SEPTEMBER 2019 | Volume 183
Jonathan Winsby as Bobby. Photo by Nicol Spinola. Hair and makeup by Madeleine Suddaby.
Jessie Award Winners Serve Immersive Theatre and Gourmet Cake in Mount Pleasant Apartment
Site-Specific Production of Sondheim’s Company Quenches Vancouver’s Thirst for Non-Traditional Musical Theatre.
On the heels of their 2018 Jessie Award-winning production, the creative team that staged Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in a Gastown pop-up shop returns with an immersive production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, opening October 11 at Bobby’s Apartment in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.
Jessie-nominated director Chris Adams and two-time Ovation Award-winning choreographer Nicol Spinola shift from the gruesome streets of London to the poignancy of everyday Manhattan with Company, the tale of Bobby’s life as a bachelor, told through vignettes in the context of his 35th birthday, which he’s celebrating in his home with his closest friends – five married couples.
The show revolutionized musical theatre when it debuted in 1970, proving that the theatre was not only an avenue to escape real life, but also an opportunity to reflect reality back to audiences. As Sondheim has said, “Broadway theater has been for many years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems. These people really want to escape that world when they go to the theatre, and then here we are with Company talking about how we're going to bring it right back in their faces.”
Immersive musical theatre productions are rare, but the success of Sweeney Todd proved not only that Vancouver audiences are hungry for these non-traditional theatre experiences, but that productions that break the mould can achieve mainstream acclaim.
“After selling out Sweeney Todd last year and seeing how enthusiastic Vancouver is for unique theatre experiences, we wanted to take the really personal story of Bobby and tell it in a similarly immersive way,” explains director and co-producer Adams. Small audiences of only a few dozen people take in the show from the living room of a Mount Pleasant apartment, seated on couches, chairs, bar stools or floor cushions. The option of digging into one of East Vancouver-based Bluebird Cakery’s salted caramel birthday cakes in a mason jar at intermission adds to the experience.
Company features a brilliantly brisk and energetic score containing many of Sondheim's best-known songs. The strength of the piece lies in its vivid characters, so the story can be told as effectively with a cavalcade of automated set pieces as it can be with a simple chair or two. Every audience member will see reflections of themselves in at least one of the characters onstage.
Jonathan Winsby, a Jessie Award nominee for his portrayal of Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, plays the role of Bobby, joined by an accomplished cast of local theatre luminaries including Warren Kimmel (Jessie Award winner for his role as Sweeney Todd in the 2018 production) as Larry, Katey Wright as Joanne, Caitlin Clugston as Sarah, Graham Coffeng as Harry, Janet Gigliotti as Susan, Anthony Santiago as Peter, Jennifer Suratos as Jenny, Steve Maddock as David, Alex Gullason as Amy, Nick Fontaine as Paul, Madeleine Suddaby as Marta, Jennie Neumann as Kathy, and Lindsay Ann Warnock as April.
The 2018 production of Sweeney Todd was the winner of four Jessie Richardson awards, including Outstanding Performance by an Actor (Warren Kimmel) and by an Actress (Colleen Winton), Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Oliver Castillo), and Outstanding Production of a Musical.
Raincity Theatre Presents Company
Dates: October 11-26, 2019 at 8PM.
Ticket Prices: $29–$79
Venue: Bobby’s Apartment, 2531 Ontario Street, Vancouver, BC
Tickets and Information: raincitytheatre.com
About Raincity Theatre:Founded in 2019 on the heels of creative duo Chris Adams (director) and Nicol Spinola’s (choreographer) Jessie Award-winning production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Raincity Theatre is an artist-owned cooperative dedicated to bringing immersive musical theatre experiences to Vancouver audiences in non-traditional settings.
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