Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company Blog /blog The Playhouse in the Moment... Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:20:49 +0000 en hourly 1 Playhouse Peeps: It’s Visnja! /blog/playhouse-peeps/playhouse-peeps-the-whine-in-winefest/ /blog/playhouse-peeps/playhouse-peeps-the-whine-in-winefest/#comments Fri, 03 Feb 2012 14:00:13 +0000 playhousetheatre /blog/?p=776 This week’s edition of Playhouse Peeps features the Festival Administrator of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, Visnja Vukelich! Not only does she help the Wine Fest raise money for our theatre company, she makes all of our lives at the Playhouse “a  little less miserable”.

How long have you worked at the Playhouse?
Since 2001? It’s all a blur.

Your job at the Playhouse in five words or less?
Manage the w(h)ine in Winefest.

What did you think you would be when you grew up?

Most memorable Playhouse show to date?
Fiddler on the Roof.  It featured the dress that I hope to be buried in.

First stage production you ever saw?
Johnny Appleseed. My brother was the lead, I was a silent flower.

Favourite non-theatrical pastime or hobby?

Name an artist you would love to meet/work with.
Star Child (aka Paul Stanley of KISS)

Your top choice for a date to the theatre (living or dead).
Elvis (at my age).

Musicals or plays?
90 minutes. No intermission.

One word that best describes what the Playhouse means to you.

Visnja in the famous dress, from FIDDLER IN THE ROOF (2002/2003). She is pictured here in our dear old green room at 127 East 2nd Avenue.

Visnja in the famous dress, from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (2002/2003). She is pictured here in our dear old green room at 127 East 2nd Avenue.

Red Reviews and Audience Feedback /blog/20112012-season/red-reviews-and-audience-feedback/ /blog/20112012-season/red-reviews-and-audience-feedback/#comments Sat, 28 Jan 2012 00:14:32 +0000 playhousetheatre /blog/?p=761 Hot Reviews for RED

“Red is a brilliant platform for its actors” Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight

Red shows us how the salvation of art may be found in unexpected places.” Jerry Wasserman, The Province

“Theatre, local or otherwise doesn’t get much better than this co-production between Vancouver Playhouse, Canadian Stage and The Citadel Theatre. It’s well worth braving the January weather for.” - John Jane, Review Vancouver

Blog Reviews

“… an absolute MUST SEE production” -

“I am so glad that the Vancouver Playhouse is bringing this calibre of production to our city…” - Fun! Fun! Vancouver

Audience Feedback

“The acting was remarkable.  Jim Mezon was a powerhouse and David Coomber his perfect foil.  They played their characters so well.  Physically, they were yin and yang, the round and the straight, the young and the old… Really, really amazing interaction between the two of them. ” - Rebecca

Red was absolutely thrilling. Thanks to the entire company for such a passionate piece.” - Jeremy Crittenden, Actor

“The production was outstanding - from the set, to the lighting and the performances - a magical night at the theatre!” - Dave Skilling, Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts

“…it was absolutely fantastic. Everyone was enthralled for every minute of the performance.  I will highly recommend this to all of my guests looking for a wonderful evening of entertainment.” - Veronica, Hotel Concierge

Red by John Logan is on now to February 4.
Tickets through the Playhouse Box Office at 604 873 3311 or

Playhouse Peeps: Guess the theme! /blog/playhouse-peeps/playhouse-peeps-guess-the-theme/ /blog/playhouse-peeps/playhouse-peeps-guess-the-theme/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2012 14:30:04 +0000 playhousetheatre /blog/?p=709 This week’s edition of Playhouse Peeps features our Marketing & Communications Manager, John McHenry. Can you guess the theme here? Clever chap.


John McHenry as Francis in LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (2011)!

