MINTY: Some applause, please, for musicals and especially pantos like ‘Pinocchio’ in Surrey

Ovation Awards given out in January by Applause! Musicals Society

A scene from “Pinocchio

SURREY — Did you see a musical or pantomime – professional or amateur company – during 2016? Ah yes, musical theatre is the crown jewel of the performing arts. There are musicians, dancers and actors all involved in the production. It’s the full, real-deal triple threat if you are a performer. You must be able to sing, dance and act, and often all three at once.

Go ahead, try it. Sing a favorite tune while executing even simple dance steps and see how far you get. Definitely multi-tasking. If you can’t be a great performer, at the very least singing and dancing at the same time is a great aerobic exercise.

But I digress, as usual.

Musical theatre is so much more than physical and vocal exercise. It is a demanding, and rewarding, performing art.

A group known as Applause! Musicals Society recognizes and rewards all those magical musicals produced and performed each year in the Lower Mainland – or Metro Vancouver, as we are now so named. The Ovation Awards are given out at the end of January.

Good news! If you did see a few musicals in 2016, you can go on to the Applause website,, and vote for your favourite. Please do. Most of the awards are now adjudicated by a panel of experts, but there are a few areas where we, the viewing public, can still vote. CLICK HERE for details.

There are some questions, like what was your favourite musical of 2016 (mine was the Arts Club Theatre Company’s “Billy Elliot”), and you can vote for your favourite pantomime. Pantomime is a kind of musical, but not really a musical. It is in its own world, but glad to see that the Ovation Awards are now including this very popular form of musical theatre entertainment.

Few professional companies actually do mount pantomimes, but community theatre companies are awash with this genre. So my favourite pantomime this year was “Pinocchio” by Surrey’s FVGSS: A Musical Theatre Society, formerly known as Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society. This was the best panto FVGSS has done in many a long year. Kudos. Well done. Applause.

Voting on the Applause website continues until Jan. 23. While there, I noted the site lists 37 companies that put on musicals or pantomimes in this region, including professional, semi-professional and amateur productions. What a wealth of shows to choose from!

Musicals are the stuff of Broadway and Hollywood. Broadway is the epicentre of live performances, and Hollywood is, of course, all about film – La La Land. Ah yes, I don’t ever review movies, but I loved “La La Land.” Went to see it with the musical theatre professional performer of the family. We had sort of different views of this film, but we both enjoyed it. It was not what I expected – not glitzy big Hollywood musical – just very real. Charming. And if you really know musical theatre, you will notice homages to the great Hollywood musicals. It’s lovely and nostalgic and very modern, all at once. Besides, one of my favourite actors/directors on our local scene, Marko Hohlbein, said on his Facebook page to “GO SEE LA LA LAND.” So this one’s on you, Marko.

One thing all musicals need is a Music Director. Oh sure, an artistic director and choreographer are essential as well, but right now FVGSS is looking for a music director for its spring production, called “A Day In Hollywood/A Night In the Ukraine.” This quirky, small-cast musical is a revue/Marx Brothers-style show – a wonderful send-up of the glory days of Hollywood. This almost sounds like “La La Land,” doesn’t it?

The show runs during the first two weeks of May at Crossridge Church’s theatre, the former Clova in the heart of Cloverdale. An honorarium will be paid. I think this will be a fun show, and perhaps something completely different. Director is the multi-talented Rebekah McEwan and choreographer is Carol Seitz. Now all that is needed is live music. Interested? Email Come this time next year, there may be an Ovation Award in it for you. Life is sometimes just like a big-budget Hollywood musical. Lights, camera, music. Love it.


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