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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

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

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  (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

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


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.


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).





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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, 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



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



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.

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