How long have you worked at the Playhouse?
(within) The Last Five Years

What did you do at work yesterday?
(I worked) 9 to 5

What did you think you would be when you grew up?
(a) Fiddler on the Roof

Most memorable Playhouse show to date?
The Drowsy Chaperone

First stage production you ever saw?
Babes in Arms

Favourite non-theatrical pastime or hobby?
On the Town

Name an artist you would love to meet/work with.
Jekyll & Hyde

Your top choice for a date to the theatre (living or dead).
Sweeney Todd

Musicals or plays?
Musical of Musicals (The Musical)

One word that best describes what the Playhouse means to you.

Gunmetal Blues Opens the Recital Hall Series! /blog/artistic-managing-director/gunmetal-blues-opens-the-recital-hall-series/ /blog/artistic-managing-director/gunmetal-blues-opens-the-recital-hall-series/#comments Tue, 24 Jan 2012 01:21:10 +0000 playhousetheatre /blog/?p=722 Meghan Gardiner (The Blonde) & Andrew Wheeler (The Private Eye) in GUNMETAL BLUES on now to Feb 4 in the Vancouver Playhouse Recital Hall. Photo by David Cooper.

Meghan Gardiner (The Blonde) & Andrew Wheeler (The Private Eye) in GUNMETAL BLUES. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Our new Recital Hall series begins tonight with the Opening of Gunmetal Blues! This musical parody of the film noir detective story will be performed at 9:30pm (4pm on Sat Feb 4) below the Vancouver Playhouse Mainstage, following performances of Red. Both productions are on stage until February 4. We are pleased to participate in the concept of #Neverbedark by enlivening this Civic Theatre space and encouraging active community involvement. We’ll continue this action with the production of Relephant Theatre’s The Exquisite Hour April 23-May 5 as part of our partnership with Vancouver International Fringe Festival and the Playhouse Fringe Award.

This post features a sneak peek at Gunmetal Blues, Max Reimer’s favourite “pocket-musical”, featuring actors Tom Arntzen, Meghan Gardiner and Andrew Wheeler.  Photos by Emily Cooper.

Tickets for Gunmetal Blues are only $20 each, available in advance or at the door (Hamilton & Dunsmuir) as of 8:30pm. We are offering pay-what-you-can admission on Wed Jan 25 at 9:30pm; tickets will be available for purchase, cash only, as of 8:30pm.

See both Recital Hall (+ The Exquisite Hour) shows for only $35!

Contact the Playhouse Box Office at 604 873 3311 or

Andrew Wheeler (The Private Eye) & Tom Arntzen (The Piano Player, Buddy Toupee) in GUNMETAL BLUES on now to Feb 4 in the Vancouver Playhouse Recital Hall. Photo by David Cooper.

Andrew Wheeler (The Private Eye) & Tom Arntzen (The Piano Player, Buddy Toupee) in GUNMETAL BLUES. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Playhouse Peeps: Scene 1 /blog/20112012-season/playhouse-peeps-scene-1/ /blog/20112012-season/playhouse-peeps-scene-1/#comments Thu, 19 Jan 2012 09:30:40 +0000 playhousetheatre /blog/?p=691 Welcome to the first edition of Playhouse Peeps, a series of blog posts in which we profile the people of the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company. First up is our new Director of Development, Jodi Norrison. Thank you for playing with us, Jodi!
How long have you worked at the Playhouse?
Since November 2011.

Your job at the Playhouse in five words or less?
Raise money.

What did you think you would be when you grew up?

Most memorable Playhouse show to date?
2 Pianos, 4 Hands (1997-98 Season). I saw it when I first moved to Vancouver. I wanted to learn more about the arts community so my best girlfriend and I bought a Playhouse subscription that season.

First stage production you ever saw?
I don’t know what show it was but it was at the Young People’s Theatre in Toronto. My mother took my three sisters and me to Young People’s Theatre, the National Ballet and the Toronto Symphony. We did a lot of sitting as a family.

Favourite non-theatrical pastime or hobby?
I gallery hop.

Name an artist you would love to meet/work with.
Claes Oldenburg

Your top choice for a date to the theatre (living or dead).
Pierre Trudeau.

Musicals or plays?

One word that best describes what the Playhouse means to you.

