I don’t usually write end-of-year articles (notwithstanding that in 2011 I haven’t written much here at all). However, today’s local theatre in review article in the Free Press omitted almost any mention of London’s independent, school and community theatre productions, and that’s a real shame.
First, though, I do want to call out the Freeps’ inclusion of the Fringe Festival alongside the Grand and Stratford. It’s no secret that I think Fringe productions and performers—both local and from away—have been among the best we see in the city, so I’m glad the paper recognizes the same thing. (One note, though: although the Fringe is indeed a “wild party”, the final highlight listed is actually A Wild Play, by New Jersey-based Odd Act Theatre Group.)
Now, on to some of the 200 productions that form the majority of the theatre presented in London this year, most of it by Londoners themselves.
In its 38th year, London Community Players took an interesting turn away from its recent boomer-oriented fare, most notably with February’s dark-as-night The Duchess of Malfi and November’s The Diary of Anne Frank. On the other end of the spectrum, newcomers Richmond & Tower and “another theatre company” debuted, the former with a fine production of Glengarry Glen Ross and the latter opening Procunier Hall with [title of show].
AlvegoRoot, Fountainhead, Theatre Nemesis and Passionfool continued their unique takes on challenging plays with excellent productions of Uncle Vanya, Macbeth, The Goat, Black Bag: Flowers for the Ripper, Terrorism and Attempts on Her Life. Fanshawe and UWO campuses featured works from Shakespeare (Cupid’s Exchange, an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, and Antony and Cleopatra respectively), Euripides (a modern adaptation of The Trojan Women) and Thomas Middleton (The Revenger’s Tragedy).
London’s smaller theatre festivals (including Purple Shorts, The Big Comedy Go-To, the Playwrights Cabaret and High School Playwrights Cabaret, the London One Act Festival and Oh Solo Mio) highlighted new and award-winning local work as well as showcasing artists from across the country.
And then there were the musicals—White Christmas, Chicago, South Pacific and Evil Dead to name but a few, as well as most of Original Kids’ season and just about every high school production—and the two operas, The Old Maid and the Thief and Le nozze di Figaro.
I don’t disagree with Joe Belanger: London theatre was “a lot of fun” in 2011. But audiences who are “looking forward to 2012” should look around in 2012 too, or they’ll be missing a lot of the fine work that their—our—city has to offer.