Monday, January 14, 2013

Openings We're Tracking This Week, January 14-20, 2013

Sarah Jane Pelzer in Ride the Cyclone (photo: Tim Matheson)

This week, our suggestions are all about music...and our editors' envy.

We're envious that Winnipeg gets a winter gale named The Sondheim Festival. Stephen Sondheim is now acknowledged to be the master composer of musicals of the last half of the 20th Century and no matter what he has turned out, it has always been interesting, most often an object lesson in taking musical theatre to new places and nearly as often the work has been brilliant. The Festival is offering several of his greatest works. Not to be missed: Assassins (perhaps the most troubling musical ever - it's theme is the murder of presidents); Into The Woods (a Freudian take on bedtime stories); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (a romp!); Sunday In The Park With George (which New York Times critic, Frank Rich, believes is one of the greatest musicals of all time)... Oh! Hell! See everything!

And speaking of Sondheim, if he hadn't come around the doors might never have opened for works like Ride the Cyclone, now continuing on from Calgary's High Performance Rodeo to make another stop in Vancouver. This piece has left hordes of fans in its path. We've heard its music, we know its story, and we hate you for being able to go. A spook show with laughter, tears and a cast that is utterly endearing. (Read our review of its landing in Toronto) (Read co-writer Jacob Richmond's piece on its creation.)

Something more old-fashioned, but nevertheless delighful, perhaps? You can't miss with the operatic double-bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci. The first is an hilarious look at the hypocrisy of little people (featuring perhaps the most celebrated aria in opera smack-dab in the middle: O Mio babbino caro), the second is the wonderfully over-the-top story of a clown who finds out his wife/co-actress is up to no good. All hell breaks loose on stage. It, too, has a great aria before the blood-letting. (Vesti la giubba). (Burnaby, BC)

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