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YYC A Little Light on Holiday Musicals this Season

If you’re feeling like you need a little Christmas right this very minute, you have pretty slim pickings in YYC this season, with only three musical theatre choices:


A Christmas Story at Storybook Theatre

Santa Claus is Coming to Town at Stage West for Kids, and

A Wind in the Willows Christmas at Rosebud Theatre

All of these shows are selling well or are almost sold out, so don’t delay if you want to buy tickets – you may not be able to get them at the door.

For non-musical selections, other than the long-running dinner theatre shows at Stage West and Jubilations, consider Dave Kelly’s Epiphany at Lunchbox Theatre or Theatre Calgary’s A Christmas Carol.

If you’re looking for holiday gifts check out the Theatre Alberta Playbill for what’s coming up in January. One show that should appeal to all ages is the world premiere Nicholas Lloyd Webber’s new musical, The Little Prince at Theatre Calgary.


Yes, Nicholas is the son of the one and only Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, so there’s sure to be lots of buzz about this one. If you’re looking for something a little less mainstream, try the High Performance Rodeo, an annual festival which has lots of shows to choose from, both musical and otherwise.


3 Unique Musicals to Kick Off the 2015-2016 Theatre Season

I’m in Ottawa this month, but if I weren’t, there are a three unique musicals playing this month that I would have wanted to take in:

What+Gives+0143+NB1_2763_Sept 14 to Oct 3 What Gives? opened at Lunchbox Theatre this week. This is one of only a half-dozen or so musicals written early in his career by well-known Edmonton playwright Stewart Lemoine. After going to the Edmonton Fringe Festival in August and seeing a number of his plays (including Hey Contessa!), I came away a big fan. This homage to movie musicals of the 1930’s (think Singing in The Rain etc.) is a romantic comedy about a couple of songwriters struggling to write a Broadway musical when they are interrupted by a couple of scantily clad ladies who take them on a New York adventure. As a side note, Lunchbox’s Artistic Producer, Mark Bellamy performed in the original production many years ago and is directing this production for Lunchbox, with Calgary’s Joe Slabe doing musical direction. Website:

14266314470_722c54749f_o-e1438435276556Sept 17-18 only. Rock ‘N Roll History of Space Exploration. Too late for this if you missed it – sorry about that. This was the international premiere of a new music and science show by CBC’s Quirks and Quarks host Jay Ingram -part of Calgary’s annual Beakerhead science festival. It was part science, part rock and roll, featuring Jay’s own band The Cosmonauts. As a scientist and musician myself, I’m really sorry I missed this, so I’ll keep my eyes open if it should return. Go to the website to see a video trailer. Website:

WeAreAllTreatyPeople3Sept 23-25 only. Making Treaty 7, Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, Mount Royal University. This is the show that One Yellow Rabbit’s Michael Green was working on when he and others involved died in a traffic accident. I don’t know if they’d call it a musical, but it includes Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal dancing, singing and drumming to tell the story of how 1877’s Treaty 7 came to be and what the impacts have been and continue to be for subsequent generations. For those who are ignorant of  this part of our history (that includes pretty much everyone), you may want to take this in. Website:

I will list the complete Fall musical theatre line-up shortly so stay tuned or go to the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group link to see what’s coming up.

Other musicals playing in Calgary now:

The Wedding Singer at Stage West

Once Upon a Time with Elvis at Jubilations Dinner Theatre

Last Chance for The Lion King

TshidiManye copy

In case you missed it, Disney’s The Lion King wraps up its summer run at the Jubilee this weekend. It’s the story of young Simba, who is in line to be king until his evil uncle Scar teams up with a bunch of laughing hyenas, kills Simba’s father and chases Simba out of the kingdom, believing his father’s death was his fault. You can guess how it all turns out (it is Disney, after all). Nevertheless it’s a pretty engaging good versus evil (“I shouldn’t believe that inner dialogue that says I’m not good enough”) story, and certainly one that seems to appeal to children, based on the demographics of the audience the night I was there (including a family of 6 in front of me that must have shelled out close to $600 for their evening’s entertainment – yikes!)

The Lion King is not my favourite Disney show (give me  Mary Poppins or Beauty and the Beast any day), but apparently I’m alone there. According to Broadway Across Canada, The Lion King premiered on Broadway on November 13, 1997, and won six 1998 Tony Awards®. Since then, 22 global productions have been seen by more than 75 million people and, cumulatively, run a staggering 112 years.  Having played 20 countries on every continent except Antarctica, The Lion King’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history. I guess that’s why they’re not boasting when they say it’s the World’s Number 1 Musical.

