Arts & Entertainment
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Next Stage Festival’s 2012 lineup puts queer theatre front and centre

Living with Henry, Loving the Stranger return to Toronto stage

Living with Henry returns to the stage in January after two successful festival runs this summer. Credit: Courtesy Beyond Boundaries Theatre

Queer indie theatre hits Living with Henry and Loving the Stranger will be among the shows programmed at the 2012 Next Stage Theatre Festival, organizers announced Monday morning.

The festival, which runs Jan 4 to 15 at the Factory Theatre, presents new and remounted plays by artists who’ve had success at the Toronto Fringe Festival. In its first four seasons, Next Stage has established a reputation for spotlighting great emerging talents and has garnered a total of 15 Dora Award nominations.
The eight shows forming the 2012 season include a healthy dollop of queer stories and artists.
Beyond Boundary Theatre’s musical Living with Henry, which debuted at the Toronto Fringe this summer, features superstar Ryan Kelly as Michael, a man who’s recently tested HIV-positive, as he learns to cope with the daily fears and realities of living with HIV, personified as the titular unwelcome guest. The show won rave reviews, sold out its Fringe run, and went on to a further sell-out run as part of the Best of Fringe series at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
Alistair Newton’s Loving the Stranger, or How to Recognize an Invert returns after a well-received run at the 2010 Summerworks Festival. The dazzling cabaret spectacle and satire traces a path from gay 1920s Berlin to the Nazi persecution of homosexuals to recent gay rights struggles in Canada and the US while telling the story of artist Peter Flinsch, a gay survivor of the Nazis.
Queer artists contributing to other shows include Jeffery Straker, composer of the teen musical The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go!, a loving spoof of 1960s beach party movies that also debuted at this year’s Fringe Festival. And Anders Yates returns as part of the long-form sketch comedy troupe Uncalled For in the hilarious and award-winning Hypnogogic Logic. Uncalled For has been earning high praise at the Toronto Fringe for the last few years and recently picked up the Just for Laughs Award at the Montreal Fringe Festival.
The sexual politics of heterosexuals is also a recurring theme of the shows on the Factory Theatre’s more intimate studio stage. Kat Sandler’s LoveSexMoney weaves an intriguing tale about a young woman who auctions her virginity online; Jessica Moss’s one-woman show, Modern Love, looks at how relationships are formed in the information age; and Jules Lewis’s play Tomasso’s Party examines the power dynamics, jealousy and vulnerability of a young couple.   

The full schedule will be posted on on Nov 15.