A Year In Theatre 2021
Updated: Mar 20, 2022
2021 has been a wild ride in so many ways, especially for those of us who love theatre.
As I look back on my year in theatre, I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to be safely back in the audience in a wide variety of presentations.
Tonight’s post includes all of the stagey events I got to see this year, not just those that were performed live and in person. It includes pre-filmed and streamed productions, movie musicals, live stream events, and of course, my return to an actual theatre.
I know we expected things to be back to normal right now, but since they aren’t, let’s celebrate all the ways theatre has been able to survive and thrive in 2021!
Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical
Remy is a rat with a love of food, passion for cooking, and a dream to become a cook like his hero, Chef Gusteau. Eventually, he makes it to Paris and fulfills his dream with the help of his family and his new friend Linguini, proving that “anyone can cook” .
The first-ever TikTok musical was presented in January by Seaview, in association with TodayTix and TikTok, and was a wonderful virtual fundraiser for The Actor’s Fund.
Lizzie takes the true-crime story of Lizzie Borden, who went to trial as the primary suspect for the murder of her father and stepmother in 1892, and presents it as a punk rock musical starring a cast of four powerhouse women.
Ray Of Light Theatre presented a filmed performance of their 2015 production at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco. The event included a live chat with the original cast, band, and creative team, as well as new performances.
I Stole Satan's Girlfriend
A banal man known as Dan, sits quietly in the park one evening, when he is approached by the wild and sexy extrovert, Lucinda. Her playful, provoking exchange leads them to a one-night stand. Dan has unknowingly found love with Satan’s girlfriend, and the result of their actions is catastrophic. Now Dan has to make things right and restore the world’s natural order.
This Pop Up Theatre production written and directed by Scott McQuaid was presented as a part of Thornhill Theatre Space’s Virtual Fringe Festival.
ROMEO AND JULIET
Shakespeare’s famous tale of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet tells the tale of two feuding families, and their children who fall in love despite it all. The play follows Romeo and Juliet through the magic of first love as they chase their happily ever after all the way to their tragic ending.
Metcalfe Gordon Productions’ debut presentation of a film adaptation of this Shakespeare classic featured expert use of technology.
When virtual designer Michelle gets tired of online dating, she doesn’t give up. She turns it into a game. She creates simple criteria for prospective partners she calls “Manimals”, men who pose with exotic animals in their profile pictures.
Talk Is Free Theatre presented the Canadian premiere of Michelle Hudson’s interactive, virtual production.
The Great Gatsby
As part of its Dinner a La Art series, Talk Is Free Theatre presented a virtual reading of Richard Ouzounian’s new adaptation of The Great Gatsby.
Rock Of Ages All-Star Reunion Concert
For one night only, cast members of multiple productions of Rock Of Ages took the stage at The Bourbon Room in LA (and some were streamed in live from NYC) to celebrate the musical’s 12th anniversary.
I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical
I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical is the perfect show for any theatre-lover, documenting the highs and lows of life as a musical theatre performer. Alexander S. Bermage has created stellar tunes with clever lyrics, provides an inside look at what life is like behind the curtain from college showcases, auditions, stage kisses, understudying, pre-show routines, fans, divas and more!
This musical revue was filmed by Shoot Media, presented by King’s Head Theatre and Spectacular Music as part of King’s Head Theatre’s digital on-demand season: Plays On Film.
IN THE HEIGHTS
The story captures three days in the life of the tightly knit community of Washington Heights, New York. Each inhabitant’s story is linked tightly to their dreams, and is told through Usnavi, owner of the local bodega.
The film is an adaptation of the stage musical of the same name by Quiara Alegría Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is based on a 1907 novel by Roy Horniman. The musical by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak follows Monty Navarro, a very distant heir to a family fortune who sets out to speed up the line of succession using charm (and murder) with all eight heirs meeting their ends in creative ways.
