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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. 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 YYC Movie – Musical Quiz





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 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! 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 :))

Why West Side Story is Still On My Top Ten List

The Jets doing one of their trademark dances at Broadway Across Canada

The Jets doing one of their trademark dances at Broadway Across Canada

Broadway Across Canada wraps up its production of West Side Story this weekend. Based on the sell-out crowd at Tuesday’s opening night performance, I’d say there’s still lots of love for this 1957 classic, at least in Calgary. I’m betting a more than a few people gave and received tickets for this show for Valentine’s day, notwithstanding the fact that the tragic story of star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria (aka Romeo and Juliet) set amongst Puerto Rican and Polish American gangs in New York, is more a cautionary tale than an advertisement for romantic love.

I’ve just returned from a trip to Acadia University, where I first got involved in musical theatre with the campus theatre club, MusiCadians in the ’70’s. I remember our choreographer, Barb, was dying to do West Side Story, but we didn’t have the dancers to pull it off, so her dream never came to be, at least not then. If you’ve ever seen West Side Story you’ll know the dancing  – originally choreographed and directed by the great Jerome Robbins – is a huge part of the show, so it’s not a musical a lot of amateur companies can pull off well  – one of the reasons we don’t see it performed that often.  Although sometimes it’s a bit off-putting to see a bunch of somewhat-too-clean-cut gangsters expressing their violent energy through stylized ballet (what a male friend of mine calls a “dance-off”) it’s pretty impressive to watch.

Although I gave the musical “extra points” for choreography in my list of “A Few of My Favourite Shows“, to my mind, it’s Leonard Bernstein’s score that really drives West Side Story, with its exciting rhythms and syncopation in songs like “Something’s Coming,” “America” and “A Boy Like That/I Have A Love.”  Bernstein had already penned successful scores for On The Town, Wonderful Town and Candide, but he reached the pinnacle with West Side Story and he might have gone on to write many more great musicals, if he hadn’t left musical theatre to focus on directing the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and a successful career writing symphonic and other more “serious” (although no doubt less lucrative) musical works.

West Side Story was also the Broadway debut of a young lyricist named Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim considered himself a composer first and foremost and might have turned down the assignment if not for the encouragement of family friend and mentor, lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II (talk about connections!), who said he could learn a lot from greats like Bernstein, Robbins and book-writer Arthur Laurents. Fortunately for Sondheim and the rest of the musical theatre world, he took that advice – although, as Martin Gottfield explains in his 1993 book, “Sondheim” (Enlarged and Updated), Sondheim did make the rookie mistake of letting Bernstein keep his share of the lyric writing royalties, when Bernstein offered to remove his name as co-lyricist – if only he’d known how big these songs would become, both on-stage and off!

In his 2010 book “Finishing the Hat, ” Sondheim also explains how he had been hoping to use the first F-bomb in musical theatre history in the humourous Jets song “Gee, Officer Krupke,” but his collaborators wouldn’t go for it, so they ended the song with “Krup You!” instead, which he admits probably works better anyway.  Much to his chagrin, he also had to “clean up” some of the lyrics for the popular 1961 movie version to please the studio. For example, he turned Anita’s line about looking forward to a visit from her lover Bernardo after the rumble from “He’ll come in hot and tired, so what? Don’t matter if he’s tired, as long as he’s hot” to “He’ll come in hot and tired, oh dear. Don’t matter if he’s tired , as long as he’s near.” (He considers this one of his most cringe-worthy lyrics – which says a lot, as he’s pretty critical of many of his early works).

You don’t get to hear some of Sondheim’s clever lyrics in Broadway Across Canada’s version, because it’s based the most recent Broadway revival in which some of the lyrics and dialogue are replaced with Spanish (As in “I Feel Pretty/Me Siento  Hermosa”). While it feels more authentic and adds a little spice, it loses something   – and certainly the humour – if you don’t know the original.

While some musicals written 50 years ago seem dated, West Side Story  and its universal themes of love, friendship, prejudice and revenge still works today. But the reason it will always be on my top 10 list, to paraphrase a jingle from a grocery store chain from my youth, is that “It’s mainly because of the music.”

