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

Clean Bandit wrap West Coast tour

CleanBandit_IMG_7258UK electronic group, Clean Bandit wrapped up their 6 week tour of Western North America last week.  Their penultimate show brought them to the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver for an hour long energy-filled show.  The quartet of Grace Chatto, Jack Patterson, Luke Patterson, and Neil Amin-Smith were lead by tour vocalist Elizabeth Troy who belted through their distinct blend of classical and electo-pop, with a dose of dance-hall for good measure.

In spite of just having one full length release, New Eyes, and a few EPs, the mostly university-aged crowd eagerly danced their hearts out and through their hand up for the groups catching tunes. Kicking off with #2 charting Real Love and wrapping up with Grammy-winning Rather Be, the setlist and Commodore was filled with energy.

While Clean Bandit has headed back to Europe for May, they return for a few dates on the East Coast of North America in June, so catch them if you ca

Ben Howard makes Vancouver part of his Every Kingdom

Ben Howard – Orpheum Theatre – April 17, 2013

British singer-songwriter Ben Howard has made the most of his trip to the West Coast for his Coachella Music Festival performances last weekend.  He’s added in a quick tour of the Coast, wrapping up in Vancouver at the Orpheum Theatre.  The historic Orpheum was a perfect location for Howard’s simple but lush melodies. Backed by a three piece band they created arrangements that filled the auditorium with beautiful sound. The sold out show was a return to Vancouver after a smaller show in autumn  of 2012. Still touring in support of his 2011 album, ‘Every Kingdom’, Howard broke his hand at Coachella but was able to play his full set with little difficulty except for a couple of songs that he had to admit were tough or left out. Winner of the 2013 Best British Breakthrough and Best British Solo Male BRIT Awards, Howard may be a relative newcomer but it seemed like the audience was already full of lifelong fans.  They sang, cheered, danced and shouted “I love you” throughout the 80 minute show. Being an all ages show it was great to see a wide range of ages thoroughly enjoying the same show, the younger spectators ensuring a new generation will find a love for great live music like we heard from Ben Howard.

Find Ben Howard online at benhowardmusic.co.uk, like him on Facebook, follow @BenHowardMusic on Twitter


Mika strips for ‘Origins Of Love’ tour

Mika – Venue – March 22, 2013

MikaKicking off his ‘Origins Of Love’ tour, Mika took to the stage at Venue in Vancouver for a stripped down set.  Starting the show singing a solo piano version of  “Grace Kelly” before being joined by two bandmates, who were also the opening DJs, for the remainder of the show. Known for his flamboyant, flashy stage shows this tour is the opposite, no inflatable “Big Girl”, fuzzy animal costumes or dancers, instead a simple stage setting, stripped down acoustics and 3 piece band were the order of the day. Always present at a Mika show is his fun, personality and interaction with the audience, which included many sing-along songs Mikaand humourous anecdotes and self-deprecating jokes. Fan favourite songs; “Billy Brown”, “Stuck In The Middle”, “Love Today” and “Bad Girl” were mixed among new songs from his latest “Origins Of Love” release like “Love You When I’m Drunk”, “Origin Of Love” and “Popular Song”. Adding in a few un-recorded songs to round out the set, the 80 minutes seemed to fly by as the audience danced and sang along throughout.  As with all Venue weekend shows, the gig must end at 10pm, leaving many in the audience clamouring for more.

Origins Of Love tour continues throughout North America:

MIkaMarch 25 – San Francisco, Calif., Great American Music Hall
March 26 – Solana Beach, Calif., Belly Up Tavern
March 27 – Los Angeles, Calif., El Rey Theatre
March 29 – Las Vegas, Nev., Hard Rock Cafe On The Strip
March 30 – Salt Lake City, Utah, Club Sound
March 31 – Denver, Colo., Bluebird Theater
April 2 – Minneapolis, Minn., Varsity Theater
April 3 – Chicago, Ill., Lincoln Hall
April 5 – Toronto, Ontario, Opera House Concert Venue
April 6 – Montreal, Quebec, Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre
April 8 – Philadelphia, Pa., Union Transfer
April 9 – New York, N.Y ., Le Poisson Rouge
April 10 – Washington, D.C., Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
April 12 – Brooklyn, N.Y., Music Hall Of Williamsburg
April 13 – Boston, Mass., Royale Nightclub Boston