Hiatus

Musicals in Vancouver will be taking an extended hiatus over the next few months; but we’ll be back in full swing with expanded coverage and new features starting in the new year. In the meantime postings will be sparse.

Smile; Awkward Stage (Upcoming show)

From the company that brought last year’s “Pick of the Fringe” 13, comes Smile, a musical and satirical take on teenage beauty pageants.  Awkward Stage Productions adds a new twist to this oft-forgotten 80s musical by using puppets to portray all of the adult characters alongside the human youth cast. The crew and musicians are youths too.

Stephanie Johannesen, Chelsea Powrie, Brenda, Erin Palm, and Jorgette Jorge in Awkward Stage's production of Smile.

Music by Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line) and book and lyrics by Howard Ashman (Little Shop of Horrors). Directed by Cara Tench, Corwin Ferguson, and Andy Toth. Choreography by Cara Tench and musical direction by Andy Toth. Starring Julia DiSpirito, Rachael Harrison, Taylor Scott, Maiah Fujino, Katie Allinger, Brittany Gee-Moore, Jessica Wong, Paige Wise, Hailey Perkins, Isabella Halliday, Fanco Celli, Devon MacKinlay, Kai Bradbury, Kaitlyn Yott, Morgan Roff, Patrick Arnott, Jonathan Hers, Erin Palm, Chelsea Powrie, Stephanie Johannesen, Chelsey Yamasaki, Ashley Siddals, Jennifer Suttis, Lindsay Corbett, Erika Babbins, Rebecca Friessen, Brittany Scott, Neil Aspinall, Zach Wolfman, Myles McCarthy, Michelle Baynton, and Jan van Vianen.

Awkward Stage Productions presents Smile from September 8 – 18, 2011 at at the Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-637-6380.

Hairspray; Arts Club (Upcoming show)

The hit musical-comedy Hairspray dances its way on to the Arts Club stage this May. Based on the cult John Waters movie of the same name starring Ricki Lake, Sonny Bono and Divine, the Tony-winning musical ran for six years on Broadway.

Adam Charles and Jennie Neumann in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Hairspray. Photo by David Cooper.

Music by Marc Shaiman (Catch Me If You Can), lyrics by Scott Wittman (Catch Me If You Can) and Marc Shaiman, and book by Mark O’Donnell (Cry-Baby) and Thomas Meehan (Cry-Baby). Directed by Bill Millerd, musical direction by Ken Cormier, and choreographed by Valerie Easton. Set design by Ted Roberts, costumes by Alison Green, and lighting by Marsha Sibthorpe.

Starring Jay Brazeau (Drowsy Chaperone, Playhouse), Meghan Anderssen (Thoroughly Modern Millie, TUTS), J. Cameron Barnett, Jak Barradell (Altar Boyz, Arts Club), Darren Burkett (Seussical, Carousel), Adam Charles (White Christmas, Arts Club), Starr Domingue, Kayla Dunbar (The Park, Studio 58), Allison Fligg (Footloose, Exit 22), Ian Yuri Gardner, Kimberly Gelera, Alana Hibbert, Anna Kuman (White Christmas, Arts Club), Lelani Marrell, Laurie Murdoch, Jennie Neumann (Seussical, Carousel), Matt Palmer (Annie, Gateway), Milo Shandel, Colin Sheen (Fantasticks, Playhouse), Cailin Stadnyk (Singin’ in the Rain, TUTS), and Robyn Wallis.

Arts Club Theatre Company presents Hairspray from May 12, 2011 – July 10, 2011 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, 2750 Granville St.  Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-687-1644.

Something Wicked this way comes

The Broadway smash hit Wicked comes to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, playing from June 1 – 26, 2011. Musicals in Vancouver is offering its readers a chance to buy their tickets ahead of the crowds.

This offer available from now until Friday, March 4, 2011 at 10 pm.  Click the link below; the password is DEFYING:

WICKED PRESALE

Avenue Q; Work Light (Upcoming show)

The three-time Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q makes its Vancouver debut this February. Often-described as an adult-take on Sesame Street, Avenue Q uses puppets to tell the story of a recent college graduate who moves to New York to find his place in the world.

Music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, book by Jeff Whitty, and based on an original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx.  Directed by Jason Moore, puppet design by Rick Lyon, choreography by Ken Roberson, scenic design by Anna Louizos, and costume design by Mirena Rada.