Director Kim Collier on RED /blog/20112012-season/director-kim-collier-on-red/ /blog/20112012-season/director-kim-collier-on-red/#comments Mon, 09 Jan 2012 23:23:02 +0000 playhousetheatre /blog/?p=677 Recently, we spoke with Kim Collier, Director of RED (Jan 14-Feb 4). Here are her thoughts on Mark Rothko, Art, and the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company.

You recently directed RED in Toronto and the show is now set to open at the Playhouse.  What made you want to be involved with this particular show?
When Matthew Jocelyn, the Artistic Director at Canadian Stage, asked me to read the script of Red I was immediately drawn into the play and became curious about every reference in it. At that time I felt it was a play that was going to lead me into so much interesting terrain artistically and intellectually. And in fact I was not let down…while researching for Red I became fascinated with the artist at the centre of this play, Mark Rothko, and his body of work. I also became fascinated with the period of history that gave rise to the abstract expressionists.

Jim Mezon & David Coomber in RED (Jan 14-Feb 4). Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Jim Mezon & David Coomber in RED (Jan 14-Feb 4). Photo by Bruce Zinger.

What can audiences expect from RED?
Stellar, inspiring acting performances. A moving story of Master / Apprentice that we can all relate to as we age and consider our legacy, our life’s work, the cycles of our lives, and reconciling letting go and giving over to the next generation.  A design that is literally going to take over the Playhouse stage and provide an evolving visual backdrop to the play. A smart, stimulating play.
What do you like about this show?
What I love about the play Red is that it explores the territory of communicating truth.  The expression of an authentic truth in relation to what it means to be human and the challenge of embedding that complexity of feeling or experience into a painting. The idea that our own perception, personal will, or faith can obscure truths from us, or rather, perhaps, that truth changes when our view to the world changes. The play explores the ongoing relationship of faith and doubt in the artistic process and in ourselves. Rothko struggled to maintain faith in his art. In the play Red, we slowly move towards BLACK. But how we view even these colors is so subjective. Rothko quotes Goya in the play: “We have Art that we may not perish from Truth” When Rothko sees that his great commission will reduce his paintings to being decorative rather than transformative, he confronts a new truth and the very thesis of his work and his life is challenged.

In Art as in Life the new generation will crush the rules of the previous generation.

You have also directed your own company Electric Company Theatre’s ALL THE WAY HOME. Can you tell us about this project?
All the Way Home is a play that speaks to our common humanity in an extraordinarily intimate and immersive staging with the audience on stage with the actors at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

This is not the first time Electric Company Theatre has partnered with the Playhouse.  How did this relationship come about?
Electric Company first was supported by the Vancouver Playhouse when we were an emerging company by providing us access to costumes and props as well as shop and rehearsal time. We are very thankful for that support early on when Glynis Leyshon was artistic director. Then towards the end of her time at the Playhouse and Max’s arrival, the Playhouse presented Electric Company and theatre at UBC’s production of Studies in Motion.  There are many, many more intersections over the years like Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands created in association with Vancouver Playhouse for the Alcan Award.

RED is at the Vancouver Playhouse Jan 14 - Feb 4 and at The Citadel Theatre Feb 11 - Mar 4.
CALL 604 873 3311
IN PERSON Mon.-Fri., 10am-5pm
GROUPS (10+) CALL 604 637 3094 or

Red is generously sponsored by Hyphen Communications (Production Sponsor), The Vancouver Sun, CBC Vancouver (Media Sponsors), and Book Warehouse (Promotional Sponsor).

View the Red Media Release.

The Playhouse in 2012! /blog/artistic-managing-director/the-playhouse-in-2012/ /blog/artistic-managing-director/the-playhouse-in-2012/#comments Mon, 02 Jan 2012 19:31:49 +0000 playhousetheatre /blog/?p=627 We hope you have had a happy, restful holiday season. Here are the many exciting things happening at the Playhouse in the coming year!

