How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying – The Musical Comedy

Even though the original material is decades old, the general story behind “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” is timeless; juggling career & love aspirations while climbing to the top of the corporate ladder.
Perfectly on trend to fit into today’s Mad Men styled retro chic the musical plays u p the humour in an innocent manner as the comedy of errors and good fortune unfolds. This revival garnered much attention upon it’s debut in spring 2011 by featuring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) in the lead role of J Pierrepont Finch the young window washer who aspires for a seat inside the corner office, rather than hanging outside the window looking in.
Following Radcliffe with a run by Darren Criss (Glee) and now by Nick Jonas (Jonas Brothers) plays the lead.  Beau Bridges has taken over for Tony nominee John Larroquette as J.P. Biggley the boss of World Wide Widgets, and Michael Urie (Ugle Betty) is Biggley’s smarmy nephew and Finch’s prime nemesis Bud Frump.  The lovely Stephanie Rothenberg, makes her Broadway debut as the love interest/secretary Rosemary Pilkington.
The play opens with Finch hanging from his window washer’s harness reading his “How To Succeed In Business” book, which is narrated by Anderson Cooper throughout the performance. Each chapter of the book helps get Finch one step closer to achieving his desired level of success.  As one expects in a comedy things rarely go smoothly but, like water off a ducks back, none of the misfortune ever seems to stick to Finch.  Although the songs and dialogue may at times seem dated, that adds to the quaint and kitchy humour.  Jonas amiably provides the linchpin holding the show and audience (including many, many young Jonas Brothers fans) in the palm of his hand.  Already a broadway veteran having appeared in Beauty and The Beast, Les Miserables and Annie Get Your Gun before joining this production. Michael Park, understudy to Beau Bridges, performed the role of Finch’s boss.  The slapstick and comedy are well-timed and choreographed throughout the show, some of the numbers work the cast into a sweat, especially considering the heavy suits and sweaters the men wear.
The show culminated in the big production number featuring most of the cast and ensemble for “Brotherhood Of Man”.  How To Succeed is a fun show that’s definitely worth a viewing if you get the chance.
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying is now playing at Al Hirshfeld Theatre at 302 West 45th Street New York.

The Silicone Diaries

A mesmerizing one woman show now playing at The Cultch, The Silicone Diaries tells the story of Nina Arsenault’s evolution from a 5 year old little boy in awe of the womanly naked figure of a mannequin in a department store to the post-surgical figure of a living mannequin. Rather than being a gender study, or transgender as it were, the Diaries’ entries, as told by the author herself, delve more into her seemingly never-ending quest for perfect beauty.  Part colourful drama and part controversial comedy, while Arsenault recalls the problems, people and procedures in her journey with a very controlled calm voice, her eyes give away an emotional depth that attempts to pull her into a dark abyss. Her voice breaks and and eyes water as she relives more recent memories along her voyage to silicone enhanced splendor. More humour seems to accompany the past memories, perhaps because hindsight has made her recall them with more fondness.
Relive your own memories and learn a good lesson about being happy within your own skin

The Silicone Diaries is playing nightly at The Cultch until February 25.