I saw Broadway Across Canada’s production when it opened in August. I thought the opening procession of animals was amazing and I was impressed with Gerald Ramsey as Simba’s father, Mufasa and Tshidi Manye as Rafiki (see photo above). I also have to give a special nod to Julie Taymor (Director, Costume Design,Mask-Puppet Co-design) and Michael Curry (Mask/Puppet Co-design), for really making you feel like you were watching animals on stage. After the novelty of all of this wore off and Mufasa died, the story kind of lagged for me. Maybe I just couldn’t relate to the young Simba or his girlfriend/wife Nala, or maybe I just don’t have much patience for hereditary monarchy or Warthog farts. Whatever the reason, while I enjoyed The Lion King well enough, I don’t think this show will ever make my all-time hit parade, even with music by the likes of Elton John and Tim Rice. This includes the Academy Award®-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and the opening number, “The Circle of Life” and other songs from the animated film, plus 3 new songs and additional musical material added for stage which gives it an additional African flair.

I think that if you loved the movie, or are a fan of the musicals Warhorse or Cats, you might like this show. Otherwise, save your pennies and watch the movie (again).

The Lion King closes on Sunday September 6. For information and tickets go to

Next up for Broadway Across Canada:

Riverdance 20th Anniversary Tour (a short run over the Thanksgiving long weekend). Tickets available now.

Once, the Musical – Nov 3 to 8.  Tickets for ONCE go on sale Monday, September 14 through, or by calling 1-855-985-5000. Tickets start at $35.00 (plus applicable service charges).   Reservations for groups of ten (10) or more are now being accepted by calling 1-800-889-8457. Performances run Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8pm, Sunday evening at 7:30pm with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm.

What’s Up for Musicals in YYC this summer

Hi folks, lest you think the musical theatre season, is over, think again. The following is a listing of musicals playing this summer in YYC, including links to the Calgary Musicals Meetup Group, who plans to take them all in. No excuses for not getting your musical theatre fix over the summer. If I missed anything, let me know.

The Addams Family Musical, Youth Singers of Calgary (ends July 18th)

Rumours and Dreams, A Look Back at Fleetwood Mac, Stage West (dinner theatre)

That’s Dirty Dancing, Jubilations Dinner Theatre (dinner theatre)

 The Wizard of Oz, Rosebud Theatre (dinner theatre)

 Calgary Fringe Festival,  (various shows, including some musical ones)

Rent, School Edition, Storybook Theatre

The Lion King, Broadway Across Canada

 The Mikado, Opera in the Village

Cheers, Lynn

Hurrah! A Mormon Lottery at Broadway Across Canada

If you don’t mind hanging around the Jube for a couple of hours, here’s a chance to get cheap tickets to big Broadway shows, starting with The Book of Mormon (I saw this in Toronto a couple of years ago and loved it). This is a practice that some theatres do in New York and Toronto – hitting the big times here in YYC!

March 16, 2015

For Immediate Release

Local Press Contact: Darka Tarnawsky

780-988-8914 /

National Tour Press Contact: John Gilmour

Broadway Press Contact: Chris Boneau / Jim Byk


Heaven on Broadway! A celebration of the privilege

of living inside that improbable paradise called a musical comedy.”





Calgary, AB THE BOOK OF MORMON, winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, is pleased to announce a lottery ticket policy for the National Tour, which begins March 31 at Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary, AB and plays a limited one-week engagement through April 5. In Calgary, the production will conduct a pre-show lottery, making a limited number of tickets available at $25 apiece. Entries for the lottery will be accepted 2 hours and 30 minutes prior to each performance, with the winners drawn 2 hours before the curtain rises. The lottery will be held in the Main Lobby of the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, located next to the Box Office.

The wildly popular lottery for the Broadway production has attracted as many as 800 entries at some performances. The producers of THE BOOK OF MORMON are pleased to offer low-priced lottery seats for every city on the National Tour.

Entries will be accepted at the box office beginning two and a half hours prior to each performance; each person will print their name and the number of tickets (1 or 2) they wish to purchase on a card that is provided. Two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each, cash only. Only one entry is allowed per person. Cards are checked for duplication prior to drawing. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Tickets are subject to availability.

THE BOOK OF MORMON features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, “South Park.” Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, Avenue Q. The musical is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker.

THE BOOK OF MORMON is the winner of nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Book (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Direction (Casey Nicholaw, Trey Parker), Best Featured Actress (Nikki M. James), Best Scenic Design (Scott Pask), Best Lighting Design (Brian MacDevitt), Best Sound Design (Brian Ronan) and Best Orchestrations (Larry Hochman, Stephen Oremus); the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical; five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album; four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Musical, and the Drama League Award for Best Musical.

THE BOOK OF MORMON features set design by Scott Pask, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt and sound design by Brian Ronan. Orchestrations are by Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus. Music direction and vocal arrangements are by Stephen Oremus.

The Original Broadway Cast Recording for THE BOOK OF MORMON, winner of the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, is available on Ghostlight Records.

# # # #

For more information, visit

Follow THE BOOK OF MORMON on Twitter and on Facebook.

