Disney’s Newsies Seize The Day & Hearts at TUTS 2019

After soaking rain all day, the skies cleared just in time for Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) opening night of Disney’s Newsies, of the 2019 season.

The cast of Disney’s Newsies photo: Lindsay Elliott

The stars, moon and birds came out to help Disney’s Newsies reach for the sky. Starting from their ‘penthouse in the sky’ the production is packed with thrilling dance numbers, soaring tunes and a timeless (and timely) message for the whole family. Based on the 1992 movie musical, Disney’s Newsies is inspired by the real-life New York Newsboys Strike of 1899. In New York City an army of ragged orphans and runaways called ‘newsies’ delivered the ‘papes’ but when newspaper owners raise distribution prices at the newsies’ expense, the newsies unites and rally other child labourers to strike against the unfair and unsafe conditions. Battling the owners and their manipulation of the news, the newsies contend with corruption, prejudices and fake news.

Julia Ullrich as “Katherine Plumber” and Adam Charles as “Jack Kelly.” photo: Lindsay Elliott

The Disney’s Newsies cast is lead by a brilliant Adam Charles, playing Jack Kelly the charismatic leader of the newsies. Cole Smuland plays Crutchie, Jack’s crutch-wielding best friend and fellow newsie. Joined by Daniel Curalli and Jordyn Bennett as Davey and Les Jacobs, sibling newsies also befriended by Jack, with Davey helping unionise their fellow newsies.  Jovanni Sy makes his TUTS debut as publishing magnate Joseph Pulitzer and Julia Ullrich returns for her third season as young journalist, Katherine Plumber who reports on the newsies’ strike and strikes Jack’s fancy.

Front Row L-R: Daniel Curalli as “Davey Jacobs,” Adam Charles as “Jack Kelly,” Caitlin McMaster as Ensemble Member, plus the cast of Disney’s Newsies photo: Lindsay Elliott

Anthemic and inspiring songs like; Seize The Day, King of New York, Santa Fe, Carrying the Banner, and The World Will Know, help the newsies win over the audience to their cause. Just as the film was choreographer Kenny Ortega’s directorial debut, award-winning choreographer/dancer Julie Tomaino makes her TUTS directorial debut as well as choreographing the productions stunning dance segments. In addition, Fight Directors Mike Kovac and Ryan Mcneill Bolton, have created intricate dance-like brawls that make you root for the newsies even more. Just as Jack and the other newsies find their confidence, the productions moves from strength to strength leaving the audience ready to get up and seize the day!

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

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

Matilda The Musical, Mesmerizes

“Children Are Maggots”, that is the motto of the Crunchem Hall Primary School, run by grim headmistress Miss Trunchbull, in Matilda The Musical. Now playing at The Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, Matilda the Musical is based on Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy novel, adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.

Matilda The Musical

Matilda The Musical is a riot from start to finish, at times quite literally, as Matilda the 5 year old title character declares ‘sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty’. Well played by Georgia Acken, who alternates the role with Thailey Roberge, both making their Arts Club debuts, Matilda is a smart-as-a-whip, bookworm, bullied by her parents and more comfortable in the library than home. As she starts school, she finds herself allied with the other students, played by a mix of newcomers and up-and-coming young local actors, who are bullied by Miss Trunchbull. While the young ensemble all bring a smile to your face as they sing and dance their way through the insults and tyranny of the headmistress, it’s the adults who really bring the laughs. Lauren Bowler plays Mrs Wormwood with the comedic flair of a classic Carol Burnett character. As Mr Wormwood, Ben Elliott brings cartoon-like physical comedy with a dancer’s lightness to the stage. However, the real stand-out is John Ullyatt playing Miss Trunchbull, the former Olympic hammer thrower now rules Crunchem with an iron fist as its headmistress, who finds children revolting. Ullyatt gives an over-the-top performance that would fit in perfectly at St Trinian’s, able to bring the audience to tears of laughter without saying a word, a scowl or raised eyebrow is all that’s needed.

The Arts Club’s Artistic Director Ashlie Corcoran noted that Matilda was on her wish list for a dream season when she interviewed for her position. Now, in partnership with Citadel Theatre and Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, her dream is a reality. Matilda The Musical is directed by Citadel Theatre’s Daryl Cloran, who also brought is the amazing Beatles-inspired As You Like It to Bard On The Beach last season, and brings his creative brush to Roald Dahl’s whimsical creation. While Dahl’s story of being able to change your story to get more out of like was written more than 3 decades ago, the theme is timeless. Even though the musical runs a lengthy 2 hours 35 minutes (with intermission) you’ll leave the theatre wishing you had more time with these eccentric characters and brilliant young Matilda.

Matilda The Musical runs until July 14, 2019 at The Arts Club Industrial Alliance Theatre. For tickets and showtimes visit artsclub.com

Eternal Theatre Collective presents, the musical, bare

Eternal Theatre Collective (ETC), Vancouver’s youth theatre company is bringing Off-Broadway to Off-Oak St when they present their next musical bare, at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver from May 29th to June 8th. 

