Runs Aug 27 to Sept 22, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada at various venues
Victoria, BC’s Annual Fringe Theatre Festival is not only a terrific way to cap off the summer but also it’s a place to watch performers simply experiment with new ideas. In those that are runaway successes, they will return to stage as regular shows.
I have been attending the events for close to a decade now, and have seen a huge gambit. I naturally gravitate towards comedy, musicals and anything nerdy. However, I do not limit myself to them either. In those that I have seen outside my favourites, they are surprising. Of course, I never tire of the endless bounty of delights. The limitation is only with the imagination, and the journey to the Twilight Zone.
The following are my picks of this season. Please visit http://intrepidtheatre.com/festivals/fringe-festival for showtimes and to buy tickets.
St Michael’s University School
3400 Richmond Rd
Sept 1 – 7:00pm
Sept 2 – 2:00pm and 7:00pm
This year’s offering from the St. Michael’s University School Musical Theatre program, The Drowsy Chaperone, owes its debt to appearing in at the Toronto Fringe Festival before getting adapted for a larger audience. To see this comedy return to its roots after a rousing tour and subsequent productions throughout the past decade and a half is always one of the many highlights at the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival. It is always worth the trip to the municipality of Gordon Head to this school’s auditorium to go see. The production is always tops because the educators at this particular institution ensure the students get the training they deserve and have a fun time while at it. This program cultivates talent and welcomes all youth interested in the performing arts.
This particular show has three performances left, and I feel this show is a must-not-miss for enthusiasts of this genre. This musical comedy was created by Don McKellar, Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. They performed it at a stag party for Bob Martin and Janet van de Graaf. Their namesakes even appear in this show-within-a-show. This performance looks at the life of a lonely individual (played by William Gao and Eva Kamimura) who looks at his life through the lens of a fictional recording circa 1920’s. This era was when Broadway became very popular and one of the genres that dominated included Ragtime (some swing was also heard too), The Drowsy Chaperone is an album that he so loves, and this narrator sums up the story and injects thoughts (from his life) about this show. This character is gender switched from time to time, as though one incarnation is how this individual is perceived within the musical.
By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
October 14-15, 2016
Alberta Rose Theatre
October 28-29, 2016
Revue Stage at Granville Island
November 4-5, 2016
Metro Studio Theatre
Tickets can be bought online here
If you have not made any plans for Halloween yet, Last Chance Productions is taking Evil Dead: The Musical across the Pacific Northwest before, during and after Halloween 2016! This year, they are adding Victoria, BC to the list of where to hit and the timing could not be any better. Since I have seen three versions by different groups, I must say this particular troupe are dedicated film buffs who have an absolute love for the cinematic genre.
And, of course, they promise to lay the blood thick in the splatter zone! When I saw the Arts West production, I did not realize you have to sit very close to the kitchen set to get hit. Depending on whether the show can be held outdoors or indoors, there’s bound to be some hidden sprinklers to really get people soaked! Tip: wear a white shirt if you intend to get soaked with the blood effects. Afterwards, upon leaving the theatre, you can proudly show off their badge of honour.
Copeland Lecture Theatre
St. Michael’s University School
3400 Richmond Rd.
Sept 5 | 2:00 pm
Sept 5 | 7:00 pm
E: The St. Michaels University School (SMUS) Summer Musical Theatre program never ceases to amaze me. They put on quality productions (school level of course) for the Victoria Fringe Festival and in the five years I’ve been going to see them, I find something that I’ve never seen (until now) unless I head to New York for Broadway or London for West End. This program has been around for at least ten years, if not more, and this year is unique as it introduces a show that I haven’t heard about before.
Band Geeks is an off-Broadway production written by Tommy Newman and Gordon Greenberg. Newman did Broadway productions such as The Single Girls Guide and Tinyard Hill while Greenberg is more noted for producing Disney’s Believe and appearing in a production of Grease.
J: This musical is even unknown to me. This story is about a group of high school students, the Beavers marching band, who are still invisible to their peers even when they are the most visible on the football field. Lead by nerdy tuba player Elliott (Duke Currah), his bubble world of playing a new composition to the public while admiring baton twirler Nicole (Alana Hawes) from afar is popped by bad boy and fallen football star Jake (Ryan Totz). He unwittingly puts a kink into Elliott’s plans. Meanwhile, Elliott’s buddy, Laura (Jordan Kerr) has her own flame she’s burning for Elliott. When it comes to love, Laura is the ultimate band geek, invisible even to Elliott.
VENUE: Metro Studio Theatre
1411 Quadra St. Victoria, BC
August 27th | 9:45 pm
August 29th | 10:00 pm
August 31th | 8:00 pm
September 2nd | 9:45 pm
September 5th | 5:45 pm
September 6th | 8:30 pm
LENGTH: 60 minutes
To perform improv on stage must require the talents to think fast and furious. To see that person compose a song on the fly and be funny at the same time has to be commended. In what Grindstone Theatre has provided in their show 11 o’clock Number at the Victoria Fringe Festival 2015, which included input from me (who asked for zombies), I’m very impressed at blending the ideas of a neurosurgeon discovering a miracle in what some brain cells of her boss’ daughter can do and finding a cure to an emerging Zombie apocalypse in Victoria that would even impress Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti from CW’s iZombie. Every night promises to be different, and in what I enjoyed opening night is the comedy from Jordan Ward and Dan Moser when one of them played a gender-swapped role and the two were playing off each other with ease. They even kept the act clean. And to see them ham it up behind the singer made for a hilarious contrast.
Continues November 14-16
Edward Milne Community School
6218 Sooke Road
Community theatre is one great way for new performers to earn their wings. In Afterlife: the Musical, youth and adults alike can take part in an ambitious new product by playwright Thom Southwood. His family are active members of the Sooke Harbour Players and for Thom, it’s his works in advertising campaigns for television throughout the 80’s, independent artists and labels in Nashville, Vancouver and LA, and previous contributions to this theatre group (Jesus Christ Super Star (2006), Die Claudius (2008) and GodSpell (2014)) that earn him considerable notice. Unlike earlier years where this group have done adaptations of popular musicals and plays, this latest production is perhaps Southwood’s second most original product to come out of the sleepy community west of lower Vancouver Island. Last year’s show was Howl The Musical, A Not So Classic Werewolf Tale (2009)