Cocktails at Pam's
by Stuart Lemoine
Directed by Stephen Heatley
Staircase Theatre Equity Collective
Studio 1398 (3rd Floor Festival House, 1398 Cartwright St)
Nov 13 to 30th at 8 Pm, Nov 30th at 2 PM.
Vancouver, BC: I hate cilantro. I am in a very select minority of around 15% of humans who are genetically programmed to detest that soapy green herb that chefs and party hostesses in the not-similarly-afflicted 85%, love to use as garnishes or flavourings. I hate the taste so much that in my Sipping and Supping food blog over a two year period, I ranted about cilantro in at least eighteen different stories until I realized "enough already".
So when Estelle, an unexpected guest at Pam's cocktail party, rants about her distaste for green peppers and the presence of green peppers on all the canapés being served, I didn't know whether to feel bad for hostess Pam or to cheer Estelle on.
A rude guest with an anti-green pepper fixation is just one of the disasters that disrupts the perfect party that Pam has so painstakingly planned. In Cocktails at Pam's, originally written in the mid-eighties, playwright Lemoine, a master of the one-act comedy, sets this situation up neatly.
When Pam (Maryanne Renzetti) first appears in her living room to reassure herself that everything is set out just perfectly for her party, anyone who has ever hosted a similar gathering can't help empathizing with her. But slowly you realize that this is not just an ordinary gathering of friends and Pam is not just a normally anxious hostess.
Communion by Daniel MacIvor
Directed by Roy Surette
Ruby Slippers Theatre Company
October 25 to Nov 9, 2013
Vancouver, BC: Communion - the sharing or exchanging of the mental or spiritual thoughts or feelings.
Played with no intermission, Communion (the play) is a three part drama in which three women, Leda (Diane Brown), her daughter Ann (Marcie Nestman) and her therapist, Carolyn (Kerry Sandomirsky) try to reconcile their beliefs and experiences about atheism, Catholicism, born-again Christian anti-abortion fanaticism, mortality and after-life, sexual orientation, love and rejection, while seeking a pathway through personal crises.
Venus in Fur
by David Ives
Directed by David Mackay
Arts Club Theatre Company
Granville Island Stage
- to November 2nd.
Vancouver, BC: Although I have laughed my way through my copy of Time Flies, a collection of very funny, very short plays by David Ives, I have neither read nor seen any productions of his longer works and the unexpected complexity of this play took me by surprise. Rapid changes of character and switching power dynamics kept me on the edge, alert to the varying nuance of posture and voice so as not to miss a beat of the performance. Sexy and provocative - who knew that the act of guiding a long leather boot onto a leg could be so erotic? Kinky comedy indeed, this is no average guy-meets-gal comedy
Riverview High: The Musical
Directed by Mike Mackenzie
Music and Musical Direction by Stuart Yu
Lyrics by Stuart Yu and Mike Mackenzie
Book by Angela Wong
Choreography by Dawn Ewen
At The Firehall until August 24th, 2013
Vancouver, BC: Vancouver has talent! And it really showed at the opening night of Riverview High. I must confess I did not know what to expect. Developed over a mere 17 months by the local creative team of Angela Wong, Stewart Yu, Mike Mackenzie and Dawn Ewen, Riverview High: The Musical had its world premiere in Sept 2012 at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Despite seeing as many Fringe shows as I could (Vancouver Fringe Festival 2012 Part I ) I missed this one, which was voted Pick of the Fringe and later garnered Ovation awards for Outstanding Production (Small Theatre) and for three of the performers.
Set in 1996, it's all about teen love triangles. Alex (Erik Gow), the Don Juan of the graduating class accidentally invites both sweet blonde Cathy (Alex Gullason) and sexy rich brunette Erica (Ranae Miller) to the prom, much to the disappointment of nerdy Dexter (Caleb di Pomponio) who loves Cathy, and suave Randy (Lucas Blaney) who fancies Erica.
The Farnsworth Invention
by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Matthew Bissett
Ensemble Theatre Company
Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery Street.
Plays July 19, 22, 25, 31 (talk back), and August 3, 6, 9th at 8 PM with 2 pm matinees on July 21 and 27.
Vancouver, BC: After enjoying an excellent pre-show dinner at Fable restaurant we headed to Jericho Arts Centre for opening night of The Farnsworth Invention. Since I was reviewing the show, I stuck to my rule of not indulging in even one glass of wine. This was smart, because this script demands concentrated attention.
