Disney’s Beauty and the Beast roars into Arts Club

Who doesn’t start humming the tune and lyrics … ‘tale as old as time’ when they think about Disney’s Beauty and the Beast?  The Arts Club Theatre brings the beloved tale back to the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage for the holiday season for the first time since 2008.  Bill Millerd direct his final holiday show in his final year as Artistic Director of The Arts Club. The Beast, Belle, Gaston, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs Potts and all the other characters you love from the animated Disney classic, bring the music and story, based on the French fairy tale, to the stage.

The smaller Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage creates a more intimate show than other productions of Beauty and The Beast, that I’ve seen.  The intimacy brings a new life to the production, making us all feel like we’re a one of the villagers observing this love story about tolerance and acceptance of your own and other’s differences.  The peculiar girl named Belle is brilliantly played by Shannon Chan-Kent, whose voice fills the room with its power and precision.  With a powerful Belle, The Beast has to be even stronger to be both menacing, sensitive and balance her vocals, Jonathan Winsby definitely fits the bill.  It’s easy to see and hear why he’s played The Beast so often in his career, even behind the heavy mask he brings, humour, charm and compassion to the Beast.   The Beast’s castle is also filled with other lively characters, slowing becoming inanimate, lead by Shawn Macdonald’s officious Cogsworth, Peter Jorgensen’s randy Lumiere and Susan Anderson’s motherly Mrs Potts.  In the village, Belle’s father is the local legend Bernard Cuffling but the real stand out in the production is Kamyar Pazandeh who has managed to create an over-the-top Gaston that is the spitting image of the animated version, physically and vocally Kamyer knocks it out of the theatre.

Being nearly a decade since the last production, Alison Green has created a brand new dynamic set that fills the stage and seamlessly moves action and cast from town to woods to castle.  Scott Augustine adapts the original choreography of Valerie Easton, to this new set and staging.  Easton’s late daughter Amy Wallis was the original Belle and this production is dedicated in the memory of Amy.

If this production wasn’t already top notch, watching the number of children mesmerized by seeing their favourite characters come to life, adds even more to the show for us adults.  Go see it with the whole family!

Disney’s Beauty and The Beast is now playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. The show is so popular, The Arts Club has already extended the run, now playing until January 13, 2018.  For information and tickets visit artsclub.com

5 Plays for the 2017 Holiday Season

O what fun it is to see family friendly live theatre!  Here’s 5 Christmas themed plays that everyone in the family will enjoy this Holiday season.

A Christmas Carol – December 7 – 24, 2017 – Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond
Charles Dickens’ classic, plus a few Ghostly visitors, help Scrooge and all of us find the spirit of Christmas


The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
  – November 25 – December 31, 2017 – Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright St, Granville Island, Vancouver
Join the Pevensey children as they step through the wardrobe and visit the magical world of Narnia in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia classic adventure


Disney’s Beauty And The Beast – December 7, 2017 – January 13, 2018 – Arts Club Theatre Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver
Disney’s tale as old as time comes to life, with a song as old as rhyme, lavish costumes and lush sets.


East Van Panto : Snow White And The Seven Dwarves
– November 29, 2017 – January 6, 2018 – York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Join Snow White as she flees across East Van from the Evil Queen of North Vancouver with helps of the magical Vancouver characters she meets along the way.


Christmas Queen 4 – Secret Santa – November 22 – December 23, 2017 – Improv Centre, 1502 Duranleau Street, Granville Island, Vancouver
HRM (Her Royal Meanness), The Christmas Queen returns to once again attempt to foil Christmas, will she finally succeed?  

Bonus: Christmas Queen – Drag Race – Saturdays November 25, December 2, 9, 16, 23 at 11:15pm – Improv Centre, 1502 Duranleau Street, Granville Island, Vancouver
The Christmas Queen is joined by guest host, The Unstoppable Connie Smudge for 5 naughty late night shows when anything could, and will, happen.

