Calgary Musicals

Just another WordPress.com site

Author Archive

Calgary Dinner Theatres Wind Down for the Summer

I was walking through Prince’s Island park last week on the first of our chilly mornings and came across a couple of pre-schoolers with their Mom on the way to the Y. They were having fun chasing gulls in the park (“you don’t chase geese, because they bite”).  One of them turned to me and said “My nose is cold.”  I suggested that maybe it was because she wasn’t dressed for the suddenly cool weather. She responded matter-of-factly, “It’s still summer, you know”. I assured her that indeed it still was.

So, while theatre companies are in the throes of getting their Fall seasons ready and parents are in the throes of getting their children ready for school, several musicals are winding up for the summer. With the exception of Les Miserables at Storybook (school edition), which opened this week – the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup group is going closing night Sept 6 if you’d care to join us – the rest are dinner theatre shows that have been on all summer.

Closing this week are Chickens at Rosebud Theatre and Avenue Q at Stage West. Jubilations Dinner Theatre ‘s The Big Boom Theory 2: Time Travelling Geeks closes next weekend.

I haven’t seen Chickens – like a lot of people, I was probably put off by the title, but I’m told by people who’ve seen it that this story of a bankrupt farmer who has one last chance to save the farm by investing in exotic chickens, is hilarious. If the idea of singing, dancing chickens appeals to you, you might want to give it a try.  For more information, tickets and a sample of the music, go to www.rosebudtheatre.com

I can recommend both of the other two, however, particularly Avenue Q, which I saw last week. I first saw the show when Storybook Theatre did it a couple of years ago and was blown away by it. I wouldn’t have thought a musical with people walking around on stage holding Muppet-like characters and singing songs like “It Sucks to Be Me” and “The Internet is for Porn” would appeal to me, but I was really impressed. I’m sure that the secret of its success has to do with the dichotomy of having childlike puppets saying (and doing) “dirty” things. Certainly there are things puppets can get away with, that conventional actors can’t, which is some of the charm and fun of the show. Stage West’s version, directed by Calgary favourite Mark Bellamy is top-notch – and includes many well-known and emerging Calgary actors (Katherine Fadum, Christian Goutsis, Madeleine Suddaby and Selina Wong).  I particularly enjoyed the “Bad Idea Bears” modelled on the Care Bears, who would suggest to the protagonist, Princeton (played by Jeremy Crittenden) that since he was depressed, unemployed and broke he should use his rent money to buy beer – “it’s cheaper by the case”  -and then cheer whenever he did whatever they suggested (and he usually did, to his detriment). I love it when Stage West does “real” musicals, rather than revues, and I have to admit I was surprised they put  this R rated show in their programme, as it’s more risqué than their usual fare. I know there was pretty much a full house when I went, so hopefully we’ll see more of that kind of offering there in future.  For information and tickets go to www.stagewestcalgary.com  (Did you know Thursday is Ladies night and they have discounts for tables of 4? I didn’t).

Big Boom Theory 2: Time Travelling Geeks (written by Matt Falk, directed by Randy Apostle) at Jubilations Dinner Theatre, is a sequel to last year’s successful Big Boom Theory, both of which are jukebox musical spoofs of the popular TV series (Jubilations’ bread and butter as it were). I’ve only seen Big Bang Theory a few times, and although I like it, I’m not a big follower, so I’m sure some of the humour was lost on me.  This was not the best offering I’ve seen at Jubilations (my personal favourite in recent years is still Ghostbusted) – but I expect this would appeal very much to fans of the TV show, and there are plenty of them. I was particularly impressed with the dancing talents of Jeff Rivet (Howard) and Aimee Beaudoin (Penny) and Andrea Bailey (Amy) ‘s geeky strip-tease. For information and tickets go to www.jubilations.ca

If that’s not enough, Cornerstone Theatre’s annual Oh Canada Eh? show runs through to October. For more information and tickets, go to http://atthecorner.ca

 

I’ll be posting the Fall musical theatre schedule shortly so check back soon to see what’s coming up in September. As usual, lots to choose from.

 

CAST production of Modern Millie Thoroughly Enchanting

Although July’s a pretty light month for musicals, I managed to see two shows back to back this week – a good study in contrasts. The first was Broadway Across Canada’s Wicked  at the Jubilee (every bit as good as I expected, although I was amused to discover that although I’d seen only 7 years ago, I’d completely forgotten the ending, which made for a nice surprise).