BROADWAY ACROSS CANADA™ and Broadway Across America™ is part of the Key Brand Entertainment family of companies which includes and is operated by John Gore (Owner & CEO). BAA is the foremost presenter of first-class touring musicals and plays in North America, operating in 40 markets. As a leading Broadway producer, BAA is dedicated to the development and production of new and diverse theatre. Current/upcoming productions include Beautiful, Betrayal, Bullets Over Broadway, Little Miss Sunshine, Million Dollar Quartet and Pippin. Past productions include Hairspray, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Memphis, Promises, Promises, The Producers and War Horse. is the premier theater website for news, exclusive content and ticket sales. For more information please visit and

Joe Slabe Musical Theatre Writing Workshop starts March 9

If you’ve always wanted to write a musical yourself, or just hone your songwriting in general, Alberta Playwrights’ Network and Forte have teamed up to present a course in Musical Theatre writing and composition with Joe Slabe starting on March 9th! There are still a few spots left as of this writing.

Each class will focus on a musical theatre topic, starting with some general history and then delving into specific forms, song types,  adaptations and characteristics of the musical book. Each class will also have  an assignment at the end and there will be time built into  each subsequent  class to share what you’ve worked on and get feedback on your work.

The course runs Monday nights at the APN space off Centre Street North starting on March 9th, with the last class on May 11th. Since there are holidays in there and some longer writing assignments, there are no classes on March 23rd, April 6th or May 4th.

Cost is $300 and people on the course also need to belong to the APN, so you’d need to join if you’re not already a member.  You can get a little more info and sign up for the course on the APN webpage here:

Joe says he’s very pumped about this course and thinks it could be the start of an exciting new musical theatre group in Calgary!

Joe Slabe is an internationally recognized writer, composer and musical director with a Masters Degree in musical theatre composition from the University of London. Winner of numerous awards for both his writing and musical direction, he is the founding artistic director of Forte Musical Theatre Guild and received the 2004 Greg Bond Award for outstanding contributions to musical theatre in Calgary.

Sing-Along with Mary Poppins This Weekend


Hey folks, not much musical theatre happening at the moment, but if you’re looking for something to chase the winter blues away, consider joining me and the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group at  Cowtown Opera Company’s Sing-Along With Mary at Festival Hall in Inglewood. Still tickets available for tonight’s performance at 2014 in review

For the statistically minded among you, here’s the 2014 annual report prepared for this blog.   As reflected in the stats, i didn’t have as much time to put into the blog (or go to musicals) this year as I did at the outset, but I am planning to get back on it in 2015 – likely with shorter, more frequent articles, which will be more manageable for me.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

What Musicals Are You Looking Forward to Seeing in 2015?

One of a few of my favourite things is the twice annual refresh of the Calgary musical theatre calendar. I’ve just posted listings for the remainder of the 2014-2015 season. Lots to look forward to. I am particularly keen on original musicals (with a soft spot for Canadians) and shows that I’ve never seen before, so the big attractions coming up for me are Dear Johnny Deere: The Fred Eaglesmith Musical, at ATP (I seem to recall I was an Eaglesmith fan at one time), The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Cappuccino and Beneath Springhill: The Maurice Ruddick Story, at Lunchbox (part of the High Performance Rodeo). I am also excited to see Jesus Christ Superstar at Front Row Centre (still my favourite musical of all time) and Willy Wonka at Storybook (never seen on stage, but a sentimental favourite for me, since the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was the first movie I went to without my parents (love those Oompah-Loompahs!).

I’ve seen The Book of Mormon (Broadway Across Canada), Urinetown (Front Row Centre), West Side Story (UCalgary Operetta Company) and Beauty and the Beast (Broadway Across Canada), or those would be on my list too. I also enjoy anything by Forte Musical Theatre Guild, but don’t know what Joe Slabe has up his sleeve for the spring.

What musicals are you looking forward to in 2015?

Good luck getting tickets to any musicals this week

The holiday (musical) theatre scene is winding down with SOLD OUT performances of the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe at Rosebud, Peter Pan at Storybook (saw them both last week, as well as Annie at Central Memorial and Morpheus’ Christmas panto – liked them all) and With Bells On at Lunchbox (taking my whole work team there tomorrow for our year-end celebration, so yes, it’s my fault you can’t get tickets).

Just got back from Lunchbox theatre where I saw a fun Christmas musical revue put on by Forte Musical Theatre Guild called Naughty… but Nice! It’s described as “A hilarious and slightly risque look at everyone’s favourite holiday season,” and lives up to its billing. Directed by JP Thibodeau, it features Calgary favourites Joe Slabe (Forte’s artistic and musical director and creative force), Jeremy Carver-James, Katherine Fadum and Adam Sanders.

I’d have missed it altogether if someone from the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group hadn’t told me about it. Either I was asleep at the switch (likely) or Forte needs to improve its marketing (wouldn’t hurt – I’ll bet they could have done a good business with the Christmas Party crowd). Tickets are $25/$20 and available through Lunchbox Theatre.

That makes 6 shows in 9 days, possibly a new record for me. Definitely time for a rest. Next up – the new Into The Woods movie, which opens on Christmas Day. I’m a big Stephen Sondheim fan, and I love the score, so I am really looking forward to this one.


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