Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Wedding Singer; Fighting Chance (Upcoming show)

The company that wowed local audiences last year with Rent, has set its sights on 80s nostalgia.  Fighting Chances Productions presents the BC premiere of The Wedding Singer. Based on the Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer /features music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin and book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy.

Directed by Ryan Mooney (Rent, Fighting Chance), with music direction by Christopher King (Thoroughly Modern Millie, TUTS), and choreography by Anna Hassard. Starring Andrew Halliwell, Lexy Campbell, Cassandra Nantel, Tyson Coady (Joseph, RCMT), Alex McMorran, Sean Parsons (Footloose, Exit 22), Jessica Kelly, Sable Strub, and Linda Noble.

Fighting Chance Productions presents The Wedding Singer from April 27 – May 22, 2010 at the Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery, Vancouver.  Tickets are available online or by calling 604-224-8007 ext. 3

A Year With Frog and Toad; Carousel Theatre (Upcoming show)

Based on the children stories by Arnold Lobel, book and lyrics by Willie Reale and music by Robert Reale, A Year With Frog and Toad is the story of two woodland friends over the course of a year.

Arnold Lobel's classic children characters Frog and Toad.

Starring Todd Talbot (Annie, TUTS), Allan Zinyk (Seussical, Carousel), Darren Burkett (White Christmas, Arts Club), Janet Gigliotti (Les Misérables, Arts Club), and Kaylee Harwood (Les Misérables, Arts Club).  Directed by Carole Higgins, musical direction by Gordon Roberts, choreography by Melissa Young, set design and props by Heidi Wilkinson, costume design by Yulia Shtern, and lighting design by Ereca Hassell.

Carousel Theatre presents A Year With Frog and Toad from April 17 – May 8, 2010 at the Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright Street, Granville Island.  Tickets are available online or by calling 604-685-6217.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; Royal City Musical Theatre (Review)

Over 40 years after Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice created Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, it remains an incredibly popular staple of school and community theatre.  Footlight Theatre mounted a production last fall and Theatre Under the Stars will cap the trifecta with its own version this summer.

Joseph (Mat Baker) and his brothers in Royal City Musical Theatre's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

This completely sung-through show requires strong vocalists and director Valerie Easton (A Chorus Line, RCMT) has wisely cast accordingly.  Mat Baker (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Gateway) stars as Joseph and has a strong, commanding voice.  Baker shies away from some of the pop-esque stylings favoured by many other recent Josephs and succeeds because of it.  At times, Baker is still a bit wooden, but not as noticeably as he’s been in the past.

Joseph is a decidedly male-heavy show, but Jennifer Neumann (Songs for a New World, Not Another Musical) as the Narrator more than holds her own.  Neumann is a consistently strong and likable performer and here is no exception.

Danny Balkwill’s (Thoroughly Modern Millie, TUTS) turn as the Elvis-impersonating Pharaoh is less memorable, but makes up for it  later with a killer Michael Jackson-inspired vocal number.

Joseph’s brothers are a uniformly strong ensemble and deserve equal billing with the other stars of the show; Neil Aspinall, Nic Bygate, Tyson Coady, Jeff Deglow, William Hopkins, Erik Ioannidis, Mike Kovac, Myles McCarthy, Daniel Pitout, Friedrick Po, and Lucas Testini.

Proving that there really are no small parts, Tyson Coady (A New Brain, Pipedream), who also played Pharaoh’s Butler, was a definite highlight of the evening.  His lively characterization and dance steps in one of the large ensemble numbers repeatedly drew attention away from some of the centre stage principals.

Valerie Easton does double-duty as director and choreographer and really puts this troupe through its paces.  Easton uses the large cast to her advantage, choreographing the stage into a circus of movement.

This expanded and now standard version of Joseph does go on too long; there’s no reason for the gratuitous “megamix” that has been tacked on after the finale.

By no means is Joseph one of the worst things ever to grace the stage, but it’s quality as a show doesn’t match up with its unbridled popularity with audiences.  But, as far as productions go, Royal City’s is rock-solid.

Royal City Musical Theatre presents Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat until April 24, 2010 at the Massey Theatre, 735 Eighth Avenue, New Westminster.  Tickets are available online or by calling 604-521-5050.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; Royal City Musical Theatre (Upcoming show)

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is back again, this time at the Massey Theatre.  The second of three local Joseph productions audiences will see this season (Footlight, RCMT, TUTS), Royal City Musical Theatre’s version promises to deliver an excellent time.