While I expect everyone who follows theatre at all knows Wicked is in town, there are few who know about the other show I saw, the enchanting Thoroughly Modern Millie, put on by the Youth Singers of Calgary’s CAST (Collaborative Artists Summer Training) program production. This production is a much lower budget production done by Calgary youth and young adults after 6 weeks of rehearsal in the Youth Singers’ small studio in an industrial park near Stage West.  They launched the program three years ago with Fame, and last year did Godspell, both of which I also enjoyed. I’d missed Millie when Central Memorial High did the show last year, so I was glad to get another chance so soon.

2014 - Mille ad for Spring ShowThoroughly Modern Millie is the story of a small-town girl in the 1920’s who heads to New York to embrace the flapper lifestyle and find a rich man to wed (OK, so women didn’t have quite so many choices in those days). It was a Broadway hit in 2002 which was based on the 1967 movie of the same name with Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing (now that would be worth renting someday).  

I am always impressed by the talent we have in this town at the amateur level, and this show was no exception. It was a great ensemble show and the caliber of the singing and dancing was very good, and the set, while simple, was very effective. I have to say, though, that I was blown away by Liberty Laferriere in the title role of Millie (now there’s a stage name!). Liberty has an energy that lights up the whole theatre, and man, can she belt out a tune! I’m sure we’ll see her, as well as many of these other aspiring performers on Calgary stages in years to come.

Liberty Laferriere (front) and the Cast of Thoroughly Modern Millie in rehearsal (photo courtesy of Youth Singers of Calgary)

Liberty Laferriere (front and centre) and the cast of Thoroughly Modern Millie in rehearsal (photo courtesy of Youth Singers of Calgary)

I was also pleased to see the addition of risers for the audience this year, which makes for better viewing. Even so, it’s best to sit at the front of each level or in the front row so you don’t risk having heads blocking your view.  I was sufficiently inspired by the show that I chose to contribute to the CAST program’s  indiegogo campaign to help cover their costs and raise money to turn the studio into a full-fledged black box theatre, something that will be a welcome addition in the south end of Calgary.

Thoroughly Modern Millie runs until August 2 and tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door (I’ve never had problems getting a ticket at the door). Note that evening shows have a 7PM start.

For more information go to youthsingers.org/cast

Wicked Opens This Week With A New $25 Ticket Lottery

Back in 2007, my in-laws,  Norma and Al Pinard, paid my way for a deluxe trip to New York City to join an annual holiday tour they ran from Ottawa. Wicked wasn’t on the itinerary, having been sold out for some time, but I went on our unscheduled night and waited in line to get standby tickets. I was behind a German couple  who were going to the show because they’d heard how popular it was, but they spoke very little English and had never seen the original Wizard of Oz. I thought, “Oh, this could be interesting for them” (but then, lots of people enjoy opera even though they can’t make out the words – I don’t happen to be one of them :() So I spent the next 15 minutes explaining the original story, so they could at least have some context. In the end we all got in (and I scored a deal from someone who was selling one of his spare tickets because one of his party couldn’t come).

Many of the big Broadway Theatres run lotteries for unsold tickets on the day of the performance (I scored an amazing box seat for Next To Normal for only $25 once), and I’m pleased to see Broadway Across Canada is now having a lottery for upcoming performances of Wicked. If you’ve got more time than money (or were on the fence about going and don’t mind going to the Jubilee to take a chance), it’s a great way to get a great seat for cheap.

I am grateful to the Pinards for making my first Wicked viewing possible, and to Broadway Across Canada for doing the same with my second (I skipped it when it was here last time, because I’d just seen it in NYC, and though I loved it, I decided to give it a pass – something I always regretted. Glad I’m getting another chance.  Everything you need to know about the show is below).

WICKED ANNOUNCES LOTTERY FOR $25 SEATS

 

NewsRelease_3

 

*     *     *

PERFORMANCES BEGIN WEDNESDAY, JULY 23

AT SOUTHERN ALBERTA JUBILEE AUDITORIUM

 

 

A day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of orchestra seats will be held for WICKED, which is returning to the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium with performances from July 23 – August 17.  Two hours prior to each performance, people who present themselves at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium box office will have their names placed in a lottery drum; thirty minutes later, names will be drawn for a limited number of orchestra seats at $25 each, cash only.  This lottery is available only in-person at the box office, with a limit of two tickets per person.  Lottery participants must have a valid photo ID when submitting their entry form and, if chosen, when purchasing tickets. 

