TUTS takes us to 42nd Street

The 2018 season of Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is now open with 42nd Street alternating nights at Malkin Bowl, in Stanley Park with Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

The company of 42nd Street
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Directed by Robert McQueen, 42nd Street is a show within a show jukebox musical that takes us back to 1930s Broadway.  A familiar selection of standards and showtunes are (very) loosely strung together by a behind-the-scenes story of the production of a Broadway show. The tried and true story of the small town girl looking to break into showbiz, follows fresh off the train Peggy Sawyer (Paige Fraser) making her way into the new Broadway musical, the show within the show, Pretty Lady. Acclaimed director Julian Marsh (Andrew Cownden) needs a hit to recover from his Stock Market Crash losses, star Dorothy Brock (Janet Gigliotti) needs to prove she’s not past her prime, even though she’s still very good at playing the diva in real life.

Paige Fraser (Peggy), Blake Sartin (Billy Lawlor)
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Along the way Dorothy is juggling paramours, then breaks her foot, Tenor Billy Lawlor is hoping to date Peggy, who is fired, hired, fired and rehired by Julian during the course of 42nd Street.
While the story is familiar and predictable, the cast is likeable and makes the most of the, schmaltzy, depression-era dialogue. Fraser and Gigliotti each deliver strong vocals and are perfectly paired on their duet About A Quarter To Nine.  Cownden performs with a single-minded toughness like he’s stepped right out of a gangster film,  but manages to make Marsh endearing.

Blake Sartin (Billy Lawlor, left) with the cast of 42nd Street
photo: Lindsay Elliott

The show really comes to life in the brilliantly choreographed, by Shelley Stewart Hunt, production numbers.  With up to 30 cast members onstage lending a Busby Berkley-esque feel to the tap routines, the cacophony of the taps beating a rhythm to the catchy tunes, like We’re In The Money, Lullaby of Broadway, and 42nd Street, really lift the excitement of the show.

The tap dancers onstage won’t be the only ones with their feet in motion, the production will leave you tapping and humming along throughout your journey to 42nd Street at Theatre Under The Stars.
42nd Street runs until August 17, 2018 at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. Find tickets online at tuts.ca.

TUTS opens with a new Cinderella

The 2018 season of Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is now open with Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella alternating nights at Malkin Bowl, in Stanley Park with 42nd Street.

Mallory James as Ella
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella brings the familiar story to the stage, with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, written for the 2013 Broadway production. Without taking away from the classic, the updated book freshens the story, making Cinderella a more independent young woman, interested in the world and others around her. Marrying a prince for the sake of status has moved further down the list of benefits.  The book and Sarah Rodgers’ direction play up some of the traditional plot points for humour and to make a point about the modernization of the story.

As Ella, Mallory James brings a hopeful innocence and fine singing voice to the character’s dialogue and songs, and thanks to newly introduced character of Jean-Michel, a worldly rabble rouser, set on bringing change to the authoritarian reign of the regent. In another change from the usual story, one of the step-sisters, Gabrielle, is kinder to Ella and secretly in love with Jean-Michel.

Caitlin Clugston (Madame), Mallory James (Ella), Amanda
Lourenco (Charlotte), Vanessa Merenda (Gabrielle)
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Of course, Cinderella wouldn’t be complete without a villain, Caitlin Clugston as Madame, Ella’s stepmother, brilliantly bites into the role with her wicked digs aimed at keeping Ella in her place with a flourish of maniacal laughter thrown in for good measure.  Laura Cowan’s Fairy Godmother balances the wickedness with a sweet performance Disney would have approved.  In contrast to James’ traditional vocals, Cotten has a more contemporary, pop delivery, and while he charms the audience it doesn’t quite feel like he charms Ella, leaving the romance a bit flat.  Amanda Lourenco as the vapid, clumsy stepsister Charlotte, and Caleb Lagayan’s Lord Pinkleton, bring a stand-out note of comedy to their roles.

Tré Cotten(Topher) & Mallory James(Ella)
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Choreographer Nicol Spinola makes excellent use of the TUTS stage to create the grand scale of all the court coming together for The Ball and set designer Brian Ball simple design creates a castle, town, forest, and Ella’s home inside and out, as much onstage as in our imaginations.  Costumes and props make a couple odd choices that seem to stand out, awkwardly.  Asian-style red paper lanterns appear during royal celebrations.  Prince Topher wears a dashiki for formal occasions, and gives a “Black Panther” style salut to the crowd, which feel like they’re jumping on the Marvel film’s bandwagon rather than highlighting the diversity of the players.

