Monthly Archives: October 2010

What About LUV?; Down Stage Right (Upcoming show)

Down Stage Right Productions celebrates its twentieth anniversary with the Vancouver premiere of What About LUV?  What About LUV? is a hilarious twist on a love triangle gone horribly awry.

Neil Minor and Meghan Gardiner in Down Stage Right's What About LUV?

Based on the play LUV by Murray Schisgal, book by Jeffrey Sweet, music by Howard Marren and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead (Jelly’s Last Jam). Directed by Mark Carter (Evil Dead, DSR), musical direction by Sylvia Zaradic (Evil Dead, DSR), choreography by Ken Overbey (Evil Dead, DSR), lighting design by Darren Hales and set design by John Bessette.

Starring Meghan Gardiner (Evil Dead, DSR), Neil Minor (The Drowsy Chaperone, Playhouse) and Scott Walters (Evil Dead, DSR).

Down Stage Right Productions presents What About LUV? from November 3 – 13 at the Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright St., Granville Island.  Tickets are available online or at the door.

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Grease; Broadway Across Canada (Review)

I feel it’s best for all of us if we forget the television travesty that was Grease: You’re the One That I Want.  So, I offer my sincerest apologies for bringing it up once again.  For those of you lucky enough to have missed it, the 2007 reality show had young actors and actresses competing to portray the lead roles of Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski in the Broadway revival of Grease. The entire endeavour was a creative sellout and the eventual production, featuring winners Max Crumm and Laura Osnes, was largely panned by most major Broadway critics.

Brad Lawson, Marc Winski, Patrick Cragin, Patrick Joyce, and Matt Nolan perform “Greased Lightnin'.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

Upon learning that the touring role of Danny Zuko was being played by Matt Nolan, a finalist from that show which shall-no-longer-be-named, I didn’t harbour much hope for the success of this show.  So, I was pleasantly surprised by his performance on the opening night of Grease at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

For most Grease fans, Danny Zuko will forever be indelibly tied with John Travolta’s film portrayal and everyone who has played Danny since must endure the inevitable comparisons.  Matt Nolan embodied the too-cool-for-school attitude of the character without trying to mimic Travolta’s mannerisms.  Nolan was extremely likable; an overgrown kid not entirely sure of himself.

The same can’t be said of Alyssa Herrera’s Sandy.  Herrera suffered from a severe lack of stage presence and she struggled to stand out from the chorus.

The secondary roles of the T-Birds and Pink Ladies were all played adequately, though none of them really delivered anything special.

Though touring shows aren’t expected to measure up to Broadway standards when it comes to sets and costumes, this production really fell short of the mark.  Some of the sets looked like hastily-painted cardboard backdrops, while the costumes in the opening looked similarly cheap.

I was a bit underwhelmed by the whole thing, until some of the bigger dance numbers. Joyce Chittick’s choreography was slickly executed and helped lift the show from its inauspicious beginning.

This current production also incorporates some of the more popular songs from the movie that weren’t originally part of the stage version including “Grease (Is the Word)” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”

Some of the grittiness and more mature bits have either been glossed over or removed entirely.  In the song “Greased Lightning”, lyrics have been changed from “the chicks will cream” to “the chicks will scream” and “pussy wagon” is now “draggin’ wagon.”  Rizzo’s second-act pregnancy scare is brushed off as no big deal.  Though, in fairness, it can be hard to remember that these twenty-something actors are all supposed to be playing teenagers.

But, no one has ever accused Grease of trying to be serious theatre.  On opening night, the theatre was laden with patrons of all ages, many of whom were avid fans of the movie.  At several junctures throughout the show, I could hear audience members singing along with their favourite songs.  The appeal of Grease isn’t in its barebones plot; it’s in the nostalgia and the catchy songs.  And on that count, Grease more than delivers.

Grease, presented by Broadway Across Canada, runs until October 31, 2010, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 600 block Hamilton St, Vancouver. Tickets are available online or by calling 604-280-4444.

Mimi (Or A Poisoner’s Comedy); Touchstone Theatre (Upcoming show)

Touchstone Theatre celebrates its 35th season with a lineup of original Canadian musicals and music theatre.  First up, is Mimi (Or A Poisoner’s Comedy)Mimi, which debuted to good reviews in Toronto last season, is billed as a comedy about a young French aristocrat who takes up poison as a hobby.

Jennifer Lines in Mimi (Or A Poisoner's Comedy). Photo by Emily Cooper.

Lyrics and music by Allen Cole, book and lyrics by Melody A. Johnson and Rick Roberts. Directed by Katrina Dunn, musical direction by Steven Greenfield. Set design by David Roberts, costumes by Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh, lighting by Gillian Wolpert.

Starring Donald Adams, Greg Armstrong-Morris, Peter Jorgensen, Jennifer Lines, Linda Quibell, and Sanders Whiting.

Mimi (Or A Poisoner’s Comedy), presented by Touchstone Theatre, runs until November 20, 2010, at the Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-689-0926.

The Sound of Music; Footlight Theatre (Upcoming show)

The classic musical The Sound of Music hits the local stage this November, courtesy of Footlight Theatre.


Music by Richard Rodgers (Cinderella, Pal Joey), lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II (Carousel, The King and I), and book by Howard Lindsay (Anything Goes) and Russel Crouse (Anything Goes).  Directed and choreographed by Lalainia Lindbjerg-Strelau (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Footlight), with musical direction by Monique Creber. Costumes by Chris Sinosich (Singin’ in the Rain, TUTS), set design by Marshall McMahen and lighting by Des Renard.

Starring Bree Greig (The Fantasticks, Playhouse), Steve Maddock (The Fantasticks, Playhouse), Carolyn Bergstrand (Annie, TUTS), David Blue and Grace Fatkin. Featuring Kaitie Allinger, Deanna Baker, Michelle T. Baynton, Liane Berlin, Sierra Brewerton, Michelle Briggs, Devon Busswood, Brittany Cairns, Tyson Coady, Vanessa Coley-Donohue, Michelle Creber, Sara Davidson, Elaine Francis, Emily Fraser, Luke Alexander Gair, Shannon Hanbury, Jake Hildebrand, Darryl Hol, Denise Johnson, Talar Kaladjian, Kathleen Kelly-Driscoll, Shantini Klaassen, Steven Krajnyak, Laura Luongo, Aubrey Maddock, Matt Mazur, Myles McCarthy, Carol Miller, Eve O’Dea, Shannon Pauls, Joanne Perkins, Susan Reid, Taylor Robinson, Natalie Sharp, Olivia Steele-Falconer, Robin Sukorokff, Alyssya Swales, Helen Volkow, Nancy Von Euw, Jeffrey Wallace, Michael Wilkinson, Jacob Wolstoncroft and Alison Wright.

Footlight Theatre Company presents The Sound of Music from November 5 – 20, 2010, at the Michael J. Fox Theatre, 7373 MacPherson Ave, Burnaby. Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-684-2787.