 

     WICKED, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Pippin, Godspell, Disney’s Enchanted, Academy Award®  winner for Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt) and book by Winnie Holzman (“My So Called Life,” “Once And Again” and “thirtysomething”), is based on the 1995 best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire.  The musical is directed by two-time Tony®  Award winner Joe Mantello (Take Me Out, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Vagina Monologues) and features musical staging by Tony®  Award winner Wayne Cilento (Aida, The Who’s Tommy, How To Succeed…).  WICKED, the untold story of the witches of Oz, is produced by Marc Platt, Universal Pictures, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone. 

 

       WICKED has been declared “A Cultural Phenomenon” by Variety and “The Best Musical of the Decade” by Entertainment Weekly.  WICKED currently has nine productions around the world, in New York, London, Japan, Australasian Tour, South Korea, Latin America, a U.K. Tour, and two concurrent North American National Tours.  Since its New York premiere a decade ago, WICKED has grossed over $3.3 billion worldwide and has been seen by over 40 million across the globe.  WICKED has been performed in over 100 cities in 13 countries around the world (U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, The Philippines, and Mexico) and has thus far been translated into five languages: Japanese, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Korean. 

 

Winner of over 50 major awards including the Grammy Award and three Tony Awards, WICKED is the untold story of the witches of Oz.  Long before Dorothy drops in, two other girls meet in the land of Oz.  One, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood.  The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular.  WICKED tells the story of their remarkable odyssey, how these two unlikely friends grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good.

 

WICKED begins performances on Wednesday, July 23 and runs through to Sunday, August 17. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, on-line at www.ticketmaster.ca, or call toll-free 1-855-985-5000. Groups of 15 or more can access discounts at 1-800-889-8457. Tickets for WICKED vary in range depending on performance, seat location, and date of purchase and start at $35.00 plus applicable service fees. Good seats are still available.

 

     WICKED, in Calgary is presented by Broadway Across Canada, is part of a five city tour in Canada.  Remaining engagements include Winnipeg and Toronto. For more information about WICKED log on to www.wickedthemusical.com.

 

 

2014 Critter Winners

Lynn Marie Calder:

And the envelope please…

Originally posted on Applause! Meter:

2014 Critter Award Logo

This year’s Calgary Critics’ Awards were a huge success with almost 200 theatre-loving Calgarians in attendance to hear us announce our winners for the 2013/14 theatre season.  Truthfully though, all our nominees were winners as each and every one of them impressed us in one way or another gave us those wow moments in the theatre that we live for. So as difficult as it was to pick just one award-recipient in each category – that was our task. Therefore, without further ado, I give you the winners of the 2014 Critter Awards…….

Featured Actor in a Play:
Graham Percy – Twelfth Night (The Shakespeare Company)

Featured Actress in a Play:
Katey Hoffman – You Will Remember Me (Alberta Theatre Projects)

Featured Actress in a Musical:
Susan Gilmour – Mary Poppins (Theatre Calgary)

Featured Actor in a Musical:
Jack Forestier – Mary Poppins (Theatre Calgary)

Best Solo Performance:
Kyall Rakoz…

View original 572 more words

2014 Critter Award Nominees Announced

Lynn Marie Calder:

Several musical theatre categories here. A few of these shows are still playing, so if you haven’t seen them yet, you might want to check them out.

Originally posted on Applause! Meter:

It took our four critic-judges almost 5 hours to decide on 104 nominees in 18 categories, but in the end we are all very pleased with the contendenders this year. Every category is full of strong artists that delighted and surprised us over the season and we feel lucky to have witnessed all thier talent and hard work.

So, without further ado – here are the nominees for the 2014 Critter Awards along with information on how to RSVP for the June 18th Awards Event. Remember, space is limited so get in touch early to secure your spot.
2014 Critter Nominations Announced
Calgary Theatre Critics’ Awards honour 103 nominees in 18 categories

Calgary Theatre Critics, Stephen Hunt of the Calgary Herald, Louis B. Hobson of the Calgary Sun, Jenna Shummoogum of Downtown Calgary and Jessica Goldman of CBC’s The Eyeopener and applause-meter.com are pleased to announce the nominees for the third…

View original 1,096 more words

May Musicals in YYC

May’s usually a busy month for musicals, and this year is right on course, with no less than seven shows opening this month. On top of that, there’s Calgary Opera’s The Barber of Cowtown, Central Memorial High’s Gala of the Arts,the extravaganza Odysseo by Cavalia and several big year-end shows by the Youth Singers of Calgary, including some free outdoor concerts. The Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group is going to all of these and more. Check out that link for more information or to come with us.

