TUTS 2019 Opens with Mamma Mia!

With rain clouds hanging overhead, guests at Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) had a hard time seeing the stars on opening night of Mamma Mia!. However, a little rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for the ABBA-inspired musical, directed by TUTS veteran, Shel Piercy.

Donna & The Dynamos
Front Row L-R: Lori Ashton Zondag as “Tanya,” Caitriona Murphy as “Donna Sheridan,” Sheryl Anne Wheaton as “Rosie.”
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Set on a Greek Isle, at the Summer Nights Taverna at Villa Donna, run by former rock chick, Donna Sheridan (Caitriona Murphy). Mamma Mia! centres on Donna’s daughter Sophie (Keira Jang) wedding to Sky (Joshua Lalisan) and her quest to discover herself by finding her father. Instead, she find a possible three fathers, Harry Bright played by Stefan Winfield , Matt Ramer as Bill Austin, and Peter Monaghan as Sam Carmichael. Along the way, a frazzled, emotional Donna is supported by her besties and former bandmates from “Donna and the Dynamos” Rosie (Sheryl Anne Wheaton) and Tanya (Lori Ashton Zondag).

“Wait 20 years for a dad, then 3 come along at once” Front Row L-R: Stefan Winfield as “Harry Bright,” Peter Monaghan as “Sam Carmichael,” Chris M. Ward as “Pepper,” Matt Ramer as “Bill Austin.” photo: Lindsay Elliott

Always a crowd favourite, the sing-along friendly, fun-filled musical comes with few surprises for most, but those who have only experienced the movie will find a different order and more music packed into the 2.5 hour production. ‘Dancing Queen,’ ‘Take a Chance on Me,’ ‘Super Trouper,’ ‘SOS’, ‘Waterloo’ and more fan faves keep the audience entranced! The only small question-mark was a decision by the production to have a number of the characters speaking, and singing, in different accents seemed unnecessary and distracting, as some actors appeared to stumble over their drifting accent.

The cast of Mamma Mia! photo: Lindsay Elliott

In typical Vancouverite fashion the rain didn’t seem to bother the audience, TUTS handed out rain-ponchos for those without rain gear. Francesca Albertazzi’s beautiful set really felt like Greek taverna with a sunny piazza had come to life on stage, and made us forget the rain. The weather did appear to cause an adjustment to the stage blocking, with the ensemble trying to stay under the covered area of the stage the set seemed a bit crowded during the large production numbers.

As the saying goes, come rain, come shine, the show must go on, and the company of Mamma Mia! certainly did put on a show to entertain the audience and bring a bit of Mediterranean sun to a dreary Wet Coast evening.

Mamma Mia! plays on alternating nights with Disney’s Newsies at Theatre Under The Stars in Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park until August 17th, find showtimes and tickets online at tuts.ca

TUTS 2019 Season Welcomes Mamma Mia! & Disney’s Newsies

This summer, audiences can escape to the warmth of a Greek island and witness a fight for what’s right on the gritty streets of NYC, as Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS)  presents Mamma Mia! and Disney’s Newsies, from July 5–August 17, 2019, at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park.

“Last year, more than 40,000 musical theatre fans came through our gates and we hope to welcome even more in 2019 with two fabulous productions that will leave audiences buoyant with cheer,” says TUTS Board President Naveen Kapahi. “This summer is all about inspiration, with two musicals that will lift hearts in entirely unique ways. Mamma Mia! may very well be the most joyful musical ever created, bringing love and light to everyone who experiences it. Disney’s Newsies is a fiery true tale of conviction, where a scrappy group of underdogs sets spirits aflame by standing up and fighting for what is right.”

TUTS has been entertaining Vancouver audiences since 1940, the 2019 season is no exception as it adds two more musicals to the TUTS legacy.

Set on a Greek island paradise, the record-breaking Broadway and box-office hit Mamma Mia! is filled with laughter, dancing, and ABBA’s hit songs like; ‘Dancing Queen,’ ‘Take a Chance on Me,’ ‘Super Trouper,’ ‘SOS,’ and more. Guiding audiences to the sunny paradise in his return to the director’s chair is TUTS Board Vice President and Production Committee Chair Shel Piercy. 

Based on the 1992 film, Disney’s Newsies is a soaring spectacle of powerful song and high-kicking dance, packed with non-stop action and a timeless message for the whole family. Set at the turn of the 20th century, based on the New York City Newsboys strike of 1899. Filled with inspiring songs such as ‘King of New York,’ ‘Santa Fe,’ and ‘Carrying the Banner,’ this Disney film turned Tony Award-winning Broadway hit inspires everyone to seize the day! Julie Tomaino will make her TUTS directorial debut with this entertaining show.

TUTS two-show subscription packs — allowing audiences to secure their seats to both productions for one great price are on sale until tomorrow May 4. Single show tickets go on sale May 15th. Visit tuts.ca or call 604-631-2877 for subscriptions now.

