Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Theatre picks

WE's theatre highlights for the scorching summer

An orgy of risqué delights awaits late-summer theatregoers, like Shine: A Burlesque Musical (pictured), opening later this month.

An orgy of risqué delights awaits late-summer theatregoers, like Shine: A Burlesque Musical (pictured), opening later this month.

STAGE: Vancouver theatre’s long, hot summer

A gay old time awaits at the city’s crazy, sexy, cool

For most Vancouverites, Bard on the Beach is usually summer’s hot theatre ticket — and it is. But there’s also a frenzy of both fresh and familiar faces under the spotlights on other, more intimate stages. From brash burlesque to two takes on Macbeth, here we call your attention to some of the city’s most brazen theatre treats. And, we’ve included some Pride-ful picks — like the Broadway smash musical Rent, an ode to Edith Piaf, and some Human Remains — to help put a little more gay in your day.


It’s all in the name, really. Jonathan Franzen’s translation of the taboo 1906 German play tackles sexual repression among an insatiable group of teens who pay the ultimate price for their religious upbringings. Originally labeled “obscene” and “shocking,” Spring Awakening still quakes with relevance in society’s abstinence-focused approach to young people fucking. (Please note: This is not the Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater musical.) To Aug. 1 at Havana Theatre (1212 Commercial),

7 pm (Wed-Sat). $12-$15 at the door.


Edith Piaf’s tragic life (highlights of which include childhood abandonment, busking on the streets of Paris, and eventual success that was tragically derailed by drug abuse and abusive men) places her firmly in the canon of 20th-century divas. This critically acclaimed one-woman touring show stars the incomparable Naomi Emmerson, whose portrayal of La môme (the Kid, as Piaf was called) has garnered rave reviews around the world. To Aug. 2 at Firehall Arts Centre (208 E. Cordova), 8 pm. Matinees: Sat and Sun, 2 p.m. Tickets $32-$40 from 604-689-0926.


The musical that immortalized just how many minutes there are in a year (525,600, to be exact) launches its first-ever Canadian regional production. Jonathan Larson’s rocking reinvention of Puccini’s La bohème is populated with heroin addicts, AIDS victims, performance artists, drag queens, and slackers galore, all surviving on New York’s Lower East Side in the early ’90s. Aug. 4-23 at Presentation House (333 Chesterfield Avenue, North Vancouver), 8 pm (Tues- Sat). Matinees: Sat. 2 pm. Tickets $25-$30 from 604-990-3474 or


The teens from Carousel Theatre’s Summer Shakespeare Program sink their teeth into the Bard’s meaty tale of betrayal, guilt, and madness. (The Goth spin and “guyliner” hint at a somewhat more mature approach than in previous summers.) For its part, Theatre Conspiracy offers up a brilliantly macabre interpretation of the “Scottish Play,” with the aptly named Graveside Macbeth, one night only in Mountainview Cemetery.

Carousel Theatre’s Teen Shakespeare Macbeth runs July 31- Aug. 15 outside Performance Works on Granville Island. Free admission. Theatre Conspiracy’s Graveside Macbeth runs Aug. 6 at Mountainview Cemetery. Free admission. Reservations from 604-878-8668 or


In last summer’s smash hit, Grimm Tales, the Itsazoo Theatre folks gave classic fairy tales a brisk frisking and a satirical bite. What better way to follow up than taking on that great canon of crazy, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales? The interactive element — it’s a walking play through Queen Elizabeth Park — guarantees bewildered looks from passers-by, particularly when the cast tackles literature’s favourite loose woman, the Lady of Bath. Aug. 7-21 at Queen Elizabeth Park (3030 Cambie); meet at the Blodel Conservatory,

7 pm. Matinees: Sat., 2 pm. Tickets $10-$17 from 604-221-6604 and


When Vancouver’s gay-, kink-, and sex-positive musical duo, the Wet Spots, teams up with the theatrical burlesque impresarios of Screaming Chicken Theatre Society, the results are bound to be titillating at the very least. This bawdy original musical follows a band of talented misfits trying to save their beloved burlesque theatre from demolition — or, worse, respectability. Aug. 12-22 at Waterfront Theatre (1412 Cartwright, Granville Island), 8 pm (Wed-Sat). Tickets $25 from 800-838-3006 and


Originally created in 1967 as a feminist middle finger to the staid social constraints of the early 1960s, Millie harkens back to the first time women could have it all: the Roaring Twenties. The titular heroine is torn between two loves, her desire for a career, and her independence. But really, she’s just gotta dance. To Aug. 22 at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park, 8 pm. $32-$39 from 604-684-2787 or


Penned in the late ’80s by then-enfant terrible of the Canadian theatre, Brad Fraser, this lascivious thriller features a pansexual cast, a psychic prostitute, and a serial killer. It’s like Season One of Friends, only dirty. Real dirty. Aug. 25-Sept. 6 at PTC Studio (1398 Cartwright, Granville Island), 8 pm. Tickets $16-$22 from 604-684-2787 and 

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