Opening in May

JubsCal_BBII_ShowPoster[1]May 2 to Sept 7 Big Boom Theory 2: Time Travelling Geeks, Jubilations Dinner Theatre

A sequel to last years’ Jubilations’ Big Boom Theatre (1) – a spoof of the well-loved TV show.

From the website: It’s been one year since Sheldon Cooper visited The Canadian International Science Awards Centre… and he’s coming back.  Why?  Fantastic question.  He’s perfected time travel.  That’s right.  Join Sheldon, Amy, Leonard, Penny, Howard and Bernadette as they travel through space and time to prove once and for all that nerds really do have more fun.  But messing with the space/time continuum has consequences, and every decision they make could potentially affect the characters we’ve all grown to love.  No amount of ‘Soft Kitty’ lullabies are going to save them now.  They’ll have to rely on all their wits (which is a lot) in order to get out of this time travelling quandary.  Will Sheldon propose to Amy?  Will Leonard finally find luck in love?  Will Howard’s mother battle a prehistoric dinosaur?  Anything could happen, when you get your geek on… again.  Set to the best music of the past FIVE decades this sequel is anything but ordinary.  I feel like I’m forgetting something…oh…right… Bazinga!

event_144480782[1]May 6 to June 22 Mary Poppins, Theatre Calgary

Yes, she’s back. Everyone’s favourite nanny. If you missed Broadway Across Canada’s production last year, here’s another chance.

From the website: Things haven’t been going well for the Banks family. The children are out of control and a new nanny is required to put things in order. When a mysterious young woman appears on their doorstep, the family finds that she’s the answer to their prayers, but in the most peculiar way. A Broadway musical spectacular for the whole family. This brand new production of the much-loved classic will burst onto our stage. Rediscover the gorgeous songs, loveable children and that magical woman. As Mary would say: It’s practically perfect!

Sound_of_Music_4.1[1]May 20 to May 25 The Sound of Music, Central Memorial High School

Here’s another show that needs no introduction, although if you’ve never seen the stage version (I haven’t) you’ll find some interesting differences from the movie, including a bunch of songs you’ve probably never heard before and some slightly different character developments. I wrote an article about this when St. Peters Players put on the show last year. Click here to check that out. The Centre for Performing and Visual Arts at Central Memorial is well known for its quality theatrical productions. Since their musicals are big productions with lots of families attached, they usually sell well. Best to get your tickets in advance.

600_279043332[1]May 20 to June 14 Shrek the Musical, Storybook Theatre

A musical based on the movie of the same name – one that’s sure to be popular with young and old alike. Already selling well, so this is another one where you may want to get your tickets in advance, especially for weekends.

From the website: In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre — not a handsome prince — shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won’t shut up, a bad guy with a SHORT temper, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there’s one on hand…and his name is Shrek.

600_343118312[1]May 21 to May 31 Spring Awakening, Artists Collective Theatre

I have been dying to see this since my nephew raved about it after seeing it on Broadway when it first came out.

From Wikipedia: Spring Awakening is a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater. It is based on the controversial German play Spring Awakening (1891) by Frank Wedekind which was banned in Germany for some time due to its frank portrayal of abortionhomosexualityrape, abuse and suicide. Set in late-19th century Germany, the musical tells the story of teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality. In the musical, alternative rock is employed as part of the folk-infused rock score.

600_320899582[1]May 31 to June 14 Into the Woods, Cappuccino Musical Theatre

A very grown-up fairy tale – a little bit dark for kids – but then it is Stephen Sondheim, so what would you expect? This one’s also been on my bucket list for some time. I have the score, the script and a storybook, but have never seen the stage production.

From Wikipedia: Into the Woods is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them to explore the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from “Little Red Riding Hood“, “Jack and the Beanstalk“, “Rapunzel“, and “Cinderella“, as well as several others. The musical is tied together by an original story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family, their interaction with a Witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.  Into the Woods won several Tony Awards, including Best ScoreBest Book, and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason), in a year dominated by The Phantom of the Opera.

600_320897392[1]May 31 to Sept 7 Chickens, Rosebud Theatre

The whole concept of Rosebud Theatre amazes me – a tiny town of 100 or so people got together and created a theatre school which morphed into one the biggest summer theatre festivals in Alberta. Just over an hour north of Calgary, it’s a nice summer outing.