Legally Blonde: The Musical
Music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin
Book by Heather Hach
Directed and choreographed by Valerie Easton
Musical Direction by Danny Balkwill
Theatre Under the Stars
Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park
Playing alternate nights until August 17th, 2013
Vancouver, BC: It was another perfect night at Malkin Bowl in Vancouver. The sky was clear, the temperature hovered around 20ºC and I didn't even need a jacket. We Vancouverites, who have sat through cold and rainy summer nights in Stanley Park, prayed to the weather fairies that these glorious days and nights would last till September, and sat back to revel in musical theatre in the park.
As for Legally Blonde: the Musical, developed from the 2001 film which in turn was based on Amanda Brown's novel Legally Blonde, - I enjoyed it so much I hope to find a time to bring my grand-daughter (California blonde of course) to see it when she comes to visit.
The plot follows the journey of Elle Woods (Breanne Arrigo), blonde fashionista President of the UCLA Delta Nu, to Harvard Law School in pursuit of her ambitious preppy boyfriend, Warner (Peter Cumins) who had dumped her for the more "serious" and well-connected Vivienne (Andrea Bailey). Bringing her unique style into the classroom, Elle runs into the feared Professor Callahan (Warren Kimmel) and the supercilious attitudes of her ambitious classmates.
By Wlliam Shakespeare
Directed by Kim Collier
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival,
BMO Mainstage at Vanier Park
June 13 to September 12, 2013
Vancouver, BC: It is said that every actor wants to play Hamlet, and many great actors have, on stage and screen. So kudos to Jonathon Young for a passionate and riveting performance that drew fresh nuances from so many familiar lines and garnered a standing ovation from much of the sold-out house. In this marvelously complex play, young Hamlet has to find his path through so many issues; the revelation that the death of his revered father, the King, was in fact a murder; when this revelation comes from his father's Ghost (Duncan Fraser) can it be real? how could his newly widowed mother turn so quickly to a new lover; what to do with the beautiful young Ophelia when his thoughts are dominated by the need for revenge? Young makes his interpretation of every line crystal clear.
Book and Lyrics by Steven Slater
based on the play by Frank Wedekind
Music by Duncan Sheik
Directed by David Hudgins
Musical Director Andy Toth
Choreographer Shelley Stuart Hunt
at Studio 58, Langara College
Jan 31 to Feb 24, 2013
Vancouver, BC: I have been waiting to see this show for several years. It seems like every time it is on in a particular city, I have either just missed it or leave before it opens so I am glad to have finally caught this show, especially with the talented students of Studio 58 taking on what is quite a challenging work.
Based on Frank Wedekind's controversial 1891 play, Spring Awakening, about burgeoning sexuality in a group of young people in 19th century Germany, the rock musical adaptation does not hold back in portraying the raw sexuality of the youth in question, nor the fears and the ignorance of both youth and adults in the provincial German town in which it's set.
By David Mamet
Directed by David Mackay
Mitch and Murray Productions
Studio 16, 1555 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver
Running until December 1st, Tuesday - Saturday at 8pm.
Guest Review by Jo Ledingham
Vancouver, BC. This production of David Mamet’s Race (which premiered on Broadway in 2009) will have you leaping out of the starting blocks and sprinting all the way to the finish line. Directed by David Mackay, it’s all over in seventy minutes. It’s a potent, profanity-studded exposé of racism and misogyny so interlocked as to be inseparable.
It’s also an interesting bookend to Mamet’s Romance produced last fall at the Fringe. In Romance, the playwright slags lawyers and the legal system in a searing but exceedingly entertaining way: a judge who’s so medicated he can’t stay awake, lawyers who exchange racial and religious slurs and a client who may or may not be guilty of whatever the charge is – but who cares? That’s not the point.
By Terence McNally
Directed by Meg Roe
Arts Club Granville Island Stage,
Arts Club Theatre Company
Sept 27 to Oct 27, 2012.
Vancouver, BC. Voice students, Sophie (Shannon Chan-Kent) and Tony (Frédérik Robert) wander around the stage doing their vocal warm up. Manny (Angus Kellett), the accompanist, sits playing at the piano and The Stagehand (Felix LeBlanc) clomps around. It's the 1971-72 academic year at New York's Juilliard School, and the great diva, Maria Callas (Gina Chiarelli) is here to teach. The house lights are still up as Callas sweeps onto the stage and calls for them to be dimmed. We, the audience, are here to watch her conduct a master class. Sophie, Tony and Sharon (Melanie Krueger) are the eager students who are about to become her "victims".