Starring Kerri Brackin, Ashley Eileen Bucknam, David Colston Corris, Lisa Helmi Johanson, Tim Kornblum, Michael Liscio Jr., Anita Welch, Ben Hart, Laura Yumi Snell, Katie McCreary and Zach Trimmer.

Work Light Productions presents Avenue Q, from February 1 – 5, 2011, at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, 777 Homer Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-280-4444.

Annie; Gateway Theatre (Upcoming show)

Dancing orphans, stray dogs and a singing billionaire return to the Metro Vancouver stage once again as Gateway Theatre presents the family favourite Annie as their 2010 Christmas musical.

Michelle Creber in Gateway Theatre's Annie. Photo by David Cooper.

The musical marks a special anniversary for Gateway. “We’re celebrating 26 years at Gateway by producing Annie, the musical we started with,” says executive and artistic director Simon Johnston. “Annie’s irrepressible optimism and hope for the future is an important message for all of us.”

Book by Thomas Meehan (The Producers), music by Charles Strouse (Bye Bye Birdie), and lyrics by Martin Charnin. Directed by Johnna Wright, musical direction by Allen Stiles, choreography by Kennith Overbey, set design by Drew Facey, and costume design by Carmen Alatorre.

Starring Michelle Creber, Timothy E. Brummund, Nora McLellan, Matt Palmer, Barbara Tomasic and Pippa Mackie. Featuring Jessie Chan, Bridget Esler, Murielle Faifman, Maria Go, Kaila Kask, Aviva Knowles, Caroline Mawhinney, Fiona McIntyre, Laura Reynolds, Colette Richardson, Makena Zimmerman, Arne Larsen, Andrea Bailey, Matthew Beairsto, Vanessa Coley-Donohue, Andrew Cownden, Xavier de Salaberry, Jeff Deglow, Cameron Dunster, Brandyn Eddy, Madelyn Kriese, Stephanie Liatopolous, Brittany Scott, and Tamara Vishniakoff.

Gateway Theatre presents Annie from December 9 – 31, 2010, at the Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond.  Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-270-1812.

Seussical the Musical; Carousel Theatre (Review)

Seussical, the ambitious musical imagining of Dr. Seuss stories, opened on Broadway to great expectations almost exactly a decade ago and all signs pointed to a guaranteed hit.  Composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens were fresh off of the success of their 1998 Tony-Award-winning Ragtime and the Seussian connection promised to deliver a multitude of new young fans to musical theatre.  Sadly, the show received a spate of negative reviews and was dead within six months.

The cast of Carousel Theatre's Seussical the Musical. Photo by Tim Matheson.

The show has since been rewritten and reworked several times over for touring and community productions.  Plot lines and characters have been moved, changed or scrapped altogether in some cases. The original runtime of two and a half hours has been halved into a streamlined kid-friendly 75 minutes.

Compared to the original glitzy circus-style production, director Carole Higgins’ version of Seussical has been stripped down to the basics. Luckily, all for the better.

It’s a testament to the lasting magic of Dr. Seuss’s literary creations that the barebones approach works so well.  His oeuvre was always about igniting and inspiring young minds, so it seems only fitting that imagination be an integral part of Seussical.

Gone are the high-flying aerobatics and elaborate sets. Barbara Clayden’s costumes stick to a very minimalist approach. The audience is left to imagine everything else. An arm in a grey sleeve effortlessly becomes an elephant’s trunk and the frills of a long pink coat become a bird’s tail-feathers.

The Cat in the Hat (Darren Burkett) serves as a narrator/master of ceremonies who pulls Jojo (Taylor Lintott) out of the audience and plops him straight into the thick of the action on stage. A procession of favourite Seuss characters soon follows. Horton the elephant (Josue Laboucane) is a reluctant hero who discovers the existence of an entire miniature world on a speck of dust.
Mayzie la Bird (Rebecca Talbot) struggles with the idea of being a single parent and Gertrude McFuzz (Kaylee Harwood) has issues with her body image.

Lintott, Burkett, Laboucane, Talbot and Harwood all let loose on stage and their enthusiasm shines through in spades.

In a different show, the series of loosely connected stories wouldn’t pass muster as a plot. But sewn together with the Flaherty and Ahrens score, there’s something magical about Seussical the Musical.

The kid-dominated audience on opening night was suitably impressed and the parents seemed to have fun too. And just maybe a few new young theatre fans were born.

Seussical the Musical, presented by Carousel Theatre, runs until January 1, 2011 at the Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright St., Granville Island. Tickets are available online.