Der Besuch der Alten Damen (The Visit of the Old Lady): Das Musical
Based on the play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Book by Christian Struppeck
Music by Moritz Schneider and Michael Read
Lyrics by Wolfgang Hofer
Director Andreas Gergen
Choreography by Simon Eichenberger
Wanting to experience local theatre, I was concerned that the language barrier might be a problem but thought it would be less so for a musical. As it turned out at the Ronacher the production had English surtitles but even without these translations, this production woud have blown me away. I had seen a production of Swiss playwright Friederich Dürrenmatt’s 1956 play Der Besuch der Alten Damen years ago and been struck by the power of the story. Add a new powerful music score, sharp choreography danced with impeccable precision by the ensemble, some lyrical songs with powerful acting, and the impact of the story is magnified many times over.
As I studied the web-sites and brochures listing the myriad cultural events that were taking place in Vienna during the week that I would be there, I had to keep reminding myself that the reason I was going to Vienna was to join the Waltz Week in Vienna group for a week-long dance camp and to have the experience of waltzing at one of the fabulous Viennese Balls. The well-planned schedule for Waltz Week allowed for time to explore the city in between dance activities and I figured that I would wait till I got to Vienna, to decide what I wanted to do.
The Original Grease
Book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Directed by Peter Jorgensen
Musical Direction by Courtnay Ennis
Choreography by Kayla Dunbar
Studio 58, Langara
Playing till February 23, 2014
Vancouver , BC: Loved the show - this Grease is energizing, galvanizing, electrifying!
A non-stop, high voltage, entertaining production. I'm addicted to dance and my passion for dancing that started with rock and roll in my teen years continues till this day. Watching the student ensemble jive and gyrate though Kayla Dunbar's exuberant choreography, I could hardly keep my feet from tapping through the show
This is not the Grease of the iconic 1978 film with John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and Stockard Channing but the original Grease,which premiered in Chicago in 1971 as a play about students at a fictional high school in a working class neighbourhood. After Jacobs and Casey were asked to develop it into more of a musical, it opened in New York in 1972 as a musical and was well received, being nominated for 7 Tony Awards.
It was interesting to have the opportunity to see the roots of what evolved into a highly successful Broadway production and film, and to realise that most of my favorite musical numbers were already present from the earliest musical version.
Written and directed by Christopher Morris
A Human Cargo production at PuSh Festival 2014
Jan 24-26, 2014
Vancouver, BC: The events of Night that take place over 24 hours of polar darkness, are precipitated by the unexpected arrival in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, of Daniella (Linnea Swan) a cultural anthropologist who works at the museum in Toronto.
Prompted by a letter she received, purportedly from a young girl Piuyuq (Tiffany Ayaluk) asking about her grandfather, Daniella decides to repatriate the bones of the grandfather to his family - his son (Jonathan Fisher) and grand-daughter. Daniella's arrival awakens old traumas in Piuyuq's father, and Piuyuq's best friend, Gloria (Reneltta Arluk), the real writer of the letter sees that her desire to help her friend has unintended bad consequences.
Seeds by Annabel Soutar
Directed by Chris Abraham
A Port Parole Production
PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and Theatre at UBC
Frederic Wood Theatre, UBC Jan 22-26 th, 2014
Vancouver, BC: I must confess that as I drove out to UBC through a thick eerie fog to see Seeds, I was gearing myself up for the usual rant against big business and corporations. But what a surprise. This docu-theatre piece of verbatim theatre ("where every word spoken onstage is a verbatim quote from court transcripts and interviews") is a fascinating, provocative and compelling presentation of a complex and multi-faceted issue.
The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, translated by Peter Gill
Directed by Kathy Duborg
Theatre at UBC
Playing till Feb 8th, 2014
Vancouver, BC: So after immersing myself in Kathy Duborg's evocative production of The Seagull, and earlier in John Wright's insightful production of Uncle Vanya, at last I find myself moving beyond my antipathy to the fatalistic hopelessness of Chekhov's plays to glimpsing the Chekhovian genius for creating complex psychological characters that confound and perplex long after the final curtain. In her Director's notes Duborg writes that performing as a student in The Seagull with Chekhov's "beautiful and heartbreaking characters", opened her to a greater understanding of how to inhabit a character. The student and experienced actor has clearly become a great teacher judging by the powerful performances she has drawn from these BFA Acting students.
Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov
Translated by Peter Petro and edited for performance by Errol Durbach and John Wright
Directed by John Wright
The Cultch Historic Theatre until Jan 18 th 2014.
