Calgary’s theatre community is like one big family – they don’t always get along famously but there’s always love and support for one another. I’ve gone to a lot of theatre in Calgary over the years and this season looks like a doozy. There’s a bunch to chose from, the classic to the cheesy to the avant garde and everything in between. Here’s my top picks of what’s to come from some of Calgary’s biggest companies.
The posh, big brother of the Calgary theatre scene is ready to rock and roll starting with one of Broadway’s newest stars.
Theatre Calgary kicks off its season with Next to Normal – a new, award-winning rock musical that took home the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It introduces audiences to a family struggling through their mother’s mental illness and explores ethics in psychiatry, drug abuse, loss and suburban life. The Pulitzer Board called the show “a powerful rock musical that… expands the scope of subject matter for musicals.” Next to Normal runs September 11 to 30.
Other 2012/13 Theatre Calgary performances are a bit more tame, a bit more traditional – Pride and Prejudice runs October 16 to November 11, the ever popular holiday tradition (now in its 26th year) A Christmas Carol runs November 29 to December 23, The Kite Runner from January 29 to February 24, God of Carnage from March 12 to 31 and, to end the season, Anne of Green Gables: The Musical runs April 23 to May 26.
Out of all this season’s fare, I am most excited for Metamorphosis, a special presentation from Theatre Calgary and The High Performance Rodeo, based on the novel by Franz Kakfa with original music by punk legend Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. It runs as part of the 27th annual High Performance Rodeo, January 9 through 13. Everything I’ve heard about this play screams intrigue, like how are they going to turn the main character into a giant insect on stage in this surreal nightmare of a play? Directed and Adapted by David Farr and Gisli Orn Gundarsson, it’s been called one of the best expressions of theatre ever by critics from all over the world. Although not officially part of Theatre Calgary’s five show run (a lot like Shakespeare in the Park), I think this is one not to miss and I will be there to take in the spectacle.
If Theatre Calgary is the big brother, Alberta Theatre Projects is the artistic sister who doesn’t listen to the rules.
“Our aim at ATP is to make life more beautiful, by creating and producing great contemporary theatre from Canada and beyond,” said ATP Artistic Director Vanessa Porteous in a statement on their website. “Our work is about what’s now, what’s new and what’s next. In the welcoming oval of the Martha Cohen Theatre, right here in Calgary, we stretch as deep as life, as wide as the world.”
Their 2012/13 season starts October 9 with Intimate Apparel, running until October 27. Then it’s onto You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, November 22 to December 30. I really want to see this one, a musical with Brown and all the Peanuts gang, including Snoopy. I bet they do the Snoopy dance and it will be hard not to dance along.
Then it’s from lighthearted to an “autobiographical fairy tale fantasy” in This is What Happens Next, running as part of the High Performance Rodeo January 22 to February 3.
In March, Enbridge playRites Festival brings us four performances of new Canadian Plays. Petawawa from March 7 to April 6. Based on true stories from families of soldiers on both sides of the war in Afghanistan, this is one not to be missed. What to Expect runs March 6 to April 7 and brings us into the lives of two families, one of a troubled teen and one of a police officer, after an episode on the Sky-Train turns violent. The Apology, running March 8 to April 6, takes us into the lives of young Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and Claire Clairemont, “a group of anarchic, love-crazed, foul-mouthed teens – who also happen to be geniuses.” The God that Comes is a performance by Hawksley Workman, running March 19 to April 7, that brings together the chaos of a rock concert with the intimacy of theatre.
The season wraps up with Red, April 30 to May 18, a Tony Award-winning drama about a young artist hired to assist a world-famous and eccentric abstract painter.
Dinner Theatre is not everyone’s cup of tea. It can be campy, silly and over the top but Stage West in Calgary puts on a show with the best of them. It’s kind of like the uncle who constantly cracks jokes and gives a lot of hugs but at the end of the visit you don’t want to say goodbye because he’s just so darn fun. I’ve always loved going to shows here, the food is good, the plays are fun and the people are great.
This year they have a mix of musical reviews, comedies and one absolute classic. To start things off it’s Sexy Laundry, a comedy that explores marriage, the good, the bad and the ugly starring William R. Moses from TV’s Falcon Crest. It opens September 5 and runs until November 4, giving you plenty of time to see it.
Next on the table is Two Hit Wonders, November 8 to February 3, is a follow up to their record-breaking One hit Wonders, but this time it’s about those pop icons that had two smashes instead of one. Game Show: The Comedy (You) Play is something new. It runs February 7 to April 14 and places the theatre audience as the studio viewers of a live, long-running TV game show. There’s a plot, audience participation and actual prizes to be won.
The show I really want to see this season is Chicago, running April 18 to June 23. One of the most loved and revived musicals of all time, Stage West is ambitiously taking on this monster of a production. It’s the story of Roxie Hart, murderess, songstress and want to be starlet who rises to fame thanks to her unethical lawyer Billy Flynn.
They cap the season of with musical review Uptown Country Girls, June 27 to September 1, featuring songs by the queens of country music, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Reba McEntire.
GRAND JUNCTION: Theatre Junction GRAND is kicking off a wonderful season this week with a free block party and you are invited. Their fourth annual season launch Alley Party (608 1 Street SW) takes place Thursday, August 30 from 5 to 11pm with DJs, artists, dancers and hundreds from Calgary’s arts community. Some of the great shows they’re bring to us this year include (top) 13 Most Beautiful… Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, (bottom left) The Tempest Replica and (bottom right) Ganish Verus the Third Reich.
Photos courtesy of Theatre Junction GRAND
If Theatre Junction GRAND was a member of your family, she’d be a crazy, artistic, loving aunt who is always covered in paint and lives in a cottage by the lake. Or so I like to think.
“Since rescuing the Grand Theatre from demolition, Theatre Junction GRAND has become firmly established as a home and sanctuary to create, present and disseminate multidisciplinary live art from Calgary and around the world,” reads the last page of their season guide. “Featuring works in theatre, dance, music and hybrid forms, we are the ‘junction’ where people, ideas and art forms converge to celebrate differences and open doors to new possibilities.”
And their prices are really affordable. If you by a season pass before September 4 it’s $215 for seven shows, or $120 for students and artists (how cool is that?) Even if you don’t get it before the fourth, it’s just $235.
This season kicks off with a doozy.13 Most Beautiful… Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests is a combination of music and film. Jointly commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum and Pittsburg Cultural Trust, song writers Dean & Britta composed a live score to go with a selection of Warhol’s Screen Tests – with a who’s who of 60s culture. It runs September 19 to 22 and is the Canadian Premiere for this wonderful piece.
Next up is The Tempest Replica, a dance piece by Crystal Pite, as part of the Fluid Movement Arts Festival October 17 to 20. Me Talking To Myself in the Future runs November 14 to 17 and brings Marie Brassard’s solo performance of growing up to Calgary in this self-portrait. Holistic Strata and Haptic brings Hiroaki Umeda from Tokyo in these two half-hour pieces that explode to life through dance and digital technology, running January 16 to 19. From February 6 to 9, Sunken Red will be on the menu. From Antwerp, Guy Cassiers has created a not-to-be missed piece of theatre exploring one of the contemporary masterpieces of Dutch literature.
Then it’s onto the world premiere of Sometime Between Now and When the Sun Goes Supernova, by Calgarian Mark Lawes. It combines theatre, dance and music to create a one-of-a-kind pop-art hybrid and runs March 6 to 16.
And last but not least, Ganish Verus the Third Reich comes to Canada via Australian theatre company Back To Back Theatre. Running May 22 to 25, a cast of mixed abilities performs two simultaneous stories – a play about Ganish sent to earth to reclaim the swastika from Hitler, and the story about the people bringing the play to life. The cast plays themselves as well as their characters and creates a heady tale of a play within a play.
The first though that comes to my head when it comes to Vertigo Theatre is a great uncle who lives in a castle and no one really knows how he’s connected, but I’m sure there’s a will that will stipulate you have to spend a night alone with in its walls to get your inheritance.
First up is Double Indemnity, running September 8 to October 7, a stage adaption of James M. Cain’s classic novel. Then it’s It Could Be Any One of Us, running November 10 to December 9, an oddball comedy thriller. Gaslight runs January 26 to February 24 and is one of the great classics of mystery theatre. The Ends of the Earth goes March 9 to April 7 and Panic runs May 4 to June 2.
But, no matter how much I love a good mystery, you really can’t beat Hamlet. The Shakespeare Company will be performing one of the greatest stories ever written September 20 to September 29 and any Shakespeare fan would be a fool to miss it.
Every family has a bunch of adorable little ones running around and Calgary seems to have a bunch geared towards the young (and young at heart).
Loose Moose Theatre’s Theatre for Kids kicks off September 22 with the Ugly Duckling (until October 14. They’re also doing Rumplestiltskin (November 3 to 25), Aesop’s Fables (February 2 to 24) and The Three Mooseketeers (April 13 to May 5). They always put on a good show and season tickets for all four plays are just $38. How could you go wrong?
Stage West for Kids has The Elves and the Shoemaker coming up for Christmas and tickets will go on sale October 5.
Vertigo Theatre also has Y Stage and IZM runs October 18 to 21. Choreographer and dancer Crazy Smooth, brings together 10 of Canada’s top dancers to perform in this street dance piece.
This isn’t everything. Oh no. I could go on and on and on. But, don’t worry, I won’t.
A lot of the smaller companies are still working on their lineups. I’m waiting with baited breath to see what else One Yellow Rabbit has in the works (beyond their High Performance Rodeo pieces) and Storybook Theatre’s hasn’t been announced yet (but any day will be). Sage Theatre always puts on a great show and opens with Polygraph September 19 to 29. Ground Zero Theatre is running A Steady Rain this September and Old Trout Puppet Workshop will be performing Ignorance October 23 to November 3 (they’re even looking for ideas from the public to help develop it).
And a really cool sounding show is happening at the Lunchbox Theatre. From September 10 to 29 they are debuting the world premiere of David Sealy’s The Bob Shivery Show. This piece is the Lunchbox directorial debut from Michael Kennard – from the awesome and frightening clown duo Mump & Smoot – and is the story of a postmaster named Bob (played by Trevor Rueger) who hasn’t told the girl of his dreams how he feels. When she leaves Saskatchewan for Calgary and a relationship, he follows her on a fantastic journey to win her back.
All in all, it looks to be a fantastic year, so much so you might just have to go out and visit the fam.