West Side Story runs until tomorrow (Sunday). Tickets are still available at

And the envelope please #4 … The Second Annual Calgary Musical Theatre Bloggers Awards (“The Lynnies”)

I am so far behind on my summer blogging I was going to take a pass on my self-proclaimed Calgary Musical Theatre Bloggers Awards (“The Lynnies”) this year, but since I announced when I launched them last year that this would be an annual award, I hate to give up so soon. Plus, it’s a fun way to honour the many musicals I enjoyed this past season, before the Fall season gets going. Unfortunately, I missed a bunch, including Spamalot, which did well at the CAT awards, and The God That Comes, that did well at the Bettys.

“The Lynnies” cover a broad range of categories which relate to the complete customer experience, not just the quality of the performance – both as a blogger and as coordinator of the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group which goes to most of these shows and more. I’ve kept some of the categories from last year, dropped some (mostly the “fun” categories where the winners are virtually a shoe-in (best and worst seats and websites, worst price-gouging, etc.)) and added a few more that I thought deserved mentioning.

So without further ado, we’re going to skip the nominations altogether and proceed with the first annual “Lynnies” (drumroll please).

Categories Continued from Last Year

Shows I Was Tempted to See Twice if I Weren’t So Busy  – Or Cheap

Ghostbusted by Jubilations Dinner Theatre. Jukebox musicals based on popular songs aren’t normally my thing, but this one was a blast!

Hairspray by Storybook Theatre. I super production, full of energy. I just wished they’d had a dance floor!

The Last 5 Years by Storybook Theatre. In fact I did see this twice, because I liked it so much the first time around with JP Thibodeau and Madeleine Suddaby, and wanted to see in again with Sarah Irwin and Brandon Wood. I enjoyed it almost as much the second time.

Best Musical That Nobody Saw

The Last 5 Years by Storybook Theatre. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that nobody saw this – in fact one of the nights I went the entire cast from Front Row Centre’s Legally Blonde was there. But due to the fact that this show ran during the June flood, and is pretty much unknown outside musical theatre circles, they had more quiet nights than they deserved, considering the quality of the production.

Actor/Actress Who’s So Good I’d See Anything They’re In

JP Thibodeau (If I Weren’t With You, The Last 5 Years, Uptown Country Girls). OK, I lied. I would have gone to see Uptown Country Girls, just because JP was in it, but never quite made it, although I did send a number of other people (Sorry, JP :( )

Best Customer Service

Jubilations Dinner Theatre box office – once again, went out of their way to help my group and provide a credit when one of our members ran into difficulties

New Categories This Year

Best Supporting Actress

Katelyn Morishita as Paulette Bonafonte in Front Row Centre’s Legally BlondeGreat acting and singing. Hope to see her in bigger roles in future.

Biggest Loss

The disappearance of Summerstock, a troupe featuring high school students who until last year performed an annual summer musical outdoors at Olympic Plaza. The one consolation is that a number of those who appeared in their production of Legally Blonde, also performed in Front Row Centre’s version this winter.

Best New Venue

Beddington Community Arts Centre. Storybook’s new theatre is a nice, flexible space, with great acoustics. Most importantly, it’s not as far as you’d think. That’s a good thing, since now that Front Row Centre is moving there, those of us who love musicals will be spending a lot more time up there.

Best interview

Hawksley Workman, composer/performer – The God That Comes (ATP). How can you top the quote “life is made immeasurably better by wine and rock ‘n roll” ?

Honourable mention: Max Reimer, director – Chicago, Stage West

Best Musical at the Calgary Fringe Festival

Nashville Hurricane by Chase Padgett (a follow-up to his popular 6 Guitarswhich he also did as an encore performance)

Honourable Mentions: Fat Sex! Steve Larkin’s body … of poems and songs! and More Power to Your Knitting, Nell! by Melanie Gall

Sexiest Show

Stage West’s Chicago  (as if there would be any competition!) 

