Canadian Stage is kicking off their Dream in High Park for 2022 with the World Premiere of Dixon Road, an uplifting musical about a Somali family’s journey to Canada in the 90’s during the start of the Somalia Civil War. With Book, Music, and Lyrics by Fatuma Adar, Dixon Road is a joyous celebration of culture that you simply CANNOT miss!

            I was lucky enough to attend the Opening Night of Dixon Road, and while I was thrilled to finally be seeing a show in the High Park Amphitheatre and enjoy seeing a show in the open air, the weather had other ideas. Unfortunately, it started to rain in the middle of Act 1 and so there was a slight rain delay; the irony of the actors singing the lyrics “suck it up and smile” while they’re still performing during a downpour was certainly not lost on those of us in the audience. The crew was speedy, covering up as much as they could to keep the stage as dry as possible. While the rest of Act 1 was done in a concert version for the safety of the actors, the acting and singing was equally as captivating and they truly didn’t miss a beat.

            The music of Dixon Road is an absolute delight. The songs are such a beautiful mix of styles: from R&B to rap, all blended with traditional Somalian drums and melodies; you could hear and feel the clash of cultures which existed within the characters. We were barely two songs in and I was thinking “I need a cast album of this pronto!” I’m still humming “Find Me” around the house. Batoul’s solos in particular really spoke to me; they embody her struggle to find herself not only as an immigrant in a new place but as a young woman with a great deal of discovering left to do. “Pray” and “The Lucky Ones” were other stand-out songs for me, with beautiful harmonies and grounded in such deep emotions, they moved me to tears.

            Dixon Road’s dialogue is eloquently crafted; not a single line feels out of place. Batoul, who wants to become a professional writer, speaks in a constant verse; every sentence a piece to the poem of her thoughts. It stands out in stark contrast to the rest of the dialogue, letting us hear the music of the Somali language as Batoul sees it. That is really what is at the heart of Dixon Road: it gives us a glimpse of what the experiences can be like for newcomers into Canada. We watch as each member of the family deals with their own unique struggles once they’ve arrived, and feel for them as they both long for home but also a chance at a new life.

            All of this is acted out by a superb company of actors lead by Germaine Konji as Batoul and Starr Domingue and Gavin Hope as her Mother, Safiya and Father, Zaki. Their family dynamic was so relatable; the conversation in the song “Practical” is one which I have a feeling most artists have had with their well-meaning parents at one point or another. Rounding out the family are Michael-Lamont Lytle as Abdi, Danté Prince as Yousef, and Shakura S’Aida as Halima. Through them we see the hardships of both coming to Canada and staying in Somalia. Supported by a talented ensemble consisting of Krystle Chance, Omar Forrest, Rose-Mary Harbans, and Travae Williams, Dixon Road is full of power-house performances.

            I cannot stress how important it is to see this production. It helped me see life in this beautiful country from a totally different perspective than I could ever experience myself, which is the true beauty of theatre. Dixon Road runs at the High Part Amphitheatre until June 19 so get your tickets soon! Tickets can be found at Dixon Road / Canadian Stage.


Photo of Germaine Konji as Batoul.

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