Theatre Seen

Dreamgirls
Book and lyrics by Tom Eyen
Music by Henry Krieger
Directed by Bill Millerd
Choreographed by Valerie Easton
Arts Club Theatre Company,
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
May 9 - July 7, 2013

Vancouver, BC: Told largely through a sequence of musical numbers, Dreamgirls is the story of the rise to fame of a trio of young black female singers,  Deena (Karen Holness), Lorrell (Starr Domingue) and Michelle (Crystal Balint) under the manipulative direction of their manager, Curtis Taylor (Darren Herbert) while Effie (Aurianna Angelique) - big voice, big heart, big body - loses out.

Spring Awakening
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.

RACE
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.

Guest Review by Danielle Benzon

Far Side of the Moon 
Written and Directed by Robert LePage
Performed by Yves Jacques until Nov 4, Lepage from Nov 6 to 10, 2012
Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodwards

Far Side of the Moon is a story about vanity, narcissism, family ties and, inevitably, space exploration. The Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodwards in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts provides the perfect setting for this piece. Although still highly technically creative as is the trademark of an Ex Machina production, Far Side of the Moon has an existentialist sparseness to it that effortlessly evokes the loneliness of space and of the human condition.

An Enemy of The People
Adapted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, based on the play by Henrik Ibsen
Directed by Doug Hughes
A Manhattan Theatre Club Production
Samuel J Friedman Theatre
October 20, 2012

New York, NY. My dilemma: a one day stopover in  New York en route to a dance cruise; only one time slot open to see theatre, and the usual cornucopia of tempting on-stage offerings. But when I saw that Manhattan Theatre Club was staging a version of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of The People”, this play became the instant pick for my one theatre spot.  Some years ago I had the privilege of studying Ibsen’s 12 realist prose play cycle with an Ibsen scholar. My favorite  was not any of his rather depressing  plays, where the protagonists shoot themselves or fall off a bridge or a tower (can you name the plays?) or even the ambiguously optimistic  "A Dolls House"  but it was in fact "An Enemy of The People." The thematic thread of holding steadfast to scientific fact and principle despite massive pressure to sugar-coat the truth appealed to me. 

ReviewFromTheHouse.com is  pleased to award two tickets each for opening night  of the Upintheair and Genus Theatre Production of  A Tomb With a View to the first 2 people who email [email protected] with the answer to this question: The title of  A Tomb with a View is a humorous allusion to the book title, A Room with A View. Who is the author of the book and who is the author of the play?

A TOMB WITH A VIEW  premieres at Studio 1398 on Granville Island this October 25th at 8:00. pm and runs October 25, 2012 – November 3, 2012:  8:00pm (Matinee 2pm Oct 28)

The Studio – 1398 Cartwright Street, Vancouver

Tickets: $18 / $14 (Students) http://tomb.brownpapertickets.com/

Just in time for Halloween - British playwright, Norman Robbins' play comes to Vancouver.

Master Class
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".

Attempts on her Life
By Martin Crimp
Directed by Katrina Dunn
Studio 58,
Langara College
Sept 27 to Oct 14, 2012

Vancouver, BC: Kudos to director, Katrina Dunn, and her cast  of 15 Studio 58 students, who made the one hour and 40 minutes of Martin Crimp's extraordinary "play" pass in a flash.  Martin Crimp is a contemporary British playwright and translator, whose 1997 play, Attempts on her Life, challenges conventional theatrical form and structure.  There is no storyline, no pre-defined characters and no pre-defined setting. This play consists of 17 apparently unrelated scenarios in which characters provide differing perspectives of a protagonist, Annie, whom we never actually meet on stage. Does she really exist or is she a construct of "woman" - daughter, mother, sexual object?

The Duchess  a.k.a. Wallis Simpson
By Linda Griffiths
Directed by Sarah Rodgers
Theatre at UBC
Telus Studio Theatre
Sep 20 to Oct 6, 2012

Vancouver, BC.  Linda Griffith's play is a challenging piece of theatre but under the direction of Sarah Rodgers, the ten students of UBC's final year BFA class, playing 25 characters, managed to pull it off with a flair that would have made the duchess proud.  Griffiths has re-imagined the commonly known saga of the love affair between Edward VIII, reluctant heir to the throne of England,  and the charming upstart American divorcee, Wallis  Simpson, later Duchess of Windsor, for whom he renounced his crown.

Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
Directed by Janet Wright
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Sept 6 to October 7, 2012

Vancouver, BC: Get your tickets for the Arts Club's Clybourne Park. It's a well acted production of a cleverly conceived and written script (winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), and an excellent evening's entertainment.

Set in the same house in a Chicago suburb, fifty years apart, Norris's biting script examines inter-racial tensions that centre around neighborhoods and communities, and how ordinary people react to perceived threats from the insertion of "the other"  into their home environments.  

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