; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: February 2015

Friday, 13 February 2015

Love Letters

Staircase Theatre presents Love Letters, directed by Ryan Gladstone. Sweet and heartbreaking, Love Letters is the story of a 50-year correspondence between Melissa Gardner and her childhood friend-turned-love-interest, Andrew Makepeace Ladd III.  Gurney’s play, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has been performed in theatre spaces all over the world, from the New York Public Library to Broadway to Carnegie Hall and back again.  A smash hit both off and on Broadway, this limited Valentine's engagement includes appearances by real couples of the Vancouver theatre scene.  Andrew and Melissa’s story will be told by a different couple every night, including: Meghan Gardiner & Todd Thomson and Mack & Kaitlin Williams GordonMichael Fera & Tanja Dixon-Warren and Karin Konoval & Tom McBeath.  Love Letters runs from February 11-14 at The Shop.

[image taken from VancouverPresents.com]
In the age of instant communication, iPhones and Twitter, Love Letters brings memories of a simpler time. Through notes, letters and cards, two friends and would-be lovers, discuss the life that has passed between them throughout their separated lives.  Simple and haunting, the playwright wrote Love Letters intending it to have a simple execution, not requiring any set or prior memorization.  The letters are meant to be read out by the actors, and the audience invited to share in this authentic experience with the characters.  Gurney write in the author’s note: “The play is designed to be read aloud by an actor and actress of roughly the same age, sitting side by side at a table.”

The two-character play takes the audience on an emotional ride through the lives of free-spirited Melissa Gardner and the conservative, law-abiding Andrew Makepeace Ladd III.  Wealthy and privileged WASPs, they’re lifelong friends and sometimes lovers who share their most intimate thoughts through 50 years of notes, cards and letters.

In its oblique and unaffected way, Love Letters illustrates this universal truth: that so much of life, probably most of it, is a solitary journey, a letter we write only to ourselves." - Charles Isherwood, NY Times.

Director Ryan Gladstone has recently completed an MFA in Directing at UBC.  Recent Directing credits Hunter Gatherers (Staircase Theatre), Ubu Roi, The Russian Play (UBC). Recent Writing/Directing credits include Who Killed Gertrude Crump?, Assassinating Thomson, Til Death: The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Houdini's Last Escape (Monster Theatre).  Ryan founded Monster Theatre in 2000 and has since created 25 original plays as writer and sometimes actor, and sometimes director (No Tweed Too Tight, The Shakespeare Show, Hockey Night at the Puck & Pickle Pub, The Canada Show).  

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Last Five Years

This past weekend I got to go see Lion Fish Entertainment's production of The Last Five Years, a heart wrenching off-Broadway musical soon to be released as a major motion picture next week!

Starring Danny Balkwill and Diana Kaarina as the two lead (and only) characters, the musical depicts the rise and fall of a relationship gone sour. It begins with a heartbroken Cathy, played by Kaarina whose voice simply soars throughout the space at the PAL Theatre, taking you on her journey of heartbreak. "Jamie is over, Jamie is gone..." she sings. Those first few notes and lyrics will continue to haunt you as you find yourself humming it the next day walking down a rainy Vancouver sidewalk.

We are then introduced to Balkwill's Jamie, who is on the other end of the timeline, going on his first date with Cathy. The show continues in this vein with Cathy starting at the end and going backwards, while Jamie follows a more linear start to finish storyline. The two finally meet in the middle Benjamin Buttons style when they both recount the day Jamie proposes to Cathy.

Why this show never made it to Broadway is beyond me as the music is gorgeous and rich and with a movie based on it now, it is likely to become a cult favourite. The PAL Theatre is a perfect location for it as well, giving you that off-Broadway intimate vibe that the piece so excels in.

Don't miss this timely chance to go see the live production of The Last Five Years! It runs until Valentine's Day at the PAL Theatre in Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver. Tickets available online.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Sweeney Todd

Attention Sondheim fans! The Vancouver Opera will be bringing the classic show Sweeney Todd to the stage this spring from April 25 to May 3. If you're not familiar with the musical, it's the gory tale of one vengeful barber who takes justice into his own hands by inviting his enemies and innocent folk into his barber shop, only to end up murdering them. But what to do with all the evidence piling up in his shop? Luckily, he works above an out-of-luck baker who can't seem to sell any of her pies ... that is, until she discovers that people are really enjoying a new ingredient she has started adding to her recipe...

Be sure to book your seats early! Tickets available now online! For more information, check out the Vancouver Opera website.

Sweeney Todd plays this Spring at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre!