; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: The Waiting Room

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room is not a typical musical. Written by celebrated playwright Morris Panych, this tells the story of a man who has been diagnosed with cancer and his fight against it. Aesthetically, the show is gorgeous. Ken MacDonald did the Set and Costume Design, Gerlad King provided Lighting, and Wendy Gorling supplied the beautiful choreography and movement for the actors on stage. To see it is to be astounded and in awe.

Unfortunately, the music jarred me right out of that dreamscape. John Mann, who is the lead vocalist of the band Spirit of the West, provided the music and lyrics which is fitting since this story is based on his true life experience. I was never a Spirit of the West fan, so maybe that's why this just wasn't for me? Nor was it for my theatre companion either, as she said, "I loved everything about the show - except the music." This is not to knock Mann's talent as a singer or songwriter. But considering this is being toted as a musical, there were certain expectations I had. The songs were fragmented into so many little pieces that I found it really difficult to appreciate them. As well, none of the actors sang the songs, but rather, John Mann did all the singing as the band played in the background. I don't normally enjoy a one-person musical, with the huge exception of Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The music had bits of country twang and barnyard jigs thrown in, mixed with some indie rock-pop and a touch of Celtic. Considering the subject matter, I guess this wasn't the type of music I expected the show to have. But maybe that's intentional? Maybe for a show about cancer, the music needs to be uplifting and light? It just was too much of a contrast for me to grasp, although the song "Moving Day" was brilliantly done with its imagery of selling off and giving away the belongings of a deceased loved one. 

All in all, the actors were good, everything was good, but just the music had me...waiting.

The Waiting Room is on now at the Granville Island Stage until October 31st.

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