Tag Archives: North Vancouver

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.

Advertisements

Footloose; Exit 22 (Review)

It was 30 years ago this past January that the junior and senior classes of an Oklahoman high school asked for permission to hold a prom.  The year was 1980 and in most places in America this wouldn’t have been an issue, but this was Elmore, a town that had outlawed public dancing since its founding almost a century earlier.

At the time, a local Pentecostal preacher was quoted in People magazine as saying that “no good has ever come from a dance.”  Another resident forecast a surge in teenage pregnancies, “because when boys and girls breathe in each other’s ears, that’s the next step.”

With those dire warnings about the slippery slope of dance freshly planted in my head, I sat in the audience at the Performance Arts Theatre at Capilano University, awaiting the opening bars of Exit 22’s production of Footloose.

The show begins with Chicago teen Ren McCormack (Nolan Wilson) and his mother Ethel (Emily Fraser) moving to the rural Texas town of Bomont, after Ren’s father leaves his family ‘to find himself.’  Ren has difficulty adapting to small-town life and the town has similar trouble adapting to him.  He soon discovers that Bomont, under the direction of Rev. Shaw Moore (Sean Parsons), has banned all dancing within city limits.  It’s left to Ren and his friends to try and help a town move on from a tragic past.

Footloose was adapted in 1998 as a stage musical from the 1984 film of the same name, which in turn was loosely based on the real-life events in Elmore, OK.  The musical was only a moderate success, but has taken on a healthy second life through high school and college productions.  Most recently, there were plans to make a film version of the musical starring Zac Efron, but that project appears to be dead in the water.

That film’s producers have apparently had second thoughts, and I soon found out why: the stage musical itself is a complete wash.  Maybe those naysaying dance prohibitionists were onto something afterall.  It is not an exaggeration to say that it seems unlikely that there is anyone who could spin gold from the dross that is Footloose.

The dialogue is trite and patronising, and the majority of the adult characters are shallow and unlikeable.  Despite the inherent limitations of the material, the all-student cast does an admirable job of salvaging what they can.  The onstage talent is evident, even if it is repeatedly eclipsed by the abysmal script.

Jak Barradell (Altar Boyz, White Christmas) as Ren’s best friend Willard is a tumbling and dancing machine.  Brittany Scott as Willard’s love interest Rusty, belts a spirited rendition of “Let’s Hear it For The Boy.”  Other notable cast members to look out for in the future include Kathy Fitzpatrick, Allison Fligg, and Morgan Dunne.

Promising actor Sean Parsons’ (Rent) portrayal of Rev. Moore doesn’t quite ring true.  The good reverend is frustrated with his daughter Ariel’s (Megan Bayliss) rebellious ways throughout the show but for the most part does little more than shake his head disappointedly at her antics.  When he finally hits her in a moment of anger, it comes without warning and with little explanation.

Not too long after that, Ariel sports a black eye courtesy of her dropout ex-boyfriend Chuck Cranston played to a sleazy tee by Victor Hunter. Neither of these incidents receives a satisfactory resolution nor are they addressed further.

When Ariel reveals what is supposed to be a big secret to Ren, I doubt there was a single person in the audience who hadn’t already figured it out.

That is the heart of the problem with this musical: there is no dramatic tension, no surprises.  There are lots of little scenes and lots of movement, but we are given few chances and even less reason to care about the characters.  The show is also hampered by director Gillian Barber’s unfocused staging, which is quite literally all over the place.

The energetic dancing and vocals showcase a wealth of potential and the youthful cast gives it their all, but there isn’t enough talent in the world to overcome this lame duck of a show.

Exit 22 presents Footloose until Apr 3, 2010 in the Performing Arts Theatre at Capilano University, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver, in the Birch Building. For more information, or to buy tickets, phone 604-990-7810 or email boxoffice@capilanou.ca.

Footloose; Exit 22 (Upcoming show)

The 80s are back in the spotlight in North Vancouver for Exit 22’s closing show of their 2009/10 season.  Directed by Gillian Barber and starring the collective talents of Capilano U third-year musical-theatre students, Footloose is the stage adaptation of the film cult classic.

