 to November 5.



As part of Centaur Theatre’s Brave New Looks Selection this season, Montréal’s Infinithéâtre presents their first mainstage production of 2023-24, Extra / Beautiful / U by playwright Michaela Di Cesare. The play tells the story of Lara, a reality show-winning beauty whose face is disfigured in a car accident, and whose face is now in the hands of surgeon Sam Gagliardi, the nerd she bullied in high school. As Lara’s face gets rebuilt, the outward appearances these characters have been clinging to get demolished. Directed by Caitlin Murphy. Runs from November 30 to December 9.


Segal Centre for Performing Arts

The not-for-profit Segal Centre presents the Tony and Grammy-winning Broadway smash Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, a joyous co-production with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. The inspiring true story of Carole King’s remarkable journey from teenage songwriter to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame features some two dozen pop classics, including “You’ve Got a Friend,” “One Fine Day,” “Up on the Roof,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Natural Woman.” Starring Tess Benger as Carole King. Runs from October 15 to November 5.

Then Segal presents Boy Falls From The Sky, the one-man show written by and starring Jake Epstein in a showbiz tell-all about “that guy from Degrassi” who starred in the US National Tours of Spring Awakening and American Idiot, played Spider-Man on Broadway, and starred in the original production Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. But dreams don’t always go as planned: via a series of entertaining and soul-baring stories and songs, Epstein shares the rejection, stage fright and heartbreak behind his seemingly successful career. A Talk Is Free Theatre production directed by Robert McQueen. Runs from November 19 to December 10.

The Segal also presents the world premiere of the Tableau D’Hôte Theatre production Mizushōbai (The Water Trade) by playwright Julie Tamiko Manning. Mizushōbai explores the life of Kiyoko Tanaka-Goto, a Japanese picture-bride turned ‘underground’ businesswoman in 1930s British Columbia. The narrative marks a historic moment in Canadian theatre as it features an all-Japanese Canadian female cast – including Montréal’s own Hanako Brierley making her professional stage debut – and the Montréal directorial debut of acclaimed Indigenous director Yvette Nolan. Runs from October 10 to 22.


Festival Phénomena

The 12th edition of the multi-disciplinary Festival Phénomena takes place in various venues throughout the city from October 3 to 21. Highlights include Variety Box, a contemporary puppetry project performed by emerging artists Caitlin Ross and Denise Roger Valenzuela at the Maison internationale des arts de la Marionnette on October 8; and L.U.C.A. (Last Universal Common Ancestor) by Belgian artists Hervé Guerrisi and Grégory Carnoli, presented at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines from October 10 to 13, in French with English subtitles.


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 the interdisciplinary Creatrix, a theatrical dance duet between Mona El Husseini and her mother, Hala Farahat. The show interweaves improvisation, gestural interpretation, abstracting the Egyptian Baladi dance, and storytelling. Runs November 29 to December 2.


Indie theatre

The Geordie Theatre company presents Other Worlds (for ages 10+) by playwright Stephen Patrick Booth and directed by Jessica Abdallah. On a small island overrun by land developers, two radically different strangers’ lives collide after an unexpected ecological disaster. Seeking safety in a bunker, they clash and connect over their shared dislike of the developers, and their conflicting dreams of a utopia where they can do more than just survive. Runs at the gorgeous Maison Théâtre from September 29 to October 7.

A who’s who of Montreal’s English theatre scene co-star in QUEER BROADWAY! featuring musical theatre, drag and burlesque performances at the iconic Café Cléopâtre on The Main, October 12 and 13 at 7:30 pm nightly.

Montreal drag queens Prudence, Marla Deer, Tracy Trash and Lana Dalida will reprise their roles as (respectively) Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak, Blanche Devereaux and Sophia Petrillo as they lip sync two episodes of the classic sitcom The Golden Girls at Cabaret Mado on October 18. These hilarious shows always raise the roof!

MainLine Theatre presents their hugely popular annual remount of Richard O'Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show from October 19 to 31. Complete with live band. This will sell out, so buy your tickets early.

The Battle of the Sexes by playwright David Bonk is three plays in one show, exploring sexuality past, present and future, in a CBT/DEB Originals Production presented at Le Théâtre la Comédie de Montréal from October 6 to 21.

Dawson College’s Professional Theatre Department presents Eurydice – which retells the myth of Orpheus from the perspective of his wife Eurydice – written by American playwright Sarah Ruhl. Runs September 20 to 23. It will be followed by the plays CLUE (October 4 to 7) and William Shakespeare’s Henry V (November 13 to 23). All productions are presented at Dawson’s gorgeous New Dome Theatre.

For its annual holiday pantomime, Hudson Village Theatre presents playwright Ben Crocker’s Puss In Boots directed by Steve Walters. With singing, dancing and silly jokes, the Hudson Village Theatre Panto is a hugely entertaining family theatre experience. Runs from December 15 to January 7, 2024.


Circus arts

The only presenter specializing in contemporary circus in North America, La TOHU presents three shows this fall: NYX, a dreamlike journey by Johanne Madore and Collectif Chimère (October 25 to 29); White Gold by the Cambodian troupe Phare Circus which follows an individual and his community as they balance the demands of the modern world, community and Buddhist teachings of moderation (November 22 to December 1); and Camping by Théâtre à Tempo who via theatre, dance, music and humour explores why vacationers return to the same campground summer after summer, generation after generation (December 13 to 31).



Cirque du Soleil’s Crystal runs at the Bell Centre from December 21 to 31.

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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