Beaches brings Broadway goals to Theatre Calgary

Seashores the Musical is a very good cry, and that is not practically nothing.

The latest variation of the musical opened at Theatre Calgary Friday night, in a packed dwelling that brought a huge gust of Broadway excitement to southern Alberta in the variety of dozens of New York and Los Angeles readers eager to check it out, alongside a string of Calgary politicians together with the mayor, quite a few councillors and a provincial NDP leadership applicant, Naheed Nenshi, known to enjoy a evening at the theatre.

Beaches is an adaptation of a well-liked 1988 movie starring Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey and Huge Bang Theory’s Mayim Blalik that tells the tale of the lifelong friendship between free-spirited actress and singer Cee Cee Bloom and Bertie, an heiress.

As they say in the press supplies, and Theatre Calgary inventive director Stafford Arima repeated in an introduction prior to Friday’s curtain, “It’s a love tale about friendship.”

That’s a really good log line and off the top, when we fulfill Cee Cee and Bertie as very little youngsters (splendidly played, respectively by Addison Wagman and Cecilia Currie) on a beach that could be Coney Island, you could experience the audience’s energy about to blow the roof off of the Max Bell theatre.

Wagman’s Cee Cee, dressed to some degree incongruously in a burlesque outfit, is a Borscht Belt comedian hiding inside the human body of a pre-teen wannabe baby star with bottomless clearly show business enterprise aspirations, although Currie’s Bertie is a suitable younger woman with a dazzling way of enunciating each individual word.

Or, to set it yet another way, Currie had me at ‘quixotically’.

Cecilia Currie as Little Bertie and Addison Wagman as Very little Cee Cee in Beach locations the Musical at Theatre Calgary. (Photo: Trudie Lee)

It could not go improper. Could it?

Well, a funny matter transpired to the initially act as soon as the ladies morph into teenage besties Cee Cee and Bertie (don’t blink, you’ll pass up it), and then to the youthful adult editions (with Jessica Vosk as Cee Cee and Kelli Barrett as Bertie) , circa 1966.

Fairly inexplicably, all the juice drains out of the girls’ friendship for about 40 minutes, as the musical labours through a tortured sketch set all around a summer season inventory theatre operate by incredibly hot person artistic director John (Brent Thiessen) the place Cee Cee is struggling to establish herself as an actress — and, failing that, to seduce superior person lothario John right before he receives blinded by Bertie’s WASP superior looks and crisp enunciation.

Dysfunctional summer time stock theatre organization scenes can be hilarious but in Beach locations, it all feels like a sketch from The Carol Burnett Show that would have been cut from the show back again in 1976.

No matter what laughs are to be mined in Seashores normally occur from either the salty commentary delivered by Cee Cee, a bohemian free of charge spirit who loves to shock, or from the woefully sheltered malaprops delivered by Bertie, whose overbearing mom Rose (Emily Dallas) is determined to marry her off to rich Michael (Nathan Gibb Johnson),  whether or not Bertie enjoys him or not.

All of it is introduced in energetic design and style by co-administrators Lonnie Price tag and Matt Cowart in a theatrical approach (by designer James Noone) that could possibly best be explained as retro-Broadway – there is a montage of marquees intended to conjure photographs of 1960s Broadway or Vegas glory for Cee Cee, though at other moments we go to Cee Cee on the established of a fictional weekly CBS wide variety display that she’s the star of.


It’s a odd type of way to explain to tales in the 21st century but the old-time-Broadway-musical structure succeeded with Hairspray and there is plenty of nods right here towards The Producers and maybe even Gypsy as well, in tone and style and design — and there is a humanity to the schmaltzier elements of Shorelines that feels comforting, when considered through the rear-see mirror of the pandemic and the lonliness epidemic it spawned.

There is something to be said for an previous-time, aged-university musical with its coronary heart in the correct spot and Beaches the Musical aims to be the prescription that fills that emotional gap.

After flailing absent in the summer season inventory scene, Seashores improbably gets the big musical boat back again in the drinking water. The stakes amp up among Bertie and Cee Cee just after specified betrayals that acquire them aside and bring them again alongside one another once more, and the two figures start to mature on you.

Kelli Barrett as Bertie White, Jessica Vosk as Cee Cee Bloom in Shorelines the Musical at Theatre Calgary. (Photo: Trudie Lee)

Vosk has a excellent voice and a not-as well-shabby sense of humour and effectively manages to catch the lonliness beneath Cee Cee’s diva exterior.

Barrett’s Bertie is the WASPY, rich fish out of drinking water in the 60s and 70s and the writers really don’t do her any favours but she has a good way of hanging in there and by defying her mom and her class, she’s essentially the only a single undertaking any actual rebelling below.

Other notables include Thiessen’s John, who exudes an simple allure, Alba Evora Weiler as Bertie’s daughter Nina, Sierra Holder, in a wide variety of roles and Calgary’s Jamie Konchak, as Cee Cee’s wild girl mom Rose Bloom and other roles.

All of it feels like another person dug deep into a tickle trunk entire of archetypes from five or 6 a long time ago, so how significantly you’re keen to go alongside with a 21st century Beach locations is up to you.

But a lot of individuals did Friday night time, in which there have been tears and sniffles aplenty, so absolutely a critic can have up to it when a film musical adaptation manages to turn on the taps of 700 or 800 theatre goers – even if it feels as if sticking The Wind Beneath My Wings at the very conclude feels much more like a curtain call than a climax.

Ninety-a person-year-old legend Mike Stoller, who wrote a few tunes you may well be common with – Hound Pet dog, Stand By Me, Jailhouse Rock – composed the music, which experienced some times, in tunes like Wish I Could Be Like You, and God Bless Girlfriends, that elevated the storytelling and beautifully captured the friendship involving two unlikely very best buddies.

The e-book, by Beach locations author Iris Rainer Dart, and playwright Thom Thomas, feels undercooked and sketchy – but so did The Producers and it won 12 Tonys, so who’s to say? Musicals have their individual love language, which frequently includes singing your feelings so suspend your disbelief and hum along.

And whilst the e-book may possibly not exactly nourish your ears, Rainer Dart has a real talent with lyrics, specially when Currie’s younger Bertie is diligently enunciating them.

Theatre Calgary’s Beaches the Musical is the most recent out-of-town tryout for a exhibit that has been aiming for Broadway for a even though now – and who understands the place it goes from listed here? Hadestown and 6 – The Musical went from Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre to lengthy, profitable Broadway operates.

Can Beach locations the Musical be the up coming Alberta export to Broadway? Judging by the rents they spend, I’d say New York theatre audiences could all use a excellent cry as well.