TUTS – Beauty And The Beast

Photo credit: Tim Matheson
Photo credit: Tim Matheson

Theatre Under The Stars has returned for an amazing 76th season at Malkin Bowl with Disney’s Beauty And The Beast opening first, then alternating nights with West Side Story.

The verdant surroundings of Stanley Park wraps Malkin Bowl with lush walls to block out the city and bring the audience into the performance.  The show begins with the prologue of how The Beast (Peter Monaghan) came to be, then moves to the ‘provincial French town’ that the beauty, Belle (Jaime Piercy), longs to escape.  Here we meet her eccentric father and local lothario Gaston, played like a cartoon come to life by Dane Szohner.  Gaston’s acrobatic sidekick, Lefou, (Nicholas Bradbury) is another standout amongst the villagers.

The production really comes to life, ironically, in the cursed castle there the inhabitants are slowly becoming inanimate objects. Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs Potts as played by Victor Hunter, Steven Greenfield and Sheryl Ann Wheaton are brilliant recreations of Disney’s animated characters.  I was worried how the grand Busby Berkeley-esque set pieces could be staged on the smaller Malkin Bowl stage but director Shel Piercy and choreographer Shelly Stewart Hunt managed to make everything and everyone fit onstage.

Photo credit: Tim Matheson
Photo credit: Tim Matheson

Watching the audience during the 2 hour production showed the awe and wonder across the faces young and old as the fairy tale comes to life in front of them.

Disney’s Beauty And The Beast at Theatre Under The Stars runs even night, alternating with West Side Story at Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park.  Buy tickets online or in person at the Malkin Bowl box office.


Theatre Under The Stars 2016 Season

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) invites audiences to and enchanted summer as they fall in love with the timeless classics Disney’s Beauty and the Beast & West Side Story, running July 6 – August 20, 2016 at StanleyPark’s Malkin Bowl.

On alternating evenings, audiences will be swept away by these tales as old as time – the beloved fairytale brimming with magic and mystery, and the Romeo & Juliet inspired story of forbidden love in the unforgiving streets of 1950’s New York.  Since 1940, TUTS has been bringing together the best of musical theatre with one of the most spectacular settings in Vancouver. Even after three quarters of a century, TUTS is still as popular as ever.

“The summer of 2015 was our most successful on record: We welcomed more audiences out to the Malkin Bowl than at any point in our long history,” says Naveen Kapahi, TUTS Board President. “We are therefore thrilled to announce the return of both of last season’s much celebrated directors! Shel Piercy will follow-up his beloved Oliver! with the Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast; and Sarah Rodgers, who created 2015’s infectiously fun Hairspray, will direct West Side Story.”

TUTS’ 2016 season features two of Broadway’s most universally acclaimed, smash-hit musicals:

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the first Disney film ever to make the leap to stage. Directed by Shel Piercy and choreographed by Shelley Stewart Hunt, with musical direction by Wendy Bross Stuart. This production features lavish sets, sumptuous costumes, and spectacular musical numbers, including all of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s songs from the Academy Award-winning film, as well as new songs, written for the stage, by Menken and Tim Rice.

West Side Story is a dynamic reimagining of Romeo and Juliet in the turbulent streets of 1950’s New York.  Directed by Sarah Rodgers, West Side Story features choreography by TUTS newcomer Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg (2015 recipient of the Chrystal Dance Prize) with musical direction by Chris D. King.
The production carries on the timeless work created by the dream team of Leonard 
Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, and Stephen Sondheim, with Jerome Robbins’ famed choreography style and iconic Broadway songbook.

Theatre Under The Stars at Malkin Bowl presents Disney’s Beauty and the Beast & West Side Story
Running alternate nights, July 6 to August 20, 2016. All shows at 8pm, except on Fireworks Nights, when shows begin at 7pm

Buy tickets online at tuts.ca or by phone 1-877-840-0457

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.