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Vancouver theatre review

Jennifer Copping and Aubrey Joy Maddock. Photo by David Cooper

This Arts Club production of Godspell has lots going for it, that could make it a runaway succcess. The multi-talented ensemble members are strong vibrant singers, lively dancers and play a variety of musical instruments. Director Hosie's concept of setting this in a railway station afforded set, lighting, projection and sound designers Alan Brodie, Sean Nieuwenhuis and Geoff Hollingshead the opportunity to develop a creative and novel set. I loved the way through projection and sound that they believably replicated split flap arrivals and departures boards, and the Vegas style change of background colour that matched with each character's signature...

The cast of Miss Shakespeare. Photo by Bold Rezolution Studio

The premise of this show had me hooked from the beginning. It's early 17th century England and theatre abounds. Companies of players are performing comedies and tragedies with meaty roles for the players to tackle - but only if the players are men. Women are not allowed to perform and if they risk it and are caught on stage, they are subject to shaming by the church. This gender-based prohibition does not sit well with Miss Judith Shakespeare (Amanda Lisman) the feisty younger daughter of The Bard...

The cast of In The Heights at Arts Club. Photo by David Cooper

I was happy to get a chance to see this show as I missed it on each of my New York trips and I really enjoyed it a lot.

I liked the musical variety with Latin rhythms, salsa, merengue and rap, and the energy of the salsa and hip-hop dancing.

Jennifer Suratos, Christopher King and Ryan Lino. Photo by Nicol Spinola

I have always been bemused by the terms "fairy tales" or "children's stories" used to describe the collections of German folk lore compiled in the 19th century by the appropriately named Brother's Grimm, Jakob and Wilhelm. Although sanitized and glamorized into gentler, happier and pretty versions  as in the animated Disney films that even young children love to watch, the actual stories tell of violent acts and cruelty that don't always end with the protagonists living "happily ever after."

Just think of Cinderella, abused by her step-mother and sisters, without any help or intervention from her own father. There is...

 Raresh DiMofte and Michael Kopsa. Photo by Tim Matheson

Everything was Blasted ! The protagonists, the set... and I. Knowing what was about to explode on stage before my eyes, I fortified myself with a pre-show glass of wine but that in no way softened the impact of this play. The anger, fear, acts so violent that I closed my eyes, hit me like the ton of the rubble that fell from the ceiling.  Yet Kane's characters are so appallingly grotesque that mercifully I felt emotionally distanced from the pain I was observing...

Columbia University professor Wallace Sayre famously quipped in reference to competition in the academic realm, that "competition in university politics takes the most vicious and bitter forms because the stakes are so low."  The same concept, that the smaller the stakes the fiercer is the competition, has been promulgated by many others including educational guru, Laurence Peter of The Peter Principle ("In hierarchical organizations every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence").
In Sebastien Archibald's futuristic corporation, management has found a way to raise the stakes and beat the Peter Principle. Employees in line for promotion must...

Euripides 'The Bacchae 2.1, adapted by Charles Mee
Directed by Dennis Gupa for Theatre at UBC

I saw The Bacchae 2.1 on the closing night of the show, and this production is one I will remember as much for its striking visual effects as for the awesome performances. The costume designs by Kiara Lawson were stunning as the examples in the photos show.  Great animal mask too.

The movements of the ensemble of black clad women, and the individual performers especially Dionysus (Thomas Elms) were captivating with many successive tableaux-like moments that my mind  captured as would a camera....

The Road Forward: A Rock Musical
Written, directed and produced by Marie Clements
Musical director and lead composer: Jennifer Kreisberg
Guest Composer and Band Leader: Wayne Lavallee

Vancouver, BC: I was really happy that I got to see one of the PUSH Festival performances of The Road Forward as this show only ran for three nights. Described as a "multi-media rock musical inspired by BC's ground-breaking  newspaper Native Voice", The Road Forward chronicles significant events and landmarks in the recent history of the native peoples of British Columbia, traced through newspaper articles and photos from the 80...

Love Letters by AR Gurney, directed by Ryan Gladstone
Staircase Theatre Society

Vancouver, BC:  Theatre is an evanescent art. Unlike the static permanent nature of a filmed performance, each live performance of a play exists only as a moment in time, a unique connection between actors and audience that remains only as a memory in the minds of the participants. This Staircase Theatre production of Love Letters  amplified the singular nature of live performance by featuring a different local theatre couple in the play each night of the four night run.

Love Letters is an epistolary play in which...

On an cold snowy night five people check in to a small town motel, just off a provincial highway. Stephen (David Bloom) and Simone (Jennifer Lines) are a married couple, with memories of a previous stay  at this motel years before. Matthew (Scott Bellis) is a tormented man, estranged from his wife and son,  who just wants to end it all.  Stephanie (Dawn Petten) has come to party with  Simon (Chirag Naik), who she picked up after attending the lecture he was giving about his message-in-a-bottle project.  She has only one thing in mind - adultery - but he can't...

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