March 2010

Benjamin Elliott, Caitlin McCarthy and Amy Hall-Cummings. Photo by David CooperWhere's Charley?
Book  by George Abbott. Music & Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Directed by Dean Paul Gibson
Musical Direction by Steven Greenfield
Choreography by Shelley Stewart Hunt
Studio 58
Mar 25 to Apr 18, 2010

Vancouver, BC: I always love attending the  shows at Studio 58 because regardless of the genre they are performing, the student cast always exudes the vitality and joie de vivre that comes from doing something they love to do. Tonight's show was no exception.

Where's Charley is a musical farce based on the play, Charley's Aunt by English playwright, Brandon Thomas. The play premiered in 1892 and had record breaking runs in England and later on Broadway. Abbott and Loesser's musical adaptation, Where's Charley, directed by Abbott, opened on Broadway in 1948.

Loesser is probably best known for his marvelously hummable melodies and clever lyrics in his 1950 musical, Guys and Dolls, and the 1961 Pulitzer Prize winning How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.

Jennifer McPhee and Shirley Broderick. Photo by Tim MathesonQueen Lear by Eugene Stickland
Directed by Colleen Winton
Western Gold Theatre and Presentation House Theatre
Presentation House
Mar 25 to Apr 10, 2010

Vancouver,BC:  Memory - what a powerful emotional factor in so many ways. Is there anyone among us mature (never "older") individuals who does not fear  loss of memory as a foreshadowing of loss of mind? I know that every time I can't for the moment recall the name of the lead character in the book I just read, or an actor in a play I reviewed last year, I can feel that  my RAM is failing but there is no store where I can buy an upgrade as I can for my computer.

But we can laugh off  these memory lapses  as minor incidents. For an actor whose biggest nightmare would be to come up blank with lines on stage - wow- how much more frightening an age-related decline in memory would be.

In a heart-wrenching performance, Shirley Broderick conveys the anguish of knowing that one - and one's ability to learn - is not what it was at fifteen!

Norm Foster, Peter Anderson, Cailin Stadnyk. Photo by David CooperThe Love List
by Norm Foster
Directed by Max Reimer
Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company
Vancouver Playhouse
Mar 6 -10, Mar 25 - April 10, 2010

Vancouver, BC:  Confession number one! I came home from opening night of The Love List and in accordance with my New Year's Resolution to get my thoughts down before they get forgotten (see Queen Lear), went straight to my computer to start on my review. But instead I found myself writing a list! 

With a little difficulty I came up with the Top Ten qualities of my Ideal Man. Isn't it always easier to think of the ten things you don't like?  I carefully wrote my Top Ten as legibly as I could. We've all  heard about mistakes due to doctor's illegible handwriting.

But alas - my expectant ear heard no  knock on my door.  Maybe it's our condo access security system that blocked Mr.Perfect from reaching my door. Or maybe you really need the right paper from that Gypsy match making entrepreneur at "Got A Match."  Anyone have her address? or email?

Colombe Demers as Sonya in The Russian PlayThe Russian Play & Mexico City
Two plays  by Hannah Moscovitch
Directed by Christian Barry
2b theatre company & Ruby Slippers
Performance Works
Mar 24 - 28, 2010

Vancouver, BC: It's a tad ironic that the theme of the first play in this production, Mexico City, could be stated as "reality  does  not  always match up to expectations," because this precisely sums up my reaction to this show.

This is why.

I first heard of  young Canadian playwright, Hannah Moscovitch, when I saw her first full length play, East of Berlin a year ago at The Firehall. I was impressed by the "tightly written script" and commented "This is a powerful play. I don't think anyone in the audience moved a muscle throughout the performance. I didn't even hear a cough." East of Berlin  had an engrossing story to tell with strongly drawn characters whose narrative arcs felt real and were emotionally gripping. And I guess, unfairly,  I was expecting more of the same.

Tessa Cameron as Alice in Mexico CityThe program for this current production of Moscovitch's plays consists of two one-acts: first up is Mexico City, a 25 minute play featuring Henry (Conor Green) and Alice (Tessa Cameron), a young couple vacationing in Mexico City.

After intermission comes The Russian Play, about 47 minutes in length, featuring a ill-fated "love" triangle between Sonya (Colombe Demers), Kostya (Conor Green) and Piotr (Scott Stephenson) unfolding against the gloomy background of Stalinist Russia.