Beauty & The Beast – Roars into Vancouver

Be Our Guest!
That is probably one of the best loved songs and definitely a centerpiece of NETworks production of Disney’s Beauty & The Beast, now playing at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver.
The audience of young and old seemed to enjoy reliving memories of the Academy Award Best Picture nominated Disney film, from which the musical is based, on opening night Wednesday Feb 8.
Transforming an animated classic into a live theatre production is no easy task but the production keeps the set simple and effective, allowing the audience to fill in the blanks when creating Belle’s provincial village or The Beast’s imposing castle. The grand Busby Berkley style set piece for “Be Our Guest” is over the top fun. An ever-changing set and multitude of costume changes for the chorus as they switch from portraying the flatware to the dishes to salt & pepper shakers. The explosion of confetti at the end of the song was a highlight for many of the children in the audience.
Bringing the characters to life on stage is even more difficult and it’s here where the production was a little uneven. Some characters were spot on renditions and truly brought the animated character to life. Particularly good were Logan Denninghoff as Gaston and Michael Haller as Lumiere, both were able to bring personality to a two dimensional character, both of whom could easily become overly camp renditions. Their crisp portrayals overshadowed some of the other players when on stage. Andrew Kruep as Le Fou put in a very good effort but since he’s the sidekick of Gaston he’s always (partially intentional) in the shadow.
Belle is played amiably and sung beautifully by Emily Behny, she would have been a standout if not for the fact that she was mostly performing opposite the production’s weakest character, The Beast.  Dane Agostinis’ Beast felt weak and unimposing, the complete opposite to what was expected. Having The Beast’s solo ballad “If I Can’t Love Her” (not in the movie) follow the huge production of ‘Be Our Guest’ left it feeling like an after thought stuck in before the intermission.  While the character is supposed to go through the most change in the story, The Beast wavers between angry bravado and a camp Cowardly Lion, as the second act continues he does find his footing as he falls in love with Belle and the kind hearted Beast seems to be a more comfortable fit for the actor. Being opening night a few bugs are expected but this production seemed to have very few, the only issue seemed to be some ‘muddy’ sound during the bigger numbers when the entire chorus was singing and volumes overlapping each other. Overall Disney’s Beauty And The Beast is a fun, entertaining evening of theatre good for the whole family.  It may be ‘a tale as old as time’ but is only around for a short time in Vancouver, get your tickets and see it before it ends February 12th.

What’s On Weekend – January 26 – 29, 2012

Hard to believe we’re already one month into 2012!

Here’s what’s happening!

Ongoing:
– held over until Jan 28th at The Cultch, Blackbird Theatre are presenting Waiting For Godot
– ongoing at Vancouver Art Gallery until until Jan 29th, “Shore, Forest & Beyond: art from the Audain Collection”, one of the most important private holdings of BC artists
– see the bright lights at MOV: Museum of Vancouver with their ongoing exhibit Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver
Vancouver Playhouse’s production of the Tony Award winning play Red runs until February 4th.
– Canadian, First Nations & international arts and music performances fill the city as PuSh Festival takes over until Feb 4th
– The Arts Club Theatre & PuSh Festival present Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantana runs until Feb 11th

Thursday Jan 26th
– opening tonight and running until Feb 26th, The Arts Club presents an adaptation of the film Calendar Girls.
– the Rickshaw Theatre has alt-rockers Concrete Blonde on their stage.
– Electric Owl hosts Brit band Fujiya & Miyagi
– for some evening entertainment, see the male dancers get their “Junk” out at Oasis Ultra Lounge

Friday Jan 27th
– Boulevard Casino welcomes Canadian Celtic sensations The Rankin Family
– SWAK Presents brings Humans to The Biltmore Cabaret
– start your evening with some entertainment from the great Joan-E and Raye Sunshine at SnapDRAGon at Oasis Ultra Lounge on Davie.
– stay later or return to Oasis for the new Gay’er Friday with DJ Jeffery Michael

Saturday Jan 28th
– the brilliant punk duo The Pack A.D. are at the Rickshaw Theatre

Do you have an event or opening to include in the next What’s on Weekend? Comment or email me to be included!

What’s On Weekend – January 19 – 22, 2012

What is up this weekend?

Ongoing:
– ongoing until Jan 21st at The Cultch, Blackbird Theatre are presenting Waiting For Godot
– ongoing at Vancouver Art Gallery until Jan 22nd is “Distance Between You & Me” works from 3 contemporary artists from Vancouver, LA and Guadalajara. Plus until Jan 29th, “Shore, Forest & Beyond: art from the Audain Collection”, one of the most important private holdings of BC artists
– see the bright lights at MOV: Museum of Vancouver with their ongoing exhibit Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver
Vancouver Playhouse’s production of the Tony Award winning play Red runs until February 4th.
– Canadian, First Nations & international arts and music performances fill the city as PuSh Festival takes over until Feb 4th

