The first thing you’ll notice about Hunger Games: The Musical is the sheer size of the production, with 14 actors and a production crew that is almost as large. With the Vancouver Fringe Festival traditionally filled with one-person shows, it is a refreshing change to see something of this magnitude. And while they say size doesn’t always matter, in this case it really does as the energy emanating from the Pacific Theatre stage goes a long way in making this a welcome (and funny) respite from the usual Fringe fare.
The musical parody hits all of the first film (and I assume book) highlights. We get Katniss volunteering to stand-in for her sister at the games, her alliance with Rue, and her love-hate relationship with Peeta. In fact, one of the funnier scenes comes when Katniss, played with suitable intensity and some nice vocals by Jennifer Pielak, finds herself pulled between Peeta and Gale, all set to the tune of Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know”. This is quickly followed up by the best vocals of the night as Riley Qualtieri gives us a hilarious version of Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” that will not only leave you laughing from its ridiculous lyrics, but exhausted just from watching Qualtieri fly around the stage.
Filled to the brim with pop culture and local references, this is a parody that fans of the Hunger Games will love, and those that found the movies vapid will love it even more. It paired nicely for our opening night of the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival with Peter n’ Chris Present: Here Lies Chris.
Hunger Games: The Musical with book and lyrics by Mark Vandenberg. Directed by Mark Vandenberg. Playing as part of the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival until September 20 at Pacific Theatre (1440 West 12th Ave, Vancouver). Visit http://vancouverfringe.com for tickets and information.