Feel free to share your thoughts or additional “fun” categories (best or worst) based on your musical theatre experiences this past season.


One More Vote of Outrage Regarding Cuts to Theatre and Music @ MRU

Well, there has been a lot of outrage floating about over proposed drastic cuts to music and arts programmes at Mount Royal University, and rightly so. (Really wishing I’d made it to The Rocky Horror Show after all – it might have been my last chance).

I was supposed to post my preview of Morpheus Theatre’s The Gondoliers tonight (going to the opening tomorrow night with the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group), but prompted by a notice via Calgary ACTS and various comments on Facebook, I decided to write a letter to the MRU administration instead (forwarded to my MLA and Alison Redford), even though I don’t typically do such things. Here it is:


Mr. Richard Shaw (Chair of MRU Board of Governors)
Ms. Marie Delorme (Vice Chair of MRU Board of Governors) 
Jane O’Connor – Manager, Governance and Executive Operations MRU
Dr. David Docherty – President
Dr. Manuel Mertin – Provost and Academic Vice President
Mr. Marc Chikinda – Dean, Faculty of Communication Studies
Dear Sirs/Mesdames
Please add my voice to those opposed to the proposed cuts to the Theatre and Music Programs at Mount Royal University. These programs provide a constant flow of new creativity to the vibrance of the Calgary community and the cuts will have a significant impact on the cultural identity of our city – particularly ironic on the heels of Calgary2012, our celebration of Calgary as the Cultural Capital of Canada.
I urge you to reconsider this decision and recognize the impact it will have on all aspects of this community from professional theatres, dance, opera, musical performance venues, clubs and the entertainment and cultural life of this city. It’s not just about the artists and those that work in the arts. As a business person in Calgary, I want to live in a city which has a vibrant artistic and cultural scene, and support local talent. MRU has played an important role in making that happen. I hope it continues to do so.
Lynn Marie Calder
For those that haven’t been following, here are links to a couple of articles I read and liked on the topic:

Confessions of a Blogging Virgin – My first 100 posts


It’s a very ancient saying

But a true and honest thought

That if you become a teacher

By your pupils you’ll be taught …

[From “Getting to Know You”, The King and I, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein III)]

I’ve been intending to do an article on my first impressions and learnings as a new musical theatre blog writer for a while, but the first 3 months passed, and then the end of the first theatre season and the end of the year … and now here we are 100 posts later. That seems like a suitable milestone, and since February and March are even lighter than usual on the musical theatre scene (producers take note), I figure now’s as good a time as any.

When I launched this blog December 31, 2011, I had a few goals in mind:

  • Increase the awareness of musical theatre in Calgary and provide a central place people can go to when trying to find out who’s doing what and when
  • Increase my networking with the Calgary musical theatre community in support of my own career in musical theatre as a playwright/composer
  • Get out to more musicals than I would otherwise

I’m happy to say I accomplished all those goals. Having committed to trying to go to every musical in Calgary last year, I saw fifty (sometimes three a week!), including many I would never have chosen otherwise, thus increasing my own awareness of what’s happening on the scene. As far as I know, I only missed three musicals due to my personal schedule. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

On top of that, much to my surprise, I also managed to get in roughly one additional non-musical play or opera per month, partly because I’m more in tune with the theatre scene generally, but mostly because in conjunction with this blog I started The Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group, and the members are interested in more than just musicals. When someone says “Hey, would you like to go see X”?, my usual answer is “yes, why not?” I have to say that the Meetup Group has been one of the biggest side-benefits to this gig. Although I’ve never been one to mind going to the theatre alone, it’s always nice to have company, and having different company every time adds to the pleasure. Through this process I’ve increased my own awareness as much as anyone else’s.

No surprise to me, I was favourably impressed with the caliber (and quantity) of musical theater in Calgary in 2012, at the professional and particularly at the amateur (community theatre) level. I saw many great shows, and even more that were better than I expected. Where I wasn’t particularly fond of a show, it generally had more to do with the show than the production. I’ve covered some of my thoughts on this years shows in my “Lynnie” awards post in August and my December post on the Fall season, so I won’t go over them again here, but will do a 2012-2013 season wrap up next summer.