ETC's bare 
photo: Sasha Aleshchenko
ETC’s bare
photo: Sasha Aleshchenko

An acclaimed Off-Broadway musical, bare is a pop opera that focuses on coming out and growing up, told from the perspective of Catholic school students as they navigate the complexities of their own sexuality, identity, and future. Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which is also featured as the play-within-a-play, the story follows young lovers Jason and Peter as they struggle to be true to themselves, and to each other, in an environment where acceptance is not guaranteed. 

Providing a fresh and utterly honest take on the coming-of-age story, while touching on the perils of gossip, innuendo and knowing who to trust with your truth, bare gives insight on the dangers of baring your soul, and the consequences of continuing to hide. 

ETC's bare 
photo: Sasha Aleshchenko
ETC’s bare
photo: Sasha Aleshchenko

Eternal Theatre Collective’s production of bare is site specific, taking place at the beautiful Unitarian Church of Vancouver – mirroring the overlying pious presence within the play.

Eternal Theatre Collective is a registered non-profit organization dedicated to providing young people with hands on, paid experience in theatre. As with every production by ETC, bare is produced and performed by young people aged 13-25.

This production of bare is directed by Seamus Fera, choreographed by Alexandra Ewert and stars Caleb Lagayan, Robbie Hébert, Katrina Teitz, Ashlyn Tegos, YooRa Kang, Hannah Myers, Avidor Manor, Ricardo Pequenino, Jessica Wong, Colin Doig, Jeremy Cruz, Oliver Spilsbury, Shelby Armstrong, Allegra Wright.
The band; Caleb Chuang, Beulah Lee, Nick Range, Felix J.C. Dick, Marshall Henderson, Hannah Myers, and Seth Kitamura, is led by Caleb Chuang. 

Eternal Theatre Collective’s bare plays May 29, 2019 to June 8, 2019 at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 949 W 49th Ave (at Oak St). For tickets visit eternaltheatre.com/bare 

Arts Club announces 2019-2020 Season

Ashlie Corcoran, has revealed her second season as Artistic Director of The Arts Club Theatre Company. For the Company’s 56th season, Ms Corcoran has curated 17 works to play on the three Arts Club stages plus touring shows.

Amongst the works there are 5 collaborations with other Canadian theatre companies, 9 Canadian scripts, 2 world premieres, 2 Canadian premieres, 5 plays created by artists of colour, 8 plays by female playwrights and 135 roles for actors.
“I aim to offer eclectic programming that sparks a connection with the audience and to create theatre that celebrates local talent, emerging artists, and diversity, through this season and beyond”, Ashlie Corocoran says of the season.

Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS, by Ursula Rani Sarma, book by Khaled Hosseini
The gripping story of two Afghan women, based on the best-selling novel
September 12–October 13, 2019
In partnership with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Company

WINTER MUSICAL, to be announced Spring 2019
A family-friendly musical masterpiece for the holidays
November 7, 2019–January 5, 2020

NOISES OFF, by Michael Frayn
The classic play-within-a-play farce
January 23–February 23, 2020

CARRIED AWAY ON THE CREST OF A WAVE, by David Yee
A boundary-pushing theatrical journey
March 19–April 19, 2020 

SUMMER MUSICAL, to be announced Spring 2019
A big-hearted modern musical
May 21–July 5, 2020

Granville Island Stage

THE BIRDS AND THE BEES, by Mark Crawford
Love, lust, beekeeping, and the artificial insemination of turkeys meet in this raucous comedy
September 26–October 26, 2019

MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY, by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon
The festive Pride and Prejudice follow-up returns
December 5, 2019–January 4, 2020

CIPHER, by Ellen Close and Braden Griffiths
Hipster noir meets corporate thriller—an investigation of a decades-old Vancouver Island cold-case murder
February 6–March 7, 2020
In partnership with Vertigo Theatre 

‘DA KINK IN MY HAIR, by Trey Anthony
A resonant musical celebration of women of colour, set in a vibrant Toronto hair salon
April 16–May 16, 2020

PETER PAN GOES WRONG, by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields
A side-splitting farce for the whole family
June 25–August 22, 2020
The Mischief Theatre Production in partnership with the Citadel Theatre

Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre

COST OF LIVING, by Martyna Majok
The 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about caretakers and the realities of disability
October 10–November 3, 2019
In partnership with Citadel Theatre

IT’S A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS-ISH HOLIDAY MIRACLE, by Marcus Youssef
A new play that embraces the love and foibles of family
November 21–December 22, 2019

THE WEDDING PARTY, by Kristen Thomson
A ringside seat for all the laughs, debauchery, disagreements, and love at a family wedding reception
February 27–March 22, 2020
In partnership with Prairie Theatre Exchange

EVERY BRILLIANT THING, by Duncan MacMillan
A daughter aids her mom through depression by listing everything worth living for, with help from the audience
April 2–April 26, 2020

On Tour

BED & BREAKFAST, by Mark Crawford
A charming comedy about being out and finding home
October 3–December 1, 2019

THE SHOPLIFTERS, by Morris Panych
Comic mishaps for society’s haves and have-nots
January 9–February 9, 2020

KIM’S CONVENIENCE, by Ins Choi
The wildly popular, award-winning play—now a CBC TV series
February 13–March 15, 2020

Circle Game : Reimagining the music of Joni Mitchell at Firehall Arts Centre

The songs of Canadian legend Joni Mitchell come to The Firehall Arts Centre in Circle Game : Reimagining the music of Joni Mitchell.

