Tag Archives: Jason Robert Brown

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.

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The Last Five Years; Stone’s Throw (Upcoming show)

Jason Robert Brown’s semi-autobiographical The Last Five Years plays for a short run this week at Pacific Theatre.  It’s the story of a 5-year relationship told in an unconventional way. The woman’s point of view is told backwards from end to beginning while the man tells his side of the story from beginning to end.  The two meet only once in the play, in the middle at their wedding.

Written by Jason Robert Brown (13, Songs for A New World). Directed by Heather Teeter, musical direction by Dave Rosborough, and lighting design by Jin Kim. Featuring Shalyn McFaul and Joshua McFaul.

The Last Five Years, presented by Stone’s Throw Productions, runs from July 14 – July 17, 2010 at the Pacific Theatre, 12th and Hemlock, Vancouver.  Tickets are available online or by calling 604-731-5518.

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!

Songs For A New World (Review)

Sometimes less really is more.  Songs For A New World, presented by Not Another Musical Co-op, is an extremely minimalist production.  It’s a small four-person cast, there is little in the way of a set, and the stories told on stage are often left up to the interpretations of the audience.  That simplicity allows the actors and Jason Robert Brown’s music and lyrics (Parade, The Last Five Years) to soar, and they do.

Although there is no plot, the show is bound together with overarching and entwining themes, and while the actors do not play the same characters throughout the show, they do develop and grow.  The complexities of the music and of the human experience are always at the forefront and make for a captivating experience.

new world

Jennifer Neumann, Jonathan Winsby, Daren Herbert and Alison MacDonald; the cast of Songs For A New World

The cast have all been seen in recent Vancouver productions.  Daren Herbert (Man 1) and Jennifer Neumann (Woman 1) played Richie and Maggie respectively in Royal City’s A Chorus Line in the spring.  Neumann also shared the stage with Alison MacDonald (Woman 2) and Jonathan Winsby (Man 2) in the recent Arts Club smash hit Les Misérables.

Herbert’s softer falsetto contrasts beautifully with Winsby’s powerful baritone and both Neumann and MacDonald are in equally fine form vocally.  Each one has the chance shows off in their solos and yet still come together to complement each other in the many harmonies.

The ever-charismatic Jonathan Winsby demonstrates his prowess as a leading man in both “The World Was Dancing” and “She Cries.”  Jennifer Neumann is fearless yet guarded in “I’m Not Afraid;” then she lets loose in her duet with Winsby, “I’d Give it All For You.”

Alison MacDonald is a bundle of neuroses threatening to jump out of an apartment window in “Just One Step” and then is a fierce and romantically-frustrated Mrs. Claus in “Surabaya Santa.”  Daren Herbert shows off in “Steam Train” and then is a dynamo of raw emotion in “King of the World.”

I find something new in Brown’s score on each and every listen, but my favourite has always been the oft-recorded “Stars and the Moon.”  Alison MacDonald embraces the song with open arms and hits all the right notes, emotionally and musically.

The ubiquitous and multi-talented Sara-Jeanne Hosie co-directs and co-choreographs with Shane Snow.  Their synchronised choreography worked well in “The Steam Train” but in other numbers, was far too distracting.  Brown’s score is piano-centric and the three piece band receives almost as much attention as the actors.  Pianist Sean Bayntun, percussionist Sam Hutchison and bassist Hugh Macdonald make beautiful music together.

Songs For A New World is a work of art and should be contemplated and savoured.  Come for both the amazing talent and the sumptuous score and you won’t be disappointed.

Songs For A New World is playing August 12th – 29th, 2009 at Pacific Theatre, located at 1440 West 12th Avenue. The show runs Wednesday – Saturday at 8pm, with matinees on August 22nd and 29th at 2pm.  Tickets are available online or by calling 604-684-2787.