The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is finally here in Vancouver. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this show since it was announced last year. This production comes direct from a reportedly successful run at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria. Since I always avoid reading reviews, I have no idea what kind of reaction the show has already garnered. But, I’m hoping that the Arts Club won’t disappoint.
Josh Epstein in the Arts Club production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Photo by David Cooper.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is the Tony Award-winning musical comedy that follows a group of overachieving students as they vie to outspell the competition.
Music and lyrics by William Finn (Falsettos, A New Brain), book by Rachel Sheinkin and conceived by Rebecca Feldman. Starring Michael Blake, Jeremy Crittenden (Altar Boyz, Arts Club), Josh Epstein (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Vancouver Playhouse), Sara-Jeanne Hosie (White Christmas, Arts Club), Brian Linds, Alison MacDonald (Les Misérables, Arts Club), Tracy Neff, Rosie Simon, and Vincent Tong (Altar Boyz, Arts Club). Directed by Michael Shamata, musical direction by Bruce Kellett, choreography by Laura Krewski, set design by Yvan Morissette, costumes by Erin Macklem and lighting by Marsha Sibthorpe.
The Arts Club in association with The Belfry Theatre presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee from June 17 – July 31, 2010 at the Granville Island Stage, 1585 Johnston Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available online or by calling 604-687-1644.
Posted in Arts Club, Musical Theatre, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Belfry Theatre, Upcoming Shows, Vancouver
Tagged Alison MacDonald, Arts Club, Belfry Theatre, Brian Linds, Bruce Kellett, Erin Macklem, Granville Island, Granville Island Stage, Jeremy Crittenden, Josh Epstein, Laura Krewski, Marsha Sibthorpe, Michael Blake, Michael Shamata, Rachel Sheinkin, Rebecca Feldman, Rosie Simon, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Spelling Bee, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Tracy Neff, Vancouver Musicals, Victoria, Vincent Tong, William Finn, Yvan Morissette
William Finn and James Lapine’s A New Brain ranks highly in my musical theatre playlist and Pipedream Theatre’s production more than lives up to expectations in its Vancouver premiere.
Roger (Tyson Coady) and Gordon (Andrew Cohen) share a hospital bedside moment.
Save for a spattering of inaudible lyrics lost to upstage singing and some occasional overly-loud piano, Tuesday’s preview of A New Brain went off with few hitches.
It’s Finn’s semi-autobiographical story of a song-writer, Gordon Schwinn, who is hospitalized with a life-threatening illness and faces the possibility of not being able to finish the songs he dreams of writing.
Andrew Cohen more than holds his own as the lead Gordon, amid a very strong ensemble cast. Cohen and Tyson Coady, as his lover, Roger, score some tender romantic moments in both “Just Go” and the reprise of “Sailing.”
Georgia Swinton playing multiple roles as an overly-familiar waitress and as nurse Nancy D. is a delight to watch.
Sabrina Prada as Gordon’s mother Mimi, is a stand-out, and neatly steals the spotlight in the tail half with “Throw It Out” and “Music Still Plays On.” I can’t wait to see her again soon in more Vancouver productions.
William Finn’s score shines best in the ensemble numbers and choreographer Keri Minty (who I last saw this spring as Sheila in Royal City’s A Chorus Line) really makes the most of them in a balancing act of cohesiveness and controlled chaos.
The show runs for approximately 100 minutes with no intermission at Performance Works on Granville Island until June 21st. Evening performances: Wed-Sat, June 17th-20, 8pm | Matinees: Sat-Sun, June 20-21, 2pm. Tickets available at http://www.ticketstonight.ca. Students: $15.00 | Adults: $20.00.
Posted in A New Brain, Pipedream, Reviews
Tagged A New Brain, Andrew Cohen, Georgia Swinton, James Lapine, Keri Minty, Musical Theatre, Pipedream, Sabrina Prada, Tyson Coady, Vancouver Musicals, William Finn
A New Brain, presented by Pipe Dream Theatre Project, previews tonight, June 16th, at Performance Works on Granville Island. The musical by William Finn (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Falsettos) and James Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George, Into The Woods) is making its Vancouver debut and runs through June 21st.