After seeing nearly 100 theatre productions this year, I can attest to the thriving theatre scene in Vancouver.
Here is my list of the ten best theatre productions in 2016, based on what I was able to see this year.
To prove how difficult it is to pick only ten, I also present a bonus five that also deserve another mention, plus ten performances/moments that stuck with me through the year.
As always, I am grateful to the Vancouver and touring companies who continue to invite me to see their shows. I encourage you to make a New Year’s resolution to experience some live theatre in 2017.
Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol
Christmas came early: Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol (Theatre Obscura) – there was an early Christmas present under the tree this year in this beautifully realized production. Linden Banks gave one of the year’s best performances as Scrooge’s long-dead partner.
Finding the right balance: Red (Aenigma Theatre) – this production found that delicate balance between the intellectual and the emotional in a play about art.
Hope versus fear: Expedition (Boca del Lupo and The Performance Corporation) – Vancouver and Dublin unite for two thought-provoking pieces on global warming.
Long and beautiful: Hair (Renegade Arts Co) – this young company would not have been born in the 1960s, but that didn’t stop them from finding relevance in this counter-culture rock opera.
Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches
Red ribbons: Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches (Studio 58) – Tony Kushner’s epic play came to life with some equally epic performances.
The Motherf*cker with the Hat
A melting pot: The Motherf*cker with the Hat (Haberdashery Theatre Company / Firehall Arts Centre) – not without its controversies, there was an honesty in a show about addiction playing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
The After After Party
A most excellent adventure: The After, After Party (Katey Hoffman and Cheyenne Mabberley) – these comedy goddesses proved they were the best of this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival.
Last of the Red Hot Lovers
Caliente: Last of the Red Hot Lovers (Lovebird Artists Collective) – filled with talent, this production used the play’s vintage charm to full advantage.
Straight Jacket Winter
In from the cold: Straight Jacket Winter (Théâtre la Seizième, 2PAR4, National Arts Centre French Theatre) – loneliness and alienation has never been so beautiful in this production from Vancouver’s only French theatre company.
Perfection: Onegin (Arts Club Theatre Company) – a beautiful, quirky and emotion-filled love story. There is a reason this new musical swept this year’s Jessie Awards. My biggest regret in 2016 was I didn’t go back to see it a second time.
Five More that Deserve Mention
And then there were fifteen. Here are five more shows from 2016 that also deserve mention:
- The Dance Teacher (Tomo Suru Players) – difficult subject matter handled with skill
- A Good Way Out (Pacific Theatre) – surprising and brutal
- Little One (Alley Theatre / Firehall Arts Centre) – one chilling ride
- The Invisible Hand (Pi Theatre / The Cultch) – powerful and chilling
- The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Fighting Chance Productions) – this one was T E R R I F I C
Ten Performances & Moments
And finally, here are ten performances/moments that stuck with me this year:
- The fearless cast of Let’s Talk About Sex
- The flying car in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
- The found space for Movements 1&2
- Jay Dodge’s bravery in taking the plunge into False Creek in Expedition
- Andrew Wheeler’s transformation in A Good Way Out
- Alison Kelly’s bravura performance in A Dog at a Feast
- Conor Stinson O’Gorman’s performance as Roy M. Cohn in Angels in America
- The cast and crew of Hidden
- Kelli Ogmundson taking a knee during Pledge of Allegiance in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
- Linden Banks performance as Jacob Marley in Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol