This is definitely Mirvish week for Toronto theatre news. First the big item: queer icon Harvey Fierstein is replacing an injured Chaim Topol in the touring production of Fiddler on the Roof, which Mirvish was bringing to the Canon Theatre in December. While its sad that Topol, who played the lead role in the 1971 film and has been playing the character for almost forty years now, won’t be able to complete his farewell tour, this is a major coup for Toronto theatre. I happened to catch Fierstein in this role on Broadway in 2005, and I can attest to his brilliance in the part. This will be a must-see show.
Also a must-see from Mirvish? August: Osage County, which I told you about last Thursday. It’s only on until Sunday, so make sure you get your tickets now. Wicked dialogue, a gripping story, and a powerful ensemble led by Estelle Parsons make this perhaps the best show I’ve seen on a mainstage in Toronto this year.
As one Mirvish show closes, two others open. My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding began life at the Fringe Festival this summer, and has been in previews all week, but is officially opening on Sunday — I’ll let you know more next week. Also opening is Mirvish’s presentation of Studio 180’s version of Stuff Happens by David Hare — a tough look at the decision makers leading up to the Iraq war.
And finally in Mirvish-related news, the Toronto Fringe announced this week a new partnership with Mirvish and the Randolph Academy that will see the Festival launch a new headquarters situated around the grounds of Honest Ed’s at Bathurst and Bloor. The loading dock behind the giant store will be the site of an enormous beer tent and performance space, complete with Honest-Ed-like lit up signs guiding people in from Bloor St. And just across the street, the Randolph Academy will host three new performance spaces — including the Bathurst St Theatre, the Annex theatre, and a studio space, as well as the new ticketing booth. This will create a large central hub for the festival for the first time in years, and also allow the Fringe to dump some of the less desirable venues on the University of Toronto campus from its program. Rumour has it the Glen Morris Studio theatre and the Robert Gill Theatre are first on the festival’s chopping block.
In queer theatre news this week, it’s all Nina, Nina, Nina, Nina. Nina Arsenault’s The Silicone Diaries gets a new production at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, directed by new Buddies Artistic Director Brendan Healy. The show has two special “industry preview” performances this weekend before officially opening on Wednesday, which is actually quite brilliant marketing, even if it does seem to have confused Richard Ouzounian. Again, more on this next week.