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As I See It

Cast of Les Miserables Arts Club 2015. Photo by Ross den Otter.

This is the second time I have sat in the darkened Stanley Theatre caught up in the heart-wrenching stories of Les Miserables, and wishing I had used a tear-proof mascara. I loved the Arts Club 2009 production (ReviewFromTheHouse: Les Miserables). I have seen the musical 5 times since the first touring company came through Vancouver in the late eighties, and also seen both the 1998 and 2012 film versions.  So I was expecting to be able to sit back and watch the show from a detached and objective perspective. But alas from the first notes of Fantine's  "I Dreamed...

The cast of TUTS Hairspray. Photo by Tim Matheson

The two theatrical happenings that annually signal  summer in Vancouver are the Theatre Under the Stars musicals at Malkin Bowl and  Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.  This year's musicals are Hairspray and Oliver (which I have still to see).  But with this delightful and funny production of Hairspray, TUTS has a definite winner - don't miss it.

Tony di Gregorio and Joel Hanna. Photo by Allison Kuhl

Performing to a wildly enthusastic crowd that filled Main Street's Fox Cabaret venue, internationally renowned dancer/choreographer Vancouver's Joel Hanna, and fellow tap dance artists Calgary's Danny Nielsen and guest artist Jason Samuels Smith from New York, presented an outstanding evening of dance, music and song. 

Jennifer Lines and Colleen Wheeler. Photo by David Blue

For some reason this production of King Lear sparked an unusual and different emotional reaction in me than I usually experience in response to this play. I thought it was one of the better productions of Lear that I have seen and when intermission came, I couldn't believe that an hour and a half had passed.

My study of King Lear in the last year of high school in South Africa,  was my initiation into a lifetime of interest in Shakespeare's great tragedies and I can still remember much of Lear's railing against the elements as he wandered on the...

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...

Cast of The Value of Things

Ironically, sitting in the darkness of the Scotiabank Dance Centre black box performance space watching a metaphorical dance/theatre piece about choices and human values, my mind wandered to pondering the relationship between theatre and dance... and then to thinking about what exactly defines dance. The usual first dictionary definition of the verb "to dance" goes something like "to move rhythmically to music" but clearly since I have seen exquisite dance routines performed with no sound accompaniment, music is not an essential component for the action of dancing.  That left me with the words "move rhythmically".  Hmmm... A runner or a...

Lindsey Angell, Dawn Petten, Daniel Doheny, Sereana Malani. Photo by David Blue

Before I say just how much I liked this fast paced, high energy, steampunk version of The Comedy of Errors, I should declare that I had the unusual pleasure of vicariously experiencing the evolution of this production, as my daughter, Amanda, enjoyed the privilege of being Apprentice Director to the ingeniously creative director, Scott Bellis.

The plot  of The Comedy of Errors with its dual sets of long-time separated identical twins hinges on the failure of the twins and everyone else around to figure out that there are identically named, identical twins in town, and hence that each twin is...

Sandra Medeiros and Carlo Marks. Photo by Angelo Renai

While a thunderstorm rages over an isolated log cabin deep in a forest, siblings Bobby and Betty, are there together ostensibly to clear out a tenant's property from the cabin. But this is no Hansel and Gretel story of innocent siblings threatened by a mean step-mother and a cannabilistic witch with a fairy tale happy ending. Instead it is a dark exploration of the truth and lies  behind the emotions of an big sister-baby brother relationship now grown up.

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.


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