ryan g. hinds
Ryan G. Hinds has stage presence. He is one of those performers who can command the Hell out of an audience just by standing onstage and looking at them. He is fierce. He is cool. He is fabulous. His new show Starry Notions plays as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival through July 11, 2015.
In Starry Notions Hinds mentions that there is not often a lot of Cabaret featured in the Fringe Festival, and he is right, and so it’s wonderful to have his show in this year’s Festival and hopefully it will encourage the audience that patronizes theatre, music and dance the rest of the year to check out more of Toronto’s vibrant Cabaret scene in the future. Cabaret is an ideal medium for Hinds, who shines the brightest in a number like “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (from The Little Mermaid) where he revels in the campiness, while also doing such justice to Pat Carroll’s original. His talent in storytelling and expressing the emotional journey through song is most apparent in his rendition of “The Origin of Love” from Hedwig & The Angry Inch.
Hinds’ stories in the beginning of the show are fun and light-hearted, but his best interaction with the audience is his witty, improvised banter. Yet, the show takes a wildly unexpected dark and serious, turn at the end, leaving us with a heartbreaking final number and a sobering story to reflect upon. It seems fitting that we are caught off guard, because it is easy, I think, for many of us to become complacent about how far we have come regarding equal LGTBQ rights, lulled by the frivolity of someone fabulous singing Evita and groundbreaking musicals like Hedwig and the slice of life that we know in the theatre community in Toronto, yet it’s important to remember that although things have gotten better, we are still far from where we need to go.
There are so many great aspects of Starry Notions, and I think that there is room for it to be tightened up even more, perhaps with the addition of a director, mostly to give a little bit more definitive shape to Hinds’ movements while singing and also to shape a the arc in some of the stories, giving a little more power to the punchlines. There are also a few instances where the band (Mark Selby, Julian Clarke and Jeff Deegan), who play like rockstars and are wonderful, drown out some of Hinds’ lyrics.
In all, Starry Notions is a poignant piece of Cabaret, heartfelt and funny and full of a personality that invigorates the room.
TWISI FRINGE RATING:
Starry Notions plays at the Annex Theatre (736 Bathurst Street) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:
July 05 at 09:15 PM buy tickets
July 08 at 12:00 PM buy tickets
July 09 at 07:30 PM buy tickets
July 10 at 12:00 PM buy tickets
July 11 at 05:45 PM buy tickets