Circle Game photo: Emily Cooper

In celebration of her recent 75th birthday, the revival of Circle Game pays tribute with a couple dozen tunes rearranged and mixed from Joni Mitchell’s iconic songbook. Co-creators Andrew Cohen and Anna Kuman forgo any storyline, presenting the music in a series of vignettes built around each song, some with a bit of drama, others feature Kuman’s choreography, while others are straight ahead performances. Like the collection of songs from a decades long career, Carolyn Rapanos’ set design it a beautifully curated display of musical paraphernalia.

Circle Game photo: Emily Cooper

The six multi-talented performers; Samantha Bourque, Kimmy Choi, David Z. Cohen, Benjamin Millman, Scott Perrie and Adriana Ravali, dance, sing and perform all the instrument throughout the 2 hour show. The show takes some time to find its rhythm, but once I stopped trying to find a storyline, I was able to let go and just enjoy each song individually. Andrew Cohen’s arrangements have moments reminiscent of Godspell showtunes, a garage-band’s all out jam sessions, other times acapella, and then parts that felt like a 70’s variety show, bringing something for everyone to the stage. Circle game changes the tempo and pace on many of the classic Mitchell tunes, but some of her most recognizable classics get respectful treatment in the second act, with beautiful renditions of River, Both Sides Now, and Big Yellow Taxi to close the show and leave the audience with the memories of their memories of Joni Mitchell’s legacy.

Circle Game photo: Emily Cooper

Circle Game : Reimagining the music of Joni Mitchell plays at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St, until February 9, 2019. Visit firehallartscentre.ca for information, showtimes and tickets.

The Sun Will Come Out when Annie takes the stage

Cast of Align Entertainment’s Annie
photo: Emily Cooper

The Sun Will Come Out when Align Entertainment presents the positively perky adventures of everyone’s favourite little orphan. Annie takes the stage at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby, February 1–16, 2019.  Following the successful fall production of A Christmas Story: The Musical, Align Entertainment closes the 2018/2019 season with the story of that plucky, optimistic red-haired 11-year-old, Annie.

The Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical is set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, throwing into sharp relief the beauty of the spirited character’s hopefulness in dire times. Featuring a fresh cast of young local talent, the production is a heart-warming antidote to the long grey days of winter.

Annie is a touching and timeless musical with a strong core message that money can’t buy you happiness,” says director and co-producer Chad Matchette. “Oliver Warbucks is the richest man in the country and yet his life is unfulfilled until he meets Annie. This delightful little girl reminds us about the power of love and inspires people to hold onto their dreams against all odds.”

The original Broadway production from 1977 is based on Harold Gray’s widely read comic strip Little Orphan Annie. The 1924 comic was popular for its poignant political commentary, and subsequent adaptations maintained this feature. The story follows the adventures of Annie, who longs to find the parents who left her as a baby on the steps of a New York City orphanage. Tired of matron Miss Hannigan’s cruelty, Annie escapes into the city and befriends the abandoned but loveable mutt Sandy. Upon her return, she is selected to spend Christmas with local billionaire Oliver Warbucks. He is soon won over by her bright outlook and even introduces her to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Along the way, Annie helps inspire the New Deal, learns the truth about her parents, and finds a loving home to call her own.  

Annie played by Camryn Macdonald
photo: Emily Cooper

With a book by Thomas Meehan (The Producers, Hairspray) and lyrics by Charles Strouse (Bye Bye Birdie), Annie earned seven Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards, and brought the world the iconic songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life” and others. Align Entertainment’s production brings the musical to life with a live 12-piece orchestra under the direction of Kevin Woo and a talented ensemble of a dozen young actors, who were selected from auditions by more than 100 children. 

Several cast members will be making their Align Entertainment debut, including the bright-eyed Camryn Macdonald (Veruca in Delta Youth Theatre’s Willy Wonka Jr.) in the role of Annie and Arne Larsen (Dom Claude Frollo in Secondary Characters’ The Hunchback of Notre Dame) as Oliver Warbucks. Erin Matchette (Mrs. Schwartz in Align’s A Christmas Story) will play Miss Hannigan, and Laura Cowan (Fairy Godmother in Theatre Under the Stars’ Cinderella) will be Grace Farrell, Warbucks’ assistant who first finds Annie. Next week, Align Entertainment begins the Search for Sandy, auditions for the real dog to fill the role of Sandy the dog. If you think your pooch can fill the role, check out alignentertainment.ca for audition information.

Align Entertainment’s Annie runs February 1 – 16, 2019 at Michael J Fox Theatre, 7373 MacPherson Ave. Burnaby