Tag Archives: Bill Millerd

Hairspray; Arts Club (Upcoming show)

The hit musical-comedy Hairspray dances its way on to the Arts Club stage this May. Based on the cult John Waters movie of the same name starring Ricki Lake, Sonny Bono and Divine, the Tony-winning musical ran for six years on Broadway.

Adam Charles and Jennie Neumann in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Hairspray. Photo by David Cooper.

Music by Marc Shaiman (Catch Me If You Can), lyrics by Scott Wittman (Catch Me If You Can) and Marc Shaiman, and book by Mark O’Donnell (Cry-Baby) and Thomas Meehan (Cry-Baby). Directed by Bill Millerd, musical direction by Ken Cormier, and choreographed by Valerie Easton. Set design by Ted Roberts, costumes by Alison Green, and lighting by Marsha Sibthorpe.

Starring Jay Brazeau (Drowsy Chaperone, Playhouse), Meghan Anderssen (Thoroughly Modern Millie, TUTS), J. Cameron Barnett, Jak Barradell (Altar Boyz, Arts Club), Darren Burkett (Seussical, Carousel), Adam Charles (White Christmas, Arts Club), Starr Domingue, Kayla Dunbar (The Park, Studio 58), Allison Fligg (Footloose, Exit 22), Ian Yuri Gardner, Kimberly Gelera, Alana Hibbert, Anna Kuman (White Christmas, Arts Club), Lelani Marrell, Laurie Murdoch, Jennie Neumann (Seussical, Carousel), Matt Palmer (Annie, Gateway), Milo Shandel, Colin Sheen (Fantasticks, Playhouse), Cailin Stadnyk (Singin’ in the Rain, TUTS), and Robyn Wallis.

Arts Club Theatre Company presents Hairspray from May 12, 2011 – July 10, 2011 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, 2750 Granville St.  Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-687-1644.

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Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical; Arts Club (Upcoming show)

It’s hard to believe but it’s that time of year again and the Arts Club is ready to get you in the seasonal spirit with its remounting of last year’s box office success   White Christmas.

Sara-Jeanne Hosie and Monique Lund in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical. Photo by David Cooper.

Based on the 1954 musical film starring Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen, the stage version debuted in 2004 with a book by David Ives and Paul Blake and music by Irving Berlin.

Directed by Bill Millerd, musical direction by Bruce Kellett and choreography by Valerie Easton. Starring Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Monique Lund, Todd Talbot, Jeffrey Victor, Susan Anderson, Allan Gray, and Mark Weatherley and featuring Robert Allan, Scott Augustine, Adam Charles, Brennan Cuff, Anna Kuman, Jeremy Lowe, Kristie Marsden, Marianne McCord, Laura McNaught, Keri Minty, Shane Snow, Fiona Vroom, Rachael Withers.

Arts Club Theatre Company presents Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical from December 4, 2010 – January 2, 2011 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, 2750 Granville St.  Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-687-1644.

Les Misérables (Review)

I saw Les Misérables at the Stanley last night for a second time, and here is my review as promised.  But before that, I’d like to begin with a brief disclaimer.

I know a lot of people will vehemently disagree, but I’ll start off by saying that I’m not a huge Les Mis fan.  It doesn’t rank among my favourite musicals, and I take issue with what I consider to be some major faults (which I’ll address).   But, I also recognise that much of my animosity/indifference towards Les Misérables is due to its unwavering popularity and not because it’s actually a terrible show.

That being said, the Arts Club production of Les Misérables is not to be missed.  The Arts Club rarely disappoints, and as I’ve written before, this past season has been full of some great shows.  I’ve seen the touring version of Les Mis several times, and this one blows them all out of the water.

There isn’t a weak link to be found in this cast.  Kieran Martin Murphy (Jean Valjean) and Réjean Cournoyer (Javert) are credibly locked in a life-long battle of wills and neither wavers in their resolve.  Murphy’s plaintive “Bring Him Home” is a veritable font of emotion.

Rejean Cournoyer in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Les Misérables. Photo by David Cooper.

Réjean Cournoyer in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Les Misérables. Photo by David Cooper.

Les Mis may have some definitive lead roles in Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, but it isn’t stingy with the spotlight and gives multiple performers the chance to be showcased.  Les Misérables doesn’t have one signature song; it has a half dozen or more.

Sara-Jeanne Hosie takes on the double-edged role of Fantine, unenviable only in the inevitable comparisons between hers and YouTube sensation Susan Boyle’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.”  Thankfully, Hosie’s performance is all her own and makes Boyle’s a distant memory.

