Archives for December 2022

Anne of Green Gables: The Musical — This production outshines the material

publicity photo for Anne of Green Gables

You’ve got to love these two: Kyra Leroux and Anthony Santiago.
(Photo by Ross Denotte)

Anne of Green Gables: The Musical is brainless but chipper and Gateway Theatre’s polished production includes a couple of remarkably strong performances.

In case you don’t know the story, the musical is based on L.M. Montgomery’s 1908 novel. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, unmarried siblings in their fifties and sixties, decide to house an orphan boy who will provide labour on their farm on Prince Edward Island. But young Anne Shirley arrives and, after some hesitation on Marilla’s part, they keep her. Much of the material is about how feisty and imaginative Anne is — although she despises her red hair. As the years pass, Anne wins over the entire town of Avonlea.

Ultimately, Anne of Green Gables is about self-acceptance and belonging, but its story is episodic and, because the musical telling fails to develop these episodes in any depth, it feels they’re simply being listed as quickly as possible and it’s hard to find a narrative focus. Anne tries to dye her hair black, but it turns green; within minutes, that’s all forgotten. Throughout the musical, Anne and her schoolmate Gilbert Blythe are obviously attracted to one another, but, on her first day of school in Avonlea, Gilbert teases her about her hair and she doesn’t forgive him — until a quick resolution near the end of Act 2 in which they’re suddenly arm in arm declaring their love in song.

Instead of well-developed relationships, the musical offers a lot of atmospheric material about an impossibly quaint version of historic PEI. No wonder it has become a major tourist draw in Charlottetown.

Thankfully, director Barbara Tomasic’s production is much better than the musical itself. [Read more…]

A Christmas Carol — straight up

publicity photo for a Christmas Carol

(Photo of Sanjay Talwar by Jam Hamidi)

For me as kid and even as a young adult, watching the annual TV appearance of the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol was a religious experience. I watched it every year, preferably by myself so that others who might be less devout wouldn’t distract me. I have sucked the life out of that text, which makes me a less than ideal audience member for Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s one-man Christmas Carol. [Read more…]

The Wonderful is misnamed

The Wonderful publicity photo

This part of the Caravan experience is still great.

The Wonderful is not wonderful.

You can’t beat the venue, but Luke Reece’s script is bad.

A riff on the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life, The Wonderful is Caravan Farm Theatre’s winter show. That means it takes place outdoors on a farm near Armstrong in the north Okanagan. Members of the audience hop onto horse-drawn sleighs and glide through the snowy night to watch scenes that unfold on little stages set up in the woods. So far so gorgeous.

The Caravan member who was riding shotgun (keeping watch) on the back of my sleigh was terrific — firm but extremely amiable when he was dealing with a kind of out-of-control little guy who was sitting next to me. And the drivers of the sleighs guided their teams of Percherons into tight spots with incredible precision.

But, as I said, the script sucks. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart’s character in the movie) becomes Georgia Brathwaite, a young Black woman living in a small BC community. She’s about to commit suicide. To convince Georgia to embrace her life, Terence, this version’s angel, shows her what her little town would have been like if she had never been born.

Not one of Reece’s variations on the suicide/redemption plot works. [Read more…]

Me Love Bingo!: Best in Snow — Save your money. Don’t waste your time.

publicity photo for Me Love Bingo!: Best in Snow

Leslie Dos Remedios and Kyle Loven (Photo by Moonrider Productions)

How did this show ever get programmed into the Arts Club’s season? The Arts Club is a professional company. Me Love Bingo!: Best in Snow is not of a professional standard.

For Best in Snow, set designer Ted Roberts has turned the Newmont Stage into a bingo hall, so most of the audience sits at long, bingo-style tables. The best thing about the evening is that it provides an opportunity to chat with your table mates. I want to thank the single gay man, the four female friends, and the handsome straight couple for being fun. I also want to thank my companion, who left at intermission and sent me a text saying, “I just couldn’t take anymore. I hope it’s over now.” [Read more…]

The Messiah: The silliest story ever told (That’s a compliment.)

publicity photo for Pacific Theatre's The Messiah

The happy couple: Peter Carlone as Mary and John Voth as Joseph
(Chelsey Stuyt Photography)

You have to be smart to be dumb. Or wily. Or at least have good instincts. Okay, I don’t really know how they do it, but, playing a couple of goofballs in Pacific Theatre’s production of The Messiah, Peter Carlone and John Voth are very funny and very engaging. [Read more…]

Stiles & Drewe’s The 3 Little Pigs: disappointing

publicity photo for The 3 Little Pigs

Tanner Zerr, Angela Chu, and Frankie Cottrell
(Photo by Tina Krueger Kulic)

Absolutely the best thing about going to a kids’ show is that you get to take a kid. My friend Mathias, who’s six, accompanied my partner and me to Carousel Theatre’s production of Stiles & Drewe’s The 3 Little Pigs. Mati had never been to the theatre before and, on the ride over, he was overflowing with questions and speculation, especially about how the theatre company might show the Big Bad Wolf blowing down the little pigs’ houses. And I’ve never seen anybody have such a good time walking — well, skipping and running — through a parking garage on the way to a performance. He was pumped.

And so was I: I love introducing kids to the theatre and I was confident we were heading into a strong show. But 3 Little Pigs massively underdelivered — at least for me. [Read more…]

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