Tag Archives: Vogue Theatre

Evil Dead just won’t die

Evil Dead: The Musical didn’t get a glowing review from this critic but nevertheless is still going strong and has added another week to their already extended run, now ending November 21, 2009.

Evil Dead: The Musical, presented by Ground Zero Theatre, Hit & Myth Productions and Keystone now plays until November 21, 2009 at the Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville St.  Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-280-4444.

Stephen Sondheim in Vancouver (Guest Post)

I was sick and missed seeing Stephen Sondheim when he stopped in Vancouver at the end of October.  Local theatre director and producer Ryan Mooney (Rent) offered to share his thoughts on the experience.

Stephen Sondheim is arguably the best there is when it comes to musical theatre, although anyone who would argue it might need to give their heads a shake.  His résumé is impressive; his first Broadway show was West Side Story and he followed that up with Gypsy.  Not a bad start to a career.  He’s had his fair share of flops; however I was surprised to find out after checking out Wikipedia that not a single Sondheim title appears in the one-hundred longest running Broadway shows.
Stephen Sondheim
On Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 Stephen Sondheim made his first trip ever to Vancouver to speak at the Vogue Theatre as part of his “Life in the Theatre” series.  It was sponsored through APPLAUSE! Musicals in Concert which is presenting an entire season of Stephen Sondheim (Passion will be up next).  I, myself, have had the opportunity to check out Sondheim speaking before when I was in NYC for his 75th birthday, so I had some idea of what a kind and personable person he was.  What I wasn’t prepared for was just how attentive he would be when I met him in person. I had the opportunity to meet him briefly and talk to him at a gala event beforehand.  He spoke highly of our city – about how our main park (Stanley Park) is beautiful.  I was there with a few friends and he mentioned how happy he was to see “some young people” at the event, since apparently it’s usually a lot of the older set at these meet and greets.

Following that, we headed to a packed Vogue Theatre for a discussion moderated by Jerry Wasserman.  I’ve heard a few people mention that they think Jerry could’ve been more prepared.  Myself, I feel like it was a crazy task to assign anyone.  Where do you even scratch the surface when it comes to a man who has had such a distinguished career?  I’ve read the Stephen Sondheim biography by Meryle Secrest and I was the emcee for Fighting Chance’s production of Side by Side by Sondheim, so I certainly felt I had some Sondheim knowledge, but I was thrilled to hear anecdotes that I hadn’t heard before. There was one moment in particular where I became acutely aware of just how quiet the Vogue Theatre was.  An entire room full of our theatre community hanging on this man’s every word.  Nobody wanted to move for fear of missing something that he had to share.  I know that I speak for many people when I say that I could’ve listened to hours more of his stories.

He spoke about how he’s writing a two-volume set of annotated lyrics to all of his shows; the first due out this time next year.  Sondheim fans (myself included) will be thrilled to get their hands on such a gem of authorship.

Kudos must be paid to Scott Ashton Swan and APPLAUSE! Musicals in Concert for bringing Sondheim to Vancouver.  It was a rare treat.  I can only hope that this is the start of bringing first rate Broadway talent (in all forms) to our city, as there certainly seems to be the appetite for it.

Ryan Mooney is the artistic director and founder of Fighting Chance Productions.

Evil Dead: The Musical; Ground Zero (Review)

The Evil Dead fans came out in droves for the opening night of Evil Dead: The Musical on Thursday night.  The current of excitement was tangible outside the Vogue as they lined up in the damp Vancouver air.  Inside, the atmosphere was far more akin to a rock concert than to that of a typical night out at the theatre.

Musical-theatre patrons can be a devoted and passionate lot, but they generally don’t show up to see Les Misérables or A Chorus Line in stage makeup or costumes.  The Evil Dead crowd was a definite exception to that rule.

The Cast of Evil Dead: The Musical playing The Vogue Theatre. Photo- Sean Dennie, Photoganda.

The Cast of Evil Dead: The Musical playing The Vogue Theatre. Photo- Sean Dennie, Photoganda.

The musical version comes with a built-in fan base thanks to director Sam Raimi’s cult horror Evil Dead film trilogy.  Movie fans were amply represented in the opening night’s audience as evidenced by their enthusiastic appreciation of inside jokes referencing Raimi and his films.

For those unfamiliar with the movies, Evil Dead follows five college students spending their spring break at an old abandoned cabin in the woods.  An ancient evil is released and blood, gore and mayhem ensue.

Producers, publicists and the press in other cities have repeatedly compared Evil Dead: The Musical to that other camp classic, The Rocky Horror Show.  Sadly, Evil Dead doesn’t quite live up to the billing.

Sure, there are some passing similarities to Rocky Horror, but there really should be no comparison.  The songs and lyrics plumb the depths of awfulness.  Not in the way of being so bad that they’re actually good.  These are just bad, in the truly worst sense of the word.  And it’s a shame.  The slasher and horror genre are ripe for musical parody, but the book and the music here just aren’t up to snuff.

The sound quality was noticeably spotty and I struggled to catch many lines as mics dropped in and out with little regard to who was actually supposed to be speaking or singing.  Conversely, lead actor Tyler Rive was over-amplified throughout the show.

With that said, based on the audience’s reaction, the quality (or lack thereof) of the music, lyrics, or plot was inconsequential.  They roared and cheered with delight each time that a familiar line from the film was recited, or a body was dismembered, or when a demonically-animated corpse made sexually suggestive pelvic thrusts.  I have to assume that only part of that enthusiasm was due to alcohol or other intoxicants.

Much of the excitement revolved around the gratuitous use of blood and gore.  Patrons pay a premium to sit in the first five rows of the theatre, which are termed the “Splatter Zone.”  At intermission ushers handed out plastic ponchos to protect against the second act onslaught of stage blood which rained from all directions onto the audience members in the “Splatter Zone.”

High art it definitely ain’t.  Evil Dead may not be everyone’s particular cup of blood, but for the sheer spectacle and concert-style atmosphere it’s worth checking out.  Excitement about the theatre is always a good thing in my book, even if the material doesn’t deserve it.

Evil Dead: The Musical, presented by Ground Zero Theatre, Hit & Myth Productions and Keystone plays an extended run until November 14, 2009 at the Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville St.  Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-280-4444.

The Evil Dead Dilemma

Vancouver will soon be host to not one, but two versions of Evil Dead at the end of October.  One company was granted the professional rights, the other the amateur rights.

I’ve been scouring the web, trying to see if there is a term for when there are two productions of the same show playing in the same city.  So far, I’ve got nothing.  Perhaps somebody out there can help me out?

evildeadocr

In a relatively smaller market like Vancouver, it must be a challenge enough to compete for ticket-buying audiences when two versions of the same play or musical are staged in the same year or season.  That being said, it seems to happen with a fair bit of regularity.  Thoroughly Modern Millie played at TUTS this summer and will play again this fall at Gateway.  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is being done by Footlight this November, then again by Royal City Musical Theatre in the spring and then for a third time by TUTS next summer.  Maybe they all know something that I don’t.

The dual Evil Dead productions are in a particularly precarious position, as one is opening just a little bit more than a week before the other and there is considerable overlap between their production dates.

I’ve heard buzz around both productions and murmurs over which show will be better or which one should local audiences support.  For my part, I’m exercising some journalistic impartiality, giving equal coverage to both shows on this site. I’m also urging local musical aficionados to see both productions, if they can.

There are likely to be upsides and downsides to both (as with every show) and this site will provide reviews of both productions after their respective opening nights.

Ground Zero Theatre, Hit & Myth Productions and Keystone present the Vancouver premiere of Evil Dead: The Musical at the Vogue Theatre from October 20-31, 2009.  Tickets are available online now.

Down Stage Right Productions also presents Evil Dead: The Musical at the Norman Rothstein Theatre from October 29-November 7, 2009.  Tickets are available online now.

Evil Dead: The Musical (Upcoming Show[s])

Evil Dead: The Musical makes its Vancouver premiere– wait a second.  I’m having a major case of déjà-vu.  I feel like I’ve already written this before. Oh, that’s right, I did write this . . .  last week!

Just to be clear, there is now a second and entirely different production of Evil Dead: The Musical playing in Vancouver this Halloween.  Is anyone else feeling a bit awkward?

Let’s try it from the top.  Ground Zero Theatre, Hit & Myth Productions and Keystone present the Vancouver premiere of Evil Dead: The Musical at the Vogue Theatre from October 20-31, 2009.

evildeadtouring

Evil Dead: The Musical has drawn multiple comparisons to The Rocky Horror Show for its funny take on the low-budget Evil Dead horror trilogy.  I, for one, am looking forward to seeing both productions and both casts.  After multiple listens of the cast recording over the past week, I’m definitely getting into the Halloween spirit.

Evil Dead: The Musical features Kevin Corey, Lynley Hall, Bruce Horak, Daniel Mallet, Cailin Stadnyk, Jamie Tognazzini, Tyler Rive, and Guilly Urra.  Many local theatre-goers will remember Ovation Award winner Stadnyk from roles in past Arts Club and TUTS’ productions.

Directed by Kevin McKendrick, choreography by Glenda Stirling, and musical direction by Brent Rock, Evil Dead: The Musical plays October 20- 31, 2009 at the Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville St.  Tickets are available online now.