Jonathan Winsby’s voice in “Do You Hear the People Sing” and “Red and Black” is in its usual powerful form and  believably communicates his character Enjolras’ charismatic convictions needed to lead the revolution.

The real revelation came to me in the beautiful singing of Rebecca Talbot’s Éponine.  During her first speaking lines I was apprehensive about her slightly rough-sounding voice.  Those concerns were completely allayed when she began to sing.  Talbot’s “On My Own” was emotional, heart-wrenching, and completely crush-worthy.

Jeffrey Victor as Marius and Kaylee Hardwood as Cosette make up the final two points with Éponine in the requisite love-triangle.  But I found myself siding with the doomed Éponine, all the more so in her dying duet with Marius “A Little Fall of Rain.”

John Mann and Nicola Lipman as the villainous Thénardiers add some much needed levity, albeit black humour, to the otherwise unending tragedies and deaths that befall almost every major character in the play.  Mann is deliciously ghoulish and Lipman is more than his match in every way.  What Lipman lacks in vocal skills, she more than makes up for with strong acting and a razor-sharp delivery.

Nicola Lipman and John Mann in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of  Les Misérables. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Nicola Lipman and John Mann in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Les Misérables. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Les Misérables was adapted into musical form from Victor Hugo’s classic French novel of the same name and has been translated into English at various time as The Miserable Ones, The Wretched, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, and The Victims.  I’m partial to The Wretched myself.

All kidding aside, Les Misérables does have a beautiful score and multiple deservedly memorable songs, which count in its favour.  On the other hand the book is long, unwieldy, short on character development, and attempts to cram far too many characters and events into one show.  The end result can be hard to follow and it’s easy to miss plot points or details that explain character histories or motivations.  The poor character development along with the über-tragic storyline makes for many missed opportunities to really flesh out some of the emotions and stories behind the show.

None of this applies to those of who have seen the show multiple times and who have probably had more than a few listens to any of the cast albums, but I wisely advise any Les Mis virgins to read the synopsis while waiting for the show to start so as not to be left confused halfway through.

My only other complaint is the small orchestra.  I understand that it’s both an economic and a logistical problem, but the epic scale of Alain Boublil’s and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s music and lyrics really does require a full scale orchestra to do it justice.  Even so, Musical Director Bruce Kellett has done a great job of making the most of the six-man pit.

The Arts Club production of Les Misérables directed by Bill Millerd is the best I’ve seen and if you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t recommend it enough.  Despite my criticisms, I’ve seen it twice and I’m likely to catch it once more before it closes on August 2nd.

Les Misérables runs through August 2nd at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage (2750 Granville Street).

Altar Boyz Preview (Review)

The Arts Club has been right on the mark with their musical productions this season, and Altar Boyz is no exception.  Previews began tonight and continue until opening night on June 24th.

The original cast of the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Altar Boyz. Photo by David Cooper.

The original cast of the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Altar Boyz. Photo by David Cooper.

I wasn’t familiar with the show before tonight but was quickly taken in by the clever spoofing of boy bands and Christian music. The plot does play a little thin at times but the enthusiastic audience was far too busy laughing to notice.

Matthew (Jeremy Crittenden), Mark (David Hurwitz), Luke (Jak Barradell), Juan (Vincent Tong), and Abraham (Geoff Stevens) dance and sing as a well-oiled machine with a mission to save souls.  Commanded by the Lord to gel their hair with product and gird their loins with pleather lest they skew to the detestable older demographic, the Altar Boyz are on the final show of their “Raise the Praise” concert tour.

The entire quintet of actors shines in each of their respective roles as teen heartthrobs, but I have to single out Tong for his acrobatics, both literal and vocal.  He was also extremely memorable last Christmas as LeFou in Beauty and the Beast (Arts Club).

Choreographer Sara-Jeanne Hosie (currently playing Fantine in Les Misérables) pays homage to the most memorable of cheesy boy band dance moves.  The Boyz’ dancing is crisp, clean and often downright hilarious.

I have to confess that I attended several boy band concerts in the late 90s, and I saw more than a few evocations of classic Backstreet Boys and *NSync steps on the Granville Island stage tonight.

Some of the lines delivered could use a little tightening, but the preview performance was divine and hopefully I’ll be back after the opening to see how the show improves.  It’s looking like Director Bill Millerd is going to have yet another hit on his hands.

Running at 90 minutes with no intermission, Altar Boyz runs until August 1st at the Granville Island Stage (1585 Johnston Street).