Speaking of reviews, when I launched this blog, I intended to use this blog to talk about my experiences about going to the musicals I saw, but somehow that naturally fell into doing reviews of the shows, because I couldn’t figure out how to talk about them without judging them in some fashion. However, I have found that this is my least favourite part of the blog, in part because I’m more promoter than critic, and in part because I find it difficult to fit the reviews into my schedule and get them out early enough to be of value. For 2013, I am switching to previews and interviews (one of my favourite activities) instead. I realize I may lose some readership here, since a lot of people come here for reviews, and the better reviews get posted on the theatre company websites, which gives me added exposure, but we’ll see how it goes.

To be honest, I struggle with the whole concept of reviews, since so much is about personal taste. Just because I like something doesn’t mean you will, and vice versa, and I find I disagree with the professional reviewers almost as much as I agree with them. So, if I have any advice to people out there who are looking to go to theatre, if you have any doubt about going or not going to a show, damn the reviews or anyone else’s opinion (including mine!) and go anyway.

On the whole, I’ve enjoyed this gig so far, and my 2012 blog stats  suggest it does serve a purpose, but there are certainly some negative side effects. Sometimes it’s a bit of a drag (I can’t seem to write faster than 250 words/hour no matter what I do), and it certainly takes time away from other things that are important to me (like my own musical theatre writing, for sure!). It is also yet one other thing I do that involves staying indoors and sitting, which I know isn’t good for me. And that doesn’t count the extra time I spend more time on Facebook and Twitter, although I haven’t fully embraced either, not being a social media junkie to begin with. I will endeavour to find more balance in 2013, for sure!

So, I think that about wraps it up. I’ll keep writing as long as you keep reading, and  I also welcome guest bloggers if you have something to say or want to try your hand at blogging and just lack the platform on which to do it. But first and foremost, do get out to see some of the great musical theatre that Calgary has to offer. Things will start picking up at the end of March, and April and May are usually the busiest months, so check out the schedule. You’re sure to find something to interest you. 2012 in review – just the facts, ma’am

I had every intention of doing a year-end review for my blog, both statistical and personal, but the holidays (and a back injury that kept me from my computer) got the best of me. As usual, WordPress has done the hard work, so in case you’re interested, here are the highlights for’s first year in operation, which indicate the most popular posts, referrers, searches, and such. I have to admit, that as much as I’m interested in how MOST people find me, I’m equally interested in and amused by the quirky ways that land people at, when they are obviously looking for something else (it’s all about the words, folks). Some of my favourites were:

Will we have a white christmas 2012 in calgary, alberta (an easy one to figure out – Storybook did White Christmas in December and I mentioned it in a few posts)

calgary movie theatres mother f***** (yes, I do use the words Calgary, movie and theatre a lot, and I mentioned my mother in my Museo review, and no doubt other peoples’ mothers in other posts … but I’ll bet the clincher was a reference to a song from Evil Dead)

James Noonan steel clamps (James was in Guys and Dolls and Frankenstein – and, as I discovered in talking to him afterwards, sells clamps to pay for his theatre habit. Apparently they were looking for THAT James Noonan, as were the people (or the same person) looking for Light-Resin Transfer Molding and Mold Construction and Part Processing)

5 firms that kicked ass in 2012 december 27, 2012 (google must have been challenged here, but I see I used that term in my post about Broadway Rocks!, and have used the word “kick” and the letter combination “ass” half-a-dozen times each. I’m guessing that in addition to the numbers, it was my posts on the Grassfires that destroyed Bill Brown’s sets, Assassins and Corner Gassed 2, that got me on this list)

just want to get laid classifieds in calgary (related to two Fringe plays reviewed here – honest!)