Thursday Jan 19th
– opening tonight as part of PuSh Festival Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantana runs until Feb 11th
City & Colour opens the first of two nights at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre
– LA soul outfit Fitz & the Tantrums rock the Commodore Ballroom
– get a little naughty (or at least learn how to be) at the Taboo, Naughty…but Nice Show on at the Vancouver Convention Centre from tonight until Jan 22nd
– for some evening entertainment, see the male dancers get their “Junk” out at Oasis Ultra Lounge

Friday Jan 20th:

– Disney pop group Allstar Weekend brings their teen pop to the Vogue Theatre
– Comedian Bob Saget brings his blue humour to River Rock Show Theatre
– start your evening with some entertainment from the great Joan-E and Raye Sunshine at SnapDRAGon at Oasis Ultra Lounge on Davie.
– stay later or return to Oasis for the new Gay’er Friday with DJ Jeffery Michael
Five-Sixty plays host to the Taboo After Party “A Lingerie Affair”

Saturday Jan 21th:

– legend Tony Bennett swings into the River Rock Show Theatre
– the Biltmore Cabaret presents Hard Drugs, Weather Pines & Johny Wakeham

What’s on weekend – Jan 5-7, 2012

Happy New Year!
Here we are with the busy Holiday season behind us and already a week into 2012.

Thursday Jan 5th:
– ongoing until Jan 21st at The Cultch, Blackbird Theatre are presenting Waiting For Godot
– MOV: Museum of Vancouver has a Curator’s Talk and Tour of their current exhibit Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver
– for some evening entertainment, see the male dancers get their “Junk” out at Oasis

Friday Jan 6th:
– ongoing at Vancouver Art Gallery until Jan 22nd is “Distance Between You & Me” works from 3 contemporary artists from Vancouver, LA and Guadalajara. Plus until Jan 29th, “Shore, Forest & Beyond: art from the Audain Collection”, one of the most important private holdings of BC artists
– Biltmore Cabaret & Beat Route Magazine present an evening of music from Dead Voices, Hard Feelings and The Radii at The Biltmore.

Saturday Jan 7th:
– comedian Demetri Martin brings the laughs to The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts
– The Vogue Theatre stage welcomes The Jim Cuddy Band

Blood Brothers – Arts Club Theatre

Now playing at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage, Blood Brothers is a tale of nature vs nurture told in a musical retelling of the Alexandre Dumas tale, The Corsican Brothers.  Set initially in the working class industrial slums of 1960’s Liverpool the first act centers around single-mother of 7, Mrs Johnstone who, barely able to feed her family, works as a cleaner for the wealthy but childless, Mr & Mrs Lyons.  Finding out she is pregnant with twins, she is distraught at the prospect of two more mouths to feed, so reluctantly she agrees to secretly give one twin away to Mrs Lyons. This begins the diverse upbringing of the two boys, one in poverty, the other in privilege. However, different their circumstances they still manage to find each other and become “blood brothers” and best friends. Their live intertwine for the next 20 years until they meet a tragic and fateful demise brought about by their mothers; one in an attempt to separate them and the other to bond them.
The Willy Russell musical was first brought to the stage in London in 1983 when the poverty of 60’s and recession of the 80’s, as represented in the play, were still fresh in people’s memories. This production’s stage design well represent these eras and the cast do a valiant job of keeping their accents authentic to the region and class. Leads Terra C. MacLeod as Mrs Johnstone and John Mann (Spirit of the West) as Narrator provide  anchors to the production, each contributing strong vocals and presence when onstage, which is most of the time.  Adam Charles and Shane Snow play separated twins Eddie Lyons and Mickey Johnstone both doing capable jobs as they age from 7 to 20.  With the entire cast made up of just 12 players they almost all do double duty playing multiple parts of the ensemble.  While the staging and eras are no longer up to date the story is timeless and told in a timeless manner and provides an enjoyable evening out.

Blood Brothers runs until December 31, 2011 at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone 604.687.1644