Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Evil Dead Dilemma

Vancouver will soon be host to not one, but two versions of Evil Dead at the end of October.  One company was granted the professional rights, the other the amateur rights.

I’ve been scouring the web, trying to see if there is a term for when there are two productions of the same show playing in the same city.  So far, I’ve got nothing.  Perhaps somebody out there can help me out?

evildeadocr

In a relatively smaller market like Vancouver, it must be a challenge enough to compete for ticket-buying audiences when two versions of the same play or musical are staged in the same year or season.  That being said, it seems to happen with a fair bit of regularity.  Thoroughly Modern Millie played at TUTS this summer and will play again this fall at Gateway.  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is being done by Footlight this November, then again by Royal City Musical Theatre in the spring and then for a third time by TUTS next summer.  Maybe they all know something that I don’t.

The dual Evil Dead productions are in a particularly precarious position, as one is opening just a little bit more than a week before the other and there is considerable overlap between their production dates.

I’ve heard buzz around both productions and murmurs over which show will be better or which one should local audiences support.  For my part, I’m exercising some journalistic impartiality, giving equal coverage to both shows on this site. I’m also urging local musical aficionados to see both productions, if they can.

There are likely to be upsides and downsides to both (as with every show) and this site will provide reviews of both productions after their respective opening nights.

Ground Zero Theatre, Hit & Myth Productions and Keystone present the Vancouver premiere of Evil Dead: The Musical at the Vogue Theatre from October 20-31, 2009.  Tickets are available online now.

Down Stage Right Productions also presents Evil Dead: The Musical at the Norman Rothstein Theatre from October 29-November 7, 2009.  Tickets are available online now.

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A Chorus Line; Broadway Across Canada (Upcoming Show)

The first stage musical I ever reviewed was a touring version of A Chorus Line back in the 90s.  This November, A Chorus Line returns to Vancouver for a one-week run.

Conceived and originally directed by Michael Bennett, book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, A Chorus Line ran for almost 15 years on Broadway and remains one of the longest-running Broadway musicals in history.

The company on the line in the National Tour of A Chorus Line.  Photo- Paul Kolnik

The company on the line in the National Tour of A Chorus Line. Photo- Paul Kolnik

The National tour cast currently features Clyde Alves (Mike), Amos Wolff (Roy), Dena DiGiacinto (Bebe), Liza Domingo (Connie), Mindy Dougherty (Val), Joey Dudding (Paul), Emily Fletcher (Sheila), Michael Gruber(Zach), Derek Hanson (Don), Hollie Howard (Maggie), David Hull (Mark), Jordan Fife Hunt (Frank), Robyn Hurder (Cassie), Julie Kotarides (Vicki), Jessica Latshaw (Kristine), Ian Liberto (Bobby), Sterling Masters (Lois), Stephanie Martignetti (Tricia), Bethany Moore (Judy), Colt Prattes (Al), Rebecca Riker (Diana), Alex Ringler (Greg), Clifton Samuels (Tom), Brandon Tyler (Larry), Anthony Wayne (Richie), J.R. Whittington (Butch) and swing performers Deanna Aguinaga, Venny Carranza, Erica Mansfield and Shane Rhoades.

Broadway Across Canada presents A Chorus Line from Nov 3-8, 2009 at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, 777 Homer Street.  Tickets are available online now or by phone at 604-280-4444.

Evil Dead: The Musical (Upcoming Show[s])

Evil Dead: The Musical makes its Vancouver premiere– wait a second.  I’m having a major case of déjà-vu.  I feel like I’ve already written this before. Oh, that’s right, I did write this . . .  last week!

Just to be clear, there is now a second and entirely different production of Evil Dead: The Musical playing in Vancouver this Halloween.  Is anyone else feeling a bit awkward?

Let’s try it from the top.  Ground Zero Theatre, Hit & Myth Productions and Keystone present the Vancouver premiere of Evil Dead: The Musical at the Vogue Theatre from October 20-31, 2009.

evildeadtouring

Evil Dead: The Musical has drawn multiple comparisons to The Rocky Horror Show for its funny take on the low-budget Evil Dead horror trilogy.  I, for one, am looking forward to seeing both productions and both casts.  After multiple listens of the cast recording over the past week, I’m definitely getting into the Halloween spirit.

