Arts Club Theatre

Mary Poppins:  A Musical based on the stories of PL Travers and the Walt Disney Film
Original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
Book by Julian Fellowes
New songs, music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drew
Directed by Bill Millerd
Musical Director  Bruce Kellet
Choreographer Valerie Easton
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Nov 7, 2013 to Jan 5, 2014

Vancouver, BC:  If I were to pick my number one musical guaranteed to light up the holiday season it would be Mary Poppins. Who could fail to love  P.L. Travers Practically Perfect Nanny who makes a magical world out of the ordinary, everyday events of life? Add a song list that charms everyone from the youngest child who can say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,  to his granny who loves the joyful precision of Step In Time and the sweet poignancy of  Feed the Birds, and it's a show for all ages to enjoy.

I applaud the Arts Club for this ambitious undertaking. The technical demands of this production were impressive. The collapsing kitchen table and cabinet shelves, magically restored by Mary Poppins, worked flawlessly, and Mary Poppins soared across the theatre as if she really did it all the time. The production is a visual treat with Alison Green's beautifully designed and executed backdrops, highlighted with rain, lightning and flying flocks of birds, courtesy of Craig Alfredson's projections. The backdrop of the rooftops of London was stunningly beautiful and my favorite part of the scenic design.

Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
Directed by Janet Wright
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Sept 6 to October 7, 2012

Vancouver, BC: Get your tickets for the Arts Club's Clybourne Park. It's a well acted production of a cleverly conceived and written script (winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), and an excellent evening's entertainment.

Set in the same house in a Chicago suburb, fifty years apart, Norris's biting script examines inter-racial tensions that centre around neighborhoods and communities, and how ordinary people react to perceived threats from the insertion of "the other"  into their home environments.  

High Society
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter; Book by Arthur Kopit
Directed by Bill Millerd
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
May 10 to June 24, 2012

Todd Talbot and Jennifer Lines. Photo by Tim Matheson.Vancouver, BC: Having waltzed, foxtrotted and quickstepped across many ballrooms to many Cole Porter songs, I confess I am an unabashed fan of much of his music.

My favorite Porter musicals, "Anything Goes" and "Kiss Me Kate", are packed with songs that stick in your head and with versions by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra frequently playing as background accompaniment while I work, many of those lyrics are firmly engraved on my brain.

That being said, I have not seen either The Philadelphia Story nor the film version of High Society so after a light supper round the corner at Rangoli,  I came to see this musical with no preconceived expectations - and enjoyed the show a lot.

Meg Roe,Laara Sadiq, Ming Hudson, Rachel Aberle, Sarah Donald. Photo by David Cooper.The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood,
Directed by Vanessa Porteous,
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Oct 20 to Nov 20, 2011

Vancouver, BC: I loved the tag-line for this show - The Untold Story of the Original Desperate Housewife".  But do not let this mislead you into thinking this is in any way a television style comedy-drama. The Penelopiad is an exquisitely narrated re-imagining of Homer's Odyssey, from the perspective of Penelope, faithful wife of Odysseus, who waited twenty years for him to return from fighting the Trojan War.

Originally written as a novella by Atwood and then adapted for the stage, the play is structured with two basic elements. The first is the narrative thread recounted by Penelope (Meg Roe) from Hades where she is haunted by the shades of her slave girls who were murdered by her son Telemachus  at  the behest of the finally returned Odysseus. 

Warren Kimmel, Caitriona  Murphy and Eric Morin. Photo by David CooperNext To Normal
Music by Tom Kitt
Book & lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Directed by Bill Millerd
Musical Directors Bruce Kellett and Ken Cormier
An Arts Club Theatre Production,
Stanley Theatre Industrial Alliance Stage
Jan 27 to Feb 27, 2011

Vancouver, BC:  Go and see Next to Normal. It's powerful stuff yet poignant, at times comedic and the characters will grab at your empathetic emotions and not let go. This rock musical garnered Tony awards for best score and orchestrations, as well as a somewhat controversial 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Millerd and his stellar cast did justice to every aspect of the show.

Jennie Neumann in Hairspray. Photo by David CooperHairspray
Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Directed by Bill Millerd
Musical Director - Ken Cormier
Choreographer - Valerie  Easton
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
May 7 - July 10, 2011

Vancouver, BC: There is a bumper crop of fresh talent lighting up the stage at the Stanley Theatre, joining Arts Club musical regulars, Matt Palmer, Cailin Stadnyk  and Anna Kuman in a sparkling production of Hairspray.

Camille Mitchell as Mrs. Robinson. Photo by David CooperThe Graduate - adapted for stage by Terry Johnson
based on the novel by Charles Webb
and the screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry
Directed by Lois Anderson,
Granville Island Stage,
Arts Club Theatre Company,
Apr 14- May 14 , 2011

Vancouver, BC:  It is always an interesting anticipation when one  looks at an adaptation of a work in one genre into another form, whether book to film, film to musical or film to play. It becomes even more of an interest when the new work is adapted from an iconic original. 

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