Review: The Adventures Of Tom Shadow (Theatre Lab)

Photo of Mark Little, Natalie Metcalfe, Christian Smith, Kevin Vidal and Lisa Gilroy.Tom Shadow  is “charming” and “outrageous,” now on the Toronto stage

As I read through the program for Theatre Lab’s recent venture—The Adventures of Tom Shadow—I notice that they chose to title it a “comedy musical” and not a “musical comedy.” Smart move, because the musical theatre geek in me may have been disappointed with the lack of kick lines. No worries though, because The Adventures of Tom Shadow was everything I could have wanted and more in a “comedy musical,” if those are a thing? Are they a thing? Let’s make them a thing now.

We open to what appears to be a normal, modern family (played by comedians in neutral streetwear) getting ready for bed as they sing the “kissing song,” which to me almost had a “Falsettos” vibe. We’re off to a promising start. All of a sudden…Tom Shadow, who could easily be Peter Pan’s deranged older brother, bursts through the door with promises of fun and adventure for the sleeping children. What follows is a totally twisted yet hilarious story of what happens to the parents of the kids who get “whisked” away to the clouds, literally out of nowhere.

Hint: a last-minute heist in Moscow and an angry mob are involved.

The entire show runs like a musical, while the individual scenes run more like sketches, all of which link together into a full story not unlike a classic musical comedy. In my opinion, The Adventures of Tom Shadow walked the thin line between a sketch show and a musical. You can’t really call it one or another. It truly is a hybrid of the two forms.

The music supports the show well and makes for some funny moments. The songs are definitely what I would call “silly”, with simple lyrics that didn’t cause you to overthink, which is a good thing. In my opinion, the music is perfectly suited to the story and overall “casual” style of the show, so even though the songs were far from being masterpieces, they fit nicely into the chaotic nature of the show itself.

I’ll also say that the cast is pretty damn flawless. Everyone’s ready for action and gives it their all. Special shout out to Mark Little for his masterful skills on the physical humour side of things, as well as Kevin Vidal for his over-the-top portrayal of a Peter Pan on speed.

There’s just one thing that took me out of the moment at times and that was the “awkward humour”-type jokes, which went on a tad too long in my opinion. Comedic timing is so delicate and I felt that a lot of the jokes were milked a bit too much. However, this is a very minor glitch compared to the rest of the show, which proved to be nothing but hilarious.

What I really appreciate about this show is how the cast (who are also the writers) are able to keep up the spirit of a sketch show while also hitting those cheesy musical theatre moments that would make any musical geek swoon (myself included). The story doesn’t lag for a single moment, the music is charming and the cast is simply outrageous.


Photo of Mark Little, Natalie Metcalfe, Lisa Gilroy, Christian Smith and Kevin Vidal provided by the company.