From the website: A Rollicking Favourite Told in a Whole New Way

It’s time to Rock-a-doodle-doo!

Pal’s a bankrupt farmer with one last chance to save the farm. Investing his hopes and livelihood in raising exotic chickens, his wife is certain he’s flown the coop. With rowdy roosters running amok and aging hens looking for love, is it possible for these dreamers to finally soar? Or is someone about to get the ax? From home-grown playwright Lucia Frangione comes a musical romantic comedy about birds of a feather who flock together. And singing, dancing chickens. What more can we say?

 

 Still Playing (see April Musicals in Calgary for details):

Bingo Ladies, Lunchbox Theatre – until May 17

Fiddler on the Roof, Stage West  – until June 22

 

 

Movie – Musical Quiz Answers

Sound_of_Music_4.1[1]Apologies to Central Memorial High School, for forgetting they are doing The Sound of Music this month, and thus excluding them from my Movie Musical Quiz back in April. Shame on me! Just added it to the schedule.

The winner of the quiz is Kaaren Finlay. Congratulations to Kaaren for getting 8/11 and extra points for being brave enough to answer the questions off the top of her head rather than looking up the answers. She did better than I would have done.  She gets bragging rights and a chance to join me as my guest at one of the remaining musicals in the 2013/2014 season.

calgarymusicals.com April 2014 Movie Musical Quiz  – ANSWERS

  1. What musical features a hero who is green?  SHREK
  2. How many Prince Charmings are there in Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods? TWO
  3. What musical is written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick? FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
  4. Who played Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in the original Young Frankenstein movie? GENE WILDER
  5. What musical is scheduled to be released as a movie in December 2014? INTO THE WOODS
  6. What musical is set in Germany? SPRING AWAKENING
  7. How many of Calgary’s remaining musicals in the 2013-2014 season were movies before they were stage productions? THREE (SHREK, MARY POPPINS AND YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN)
  8. What musical features the song “Feed The Birds”? MARY POPPINS
  9. What musical, recently released as a movie, is going to be done in Calgary as a children’s version this summer (hint: it’s not on the schedule yet, but it is scheduled in the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group events) LES MISERABLES
  10. What movie musical stars Kevin Kline? (PIRATES OF PENZANCE – I didn’t even know it had been made into a film)
  11. BONUS QUESTION: Which of Sophie’s potential fathers is the worst singer in the movie version of Mamma Mia! (this is a gimme – all answers are correct :)) PIERCE BROSNAN GETS MY VOTE

So how’d YOU do?

 

A WICKED Pre-Sale offer (closed)

Wicked Calgary Priority Ticket OfferTo my intrepid followers -

Still need to post the winner (and answers) to the Movie-Musical quiz as well as do a post on the many musicals coming up in May, but will do so tomorrow. So far behind on so many fronts this month. On the positive side I did manage the arduous task of removing 18 square feet of well-stuck linoleum from my kitchen floor (4.5 square feet per hour) today, thus tripling my previous best of 6 square feet (2 square feet per hour) – we must find satisfaction where we can. Hoping to have job complete and get a new floor laid in my kitchen and dining room (if not the adjacent laundry room and bathroom) sometime in 2014. But I digress…

 Broadway Across Canada has offered me a pre-sale code for this summer’s production of Wicked (certainly one of my favourite musicals – I had the good fortune to see it on Broadway a few years back) at the Jubilee Auditorium. By using this before 10PM tonight you can book your own ticket(s) before they go on sale to the general public tomorrow (Monday May 5) at 10 AM.  

The show runs July 23 to August 17 at the Jubliee. If you want to join the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group we’re going to the opening night performance on Wednesday.

The presale ends tonight, Sunday May 4, at 10PM

CALGARYMUSICALS Presale Code: WIZARD

Presale link: http://www.ticketmaster.ca/venueartist/139345/864373?brand=bac

Lynn

A YYC Movie – Musical Quiz

600_279054702600_279049012

event_256031462

600_279164522

 

In honour of the four musicals opening this week that have been made into musicals (Mamma Mia!, Fiddler on The Roof, Young Frankenstein and Pirates of Penzance)   just for a change of pace, here’s a quiz to test/increase your knowledge of the many musicals playing in Calgary between now and the end of the season which have a movie connection. Just match the Calgary musical (an almost complete list of remaining shows is found in the Schedule tab) with the question below. All answers can be found on this blog (the schedule includes a link to the theatre companies producing these shows), or through an easy web search/Wikipedia.

