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Ain’T Too proud – The life And Times of ñ

The Temp­TA­Tions. by Do­minique Moris­seau (Mirvish). See re­view, page 27. To Nov 17, Tue-Sat 8 pm, mat Wed 1:30 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm. $59-$185. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King W. 416-872-1212, mirvish.com. nnnn (Glenn Sumi)

bAT ouT of hell: The mu­si­CAl by Jim ñ

Stein­man (Mirvish). A young rebel falls in love with the daugh­ter of a pow­er­ful man in a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic world in this rock ‘n’ roll mu­si­cal. To Nov 4, Tue-Sat 8 pm, mat Wed 1:30 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm. $29-$225. Ed Mirvish Theatre, 244 Vic­to­ria. mirvish.com.

Beat the Devil arounD the Stump by Jamie Rose (Dead­beat Pro­duc­tions). Three of the best out­laws in the Wild West try to out­wit a sharp­shoot­ing sher­iff. To Oct 28, Tue-Sun 8 pm, mat Sat 2 pm. $18-$25. St. Matthias Church, 45 Bell­woods. bpt.me/3612931.

Come From away by Irene Sankoff and ñ

David Hein (Mirvish). With as­ton­ish­ing warmth, New­found­lan­ders wel­come trau­ma­tized pas­sen­gers on planes rerouted to Gan­der on 9/11 in this home-grown Tony-nom­i­nated mu­si­cal. The mu­sic is rol­lick­ing, the lyrics are clever and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with more heart. The cast, dou­bling up on roles as Gan­derites and travellers, is uni­formly ex­cel­lent, es­pe­cially El­iza-Jane Scott as a pilot and Kevin Vi­dal as a Black Brook­lynite who can’t be­lieve his hosts’ open­ness. The show just bar­rels along – even with some dark con­tent – and you never get a chance to catch your breath. But so what? Go with the flow and en­joy. To Jan 20, Tue-Sat 8 pm, mat Wed 1:30 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm. $39-$169. Royal Alexan­dra Theatre, 260 King W. 416-8721212, mirvish.com. nnnn (Su­san G Cole) DanC­ing at lugh­naSa by Brian Friel (Toronto Ir­ish Play­ers). In 1930s Done­gal a man re­calls mem­o­ries of his fam­ily. To Nov 3, Thu-Sat 8 pm. $25-$30. Alum­nae Theatre, 70 Berke­ley. 416-440-2888, toron­toirish­play­ers.com.

eu­gene one­gin by PI Tchaikovsky (Cana­dian ñ Opera Com­pany). Di­rec­tor Robert Carsen and de­signer Michael Levine’s stun­ning pro­duc­tion of Tchaikovsky’s tragic opera has an ele­giac, au­tum­nal feel that’s per­fectly suited to the ma­te­rial. Con­duc­tor Jo­hannes De­bus and the COC or­ches­tra wring lots of emo­tion from the score, and the cast, headed by the grace­ful Joyce El-Khoury and star-inthe-mak­ing Gor­don Bint­ner, heat up the stage with their im­pas­sioned voices and per­sua­sive per­for­mances. To Nov 3, see web­site for times. $35-$350. Four Sea­sons Cen­tre for the Per­form­ing Arts, 145 Queen W. 416-3638231, coc.ca. nnnn (Glenn Sumi) the ghoSt light an­thol­ogy (Aber­rant Theatre). Five dis­tinct tales of ter­ror in an im­mer­sive live hor­ror ex­pe­ri­ence. Runs to Oct 31, Thu-Sat (and Oct 31) at 8 pm. $15-$50. The Box Toronto, 89 Ni­a­gara. 647-980-0335, face­book.com/Aber­ran­tTheatre. haDrian by Ru­fus Wain­wright and Daniel MacIvor (Cana­dian Opera Com­pany). See re­view, page 30. To Oct 27, see web­site for times. $35-$350. Four Sea­sons Cen­tre for the Per­form­ing Arts, 145 Queen W. 416-3638231, coc.ca. nnn (Glenn Sumi)

