Tag Archives: Firehall Arts Centre

Smile; Awkward Stage (Upcoming show)

From the company that brought last year’s “Pick of the Fringe” 13, comes Smile, a musical and satirical take on teenage beauty pageants.  Awkward Stage Productions adds a new twist to this oft-forgotten 80s musical by using puppets to portray all of the adult characters alongside the human youth cast. The crew and musicians are youths too.

Stephanie Johannesen, Chelsea Powrie, Brenda, Erin Palm, and Jorgette Jorge in Awkward Stage's production of Smile.

Music by Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line) and book and lyrics by Howard Ashman (Little Shop of Horrors). Directed by Cara Tench, Corwin Ferguson, and Andy Toth. Choreography by Cara Tench and musical direction by Andy Toth. Starring Julia DiSpirito, Rachael Harrison, Taylor Scott, Maiah Fujino, Katie Allinger, Brittany Gee-Moore, Jessica Wong, Paige Wise, Hailey Perkins, Isabella Halliday, Fanco Celli, Devon MacKinlay, Kai Bradbury, Kaitlyn Yott, Morgan Roff, Patrick Arnott, Jonathan Hers, Erin Palm, Chelsea Powrie, Stephanie Johannesen, Chelsey Yamasaki, Ashley Siddals, Jennifer Suttis, Lindsay Corbett, Erika Babbins, Rebecca Friessen, Brittany Scott, Neil Aspinall, Zach Wolfman, Myles McCarthy, Michelle Baynton, and Jan van Vianen.

Awkward Stage Productions presents Smile from September 8 – 18, 2011 at at the Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-637-6380.

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Mimi (Or A Poisoner’s Comedy); Touchstone Theatre (Upcoming show)

Touchstone Theatre celebrates its 35th season with a lineup of original Canadian musicals and music theatre.  First up, is Mimi (Or A Poisoner’s Comedy)Mimi, which debuted to good reviews in Toronto last season, is billed as a comedy about a young French aristocrat who takes up poison as a hobby.

Jennifer Lines in Mimi (Or A Poisoner's Comedy). Photo by Emily Cooper.

Lyrics and music by Allen Cole, book and lyrics by Melody A. Johnson and Rick Roberts. Directed by Katrina Dunn, musical direction by Steven Greenfield. Set design by David Roberts, costumes by Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh, lighting by Gillian Wolpert.

Starring Donald Adams, Greg Armstrong-Morris, Peter Jorgensen, Jennifer Lines, Linda Quibell, and Sanders Whiting.

Mimi (Or A Poisoner’s Comedy), presented by Touchstone Theatre, runs until November 20, 2010, at the Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-689-0926.

13; Awkward Stage (Upcoming show)

Evan Goldman is looking forward to turning 13 and his Bar Mitzvah when his parents divorce and his mother abruptly moves him from New York City to small-town Indiana.  Evan’s subsequent quest for popularity is the basic premise of the coming-of-age musical 13.  While 13 only lasted a few months on Broadway in late 2008, the cast recording has become a favourite on my playlist.


Boasting a teenage cast, band and technical crew, 13 makes its Vancouver premiere as part of the 2010 Vancouver International Fringe Festival and is the debut production from Awkward Stage Productions Society.   Awkward Stage’s mission is to “provide real life performance and production opportunities to youth in that awkward stage of transitioning to professional theatre.”  The show has also been double-cast with a senior and junior ensemble alternating performances.

Book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn, with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years). Directed by Cara Tench and Corwin Ferguson, with musical direction by Andy Toth. Starring Zach Wolfman, Alex Lara, Kristin Bunyan, Alyssa Baker, Quinn Cartwright, Ashlee Kim, Jonathan Hers, Morgan Roff, David Cohen, Dylan Sloane, Fiona McIntyre, Julia Di Spirito, Devon MacKinlay, Eric Dunnill, Jacob Wolstencraft, Yoav Lai, Kai Bradbury, Anna Sutela, Ginny Dunnill, Caitlin Carhoun, Julie Cooper, Katie Coopersmith, Brittany Gee and Maiah Fujino.

Awkward Stage Productions presents 13 from September 9 – 19, 2010 at the Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available online.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (Upcoming show)

Musicals are often adapted from other media. Movies, television shows, and even comics have provided inspiration for some of Broadway’s biggest hits (and flops).  So it’s really no stretch that the internet could eventually do the same.  Broadway West and Relephant Theatre present the Vancouver premiere of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

Created and written by Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Joss Whedon and Zack Whedon, music by Joss Whedon and Jed Whedon.

Featuring Jon Lachlan Stewart, Shane Snow, Christina Hardie, Steven Greenfield, Jaclyn Rae, Anna Kuman, Kirk Smith, and Samantha Currie. Directed by Steven Greenfield, choreography by Shane Snow, and musical direction by Steven Greenfield.

Broadway West and Relephant Theatre present Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog from September 10 – 19, 2010 at the Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available online.

Debt- The Musical; Firehall (Upcoming show)

January brings us the world premiere of Debt- the Musical at the Firehall Arts Centre.  Debt is billed by its creators Leslie Mildiner and Todd Butler as a 90-minute musical satire exploring “the chaos, comedy and confusion created when the charge card creeps too high and the commercials keep saying buy-buy.”

Debt is directed by Donna Spencer, features choreography from Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg, and stars Ellen Kennedy, Tom Pickett, Tracey Power, Andy Toth and Simon Webb.

The Firehall Arts Centre presents Debt- the Musical with preview performances from January 8 – 12, and opening Wednesday, January 13 – 30, 2010.  Tickets are available online or by calling 604-689-0926.

Back to You – the Life and Music of Lucille Starr (Review)

Back to You – the Life and Music of Lucille Starr opened the 27th season of the Firehall Arts Centre on Wednesday with a taste of Canadian rockabilly and country.  This bio-tuner, written by local playwright Tracey Power, unfortunately, has little to distinguish itself from the multitude of other similarly structured biographical musicals.

Everyone, even those who have never heard of Canadian country singer Lucille Starr, will recognise the underlying story.  Talented girl meets boy and they become big stars. Boy ends up being no good and drags girl down with him.  Girl overcomes the odds and makes it again on her own.

Beverley Elliott as Lucille Starr. photo- James Loewen

Beverley Elliott as Lucille Starr. Photo by James Loewen

That’s not to take away from the real-life Lucille Starr’s experiences and successes.  Starr made it big in a time when there was no Canadian music industry to speak of.  But this staged version doesn’t add anything new to an already overcrowded genre.

The first act is overly-formulaic and poorly paced.  Beverley Elliott plays Lucille as she returns to her hometown of Coquitlam for a comeback concert in 1981.  Lucille then recalls a series of loosely linked vignettes of her early days as she sings her way to fame.  Elliott does a fine job with the music but is given little opportunity to do much else beyond a few wisecracks and one-liners.

The acting and emotions are left in the hands of the versatile and always enjoyable Alison MacDonald (Songs for A New World, Not Another Musical Co-op) as the younger Lucille and Jeff Gladstone as her music partner and eventual husband Bob Regan.  MacDonald and Elliott are both accomplished singers and they easily breeze through the score.

The story is told completely through Starr’s eyes and, maybe as a result, her husband comes off as one-dimensional.  Gladstone turns on the charm but, as written, his character never quite connects with the audience.

If the show has one strength, it’s the music.  Musical director Steve Charles has successfully knit together a tight unit with musicians Jeremy Holmes and Jimmy Roy.

Luckily, the pace picks up in the second half when more attention is paid to the details and the personal emotional highs and lows of Starr’s life.  But it seems like too little too late.  Back to You, while far from a complete disaster, never ventures into anything worthwhile and is mostly ordinary and forgettable.

Back to You – the Life and Music of Lucille Starr, presented by Musical Theatreworks, plays from September 30- October 10, 2009 at the Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St.  Tickets are available by calling the box office at 604-689-0926.

Back to You – the Life and Music of Lucille Starr (Upcoming show)

The Firehall starts its 27th season with Back to You – the Life and Music of Lucille Starr.  Presented by Musical Theatreworks and written by Tracey Power (The Jungle Book), Back to You stars Beverley Elliott, Alison MacDonald (Songs for A New World, Not Another Musical Co-op) and Jeff Gladstone.

Beverley Elliott as Lucille Starr, photo by James Loewen

Beverley Elliott as Lucille Starr, photo by James Loewen

The musical journey of Back to You begins in 1981. Lucille Starr has come home to Coquitlam, BC to give her first solo concert in 25 years. It’s her comeback tour, in more ways than one and her nerves have peaked. The last time her hometown crowd saw her on stage, it was with their other hometown sweetheart, Bob Regan. Coming home has stirred up a lifetime of memories – from the duo’s rise in the country-music charts, her legendary solo career and international acclaim, to the loss of her voice and lengthy recovery.  Now here she is, the first night of her comeback tour, a tour that ultimately brings her back to her music, back to herself and back to you.

Directed by Barbara Tomasic, musical direction by Steve Charles, set and lighting design by April Viczko, and costumes by Barbara Clayden, Back to You plays from September 30- October 10, 2009 at the Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St.  Tickets are available by calling the box office at 604-689-0926.