Musical theatre snobbery (a few here as well, but mostly from my  Corner Gassed 2 post – guilty, as charged)

I am proud to say that anyone looking for any musical in Calgary (and lots of other places) will probably find me on page 1 on a google search, which is either a measure of success :) or a measure of how few people are writing (or care?) about musicals in Calgary :(. I am also proud to say, that even though I don’t (yet) have a lot of followers, I’ve had lots of views (now running 50-100 per day on average), which certainly means a lot more people know about me, and Calgary musicals, than they did before – the primary purposes for this blog. I’m hoping all of you who have found my blog, by accident or on purpose, have found it useful.

I’ll do my  personal year 1/2012 retrospective and forward-looking article when things quiet down a bit on the musical theatre scene in February, unless I find a break in the action later this month.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. had 24,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Calgary Musical Theatre – Best of Fall 2012

It was a fairly light Fall on the Calgary musical theatre scene this year, with only nine musicals  – maybe that’s not all that light, since it works out to more than two a month, but it feels light after last spring and summer. I include in this number Verb Theatre’s Noise, which by the sounds of it (pun intended) might or might not be considered a musical. That was the only one I missed. On the whole,  it was a bit of a lackluster start to the 2012-2013 season, in my opinion. There were plenty of good and great productions – in fact, really not a dud in the lot – but not too many musicals that piqued my interest or blew me away.

Christianne Noll (Broadway Rocks!)

Christianne Noll (Broadway Rocks!)

My favourite show of the Fall wasn’t really a musical at all, but a concert called Broadway Rocks!in which current and recent Broadway stars (nobody I’d heard of) teamed up with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra to give a very energetic and entertaining performance of Broadway show tunes. This show was so much better than I expected that I was sufficiently inspired to take in Colm Wilkinson’s one night performance (Broadway, Christmas and Beyond) in December – good, but too much “beyond” and not enough “Broadway” for my taste – and to take the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group to see the CPO’s Ballroom with a Twist: The Dance Extravaganza in January. Along with the Sing-Along Messiah I attended in December (I just found the score I’d packed away with all my Christmas decorations but fortunately my sister Susan bought a copy so we could follow along, however feebly), that makes four trips to the Jack Singer in less than two months – more than I’ve been in the last ten years, I’m sure.

Next to NormalOf the musicals, the ones that have stuck with me were Theatre Calgary’s season opener, Next To Normala rock musical about a woman struggling with bipolar disorder and the impact it has on her family – and a brave choice by TC – GHOST BUSTED (CAL)and Jubilation Dinner Theatre’s Ghostbusted, a spoof on the popular 1980’s film which I saw in November (still playing). I suppose this just shows what happens when a Gemini goes to the theatre  – so many productions, so many different tastes (or at least two) ;).

I didn’t see May and Joe at Rosebud, but I’m going to have faith in my co-blogger Will (and many others) who raved about it. If it’s that good, no doubt I’ll get another chance to see it in Calgary some day, like some of Rosebud’s other original hits.

Looking forward to a fuller and more inspiring rest of the season starting in January. Check out the 2012-2013 Schedule tab for upcoming shows. Most of them are there, and I’ll be refreshing it over the holidays.

Rosebud Theatre's May and Joe

Rosebud Theatre’s May and Joe

Musicals for Misers (Calgary edition)

Well, the Christmas (shopping) season is upon us, and even though Shoppers Drug Mart is postponing the start of its holiday music (yay!), I figure it’s a good time to post this long-planned article on MONEY-SAVING OPTIONS FOR MUSICAL THEATRE-LOVING MISERS  (or how to save money so you can go to more shows!)

Musicals are expensive. They are expensive to produce. They are expensive to attend (although generally a bargain relative to straight plays if you consider the cost of production). If you’re a live musical theatre junkie like me, but don’t want to spend your life savings seeing shows, you might want to know about ways you can save money, other than just buying the cheapest available seats, or, god forbid, staying home and renting a video instead (even a musical one).

I outline below just some of the ways you can stretch your theatre-going budget and which Calgary companies that “Major in Musicals” (i.e. companies that do only or at least a lot of musicals) offer them. Most of these offerings also apply to other theatre companies, but I’ll leave you to do that homework yourself for the time being.  If you know about discounts I don’t have listed here, please add a comment.


