Stage Door News

Barrie: Talk Is Free Theatre brings its acclaimed production of “La Bête” to Toronto March 2-16

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Fresh off a successful three-production tour to Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Talk Is Free Theatre (TIFT) is back in Canada and returning to a Toronto stage this March. And after having transferred several of their hit musical theatre achievements to the 416 in recent years (Assassins, Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, all to major acclaim), this time they will be showing up with a play.

The Barrie-based company will take its smash production of David Hirson’s La Bête to the Harbourfront Centre Theatre, with performances taking place March 2-16, 2024 (official opening March 4). The play stars Mike Nadajewski and is directed by Dylan Trowbridge, and enjoyed a sold-out run in Barrie early last year.

In a comic whirlwind of high style, La Bête tells the story of Elomire, a 17th century French playwright, and his touring acting troupe who have come to lead the high life due to the patronage of the fickle Princess of Conti. Sparks fly when Valere, a swaggering braggart with delusions of artistic grandeur, becomes the Princess's choice to join Elomire's troupe. Written entirely in rhyming couplets, it is a battle of wits and witticisms as Valere and Elomire face off in this outrageous commentary on the nature of art and the artist in society.

La Bête’s Broadway bow in 1991 may not have been very well received–having played only twenty-five performances–but in London’s West End the following year, it was nominated for several Laurence Olivier Awards and won for Best New Comedy. A star-studded Broadway revival in 2010 was much more fruitful than its first New York run, and the play has enjoyed much success in regional theatres ever since.

TIFT Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak shares, “we chose La Bête in part because, as an unapologetically artist-driven company, its themes surrounding creating art as an ensemble strongly resonate with the overarching work TIFT has been doing for over twenty years.”

For director Trowbridge, a Stratford and Shaw Festival veteran, the play is as important for artists as it is for those who come see it:

“At its core La Bête is about belonging… Like Valere, we want to be a part of a team. We long to connect with others, creating work that goes beyond our own limits. It is a play about the tenacity of artists, the challenges of creativity, the burden of perfectionism and the joy of collaboration.”

The cast is comprised of players familiar to TIFT audiences in Barrie and Toronto alike. Stratford, Shaw and TIFT regular Nadajewski will reprise his role as Valere, with Cyrus Lane (Dora winner for his role in TIFT’s Sweeney Todd in 2022) taking on Elomire and Richard Lam (Bad Hats/Soulpepper’s Alice in Wonderland) playing Béjart. Also returning to the cast are Amelia Sargisson (2023 Dora nominee for Crow’s Theatre’s Red Velvet) as Princess Conti, Katarina Fiallos as Dorine, Amy Keating, Madelyn Kriese, Justan Myers and Courtenay Stevens.

The production at Harbourfront Centre Theatre will be managed by Erik Richards, with original set design by Joe Pagnan, assistant set design and props by JB Nelles, costumes by Laura Delchiaro, lighting by Jeff Pybus, and sound design by James Smith (who appeared in the 2018 Soulpepper production). Tess Benger will assist director Trowbridge.

For over twenty years, TIFT has specialized in unexpected, drastic re-imaginings of established works, neglected classics and new creations. Founded by Spivak and colleagues, TIFT develops and produces a wide range of work from the periphery of the mainstream, emphasizing the development and production of off-centre, story-driven musicals and new types of site-specific, immersive creation, among others.

In addition to producing theatre, TIFT has developed significant Service Projects designed to care for artists and their well-being, including Artist BIG, ARCS, Childcare Subsidy, and Two-Way Mentorship. TIFT also expands accessibility of the art form to communities across the country and around the world through their Canadian Musical Theatre Database and ARIA Translation Glasses projects.

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La Bête

By David Hirson

Starring Mike Nadajewski

Directed by Dylan Trowbridge


March 2 – March 16, 2024


Harbourfront Centre Theatre

SCHEDULE (Approximate Running Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission)

Saturday, March 2, 8 p.m. (preview)

Monday, March 4, 8 p.m. (opening night)

Friday, March 8, 8 p.m.

Saturday, March 9, 8 p.m.

Monday, March 11, 8 p.m.

Thursday, March 14, 8 p.m.

Friday, March 15, 8 p.m.

Saturday, March 16, 2 p.m.


Premium Seats: $79 + HST; Regular Seats: $49 + HST; Artist Rate: $29.50 + HST (must show proof at pick-up, must be picked up at box office; rate applies to Regular Seats only)

Purchase here: or call 416-973-4000

Photo: Mike Nadajewski as Valere. © 2023 Scott Cooper.