Credit to Author: Jerry Wasserman| Date: Thu, 06 Feb 2020 05:48:05 +0000
Talking with artistic director Ashlie Corcoran about her just announced Arts Club programming for the 2020/21 season, her second full year in charge, I’m reminded of a Vietnamese cooking class I once took with a teacher whose favourite English expression was “Same, same but different.”
Corcoran has cooked up another heavily comic season with guts and heart, the result of a process she calls “conscious eclecticism”: mixing and twisting the familiar (Jane Austen, Elvis, Scrooge, popular film adaptations) with contemporary cutting-edge material including a rock musical about the Cambodian holocaust and a disabled teenage Richard III.
Things kick off at the Stanley with American playwright Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, described by the New York Times as “an enchanting romp.” The Arts Club’s Stephen Drover directs the big Christmas show, Elf: The Musical, starring funnyman Andrew McNee.
The highlight of next season’s Stanley lineup looks to be Network, the adaptation by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) that starred Bryan Cranston in London and New York as the broadcaster who’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Co-produced with Winnipeg’s Royal Manitoba Theatre and Edmonton’s Citadel, this first post-Broadway staging will be directed by Citadel artistic director and local favourite Daryl Cloran.
The Stanley season concludes with an Elvis impersonator turned lip-synching drag queen in The Legend of Georgia McBride (“stitch-in-the-side funny,” says the Times), and Elvis: The Musical, a world premiere (not the 1977 jukebox musical of the same title) that Corcoran will direct. Realizing she was programming Elvises back-to-back, she says, “We decided to lean into it. We’ll have an Elvis Spring at the Stanley!”
The Granville Island Stage premieres The Cull by locals Michele Riml and Michael St. John Smith. A dinner party play about three couples in the B.C. mountains, it joins Every Brilliant Thing and The Birds & the Bees on tour later in the season. Christmas on Granville Island will feature Scrooge in Rouge, directed by Dean Paul Gibson — a quick-change, cross-dressing, music-hall-style Christmas Carol with only three actors.
Made in Italy follows, Farren Timoteo’s solo comedy with disco about growing up Italian in 1970s Alberta. Then comes Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee, about war crimes and an actual Cambodian band called Dengue Fever that got swallowed up in the Khmer Rouge’s killing fields. Their music provides the play’s soundtrack.
The smaller Newmont (formerly Goldcorp) Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, where Corcoran says “we can take artistic risks,” hosts the hottest work. Clare Barron’s Dance Nation (“glorious” — New York Times) concerns an American dance team of 13-year-old girls played entirely by older actresses. “Not quite Fleabag” is how Corcoran describes Ginna Hoben’s solo show The Twelve Dates of Christmas, “but close to Sex and the City.”
Mike Lew’s provocatively titled Teenage Dick chronicles life for a disabled American high school student. Corcoran tags it “Richard the Third meets Mean Girls.” She’ll direct Christopher Imbrosciano in the title role, the young actor with cerebral palsy who starred last fall in the Arts Club’s Cost of Living.
It’s clear that Corcoran’s preferred menu leans toward comedy with some darker notes. While reading one of these scripts, she recalls “laughing and feeling all the feels” — experiences she hopes her Arts Club audience will share all next season.
For tickets and info go to artsclub.com.
CLICK HERE to report a typo.
Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com