2012 has seen a wonderful mix of comedy, drama, musicals, and small productions around Vancouver. As I did in 2011, I’ve rounded up my 10 favourites to share with you for 2012.

Jeremy Holmes, Scott Carmichael, Zachary Stevenson

1. Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story

Two and a half hours of pure, intimate entertainment as Zachary Stevenson lets his inner Buddy Holly seep out of his pores. A musical romp through the era of radio DJ’s, the trials and tribulations of making it big, and a disastrous ending to a young rising star.

Meg Page (Katey Wright), Falstaff (Ashley Wright), Alice Ford (Amber Lewis)

2. The Merry Wives of Windsor

Shakespeare with a dash of beat. This was a colourful, merry production with an amazingly talented cast. Windsor, Ontario painted in a completely different light! Scott Bellis and Ashley Wright share a few hilarious scenes together. The 60’s tunes and set design are the icing on the cake.

David Coomber, Jim Mezon

3. Red

A peek into the life of eccentric Russian abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, brilliantly performed by Jim Mezon. His emotions fly about the studio, ultimately landing on his apprentice, Ken (David Coomber). Rothko ultimately rejects the Four Seasons Restaurant commission (considered at the time to be one of the most expensive commissions in the history of modern art). This serves as a tribute to both the artist’s temperament and (perhaps encouraged by Ken) artistic morals.

Ryan Beil. Photo credit: Tim Matheson

4. Santaland Diaries

It’s New York City, 1991, heading into a busy holiday season at Macy’s department store. Enter one soap opera-starstruck elf, who for the next hour and change knocked the red and white-striped stockings out of the Revue Stage audience. Ryan Beil is a comic genius in Santaland Diaries, the one-man campy monologue written by David Sedaris. The run was not only extended, but now all shows have sold out.

Hunchback Sisters of Notre Dame

5. Hunchback

The now-defunct Vancouver Playhouse Theatre brought Alberta’s Catalyst Theatre production to Vancouver, taking on a futuristic approach to the stage sets and costumes. Themes of loneliness, unrequited love, and despair trickled through the main three characters, but what made it special for me was the stage design and Scott Walters’ beautiful and soulful voice.

White Christmas cast

6. White Christmas: The Musical

Irving Berlin’s catchy tunes, a talented group of performers, and the holiday atmosphere at the Stanley Industrial Alliance put me right into the spirit. The dance numbers are terrific, and Jeffrey Victor and Todd Talbot (playing Bob Wallace and Phil Davis respectively) are entertaining to watch alongside the Haynes sisters, Judy (Monique Lund) and Betty (Sara-Jeanne Hosie). This classic is now in its fourth year at the Arts Club Theatre.

Shauna Black, Oliver Becker

7. God of Carnage

This is an emotional roller coaster as two couples engage over the fate of their children after a fight at school. We watched as each of the four descend into their own personal madnesses, volatilities, and obsessions. A great ensemble cast featuring John Cassini, Vickie Papavs, Shauna Black, and Oliver Becker.

Kate (Lois Anderson), Petruchio (John Murphy)

8. The Taming of the Shrew

John Murphy and Lois Anderson have marvelous chemistry as the two key roles in this production. The cast is lively and integrates well together under the direction of Meg Roe (All the Way Home). The two hour production kept the audience laughing throughout most of the evening. I loved those lively moments when Colleen Wheeler (Biondella) entered the scene!

Preston Truman Boyd, Joseph Leo Bwarie, John Gardiner, Michael Lomenda and the Company of JERSEY BOYS

9. Jersey Boys

A beautiful stage set, Four Seasons hits performed, and a rags-to-riches story out of New Jersey packed the audiences along with the buzz for Jersey Boys. This production was full of low-brow Jersey humour, featured a tight cast with strong vocals, and a look back at one of the greatest musical acts in the world (over 175 million records sold).

Gina Chiarelli as Maria Callas

10. Master Class

How demanding is it to be a top-notch opera singer? If you’re Maria Callas, it pretty well encompasses your very existence. Gina Chiarelli shines as Callas, the has-been world-class diva. In true Callas form, Chiarelli is callous, egocentric, demanding, and humorous (especially when directing her bites at the audience). I enjoyed reliving the glory of this musical sensation, as her passion (and fury) were wrought onto younger, rising opera stars in this Arts Club production.

Photo credits for this post:
1 and 4: Tim Matheson; 2 and 8: David Blue; 3: Bruce Zinger; 5 6, and 10: David Cooper; 7: Bruce Monk; 9: Dan Cap Productions

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