Location: St. Michaels University School 3400 Richmond Road
Remaining Shows: Aug 30 07:00 pm Aug 31 02:00 pm Aug 31 07:00 pm
No year of attending the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival can be complete without a show from St Michaels University School as they put on a high school level production of an award winning Broadway play. This year is notable as the summer program which teaches theatre celebrate 20 years and returns to Pippin. This musical was their very first.
In all the years I’ve been covering this event, I feel it’s worth the trip away from the event core (downtown Victoria) to check out. Fans of Broadway shows will not be disappointed. To note: the cast rotates, so each student gets to play two different roles.
Location: St Michaels University School 3400 Richmond Road Victoria, BC
Remaining shows: Sept 1
The St Michaels University School Summer Music Intensive program never disappoints. Every year, for the past decade, at least, the team here have put on a show as part of the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival and in the past several years I have been attending, I enjoy seeing new talents rise. This year has been a record year: Twenty-five students enrolled. I noticed one member going over the script and perhaps helping fellow cast-mates with when their cue is coming up.
This year, a Disaster! The Musical is in the making. This play paid homage to 70s disaster flicks and the all the calamities that take place had to be fully imagined than recreated for the stage. This production is high school level at best. No budget exists to recreate tsunamis, earthquakes and killer bees in a grande scale. The students get to switch roles per show, so each of them come out feeling more rewarded in showcasing their talent. No standouts exist this year. They were all equals in my mind. Memorable numbers include “Still the One” and “You’re my Best Friend.”
This show highlights the musical stylings of bands like The Jonas Brothers and the modern sounds of the past decade. Like ’em or not, those who grew up to these tunes had a rollicking time with this production. James Shaw admits to not being fond of today’s music whereas I’m open; at least I keep up when he can not, thus making me the ideal candidate to look at this production. His limitations in what he likes to talk about make for better opportunities for me to talk about my fondness for modern Disney.
Opening night was not without a few chuckle-worthy moments, gaffes included; the group was able to roll with it and continue on. They also helped each other out on stage when lines were forgotten and I believe that’s the heart of what this program extols than to provide a higher calibre show other local professional theatre schools like Canadian College of Performing Arts works on. I’ve seen their production of Little Shop of Horrors years ago, and that was a memorable show to which I grinned like a Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland when rubber bands were shot towards audiences!
There’s plenty of good years left for Cleese to create more fabulous work. He is a very colourful comedian. But for whomever that person was who wrote up the marketing for this show, they left one huge plot hole which left some audiences asking questions about later.
There was no Q&A that was supposed to happen after the show. I can’t fault Cleese for wanting to leave early, especially when he’s now in his 70’s, but something was amiss.
JS: He is a legend in this business not only as a great comic actor but also as a great writer. Some of the funniest material was written at least partly by Cleese. Many of my personal favourites include the British TV series At Last the 1948 Show, Doctor at Large, The Two Ronnies, Fawlty Towers and the feature film A Fish Called Wanda. At this stage of his career, John Cleese has enough credits to his name to host a two-hour retrospective of his life. And what a treat it is to sit through. Although at least some of this material you will find similar if you were in the audience of his 2011 Alimony tour, those on this side of the pond will be mostly unfamiliar with it.
In Victoria, B.C., Canada, St. Michael’s University School offers a tradition for Fringe Festival enthusiasts to enjoy. They have a wonderful summer intensive program in musical theatre which makes it a hotbed of learning at a rapid pace. Classes focus on teaching students how to develop their voice, stage presence and performance skills. No auditions are required to get in and this camp is great for introducing youths to the thrills of live theatre.
This program makes use of a well-known Broadway stage production and it becomes part of the regular Fringe Festival scene. Previous years included a very well done version of The Wedding Singer, Urinetown, Fame and High School Musical.
“They have been doing a musical every year in the Fringe for the last eight years,” said Janet Munsil, Artistic Director and Festival Producer, “And they’re the trailblazers in musicals at our 10-day long show.”
One particular alumni from the university, Andrew Sabiston, has gone on to write, Napoleon: The Musical, which was staged in Toronto.