har­lem Duet by Djanet Sears (Tar­ragon). ñ Sears’s award-win­ning 1997 play is at once a pre­quel to Shake­speare’s Othello, a com­men­tary on the legacy of slav­ery and an en­gross­ing breakup story about a con­tem­po­rary aca­demic cou­ple (Vir­gilia Grif­fith, Beau Dixon). That’s a lot to pack in, but helped by an in­trigu­ing de­sign, strong per­for­mances and a two per­son jazz combo, this re­mount – di­rected by Sears – is po­tent and pow­er­ful, although be­tween-scenes au­dio clips of speeches by Black lead­ers feel repet­i­tive and dis­tract­ing. To Oct 28, Tue-Sat 8 pm, mat Sun 2:30 pm. $22-$60.Tar­ragon Theatre, 30 Bridg­man. 416-531-1827, tar­ragonthe­atre.com. nnnn (Glenn Sumi) into the armS oF Crazy by by Deb­o­rah Ann Frankel (Puncher Pro­duc­tions). In an An­te­room be­tween life and death, Edith gets coun­sel from a not-so-dis­tant rel­a­tive. To Oct 28, Thu-Sun 8 pm. $20. Red Sand­cas­tle Theatre, 922 Queen E. red­sand­castlethe­atre.com. Ja­paneSe proB­lem (Soulpep­per/Uni­ver­sal Lim­ited). Story of the in­tern­ment of Ja­panese Cana­di­ans in 1942. To Oct 28, see web­site for times. Adv tick­ets sold out, lim­ited rush pwyc avail­able. Young Cen­tre for the Per­form­ing Arts, 50 Tank House. soulpep­per.ca. la SeConDe Sur­priSe De l’amour (the SeC­onD Sur­priSe oF love) by Pierre de Mari­vaux (Théâtre français de Toronto). Ro­man­tic com­edy made up of ruses, blun­ders, jeal­ousies and de­nials. To Oct 28, Wed-Sat 8 pm, mat Sat 3:30 pm, Sun 2:30 pm. $20-$49, Wed-Thu pwyc. Berke­ley Street Theatre, 26 Berke­ley. 416-862-2222, the­atre­fran­cais.com. the men in white by Anosh Irani (Fac­tory). See re­view, page 28. To Nov 4, Tue-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm. $20-$50. Fac­tory Theatre, 125 Bathurst. 416-504-9971, fac­to­rythe­atre.ca. nnn (Lisa McKeown)

the nether by Jen­nifer Ha­ley (Coal Mine ñ

Theatre/stu­dio180the­atre). Ha­ley’s pow­er­ful and deeply dis­turb­ing look at ethics and free­dom in a near-fu­tur­is­tic so­ci­ety gets a mes­mer­iz­ing pro­duc­tion. Di­rec­tor Pe­ter Pasyk and his sharp de­sign team make both the dystopian real-life set­ting and the hy­per-real vir­tual fan­tasy realm vivid and vis­ceral. And the ac­tors, among them David Storch, Robert Per­si­chini and Han­nah Levin­son, make their char- ac­ters, even when morally am­bigu­ous, highly sym­pa­thetic. To Nov 4, Tue-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun 2 pm. $42.50. Coal Mine Theatre, 1454 Dan­forth. coalminethe­atre.com. nnnn (Glenn Sumi)

now you See her (Night­wood Theatre/ ñ

Quote Un­quote Col­lec­tive/Why Not Theatre). See re­view, page 27. To Nov 4, TueSat 8 pm, mat Sat-Sun 2:30 pm. $10-$75. Bud­dies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexan­der. night­woodthe­atre.net. nnnn (José Teodoro)

pearle har­Bour’S Chau­tauqua by Justin ñ Miller (Pearle Har­bour Pro­duc­tions/ TPM). Drag per­former Miller’s al­ter ego Pearle Har­bour is part ring­leader, part spir­i­tual torch­bearer. With side­kick Brother Gantry (Steven Con­way) on gui­tar, Pearle uses songs and sto­ries to urge peo­ple to seek their truth. Miller al­ways stays in­tensely in the mo­ment, and i’s riv­et­ing to watch Pearle in­ter­act closely with the au­di­ence. By­ron Lavi­o­lette di­rects with pre­cise pac­ing, and both Joseph Pag­nan’s pro­duc­tion de­sign and Jareth Li’s light­ing are in­te­gral to the show. Be ready to par­tic­i­pate and pos­si­bly take part in a pup­pet play with de­tailed hand pup­pets made by Jesse Byiers. To Oct 27, Thu-Sat 7:30 pm. $20-$30. Theatre Passe Mu­raille, 16 Ry­er­son. passe­mu­raille.ca. nnnn (Deb­bie Fein-Gold­bach) rope by Pa­trick Hamil­ton (Mor­tar & Pes­tle Pro­duc­tions). Two young men mur­der a class­mate just for the thrill in this 1929 play based on true events. To Oct 27, Thu-Sat 8 pm. $20 sug­gested do­na­tion. Ger­rard Art Space, 1475 Ger­rard E. mor­tarand­pestlepro­duc­tions.com. the royale by Marco Ramirez (Soulpep­per). Play based on the true story of heavy­weight cham­pion Jack John­son. (See re­view at nowtoronto.com/stage.) To Nov 11, see web­site for times. $36-$97. Young Cen­tre for the Per­form­ing Arts, 50 Tank House. 416-8668666, soulpep­per.ca. nnn (Glenn Sumi) the­ory by Nor­man Ye­ung (Tar­ragon Theatre). A young pro­fes­sor’s free-speech ex­per­i­ment turns into a threat­en­ing and abu­sive cat-and­mouse game. To Nov 25, Tue-Sat 8 pm, mat Sun (and some Sat) 2:30 pm. $22-$60. Ex­traS­pace. Tar­ragon Theatre, 30 Bridg­man. 416531-1827, tar­ragonthe­atre.com. toronto ColD reaDS Read­ings of new writ­ing for film, theatre & ra­dio hit the stage for the first time, plus a mu­si­cal guest. To Dec 16, Sun­days 8 pm. Pwyc. The So­cial Cap­i­tal Theatre, 154 Dan­forth. 416-903-5388, so­cap.ca.

