Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) A - My Name is Alice

Danielle Lemon, Hannah Unterschultz, Michelle T.Baynton, Rebecca Friesen, 
Rosie Simon  (Photo by: Pixarola)
Ladies of the 80’s
Hear them roar!
by David C. Jones
A...My Name Is Alice is a musical revue. Definition of “musical revue”: A musical show consisting of skits, songs and dances often satirizing current events, trends and personalities. A…My Name is Alice was conceived by Joan Micklin Silver and Julianne Boyd, first produced in 1983 written by a variety of composers (Davie Zippel, Winnie Holzman and Lucy Simon) and writers like the legendary Anne Meara (mother of Ben Stiller).

Comedy is best when it comes from a point of view. Be it satire, parody or slapstick, the best comedy comes from a place of anger. Deadpan or ridiculous situations pointing out that which is ‘stupid’, ‘hard’, ‘weird’ or ‘scary’.

In this review of 21 songs and sketches the best ones come in the second half. “Emily the M.B.A.” is a tip of the hat to the 80’s working girl by way of the 1960’s girl group sound of the Shangri-Las. “Honeypot” examines women’s sexual liberation in the Donahue years using 1940/50’s innuendo laden doo-wop. “Pretty Young Men” examines the 80’s trend of male strippers at ladies only bars, housewives and working women start out repressed and embarrassed and transform into howling cougars!

The cast of five women (Michelle T. Baynton, Rebecca Friesen, Danielle Lemon, Rosie Simon, and Hannah  Unterschultz) all get chances to show off their great singing voices; although some are stronger at comedy than others, each can be proud of their work.

Director Rick Tae keeps things moving with multiple costume changes and he adapts one song “Pay Them No Mind” into an anthem to lesbian love. Too many blackouts can cause the energy to dip so you are always having to build rather than drive into the next song or skit.

Musical Director Yawen Wang plays keyboard and honours the 80’s beats and power ballads. She gets some wonderful harmonies out of the ensemble.

A highlight of the show is Ms. Simon singing the “French Song”. She is fearless and not afraid to look ‘ugly’ for the sake of a laugh. What I mean is, she throws herself into the story of the song with abandon, in this anarchy is where comedy lives. The song is about a woman trying to forge an identity and it twists and turns and is full of surprising little moments making it a treat to watch.

The whole show is a fun time with a dynamic cast of 80’s Ladies. I was seeing the show on the performance after opening night and sometimes the stakes drop as the performers settle into the material, so likely that was at play here. There was often simple sentimentality instead of the more active passion and curiosity.  That will come back as the run progresses.

Thanks to Skycorner Productions and Rick Tae we finally get a chance in Vancouver to see this blast from the past!

Another highlight was the charming and talented performer as the curtain warmer. Roan Shankaruk playing the ukulele with rich warm sounds at 16 years of age, she is definitely someone to watch for in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.