Let’s get serious about music. Or not. Serious music deserves serious attention, right? Well, David Scheel has a hit show, Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player, for which he combines seriously brilliant piano performance with comedy. Bach on the one hand while the other hand layers in Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s all fun and games as the Australian-born Scheel uses his mastery of the piano to poke fun at modern living and current events. It’s Victor Borge with Robin Williams – and pure Scheel.
His show has been touring the world for 15 years, sold out in London’s West End, then at three consecutive Edinburgh Festivals, and led to Scheel being a regular on BBC Radio and TV shows, Stop the Week and The Garden Party. Now he makes a stop in Surrey, on Friday, Oct. 26 at city hall’s Centre Stage, 13450 104th Ave. Start time is 8 p.m., and tickets are $25/$35 (call 604 501-5566 or visit tickets.surrey.ca). Yes, this performance space also doubles as city council chambers. There is underground pay parking available with easy access to the theatre space. Think about it, music and laughter at city hall.
Well, if you do prefer your music a bit more serious, then you will likely opt for the first show in the Arts Club Theatre Company series in Surrey. It’s called The Piano Teacher, which opens Wednesday (Oct. 10) and continues until Oct. 20 at Surrey Arts Centre’s Main Stage, at Bear Creek Park (13750 88th Ave.). This is a complex drama about life’s challenges. It is a story of grief, loss and the healing power of music. That’s serious.
In The Piano Teacher, Erin, a concert pianist, hasn’t touched a piano since her husband died. As Elaine, a piano teacher, gently reacquaints Erin with her instrument, other life changes follow. A simple update to Erin’s home, for instance, brings the unexpected companionship of a contractor, Tom.
The Piano Teacher kicks off the 2018/19 Arts Club series – an all-Canadian lineup – in Surrey. Other shows are the spontaneously fun Blind Date (Jan. 9 to 19, 2019) and Circle Game, the critically acclaimed musical tribute to Joni Mitchell (Feb. 20 to March 2, 2019). The Arts Club series has never let me down yet. Every show this professional theatre company brings to Surrey is, without fail, a worthwhile theatre experience. It isn’t always about laughing and having a good time out.
There are value-added perks for the staging of The Piano Teacher, including a pre-show chat in the theatre lobby on Oct. 16, when playwright Dorothy Dittrich will offer an insider’s look at the show. Then there’s a First Friday performance on Oct. 12, when a ticket includes dessert and coffee after the show – with a chance of actor sightings. Also, a Talkback Thursday session on Oct. 18 allows audience members to stay in the theatre after the performance for a chat with the actors.
The Piano Teacher features Megan Leitch (as Erin), Caitriona Murphy (Elaine) and Kamyar Pazandeh (Tom). The show runs Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., with Friday and Saturday curtains at 8 p.m., plus matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $29 to $49 (604-501-5566, tickets.surrey.ca). There is an audience advisory on this one: mature themes and strong language.
I haven’t forgotten that it is October and we are always looking for something “haunting” at this time of year. New Westminster’s Vagabond Players have (pardon the pun) just the ticket for you. The Haunting of Hill House, directed by Jeremy Heynen, is on now until Oct. 27 at Bernie Legge Theatre, at Queen’s Park. Vagabond Players are a community theatre club, so tickets are a reasonable $15/$17, via vagabondplayers.ca/tickets and 604-521-0412.
The Haunting of Hill House is a classic thriller, ghost story. The house is set in an isolated, remote location and has a frightful past, and now stands empty. Dr. Montague, an investigator of supernatural phenomena, arrives to investigate the morbid history of the house. Communicate with spirits, and get drawn into the eerie and strange occurrences. Couldn’t be more perfect. Cue eerie music.
Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.