Here are some of the Toronto 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.

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

Written by Kevin Wong and Steven Gallagher. Directed by Gallagher. Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College St.
The young stars of Drama 101: A New Musical, in which the real-life theatre students of Bravo Academy play theatre students planning a party for a beloved teacher. BLAKE CRAWFORD / COURTESY TORONTO FRINGE

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.

—Carly Maga

Night Feed

Written by Sarah Joy Bennett. Created in collaboration with Ginette Mohr and Shawna Reiter. Tarragon Theatre Extraspace, 30 Bridgman Ave.
In Night Feed, a new mother (Corinne Murray) is taunted by objects in her apartment as she breastfeeds her daughter in the middle of the night. DAHLIA KATZ / COURTESY TORONTO FRINGE
Our brains choose the most opportune moments to dwell on our deepest insecurities and overwhelming concerns, don’t they? In Night Feed, Sarah Joy Bennett and her collaborators literally bring these late-night tormentors to life through the bloodshot eyes of a new mother (played by Corinne Murray). In the middle of the night, as she breastfeeds her infant daughter — a puppet created by Reiter, with a hinged mouth designed to latch or scream — objects in her apartment taunt her. Her bike tries to seduce her into a nighttime ride, a clock has an existential crisis, a breast pump coaches her on the cringeworthy transition back to work, dust bunnies copulate behind the couch. Bennett and Mohr are engaging puppeteers who create a dreamlike, sleep-deprived sensation with their physicality and vocals while giving each puppet a unique personality. Murray’s understated performance keeps the show grounded; with a believable mix of exhaustion, anxiety and patience, she cradles her puppet baby with such care that the emotional payoff of the conclusion hits right at home.