BY SARA BURNSIDE-MENUCK & STEPHANIE YOUNG
The arrival of autumn signals the beginning of cooler weather in Toronto; it also heralds the annual deluge of new theatre productions set to inundate the city’s many playhouses. This season’s lineup boasts offerings big and small(er), from grandiose spectacles like a new production of Les Misérables to unflinching plays like Yukonstyle—which looks at tough decisions taken in Canada’s rugged north—to locally inflected shows such as George F. Walker’s Moss Park. Below, we’ve gathered a vast selection of this fall’s tack-sharp comedies, thought-provoking dramas, and rousing musicals. Each one could have you laughing, contemplating, or even tearing up; all of them are sure to leave you in awe of Toronto’s massive stage scene.
STARTS SEPTEMBER 27 Do you hear the people sing? In Toronto, you will once more as Les Misérables returns to the stage. Arguably the world’s most popular musical, this story of an ex-convict, his young ward, and the police inspector bent on hunting them down—set against the backdrop of 19th-century France—is an epic yet intimate tale of the endurance of the human spirit. Starring Ramin Karimloo in the iconic role of Jean Valjean, the production has been fully revamped for its latest run, with new staging and sets inspired by original Les Mis novelist Victor Hugo’s paintings. Princess of Wales Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 1:30 p.m., $35 to $130; call 416-872-1212 or visit mirvish.com to buy.
SEPTEMBER 27 TO NOVEMBER 16 Affable librarian Norman has arranged a racy weekend away from his wife. But when she unexpectedly arrives on the scene, Norman’s R-rated retreat turns into a series of frantically comedic arguments and impassioned trysts. Staged by Soulpepper Theatre Company and starring Albert Schultz as the titular protagonist, Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests tells its dysfunctional tale in a trio of plays, each featuring a different perspective. Though the unique shows can be enjoyed individually, you’ll want to get the whole hilarious story by seeing all three. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m., $32 to $68; call 416-866-8666 or visit soulpepper.ca for showtimes and more information.
OCTOBER 8 TO 24 Based on the real-life actions of the “Angel of Belsen,” Royal Air Force Officer Ted Aplin, one-man-show And Stockings for the Ladies tells of more than 20 individuals, from military men to small children, associated with a liberated concentration camp in World War II–era Germany. With the help of papier-mâché puppets, Canadian actor Brendan McMurtry-Howlett evokes an impressive array of settings and situations, drawing attention to one of the Canadian military’s lesser-known heroes and the lives he touched. Toronto Centre for the Arts, $41.28 to $75.68; call 1-855-985-2787 or visit hgjewishtheatre.com for showtimes and additional information.
OCTOBER 10 TO NOVEMBER 10 Everyone’s favourite October musical has its sixth annual staging at the Lower Ossington Theatre. Adapted from the 1970s original, the LOT’s prouction of The Rocky Horror Show tells of a newly engaged couple who stumble upon a series of unusual events after encountering a mad scientist and his peculiar group of friends. This fresh rendition brews even more excitement into the beloved horror-comedy, making for one engaging concoction you’ll want to see. Don’t get stuck in a time warp: grab tickets in advance. The cult-classic Halloween tradition is sure to sell out fast. Lower Ossington Theatre, Thursday to Sunday 8 p.m., $39 to $49; call 416-915-6747 or click here to buy.
OCTOBER 11 TO NOVEMBER 9 Based on real events, Soulpepper’s Farther West tells of the intimate struggles faced by a young female prostitute in Gold Rush-era Canada. Intended for mature audiences, John Murrell’s story of will and determination—as well as sexuality and feminist ideals—is sure to leave audiences rooting for the main character, May, to overcome her circumstances and live freely again. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, $32 to $68; call 416-866-8666 over click here for showtimes and to buy.