Ok, so I am more excited about this upcoming season of theatre than pretty much any other season ever. Sure, I’m usually particularly excited about a few specific shows throughout the season but this fall it just feels like there is an overwhelming number of things I need/want to see so I thought I’d make a list and share it with all of you so you can hopefully get out and see all the amazing theatre this city has to offer.
First up: Tonight I’m off to Opening Night of the Arts Club’s production of Next to Normal. And, I am SO excited for this I might cry. Literally. I saw this in NYC about a year and half ago now. It was I think, a couple of months before it won the Pulitzer Prize, and never in my life have I cried so hard at piece of theatre that there was actually snot dripping out of my nose. I know, pretty, right?! And, never have I seen a piece of theatre where not only was I sobbing uncontrollably but everyone around me was also sobbing and sniffing uncontrollably. This is the power of theatre. Never has it ever been so evident to me. If you want to be moved to tears, you need to see this show. If you or anyone you know has ever dealt with mental illness you need to see this show. It’s truly an incredible piece of theatre. And, I’ll apologize right now to anyone sitting around me. It’s gonna be ugly.
[Photo above: (Clockwise from left) Caitriona Murphy, Warren Kimmel, Jennie Neumann, Eric Morin in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Next to Normal. Photo by David Cooper.]
Next: Touchstone Theatre’s production of True Love Lies presented at The Cultch. I’m so excited for this production I’ve already bought my tickets. And, I’ll probably go more than once. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog knows that I am a huge Brad Fraser fan and I had the awesome privilege of seeing the North American premiere of the show at Factory Theatre in Toronto when I was there in 2009. It blew me away then and I’m sure I will feel the same about the Vancouver production. It’s witty, it’s real, it’s about the dysfunction of families yet all the while still loving your family, but not in a mushy-gushy way. It’s smart and it takes no prisoners. It’s why I love Brad Fraser. If you’ve ever loved AND hated your family members all at the same time (which I know you have) then you’ll appreciate this show.
Moving right along: To yet another Arts Club production (loving their programming right now). This time it’s Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker who is an up-and-coming young American playwright. I’ve been hearing nothing but amazing things about this play all over the twitter and blogosphere for the last couple of years. It won the Obie for Best New American play and Performance by an Ensemble as well as it was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and Outstanding Director of a Play as well as the cast was awarded a special Drama Desk Award for an Outstanding Ensemble Performance. Basically the play takes us inside a small town acting/dance studio where “group members pose as trees, beds and baseball gloves. They perform emotional scenes using only the words goulash and ak-mak. They pretend to be one another, telling their life stories. They write deep, dark secrets (anonymously) on scraps of paper and listen, sitting in a circle on the floor, as the confessions are read aloud” (taken from the New York Times review). If this doesn’t sound funny as hell, I don’t know what does.
[Photo above: Emilee-Juliette Glyn-Jones, Alex Diakun and Anita Wittenberg in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Circle Mirror Transformation. Photo by David Cooper.]
Shortly after: Opening up on the Arts Club revue stage is Atomic Vaudeville’s Ride the Cyclone which I am super stoked for since I am one of the only people I know that hasn’t seen it yet. When I was in my final year at UVIC I had the pleasure of seeing one of the very first incarnations of Legoland (Atomic Vaudeville’s precursor to Ride the Cyclone). Sitting in the Barbara McIntyre black box studio way back then I knew I was seeing something special. Ride the Cyclone is about a teenage chamber choir from Uranium, Saskatchewan that die in a roller coaster accident at a traveling fair and I am absolutely looking forward to being able to see what kind of crazy wonderful ride (pun intended) Atomic Vaudeville are going to take me on now.
Finally: We come to West Side Story with the Vancouver Opera. When I first heard that the Vancouver Opera was doing this show as part of their 2011-2012 season I thought to myself “uh, isn’t that musical theatre?!” I’ve been going to the Opera since I was 12 years old (my family are long-time season subscribers) and I’ve seen a lot of different stuff but I’ve NEVER seen what is traditionally thought of as musical theatre done by an Opera company. But then I paused and thought, who better to do West Side Story in the grand Broadway style it deserves than a company like the Vancouver Opera who has the resources to do it?! They’ve got opera singers in the lead roles singing what is some pretty darn tough music, actors and dancers from the traditional theatre community filling out the cast, and apparently they are doing the original choreography by Jerome Robbins (or so I’ve heard). I don’t know how it's all gonna turn out but I’m pretty darn excited to find out on Opening Night October 22nd.
And, there is a ton more happening across the stages of Vancouver throughout the fall but right now those are a few of the upcoming productions that I am personally most excited for.
Enjoy the fall theatre season! I know I will.