Calgary Musicals

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ATP’s 2012-13 Launch: ‘Tis the Season, Charlie Brown

Well, it’s spring, and that’s when artistic directors, and more importantly producers, turn to thoughts of … releasing next season’s programme in order to try to entice subscribers before they lose them for the summer. Fast on the heels of Front Row Centre’s launch this past weekend, Alberta Theatre Projects came out with its 2012-2013 season programme on Monday.  Just like last year, ATP are doing a family musical in November/December.  As George Smith and Walt Disney and apparently ATP Artistic Director Vanessa Porteous know, kids like music.  And I, for one, am glad they change it up every year.  I mean, do you really have to see A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker EVERY year, as good as they might be, when there are so many great shows out there?

2012’s holiday show is the 1967 musical comedy, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, based on the Peanuts comic strip (as if I needed to tell you).  I really like this show and the music. I’d say it has a kind of Anne of Green Gables feel to it – not flashy, but definitely a “feel-good” musical.  The show gets produced a fair bit (it was done by Front Row Centre in 1993 and Storybook Theatre in 2010, for example), and is a staple of school and community groups because of its small, young cast, family-friendly theme and easy staging.  I first saw it at Acadia University in the late 70’s, with campus funnyman Ron James (now well known to CBC radio and TV audiences) in the title role of Charlie Brown. And yes, we knew he had a special talent even then. I’m glad he’s been able to make a living doing what he does best – make people laugh.

ATP has also included a sort-of-musical in the 2013 annual PlayRites Festival. The God That Comes, by Canadians Christian Barry (2b theatre company in Halifax) and Juno award winner Hawksley Workman, “fuses the chaotic revelry of a rock concert with the captivating intimacy of theatre”.  A contemporary take on the Greek tragedy, The Bacchae, it’s not a story most people are going to know (this is where Wiki really comes in handy), and it’ll be interesting to see how well it’s received.  Like 2012’s Ash Rizin, a show like this has the potential to draw younger people and non-traditional audiences to the theatre, which is always a good thing, even if they do want to tweet during performances :(.  It’s not the kind of show I would normally seek out, but I’m curious enough to give it a chance, which is what PlayRites is all about.

Although of course I’d love to see Alberta Theatre Projects do more musicals, if they’re only going to do two, I think they’ve made a couple of good choices for 2012-2013, and I am looking forward to both.

For more information and descriptions of all the shows (even the non-musicals!), go to Alberta Theatre Projects

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