February might only be four weeks long (side note: why can’t rent be cheaper this month?) but there’s a ton of good stuff happening onstage. Grab your Valentine (or your Galentine!) and buckle up.
Cabaret at Studio 58
January 31-February 24
“Leave your troubles outside,” entreats the emcee at the beginning of this well-loved musical. “Life is disappointing. Forget it! In here, life is beautiful!”
No, he’s not pitching Netflix’s newest advertising campaign. It’s Berlin in 1929, and there are plenty of reasons for any rational individual to seek some sort of escape: namely, the economy sucks, and Nazis are rising to power. Isn’t it neat how history repeats itself?
Without any sort of streaming service available (or personal computers, for that matter), Berliners with loose morals or open-minded dispositions would frequent seedy hubs like the Kit Kat Klub, where we find ourselves with the emcee, chanteuse Sally Bowles, and a British-writer-searching-for-inspiration Cliff Bradshaw, among other members of the Scooby Gang.
While the show is certainly rife with interpersonal drama (forbidden love! Early twentieth century abortion! Secret Nazis!), what makes this musical stand out from Cats or Oklahoma is the play’s doomed yearning for the greener pastures of yesteryear in the midst of major, life-threatening political upheaval. Quel juxtaposition, n’est-ce pas?
For the prudes among us, there’s going to be some skin showing, and a sampling of rather colourful language. But let’s be honest: with a title like Cabaret, what were you expecting?
Yoga Play at Gateway Theatre
An executive at the yoga apparel company Lulule – sorry – Jojomon gets in trouble for fat-shaming. Joan is hired to save the company’s image, and comes up with some, er, creative solutions.
Dipika Guha’s new play tackles issues such as body image, cultural appropriation, and the awkward intersection of yoga spirituality with capitalism, but the show never takes itself too seriously. “The more serious, the more difficult something is to talk about, the more we actually need the laughter to explore it,” says the play’s director Jovanni Sy. “There’s so much that can be unpacked through humour.”
Despite taking place in California, Sy adds, Yoga Play is particularly relevant for Vancouver audiences. “I think the more you hustle to try to buy a home where the market is so crazily inflated, or you try to make rent, the harder it might be to find a place that is spiritually centred, where you have a sense of yourself,” he says. “And what does it mean when that search for self is in itself a huge, billion-dollar industry? What does it mean to find that kind of inner peace when everyone’s trying to sell it to you?”
Children of God at the Cultch
February 20-March 10
If you don’t think Canada’s residential school system is the most obvious subject for a musical, you’re not alone. That didn’t stop playwright-director Corey Payette, though – and his show Children of God returns this month to Vancouver after a sold-out run in 2017.
The story focuses on an Oji-Cree family that’s torn apart by one such school. (Payette himself is Oji-Cree.) “We felt it was important to tell a more personal story,” he says. “These were brothers and sisters; these were aunties and uncles; these were people that were funny and quirky and had joy and sadness.”
Critics have called it “must-see theatre for Canadians,” and say it has “the most punch-to-the-gut emotional ending I have ever experienced in my many years as a theatregoer.” Well, dang.gateway theatre, places please, studio 58, The Cultch