Those very minor quibbles do little to take away from the two hours of fun, and enjoyment presented by Theatre Under The Stars.
Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella runs until August 18, 2018 at Malkin Bowl. Find tickets online at tuts.ca

CBC Musical Nooners 2018 Line-Up

The CBC Musical Nooners make their return on Tuesday.  For the 9th year, the outdoor plaza at CBC studios at 700 Hamilton Street comes to life with music acts performing live, each weekday from noon – 1pm, from July 10 – August 17

Opening day, July 10th is a celebration of Indigenous Culture and a performance by North West Coast First Nations rap duo Mob Bounce, taking the stage from Noon.  The Indigenous food truck, Mr Bannock, will also be on site to fill your lunch time appetites while you enjoy the music on stage. The rest of the opening week’s performers are in association with the Vancouver Folk Festival, teasing the great music performing at the iconic festival, as well the Surrey Fusion Festival brings performers to the nooners to highlight the world beats on stage there.

The CBC Musical Nooners cover all genres of music from HipHop, Pop, Blues, Folk, Jazz, Soul, Reggae, and more. Many CBC Music Searchlight competitors take the stage highlighting the best of local talent.

The line up for the rest of the season is;

July 10 – Mob Bounce (hip hop)
July 11 – Son de Madera (folk/world)
July 12 – Jimmy “Duck” Holmes (folk)
July 13 – Little Miss Higgins (blues/country)
July 16 – Winsome Kind (indie/folk)
July 17 – Jack Garton and the Demon Squadron (roots)
July 18 – Haley Blais (pop)
July 19 – Dawn Pemberton (soul/gospel)
July 20 – Rumba Calzada (Latin jazz)
July 23 – Adam Robert Thomas (jazz)
July 24 – Portraits of Us (acoustic)
July 25 – Fall Brigade (rock)
July 26 – The Long War (indie)
July 27 – Jen Hodge All Stars (jazz)
July 30 – Old Soul Rebel (soul)
July 31 – Sinclair & Bennett (blues)
August 1 – Will Stroet from CBC Kids (children’s)
August 2 – Lonesome Town Painters (bluegrass)
August 3 – Tanga (world fusion)
August 6 – BC Day, no concert
August 7 – Petunia & The Vipers (rockabilly)
August 8 – David Ward (funk)
August 9 – Roy Forbes (folk)
August 10 – Schwey (R&B)
August 13 – Desirée Dawson (soul)
August 14 – Caleb Hart (reggae)
August 15 – Sister Speak (world)
August 16 – Wooden Horseman (rock)
August 25 – Coco Jafro (funk)

For details about each of the acts and more information, like weather interruptions, about the CBC Musical Nooners visit the CBC British Columbia website.

Go back to the 60s with As You Like It at Bard On The Beach

Bard on the Beach – As You Like It : Lindsey Angell & Nadeem Phillip

FUN, is the best word to describe As You Like It, now playing at Bard on the Beach, alternating nights with Macbeth.  While Macbeth is a brooding, dark, and classic production, As You Like It is the complete opposite; lively, bright and a mash-up Bard-Beatles musical production.

That’s right, the music of The Beatles plays a big role in director Daryl Cloran’s production for the Bard on the Beach stage.  Sure to be a summer hit,  Cloran has seamlessly moved As You Like It from the 1600s in Frances’ Forest of Arden, to the swinging 60s in the Okanagan.  Large parts of Shakespeare’s dialogue has been brilliantly replaced with the word of Lennon & McCartney. With 25 Beatles songs included in this mash-up, it is remarkable how well the music fits the story and doesn’t clash with the Bard’s comedic vision.

The romantic comedy is filled with classic Shakespearean plot devices; mistaken identities & alter-egos, difficult family dynamics, class struggles, romantic triangles, comedic sidekicks plus more to keep you laughing.  Walking into the BMO Mainstage at Bard on the Beach, the audience is greeted by an All-Star Wrestling ring, signalling that this will not be an ordinary evening of Shakespeare.  The hero Orlando, strives to better himself in life (and in the ring) but when the evil promotor, Duke Frederick finds out his parentage Orlando is exiled. In the meantime, young Orlando has fallen for the Duke’s niece Rosalind, who also comes to be banished, like her father Duke Senior, by her power hungry uncle. In the company of her cousin, Frederick’s daughter Celia flee, Rosalind taking the disguise of a young lad, Ganymeade and Celia as his sister, Aliena.  All roads lead to the Okanagan, where Duke Senior and his fellow banished nobles have founded a commune filled with peace and love. Of course nothing is simple on the path to romance, as we are reminded by Rosalind and Celia’s faithful servant, Touchstone, ‘because it’s Shakespeare’.   In the end, we of course are rewarded with the happy ending for most of the characters. 

The setting, costumes and story perfectly fit in The Beatles music, and the cast, most of whom are also the company for Macbeth, bring the music and comedy to life with flair and flares.  Nadeem Phillip brings a exuberant charm and solid vocals to his leading man Orlando. While Lindsey Angell’s Rosalind plots to connect the dots in everyone’s journey to love, her chemistry and voice pairs nicely with Nadeem making us all cheer for our lovebirds.  Harveen Sandhu as Celia standouts with her powerful vocals and charisma.  The comedic timing of Kayvon Khoshkam as the ‘Rod Stewart meets Austin Powers’ modfather, Touchstone, brings a smile and many laughs to As You Like It from start to finish.

