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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

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


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.


Musicals I’m Keen to See in YYC this Fall

So, with the summer season over, it’s my favourite time of year – the start of the Fall theatre season.  I am always up for something new, and I am pleased to see that although there aren’t an awful lot of musicals playing between now and the end of the year, there isn’t a single one that I’ve ever seen.  That always makes theatre-going more of an adventure.

The ones I’m most keen to see are Storybook’s Peter Pan The Musical, Front Row Centre’s 9 to 5 The Musical, and Lunchbox Theatre’s remount of With Bells On, the latter of which I missed when it was here before because it sold out. Lunchbox is doing a a number of remakes of its hits as part of a big anniversary celebration this year, so there are lots of non-musicals I’m taking the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group to see as well. Check the link to that site to see some of those.

Check out the schedule tab for the Fall Musical Theatre Schedule – this is updated as new shows are announced or discovered. I also include it below: 

Richard Scary’s Busytown STORYBOOK THEATRE C Beddington Heights Community Arts Centre 3-Oct 25-Oct
9 to 5 The Musical FRONT ROW CENTRE C Beddington Heights Community Arts Centre 31-Oct 15-Nov
Flashdance Broadway Across Canada P Jubilee 18-Nov 23-Nov
Peter Pan The Musical STORYBOOK THEATRE C Beddington Heights Community Arts Centre 28-Nov 22-Dec
WITH BELLS ON Lunchbox Theatre P Lunchbox 1-Dec 24-Dec
Young Shirlock Holmes and the Case of Dick Whittington’s Cat(Christmas Panto) Morpheus Theatre C Pumphouse 4-Dec 14-Dec
80’s Solid Gold – a Musical Revue STAGE WEST P, D, JB Stage West 13-Nov 1-Feb
1. SHOWS IN CAPS are original productions, written by Canadians
2. COMPANIES IN CAPS major in musicals
3. P = Professional, C = Community/School, D = Dinner, S=Short (< 1hr), JB = “jukebox” musical – show built around previously written popular songs, often also called a revue
4. Announced opening date. May be previews on or prior to this date
Shows sorted by opening date     TBA = To be announced

Catching up – 2014 CAT Awards

And now for the annual community theatre awards  – a copy of an article that was posted by Theatre Alberta (see blogroll). I’m totally in agreement with this year’s choices. Most of the musical theatre awards went to Storybook Theatre’s Shrek (loved it!) and Front Row Centre’s Young Frankenstein (missed it but my buddies in the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup group said it was fantastic), with Storybook’s Big The Musical and Cappuccino Musical Theatre’s Into The Woods getting one nod each.

From Theatre Alberta website:

Saturday, August 23, 2014, marked the 11th Annual CAT Awards, a celebration of Calgary’s Community Theatre at the University of Calgary’s Rozsa Centre.

The annual CAT Awards is an event that celebrates the quality of work that Calgarians can expect to see from Community Theatre in Calgary and surrounding areas. The CAT Awards is produced by Calgary-ACTS (Calgary’s Alliance of Community Theatres) which focuses on promoting community theatre in Calgary, by informing its members and the public of events related to the arts, and providing a communication and support network for its members. Recipients of the CAT Awards are determined by a combined process of public nomination and adjudication. We encourage you all to attend community theatre productions and nominate your favorites throughout the upcoming 2014-2015 season. Please visit to nominate anyone (starting September 1), or if you have any questions about the CAT Awards or Calgary-ACTS.

Brian Holiday, a well known recreational actor, musical director, committee member and adjudicator received the prestigious Sandy Singer Award for his dedication and outstanding contribution to our community. We are so proud to recognize his deep commitment

Every year, theatre companies are given the opportunity to honor any of their exceptional volunteers. These volunteers are people who have gone above and beyond the normal to ensure that the show, project, or event they are working on is a success.

Recipients of the 2014 Volunteer Awards:

Dewdney Players – Annette Kavalinas and her Family

Front Row Centre Players – Alexandra May

Liffey Players Drama Society – Marise Kelly

Morpheus Theatre – Byron Hynes

Scorpio Theatre – Ian Pond; Darren Moore; Matt Pickering

Storybook Theatre – Kathy Bauer; Lorie Masur; Rich Davis; Jolene Anderson;

Congratulations to all recipients, and to all nominees, for a wonderful 2013/14 season! We will see you next year!

~ 2014 CAT Awards Committee


Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Musical
• Donna Barnfield as Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein – (Front Row Centre Players)

Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Musical
• Tenaj Wiliams as Donkey in Shrek, the Musical – (StoryBook Theatre)

Outstanding SFX (Sound for a Musical)
• Étienne St. Jacques for Shrek, The Musical – (StoryBook Theatre)

Outstanding Soundscape (for Play)
• Jevon Hills for That Championship Season – (TimeQuake Productions)

Outstanding Stagecraft (all aspects of set design)
• JP Thibodeau, Set Design (Lorie Masur, Rich Davis, Lilja Gareau Smith, Deb Miall, Bill Brown, Kristine Astop: construction support) for Shrek, The Musical – (StoryBook Theatre)

Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Play
• Jerry Callaghan as Bill Fordham in August: Osage Country – (Liffey Players)

Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Play
• Faith Amantea as Gretchen in Boeing Boeing – (Morpheus Theatre)

Outstanding Costume Design
• Magz Ross (Katelyn Morishita & Cat Bentley – Hair, Kirstie Gallant – Make-Up/Prosthetics) for Shrek the Musical – (StoryBook Theatre)

Outstanding Lighting Design
• JP Thibodeau for Shrek the Musical – (StoryBook Theatre)

Outstanding Performance by a Chorus (Musical)
• Shrek the Musical – (StoryBook Theatre)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble (Play)
• That Championship Season – (TimeQuake Productions)

Outstanding Choreography
• Laura Solilo for Big The Musical – (StoryBook Theatre)

Outstanding Stage Fight
• Aaron Conrad for August: Osage Country – (Liffey Players)

Outstanding Musical Direction
• Patrice Barnes for Shrek the Musical – (StoryBook Theatre)

Outstanding Original Script or Adaptation
• Jeff Carter for Pastoral Paranoia – (Scorpio Theatre)

Outstanding Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Tanis Laatsch as Inga in Young Frankenstein – (Front Row Centre Players)
Shandra McQueen as the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods – (Cappuccino Musical Theatre)

Outstanding Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
• Jeremy Walker as Shrek in Shrek the Musical – (StoryBook Theatre)

Outstanding Direction of a Musical
• Graeme Humphrey/Matthew McDonald for Young Frankenstein – (Front Row Centre Players)

Outstanding Direction of a Play
• Bill Torrie for August: Osage Country – (Liffey Players)

Outstanding Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
• Jerod Blake as Jake (et al) in Stones in his Pockets – (Liffey Players)

Outstanding Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
• Tanya Wolff as Barbara in August: Osage Country – (Liffey Players)

Outstanding Production of a Play
That Championship Season – TimeQuake Productions
Producer: Greg Spielman
Director: Bill Torrie
Stage Manager: Daisy Pond

Outstanding Production of a Musical
Shrek the Musical – Storybook Theatre
Producers: Ainsley Ohler, Maria Bernardin, Lorie Masur, Jacqueline Bourque
Director: * Mark Bellamy
Musical Director: Patrice Barnes
Choreographer: Angela Woodard
Stage Manager: Jody Low

To see a full list of nominees, please visit

A * means professional status. The CAT Awards Committee wishes to honour those professionals who contribute to our community theatre productions while being exempt from receiving our awards. Special thank you’s to Mark Bellamy (Director), JP Thibodeau (Director) and Tory Doctor (Director).

Congratulations to all the award receipients and nominees from Theatre Alberta!

Catching up – 2014 Betty Awards

Ok, so I guess I really have been taking it easy on the musical theatre front this summer. Not only have I missed ALL the awards events, but I forgot to write about them. I already posted the Critter awards. Now here are the musicals that won Betty Awards (professional theatre) on August 18th. On the whole, musicals didn’t fare so well compared to the competition in 2013-2014, with only Theatre Calgary’s Mary Poppins and Forte Musical Theatre Guild’s Touch Me winning awards (good choices – loved them both!). For more information go to

2014 Bettys

(Recipients are in bold)

Joel Crichton – Hedwig and the Angry Inch – Sage Theatre
Tom Doyle – Bingo Ladies – Lunchbox Theatre
Veda Hille – Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata – Alberta Theatre Projects
Don Horsburgh Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins – Theatre Calgary
Joe Slabe – Touch Me: Songs for a (dis)Connected Age – Forte Musical Theatre Guild

Christian Goutsis – Touch Me: Songs for a (dis)Connected Age – Forte Musical Theatre Guild
Stephen Hair – Travels With My Aunt – Vertigo Theatre
Paul Sun Hyung Lee – Kim’s Convenience – Theatre Calgary
Andrew MacDonald Smith – Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins – Theatre Calgary
Michael Tan – Travels With My Aunt – Vertigo Theatre

Bingo Ladies – Lunchbox Theatre
Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins – Theatre Calgary
Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata – Alberta Theatre Projects
Madame Butterfly – Calgary Opera
Touuch Me: Songs for a (dis)Connected Age – Forte Musical Theatre Guild

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