Hart House Theatre at the University of Toronto St. George Campus is in the midst of its 2016-2017 season! They’re currently presenting Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Carly Chamberlain. This is a great season to check out the theatre that’s been running strong since 1919! It is a beautifully intimate space where audiences can feel closer to the cast during performances, and was revitalized in 2000.
I’d like to clarify that Hart House Theatre is a professional theatre company and not a student run playhouse. This is a cast of professionals who are dedicated to their craft, and have come from various parts of the country. Many of these actors have graduate degrees in their field, and have spent numerous years’ abroad learning with international directors, crews, and companies, and many of the Hart House Theatre cast have performed in professional theatre throughout Canada.
Now that we’ve settled that, I want to talk a little about the hidden gem that is the Hart House Theatre within such a culturally-savvy city as Toronto. Most people are too quick to brush off this location, not understanding that the development of talent and skill takes place within spaces such as Hart House! This company allows actors, directors, and crews the freedom to push boundaries and try the unconventional and unexpected. If you doubt this to be true, just consider that Hart House Theatre is performing Carrie: The Musical up next in its current season! All the creativity takes place while holding true to what General Manager Doug Floyd calls the “Canadian perspective.”
In Much Ado About Nothing at Hart House Theatre, Director Chamberlain has taken the classic Shakespearean comedy, but focused on the theme of marriage within a very modern context. As a society we’re seeing more and more people choosing not to marry and instead find their place in the world by means of professional development and self-exploration. Chamberlain chose the 1940’s as the backdrop, because it was a time when women were joining the workforce and learning that marriage was not their only option.
Though this is a heavy theme, the play is delightfully lighthearted and full of fun moments! Look out for Dogberry (played by the talented Lesley Robertson) and Verges (Laura Vincent) as they are quite hilarious together. I also have to praise Shalyn McFaul, who plays Beatrice, as she is an incredibly strong lead and really anchors the theme of the play with her confidence and stage presence.
As a University of Toronto alumni, I feel it’s my duty to guide visitors to the St. George Campus through what can undoubtedly be an overwhelming walk into the heart of campus. If you’re taking public transit and looking for the most convenient route, please take the 94 Wellesley bus that stops at Tower Road on Hoskins Avenue, just north of Hart House. If you’re looking to make a date of it, check out the Arbor Room too! This great little eatery serves delicious food that caters to all diets, is conveniently located to the right of the main entrance of Hart House Theatre and they have live jazz performances on Friday evenings from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Much Ado About Nothing at Hart House Theatre runs until November 19, 2016. Tickets are Adults $28, Seniors $17 and Students $15. On Wednesdays, student admission is $12 so make sure to book your tickets online, and then pick them up the day of the show at the Hart House Theatre Box Office! Enjoy!