Review: Unwrapped (The Second City Toronto)

Second City’s Unwrapped Made Our Yuletide Bright

The Second City Theatre is packed to brim with people. I wonder how they could squeeze in so many people, as more attendees slip around me. The theatre is roaring with the sound of people laughing, talking and ordering drinks. It’s organized chaos, if I’ve ever seen it. The noise dies down with the lights, and the stage is lit in frosty blue. The Second City troupe files on stage and starts to sing a catchy tune.

This song is more relatable than cheery. It’s about how winter is terrible and you’d be better off at home, which in retrospect is a bit of a mixed message. The singers warn you of the horrible seasonal dangers like blizzards, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and something known as the “Winter Man”. The beat is still stuck in my head, even if the words are a little too dramatic to repeat aloud.

As you may have guessed, the overarching theme of the show is the holiday season. However, the skits that stood out the most to me diverted entirely from the theme. There was the passionate sing-along by cast member Ann Pornel, explaining what the slang “Netflix and Chill” actually means. There was a tense stand-off between two friends about whether they should watch the Oscar-nominated “Selma”. And my absolute favourite was an unexpected dance number to the song “Mama” by the Spice Girls.

Even though I’m partial to random dance numbers, I genuinely appreciated the range of the sketches. Unwrapped delved into darker territory, making serious commentary about  issues like political scandal, racism, and sexual harassment. They expertly walked the line between serious and silly. The point is made, but it’s always palatable.

Unwrapped’s cast includes Roger Bainbridge, Brandon Hackett, Devon Hyland, Lindsay Mullan, Ann Pornel, and Alessandra Vite. The cast works impeccably together. They all had such an infectious energy. My eyes were glued to the stage for the whole time. Most importantly, they were really funny. I was delighted when they said that they would return for an additional set of improv.

The improv was less organized in comparison to the show, but it was equally hilarious. While the sketches were clean-cut, the improv always hit a small snag where the sketch would take a strange turn or a cast member would say the wrong name. They took all these slip-ups in stride, and let the sketches get crazier and crazier. My guest was crying for the whole show. I was sick that day, and my throat was killing me by the end of the show from laughing. I won’t be too upset about the pain.

The cast members were all fantastic. Kudos to director Frank McAnulty, music director Lee Cohen, and stage manager Natalie Moore for putting the show together. When I went to see the show, I was experiencing early onset winter blues and I left elated. I may still be physically sick, but otherwise, I’m cured. Go see Unwrapped. I highly recommend it.


  • Unwrapped is playing until January 1st at The Second City Theatre (51 Mercer Street).
  • Showtimes until January 1st, 2016. Showtimes vary from 2:00pm, 4:30pm, 8:00pm and 10:00pm. You can check the schedule online.
  • Tickets on average are $25. Student and group discounts are available. Tickets can be purchased online or through the box office by calling (416) 343-0011.

Cast photo by Racheal McCaig. From left: Roger Bainbridge, Devon Hyland, Alessandra Vite, Brandon Hackett, Ann Pornel, Lindsay Mullan.