So far, the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival has revealed an embarrassment of riches in unconventional packages. On top of the breakout solo shows and new musicals that populate the Fringe circuit, the Toronto Star’s theatre critics have ventured into more unexpected territory of audio plays, mime and puppetry, braving oppressive humidity and rainstorms along the way.
Here are some of the Star’s favourite Fringe shows, which you can catch before the festival ends Sunday — or before they sell out. All performances are on until July 14.
Drama 101: A New Musical
There has never before been a combination as earnest and pure as the Toronto Fringe, musical theatre and a bunch of passionate teens. Drama 101 is a collaboration between composer Kevin Wong (The Preposterous Predicament of Polly Peel), writer Steven Gallagher (The Last Party) and the youth theatre training company Bravo Academy, which transforms its greatest strength — the enthusiasm of its 14-member cast, all aged between 13 and 19 — into the foundation of the musical’s concept and plot. The students of Drama 101 are throwing a retirement party for their beloved teacher Mrs. Chang and, as preparations continue, each character reveals through song how the class and their love of the performing arts have impacted their lives. Wong and Gallagher weave in musical theatre references including recent teenage obsessions (Dear Evan Hansen, Be More Chill, Hamilton, Wicked) and classics (Guys and Dolls, West Side Story) but have clearly tapped into the true perspectives of their cast: from social anxiety, to romance, to the eternal divide between the actors and the stage crew. Drama 101 is a heartfelt, unapologetic love letter to theatre that belongs to these kids and this festival.