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.