4 Mainstage Productions
We continue our 2011/2012 Mainstage season with three co-productions and one presentation of Theatre for Young Audiences at the Vancouver Playhouse.

David Coomber (Ken) and Jim Mezon (Rothko) in RED (Jan 14-Feb 4). Photo by Bruce Zinger

David Coomber (Ken) and Jim Mezon (Rothko) in RED (Jan 14-Feb 4). Photo by Bruce Zinger

Red (Jan 14 – Feb 4) by John Logan is our co-production with Canadian Stage & The Citadel Theatre. Jim Mezon (Mark Rothko) and David Coomber (Ken) have already impressed Toronto audiences with their performances and we look forward to Vancouver’s response to this Tony Award-winning drama about American painter, Mark Rothko.
Catalyst Theatre’s Hunchback (Feb 18-Mar 10), a co-production with The Cultch, is a darkly romantic musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel and conceived by Jonathan Christenson and Bretta Gerecke.
God of Carnage (Apr 14-May5) by Yasmina Reza, our co-production with Manitoba Theatre Centre, has had huge success in London’s West End and on Broadway. This fast and furious comedy has recently been adapted into a movie, Carnage, directed by Roman Polanski.
The Cat Came Back is Manitoba Theatre for Young People’s Theatre for Young Audiences production inspired by the song Fred Penner made famous. If you know children aged 3-10 years, or if you remember Fred climbing through that magical log, you don’t want to miss this! The show features music, puppets, and local favourite Jay Brazeau!

2 Recital Hall Productions
We are pleased to bring you a new experience with two productions to be performed in the Recital Hall, located below the Vancouver Playhouse stage! Tickets to these performances are only $20 each or both shows for $35.

Josue Laboucane & Nevada Yates-Robart in THE EXQUISITE HOUR (Apr 23-May 5). Photo by Jessie van Rijn.

Josue Laboucane & Nevada Yates-Robart in THE EXQUISITE HOUR (Apr 23-May 5). Photo by Jessie van Rijn.

Gunmetal Blues (Jan 23-Feb 4) by Scott Wentworth, with music & lyrics by Craig Bohmler and Marion Adler, and directed by Max Reimer, features Tom Arntzen (The Piano Player, Buddy Toupee), Meghan Gardiner (The Blonde), and Andrew Wheeler (The Private Eye). With performances at 9:30pm (4pm on Sun Feb 4), this “pocket musical” will delight audiences, cabaret-style.
The Exquisite Hour (Apr 23-May 5) by Stewart Lemoine is the Relephant Theatre production that sold out to lemonade-drinking audiences at the 2010 Vancouver International Fringe Festival! This lovely story features the talents of local artists such as Julie McIsaac (Director), Josue Laboucane (Zachary Teale), and Nevada Yates-Robart (Helen Darimont). Performances will be at 7pm (4pm on May 5).

2 Partnerships
We are excited to partner with The Electric Company on All The Way Home (Jan 10-14) by Tad Mosel. Director Kim Collier’s vision includes audience members entering the Queen Elizabeth Theatre from the stage doors and walking into the set to take their seats! The list of cast and production members is dynamite and we are certain you will recognize at least one of the amazing talents in this production.

Our partnerships with other local companies continues with urban ink and Confessions of the Other Woman (Feb 29-Mar 11), by Valerie Sing Turner and directed by Diane Roberts & Gerry Trentham. Winner of the 2011 Enbridge playRites Award for Emerging Canadian Playwright, this production will be performed at Performance Works. Playhouse subscribers may add this show for only $25!

The 34th Annual Wine Festival!
Public tickets are on sale January 10, 2012 for the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. This year’s theme region is Chile and the global focus is Cabernet(s)!

Our 50th Season
In 2012/2013, our 50th season, we look forward to continuing our mandate of being a vital cultural leader in the theatre ecology, describing and shaping our community’s perspectives by engaging a wider audience in significant theatre experiences. Thank you for your supporting us, as Vancouver’s regional theatre we appreciate you, our beloved audience!