Evil Dead: The Musical features Kevin Corey, Lynley Hall, Bruce Horak, Daniel Mallet, Cailin Stadnyk, Jamie Tognazzini, Tyler Rive, and Guilly Urra.  Many local theatre-goers will remember Ovation Award winner Stadnyk from roles in past Arts Club and TUTS’ productions.

Directed by Kevin McKendrick, choreography by Glenda Stirling, and musical direction by Brent Rock, Evil Dead: The Musical plays October 20- 31, 2009 at the Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville St.  Tickets are available online now.

Back to You – the Life and Music of Lucille Starr (Upcoming show)

The Firehall starts its 27th season with Back to You – the Life and Music of Lucille Starr.  Presented by Musical Theatreworks and written by Tracey Power (The Jungle Book), Back to You stars Beverley Elliott, Alison MacDonald (Songs for A New World, Not Another Musical Co-op) and Jeff Gladstone.

Beverley Elliott as Lucille Starr, photo by James Loewen

Beverley Elliott as Lucille Starr, photo by James Loewen

The musical journey of Back to You begins in 1981. Lucille Starr has come home to Coquitlam, BC to give her first solo concert in 25 years. It’s her comeback tour, in more ways than one and her nerves have peaked. The last time her hometown crowd saw her on stage, it was with their other hometown sweetheart, Bob Regan. Coming home has stirred up a lifetime of memories – from the duo’s rise in the country-music charts, her legendary solo career and international acclaim, to the loss of her voice and lengthy recovery.  Now here she is, the first night of her comeback tour, a tour that ultimately brings her back to her music, back to herself and back to you.

Directed by Barbara Tomasic, musical direction by Steve Charles, set and lighting design by April Viczko, and costumes by Barbara Clayden, Back to You plays from September 30- October 10, 2009 at the Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St.  Tickets are available by calling the box office at 604-689-0926.

Evil Dead: The Musical (Upcoming show)

Evil Dead: The Musical makes its Vancouver premiere this year just in time for Halloween.  Based on the series of Evil Dead cult films, the musical version is a campy take on the horror genre.

Scott Walter as Ash in Down Stage Right's production of Evil Dead: The Musical.

Scott Walter as Ash in Down Stage Right's production of Evil Dead: The Musical.

This made-in-Canada musical has already amassed its own cult following and promises to be a great time.  I’m not overly familiar with the show, but spent this past weekend listening to the original cast recording.  Five college kids staying in a cabin during spring break encounter an ancient evil and bloody (but hilarious) mayhem ensues.

Evil Dead: The Musical is presented by Down Stage Right Productions in its 19th season.  Starring Scott Walter (We Will Rock You, Mirvish) as Ash and co-starring the talents of Meghan Anderssen (Thoroughly Modern Millie, TUTS), Mat Baker (Les Misérables, Arts Club), Meghan Gardiner, Matthew Graham, Erik Gow, Ian Rozylo and Jennifer Neumann (Songs for a New World, Not Another Musical Co-op).

Directed by Mark Carter, choreography by Ken Overbey, and musical direction by Sylvia Zaradic, Evil Dead: The Musical plays from October 29- November 7, 2009; 8 PM (with additional midnight shows October 30, 31 and November 6) at the Norman Rothstein Theatre, 950 West 41st Ave (at Oak). Tickets are available online now.

Remembering Pushing Daisies

A moment of silence, please, for the late and lamented television series Pushing Daisies.  The second and final season of the ABC forensic fairy tale was released to DVD last month, and I for one am already missing it.  While not a musical in the strictest sense (or even any other sense), it did borrow some of its conventions from the musical genre.

pushing daisies

In the most obvious sense, Pushing Daisies did so by casting a veritable parade of Broadway stars as both series regulars and as one-off guest stars.

Tony-winner Jim Dale (Barnum, Candide), was the voice of the always-heard but never-seen narrator.  Stage veterans Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors) played sisters Lily and Vivian Charles.  Raúl Esparza (Company, Taboo), Christopher Sieber (Spamalot, Shrek), and Wilson Cruz (Rent) also made appearances, among others.