Mat Baker as the titular character in Royal City Musical Theatre's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Directed and choreographed by Valerie Easton, musical direction by James Bryson. Starring Mat Baker (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Gateway)  as Joseph and co-starring Danny Balkwill (Thoroughly Modern Millie, TUTS), Ken Irwin, and Jennifer Neumann (Songs for a New World, Not Another Musical).

Royal City Musical Theatre presents Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from April 8 – 24, 2010 at the Massey Theatre, 735 Eighth Avenue, New Westminster.  Tickets are available online or by calling 604-521-5050.

Where’s Charley?; Studio 58 (Review)

The quality of student productions can often be more miss than hit, so I was pleasantly surprised by Studio 58’s farcical musical Where’s Charley?

Adapted from Brandon Thomas’ 1892 play Charley’s Aunt, the stage musical version starring Ray Bolger (The Wizard of Oz) premiered in 1948 with a book by George Abbott (The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees) and music and lyrics by Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls, How to Succeed in Business Without Trying).

Benjamin Elliott and Graeme McComb in Studio 58's Where's Charley? Photo by David Cooper.

Despite its pedigree, Where’s Charley? has mostly slipped into obscurity.

Set at Oxford University in Victorian era 1892, college seniors Charlie Wykeham (Benjamin Elliott) and Jack Chesney (Graeme McComb)  are awaiting Charley’s wealthy aunt Donna Lucia D’Alvadorez (Joy Castro) who will serve as the required chaperone when they have tea with their respective intended love interests, Amy Spettigue (Caitlin McCarthy) and Kitty Verdun (Amy Hall-Cummings).

His aunt does not arrive as scheduled and rather than cancel the planned date, Charley dons a costume and disguises himself as Donna Lucia.  Assorted mayhem and high jinks ensue.

The musical suffers from a slew of pointless and forgettable songs.  “The New Ashmolean Marching Society and Students’ Conservatory Band,” in the first act inexplicably trots out a student marching band which mercifully leaves as quickly as it first appeared.

Just as out of place is the bizarrely placed “Make a Miracle,” where Charley and Amy sing in counterpoint about their future; he tries to propose while she imagines what technological advances the 20th century will bring.

Fortunately, the snappy dialogue and tried-and-true physical comedy gives the actors ample room to make up for the show’s weaker points.  Though Charley could never credibly pass as a woman, his strutting drag act is a tonne of laughs.

In what is easily the highpoint of the evening, Elliott (sans dress) wins over the audience with “Once in Love with Amy,” soft shoeing and crooning with an easy charm.

Lighting design often goes unheralded, since it is mostly only noticed when something goes wrong. Here, Darren Boquist’s lighting choices are distractingly obvious and sometimes over handed.  Luckily, Pam Johnson’s set looks good in any light.  It is crisply picturesque and a vision in white, accented sparingly with bursts of red or green.

Not much more can be said about this show; it’s fun and airy but ultimately forgettable.  While a bright future on the stage for much of the cast seems assured, Where’s Charley? is likely destined to sink back into the obscurity of the history books.

Studio 58 presents Where’s Charley? until April 18, 2010, at Studio 58, Langara College, 100 West 49th Avenue. Tickets are available online or by calling 604-684-2787

Bat Boy: The Musical; Patrick Street (Upcoming show)

The tabloid-inspired Bat Boy: The Musical opens in Vancouver this week, courtesy of Patrick Street Productions (The Full Monty, Into the Woods).
With book and lyrics by Keythe Farley & Brian Flemming and music by Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde: The Musical), the award-winning Bat Boy premiered off-Broadway in 2001.  Bat Boy: The Musical stars Scott Perrie (High School Musical 2, URP), Bree Greig (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Footlight), Scott Bellis, Katey Wright (The Full Monty, Patrick Street), Timothy Brummund, Hector Johnson, Matt Palmer, Ian Rozylo, Katie Murphy (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Playhouse), and Meghan Anderssen (Thoroughly Modern Millie, TUTS).

Scott Perrie in Patrick Street's Bat Boy: The Musical. Photo by David Cooper.

Directed and choreographed by Peter Jorgensen, musical direction by Sean Bayntun, set design by Julie Martens, costume design by Amir Ofek, projection and video design by Conor Moore, lighting design by Jeff Harrison, and make-up, wigs, and prosthetics by Jan Ballard.
Patrick Street Productions presents Bat Boy: The Musical from April 7 – 18, 2010 at the Norman Rothstein Theatre, 41st & Oak St, Vancouver.  Tickets are available online or by calling 604-684-2787.