As I See It

img_1179_-_shot_4_-_money-w500-h500.jpgCymbeline
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Anita Rochon
 Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
Howard Family Stage, Douglas Campbell Theatre, Vanier Park
July 4 to Sept 17, 2014

img_1435_-_money-w500-h500.jpgVancouver, BC: Cymbeline is one of the lesser known Shakespearean dramas with many characters taking on alternate identities. It is one of the few Shakespeare plays that I have never seen performed, studied or even read until now. In Cymbeline, the plot is rather convoluted and the Bard uses many of his familiar devices and characters - the poison that simulates death, disguises that are un-believably effective, lost royal heirs that are raised in poverty, the deceitful betrayer who besmirches the reputation of the virtuous heroine - and I honestly wasn’t expecting to be riveted to the stage as I am when I watch one of his great tragedies. 

But I really loved this production. Anita Rochon’s direction was crisp and incisive and this talented group of actors were able to push the limits of the multiple role casting to provide the comedic sharpness that this play needs.

img_0607_-_money-w500-h500.jpgEquivocation
by Bill Cain
Directed by Michael Shamata
 Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
Howard Family Stage, Douglas Campbell Theatre, Vanier Park
July 2 to Sept 19, 2014
Vancouver, BC: I really enjoy the opportunity to see a play with a Shakespearean

Vancouver, BC: I really enjoy the opportunity to see a play with a Shakespearean “connection”  as the 4th play in a Bard on the Beach season. These plays such as Mark Leiren -Young's "Shylock" or Stoppard's "Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern", that are not of the Shakespeare's writing yet complement the current productions, add a different dimension to the Bard on the Beach experience.

This year, Bill Cain’s "Equivocation", though not specifically related to any of the three other plays on stage,  was an excellent choice and I found the play witty and thought-provoking. Filled to the brim with allusions recognizable to the Shakespearean “in” crowd, it presents an tantalizing imagined tale of how Equivocation's Shakespeare character, Shagspeare, comes to produce one of the Shakespearean tragedies most admired and performed to this day. I'll leave it to you to find out which one.

shrek_39a0653-w500-h500.jpgShrek: The Musical
Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig
Book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Sarah Rodgers
Music Director Christopher King, Choreographer Julie Tomaino
Theatre Under the Stars, Malkin Bowl, Stanley park.
July 11 to Aug 22, 2014

Vancouver, BC:  With my grandchildren (one a five year old) in town, this was a great opportunity to take them to see a Theatre Under the Stars musical at Malkin Bowl. The story of Shrek, the lonely ogre, was more age appropriate than Legally Blonde, which I had enjoyed last year. Seven of us trooped off to Stanley Park, hoping for a beautiful summer evening, and we got what we hoped for, a warm, almost cloudless summer night and good family entertainment.

 

img_0336-w500-h500.jpgThe Book of Mormon
Book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
Directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker
Choreographed by Casey Nicholaw
Eugene O'Neill Theatre, 230 West 49th St. (8th and BWay)

New York, NY:  After reading my little rant about the mind-numbing effect of excessive and unexpected profanity on stage, you may wonder why I would have chosen to see The Book of Mormon. After all it was written by the creators of South Park, the award winning animated comedy sitcom known for its shock value and crude language. The difference is that going into the theatre, I knew that this show described as a "bawdy, irreverent, hilarious" look at missionaries sent to Africa to convert the masses, would create  its comedy by using foul language and sexually explicit humour to shock. So in the context of the show, swear words were the least "offensive " aspect. Overall The Book of Mormon is entertaining and quite hilarious.

satchmo_at_waldorf_023_1-1-w500-h500.jpgSatchmo at The Waldorf
starring John Douglas Thompson
by Terry Teachout
directed by Gordon Edelstein
at the Westside Theatre (407 West 43rd)

New York, NY.   In general I avoid reading reviews of plays or musicals that I am about to see so as not to bias my enjoyment and opinion on the show. In the case of Satchmo at the Waldorf, I wish I had broken my rule as the play turned out to be very different to what I had been expecting.

In a powerful performance John Douglas Thompson plays the seventy-year old Louis Armstrong in his dressing room at the  Waldorf Astoria as he unwinds after one of his last performances.

kinky_boots_broadway_15_email_1-w500-h500.jpgKinky Boots
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper
Based on the Miramax motion picture Kinky Boots written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth
Directed and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell
Music supervision, arrangements and orchestration by Stephen Oremus
At the Al Hirschfeld Theatre,  302 West 45th

kinky_boots_billy_porter_andy_kelso_757_1-w500-h500.jpgNew York, NY.   This is the second production of Kinky Boots I have seen. I first saw the show with the original Broadway cast  in June last year, and enjoyed it so much (specially the boots!) that on this return visit I thought my fashionista  friends had to see it too. Good decision because I confess I loved it even more the second time around.

