The Great Divorce
adapted by George Drance and Magis Theatre
from the novel by C.S. Lewis
Directed by Kyle Rideout
May 20 - June 18, 2011
Vancouver, BC: On my last visit to New York one of the plays I saw was The Screwtape Letters, adapted by Jeffrey Fiske from the epistolary novel by C.S. Lewis. The letters are written by Screwtape, Satan's chief demon to his hapless nephew, Wormwood, advising him on how best to tempt humans to sin. I was enthralled by the charismatic and dominating Screwtape, amazed at the sinuous contortions of his demonic assistant Toadpipe, and the whole experience was devilishly wicked, funny and at all times entertaining.
The Great Divorce, originally published in serial form in a religious journal, was a complementary novella to Lewis's Screwtape Letters. I was therefore quite excited to see that Pacific Theatre was staging an adaptation of this book and hoped for a similarly entertaining show.
Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Directed by Bill Millerd
Musical Director - Ken Cormier
Choreographer - Valerie Easton
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
May 7 - July 10, 2011
Vancouver, BC: There is a bumper crop of fresh talent lighting up the stage at the Stanley Theatre, joining Arts Club musical regulars, Matt Palmer, Cailin Stadnyk and Anna Kuman in a sparkling production of Hairspray.
Created and Performed by Rick Miller
Directed by Sean Lynch
Designed by Beth Kates
May 11-15, 2011
Vancouver, BC: Unlike reviewers in the international press I don't have smart writers coming up with headlines for my stories but I could not resist the challenge in the MacHomer program where 12 of their favorite MacHomer headlines are listed. Since I loved the Vancouver show - and it is now closed.... well d'oh!
According to Rick Miller, MacHomer is "essentially a tribute to the creative vision of Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) and the genius of William Shakespeare".
But it is also a hilarious and entertaining vehicle to showcase the vocal genius and on-stage charisma that Rick Miller has in spades.
From its casual origin in 1994 as a sketch for a MacBeth cast party, MacHomer in various incarnations, has toured worldwide intermittently over 13 years, but somehow I missed seeing it until it came to Vancouver last week for a short run at the Vancouver Playhouse.
BEUTFL PRBLMS - a collectively devised production written by and performed by Andrew Laurenson, with Lesley Ewen, Billy Marchenski and Emelia Symington Fedy.
Director/dramaturge Paul Ternes
Radix Theatre Society
The Roundhouse Community Centre
May 13 to 21, 2011
Vancouver, BC: The premise of this new work - Garry Kasparov's loss of a chess series to a computer - sounded intriguing. I was eager to see the way in which Laurenson and his collaborators would create a spellbinding story from this event. In May 1997, chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, world champion for twelve years running, took on the challenge of beating IBM's Deep Blue Supercomputer. Of the 6 games played, Kasparov won the first game, Deep Blue the second, three were played to a draw and the final game was won by Deep Blue. Had technology triumphed over humanity? Well not really. Since Deep Blue was designed and programmed by a team of 5 IBM scientists and one International Grandmaster, it would be more fair to say that one man was beaten by a collective.
The Graduate - adapted for stage by Terry Johnson
based on the novel by Charles Webb
and the screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry
Directed by Lois Anderson,
Granville Island Stage,
Arts Club Theatre Company,
Apr 14- May 14 , 2011
Vancouver, BC: It is always an interesting anticipation when one looks at an adaptation of a work in one genre into another form, whether book to film, film to musical or film to play. It becomes even more of an interest when the new work is adapted from an iconic original.
The Will Rogers Follies 'A Life in Revue'
Book: Peter Stone Music: Cy Coleman
Lyrics: Betty Comden and Adolf Green
Directed and choreographed by Valerie Easton
Musical Director James Bryson
A Royal City Musical Theatre production
Apr 7 - 24, 2011
Vancouver, BC: The Royal City Musical Theatre's production of The Will Rogers Follies is an entertainment packed spectacle with a gorgeously costumed ensemble of sparkling young singers and dancers supporting the principal cast of Matt Palmer (Will Rogers), Sara-Jeanne Hosie (Betty Blake), Tyson Coady (Clem Rogers), Laura McNaught (Ziegfeld's favorite) and Dimitrios Stephanoy (Wiley Post).
It is somewhat embarrassing for me to admit that in all the time I have lived in Vancouver I have never been out to the Massey Theatre nor seen one of the Royal City Musical Theatre productions until now. But last night I finally made it out to New Westminster to see the The Will Rogers Follies and I will definitely be watching out for their future productions.
Another Home Invasion by Joan MacLeod
Directed by Richard Rose
A Tarragon Theatre production
Arts Club Theatre Company Revue Stage
Mar 31 - Apr 23, 2011
Vancouver, BC: Take a finely tuned script with not a wasted word, a "there but for the grace of God" story, and a performer who completely embodies her character - and you have a show that grabs its audience and does not let go for a full 70 minutes.
Nicola Lipman is Jean, a feisty senior, who is worn out by anxiety about her beloved husband, who is increasingly showing signs of dementia. She is willing to move out of their family home and into a care home and her heart is set on the local Kiwanis facility which has rooms for couples. But she and her husband have been on a wait list for two and a half years and now he needs more supportive care. Will they be separated, or have to be relocated, heaven forbid, to Abbotsford?
Except for one visit to the Globe Theatre to see Antony and Cleopatra, my previous theatre-going visits to London had focused on West End theatre. But this time I was determined to visit the National Theatre complex on the South Bank and see at least one play there.
When I checked out their web site to book on line, I saw that they offered a Backstage Tour.
I booked for The Habit of Art on Sunday at 3 pm at the Lyttelton Theatre in the National Theatre complex, and at the same time I booked the Backstage Tour, an approximately hour-long tour that is conducted three times a day.
How To Disappear Completely
Starring Itai Erdal
Written by Itai Erdal in collaboration with James Long, Anita Rochon & Emelia Symington Fedy
Directed by James Long
At the Wosk 2nd Stage, JCCGV
February 17 - 27, 2011
Guest review by Sean Cummings
To say How To Disappear Completely is theatre is correct. It is definitely theatrical. But the narrator is not a character in a play. Rather he spends his time telling the audience an intensely personal story about his journey back home to his native Israel to be with his mother for the final months of her life.
What could have been a self-centered spiral into the depths of grief turned out to be a well executed story whose artistic achievement is to seemingly place the audience smack dab in the middle of the narrator's experience.
This article was supposed to be posted before the book launch of Crossing on Saturday 26th February. However on the 26th I was in a room at VGH, recovering from my spine surgery the previous day. So with apologies to Chris Gatchalian and the production crew and cast that premiered Crossing in 2004, I am posting it now.
I asked Gatchalian to respond briefly to some questions about his play writing history.
RFTH: What was your first play produced?
My first produced play was Motifs & Repetitions. I wrote it in 1995, when I was in my first year of the BFA Creative Writing program at UBC. It was produced at Brave New Playrites, which is UBC's annual festival of short one act-plays written by Creative Writing students.