Titanic –A New Musical
Story and Book by Peter Stone
Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeston
Director/choreographer Max Reimer
Musical Director Kevin Michael Cripps
Theatre Under the Stars
Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park
Until August 18th, 2012
Vancouver, BC: For an avid ballroom dance cruiser who has set sail, so to speak, on 2ocean liners and several large and small cruise ships in the past three years, a musical about an "unsinkable" ocean liner that actually sinks could be deemed an odd choice for entertainment, especially just before boarding another ship as I will do in a weeks or so. But previously, before leaving on a Cunard cruise round the British isles, I had read quite a bit about the Titanic, and a visit to the Titanic Museum in Halifax on another dance cruise later that year ago was also a fascinating but sobering experience. Perhaps partly because of that, for me the emotional impact of this TUTS production was quite intense.
This Theatre Under the Stars production of Titanic - A New Musical is different from TUTS more usual style of musical theatre but under the direction of Max Reimer, it is definitely one of the best shows that I have seen there. Obviously the subject matter does not lend itself to lots of upbeat song and dance musical numbers, but there were many moments of humour, and the singing, both individual and in the ensemble pieces was excellent.
The audience of course, unlike the passengers and crew who are full of excited anticipation on stage, knows from the first minute that these characters and this marvelous ship are doomed. Despite every minute of emotional angst that derives from the powerful impact of this dramatic irony (and I was almost moved to tears in several parts) the show is entertaining and is definitely well worth seeing.
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.
Created and staged by Carey Perlhoff and Val Caniparoli
Répétiteur: Nancy Dickson
A Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company/ Theatre Calgary presentation of
the American Conservatory Theater of San Francisco production.
Oct 8 to 29, 2011
Vancouver, BC: There was magic in the air on opening night at the Vancouver Playhouse when music, movement and theatre came together in a show that made me want to dance but also brought tears to my eyes.
The story of the bartender at the Tosca Cafe is told, in the main, wordlessly through movement, look or gesture, and it is so perfectly done that you can follow every scenario as if there were a spoken text.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Book by Larry Gelbart and Burt Shevelove
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Cathy Wilmot
Music Director Sarah Jaysmith
Choreographer Dawn Ewen
Fighting Chance Productions
Jericho Arts Centre
Oct 4 - 22, 2011
Vancouver, BC: What happens when that ancient Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus meets twentieth century playwrights Larry Gelbart and Burt Shevelove, figuratively of course? You get Pseudolus (the play) turned into A funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, where stock characters (young lovers, obstructionary old man, clever slave) play out slapstick comedy with storylines borrowed from ancient Greek theatre.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Directed by Jane Heyman
Studio 58 at Langara College
Sept 29 to Oct 16, 2011.
Vancouver, BC: "The play's the thing!" and Arthur Miller's play written almost 60 years ago has not lost one iota of its power to captivate. The Crucible is set in Salem village, Massachusetts in 1692, notorious for the witch trials resulting in nineteen people hanging for supposedly being witches. Miller's play premiered on Broadway in 1952, five years after the House Committee for Un-American Activities had begun an investigation into communist influence in the Hollywood movie industry. Several hundred actors, directors and screen writers accused by this committee were blacklisted and their lives and careers ruined. The Crucible serves an allegorical function, the religious hysteria of seventeenth century Massachusetts stands in for the anti-communist hysteria of the 20th century. Both forces were driven by rabid believers who forced innocent people into the moral dilemma of false confessions or naming names of associates, to save their own lives.
The Trial of Judith K by Sally Clark
Directed by Tom Scholte
Frederick Wood Theatre,
Sept 29 to Oct 8, 2011 - shows at 7:30 PM
Vancouver, BC: Black Comedy? Absurdist theatre? Whatever genre this play falls into, "The Trial of Judith K" would be a difficult script for even a professional company to pull off well and this student production did not entirely succeed in doing so. Without a copy of the script in front of me I am also finding this hard to write about, since other than Jordan Kerbs who plays the title role, each of the other cast members play at least three separate characters (twenty in total) and it's hard to keep them straight in my mind. But here goes.
Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker
Directed by Nicola Cavendish
Granville Island Stage,
Arts Club Theatre Company,
Sept 22 to Oct 22,2011
Vancouver, BC: The best aspect of this production for me was the way David Roberts' set design and Ted Roberts' lighting came together to create a realistic setting of a typical studio space in a school or community centre. At first we see only a opaque, reflecting rear wall of the studio up stage but back lighting reveals a corridor with more rooms opening off the far side. I really liked this effect - it transported me back to some of the weird and wonderful classes I took at local community centres.
Next 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.
Music and lyrics by Cole Porter
Original book by PG Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Russell Crouse, Howard Lindsay
New book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman
Director Sarah Rodgers
Music Director Christopher King; Choreographer Dayna Tekatch
Theatre Under the Stars,
Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park
Alternating nights July 13 to August 20th, 2011
Vancouver, BC: As we sat at a window table enjoying an exceptionally good pre-show meal at the new Ensemble restaurant, we watched raindrops spattering on the pavement. It looked like the weather forecasts were correct and the opening night of Anything Goes would take place under wet skies.
By the time we walked into Malkin Bowl to find our seats the sky had temporarily cleared but before the show began the drizzle started up again and the TUTS volunteers were handing out transparent ponchos to keep everyone in the audience dry.
But not even the rain could decrease my appreciation of Cole Porter's marvelous musical. Anything Goes is one of my favorites because almost every tune is a "stick in the head" kind of melody. My IPod ballroom dance music collection has quickstep versions of "It's De-Lovely", "You're the Top" and "I Get a Kick out of You", and I think I have most of Porter's clever lyrics permanently implanted in my brain. So I sang along silently in my head, and enjoyed the show a whole lot.