— Photo credit: Beatty Oei Photography
STATIONARY: A RECESSION-ERA MUSICAL
What a wonderful show this is.
Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical has had a couple of earlier incarnations, which I somehow managed to miss. But this version at The Cultch, remounted by Chelsea Haberlin from Laura McLean’s original direction, absolutely shines. Christine Quintana’s book and lyrics are intelligent, funny and sad; Mishelle Cuttler’s music is endlessly witty; Kayla Dunbar’s choreography is delightful. There’s rarely a dull moment visually or vocally. All the music is played live on stage—by everyone—and the performances are across the board terrific.
The show is set in a Vancouver office (a strong design by Lauchlin Johnston) where Millennials sell ad space, or something equally banal, and gripe in dialogue and song about their shitty jobs and disappointing lives. Everyone has a useless BA (or MBA!), no one has enough money to live in this über-expensive town, nor has any of them managed to live up to their earlier dreams for themselves. There’s a sweet, tentative romance between Lizzie the receptionist (Quintana) and the new guy Aiden (the always charming Anton Lipovetsky), and a competition for the job of assistant to the bitchy office manager Anna (Cuttler). Otherwise, plot gives way to character and situation, and those are beautifully developed. This brief summary does NO justice to the smarts and sensitivity of Quintana’s dialogue and characters.
The office crew is rounded out by keener Brad (Brian Cochrane, who raps lyrics he’s written), overachiever Mel (Meaghan Chenosky) and bitter Britta (Claire Hesselgrave in a searing performance). Everyone sings well, moves well and plays an instrument or two along with musicians Alex Hauka (cello), Molly MacKinnon (violin) and Arlen Kristian Tom (guitar). Cuttler plays a mean piano and sings a phenomenal solo.
Local, original and fabulous, this show should have legs far beyond Vancouver.