the wolveS by Sarah DeLappe (How­land ñ

Com­pany/Crow’s Theatre). DeLappe’s riv­et­ing 2016 play about a high school girls’ soc­cer team can be en­joyed as a re­fresh­ingly re­al­is­tic de­pic­tion of mil­len­nial young women as in­di­vid­u­als. Yet she also uses the team as a mi­cro­cosm of so­ci­ety to ex­am­ine the ten­sions be­tween rules and per­sonal free­dom. Un­der Court­ney Ch’ng Lan­caster’s pre­cise, in­ci­sive di­rec­tion, the nine ac­tors play­ing the team work as a uni­formly su­perb ensem­ble in this grip­ping pro­duc­tion of a bril­liantly con­ceived, ur­gently rel­e­vant play. To Oct 27, Thu-Sat 8 pm, mat Sat 2 pm. $22-$50. Street­car Crowsnest, 345 Car­law. crow­sthe­atre.com. nnnn (Christo­pher Hoile) 3

haDriaN by Ru­fus Wain­wright and Daniel MacIvor (Cana­dian Opera Com­pany). Four Sea­sons Cen­tre (145 Queen West). Runs to Oc­to­ber 27. $35-$350. 416-363-8231. See Con­tin­u­ing, page 29. Rat­ing: NNN

Greek and Ro­man fig­ures are com­mon­place in the op­er­atic canon, but rarely do we see two guys tear­ing off their robes, ca­vort­ing in bed and mak­ing out, while groups of semi-nude men pose se­duc­tively on the pe­riph­ery.

Ru­fus Wain­wright’s Hadrian, much more am­bi­tious and un­even than his de­but, Prima Donna, seems de­ter­mined to add an overtly queer story to the art form.

That’s a noble goal, and it’s re­fresh­ing to see a same-sex nar­ra­tive play out – and sing out – on the stage of the Four Sea­sons, but it’s a shame the work isn’t bet­ter struc­tured.

The Ro­man Em­peror Hadrian (Thomas Hamp­son) is ill and griev­ing the death of his lover Anti­nous (Isa­iah Bell) when he’s vis­ited by two deities, Plotina (Karita Mat­tila) and Tra­jan (Roger Honey­well), who grant him reen­act­ments of two nights with Anti­nous if he signs some doc­u­ments that will de­stroy the Jews, and hence cut off the rise of monothe­ism.

The next two acts chron­i­cle those nights – one ec­static, one tragic – be­fore Hadrian dies, soon to be fol­lowed by the Ro­man Em­pire it­self (cuz we know how that turns out).

That grand story sounds fine on paper, but Wain­wright and li­bret­tist Daniel MacIvor fail to in­form us of Hadrian’s im­por­tance – oh yeah, there’s some­thing called Hadrian’s Wall, isn’t there? – un­til the man’s fi­nal mo­ments.

In most op­eras, a cho­rus or se­condary char­ac­ter fills in the hero’s back­story early on and teases out the com­pli­ca­tions to come.

But in this weirdly paced work di­rected by Pe­ter Hin­ton, the nom­i­nal male leads – Hadrian and his boy toy, who has saved him from be­ing gored by a boar – are pas­sive and un­der­de­vel­oped, while the women around them, par­tic­u­larly Plotina and Hadrian’s un­der­stand­ably frus­trated wife, Sabina (Am­bur Braid), up­stage them and give voice to their emo­tions in dra­mat­i­cally vivid mu­sic.

Dra­mat­i­cally vivid, but a lit­tle in­con­gru­ous. Plotina, sung by the sil­very-toned Mat­tila, has mu­sic that makes her seem like the god­dess of the Amer­i­can South.

With that im­bal­ance, and no scene to con­vince us of the men’s love, the tragedy at the cen­tre of the opera feels hol­low.

In fact, the opera could al­most be called Sabina, since Braid is given the most ex­cit­ing mu­sic and has the big­gest char­ac­ter arc in the show. (There are shades of Verdi’s Am­neris to her.)

Braid vaults through the score like an Olympian, her high notes ac­cu­rate and thrilling, her emo­tion pal­pa­ble. (She also looks fab­u­lous in Gil­lian Gal­low’s sump­tu­ous cos­tumes.)

Else­where, David Leigh’s Turbo, Hadrian’s friend and mil­i­tary leader, com­mu­ni­cates au­thor­ity and pas­sion with his boom­ing, per­sua­sive bass.

The score is also un­even. Bell gets a lovely solo in the sec­ond act, with an in­trigu­ing cas­cade of sounds rum­bling be­neath his pure vo­cal line. An entr’acte is rhyth­mi­cally ex­cit­ing. But the piece lacks a con­sis­tent mood or tone.

There’s a de­cent opera buried be­neath the kitsch in the present ver­sion. Wain­wright and MacIvor need to ex­ca­vate it and find the heart of the story.

gleNN SUMi

Isa­iah Bell makes a splash in Hadrian.

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