Category Archives: Touring Shows

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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Avenue Q; Work Light (Upcoming show)

The three-time Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q makes its Vancouver debut this February. Often-described as an adult-take on Sesame Street, Avenue Q uses puppets to tell the story of a recent college graduate who moves to New York to find his place in the world.

Music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, book by Jeff Whitty, and based on an original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx.  Directed by Jason Moore, puppet design by Rick Lyon, choreography by Ken Roberson, scenic design by Anna Louizos, and costume design by Mirena Rada.

Starring Kerri Brackin, Ashley Eileen Bucknam, David Colston Corris, Lisa Helmi Johanson, Tim Kornblum, Michael Liscio Jr., Anita Welch, Ben Hart, Laura Yumi Snell, Katie McCreary and Zach Trimmer.

Work Light Productions presents Avenue Q, from February 1 – 5, 2011, at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, 777 Homer Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-280-4444.

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.

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline; Arts Club (Upcoming show)

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline follows the life of the legendary singer, and features such songs as “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “Crazy.”

Sara-Jeanne Hosie in the Arts Club’s production of A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline. Photo by David Cooper.

Written by Dean Regan. Directed by Shane Snow, with musical direction by Nico Rhodes, set and lighting design by Ted Roberts, and costume design by Norma Bowen. Starring Sara-Jeanne Hosie (White Christmas, Arts Club) and Kevin James.

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, presented by the Arts Club On Tour in association with Chemainus Theatre Festival, runs from October 8 – November 15, 2010, at various theatres in North Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Surrey, West Vancouver, Coquitlam, Kelowna, Nelson, Cranbrook, Mission, Burnaby, Vernon, and Chilliwack.  Tickets are available from the local theatres, click here for a more detailed schedule.

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.

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.

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.