Vancouver, BC: It's a grey, damp, rainy early morning in Vancouver.As I look out toward the ominous grey clouds over the skyline of the buildings across the waters of False Creek, I see small patches of blue sky peaking through and it reminds me of the faint note of hope on which Uncle Vanya ends.
As I have written before, on reading Chekhov, I have always struggled with the angst and depression of his characters (Playing Uncle Vanya: A Chat with Anthony Ingram) but after visiting the dacha in Crimea where he wrote The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard (Black Sea Cruise: Yalta, Anton Chekhov), I resolved that this would be the year when I finally figure out why his plays are so revered. Happily I think this production has done that for me.
Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo
directed by David Mackay,
Studio 16, 1555 West 7th Ave
Mitch and Murray Productions Nov 20th - Dec 7th, 2013
Vancouver BC: Right now the theatrical cornucopia of Vancouver is overflowing with an abundance of riches in the way of excellent productions . Mitch and Murray Production's Becky Shaw, is another example of fine theatre produced by a small independent company, with a interesting script, tight direction and first-class acting.
The black box space at Studio 16 was set up in a configuration that I have not seen before in this space. The seats were arranged in a sort of hexagonal formation, with three playing spaces in the centre- used as a bedroom, sitting rooms, a coffee shop, for the four locations of the scenes; New York, Boston, Providence and Richmond. I had always thought of this theatre as smallish but this in-the-round ( or in-the- hexagonal) seating revealed how surprisingly spacious this space actually is.
Gina Gionfriddo is an American playwright who has also written television episodes for shows such as Law and Order. Becky Shaw, which garnered her a nomination for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for drama, tips a hat to William Thackeray's Vanity Fair. Like Thackeray's ambitious heroine Becky Sharp, Gionfriddo's Becky (Moya O'Connell) is a disturbing intruder into the already uneasy relationships of Suzanna (Meghan Gardiner), her dominating mother, Susan (Marilyn Norry), her new husband Andrew (Charlie Gallant) and her "adopted" brother, Max (Aaron Craven).
Pride and Prejudice
adapted by Janet Munsil from the novel by Jane Austen
directed by Stuart Aikins
BlueShore Financial Cente for the Performing Arts
November 15 to 23, 2013
Vancouver, BC: In the 200th anniversary year of the publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, the theatre programs at Capilano University and the University of British Columbia both chose to stage plays adapted from the novel. I had the opportunity to see Theatre at UBC's Pride and Prejudice, and the Capilano University production, in the same week, affording an opportunity to compare the productions, which used adaptations by American playwright, John Jory and Canadian playwright, Janet Munsil, respectively.
Janet Munsil (Influence) is Artistic Director of Victoria's Intrepid Theatre. Her adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was commissioned in 2012 for a co-production by Theatre Calgary and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. The professional production premiered in Calgary in 2012 and then ran in Ottawa. I was present at the penultimate performance of the student production at Capilano, which was followed by a talk-back with Munsil and the student cast, moderated by director Aikins. Munsil described how she had immersed herself in the plot and characters of Pride and Prejudice by reading and rereading the text, listening to audiotapes of the book, and viewing various production such as the television series. Her script as interpreted by director Aikins, led to a production that was overall presentational in style, with a realistic, conventional setting and a sweetly romantic ambience.
Decorations on the proscenium arch surrounding the closed curtains, with a male and female cameo profile on either side, evoked "Jane Austen's England at the turn of the 19 th century.” The curtains opened to a backdrop of large flowers, and moving set pieces were used to indicate the interior or exteriors of house at Longbourn, Netherfield Park or Pemberley.
Pride and Prejudice
by John Jory, adapted from the novel by Jane Austen
Directed by Lois Anderson
Theatre at UBC
Frederic Wood Theatre,
November 13 to 30, 2013
Vancouver, BC: I first lost my heart to Mr. Darcy when I was sixteen. Pride and Prejudice was our assigned novel for matriculation English. King Lear was our Shakespeare tragedy assignment, and together these works instilled in me a love for English Literature that will last a lifetime.
I retrieved my heart from Austen's hero when I gave it over to my real-life sweetheart although I confess, like women and girls around the world, I nearly lost it again to Colin Firth in the 1995 television mini-series. Jane Austen's feisty Elizabeth, sweet Jane, charming Mr. Bingley and strong, silent Mr. Darcy have been enchanting readers since Pride and Prejudice was first published in 1813.