Category Archives: Broadway Across Canada

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

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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.

Grease; Broadway Across Canada (Upcoming show)

That original high school musical, Grease is the word once again.  After a drought of touring productions in Vancouver in recent years, Broadway Across Canada has a steady stream of Broadway shows heading our way.  Up next: Grease.  The current production includes songs from the original stage production as well as popular hits from the movie version, including “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Grease,” and “You’re the One That I Want.”
Book, music, and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, with additional songs by Barry Gibb, John Farrar, Louis St. Louis and Scott Simon. Directed by David John O’Brien, choreographed by Joyce Chittick.  Set design by Tony Award winner Derek McLane, costume design by Tony Award winner Martin Pakledinaz and lighting design by Tony Award winner Kenneth Posner.

Starring Tony nominee Eddie Mekka, Alyssa Herrera, Matt Nolan (Grease: You’re The One That I Want), Patrick Cragin, Audrey Filson, Kelly Teal Goyette, Patrick Joyce, Alicia Kelly, Brad Lawson, Ashley Rubin, Lauren Elaine Taylor, Lauren Turner and Marc Winski.

Broadway Across Canada presents Grease from October 26 – 31, 2010, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 600 block Hamilton St, Vancouver. Tickets are available online or by calling 604-280-4444.

Disney’s The Lion King; Broadway Across Canada (Upcoming show)

The Vancouver debut of the Tony Award-winning musical Disney’s The Lion King is less than a month away and the local buzz continues to grow.  The Lion King is a theatrical juggernaut that has shown no sign of slowing down since it hit Broadway 13 years ago.

Phindile Mkhize as Rafiki in the opening number “The Circle of Life” from the national tour of Disney's The Lion King. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Lion King is the eighth longest-running musical in Broadway history and this touring company is one of the seven productions currently playing worldwide, including New York, London, Hamburg, Paris, Tokyo and Las Vegas.

Starring J. Anthony Crane, Brenda Mhlongo, Nick Cordileone, Adam Jacobs, Syndee Winters, Monica L. Patton, Kolton Stewart, Monique Lee, Dionne Randolph, Tony Freeman, Omari Tau, Ben Roseberry, Jerome Stephens Jr., and Madai Monica Williams.

Disney Theatrical Productions and Broadway Across Canada present Disney’s The Lion King from July 13 – August 8, 2010, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 600 block Hamilton St, Vancouver. Tickets are still available online or by calling 604-280-4444.

Disney’s The Lion King coming to Vancouver (Upcoming show)

Local Disney and musical-theatre fans alike will be ecstatic to hear that Tony Award-winning musical Disney’s The Lion King will finally be coming to the Vancouver stage in July, 2010.

Broadway Across Canada offerings have been relatively sparse in our city over the past few years and hopefully this announcement signals the beginning of a turnaround in the national touring productions that stop in Vancouver.

Based on the blockbuster 1994 animated film of the same name, The Lion King opened on Broadway in 1997 and promptly won a plethora of honours including six Tony Awards, eight Drama Desk Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards, the New York Drama Critics award for Best Musical, the Evening Standard Award for the Theatrical Event of the Year, two Olivier Awards, a Theatre World Award, the Astaire Award for Outstanding Choreography, two Drama League Awards and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.

Choreography is by Garth Fagan, scenic design by Richard Hudson, costume design by Julie Taymor, and lighting design by Donald Holder.  The Lion King features an adapted book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi and a score by Elton John, Tim Rice, Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer.

Broadway Across Canada presents Disney’s The Lion King from July13– August 8, 2010, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 600 block Hamilton St, Vancouver. Ticket prices range from $26.50 to $98.50 and go on sale in March of 2010.

A Chorus Line; Broadway Across Canada (Review)

There’s a certain school of thinking that says that higher ticket prices equate to a better show.  My experiences with touring professional musicals would suggest that isn’t always the case.  I’ve often found them to be uneven and not always worth the high price of admission.

Luckily, A Chorus Line is more hit than miss.    Following 17 dancers auditioning for roles in the chorus line of a Broadway musical, The Tony award-winning show sets high expectations, billing itself as the best musical ever.

The calibre of acting was largely topnotch and the dancing spectacular.  The sheer athleticism and grace of the cast was on full display in this beautifully choreographed production.

ACL- 10 - The company on the line

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

A Chorus Line works best when the audience finds all of the competing dancers to be sympathetic and likeable.  Not all of the actors were able to pull this off.  On opening night, Julie Kotarides subbed in for Rebecca Riker in the role of Diana.  Kotarides was serviceable in the part, but was nothing to write home about.  Her singing voice was pretty, but her acting felt one-dimensional and left me indifferent.

Anthony Wayne’s Richie pulsed with a manic energy which translated well in his dancing.  His delivery, however, seemed to be a jivey throwback to 70’s style media portrayals of African-Americans that bordered perilously close to being offensive.

Maggie as played by Hollie Howard was tepid and forgettable.  Her vocals were a bit more memorable, but not in a good way.  Maggie’s high notes in “At the Ballet” were painful to hear and took away from what is otherwise a beautiful song.

The negatives were largely outshone by the myriad of positive performances. Bethany Moore was note-perfect and extremely likeable as the awkward Judy Turner.  Brandon Tyler’s Larry was a dervish in dance shoes as he moved with reckless abandon across the stage.  Emily Fletcher smouldered as the sexually aggressive Sheila, commanding attention with a raise of her eyebrows or a toss of her hair.

A Chorus Line was truly groundbreaking when it debuted in the mid-70s, but many parts of it have not aged well.  Mindy Dougherty as the artificially-enhanced Val made the most of the once risqué number “Dance: 10; Looks: Three.”  But modern audiences have long since become accustomed to ‘tits and ass,’ and the song barely registers today.

I had high hopes for Joey Dudding who played Paul.  One of the emotional highlights in the show for me is Paul’s monologue.  Properly delivered, it deftly rises to an emotional crescendo.  Dudding raced through it and arriving at the end seemed to cry almost as an afterthought, barely phoning it in.

A Chorus Line features several gay characters as revealed through songs or monologues.  The sexualities of many other male characters are left undefined.  As such, these are usually played straight, for lack of a better word.  It was nice to see, in this production, to see many other of the dancers not all played as hyper-masculine heterosexuals.

This line is a solid, strong production that is worth the ticket price for the dancing alone.  That plus some inspired acting and vocal performances make A Chorus Line a must-see.

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

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.