The BEST of 2017!

I saw more than 50 shows this year, and here are 17 that stand out!
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Outstanding musicalGuys and Dolls, Stratford Festival.  This production had it all – absolutely amazing dance and choreography, excellent singing, and good comedic acting.  Blythe Wilson as Miss Adelaide was a true triple threat — an exceptional actor, singer, and dancer.

Outstanding comedy Jonas and Barry in the Home, Playhouse II, Grand Bend. You can’t go wrong with a Norm Foster comedy, and this one had particular appeal for aging baby boomers.  What made it really special was that Norm Foster himself starred in it along with another funny guy, David Nairn.  Watch for this at the Drayton Entertainment venue in Cambridge in 2018.

Outstanding dramaDeath of a Salesman, St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.  In a departure from their usual music and comedy fare, Drayton Entertainment gave us this thought-provoking classic, bringing in TV star George Wendt.  Known as a comic actor, particularly as Norm from Cheers, Wendt gave a gut-wrenching performance in this drama.

Outstanding performance in a musicalChilina Kennedy in Beautiful, The Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto.  Canada’s own Chilina Kennedy gave a brilliant performance in this Carole King story.  She was in this role on Broadway and came home to Toronto to do it here – she’s now back on Broadway again.  We were fortunate to have her for the duration of the show in Toronto.

Outstanding performance in a comedyEddie Glen in One for the Pot, Playhouse II, Grand Bend.   Eddie stole the show playing way too many parts in this silly farce.  You can’t watch Eddie without laughing out loud.

Outstanding performance in a dramaGil Garratt in The Pigeon King, Blyth Festival. Gil completely embodied swindler Arlan Galbraith in this fascinating true story presented as a drama/musical.

Outstanding multi-roll acting1837: The Farmers’ Revolt , Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Credit goes to the entire cast for their handling of multiple roles in this interesting historical drama.

Outstanding voices in a musicalBat out of Hell, The Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto. Every cast member in this production has amazed the audience with powerful voices.   The show contains most of Jim Steinman’s iconic hits. Coming from London, England, it will soon be returning there.

Outstanding juke box musical Rock of Ages, Dunfield Theatre, Cambridge.  This show was a lot of fun:  a zany plot peppered with hits of the 1980s and a strong cast able to belt the rock ‘n’ roll favourites.

Outstanding triple threatsMillion Dollar Quartet, Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. (Now on stage at the CAA Theatre, Toronto.) I’m cheating a bit here – usually triple threats are outstanding actors, singers, and dancers.  But in this musical, they were outstanding actors, singers and musicians.  Impressive multi-talented people.

Outstanding children’s productionBeauty and the Beast, Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend.  (Now on stage in Cambridge.)  A great cast in colourful costumes caught the attention of kids of all ages.  Right behind it in second place is Honk!, a sweet children’s musical now on stage at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.

Outstanding musical revueHappy Together 1967, Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia.  I really enjoyed this evening of 50 year old music.  This show was among VPP’s several hit musical revues this past summer.

Outstanding creative work – Tie – Once and A Christmas Carol, both at the Grand Theatre, London.  Both these productions were a feast of sights and sounds:  Once for its re-creation of a charming Irish pub, and A Christmas Carol for taking the audience back to 1840s’ London.

Outstanding new production – Tie – Life After, Berkeley Street Theatre, Toronto, and Portia, Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia.  Life After was a heartfelt new musical, written by young playwright Britta Johnson, about a teenage girl and the death of her father.  Portia is the fascinating story of Canada’s first black singing star who became world-renowned in the 1940s. Both are interesting stories, well told.


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