Buzzy theatre productions for Canadians to check out in 2014 - InfoNews

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Buzzy theatre productions for Canadians to check out in 2014

Cast members in a new production of the musical "Les Miserables" led by Mark Uhre (centre right) who plays "Enjolras" and Melissa O'Neil (centre left) who plays "Eponine" perform "One More Day" at a media event in Toronto on Sept. 16, 2013. From an ice champion doing a jazzy song-and-dance act onstage, to a literary legend helming an opera and Canadian performers making their mark on Broadway, the upcoming year in theatre finds several Canucks stepping outside their traditional boundaries. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
December 26, 2013 - 6:00 AM

TORONTO - From an ice champion doing a jazzy song-and-dance act onstage, to a literary legend helming an opera and Canadian performers making their mark on Broadway, the upcoming year in theatre finds several Canucks stepping outside their traditional boundaries.

As the curtain goes up on 2014, we look ahead to some of the mostly hotly anticipated theatrical productions of the new year. Here are five recommendations, in alphabetical order:

"Chicago": Three-time world champion figure skater Elvis Stojko will try to razzle dazzle 'em as slick lawyer Billy Flynn in this jazzy musical that begins at the Princess of Wales Theatre on March 26. The Newmarket, Ont., native follows in the footsteps of veteran performers including Billy Ray Cyrus, Alan Thicke and Richard Gere in taking on the role. Stojko recently told The Canadian Press he doesn't "feel entirely like a fish out of water," noting his lifetime of performances on-ice and his role as Vince Fontaine in a 2004 production of "Grease" in Toronto. He's hoping the experience will lead to more acting roles, either onstage or in film or television.

"King Lear": Canadian stage and screen star Colm Feore makes his much anticipated return to the Stratford Festival to take on the title role of the aging monarch who descends into madness. Feore hasn't acted at the festival since 2009, when he starred as Macbeth and Cyrano de Bergerac. If his chilling sneak peek as a hirsute Lear in the festival's 2014 season trailer is any indication, his return will not disappoint. Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino helms the tragedy, which also includes Stratford veteran Stephen Ouimette as the Fool and Scott Wentworth as Gloucester. Feore will also play Archer in "The Beaux’ Stratagem" at Stratford this year. The festival says between these parts and his others at Stratford over the years, he'll have played as many title roles there as Christopher Plummer. "King Lear" officially opens the festival season on May 26.

"Les Miserables" (on Broadway): If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing Cameron Mackintosh's smash 25th anniversary production that ends Feb. 2 in Toronto — or even if you have — it's worth the trip to the Big Apple as several top-tier Canadian performers will also be featured in the version down there. Among them is Ontario-raised actor-singer Ramin Karimloo, who's bringing down the house (and bringing on tears) as heroic Jean Valjean in Toronto and will be reprising the leading role in the Boublil and Schonberg show that starts at New York's Imperial Theatre on March 1. Other Canucks cast in the Great White Way version include Caissie Levy as Fantine and "Canadian Idol" alums Melissa O'Neil (as Eponine) and Aaron Walpole (as Champmathieu and Brujon). Beyond the Canuck connection, the show also features spectacular staging and direction from Laurence Connor and James Powell.

"Pauline": This is the first opera from CanLit treasure Margaret Atwood, who wrote the libretto based on the life and final days of prolific Canadian writer and actress Pauline Johnson. Atwood worked with composer Tobin Stokes on the chamber opera that's been 15 years in the making. Born on the Six Nations Indian Reserve in Ontario, Johnson was the child of a Mohawk chief and a Quaker Englishwoman. She died in 1913 of breast cancer in Vancouver, where the opera is set. Mezzo Rose-Ellen Nichols will star in the title role alongside soprano Sarah Vardy as her sister, Eva. Ken Lavigne has the four-role tenor lead. "Pauline" will make its world premiere at City Opera Vancouver on May 23.

"The Two Worlds of Charlie F.": Performed by medically discharged military personnel and professional actors, including Newfoundland native Cassidy Little who lost a leg in combat in Afghanistan, this moving production was a hit when it debuted at a charity fundraiser in January 2012 in London. Producer Alice Driver initially intended it to be a theatre recovery project for wounded soldiers. But after its heralded premiere, it went on to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The darkly comic show — written by Owen Sheers, directed by Stephen Rayne and composed by Jason Carr — is inspired by the experiences of its stars, including Little. Its North American tour begins Feb. 25 at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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