The cast of Exit 22's Footloose.

Exit 22 presents Footloose from March 25  – Apr 3, 2010 in the Performing Arts Theatre at Capilano University, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver, in the Birch Building. For more information, or to buy tickets, phone 604.990.7810 or email boxoffice@capilanou.ca.

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.

Rent; Fighting Chance (Review)

The Rent phenomenon may be thirteen years old, but it shows no signs of slowing down.  Fighting Chance Productions’ version proudly continued the tradition with Thursday night’s Canadian regional theatre premiere of Rent.  Bohemia is alive and well and has taken up residence in a North Vancouver theatre.

Some theatres seem custom-built for certain shows but many others have limitations which theatre companies must work around.  I’d heard some initial concerns about the choice of Presentation House Theatre as the venue for Rent.  And to be honest, I wasn’t sure the smallish space would be a good match for the rock opera.

The closeness of the stage did make for a fundamentally different experience, but overall it was a success.  It’s readily clear, from the earnest enthusiasm permanently etched into their faces, that most of the cast members are die-hard Rent fans.  That kind of passion translates into a high-energy and vibrant production.

Trying to pick the high point of the show is near-impossible, as there are so many from which to choose.  Jonathan Larson’s music and lyrics are just as poignant as they were when they debuted off-Broadway in 1996.  Based on the Puccini opera La Boheme, Rent is the story of a group of New York starving artists who struggle while dealing with the effects of AIDS.

Fighting Chance Production's cast of Rent; Clockwise from top left, Craig Decarlo, Christine Quintana, Jacqueline Breakwell, Anton Lipovetsky, Nick Fontaine and Cesar Erba.

Fighting Chance Production's cast of Rent; Clockwise from top left, Craig Decarlo, Christine Quintana, Jacqueline Breakwell, Anton Lipovetsky, Nick Fontaine and Cesar Erba.

Jacqueline Breakwell’s Maureen is fiery hot and oozes sex appeal. My theatre companion was completely and utterly enamoured with her.  Jenn Suratos as Maureen’s current girlfriend is a great foil to Maureen’s ex-boyfriend Mark in “Tango Maureen.”

Anton Lipovetsky is boyish and likeable as Mark and Kholby Wardell drips attitude as Mark’s yuppified ex-roommate Benny.

Craig DeCarlo as Roger has a voice made for rock and easily powers through his multiple numbers. His chemistry with Christine Quintana’s sultry Mimi is somewhat hit or miss, but ultimately pulls together in the end.

Nick Fontaine’s Tom Collins and Cesar Erba’s Angel are an adorable couple, and their voices are perfectly complementary in “I’ll Cover You.”

Rielle Braid, one of the ensemble swings on the second night I saw the show, was a standout as sleazy television producer Alexi Darling.

Most of the cast’s solo vocals are strong but the show is truly at its best in the full company numbers “La Vie Boheme” and “Seasons of Love.”

There were some issues with the sound.  Some actors’ mikes were far too loud and others not loud enough. Several bits of Erba’s dialogue were lost at key moments.

One of Rent’s stronger points is that its gay characters aren’t tokens to the centre stage heterosexual romance between Mimi and Roger.  Joanne and Maureen’s onstage pairing is every bit as volatile and crazy as Maureen’s dream-inspired performance art.  Collins and Angel’s loving relationship is also given equal billing and held up as the ideal to which the others aspire.

Rent’s positive tone, amidst darker themes of poverty and the AIDS epidemic, chooses to emphasise love and living live to the fullest. It’s that message which continues to strike such a personal chord with actors and audiences alike.

Seating is general admission, so make sure you arrive early to stake out a good seat.  Both performances I attended were sold out and by opening night Fighting Chance had already added an extra week to the tail end of their run.  It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to say that Rent will be a smash hit here in Vancouver.

Ryan Mooney and Fighting Chance Productions are persistently making a name for themselves as real contenders in local theatre and Rent will only further that cause.

Fighting Chance Productions’ Rent plays through August 23rd at Presentation House Theatre.  Tickets are available online.