A big fun, magical ride for kids of all ages with the imaginative, wonder-filled Peter Pan

Clockwise, from the top: Matt Pilipiak, Victor Pokinko, Fiona Sauder, Lena Maripuu & Landon Doak. Production design by Amy Marie Wallace. Lighting design by Ken MacKenzie. Photo by Nicholas Porteous.

 

Bad Hats Theatre returns to the Young Centre, adding a sprinkle of magic fairy dust to the holidays with its Dora award-winning stage adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Adapted by Fiona Sauder and Reanne Spitzer, directed by Severn Thompson, with choreography by Reanne Spitzer, music by Landon Doak, and arrangements by Nathan Carroll and the company, this low-tech, highly imaginative version of the beloved children’s classic promises magic, fun and wonder for kids of all ages.

From its genesis as Co-Artistic Director Fiona Sauder’s dream project, first produced by Bad Hats at the Old Flame, a brewery in Port Perry, to a five-brewery tour in Toronto the following winter, Peter Pan first landed at the Young Centre in 2017, when Soulpepper invited the company to perform in its holiday time Family Festival. The production went on to win Dora awards for Outstanding Ensemble, Direction and Production.

Part story time, part dress-up, part musical—all magic and imagination—Peter Pan draws us in with joy, make believe and a child-like sense of play that starts before the show gets underway, with the ensemble emerging for some live music and fun with the kids sitting on the mats along the front of the horseshoe seating arrangement. Best. Pre-show. Ever.

Our grown-up narrator (Matt Pilipiak, with fun in his heart and a twinkle in his eye, going on to play the shy, soft-spoken Mr. Smee) sets the stage; and we watch as Peter (Fiona Sauder, with boyish swashbuckling bravado and impish mischief) enters the Darling home through the nursery window in search of his AWOL shadow. A lover of stories, he’s been listening at the window as Wendy (played with a lovely combination of grown-up earnestness, and childhood fun and romance by Lena Maripuu) tells stories and plays games of dress-up adventure with her younger brothers John (little gentleman, full of fun Victor Pokinko) and Michael (Richard Lam, brimming with adorable wide-eyed wonder, in the role till Dec 16; followed by Landon Doak in the role).

A sprinkle of fairy dust and a happy thought send the Darling children into flight with Peter and his fairy BFF Tinkerbell (the spritely, feisty, don’t you dare cross her Reanne Spitzer, who also plays Mrs. Darling and a Pirate) to their address at second star to the right and straight on till morning: Neverland. Joining the Lost Boys (great high-energy, comic fun turns from Jocelyn Adema, Andrew Cameron, Matthew Finlan and Tal Shulman, who all double as the rough and tumble, fun-loving Pirates), Peter and the Darling boys adopt Wendy as their new storytelling mother. Meanwhile, Captain Hook (played with hilariously evil camp by Graham Conway, who does double duty as Mr. Darling) is out to avenge his lost hand, and plots to find Peter Pan’s secret hideaway, and kidnap his friends to lure him into a trap. All the while, Hook is pursued by the crocodile that ate his hand, its whereabouts given away by the tick tock of the clock it also managed to swallow.

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Fiona Sauder & Graham Conway. Production design by Amy Marie Wallace. Lighting design by Ken MacKenzie. Photo by Nicholas Porteous.

Sword fights, a jealous fairy turned hero and a stalking, hungry croc ensue—and good prevails over evil, with determination, pluck and ingenuity. And it’s a bittersweet moment when the Darling children return home to the nursery, in part because it also signals the end of this magical journey for us. The kids in the audience are a huge part of the fun of this show; and one or two even get a chance to get in on the fun. I dare you to not stomp your feet along with the music—and believe in magic and fairies.

Peter Pan continues at the Young Centre into the New Year, until January 5. Get advance tickets online or call the box office: 416-866-8666 or 1-888-898-1188. Booking in advance is strongly recommended to avoid disappointment. Bringing a kid isn’t mandatory, but it will ramp up your fun if you’re joined by a young friend. Go see this!