Company Subscription Mid-Week Matinee Seniors/


Student LiveRush Preview






























Other than dinner theatres, most theatre companies depend on volunteers to work the box office, usher, hand out programmes and work the coat-check.  Usually you’ll get to see the show for which you volunteer for free, although in some cases you may have to come back another time. Just contact your favourite theatre company and ask.


Most theatre companies that have at least 2 shows a year will have a subscription option. If you find a company you like and can plan ahead, you will always save money this way and be able to reserve good seats in advance. Tickets can always be exchanged for a different show if you can’t go to the show you pre-select.


Tuesday-Wednesday shows and matinees (Saturday or Sunday, and occasionally Wednesday) are usually cheaper than more popular weekend/evening shows. Sometimes there are special rates for particular mid-week shows (e.g. Front Row Centre’s “Tightwad Tuesday” (formerly “Tightwad Wednesday”)).


A few theatre companies (e.g. Front Row Centre) offer discounts for seats with somewhat obstructed views. I generally avoid these, but they could be worth it.


Many theatre companies offer these, but they may be restricted to specific mid-week days or matinees. Age restrictions may vary. See also RUSH tickets.


Most theatre companies offer these (or will do so if asked). Usually you need at least 10 people to qualify, sometimes more.


Theatre companies often don’t advertise this, but many will sell discounted tickets at the box office ½ hour to 1 hour prior to the performance if they have unsold seats. You do risk not getting a seat for popular shows, however. Odds are better for mid-week, matinees or single seats. Often these are only available to high school, college and university students with a LiveRush card, which provides discounts to many cultural events in Calgary, including some theatres. Best to inquire in advance. On Broadway and in some other cities, some of the big shows run lotteries of unsold tickets prior to the show, rather than offering discounted rush tickets.  I am not aware of that being done by any Calgary companies, but I’d love it if they did!


Many companies offer a chance for the public to see the show before opening night in order for them to get practice with a live audience. Usually they offer a discount rate. Occasionally these are pay-what-you-can performances (e.g. Forte Musical Theatre). This can be very economical if you don’t mind seeing a show may not have all the bugs worked out.  You can almost always get your tickets at the door. Some companies are not explicit about whether a show is a preview or not, and you may only be able to tell by the price. Shows typically open on Thursday or Friday, which is another clue.


Many Community theatre companies offer limited free or discounted tickets for previews and early shows to CALGARY-ACTS members when show sales are a little slow.  BROADWAY ACROSS CANADA and DANCAP PRODUCTIONS often offer early-bird discounts to people who subscribe to their mailing list. Discounts and free tickets for all shows are occasionally available through the CALGARY MUSICALS MEETUP GROUP and other MeetUp Groups. You can join most groups like this for free or for a nominal fee.


Those coupon booklets your kid, or your neighbour’s kid made you buy as a fundraiser often have theatre deals that may more than pay for the cost of the book. Restrictions usually apply. These books can also be ordered online. Entertainment’s 2012/2013 offerings include JUBILATIONS DINNER THEATRE, STAGE WEST, Lunchbox Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects and Theatre Junction. The SUTP Coupon Book typically includes Jubilations Dinner Theatre and Stage West only.


Generally only available for the big shows. Just search for “cheap tickets” for whatever show you are interested in and you’ll find several of these vendors. Word to the wise: Always check the actual box office price/availability first, as I’ve seen ticket prices on some of these sites that were way more than what you could get through the theatre company or their approved ticket outlet. Probably best used for sold-out shows, where you have no other option – unless you’re looking for Broadway shows in New York, in which case there are several great on-line discount ticket sellers where you can get great tickets in advance and skip the line-up at the ticket outlet at Times Square.


Every once in a while someone buys tickets they have to unload because they can’t make the show, and posts it on Kijiji or Craigslist, often at a discount rate. Again, check regular pricing/availability first to ensure you’re not being ripped off. Always a chance unscrupulous people will forge tickets, especially for popular shows. Buyer beware!

Anything I missed or got wrong?

