There’s never a dull moment in Vancouver’s theater world, with a plethora of comedy, drama, musicals, and small productions around town. Again this year, I’ve rounded up our 10 favourites to share with you in our yearly roundup. The first two come from our contributor Larry Ghini.

Gili Roskies, Matthew MacDonald-Bain
[Gili Roskies, Matthew MacDonald-Bain in The Out Vigil]

1. The Out Vigil

What makes for an outstanding night of theater is how this simple and ordinary story is textured into a greater retelling of Man’s domination by Nature. In The Out Vigil, first-time playwright Julie McIsaac has woven together a new Canadian theater classic.

Robert Salvador, Amitai Marmorstein
[Robert Salvador, Amitai Marmorstein in Nothing But Sky]

2. Nothing But Sky

When months of editorial rejection for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster turn into years, the boys get lucky when they develop an idea of a super man. Jerry, a burly extrovert, is a very attractive alter-ego to Joe and together they bond almost immediately and team up to pursue a career developing a marketable comic book hero.

Reflecting real life events, Director/Writer Kendra Fanconi’s Nothing But Sky has a hopeful but not a happy ending.

Gerry Mackay, Bob Frazer
[Gerry Mackay, Bob Frazer in Equivocation]

3. Bard on the Beach: Equivocation

People-pleasing scribe William Shagspeare (in a top-notch performance by Bob Frazer) has been tapped to pen King James’ new play (a supposed “true history” of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot) and has two weeks to get ‘er done. Bard on the Beach’s Equivocation brought laughs to the Howard Family Stage, poking fun at both actors and theater while teetering between the 17th century and modern times.

Andrew McNee, John Innes, John Emmet Tracy, Ron Reed, Tim Dixon
[Andrew McNee, John Innes, John Emmet Tracy, Ron Reed, Tim Dixon in The Seafarer]

4. The Seafarer

The Pacific Theatre audience was treated to an excellent character build-up of four friends following a long night of cards and drinking, turmoil included. They awake on Christmas Eve morning with revelations and surprise. The acting in The Seafarer is superb — kudos to director Anthony F. Ingram for creating such a fine production using Conor McPherson’s story.

Aaron Craven, Craig Erickson
[Aaron Craven, Craig Erickson in Speed-the-Plow]

5. Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow

Directed by David Mackay, Mitch and Murray Productions’ Speed-the-Plow wowed us this fall at Studio 16 Theatre. Aaron Craven and Craig Erikson bounce so well off of one another in David Mamet’s well-known production that pokes fun at the Hollywood film industry, we’re hoping to see a future remount!

Robert Salvador, Lucia Frangione
[Lucia Frangione, Robert Salvador in Espresso]

6. Espresso

Our contributor MJ Ankenman chose Espresso as her favourite show seen this year. “Lucia Frangione’s writing, while tackling heavy topics such as faith and love, is filled with both funny observations and comic relief. Frangione uses the Songs of Solomon from the Old Testament to connect love, sexuality, and faith.”

Alex Gullason, Neezar
[Alex Gullason, Neezar in Broken Sex Doll]

7. Broken Sex Doll

Full of camp and heart, Broken Sex Doll returned to the Cultch’s York Theatre following a hugely-successful 2012 run, one which I missed, but luckily not for a second time. This highly entertaining two-act performance is best described as a cosmic opera with themes of love, longing, and revenge. And a perfect match for a tech-driven city such as ours.

There Goes the Bride 2014
[There Goes the Bride cast]

8. There Goes the Bride

Contributor Michael Pigeon enjoyed this production, particularly the role of Dr. Gerald Drimmond, played by Don Glossop. Without taking anything away from the rest of the players, the absolute delight in this play was Glossop’s portrayal of the bride’s grandfather. Confused, somewhat deaf, and possibly mildly senile, his role serves to increase the already considerable confusion. Michael couldn’t imagine anyone performing this role better.

Bard on the Beach, A Midsummer Night's Dream, cast photo
[A Midsummer Night’s Dream cast]

9. Bard on the Beach: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Our contributor Cora Li writes, “the fate of four young lovers at the Athenian court will be decided when they pass through a forest where the Faerie King and Queen are having a squabble. Drop in a tutu-sporting mischievous fairy trickster, all too eager to please his master, and the stage is ripe for side-splitting hilarity to ensue.”

Kyle Rideout’s performance is carefree and credible, provocative and arresting.”

The Follies in Crazy For You
[The Follies in Crazy For You]

10. Crazy For You

Cora additionally found dynamic Gershwin musical Crazy For You a rollicking, foot-stomping evening for all ages, with Jonathan Holmes’ dual performance (as both Hungarian impresario Bela Zangler and English tourist Eugene Fodor) a pure delight to watch. During high-intensity all-cast numbers such as Slap That Bass and I Got Rhythm, the performers swirl into an intoxicating kaleidoscope of colour. 

Photo credits for this post: 1 and 10: David Cooper; 2: Michael Sider; 3 and 9: David Blue; 4: Emily Cooper; 5: Shimon Karmel; 6: Ron Reed; 7: Bettina Strauss; 8: Tracy-Lynn Chernaske.

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