Aside from the veritable parade of Broadway veterans, the polychromatic sets were fantastical and always imaginative.  Any one of the storybook sets could have been taken straight from the sketch pad of the theatre world’s top production designers.

In the vein of the modern musical, Pushing Daisies occasionally used songs to develop characters.  Waitress Olive Snook, as played by the incomparable Tony-winning Kristin Chenoweth, (You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Wicked) did so the most frequently.  While pining over her unrequited love Ned, Olive crooned “Hopelessly Devoted to You” (Grease) after- hours in a pie shop.  The night cleaner, Manuel, danced back-to-back with her as he polished the floor, completely unaware of his role in the melodramatic musical number.

But one of the best moments took place during a road trip, when Chenoweth and Ellen Greene sang a beautiful cover of “Birdhouse in Your Soul.”  The Daisies’ version is virtually unrecognisable from the original by alternative rock group They Might Be Giants.  The musical interlude only lasts about 30 seconds before being cut off by an ornery and bedazzled-eye-patch-wearing Swoosie Kurtz.  The full version of the song can be found, however, on iTunes.

To see the whole collection of Chenoweth’s musical-moments on Pushing Daisies, click here for the full YouTube medley.  Better yet, pick up the DVD set and watch the entire series to your heart’s content.  As the new season of television debuts to great fanfare this month, I’ll be wiping away a not-so-silent tear in memory of the often-heartbreaking and always-beautiful Pushing Daisies.

Some shows are better, bigger (Guest Post)

Today’s post is written by guest blogger, Rebecca Coleman.  To view Musicals in Vancouver’s response, check out our guest post at the Art of the Business blog

I love independent theatre. It’s where I live, it’s where my heart is, and it’s where I make my living.

But I also love theatre in general, and, while I tend to hang out in the indie scene, I’ll go see pretty much anything going.

A few months back, I went to see Les Misérables at The Arts Club, and a couple of weeks ago, Rent at Presentation House.

First, you have to understand that these two musicals hold significant sentimental value for me. Les Miz was my favorite musical for a long, long time, and it was only replaced in my heart when Rent came along. I knew all the words in Les Miz, and used to daydream about being Éponine, even learning “On My Own” for auditions. I saw a touring version of it, about 10 years ago at the Q.E., and was blown away by the spectacle.

Then, in 1996, while watching the Tonys, I saw the original Broadway cast of Rent singing “Seasons of Love” and “La Vie Bohème,” and I was instantly smitten. I’ve now seen Rent four times, including once at the Nederlander Theatre in New York, where it ran for 12 years.

The Nederlander Theatre in New York City

The Nederlander Theatre in NYC.

So, I’m pretty familiar with both of those shows. So, seeing them done in a smaller theatre, on a smaller scale, was a very interesting experience.

And I felt like they were missing something. Don’t get me wrong—both productions were excellent—big hearted, beautifully sung, and with strong production values. But because of money and size of venue, some of the big special effects were cut.

It makes a huge visual impact to see the barricade in Les Mis slowly rotating into view, strewn with dead bodies. The Arts Club production did have a barricade, and it did move, but with more of a pulling-out-a-drawer motion. The impression it made was not as strong. Similarly, Javert’s suicide was not as impactful (sorry about that choice of words).

I had a similar experience seeing Rent. I missed Mimi howling “Out Tonight” as she straddles both staircase railings and slides down, and Joanne’s first arrival on a motorcycle.

Maybe it’s just my sentimentality speaking, but maybe some things are better, bigger.

Now, anyone know of a production of Miss Saigon happening? I got a hankering to see a helicopter land on stage…

Rebecca Coleman is a freelance theatre publicist here in Vancouver. Her roster includes Touchstone Theatre, Ruby Slippers, Radix, Leaky Heaven Circus, Presentation House, Capilano University’s Theatre Department, and Itsazoo. In addition, she does social media training, and has published an e-book on the topic titled Getting Started with Social Networking for Artists and Arts Organizations. Her blog is The Art of the Business.

Rebecca Coleman

Rebecca Coleman