Spring Arts Preview 2023: Theatre critics' picks
Spring hasn’t sprung quite yet, according to the all-knowing groundhog, but it sure is springing, and a perfect reasons for emerging out of our hibernation caves is to check out a spring production on one of Vancouver’s heralded stages.
The upcoming theatre season is one for the books, featuring many a production that was postponed, honed in on, or first imagined during the past few years of event closures and half capacities, so all mark a celebratory reemergence of the city’s theatre scene finally being back to true form.
And what forms they take. From metatextual stories about performing like Opening Night, The Legend of Georgia McBride, and Crazy For You, to the spiritually intimate Prophecy Fog, to one family crammed into a car for two hours in Driving Me Crazy, our picks for this year’s arts preview run the gamut of what stage productions have to offer. And that’s not even getting into the more experimental experiences of the rEvolver Festival.
At the Gateway Theatre from March 9 to 18
“Can a site still be sacred if it has been desecrated?” That’s the question at the heart of award-winning Indigenous artist Jani Lauzon’s Prophecy Fog, using a round stage to invite audiences into an exploration of our relationship with the land. The Draw: An intimate theatre experience featuring incredibly evocative environmental design.
My Little Tomato
At The Cultch from March 9 to 19
A Chinese-Canadian kindergarten teacher finds a new life (and love) after inheriting his deceased parents’ farm in this rom-com from Rick Tae, which addresses the familial, cultural, and relationship complexities of two Asian men falling in love. The Draw: Gay love. Two Asian-Canadian leads. A fresh take on the “finding love back in the hometown” trope.
At the PAL Studio Theatre on March 17 to 19
Every production is opening night for Opening Night, which takes a comical inwards look at the chaos that can be created in community theatre. The Draw: A chance to see a community theatre production fall apart, without feeling bad about laughing.
At the Firehall Arts Centre from March 19 to April 2
Western Gold Theatre’s production of Our Ghosts explores the mysterious disappearance of a Canadian Forces fighter jet and its pilot, and the ripple effect it had in the lives of a woman and her children. The Draw: Inspired by the disappearance of playwright Sally Stubbs’s own father, the mystery embedded in Our Ghosts and reverberations of loss feel hauntingly real.
Driving Me Crazy
At the James Cowan Theatre on March 21 and 22
This is a two-hour road trip you don’t want to miss. An honourable mention at the 2019 National Theatre B.C. Playwriting competition, Driving Me Crazy sticks you in a car with three generations of family members with very different views on vehicles—and life. The Draw: Catharsis in a compact sedan.
Pretty Woman The Musical
At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre from March 29 to April 2
A musical production of the 1990s classic Pretty Woman, this reimagining of the Cinderella story explores self-identity, moral compasses, true love—and has some rockin’ songs to boot. The Draw: Pretty Woman. On stage. With music. Need we really say more?
At the Granville Island Stage from March 30 to April 30
A Michif word meaning “big pot” or “leftover stew,” Rubaboo dives into Métis culture through the lyrical voice of Andrea Menard in a musical journey of reconciliation, resilience, love, and much more. The Draw: Menard blends artistic genres to showcase the variety of Métis culture.
The Legend of Georgia McBride
At the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage from April 20 to May 21
An Elvis impersonator is thrust into the role of a drag queen in this tale of epic performances, stunning outfits, and a Florida dive bar. The content warning states that the show “may contain theatrical devices such as water-based fog and haze, confetti, strobe lighting, and absolutely ridiculous displays of glitter.” Count us in. The Draw: A drag show within a theatre production is basically two shows for the price of one.
Crazy for You
At the Massey Theatre from April 27 to May 14
A decaying theatre is in need of saving, and a rag-tag group of rundown cowboys and New York City Follies Girls are the ones to do it. Or so they hope. The Draw: When was the last time you saw real, professional tap dancing?
At the Cultch and various venues from May 24 to June 4
If you’re looking for something experimental, this is the festival to be at. From digital and audio experiences, to site-specific works to Q&As with artists, rEvolver Festival gives emerging theatre artists the chance to shine. The Draw: You might just accidentally find your next favourite theatre experience. g