Category Archives: Theatre News

Lion King cast members host benefit for local HIV/AIDS groups

Cast members from the touring production of the smash hit The Lion King are raising money for two local HIV/AIDS groups with the special one-night-only revue Le Jazz Hot.

Developed by Vancouver local and Broadway entertainer Ian Yuri Gardner, the show will feature Wendy Bollard and international and Broadway talent including Vusi Mhlongo, Kendra Moore, LaShonda Reese, Sophia Stephens, Omari Tau, Frank Wright II and other members of Disney’s The Lion King.

Le Jazz Hot will feature solo and ensemble music, dance and audience interactive numbers in a setting of a 1930s/40s speakeasy. Door prizes will include tickets to The Lion King at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Funds raised will benefit Youth Community Outreach AIDS Society and the National Congress of Black Women Foundation in Vancouver.

Youth Community Outreach AIDS Society is Canada’s first youth-driven organization leading the HIV and HepC movement through peer education, support, and shared leadership. YouthCO was formed in 1994 to address an identified need for youth-specific HIV/AIDS services and has been providing peer support and education throughout Vancouver and British Columbia, Canada.

The National Congress of Black Women Foundation is a registered charity that promotes and facilitates leadership development, cultural awareness, health and education programs for black women and their families through funding and research. The NCBWF works in partnership with other organizations and individuals who support the goals and objectives of reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS infection and enhancing the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Disney’s The Lion King plays until August 8, 2010, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 600 block Hamilton St, Vancouver.

Le Jazz Hot plays for one night only on Monday, July 26, 2010 at 7 pm at the Revue Stage, 1601 Johnston Street, Granville Island. Tickets are $30.00 and are available online or by calling 604-629-8849.

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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.

Evil Dead just won’t die

Evil Dead: The Musical didn’t get a glowing review from this critic but nevertheless is still going strong and has added another week to their already extended run, now ending November 21, 2009.

Evil Dead: The Musical, presented by Ground Zero Theatre, Hit & Myth Productions and Keystone now plays until November 21, 2009 at the Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville St.  Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-280-4444.

Tony winner Jason Robert Brown performing in Vancouver

I have some amazing breaking news for all Vancouver musical-theatre fans and performers.  Tony Award winning composer Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years) will be in attendance for the Friday, August 21st showing of Songs For A New World (click here for my review) at Pacific Theatre and will also be performing a post-show concert.

For Friday the 21st only, tickets will be $65 all-inclusive; don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity!

Impresario Drabinsky Sentenced to Seven Years; Out on Bail Pending Appeal

Former Livent head honcho Garth Drabinsky was finally sentenced today to seven years in jail after being convicted of fraud and forgery last March.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, Drabinsky has been alternatively sainted and damned by various circles of Canadian theatre society.

Former Livent Executive Garth Drabinsky

Former Livent Executive Garth Drabinsky.

Some Canadian media and bloggers had scoffed at the notion put forward by Drabinsky’s legal team that he should receive house arrest and perhaps lecture at universities as a form of community service.

Even after his name had been dragged through the mud for over a decade, Drabinsky was able to drum up some glowing character references from no less than Martha Henry, Christopher Plummer and E.L. Doctorow.

The criminal conviction will now likely be followed by multiple civil suits, so Drabinksy’s days in courts are far from over.  It probably also puts the final nail in the CBC reality show Triple Sensation which Drabinsky executive produced.

UPDATED, Thursday August 6, 2009 : Don’t expect Drabinsky and his co-convicted Myron Gottlieb to spend time behind bars anytime soon.  After spending the morning in a courthouse jail cell, they were released on bail by the afternoon, pending appeals of their convictions and sentences. The appeals could take as long as a year.

CBC’s Triple Sensation: Finale

Before the finale of CBC’s Triple Sensation, it seems a foregone conclusion that Leah Cogan will be crowned the winner.  As much as I’d like to lay claim to being prescient, all credit goes to the formulaic editing of the show that pretty much told the audience who was going to win back in week three.

There were some good performances out of the top six, and all the focus really was on the talent.  The personal interviews were kept to a bare minimum, and each finalist sang, danced and acted separately.

Excluding the personal stories and the offstage likeability of the performers made the show an entirely different creature.  It also helped me come to a more-or-less final conclusion as to my relative indifference to Leah Cogan.  She is most definitely a triple threat, but she isn’t suited for reality television.  With all of the personal distractions swept aside, she shone brightly in all three of her solo performances.

triple sensation1

Newfoundland’s Liam Tobin was the runner up and he completely won over the panel.  Tobin is all charm and smiles and his acting and singing weren’t too bad either.  He is definitely leading man material.

Cayley Thomas did a competent version of “A Quiet Thing” from Flora the Red Menace.  It wasn’t bad but it didn’t really stand out, especially in the face of such strong competition.

I was surprised that Kaitlyn Semple wasn’t in the top three.  Her “Cabaret” was sexy and confident, but not good enough apparently for the judges.

I really enjoyed David Light’s “Sara Lee” from Kander & Ebb’s And The World Goes Round.  He was funny in a way that we haven’t seen before and it made for a nice change of pace.

Hailey Gillis infused herself into “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret and you could feel her strength and determination.  I was a little put out by the judges’ comments that she wasn’t playing a character; she was just singing it as herself.  There was some truth to it though, but I still thought it was a personal high performance for her.

As I already predicted, Leah Cogan of Embrun, Ontario was declared the winner of the $150,000 scholarship and the Triple Sensation title.  And I’d say that she definitely earned it.  Whatever it is that you need to be a star, Cogan has it it spades.

That brings this season to a bittersweet end.  It seems unlikely that there will be a third season anytime soon.  This second season was already shot and finished last fall, but the airing was delayed until now.  With Executive Producer and marquee panel judge Garth Drabinsky already convicted of fraud in criminal court last spring, the future of Triple Sensation does not look bright.  Drabinksy’s sentencing has been delayed multiple times, but is currently scheduled to be handed down on August 5th.

Week 5: Workshop Presentation

Week 4: Master Class (part 2)

Week 3: Master Class

Week 2: Vancouver Auditions

Week 1: Eastern Auditions

Free New York Pops Download with Audra McDonald and Idina Menzel

Here’s a chance to legally download some free music to add to your musical collection. pic-fireworks-audra_mcdonald

(Via Broadway Musical Blog)

The New York Pops are providing a free download of the music from their 4th of July celebration, including “American River Suite,” which was composed by Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Once on This Island, Seussical) and performed by Tony Award winners Audra McDonald (110 in the Shade, Dreamgirls, Ragtime) and Idina Menzel (Wicked, Rent).

Audra McDonald is one of my all-time favourites and I love in her pretty much anything she does (we won’t mention Private Practice).  Presumably, this is a limited time offer, so download now.