August: Osage County

August: Osage County – Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage – February 8, 2011

August:Osage CountyOne hot summer meltdown (literally & figuratively) in the life of the Weston Family is portrayed in this Tony award winning play by Tracy Letts.   The story plays out over the course of a swelteringly hot summer in the American South as a large family gathers to deal with love, loss, betrayal and intrigue. Throw in a dash of drugs and drinking to this perfect recipe of dark comedic family angst.

Directed for the Arts Club Theatre Company by award winning director/actress Janet Wright (Corner Gas) this production features a large ensemble of seasoned actors who bring this family to life…larger than life at times.  The two female leads bring some truly scenery chewing moments to the stage in the, often loud, battle of wits between matriarch and eldest daughter.  A couple of the characters seemed a bit underwhelming in the shadow of the great force of the leads but overall the cast was solid throughout.  The amazing set, bringing an entire three story house on to the stage, was almost another character as the family’s sense of ‘home’ was questioned throughout the play. Without the solid set to ground the play in reality it may have slipped closer to being a farce. Instead we get to peak into this family’s dramatic unravelling and feel for the characters instead of just laughing at them…although there are many moments of dark laughter throughout the memorable 3 hour performance.

If you are able to see this play live do it now, then you have something to compare the inevitable film version.   You can very much see this play being perfect for a screen adaptation and a movie version is in development.  The latest news is Meryl Streep and Julie Roberts are due to begin filming in March 2011. Let’s wait and see!

The Ellen Show – An Easy Day Trip

People say nothingOutside WarnerBrothers Studios ever happens in Vancouver? Even is that were true (which I know it’s not) Vancouver isn’t that far away to have a fun daytrip away!

Yesterday, my good friend May arranged to get us tickets to The Ellen Show taping in Los Angeles. We boarded a plane from YVR at 0630 for a non-stop flight to LAX, arriving on a bright but cool LA morning. Catching a SuperShuttle for the hour plus trip across town we got a first hand taste of LA morning rush hour.  Arriving in front of the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank we still had time to kill before the required check-in time for The Ellen Show.

As luck would have it the Original Bob’s Big Boy Diner was just around the corner…it was like a walking into a 50’s museum….including some of the patons.

Back at the Studios and checking in at the waiting area (the lower floor of a parking garage) for The Elllen Show, we waited and waited some more before they started to sort the audience into groups to lead them to the studio backstage (which doubles as the Ellen Store). From here on out it was a well orchestrated whirlwind of fun and entertainment. 15 minutes before showtime, we were ushered into our seats in the studio and the ‘warm up’ guy started to rouse the audience and get us cheering. And cheer they did when Ellen Degeneres walked out to start the show…laughs, music, dancing, $100 Victoria Sectret Gift Card prizes, games, Eva Mendes, Flo-Rida, Mindy Kaling, more dancing, more laughs and games rounded out the November 30th episode.  

Then as Ellen was thanking the audience for attending, she also sprung another surprise on us by saying that Ben Affleck, who was to guest on the next day’s episode, was here to tape his segment as he was unable to the following day. So after a quick change of clothes for Ellen and DJ Tony, an interview with Ben Affleck was taped followed by a quick ‘game’. Then a quick 90 minutes after it all began, it was all over and we were on our way out the door with Victoria Secret Gift Card and Flo-Rida cd in hand. Making a mad dash for the SuperShuttle back to LAX for our 2100 flight back to Vancouver.

Super Fast Super Fun Super Easy to have a great Vancouver – LA daytrip!

Bob Saget – Is Not Danny Tanner!

We’re not in Full House anymore!

Best known as Danny Tanner from Full House and the Host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, Bob Saget’s stand-by comedy is no where near the family friendly fare of his former tv shows. Bringing his rapid fire comedy to town as part of his Strange Days Tour, supporting his new A&E TV show of the same name, Mr Saget involved and entertained a full house at the Vogue Theatre.  Unlike most entertainers he almost encouraged hecklers and right from the first moments, when he started having fun with and at the expense of audience members the stage was set for a raunchy, anything goes evening.
From the audience; Kirk has his sexuality questioned and mocked,  Mole (who showed off his name tattooed on his wrist) had his mental state & competence mocked, Antoine had his Polish heritage mocked.  Although not quite as misogynistic as his same named Entourage alter-ego, Bob made plenty of normally politically incorrect comments and profane one-liners about women being in power.  It seemed no matter what the audience whipped at him, Bob was able to hit it out of the park with quick witted zingers. Throughout the two hour show, stories about his father were intertwined with tales from his TV shows and costars.  Wrapping up the show with a 30 minute set of songs that were more ‘blue’ than blues but all the while hilarious, eliciting a rousing standing ovation from the audience.

Don Quixote – Arts Club Theatre Company

Opening Nights at the theatre are full of anticipation; will you like it, will it be boring, will it be… Even more so when you’re seeing a new work as we did last night at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage. 
Don Quixote is a collarboration between The Arts Club, Centaur and Axis Theatre Companies. This comedic adaptation by Colin Heath and Peter Anderson of Cervantes classic tome also stars Peter Anderson as the title character.
With inventive sets and costumes, especially the masks by Melody Anderson, take us from a simple stage out into the Spanish countryside or within a castle walls.
Having not read the orginal work I can’t say how true to the story this play followed but it obviously took some liberties as they began to play the dialogue for laughs.  Colin Heath told us, at the Artistic Directors Circle, he found his ‘angle’ in the second volume of the original work, written after the exploits told in the first book have made ‘Don Quixote’ famous throughout Spain, taking the point of view of a story within a story or play within a play in this case.  
The writing, unfortunately, left me a bit wanting, I felt unsure exactly what this play was trying to be, as it wandered from a period drama to buddy/road trip comedy to pantomime, never quite resonating on any level. There seemed to be plenty of laughs from the audience but some of them came very cheaply via out of place toilet humour. Maybe I’m being overly critical but I don’t think I was completely alone in feeling unsatisfied.  
The producers have developed a good structure for this play but still could use a bit more time refining the writing to have a hit.  Afterall, not all plays begin life as an instant ‘classic’ and thanksfully we have companies like The Arts Club Theatre that allow playwrites and producers a place to nurture new works and new ideas.