Send me your answers by email to calderlm@yahoo.ca by midnight Sunday April 20. I will announce the winner on April 21. The winner will be the person with the most correct answers. If there’s a tie, I will put all those names in a hat and draw one at random. The winner will get bragging rights and a chance to join me as my guest (1 ticket) at one of the remaining musicals in the 2013/2014 season – not sure which one, but will try to accommodate your preference – and mine. Good luck and have fun!

calgarymusicals.com April 2014 Movie Musical Quiz 

  1. What musical features a hero who is green?
  2. How many Prince Charmings are there in Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods?
  3. What musical is written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick?
  4. Who played Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in the original Young Frankenstein movie?
  5. What musical is scheduled to be released as a movie in December 2014?
  6. What musical is set in Germany?
  7. How many of Calgary’s remaining musicals in the 2013-2014 season were movies before they were stage productions?
  8. What musical features the song “Feed The Birds”?
  9. What musical, recently released as a movie, is going to be done in Calgary as a children’s version this summer (hint: it’s not on the schedule yet, but it is scheduled in the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group events)
  10. What movie musical stars Kevin Kline?
  11. BONUS QUESTION: Which of Sophie’s potential fathers is the worst singer in the movie version of Mamma Mia! (this is a gimme – all answers are correct :))

A Glimpse Into Bollywood in YYC

Anita Majumdar and Nicco Lorenzo Garcia in Same Same But Different

Anita Majumdar and Nicco Lorenzo Garcia in Same Same But Different. Photo Credit Michael Cooper.

 

It’s the final Blitz Weekend of Alberta Theatre Projects’ Festival of New Canadian Plays, which means there are four plays to take in before ATP turns the lights out on the playRites Festival for good, and instead include new Canadian plays in their regular programming.

There are no less than three chances (to take in Anita’s Majumdar’s Same Same But Different, the only musical on the roster (2 shows today  – including one right now as I write this – and 1 tomorrow afternoon). It’s a take on the Bollywood musical, and in particular its influence on shadism (racism based on skin-tone), due to its promotion of fairer-skinned actors. Anita has been an outspoken opponent of the practice, enough that she’s even referenced in the wiki article on the subject. I was surprised to learn in researching this article, that India is one of the world’s largest markets for skin-lightening creams (particularly targeted at women to improve their romantic/marriage prospects) and that sales of such creams surpass those for tea and Coke.

In honour of Anita’s show, I had every intention of writing a semi-intelligent article about Bollywood musicals. I knew Bollywood is the term used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and that the films are often family-friendly romances and melodramas with extended song-and-dance sequences, but never having seen more than clips of them, that’s about all I knew. Once I started reading up on them, I realized that there’s an awful lot of information available, and that I really have nothing to add to what’s already out there on-line if you care to look. I did pick up a few tidbits along the way, however, that may be interesting to you as well:

  • Unlike Hollywood, from which it gets its name, “Bollywood” does not exist as a physical place. The term came into being in the 1970’s when India overtook the US as the world’s largest film producer. The naming scheme for “Bollywood” was inspired by “Tollywood”, the name that was used as early as 1932 to refer to the cinema of West Bengal, based in Tollygunge, Calcutta.
  • Credit for the revival of the modern western movie musical (e.g. Chicago, The Producers, Hairspray, Sweeney Todd, The Phantom of the Opera, and Mamma Mia!) can be attributed to Bollywood’s influence on 2001’s Moulin Rouge! which included traditional Bollywood elements.
  • Bollywood film music (called filmi music) is generally pre-recorded by professional singers, with the actors lip-synching the words, often while dancing. Unlike early American movie musicals, these singers are prominently featured in the opening credits and even have their own fan-bases (if that had been the case here, Marnie Nixon would be a household name today – see my article entitled “Movies to Musicals – CSI or What Do These Movie-Musical Stars Have in Common? ” for some reason my internal links aren’t working).
  • There is a big market for Bollywood films in South Asian communities around the world, and Americans see more films from India than from any other non-English speaking country
  • Indian audiences are increasingly interested in seeing films depicting foreign places. Many Bollywood films since the 1990’s have been largely or entirely shot in New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Toronto.

I suppose my one big take-away is how big Bollywood really is. Like most westerners, I forget that a large part of the world does not speak English as a first language and that there’s a whole world of culture out there, including musical theatre culture, that we never – or rarely – get a glimpse of.

Go to ATP PlayRites Festival for more information on what’s playing this weekend.

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers