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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.

April Musicals in Calgary





















April and May are usually the busiest months for musicals in Calgary (and probably most cities) and this year is no exception, which a bunch of new shows opening this month. As a result, I’m keeping the descriptions short. For more information and tickets for any of the following shows, go to the links for each company. There are a couple of additional “musicalish” performances in April as well: Elvis, Elvis, Elvis: An American Trilogy at the Jubilee on Monday April 21, and a concert performance of Onalea Gilbertson’s Mata Hari in 8 Bullets, at the National Music Centre on Friday, April 25.

If you’re looking for people with whom to go to shows, check out the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group, that I also run. We go to most musicals as well as a number of other events that interest our members.

Opening in April                                                                                                                                                                            

The Music of Kurt Weill, ”L’Orchestre D’Hommes-Orchestres (Quebec) Presented by Theatre Junction 
April 9-12

Like most shows at Theatre Junction, this one definitely falls into the camp of “And now for something completely different…”

From the website: Having previously performed their enigmatic take on the music of Tom Waits to sold out crowds at Theatre Junction GRAND, L’Orchestre D’Hommes Orchestres are back to take on the music of another outsider genius – Kurt Weill, the great composer who collaborated with Bertolt Brecht on The Threepenny Opera, and fled Germany in 1933 to France then eventually New York. In a Franco-German-English mix, the eight musicians-singers-actors revive the horrors of war, the lights of Broadway and the cozy atmosphere of music halls.

Mamma Mia!, Broadway Across Canada, April 16-20.

A Musical for the ABBA fan in everyone. I have to admit that although I was a huge fan of ABBA in high school, I have avoided this show to date, as I’m generally not a fan of “jukebox” musicals that are just an excuse to string a bunch of songs together with a pretty weak plot. Finally going to take the plunge this year, though. For me the major saving grace of this show is that, unlike in the movie version, you can be pretty sure all the leads can actually sing :)

From the website: MAMMA MIA! is the ultimate feel-good show that has audiences coming back again and again to relive the thrill. Now it’s your turn to have the time of your life at this smash-hit musical that combines ABBA’s greatest hits, including “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S.,” “Super Trouper,” “Take A Chance on Me” and “The Winner Takes It All,” with an enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship.

Fiddler on the Roof, Stage West (Dinner Theatre), April 17 to late June.

This show probably needs no introduction, but I only saw it on stage for the first time last year at Stratford in Ontario. A classic, with lots of familiar tunes (“If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Matchmaker,” “Do You Love Me?” etc). Stage West doesn’t do a lot of conventional musicals, so this is a nice treat, and sure to be popular.

From the website: In the little village of Anatevka, Tevye, a poor dairyman, tries to instill in his five daughters the traditions of his tight-knit Jewish community in the face of changing social mores and the growing anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia. The universal theme of tradition cuts across barriers of race, class, nationality and religion, leaving audiences crying tears of laughter, joy and sadness.

Young Frankenstein, Front Row Centre, April 18th – May 3rd, 2014

If you love Mel Brooks’ zany sense of humour, you’ll enjoy the stage version based on the popular movie.

From the website; IT’S ALIVE! With such memorable tunes as “The Transylvania Mania”, “He Vas My Boyfriend” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, Young Frankenstein is scientifically-proven, monstrously good entertainment…and the only place you’ll witness a singing and dancing laboratory experiment in the largest tuxedo ever made!

The Pirates of Penzance, Morpheus Theatre, April 18 to May 3, 2013

Every spring, Morpheus Theatre does a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Pirates of Penzance is one of their best known and loved shows. Aside from the fact that it includes my favourite G&S song (“A Modern Major General”) I have a soft spot for the show, because I got $50 for playing French Horn in the pit orchestra for community theatre production in Mississauga in the ‘80’s – my first professional gig as a musician :)

From the website: In The Pirates of Penzance, Frederic was as a child apprenticed to a band of ternderhearted, orphaned pirates by his nurse who, being hard of hearing, had mistaken her master’s instructions to apprentice the boy to a pilot. Frederic upon completing his 21st year, rejoices that he has fulfilled his indentures and is now free to return to respectable society. But it turns out that he was born on February 29th in leap year, and he remains apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday.

Touch Me: Songs for a (dis)Connected Age, Forte Musical Theatre, April 15-26

Calgary’s only professional musical theatre company is usually a good bet for quality productions – this one being less of a musical and more of a concert. They’re also one of the few theatre companies that still have a pay-what-you-can Tuesday show. 

Technology has the power to bring people together like never before. Is social media a force for good or are our online lives making us more isolated than ever? Touch Me is a one-act musical theatre revue featuring all-new songs composed by writers from across Canada (and a couple of honorary Canadians too!) Funny, tuneful and sometimes poignant, “Touch Me” is bound to get you thinking about the connections in your life.

Bingo Ladies, Lunchbox Theatre

If you’re looking for a bite-sized show during your lunch hour, or on Friday or Saturday evening, consider Canada’s longest running lunchtime theatre.

From the website: Bingo is serious business. Rituals, good luck charms, superstitions. Friday night at the bingo hall is sacred. But are our three intrepid bingo ladies addicts, or just enthusiastic? How far are they willing to go to win? Bingo Ladies explores their lives with rousing musical numbers and shows us the humanity of the bingo hall

Still Playing  (See March Musicals for detailed listing – See February Musicals for Elvis, who’s STILL hanging in there:)

Same Same but Different – ATP (until April 6)

The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley, Storybook Theatre (until April 12)

Elvis and the Las Vegas Hangover, Jubilations Dinner Theatre


March Musicals in Calgary

March is sure coming in like a lion with some bitter cold temperatures in yyc. You COULD hunker down in front of the tube, but why not get off the couch and out to the theatre instead? We’ve got a few new musicals opening, along with Elvis, who’s still hanging in there, of course :). For information and tickets for any of the following shows, go to the links for each company.

If you’re looking for people with whom to go to shows, check out the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group, that I also run. We go to most musicals as well as a number of other events that interest our members.

Opening in March

Read more…

February Musicals in Calgary


It’s looking like Feburary is a little light on the yyc musical theatre front. With the exception of FRC’s Footloose, which just opened yesterday, and Dirty Laundry’s annual special, there are only 2 new musicals opening (and a bunch wrapping up). For information and tickets for any of the following shows, go to the links for each company.

If you’re looking for people with whom to go to shows, check out the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group, that I also run. We go to most musicals as well as a number of other events that interest our members.

Opening in February

All Musical Valentine’s Day Episode, Dirty Laundry - Monday February 10 only

new_main_03Every year at this time, Dirty Laundry (Calgary’s weekly improvisational soap opera) does an all-musical  episode that is very popular – one of my personal faves. If you think improv is hard, try it to music!

From their website: Welcome to the offices of Downy, Downy, Maytag, and Ward, a powerful, and pricy law firm that specializes in defending the richest and sleaziest of clients. For the partners at this firm the terms restraining ordercross examination and binding agreement mean something entirely different. Big business, mafiosos, celebrity murders—it’s all billable hours to these legal eagles. They handle all cases… and they do it all in chambers. There’s nothing this legal team won’t do to get their clients off!

West Side Story, Broadway Across Canada February 11-16

600_279057802[1]Definitely on my top 10 list

From their website: Pulled directly from the pages of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the musical takes place on New York’s West Side in the mid-1950s amidst widespread racial and social tension. The show begins as a war is building between two rival gangs fighting over the same piece of turf: born and bred New York boys, The Jets, and Puerto Rican immigrants The Sharks. In the midst of the battlefield are two young romantics, good-boy Tony, a Jet ready to leave the gang life behind, and wide-eyed Maria, the sister of Sharks leader, Bernardo. When Tony and Maria unexpectedly meet and fall for one another, tension between the rival groups only escalates, leading to a bloody and senseless rumble that costs both sides young lives. In spite of the violence, the true story at the core of the show is two lovers trying to find a way to be together—and whether either can survive when hate and ignorance are unwilling to yield.

event_281355722[1]Elvis & The Las Vegas Hangover!  Jubilations Dinner Theatre, Feb 21 — April 27

There’s always something playing at Jubilations – usually a spoof on a TV show or movie, featuring popular songs. This one is a little different.

From their website; Welcome to the annual Elvis festival in sunny Las Vegas! Ah Vegas… sin city… world famous for its entertainment, its casino’s and of course… its parties!! Tonight, the final night of the Elvis festival, is sure to be a party for the ages. Elvis fans and tribute performers from all over the world are here… including those familiar Vegas party animals Phil, Stu, and Alan. If you party with them you’re sure to have a blast… but the HANGOVER will kill ya! From B. Cunningham the creator of “Night at the Museum of Rock and Roll” and “Ghost Busted,” Celebrations Dinner Theatre proudly presents – Elvis and the Las Vegas Hangover. Featuring hit songs by Elvis Presley, and many, many more!

Still Playing (in some cases, barely – See January Musicals for detailed listings)









Do You Want What I Have Got?  A Craigslist Cantata  – Alberta Theatre Projects  (part of  the High Performance Rodeo) – LAST SHOW February 1 (I saw this last week and loved it!)

Love Train: The Soul of Motown, Stage West – LAST SHOW February 2 (Sequel to Stage West’s Motown Gold)

Footloose, Front Row Centre –  to February 15 (based on the movie of the same name). The Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group is going to the final matinee on Saturday Feb 15th, if you’d care to join us. All tickets only $15.

Best of Friends Reunion, Jubilations Dinner Theatre – to February 16 (a spoof of the TV show – sequel to Jubilations’ Best of Friends)

January Musicals in Calgary

It’s a New Year and time for a new format for the blog. I am pleased to announce that I have been successful in getting my new musical, Amy and the Magic Tulip (working title) into the 2014 Calgary Fringe Festival this August. My first musical, Eve: The True Story, premiered there in 2008, so I decided it was time to light a fire under my own writing and enter into the fray again.

As much as I like writing for this blog and running the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group that I started two years ago, I have found that they (not to mention my darned day job) take too much time away from my own writing , so I’m simplifying the format again this year. I’ll continue to list all the upcoming musicals (I need to add Storybook’s Shrek in there, but the schedule should be pretty much complete now), and instead of doing reviews or previews with interviews, I’ll just do a monthly article summarizing the month’s musicals based primarily on public information (go to the website links indicated for more information and tickets), interspersed with articles on musical theatre in general or my own process working through “Amy.”

I hope this new format still gives you the information you need to know what’s going on in the Calgary Musical Theatre scene and inspires you to check out a show or two you might have missed otherwise. And so with that introduction, here goes…

Opening in January

600_317898332[1]The Music Man, UCalgary Operetta Company – LAST SHOW Friday January 17  

An affectionate tribute to smalltown, USA of a bygone era, MeredithWillson’s THE MUSIC MAN follows fast-talking traveling salesman Harold Hill as he cons the people of River City, Iowa into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band he vows to organize – this despite the fact he doesn’t know a trombone from a treble clef. His plans to skip town with the cash are foiled when he falls for Marian the librarian, who transforms him into a respectable citizen by curtain’s fall.  This multiple Tony award-winning, critically acclaimed Broadway classic is an all-American institution, thanks to is quirky characters, charmingly predictable dramatic situations, and one-of-a-kind, nostalgic score of rousing marches, barbershop quartets and sentimental ballads which have become popular standards.

UCalgary Operetta Company always kicks off the New Year with a big Broadway-style musical on campus. This is a community theatre that is a blend of university students and community members. If you’re looking for big cast, lots of dancing and a big (I mean, big) band, this is the company/show for you. I saw it last night and really enjoyed it.

event_210346052[1]Do You Want What I Have Got?  A Craigslist Cantata  – Acting Up Theatre/ One Yellow Rabbit/Alberta Theatre Projects as part of  the 28th Annual High Performance Rodeo
January 22 – February 1, 2014

“… a most unique and entertaining theatrical concoction” – Jerry Wasserman, The Vancouver Province

Are you looking for a bus boyfriend, 300 stuffed penguins or a chili-eating buddy? The sometimes quirky, sometimes poignant ads from Craigslist, the pop culture phenomenon, give voice to the hopes and dreams of a generation. CBC’s Bill Richardson and Award winning singer/songwriter Veda Hille bring to life the characters behind the trash and treasures, in this heartfelt and hilarious musical that has charmed audiences in Vancouver and Toronto. Sold out in Vancouver!

600_279048432[1]Footloose, Front Row Centre – January 31st – February 15th, 2014

One kid. One town. One chance.

When city boy Ren McCormack is forced to leave school, work, and the night clubs of the big city and move to small town Bomont, he’s ready for a new high school. But he’s not ready for the local laws, which include a ban on dancing. Will this toe-tapping bad boy be able to win the hearts of the people and bring back dance to a town trying to overcome the memory of a tragedy? Based on the hit 80s movie, Footloose explodes onto the stage with such memorable anthems as “Almost Paradise”, “Holding Out For A Hero”, “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” and, of course, “Footloose”.

Still Playing

event_256029782[1]Love Train: The Soul of Motown, Stage West – to Feb 2

2011’s Motown Gold brought you the music that was specifically recorded under the Motown label and its stable of artists. This time around we bring you Love Train – a journey through the music of Soul and R&B. It celebrates the songs recorded under such influential labels as Staxx, Phil Specter’s “Wall of Sound”, Atlantic Records and even more from Motown.  Featuring the incomparable genius of stars such as Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, The Drifters, Etta James, James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner and Percy Sledge just to name a few. The Soul and R&B legacy of these great artists has been passed on to a new generation which include singers such as Prince, Beyonce, Boyz2Men, Mariah Carey, Bruno Mars and Whitney Houston.

BOFR_-_Jubs_Cal_-_Show_Poster[1]Best of Friends Reunion, Jubilations Dinner Theatre – to February 16

In 1994, TV viewers were introduced to 6 young friends living in Manhattan; Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross. The rest, as they say, is history! “Friends” is one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. The series consistently ranked in the top ten in the primetime ratings and won many, many awards. The series finale (the 236th episode), airing on May 6, 2004, was watched by 51.1 million American viewers.

It was also in 2004, that we presented our spoof of this great sit- com with our very popular, attendance record breaking show – “Best of Friends!” It is my pleasure to announce our sequel – “Best of Friends Reunion!” What has the gang been up to? Who is still together? Who isn’t? Are they all still the best of friends?? Set to hits from the 1990’s, along with a few timeless classics, Best of Friends Reunion is your chance to catch up with these lovable characters!

See You in September – Four Fall Musicals Opening This Month

This Fall may be unusually light on the Calgary musical theatre front, but September is starting off with a bang with four very different musicals. I am currently on holiday and still waiting to hear from a couple of the companies about interviews, but in case they don’t come through, here’s what I’ve got posted on my Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group site. If you’re looking for people to go to shows with, check us out.

iloveyouI LOVE YOU BECAUSE, Stage West (Dinner Theatre)

September 5 to November

A modern-day twist on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, set in New York City. A young, uptight greeting card writer’s life is changed when he meets a flighty photographer. Along with their eccentric friends and siblings, they learn to love each other not in spite of their faults, but because of them. Because it’s easy to say, “I love you anyway”, but hard and all the more rewarding to say, “I love you because”.

For more information, go to Stage West

1.152429WARHORSE, Broadway Across Canada (Jubilee Auditorium)

September 10-15

As World War One begins, Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped from England to France. He’s soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary journey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.

This powerfully moving and imaginative drama, filled with stirring music and songs, is a show of phenomenal inventiveness that is currently playing to packed houses in London and New York. At its heart are astonishing life-sized puppets created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, that bring to life breathing, galloping, charging horses strong enough for men to ride.

For more information go to

600_278326232CRIME DOES NOT PAY, Downstage (work-in-progress)

September 11-13

“Jealousy flirting with fire

Avarice making a fortune
Everything coming up green
Everything coming up corpses!”

Award-winning Calgary composer David Rhymer and musician & Calgary Poet Laureate Kris Demeanor are collaborating to create a musical and theatrical exploration of the glorification of crime, proliferation of violence in the media, the nature of censorship and the responsibility of artistic creation.

This new concert musical is inspired by the 1940s comic book Crime Does Not Pay that depicted an astonishing array of offenses in lurid detail under the guise of morality tales about supposedly true crime exploits – with the bizarre twist of cartoonist Bob Wood committing a murder much like the characters of his nightmarish creation.

The artists will share some of the songs, stories and design ideas that are currently being developed, and speak about the creative process to this point.

For more information go to



JOHNNY BE GOODE, Jubilations Dinner Theatre

September 13 – November 10

Back in high school, Johnny spent more time with his guitar then he did studying or socializing with other students. He was considered to be a “music nerd” and was teased by most of the other kids. In 1956, Johnny went on a school band trip to Ottawa, where he met another music student by the name of… Paul Anka. The two boys became friends and when Anka’s career took off, he took Johnny with him! It is now 10 years later and Johnny has been invited to his high school reunion. Most folks at home have forgotten all about Johnny, but when he brings along a few of his famous friends, this reunion becomes one of the best Rock n Roll concerts people ever heard! Friends like: Bill Halley, the Everly Brothers, Connie Francis, Ricky Nelson, Doris Day, The Righteous Brothers, Patti Page and Frankie Avalon just to name a few! Join us for Johnny B. Goode, a rock and roll good time!

For more information go to Jubilations Dinner Theatre.

After these shows open there’s a lull until October. Check out the rest of the Fall schedule on the Schedule tab and watch this space for more information on those shows and other news on the Calgary Musical Theatre scene.

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.


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