JERSEY BOYS: The story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Directed by Des McAnuff
Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Music by Bob Gaudio
Lyrics by Bob Crewe
Choreography by Sergio Trujillo
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
September 5 - 23, 2012
Vancouver, BC: I loved JERSEY BOYS. In fact, I actually have tickets to see the show again later this week.
Well what can I say? As a teen in the early sixties, living near the southern tip of Africa far from Newark, New Jersey, I and my friends used to dance to the music of The Four Seasons, along with that of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. And with the aerobic capacity of youth, we sang along loudly as we danced. Even now, the words of "Sherry", "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man" echo in my mind and and wow - the memories they evoke! And talk about muscle memory. As I listened to the music my body was just itching to get up and dance. Especially when they performed "Can't Take my Eyes off You" with its sexy rumba timing. Fortunately mind over muscle kept me sedately in my seat.
In an interesting convergence of programming, there were common threads running through the three plays we saw in sequence at Studio 16 relating to ideas of recurring nightmares and to life moving off course. What we think our life will be and the way it actually plays out causes many of us anxiety. What happens when the path we thought we were on diverges from our reality? In many ways, these three plays work to answer that question, although that's where the similarity of content ends.
4) Alpha by Evan Frayne
5) Breaking Velocity by Megan Phillips
6) Grey Matter by Mallory Gallant and Jamie Dunsdon
Alpha (running time 60 mins)
Created and performed by Evan Frayne
Venue: Studio 16, 1555 West 7th Street
Still to come:
Mon, Sep 10, 6:15
Thu, Sep 13, 8:30
Sat, Sep 15, 8:00
Written and performed by Evan Frayne, Alpha touches on elements of autobiography bringing Frayne's love of playing hockey and past indiscretions with alcohol to light in a revelatory monodrama.
Fringe Festival Part II. Guest Reviewer: Jo Ledingham.
4) Underbelly by Jayson McDonald
Underbelly (running time 60 minutes)
Written and performed by Jayson McDonald
Venue: Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright Street, Granville Island
Still to come:
Sun, Sep 9, 3:35pm
Mon, Sep 10, 9:40pm
Fri, Sep 14, 10:40pm
Sun, Sep 16, 6:45pm
What turns out to be a full-blown, brain-assaulting rant against everything from democracy (“offering the illusion of participation”) to just about everything, begins innocently enough. Inspired by the life and writing of Williams S. Burroughs, a lean man (Jayson McDonald) in a light brown, three-piece suit, tie and fedora – presumably Burroughs himself – stands in a pool of light. He takes a couple of pills. A few more. A handful. “While I wait for the medication to surprise me”, he says calmly, he chats briefly.
And then, wow, we’re on a roller coaster with this guy. It’s not rap or slam poetry but the effect is the same: images smashing into each other, tangents pursued into hitherto unexplored places, non-stop words hurtling crazily into the theatre faster than they can be processed. But McDonald isn’t breaking a sweat. He’s preternaturally cool as he describes what feels like the end of the world. And we’re in it. So pissed off with the way mankind is screwing up, “I refuse to remember my species name”, he says. From “tourists kicking the residents out” (the way he sees the colonization of America) to the proliferation of guns and “chemical castration”, Willie (his Burroughs persona, a writer or maybe, he concedes, “a write-off”) is seriously disillusioned.
Darkly funny, Underbelly nevertheless ends on an upbeat:
“What is love?” For the best answer I’ve ever heard and an exhilarating freefall into language and image, see Underbelly. Once is barely enough.
It's September and in Vancouver that means it is Fringe Festival Time. With a plethora of performances on and around Granville Island, off-island theatres such as the Firehall, The Cultch and other venues like the CBC Studio or the Waldorf Hotel, there is no shortage of choice whether your taste runs to comedy, drama or musical reviews. Check out the shows and events at the 2012 Vancouver Fringe Festival Guide and get on down to see some excellent performers, for the cost of a Fringe Membership ($5.00) and ticket prices of $10 or $12 per show.
With so many shows to see, I (GL) decided that a tag-team approach was needed so I co-opted guest reviewer Amanda Lockitch (ARL). Hopefully we will have divergent views of some of the pieces we see and that will engender some debate and discussion.
Toronto's Summerworks 2012 Festival Picks
By Guest Reviewer: Jackie Mack
This summer’s attendance at Summerworks, unlike previous years where I was watching colleagues work, was dedicated entirely to reviewing what was seen. Thus rather than arranging my picks in an order of attendance, the following reviews have been arranged in my ascending order of preference.
The Fever by Wallace Shawn. Directed by Rose Plotek
When choosing pieces to see, I was delighted to discover that one of my favourite plays, The Fever, written by Wallace Shawn, was on the roster. A one-woman piece about a privileged American/European who encounters the world’s inequalities, and does nothing to change it, was, as I remember it, entirely moving. I was careful, when inviting a friend to join me, to mention that I had no foreknowledge of this particular production, but that the script was so rich, it would be worth a trip to the theatre. While the production was disappointing, this still holds true. The play is beautifully crafted, artistically written and contains a universal and timely theme.
Sadly, this particular production left my friend and I feeling like we had been preached at for an hour. It is important to note that Julie Fox’s set, a white carpet on black floor with one wood chair and an overhead fan of a similar wood, was perfectly symbolic of the ideas and setting of the written script. Oddly, there was a buzzing sound audible throughout the performance and this gave a nice atmospheric feel to the set. In addition the lights (Rebecca Picherack), which gradually moved their focus from the audience to light the sole actress (Katie Swift) from the front, top, and back, created magnificent images of an interrogation, an electric chair and creeping animals.
Stationary: A Recession Era Musical
Directed by Laura McLean
Written by Christine Quintana
Music and Music Direction by Mishelle Cuttler
Rap Lyrics by Brad Cochrane
Presented by Delinquent Theatre as part of the Neanderthal Arts festival
Vancouver, BC. This "recession-era" musical may be about doom and gloom in Lotus-land but as long as there is a plethora of smart, talented and energetic theatre artists and fledgling companies creating shows like Stationary, there is no need for doom and gloom about the Vancouver theatre scene.
The Music Man
Book, Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Director: Sarah Rodgers
Choreographer: Dayna Tekatch
Music Director: Christopher King
Theatre Under the Stars
Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park
Until August 18, 2012
Vancouver, BC: You know that The Music Man is going to be a popular show for TUTS when half the audience is singing "Seventy-six Trombones" as they march - oops I mean - walk out of Malkin Bowl. Well maybe not half the audience but quite a few, and I confess I was one of them.
The Music Man is jam-packed with well-known musical numbers from lively like the aforementioned "Seventy-six Trombones" or the "Wells Fargo Wagon" to sentimental ( "Till there Was You" and "Good night, My Someone").
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 Taming of The Shrew by William Shakespeare
Directed by Meg Roe,
Bard on the Beach
Bard Mainstage, Vanier Park,
May 31 till September 22, 2012
Vancouver, BC: When I reviewed the 2007 Bard production of The Taming of the Shrew which I thought to be "one of the best productions I have seen at Bard", my opening remark was "What a great start to the 2007 season." I can only echo that remark after seeing Meg Roe's entertaining and exuberant interpretation of the play. It's an excellent production and a definite "don't miss it" for Bard fans.