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

10 Halloween Frights for Vancouver Families

Halloween is just around the corner; leaves crunching underfoot, jack o’lanterns are carved, costumes are being prepared, candy is being stockpiled in anticipation of trick or treating.

Get a chill when you take on these frightening (and mostly family friendly) Halloween in Vancouver.

  1. Fright Nights at Playland: Vancouver’s favourite fear fest, is on until October 31st, the annual Playland event is loaded with haunted houses and thrilling rides, but not for the younger members of the family. 
  2. Halloween at Fly Over Canada: Join Broomelda as she welcomes you to her Witch Academy before swooping across the country with her at Fly Over Canada until October 31st.
  3. Haunted Halloween Vancouver Trolley Tour: Spend 2.5 hours exploring the stories behind the city’s most haunted spots; Shaughnessy mansions, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver Police Museum morgue are just some of the ghost tales you’ll hear on the nightly Trolley Tours, until Halloween Night.
  4. Glow In The Garden: VanDusen Garden invites guests to wander through a whimsical garden with curious twists and magical moments from the classic tale Hänsel and Gretel, until October 31st.
  5. Stanley Park Ghost Train: Join Jack O’Lanterns journey through the dark forest and experience a Celtic Halloween, at the Stanley Park Ghost Train, book tickets until October 31st
  6. Haunted Village at Burnaby Village Museum:  Visit Burnaby Village under cover of night from October 26 to 29, 2018. Wear your costumes, and blend in with the witches, ghosts and other characters as you trick or treat through the village
  7. Harvest Glow: Until November 5th, Milner Gardens in Langley has become the ultimate family harvest festival; pumpkin patch, corn maze, pumpkin carving, Harvest Market with 20+ merchants.
  8. Lost Souls of Gastown: Join Forbidden Vancouver on a historic and theatrical walk through the dark side of Vancouver’s early days, nightly until Halloween.
  9. Spooktober: Vancouver Theatresports League has a spooktacular line-up of Halloween themed shows throughout the month; Monster Mashes, Cult Fiction, Scared Witless, WFT-What the Fright.
  10. Parade of Lost Souls: The east side tradition returns on October 27th, starting with the Parade of Little Souls at 7pm, followed by the Parade of Lost Souls at 8pm. Keep watching for the parade route to be announced at midnight prior to the parade.

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

EVO Summer Cinema returns to Stanley Park for 2018

Celebrating its 10th Anniversary,  EVO Summer Cinema outdoor movie series returns to Second Beach in Stanley Park. Tuesday nights from July 3 to August 21, 2018, the the Grand Lawn at Ceperley Field will turn into a free public cinema.  

Seating is free, on a first-come, first-seated basis, for up to 5000 people around the meadow. So bring a blanket (or buy one from the Fresh-Air Cinema Snack Bar) and join in the fun.  Step it up a notch and move your movie date night to one of 200 Reserved VIP Gold Circle Seats, available in a Adirondack cottage-chair placed in the front row of the cinema. Book ahead or take the chance on rush seats being released the Monday prior to the film.

Why not make it dinner and a movie? Packages with a three-course meal from one of the West-End’s many restaurants + VIP Gold Circle seating are also available.

Bike Valet is onsite for those who peddle to the park. Food trucks and pre-show activities keep patrons entertained while waiting for the films to begin, at dusk.

New this year, the EVO Summer Cinema Marketplace brings a selection of carefully curated local artisans and vendors to the cinema meadow each week.

The 2018 EVO Summer Cinema line-up of fan favourite flicks is:
(note movies begin after sunset, times are approximate)

The Princess Bride 
Tuesday, July 3
98 minutes
Sunset: 9:20pm

Stand By Me
Tuesday, July 10
89 minutes
Sunset: 9:15pm

The Lion King
Tuesday, July 17
89 minutes
Sunset: 9:10pm

Mean Girls
Tuesday, July 24
97 minutes
Sunset: 9:05pm

Spice World
Tuesday, July 31
93 minutes
Sunset: 8:55pm

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Tuesday, August 7
108 minutes
Sunset: 8:45pm

Grease
Tuesday, August 14
110 minutes
Sunset: 8:30pm

Titanic
Tuesday, August 21
195 minutes
Sunset: 8:20pm

See you at the cinema!

Summer Cinema Line up 2018 from FreshAirCinema Video Production on Vimeo.

SKOOKUM Festival 2018 Announces Line-up & Tickets.

A multi-day music festival in the heart of the city, SKOOKUM Festival, has released its inaugural line-up and tickets go on sale tomorrow.  Four stages will fill Vancouver’s beloved Stanley Park with music from September 7th to 9th, 2018.

Headliners The Killers and Florence + The Machine will be joined by Metric, Arkells, The War On Drugs, St. Vincent, Father John Misty, Blue Rodeo,
Mother Mother, Chromeo, Bahamas, Stereophonics, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and dozens of more acts.

In addition to 50 plus contemporary music acts, live and multimedia art installations; pop-up and roaming entertainment as well as gourmet food from some of city’s top restaurants; tasting areas showcasing some of the best BC wines, locally brewed craft beer as well as select offerings from local area craft distilleries will round out the weekend.   Festival organizers BrandLIVE are also working with the local First Nations to provide opportunities for Indigenous musicians, chefs, and visual artists as well as an opportunity to inform and educate attendees on aspects of the their historical connections to the land.

With the Stanley Park festival site just steps from downtown Vancouver, and the addition of shuttle buses SKOOKUM is one of the most easily accessible festivals in the region.

Vancouver’s BRANDLIVE, producers of the Squamish Valley Music Festival, are known for putting on exceptional fan experiences and working in collaboration with Virgin Mobile on SKOOKUM Festival, this is sure to be another.  Paul Runnals, Festival Director says “This is the result of a conversation that began five years ago to create a more accessible, inclusive, and sustainable Festival.  We feel this first year lineup reflects the spirit of what are trying to achieve in a way that also acknowledges the significant history of the location”.

SKOOKUM Festival passes go on sale tomorrow, Friday March 16, 2018 and many Pre-Sales launch this morning. Visit skookumfestival.com for more festival information, the full line up and tickets.

SKOOKUM Music, Food, Art from Skookum Festival on Vimeo.