Corwin Ferguson, Tiffany Anderson, Duran Cruickshank

Waiting for Ghostbusters is Genus Theatre’s 10th anniversary production, a very ballsy move in my humble opinion. We’re talking about one of the most popular and well-liked science fiction comedies ever, so if you’re aiming for either parody or homage, the result is either going to be a huge success or a serious and unmitigated flop.

So which was it going to be? Surprisingly, neither. If you want to enjoy Waiting for Ghostbusters, do two things:

1. Forget about the movie. You will not find anyone impersonating any of the legendary characters. You won’t actually find that much of a coherent storyline nor will you find that many ghosts.

2. Go for the ride! The best option here is not to try to make too much sense of things. The actors are obviously having a blast, so you may as well just enjoy it with them. 

As I walked down the stairs into Renegade Studios (the former storage, production, and rehearsal space for the Vancouver Playhouse), I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. A 20-foot-high Gone With The Wind sign graces the wall; old props and signs are strewn about the room. Good thing that the play is set in a rehearsal hall because it sure resembled one!

 Duran Cruickshank, Tiffany Anderson, Slimer
[Duran Cruickshank, Tiffany Anderson, Slimer]

From the moment our protagonists enter, we sense that they are looking for something, but we are not sure what. They want to perform something epic – and sexy – but after that no one seems to be able to agree on what. That, for me, is the play’s biggest stumbling block: at its core, it never seems to be sure what it wants to be. Is it a pure parody? Is it trying to be something more? Is it one of those “play within a play within a play” plays? 

The premise is that a bunch of bad actors and writers are rehearsing a very bad play. As such, much of the acting is rather coarse and over the top, a theatrical style that’s difficult to pull off. Because the characters are so broad and offer little in terms of back story or motivation, it’s hard to really get behind their plight. 

That said, there are several shining moments in the play. The musical numbers written by Peter Abando are often entertaining with some great quirky choreography by Nicole DesLauriers. And while the acting is not subtle, it is always committed and produces some pretty good belly laughs. Tiffany Anderson nails it in the role of a terrible yet big-hearted actress named Cindy and Kelly Sheridan was great as the Eastern European set/costume/lighting/sound designer named Milenka. I loved her understated delivery of lines such as “The set will be made of edible art” and “I’ve been to prison.”

There are also a few references to Vancouver icons and to the Playhouse itself. There is a storyline introduced regarding Max Reimer and how he may now be haunting the Playhouse. If anything, I wanted to see more of this!

Tiffany Anderson, Duran Cruickshank
[Tiffany Anderson, Duran Cruickshank]

The play really takes off when we finally get to the opening of GHOSTBANGERS late in act two. Finally, a chance to show off some classic costumes and some truly inspired silliness. 

The costumes and props were well designed for an independently-produced show. I found the lighting often too abrupt and lacking either magic or mystery. As for the set, the best item was the Gone With The Wind sign (but that’s not such a bad thing – it’s a great sign!).

So let go of Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, and any notion that you are going to learn anything significant from this play and you may very well enjoy this wild concoction. And if Genus Theatre decides to mount this production again, I have only two words of advice: More slime!

Waiting For Ghostbuster continues at Vancouver’s Renegade Studios through November 30.

All photos by Jesse Toso.

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