 

wh1-w500-h500.jpgWhite Hot
by Tommy Smith
directed by Ben Ratner
The Shop Theatre, 125 E. 2 nd St.
A White Hot Equity Co-Op production
May 8 -17, 2014

i-btvwcbk-x2-w500-h500.jpgVancouver, B.C. One of the things I love about my job as a theatre reviewer is the opportunity to see off-mainstream shows by small independent theatre companies. It is also often an opportunity to learn about small funky theatre spaces which these independent companies find to use for their productions. And that's how on a rainy Vancouver night I found myself driving round the vicinity of Main and Québec Streets, trying to find a a street parking space reasonably close to The Shop Theatre, which I discovered is in the old production space of the now sadly defunct Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company.

I do not use the F-word, at least in my writing, so I will simply say instead that Tommy Smith's play is about some seriously M-essed up characters. Lil (Loretta Walsh) and Sis (Stefania Indelicato) are sisters, the yin and yang of a manic-depressive persona. Sis is a manically crazy nymphomaniac who kicks off the play with a superbly articulated, warp-speed monologue about her sex-driven, violent but empty life.  “I love when people lie to me. I love the moment when I figure it out. I’m like, there, I got white hot justice on my side.”

 

iceland_sm_lindsey_angell-w500-h500.jpgICELAND
by Nicolas Billon
Directed by Kathleen Duborg
A Dirt Road/The Iceland Equity Co-oP Production
Studio 16, West 7th.
Till May 3, 2014

Vancouver, BC: It was a packed house last night for the closing performance of Nicolas Billon’s Iceland at Studio 16, and deservedly so. Iceland is a gem of a theatrical piece and it was sensitively directed and beautifully performed by Kathy Duborg and her cast of three.
Iceland is one of three plays that make up the trilogy published as “Fault Lines” that won Billon the 2013 Governor  General’s Literary Award for Drama. The other two plays are Greenland and Faroe Islands.

glory_wdp5478-w500-h500.jpgWatching Glory Die
Written and performed by Judith Thompson
Directed by Ken Gass
Canadian Rep Theatre
Historic Theatre at The Cultch
 April 23 to May 3rd, 2014.

Vancouver, BC:  A fourteen year old girl sent to juvenile detention for throwing an apple at a postman was incarcerated for five years until she ultimately asphyxiated herself in her cell while being watched by on duty correctional officers. The correctional officers were "following orders not to intervene until she stopped breathing." It is hard to believe that this tragic and horrific real-life story could happen in a country like Canada. Four months ago, almost 7 years after the death of Ashley Smith, an inquest jury found that her death was a homicide - in other words that the actions of others contributed to her death. No criminal or civil liability was assessed through the inquest but recommendations were made to prevent such future tragedies. 

Playwright Judith Thompson chose to tell this sad and perplexing story through the perspectives of three representative characters. Glory is the troubled 19 year old girl who has spent 5 years, much of it in "therapeutic  quiet" or isolation, in institutions of Corrections Canada. Rose is Glory's adoptive mother, who raised her from a 5 day old infant, and who, towards the end was kept away from Glory by the Corrections system. Gail represents the correctional officers or prison guards. A rough working-class woman, she is fearful of losing her job, follows orders not her conscience and is clearly not trained nor qualified to be responsible for the type of self-destructive  prisoner that Glory has become.  In this premiere production of Watching Glory Die, Thompson herself bravely returns to the stage after 35 years, to play all three roles.

annie139a0997-w500-h500.jpgAnnie
Book by Thomas Meehan, Music by Charles Strouse, Lyrics by Martin Charnin
Directed and Choreographed by Valerie Easton
Musical Direction by James Bryson
Royal City Musical Theatre
Massey Theatre
April 10 to 26, 2014

Vancouver, BC: I am an unabashed fan of Annie, the spunky, independent little optimist, and ANNIE has one of my favorite feel-good musical songs, Tomorrow. Valerie Easton and her large cast and crew have put on a polished and entertaining production and I enjoyed every minute of it.  

annie139a0741-w500-h500.jpg

annie139a1368-w500-h500-w500-h500.jpgTwelve-year old Julia MacLean played Annie with poise and confidence, belting out her numbers with the clarity of a seasoned performer. The entire orphan girl ensemble was impressive and well rehearsed. Their dancing was precise and their diction great, so you could clearly hear the words of their songs. Little Jaime MacLean who played Molly is an 8 year old with an amazing stage presence. Tiny as she is I found my eyes drawn to her among the group of orphans.

Pages

Sign Up For E-Mail Updates

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Follow Me

The Community