October Projects: Singin’ in the Rain and New Puppies

What with vacation, business travel and a new puppy (see picture gallery below), October’s been a busy month, so I’ve cut back on posts here. That, and I have come to the conclusion that I need to stop letting my blog get too much in the way of:

  1. Sleep
  2. Exercise
  3. Time with my husband
  4. Housekeeping (I’m willing to let pretty much anything get in the way of housekeeping, when it comes down to it)
  5. Writing my own musicals
  6. Everything else that gets shoved to the bottom of the list when one takes on a new project

Back in June, however, I attended the Calgary Alliance of Community Theatres (Calgary-ACTS) Annual General Meeting – only so I could vote for their annual CAT awards, I confess, since you have to attend a meeting to qualify. They were looking for adjudicators for their shows – a benefit all members can request – and since I’m going to all the musicals and critiquing them anyway, I figured, “why not? I might learn something, and make a contribution at the same time. And what’s one more project?”

There are a few differences between adjudication and theatre criticism:

Audience: Adjudicators write for theatre-doers rather than theatre-goers – more of a coach than a critic

Content: Adjudication focusses on those things within the company’s control, so does not judge the writing of the show itself, just the interpretation of it

Privacy: Adjudication is private and intended for the sole use of the theatre company for the benefit of the participants. The artistic director may or may not choose to share the results with those involved

Timing: The adjudication report goes out after the run is over, and is meant to provide learnings for future performances, rather than the current one

The Calgary-ACTS adjudicator is provided with a form to fill out in which they rate the lead and supporting actors, ensemble, director, choreographer/fight stager, costume designer, set decorator/props master, sound designer and general audience experience. Some questions include: “Character: Developed and maintained the physical and vocal characteristics of their character as presented in the script; not just themselves reciting lines”, “Blocking: moving actors on and off and around stage effectively and with purpose,” and finally, “consider for CAT nomination?” The form provides consistency and a helpful structure to say why something – or someone – works or doesn’t work well, and gives them specific suggestions for improvement. It should be a kinder, gentler form of criticism, but I suppose that depends on the author.

Front Row Centre’s production of Singin’ In The Rain (the 1983 stage version of the classic 1952 movie of the same name with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor) was my first foray into adjudication. I intended to review the show here as well, but I ended up having to go late in the run, and wasn’t able to get it written up. As it was, I did well to get my adjudicator’s form in (almost) on time. Hopefully my input will be useful for those involved.

I don’t see any point in going into the specifics of my observations after-the-fact, but suffice to say I thought Front Row Centre’s Singin’ In The Rain was a decent production – about average by FRC standards. It was a pretty ambitious show for a community theatre company to take on, since it’s got lots of dancing, but the leads and chorus carried it off well enough. I quite liked their interpretations of  “Singin’ In The Rain” (complete with real rain and soggy singer), and “Broadway Melody”. The fact that pretty much EVERYONE learned to tap dance was also pretty impressive. I do feel that this is one of those many occasions where the original (movie) version worked better, however.

In case you’ve never seen it, or are feeling nostalgic, here’s the Gene Kelly version of the title song, “Singin’ In The Rain,” from the movie – one of the all-time great numbers in movie-musicals. As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is pelting the eastern US and Canada with heavy rains and wind. Here’s hoping those of you out there manage to survive the worst that he (she?) has to offer and are able to be back singing afterwards, if not during.

As it turns out, Sandy was the name of my childhood Cocker Spaniel, which one of my sisters won by entering a contest.  Although I was only three at the time, one of my first memories is of the man standing in our front vestibule with the dog under his coat (Sandy was born around Thanksgiving, so I imagine it would have been mid-December, just in time for Christmas). For the longest time, my brother, who was born in November of that year, thought Sandy was his little brother, and I recall him asking later when Sandy was going to lose his hair.

And so we somehow manage to segue, rather awkwardly, back to the topic of new puppies, my other October project. For those of you who are only reading this far to see the pictures of my adorable new Airedale Terrier puppy, Betsy, here they are (with supporting roles by Betsy’s littermates, Duffy – our unimpressed 7-year old wire-haired fox terrier, my husband Mark and myself):

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