Picks of the Week – May 23, 2018

The entertainment keeps coming as summer steadily creeps closer.  This weeks picks finds heaps of arts & culture to keep you out and about.

New Wave: Former Talking Heads frontman, David Byrne takes the stage at Queen Elizabeth Theatre tonight

Comedy: Get a full course of comedy when improv legend Colin Mochrie comes to the stage at The Vogue May 25 (two shows) and with VTSL at the Improv Centre May 24, and May 26 (two shows)

Abba: You’ll say thank you for the music as the Abba musical Mamma Mia! at the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre Stage,  until August 12th

Outdoor: A pair of outdoor concerts in parks kick off the open air season,  picks include Aussie singer/songwriter Tash Sultana plays Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park on Thursday, then Bon Iver plays Deer Lake Park on Saturday evening.

MilkMilk Lemonade

Awkward: Gender, sexuality, life and death, plus a chicken names Linda are what you’ll find in the Awkward Theatre Production of MilkMilkLemonade, by Josh Conkel, playing May 23-26 at CBC Studio 700.

Haida:  Museum of Vancouver is presenting, Haida Now. A collaboration with The Haida Gwaii Museum bring 450 works together in a one of a kind collection of Haida arts and culture, until June 15.

Duo: The Vancouver Art Gallery unites the works of two dynamic female early 20th century artists Emily Carr in Dialogue with Mattie Gunterman, on view at the Gallery until September 3, 2018

MOA at UBC

Offsite: Vancouver Art Gallery presents Offsite: Shigeru Ban by renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban’s Kobe Paper Log House, organized by the Gallery’s Institute of Asian Art at the Offsite Location at Shangri-La Vancouver

Culture: Musqueam, Squamish, Lil’wat, Heiltsuk, Nisga’a, Haida are collaborating for the first time so you can learn more about the cultures of these First Nations and the importance of their cultural centres at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC’s exhibition Culture at the Centre, until October 8th. d 

Resist: Also until October 8th at MOA, the new exhibit, Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America, invites visitors to take a closer look at the political and social significance of Latin American artistic traditions to express political realities.

Air: At The Dance Centre, Aeriosa is a breathtaking aerial productions combine the techniques of dance and rock-climbing, using rope rigging systems to find new movement, May 24 – 26.

Parker Art Salon

Salon: Open free to the public on Saturday and Sunday, from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, the Parker Art Salon features artist talks, studio tours at 2pm and 4pm, live music, and more.

Opening: Kokoro Dance invites public to an Open House of KW Studios,  at 111 W Hastings, tour the new 5,600 studio including spaces for dance, theatre, music rehearsal, creation, production, and recording, catch lively entertainment, speeches, and refreshments on Saturday 3-6pm.

Kick: Whitecaps FC take to the pitch when they play host to New England at BC Place on Saturday.

Play: ITSAZOO presents the Western Canadian Premiere of David James Brock’s award-winning drama, WET, May 8-27, 2018 in the intimate basement of The Russian Hall.

Rides: Weekend just got more exciting as Playland reopens on weekends with three added rides for the family’s excitement.

Say I Do to Mamma Mia at Arts Club

MammaMiaFrom the opening notes of the overture to the final sing-along curtain call, Mamma Mia now play at The Arts Club Theatre Company Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, will have you dancing in your seat.

The feel-good jukebox musical inspired by the hit music of Abba is composed by Abba’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and written by Catherine Johnson with this production directed and choreographed by Valerie Easton.  Set Designer David Roberts’ beautiful set transports the audience to the beaches and tavernas on the fictional Greek Island of Kalokairi.

Mamma Mia opens as Sophie Sheridan (Michelle Bardach) prepares for her wedding to fiancé Sky.  Raised by single mother, innkeeper, Donna, Sophie seeks to know who her father is and discovering her mom’s diary she discovers three possible fathers.  Inviting all three, Sam, Bill and Harry, to her wedding unbeknownst to Donna, with none of them, other than Sophie, really sure why they are all on the island, all sorts of miscommunication comedy ensues.  Donna is supported by her two long time girlfriends and former girl-group bandmates, Rosie and Tanya.

Throughout the 2 hour musical the story of love, female empowerment, and friendship is perfectly woven into the familiar Abba songs.  Amongst the solid storytelling, some numbers are just for the sheer fun of it, enter Donna and the Dynamos who’s camp costumes takes the audience back to the heyday of the Swedish quartet.  The Dynamos, Rosie and Tanya, are played with just the right blend of slapstick and camp by Cathy Wilmot and Irene Karas Loeper (respectively), while Stephanie Roth brings a perfect balance of power and emotion to Donna’s vocals.  With Ms Bardach vocally matching Roth’s, the two leading ladies anchor Mamma Mia with the grace and strength.  Among the male leads Michael Torontow as Sam, stands out with a strong voice and leading man charisma.  Local theatre veterans, Warren Kimmel as Aussie Bill and Jay Hindle as Harry, while not carrying as much of a musical load, bring a nice blend of comedy and fatherly friendship to their roles, in spite of Hindle’s distractingly wavering British accent.