Check out the trailer, featuring highlights from this multi-talented, energetic ensemble:

 

Keep an eye out for Bad Hats Theatre, who are cooking up a new children’s tale for an upcoming musical brewery tour; check out their website for details, and give them a follow on their social media channels.

 

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Last call for Ale House Theatre Co.’s Twelfe Night, or what you will – one night only Thurs, July 16

Twelfe-new-photo-250x250Did you miss seeing Ale House Theatre Co.’s Original Practices production of William Shakespeare’s Twelfe Night, or what you will during Toronto Fringe?

Fear not, gentle theatre lovers! The company is doing one more, very special, performance at St. Vladimir Theatre on Thursday, July 16 at 8:00 p.m.

What’s so special about this performance, you ask? This time, the show will be Pay What You Decide.

What the heck is Pay What You Decide? The good folks at Ale House Theatre Co. explain it thusly:

... recently employed by the ARC theatre of Stockton-on-Tees, England … Patrons will have free entrance to the venue and performance. After enjoying the show, they are
free to leave as little or as much money as they decide. Ale House is calling it the “Ale
House Last Call: Free to enter; Leave what you will!” evening.

Ale House Theatre Co.’s Twelfe Night, or what you will is directed by Joshua Stodart, and features a fine ensemble cast: Hilary McCormack, Tayves Fiddis, Dan Henkel, Mitchell Janiak, Peyton LeBarr, Tim MacLean, Andrea Massoud, Matt Shaw, Kyle Shields, Tal Shulman, Chris Whidden and Jake Vanderham. I saw the production last week during Toronto Fringe; here’s the write-up.

So be of good cheer and get your butts out to St. Vladimir Theatre on Thursday, July 16 for a most delightful production of Twelfe Night, or what you will. In the meantime, give Ale House Theatre Co. a follow on Twitter to keep up with future productions.

Toronto Fringe: A most delightful production of Twelfe Night, or what you will from Ale House Theatre Co.

Twelfe-new-photo-250x250Finally got to see Ale House Theatre Co. do Shakespeare yesterday. They’re running an Original Practices version of Twelfe Night, or what you will, directed by Joshua Stodart, at St. Vladimir’s Theatre during Toronto Fringe.

An Original Practices production uses the stage conventions and tech that were known to be used in Shakespeare’s time – and this dictates the staging and tone of the play. This production of Twelfe Night features some hilarious physical comedy and characterizations, and keeps the pacing light and quick – which keeps the pranking schemes from getting too mean-spirited, and the sudden decisions about love and marriage from looking too crazy. All nicely book-ended with Feste, who plays recorder at the top of the show (he’ll take period-appropriate requests) and sings at the close.

Stodart has assembled a fine cast for this tale of tragically separated twins, disguise, crazy love and mistaken identity. Stand-outs include Peyton Le Barr, who brings an adorably puckish yet vulnerable quality to Viola; Hilary McCormack (doing double duty this Fringe, also performing in Hanger, directed by Stodart) is striking as the lovely and proud Olivia, her stubborn resolve to cloister herself away melting into a puddle as she falls crazy stupid in love with Cesario (Viola in disguise); Andrea Massoud is wonderful as the saucy and cunning Maria – and she has excellent chemistry with Tim MacLean’s drunken sot of an aging party boy Sir Toby Belch and Matt Shaw’s hilariously awkward twerp of a Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Tal Shulman does an excellent turn as Olivia’s arrogant and snobbish steward Malvolio, who turns to a silly pile of mush himself at the prospect of being adored by his mistress. And Jake Vanderham charms as the sharp-witted, good-natured Fool Feste, entertaining us on the recorder and with a lovely set of pipes of his own.

All in all, a most delightful production of Twelfe Night, or what you will from Ale House Theatre Co. Get yourself out to see some excellent good fun Shakespeare.

Twelfe Night, or what you will continues at St. Vladimir’s until July 12 – check here for exact dates/times. In the meantime, give Ale House Theatre Co. a follow on Twitter to keep up with future productions.