One Man Two Guvnors cast

Theater is alive and well in Vancouver, offering fun productions big and small to suit all tastes and budgets. Again this year, we’ve rounded up our 10 favourites to share with you all. I tasked two of my contributing writers/theater lovers, Cora Li and Michael Pigeon to come up with their faves for the year and chose a couple that I too greatly enjoyed and felt worthy of this list. Enjoy the holidays with family, friends — and local theater!

Nicola Lipman, Andrew Wheeler
[Nicola Lipman, Andrew Wheeler in Les Miserables]

1. Les Miserables

Our writer Michael Pigeon: “During the course of the evening, I had good cause to reflect on the comment of a friend after his first and recent trip to New York, that there was nothing he saw on Broadway that was better than what he can see on Vancouver stages.”

Jay Hindle, Josh Epstein, Daniel Doheny
[Jay Hindle, Josh Epstein, Daniel Doheny in Love’s Labour’s Lost]

2. Love’s Labour’s Lost

Gorgeous, opulent costumes are materialized from the creative mind of Rebekka Sørensen-Kjelstrup. Outrageously entertaining performances by the entire cast demonstrate their exceptional professionalism and unparalleled teamwork.

Aunt Eller and Oklahoma cast
[Aunt Eller and Oklahoma cast]

3. Oklahoma

Michael writes, “An enthusiastic sell-out audience loudly applauded every song and dance sequence. None of audience broke out into song but I am sure there were plenty (such as myself) humming along with the cast to the familiar and much-loved musical numbers.”

The Waiting Room cast photo
[The Waiting Room cast]

4. The Waiting Room

For audiences, The Waiting Room offers so much more than a traditional musical. Mann was originally set to play himself in the role but a devastating diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s made this impossible. Thus, none of the players burst out in song in the middle of an act. Instead, Mann, along with a live band (Brad Gillard, Eric Reed, Allan Rodger, Shari Ulrich), belch out appropriately timed tunes behind a scrim, while the cast continue the action.

Cast of Arts Club's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
[Cast of Arts Club’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike]

5. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Vanya criticizes everything wrong with today’s technology-obsessed society and praises everything right with the 1950’s. No one over 50 raised in North America will miss the cultural references in Jay’s monologue. Durang makes interesting observations on mid-20th century culture that was banal but shared, compared with technology-diverse but disconnected 21st century society. It is doubtful anyone could have carried off this monologue better than Jay Brazeau.

Graham Percy, Lucia Frangione
[Graham Percy, Lucia Frangione in Farewell, My Lovely]

6. Farewell, My Lovely

Farewell My Lovely is an exemplar for the film noir genre. Adapting the excess of intricate details and characters for a film is challenging enough, yet leave it to Vancouver-based playwright Aaron Bushkowsky to generate a refined rendition that not only pays tribute to film-noir, but is witty, edgy, and beguiling. 

Josh Epstein, Andrew Cownden
[Josh Epstein, Andrew Cownden in The Comedy of Errors]

7. The Comedy of Errors

This Bard on the Beach season opener’s staged on two levels with a one-handed clock high above, spinning wildly to the sound of the tolling bell, creating a lively, animated environment during set/scene changes, provided by the wizardry of Scenery Designer Pam Johnson.

Patrick Sabongui, Amir Conor Wylie  
[Patrick Sabongui, Amir Conor Wylie in Disgraced]

8. Disgraced

In Disgraced, 2013 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Arts Club Theatre Company has chosen an interesting, vitally engaging and relevant play, full of wit and intelligence, and backed up its choice with an excellent and professional cast and artistic team directed by Janet Wright.

Dion Johnstone
[Dion Johnstone in The Mountaintop]

9. The Mountaintop

The Mountaintop is compelling, humorous and relevant, especially considering today’s worldwide landscape of racial and religious cataclysm. MLK’s unfulfilled crusade – to find some way to love those who will not love us back – is just as vital today, if not more so, than it was 50 years ago.

Andrew McNee
[Andrew McNee in One Man, Two Guvnors]

10. One Man, Two Guvnors

House skiffle band The Craze kick things off as patrons begin to file into their seats for The Arts Club’s One Man, Two Guvnors. The Beatle-esque foursome immediately set the mood for a light-hearted, fun evening and continue to fill in nicely during set changes.

Watch for some crazy musical combos, especially into act two. While laughing our way through the two hour (plus intermission) evening, we were also awed at this production’s creativity!

A big thanks to our writers Michael Pigeon and Cora Li for picking some of their top choices to include in our roundup as well.

Photo credits for this post: 1: Ross den Otter; 2, 7: David Blue; 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10: David Cooper.

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