Tag Archives: Disney

White Christmas: The Musical; Arts Club (Review)

While I’m a sucker for Disney musicals, after four straight years of Beauty and the Beast as the annual Christmas musical at the Arts Club, it was time for a change.  This year’s holiday production at the Stanley is White Christmas, the 2004 nostalgia-laden stage adaptation of the 1954 Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye film.

The show’s book, by David Ives and Paul Blake, although only five years old, doesn’t stray too far from the original, nor does it attempt to insert any sort of modern sensibilities.  If you’re searching for any overarching larger themes or social messages here, don’t bother.  White Christmas is a throwback to a simpler time when pretty much any problem could be solved by simply mounting a Broadway-style revue.  Is war getting you down? Facing foreclosure and financial ruin?  Put on a show!

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

In this instance, retired army buddies turned musical stars Phil Davis and Bob Wallace, played by Todd Talbot (Annie, TUTS) and Jeffrey Victor (Les Misérables, Arts Club), decide to help out their former commanding officer General Waverly.  Waverly, as played by Réjean Cournoyer (Les Misérables, Arts Club), has sunk all of his money into a Vermont inn and is about to lose his shirt due to unseasonably warm weather and a lack of snow to placate the tourists.

Arts Club veterans Monique Lund (Beauty and the Beast, Arts Club) and Sara-Jeanne Hosie (Les Misérables, Arts Club) are sister act Judy and Betty Haynes who join forces, professionally and romantically, with song-and-dance duo Davis and Wallace.

Talbot and Victor have better onstage chemistry together than they do with Lund and Hosie respectively, which is perhaps a more unintentionally faithful following of the buddy-musical film genre than intended.

After playing Mrs. Potts for the past four Christmases in Beauty and the Beast, Susan Anderson easily breaks into her new role as busybody Martha Watson.  Anderson takes the opportunity to show off her vocal and dance skills in “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy” and exceeds all expectations, in what should be a supporting role.

In an already markedly strong chorus, Jak Barradell, Jeremy Lowe and Laura McNaught stand out from the pack with their energy and charisma.

This show’s strength comes shining through in the big group dance numbers including “Let Yourself Go” and “I Love a Piano.”  Valerie Easton’s choreography is a loving tribute to the old movie musicals that have long since fallen out of fashion, where dancers once hoofed and tapped energetically for the cameras, broad smiles not wavering for a single beat.

White Christmas is as warm and familiar as an old friend and seems destined to become another Arts Club holiday tradition.

Arts Club Theatre Company presents Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical until December 27, 2009 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, 2750 Granville St.  Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-687-1644.

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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.

High School Musical 2; URP (Review)

Disney’s High School Musical 2 knows its audience and plays directly to it. Opening night, the crowd was dominated by the under 12 set and they were there to be entertained.  As soon as the lights dimmed in the theatre, a wave of pint-sized shushing rippled through the room; this audience didn’t want to miss a single moment of the performance.

Judging by the enthusiastic applause, URP pulled it off.  URP mounted the original HSM two seasons ago with great success, so the sequel was a no-brainer.

 

HSM 2 photo 2

Scott Perrie and Shannon Adams share a moment in URP's High School Musical 2.

 

The first HSM revolved around the Disney-esque premise that everyone should follow their dreams and that people can be whatever they want to be.  HSM 2 also promises a kid and parent-friendly evening, complete with feel-good positive messages around loyalty and hard work.

The sequel follows Troy Bolton and Gabriella Marquez and their Wildcat compatriots as they spend their summer before senior year working at country club.  Scott Perrie (Les Misérables, Arts Club) and Shannon Adams as Troy and Gabriella respectively, had a very fitting G-rated kind of chemistry.

Though I spotted several twenty-somethings trying to pass as teenagers, there were also quite a few actual teens in the cast.  URP and their HSM and HSM 2 productions have provided a great opportunity for younger actors to gain stage experience.

Julie Trepanier was a somewhat subdued Sharpay Evans.  Trepanier certainly looked the part, but I found myself wishing that she’d have more fun with the role.

My only real quibble with casting was with Brandyn Eddy as Sharpay’s nicer twin, Ryan.  In Eddy’s hands, the nattily-dressed Ryan came off as more of a senior citizen than a high school senior.  Eddy is a more-than-capable actor, as evidenced by his turn as Seymour in last year’s URP production of Little Shop of Horrors.  But here, he just felt jarringly out of place.

Overall, the show accomplished what it set out to do.  The cast had fun, the parents had fun, and most importantly, the toughest critics of all, the kids, had fun.  What more could you ask for?

High School Musical 2, presented by URP Productions, plays through November 22, 2009, at the Centennial Theatre, 2300 Lonsdale, North Vancouver.  Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-984-4484.

High School Musical 2; URP (Upcoming show)

High School Musical was such a success for URP back in 2007 and 2008 that they’re mounting the sequel to the massive Disney hit for their 15th season.  HSM and its two sequels have a huge following among tweens, teens and Disney fans of all ages, which should bode well for URP’s ticket sales.

Cast of URP's production of High School Musical 2

The cast of URP's 2009 production of High School Musical 2

High School Musical 2 stars Aaron Lau, Julie Trepanier, Scott Perrie, Shannon
Adams, Brandyn Eddy, and Jessica Kelly.

URP presents High School Musical 2, playing November 3-22, 2009, at the Centennial Theatre, 2300 Lonsdale, North Vancouver.  Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-984-4484.