While there appeared to be a couple prop and wardrobe slips on opening night, not surprising in such a physically challenging song and dance production, the veteran cast improvised their recovery with seamless ease.  The overall spirit of Mamma Mia and the joyous Abba music is sure to win over even the hardest demeanour with smiles and laughs throughout the show, especially during the rousing encore as the company (and many audience members) reprise Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen and Waterloo.

Mamma Mia plays at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre until August 12th, with special sing-along performances on July 28th. Visit artsclub.com for showtimes and tickets.

What’s on Weekends – August 18-21, 2011

Lots of summer still left in the tank, time to take advantage of , head out and check out some of these events this weekend!

Thursday Aug 18
– Vancouver Queer Film Festival continues with the Centrepiece Gala , after watching “Grown Up Movie Star” head to The Helm for an evening of fun. If you don’t want to party it’s your last chance to catch “Judas Kiss“, which made its international premier early in the festival.  VQFF continues until Sunday.

Friday Aug 19
Mr Heavenly (featuring members Modest Mouse, ManMan, Islands & Unicorns) are on stage at The Biltmore Cabaret
– Girl from Oz, Sia brings her pop/jazz stylings to the Commodore Ballroom
– at Lulu’s Lounge at the River Rock Resort it’s The Tabloids, covering all your fave UK hits, playing the first of a two night stand.

Saturday Aug 20
– it’s a sure sign of summer coming close to an end as the 101st edition of the PNE opens, included with the gates entry are some great nightly concerts including Chris Isaak, Serena Ryder, Kenny Rogers, Donny Osmond and more.
– a new summer tradition kicks off it’s second year today as well. In a beautiful setting, Live at Squamish Music Festival presented by Virgin Mobile features Weezer, Metric, Black Mountain, John Butler Trio and many more acts over the
two day fest.
– Grad your honey and head down to Canada Place and get  your smooch on! Look in the comments section for details about the Kissing Flash Mob aka Smooch Mob set for noon sharp! Sounds like fun!

Sunday Aug 21
– it’s time for another edition of Big Gay Rodeo at Bourbon Country Bar, Bull Riding, Pork & Bean Wrestling, Meat Pie Eating…it’s all here plus raising some cash for Friends For Life, HIM (Health Initiative for Men) QMUNITY, and Keep a Breast Canada
– it’s closing night of Mamma Mia at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, if you haven’t already this is your last chance to see this fun musical comedy based on the music of Abba

Mamma Mia – Broadway Across Canada

Mamma Mia – Queen Elizabeth Theatre – August 16, 2011

Mamma Mia : The MusicalFor one week only Mamma Mia returns to Vancouver.
Opening night brought a full house to see the musical comedy inspired by the music of Abba.  Mamma Mia is set in a small Greek Island and tell the tale of Sophie, well performed by Chloe Tucker, a young woman about to be married. Having never known her father, finds her mother, Donna’s diary and invites three possible men to her wedding to find out which one is her father and have him walk her down the aisle.  The ensuing drama of Donna seeing the three former suitors for the first time in 20 years is played out in Abba songs, like S.O.S., Our Last Summer and The Winner Takes It All.
Donna’s longtime friends and former backup singers from her days in the girl group, Donna & the Dynamos, provide her a shoulder to cry on as well as much of the comic relief thoughout the play.  Played by Alison Ewing as thrice divorced (and seeking more) Tanya and Mary Callanan as the rubenesque, “free woman” author Rosie, the duo are a power house when performing together and completely grab the spotlight in their solo numbers, Does Your Mother Know and Take A Chance On Me, respectively.  Add in Kaye Tuckerman’s Donna and the trio truly make a great girl group, perfectly playing off  each other for their ‘one night only reunion” to Super Trouper.  However, at time’s I felt, Tuckerman’s hugely powerful voice and intensity on her own seemed to overpower the more intimate songs feeling like she was just angry than mixed of emotions and melancholy the character.  The three potential fathers were well acted by James Michael Lambert, John-Michael Zuerlein and Tony Clements but were definitely out-sung by the female cast.
As a whole the company was a good match, unlike a previous performance I’d seen of Mamma Mia with a noticeably weaker cast member standing out for the wrong reason.  Here everyone held their own, making for a good ensemble and displaying good chemistry.  The chemistry seem even more noticeable during the finale as the actors break character slightly.  After the wedding and story of Sophie and Donna concludes the entire cast break into rousing renditions of Dancing Queen as they take their bows.  Part way through the song “Donna & The Dynamos” appear in their Abba inspired costumes to be followed on the next verse by the ‘Fathers’ in their own versions of the costumes.  The Super Group then lead the cast into the songs Mamma Mia and Waterloo, wrapping up the production on a feel good mood with the audience on their feet clapping and dancing (and in some cases singing) along as they leave the theatre.  Leaving on such a fun musical high, make the tiny criticisms of the production insignificant.  Grab your friends and “take a chance” on Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia plays at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver until August 21, 2011.  Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.ca