The production was presented by CollaborAzian on Broadway On Demand, with proceeds going directly to Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit coalition that tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and bullying against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
Legacy Of Love
Andrew Polec is a musical theatre performer best known for his time starring as Strat in Bat Out Of Hell in the United Kingdom and North America. You may also recognize him from his time Off-Broadway in The Fantasticks, or from television’s Katy Keene or Prodigal Son. Filmed live at Bucks County Playhouse earlier this year, his solo concert features a variety of different genres, including rock, pop, traditional musical theatre and more!
As the lights change at a major crossroads in a city in the heart of Europe a car grinds to a halt. Its driver can drive no more. Suddenly, without warning or cause, he has gone blind. Within hours it is clear that this is a blindness like no other. This blindness is infectious. Within days an epidemic of blindness has spread through the city. The government tries to quarantine the contagion by herding the newly blind people into an empty asylum. But their attempts are futile. The city is in panic.
Blindness is an adaptation of José Saramago’s dystopian novel of the same name by award-winning playwright Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time). The Donmar Warehouse Production of Blindness, presented by Mirvish Productions onstage at the gorgeous Princess of Wales Theatre.
Into The Woods - In Concert
Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine combines characters from the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm as they pursue their happily ever after and all that comes with it.
Talk Is Free Theatre brought their staged concert version of this musical live to Springwater Provincial Park as part of their Bees In The Bush Festival
Come From Away
Come From Away is set in the days following the 9/11 attacks and tells the true story of what happened in Gander, Newfoundland. When U.S airspace had to close, thirty-eight planes were diverted to the small Canadian town as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. The residents took in 7,000 stranded travelers (more than the population of their town) until they could safely return home.
This version of the show was filmed live at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in May, performed to an audience which included frontline workers and 9/11 survivors, and was presented on AppleTV.
A collaboration between Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, Mahagonny-Songspiel was presented concert style as part of Talk Is Free Theatre’s Bees In The Bush Festival.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie is terrified about the future. He is going to be a sensation. Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.
The musical is based on the real-life story of Jamie Campbell (FiFi LaTrue) and his mother, Margaret.
No Change In The Weather
Peggy O’Brien has died. Her family and friends sneak her corpse out of the funeral home (and tanning salon) and back across the water to her family home, on the unsettled island of God’s Back Pocket. As this brood of body snatchers wake Peggy into the light, a wandering American and newly stationed Constable from Quebec find themselves in the middle of a family racket that exposes decades of pettiness, secrets, and enough familial bad blood to ruin every Christmas for eternity. Estranged brothers, a child of unknown parentage, and a slide show of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most farcical political blunder, Churchill Falls, collide with the supernatural in this outlandish east coast musical that is sure to have you tapping your toes, and shaking your bewildered head.
This musical, hailing from Newfoundland, played a limited run at Mirvish’s CAA Theatre.
tick, tick… BOOM!
The story follows Jonathan Larson, a musical theatre writer who is fast approaching his 30th birthday, and the first workshop presentation of the musical he’s been writing for years.
This film adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographical work was directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and released on Netflix.
West Side Story
Love at first sight strikes when young Tony spots Maria at a high school dance in 1957 New York City. Their burgeoning romance helps to fuel the fire between the warring Jets and Sharks -- two rival gangs vying for control of the streets.
This new film adaptation of the classic musical was directed by Steven Spielberg, with a new screenplay by Tony Kushner.
The Judas Kiss
At the height of his popularity with the triumphant premiere of The Importance of Being Earnest, famed poet and playwright Oscar Wilde is forced to choose between his heart and his freedom as he is targeted for imprisonment, humiliation and destruction by the brutish Marquess of Queensberry.
This Talk Is Free Theatre production was presented at The Five Points Centre for The Arts.
An Evening With Danielle Steers
Danielle Steers, star of Bat Out Of Hell and Six - The Musical, sings songs from her debut album, The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be, as well as some of her favourite musical theatre songs.
The concert, filmed earlier in the year, was presented for streaming by Stream Theatre.
What a wonderful year in the audience it has been, much more incredible than I would have expected! I feel so lucky to have had a front row seat to the return of live theatre in my community.
What did YOU see in 2021?
What do you plan to see in 2022?
Let me know in a comment, and happy new year!