The buzz is surely to build for As You Like It as the summer progresses so be sure to book your tickets sooner than later so not to miss out on one of the most fun evenings of theatre this season.

As You Like It runs until September 22nd at the Bard on the Beach BMO Mainstage, alternate nights with Macbeth.

Arts Club Theatre Company : Once

Gili Roskies & Adrian Glynn McMorran
photo: Emily Cooper

Once is definitely not enough when it comes to seeing Arts Club Theatre Company’s Once, now playing at the Granville Island Stage.  The final show of the season, and for Artist Director Bill Millerd’s 45 season reign as the guiding force of the Art Club, certainly makes a memorable impact.

The heartwarming and heartbreaking story of Guy meets Girl, based on the 2007 film of the same name, takes the audience on a journey filled with music, laughter, melancholy, romance and inspiration.  Known only as Girl (an ‘honest’ Czech aspiring pianist, played by Gili Roskies) and Guy (a struggling Dublin musician, played by Adrian Glynn McMorran), our leads’ meet cute involves busking and a Hoover.  That oddball scenario, foretells the unique show that’s to come.  While Girl struggles with her feelings for Guy and loyalty to her estranged husband, she champions Guy to never give up on his heart and music.  Once would be nothing without that music, written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglova (the original film’s leads) the heartfelt songs stand-out like a third lead; moving the story along, connecting the characters and allowing Guy and Girl to sing what they can’t say.

To help bring the duo’s musical aspirations to a fruition, a company of colourful characters gather; both Czechs and the Irish play multiple instruments, dance, and sing often all at the same time.  While all the company are solid; stand outs include Chris Cochrane as Billy the music shop owner and admirer of Girl, who plays well off of the always solid Caitriona Murphy.  There are a couple moments when the Irish accents sound a bit like their protecting their Lucky Charms, but it’s not enough to distract from the feeling that the audience is a Dublin pub with the company.  Set designer Ted Roberts makes the most of the small Granville Island stage to recreate the feeling of an Irish Pub, which is open to the audience for on stage drinks and a kitchen party style opening jam session that leads into the show.  From this lively opening to the emotional Academy Award winning song “Falling Slowly”, Once moves us and makes us cheer for Guy and Girls’ relationship and leaves us fulfilled but wanting to know the rest of their stories.

See it once or often but definitely see it before it’s gone.  Once is playing at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage until July 29, 2018.

Picks of the Week – June 13, 2018

The last full week of Spring 2018 blooms with plenty of entertainment to make it tough to choose from these picks of the week …

The SuperDad Show

Father: Celebrate dear ol’ dad with a celebration of parenthood at The SuperDad Show at Vancouver Theatresports League, a hilarious family-friendly 2pm show on Father’s Day perfectly timed to fit between taking Dad for brunch or dinner

Exhibit: Get away to the cabin at the Vancouver Art Gallery as Cabin Fever a new exhibit tracing the history of the North American cabin as an architectural form and a cultural construct, on view until September 30, 2018.

Dance12 Minutes Max at the Dance Centre, Friday night, showcases five eclectic dance works by some of Vancouver’s most exciting and innovative up-and-coming choreographers: Katie Cassady, Alejandra Miranda & Juan Villegas, Sophie Maguire, Jhoely Triana, and Sujit Vaidya.

Macbeth

Bard: Make your picks between a Beatles themed version of As You Like It or the Scottish Play in the Bard on the Beach 2018 repertoire this week.

Laughs: The hilarious Kevin Hart brings his “The Irresponsible Tour” to Rogers Arena on Saturday.

Roar: The BC Lions get their 2018 season off to a roaring start when they host Montreal Alouettes at BC Place

Walk: The 7th Annual South Granville Art Walk takes place Saturday, opening 10 different exhibitions, artist talks, refreshments and more from 10am – 5pm.

Fest: The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra presents the Global Soundscape Festival a celebration of Middle Eastern music at venues around town June 16 – 27, 2018

Inked: The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Art reopens after renovations with BODY LANGUAGE: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest an exhibition deep-rooted traditions of Indigenous tattooing, piercing and personal adornment curated by Dion Kaszas of the Nlaka’pamux First Nation

Haida:  There’s a couple more days to visit Museum of Vancouver before the exhibition, Haida Now. closes on June 15th.

Abba: You’ll have a hard time not singing along at the Abba musical Mamma Mia! at the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre Stage, until August 12th

Irish: The final show of the 2018 Arts Club Theatre Company season closes with ONCE, at the Granville Island Stage.

Doc: Victim Impact is a unique live documentary from Theatre Conspiracy directed by award winning Jiv Parasram, taking the stage at The Cultch Historic Theatre until June 17.

Photo. Michele Mateus Photography

Music: The Cultch also offers three performances, June 14, 15, 16 of Perfect Imperfections: The Art of a Messy Life a multi-disciplinary performance from Celeste Snowber, bassist Jodi Proznick and harpist Alexa Reimer,

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.

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.

Midway: Enjoy summer excitement at Playland 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.