For more details on our upcoming productions, please visit or call 604 873 3311.

Greg Armstrong Morris Talks About His “Role of a Lifetime” /blog/artistic-managing-director/greg-armstrong-morris-talks-about-his-role-of-a-lifetime/ /blog/artistic-managing-director/greg-armstrong-morris-talks-about-his-role-of-a-lifetime/#comments Tue, 22 Nov 2011 18:01:40 +0000 playhousetheatre /blog/?p=614 With La Cage aux Folles hitting the stage for its first preview this Saturday, November 26, we sat down with one of the stars to talk about the show. Greg Armstrong Morris will be portraying Albin this Holiday Season at the Playhouse.

You have mentioned in other interviews that this is a role of a lifetime.  Tell me why.
The show premiered when I was in theatre school. So the show itself had a huge impact on what I was doing at the time.  It’s a show about a gay man maintaining his integrity in the midst of being asked to make great sacrifices for his family.  I think any gay man, whether they are an actor or not, would certainly identify with this show.  It’s a story that we all know so well.  The song from the show that’s best known, “I Am What I Am”, became a gay pride anthem for an entire generation.  It struck a chord.  Gloria Gaynor turned it into a huge hit and it played all the time.  What it says is very simple and very powerful, and I relate to it directly as a gay man playing a gay character, but I think it’s certainly something that everyone also relates to.

How are rehearsals going?
They are great.  It’s been really fun, nothing but fun.  Everybody here is hard working and very professional and wants to get along really well.  They are all just helping each other wherever they can and carrying their load. Nobody has it easy in this show.  There are people who aren’t necessarily onstage the whole time but when they are onstage they’re working really, really hard, and when they’re offstage they’re doing some sort of crazy costume change.  Everybody has a big part in this show.

Do you have a favourite scene?
The end of act 1.  The song is “I Am What I Am.”  I’ve never come across a moment in a script that is so completely built up and presented so strongly. With what has just happened before I sing the song it’s the peak of tension in the show.  It’s an incredible place to sit. It’s like there’s this big tidal wave that’s been coming and heading towards intermission.  I’m right at the crest of that tidal wave. It’s a phenomenal place to be.  It would be terrifying if I didn’t feel like I was being so totally supported by the script, the music, the director, the musical director, and the company.  There’s so much in place to make it a really incredible moment.  I’m just really grateful that I get to be the vessel that the moment gets to translate through.  It’s a lot of fun and it’s a lot of hard work.

That is the obvious favourite part of the show.  My next favourite part of the show is the moment when I’m being sung to. It’s when the reconciliation comes and my step-son sings to me and it’s just such a beautiful moment.  Fortunately I just get to stand there and let it happen.  It’s so lovely and it’s so amazing to be standing onstage when that happens, knowing the story that we’re telling and the part that I’m playing in that.

Director Max Reimer chose to use local drag queens for this show.  How has that added to the production?
One of the things that it’s given us is something that relates to me playing this character.  There’s always a question about straight men playing gay characters and gay men playing straight characters.  It’s really about the individuals.  If the wrong person gets cast in the part it doesn’t matter what their orientation is.  In this case, because they are that one step closer to the role, they know what it is to be a cabaret performer in a club.  They start from that place and build on top of that.  At the same time, I can start from the place where I know what it is to be a gay man in a gay relationship and feel that I have to be invisible in some places.  Straight men have played this role and done a beautiful job of it.  As a gay man I have this part in my back pocket.  I know this part.  I can build from there.  It gives me the opportunity to start a little higher up on the ladder.

Photo by David Cooper.

(left to right) Peach Cobblah (Hanna), Celestial Seasons (Odette), Ian Yuri Gardner (Mercedes), Greg Armstrong Morris (Albin/Zaza), Cadence Winter Matthews (Chantal), Kiki Lawhore (Phaedra), (seated) Iona Whipp (Derma). Photo by David Cooper.

