This is the first “best of” since 2019. We just hadn’t seen enough shows in the intervening two years to do a year-end round-up. So I’ve added a few from those two years, as well as the 2022 season. Dear Readers, here’s your look at the memorable shows we’ve in the past three years.
I’ve added a new category this year – Dramedy. I think the official definition of a dramedy is equal parts comedy and drama, but I didn’t use a measuring stick. My definition is a show that makes you laugh and also creates sorrow.
These are Mary’s Picks, unless it indicates Vicki’s Picks.
Please click the name of the show to read the full review.
Outstanding Musical – & Juliet, Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto. A big-time musical with a hilarious script, energetic dance and great voices. All your pop favourites are belted perfectly.
Honourable mention goes to White Christmas, Shaw Festival Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake. An old favourite presented by a talented cast, which gets everyone into the spirit of Christmas.
Outstanding Comedy – Screwball Comedy, Globus Theatre, Bobcaygeon. A zany Norm Foster throw-back to 1930s’ black and white movies, known as screwball comedies. Many roles played by husband and wife team Sarah Quick and James Barrett created many laughs.
Outstanding Drama – John Ware Reimagined, Blyth Festival, Blyth. (Vicki’s Pick) A great Canadian story: It was both thought-provoking and entertaining. Actually, it was more than a drama with wonderful music, too.
Outstanding Dramedy – Beyond the Sea, Festival Players of Prince Edward County, Eddie Hotel & Farm. Husband and wife team, Jeffrey Wetsch and Jane Spence play strangers who have so much to learn about each other and about handling grief. Comedy is blended with a story of loss.
Outstanding Performance in a Musical – Jennifer Rider-Shaw in Chicago, Stratford Festival, Stratford. Long-time Stratford star Rider-Shaw owned this show. Her “I Just Can’t Do It Alone” number is most amazing with her powerful singing, brilliant dance moves and hilarious facial expressions.
Outstanding Performance in a Comedy – Eddie Glen in It Runs in the Family, Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. (Vicki’s Pick) As usual, Eddie pours all his energy into his role in this British Farce and keeps the laughs coming. It’s the kind of show you have to see twice to catch all the jokes!
Outstanding Performance in a Drama – Colm Feore in Richard III, Stratford Festival, Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford. (Vicki’s Pick) His brilliant interpretation of Richard, along with his physicality, commanded the stage.
Outstanding Performance in a Dramedy – James Barrett in Every Brilliant Thing, Globus Theatre, Bobcaygeon. There are many humorous moments in this show, especially during the audience interaction, but it also takes a sobering look at suicide and loss. Barrett allows the audience to enjoy the laughter, but also feel the sorrow.
Honourable Mention goes to Rebecca Northan, also in Every Brilliant Thing, Grand Theatre, McManus Stage, London.
Outstanding Cast in a Musical – Jersey Boys, Thousand Island Playhouse, Gananoque. A talented cast who had that rich sound, well, just like the Four Seasons. The four key characters Bob Gaudio (Trevor Patt), Frankie Valli (Niko Combitsis), Tommy DeVito (Kale Penny), and Nick Massi (Tyler Check) were pitch perfect, and backed by equally talented actors.
Honourable Mention goes to 9 to 5 at the Capitol Theatre, Port Hope. A great cast working well together creating plenty of laughs and excellent singing.
Outstanding Cast in a Comedy – The Great 44th Fowler’s Falls Fall Fair Disaster, Globus Theatre, Bobcaygeon. Artistic Director Sarah Quick writes hilarious dinner theatre comedies, then assembles a great cast of improv actors, who hilariously interrupt the dinner.
Outstanding Cast in a Drama – A Few Good Men, St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, St. Jacobs. A stellar cast, led by Benedict Campbell, Tyrone Savage and Shannon Currie, was directed by the brilliant Marti Maraden.
Honourable Mention goes to Gaslight, Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake. A perfect cast to handle this brilliant update of an old play. It was very timely, since gaslighting is a popular word in today’s vocabulary.
Outstanding Cast in Dramedy – Serving Elizabeth, Thousand Island Playhouse, Gananoque. There are a few laughs in the story, but it is a serious look at colonialism when a young woman’s father dies while she is far from home. Brilliant performers carry on two roles, one of the past, one in the present.
Outstanding musical revue – A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, Capitol Theatre, Port Hope. Credit goes to star Michelle Bouey, who sang Patsy’s hits with such feeling.
In a tie with Divine Women, Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia (Vicki’s Pick) due to the calibre of the talent
Honourable Mention goes to Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Stay, Globus Theatre, Bobcaygeon. One of Leisa Way’s wonderful concerts. Leisa puts together the best bands, and has a huge repertoire of musical revues, sprinkled with interesting stories. She travels across Canada so watch for her in your area.
Honorable mention goes to Dynamic Duos, Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, (Vicki’s Pick) which was brilliantly creative and thoroughly entertaining and the most fun I’ve had writing a review (VPP)
Outstanding Special Effects – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto. Magic happens before the audience’s eyes. Characters disappear and re-appear. Scary Dementors rise up to the ceiling, frightening the characters on stage and certainly those in the front row, too. Brooms and chairs levitate. Fireballs shoot out from magic wands at every opportunity, and the terrifying noises literally rock and vibrate through the theatre.
Outstanding Musical in Concert – Follies, Koerner Hall, Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto. A wonderful presentation with a full orchestra and a star-studded cast, led by Cynthia Dale and Eric McCormack.
Outstanding Choreography – Singin’ in the Rain, Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto. Amazing footwork by an outstanding ensemble of dancers, including the leads. They danced in a lot of water without missing a beat.