Mexico City is a satirical look at relationships and travel. In both situations there is a gap between what we imagine and what is.  Three years after their honeymoon in Europe Henry and Alice are looking to a holiday in Mexico to rekindle romance in their marriage.  Henry wants to experience the "real Mexico" although he is not quite sure what that is. Alice is determined not to miss any museums featuring the works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.  Both expect to find their own picture-postcard idea of Mexico. Reality is different. 


gravlax and greensWilliam Tell Restaurant
765 Beatty Street,
Vancouver BC
PH: (604) 688-3504 or Reserve Online

Kevin MacDonald and Lucia Frangione. Photo by Emily CooperParadise Garden by Lucia Frangione
Directed by Morris Ertman
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
March 11- April 11, 2010

Vancouver, BC:  Over our pre-show dinner at Yuji's Japanese Tapas restaurant, we discussed the phenomenon that my companion called "the bum factor" but which I prefer to think of as "the watch factor". Simply put, it is the thing that happens when a certain restlessness develops as one is watching a show - either because something is dragging on too long or because it just  fails to grip one's attention. He gets antsy and wriggles in his seat while I get an irresistible urge to check the time - saved only by the fact that I cant see the dial in the dark.

roll sushi platterYuji's Japanese Tapas
2059 West 4th Ave.,
Vancouver, BC
Ph: 604) 734-4990

We were going to see Paradise Garden at the Stanley Theatre and decided to check out Yuji's about a ten minute drive from theatre. Although it was just before 6 PM, we managed to get a parking spot almost outside the restaurant. It helps if your companion has great parking karma - which he does!

I was not sure what to expect -  the words Japanese and Tapas are not usually associated in my mind but I anticipated a sort of fusion of Spanish style small plates with sushi.The menu listed many items under the tapas heading including the usual Japanese dishes like miso soup and sunomono salad but also included items like grilled duck breast and fried Halibut cheek.

Guest Reviewer: Malcolm Page

SPINE, by Kevin Kerr
Directed by Bob Frazer
A Realwheels and University of Alberta co-production
Experimental Theatre, SFU Woodwards
March 10 to 20, 2010

Spine originated as a follow-up to Skydive, seen two years ago.   James Sanders, wheelchair-bound, sought another part;  Kevin Kerr would write again and Bob Frazer would switch from actor to director.   Twelve members of the University of Alberta graduating acting class would take part.   No less than 34 more are credited with 'production,' from 'dialect coach' to 'audio supervisor.'   Cultural Olympiad money came in.  

Kerr and Frazer, as they record in the program, look for inspiration to Prometheus, Frankenstein, Cyrano de Bergerac and Midsummer Night's Dream!   Kerr demonstrated what he could do with conventional theatre in 'Unity, 1918' ;  here he writes an intelligent collection of fragments.

crispy green beansP.F.Chang's China Bistro
61 Fortune Drive,
Irvine, CA
Ph: (949) 453-1211

P.F. Chang's China Bistro (Irvine Spectrum) on Urbanspoon

For our last dine-out with kids at family friendly restaurants in South Orange County before I head back to Vancouver, we decided on P.F. Chang's China Bistro at the Irvine Spectrum Mall.

As usual we got there early, around 5 PM but already there was a 35 minute wait for inside tables. Fortunately it was a warm afternoon and early evening so we opted for a patio table .  Three space heaters also added warmth.

"Happy Hour" extends from 3 PM to 6 PM with a special menu of reduced price drinks and dishes. I had a 7 oz glass of Riesling  S.A.Prum for $5.00 and the others shared a large Gekkeikan Sake for $4.00.

Guest Reviewer: Malcolm Page

Andrew Laurenson, Nneka Croal, Tanya Podlozniuk, Michael Rinaldi, Young-Hee Kim: Photo by Tim MathesonThe Greatest Cities of the World
Creative Team: James Long, Maiko Bae Yamamoto (directors); Nneka Croal, Ruben Castelblanco, Susan Elliott, Young-Hee Kim, Andrew Laurenson, Michael Rinaldi, Tanya Podlozniuk (performers)
Theatre Replacement
Vancouver East Cultural Centre 13-17 March, 2010 Vancouver, BC: The Theatre Replacement company have a reputation for being at the cutting-edge, part of a movement in Vancouver which is 'pushing the envelope': with Electric Company, Boca del Lupo, Radix, The Only Animal and Leaky Heaven Circus. This year Theatre Replacement won the big Alcan Rio Tinto award.

Their idea was to go to the small towns of Tennessee which have the names of great European cities, Paris, London, Athens and Moscow. They taped interviews, while staying sensitive to themselves as outsiders. They must have hoped that this fieldwork would provide a subject - it hasn't. Though staying close to verbatim theatre, they evidently ignored 'The Farm Show' and 'Laramie Project' as models.


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