As it turns out, the drag queens in this town have a great deal of experience dancing and singing.  So Max has cast actor/singer/dancers in those roles anyway.  He just happened to reach beyond the usual community.  The people we have in those roles all have experience.   We have a tap number that you just can’t do if you haven’t had a lot of experience. There’s a combination of a couple of drag performers who’ve been cast and some local actor/singer/dancers in that number.  I defy anybody to tell me which one’s which.

Drag Queens aside, this is really a show about a family right?
Absolutely.  I’m sure most families can recognize and identify with what it’s like when one of your kids is getting married and you’re introducing a whole other component into your family and bringing these two groups together.  I think that’s something everybody can relate to.  I know very few people who actually live in what we would think of as a conventional nuclear family.  I know very few people whose parents are still together.

The show is really fun but it has such a core of heart and emotion.  There’s so much glitz and glam going on, but at the centre of it all it’s a beautiful little story about family reconciliation.  It’s gorgeous.  I think the show is, if anything, more about what’s at the core of this unconventional family.  The family issues that Max talks about are really what the show is about.  The rest is the veneer and it is really fun, beautiful, glitzy, and glamorous, but when you strip it all away the really important thing is that core story. In Max’s hands, I think we’re doing a great job of telling that story.

I think when we talk about the show being relatable to families it’s almost as if we’re saying, “Don’t be afraid to bring your family to see this show.”  It’s also important to recognize that there’s a whole group of people who will see themselves in that story.  There is a community who doesn’t get to see themselves onstage at Christmas time.  It’s important to recognize that there are some people who feel a little left out at this time of year. I love my family and I think there’s a really good reason to be doing this show.

And in-laws: that’s always funny.

La Cage Aux Folles is at the Vancouver Playhouse Nov. 26 to Dec. 24. Tickets can be purchased online through the Playhouse Box Office or by calling 604 873 3311.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Zaza and Les Cagelles /blog/20112012-season/a-behind-the-scenes-look-at-zaza-and-les-cagelles/ /blog/20112012-season/a-behind-the-scenes-look-at-zaza-and-les-cagelles/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2011 20:15:45 +0000 playhousetheatre /blog/?p=605 We have a new video on our VanPlayhouse Youtube channel. David Cooper shares a behind-the-scenes look at Zaza and Les Cagelles as they prepare for their La Cage aux Folles photo shoot. Watch the video here.

This video features Greg Armstrong-Morris (Albin/Zaza), Peach Cobblah (Hanna), Ian Yuri Gardner (Mercedes), Celestial Seasons (Odette), Kiki Lawhore (Phaedra), Iona Whipp (Derma), and Cadence Winter Matthews (Chantal).

]]> /blog/20112012-season/a-behind-the-scenes-look-at-zaza-and-les-cagelles/feed/ Announcing the La Cage “Catch That Fabulous Bus” Contest /blog/20112012-season/announcing-the-la-cage-catch-that-fabulous-bus-contest/ /blog/20112012-season/announcing-the-la-cage-catch-that-fabulous-bus-contest/#comments Thu, 17 Nov 2011 20:55:33 +0000 playhousetheatre /blog/?p=586 We are proud to announce our La Cage aux Folles “Catch That Fabulous Bus” Contest! Starting today, Thursday, November 17, 2011, take a photo of a La Cage aux Folles bus in transit and send it to us for a chance to win a fantastic prize.
Post your photo on our Facebook wall or email it to to have your name entered in a draw for FOUR tickets to the Opening Night of La Cage aux Folles on Thursday, December 1st! This includes the Cast & Company Party following the show! The winner will also receive Dinner for Four at Rasoee! AND we will provide you and three friends with limited edition “I AM” t-shirts and official Playhouse boas to wear on your special night out (or just around the house)!

Contest closes Monday, November 28th. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, November 29th. “Fabulous buses” are considered public transit vehicles operated by Coast Mountain Bus Company which feature the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company’s La Cage aux Folles poster image. There are a total of twelve buses with this image on a variety of routes.

Win Dinner for Four at Rasoee!