jeff leard

Nancy's MUST-SEE List at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival


Long before I caught up with all my old friends at the Ottawa Fringe Festival and realized that I was not done with the hanging out, I had decided I would be heading down to the Toronto Fringe for one reason in particular. Well, two reasons actually.

My love for clown sisters Morro and Jasp is well-documented in this blog. I own a t-shirt, a cookbook and have seen every single one of their productions - even the tiny one in a props room at the Arts Court during Subdevision in Ottawa and Morro's Sorrow, a little seen one-person bit at the Big Comedy Go-To in London - except one: Morro and Jasp do Puberty. As luck would have it, the duo got into the Toronto Fringe ahead of their Edinburgh premiere and so I am heading down this weekend to finally catch it.

But that means I have a whole weekend to see a whole bunch of other shows too! Again, please remember this is a personal list. My tastes may not be your own and, to be fair, I haven't seen any of the shows below (more on that later). So without further ado, here's what else I'm hoping to see:

The Inventor of All Things Jem Rolls was at the Ottawa Fringe this year, but I put off seeing it once I heard he was going to be in Toronto but NOT in the program. You see, his show is a very late addition to the festival so unless you're using the website or the app to get your information, you'll have no idea that it's even happening. It's difficult enough to get people to see your show without having to fight with the promotional materials. Plus Jem is a regular on the festival circuit for a reason and I hear this show is his best one yet! It opens tonight at 10:30 p.m. Go see it!

Jem even has a real poster now! Well, real for Jem.

Caws & Effect Do you have any idea how long I have been waiting to see this show? I toured with these awesome ladies all last year and never got to see it because it was always sold out. Yes, I am buying a ticket in advance. And you should too. But only after I get mine.

SwordPlay: A Play of Swords Sex T-Rex's Watch Out, Wildcat! was one of my favorite shows last year. I really can't wait to see what this one is all about. Also Alec Toller is a kickass director who told his parents to let me sleep in his room in Ottawa when I was on tour and had no place to stay. Full disclosure: he was not there at the time so it wasn't awkward at all!

Peter n' Chris present: Here Lies Chris Apparently Chris dies in this one, so you better see it now before it becomes just Peter n'.

pool (no water) Not only did my previous company, Evolution Theatre, do this show in Ottawa a few years ago, this one is choreographed by Patricia Allison, the amazing lady behind my sweet sweet dance moves in Roller Derby Saved My Soul.

Let's Start A Country! I missed this one when I was at Zoofest a few years ago in Montreal and I was really sorry I did. This somewhat improvised production features Gerard Harris, Al Lafrance, the divine Holly Gauthier-Frankel, and they've traded in Shane Adamczak for Zach Zultana himself, Jeff Leard.

Lust & Marriage On my first tour in 2009, I met the wonderful Eleanor O'Brien and her caravan of super amazing women in Winnipeg where they performed Inviting Desire. She was one of the first touring performers to become my friend and we spent many a night drinking fancy cocktails in the caravan they used to live and travel in. I haven't seen her since so I'm incredibly excited for this opportunity now.

Adventures of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl Rebecca Perry, my non-doppelgänger, has gone from Confessions to Adventures in this new show about everyone's favorite musical barrista. Her first show sold out it's run last year so I wouldn't expect anything less this time around. Oh and apparently you don't have to have seen the first one to enjoy this one.

Meet Cute Another show by an awesome lady, Erin Norah Thompson's SLUT, also sold out at last year's Fringe. She's back again with this one and I definitely want to catch it if I can find the time.


With 148 shows at this year's festival, it can be hard to chose what to see. While I haven't seen any of the shows listed above, here are some that I have and can vouch for their enjoyment.

Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo Just saw it in Ottawa and it was the funniest show I saw at the festival.

The Untitled Sam Mullins Project I also just saw this one in Ottawa and it was recently nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for Best One-Person Show.

The Orchid and the Crow Probably my favorite show in Ottawa this year and the winner of the well-deserved Best Solo Performer Award.

2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrows Investigation Do you like puns? Do you like magic? Do you like film noir? Do you like to laugh? If you answered yes to any of these questions go get yourself a dose of Dirk Darrow.

Anatolia Speaks A beautiful little show I caught in Vancouver last year about an immigrant woman addressing her ESL class.

For Body and Light Presents: Coming and Going I think this is the same dance show I caught in Edmonton last year. Though I'm not a huge dance person and so I can't comment on that aspect, I did really love how they incorporated spoken word into the whole piece.

Two Girls, One Corpse An adorable little show, part rom com, part murder she wrote. Supporting my hometown girls will not leave you disappointed.

High Tea These guys sellout, win every award and collect every star there is.

Pretending Things Are a Cock This show is exactly what you think it is. I saw it at Zoofest in Montreal to a packed house. Grab a drink, bring some friends and giggle like you are five years old because everything looks like a penis now.