Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story Review + Giveaway [Contest Closed]

FullSizeRender (1)

I have something super exciting to share with you musical fans! The publishing company DK Canada has given me the opportunity to review their new anthology: Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story which was released on October 27, 2015. DK Canada has also offered to give one of my lucky readers a copy of their own! This book is a must-have for anyone interested in musicals! DK Canada has this book as part of their 2015 Gift Book Boutique #AwesomeGifts which includes many recommended books for both adults and children to enjoy!


It is fitting that the forward of this book is by the amazing Elaine Paige who is often referred to as the First Lady of British Musical Theatre. Elaine Page has starred in musical theatre productions for almost 50 years including the originator of the role of Eva Perón in the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical: Evita and Grizabella in the original production of CATS.FullSizeRender[1]


The photography in this book is stunning – the images make you feel like you are in the theatre watching them perform.  This book truly has something for everyone – information on stage productions, storylines, actors, and musicals, both from stage and screen, to even information on the behind-the-scenes including musical theatre choreographers such as the amazing Bob Fosse.

FullSizeRender (2)

About the book:

Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story showcases the complete history of the musical on stage and screen, from its origins in ancient Greece to early twentieth century dance halls and vaudeville to the golden age of cinema productions to the record-breaking Broadway musicals of today.

Packed with historical insights, memorabilia, behind-the-scenes gossip, and artifacts, Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story takes you on the ultimate behind-the-scenes tour of the best-loved musicals, such as ChicagoLes MisérablesThe Lion KingThe Phantom of the OperaThe Sound of Music, and many more.

In all, Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story features more than 140 notable stage and film productions and the stories of the people who created them. Throughout, clear infographics, rich black-and-white and color photography, and a clever, informative design make this comprehensive overview of musical theater and movie musicals a true showstopper.

To find out more details about DK Canada, you can connect with them on their website, as well as their FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest  and Google+ pages!

And be sure to check out their #awesomegifts guide for some amazing Holiday Gift Ideas!dk-gift-boutique-wish-list-2015-button-185x185

Disclaimer: I received this book from DK Canada in order to write this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

 And now, a chance for my readers to win a copy of this book for their very own perusal! It is truly stunning and will have something for everyone!


UPDATE! Congrats to the winner, Holly O! 

Click the photo to enter! FullSizeRender(2)




Book of Mormon is a must-see! A Review

The Book of Mormon Company.  The Book of Mormon.  Credit Joan Marcus, 2015

The Book of Mormon Company. The Book of Mormon. Credit Joan Marcus, 2015

The Book of Mormon is definitely not for the politically correct or faint of heart. It’s obscene, racist, and sacrilegious – and I was often at times seen to be covering my mouth and questioning “did they actually just say that??” That being said, the music, the scenery and the acting was just spectacular in this hilarious touring production of The Book of Mormon brought to Vancouver by Broadway Across Canada. The applause for the Wednesday evening show garnered a standing ovation within seconds of the lights dimming.

I had first seen a few pieces about The Book of Mormon on and the Tony Awards where it notably won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2011. This delightfully offensive and sharp witted musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (known for South Park fame) and Robert Lopez (known for Avenue Q) has been sold out to audiences in NYC eight shows a week since then. I had hoped it would do a Vancouver tour – and I waited patiently until now. It definitely met my expectations and then some. I will still get the song “Hello” stuck in my head…. well pretty much every time I say Hello to someone.

While most reviews comment on the shocking nature of the show, there is an actual story within the hilarity. It starts by telling a bit of the history of how the Mormonism religion came to be to where it is in current day, with young men and women venturing out into the world, “Two by Two” to offer service and bring people into their religion via teachings and baptism. The Book of Mormon revolves around a star pupil Elder Price played by Billy Harrington Tighe who gets paired with a boisterous and eager to be friends with anyone who will give him attention Elder Cunningham played by StarKid A.J. Holmes. They are paired and instead of being sent to Elder Price’s ideal destination of Orlando, they are sent to a small village in Uganda, where there are met with famine, poverty and AIDS.

Photo Five. The Book of Mormon Company.  The Book of Mormon.  (c) Joan Marcus 2015

A.J. Holmes does an amazing portrayal of Elder Cunningham. He has amazing comedic timing and strong voice during his vocals. Billy Harrington Tighe is equally as strong in the vocals and was outstanding during the passionate song “I Believe”.

Alexandra Ncube portrays the female lead Nabulungi (or is it Jon Bon Jovi… or Narcolepsy… or Necrophilia… or). She does an impressive job of playing the innocent girl, hopeful for a better life in “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” (Salt Lake City).

The vocals are solid, the comedy is hilarious and the music is amazing. If you can get over the hurdle of the obscenity, The Book of Mormon is a solid 2+ hours of a fun time. Definitely a must-see for everyone old enough to understand this type of non PC humour.

If you want to come see Book of Mormon, there are 5 shows remaining at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. While tickets are far and few between, The Book of Mormon is pleased to announce a lottery ticket policy for the National Tour. In Vancouver, the production will conduct a pre-show lottery, making a limited number of tickets available at $25 cash each.  Entries for the lottery will be accepted 2 hours and 30 minutes prior to each performance, with the winners drawn 2 hours before the curtain rises. The lottery will be held on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza, located around the corner from the box office.  You can find more information here


Wicked is back in Vancouver and is as Popular as Ever! Review


Photo Credit - Joan Marcus

Photo Credit – Joan Marcus

How marvelously “wicked” a musical can be! Wicked has returned to Vancouver for five weeks and is one musical you cannot miss!

Wicked begins with the big news that the Wicked Witch of the West is finally dead after torturing the residents of Munchkinland and Oz (No One Mourns the Wicked). The most beautiful person appears in a bubble – it’s Glinda, the Good Witch! From there, the untold story of the Wicked Witch, named Elphaba comes out, revealing the school relationship between Glinda and this lovely girl in green.

Kara Linsday plays the magical soprano Glinda in this touring production of Wicked. I was excited to learn she was in the original Broadway cast of Newsies (another musical I cannot wait for). Her presence is strong in this production – as one of the two starring ladies; her voice is wonderfully suited for this role. She also has amazing comedic timing, her lines are perfectly suited to make the audience laugh amid some of the seriousness of the musical.

Laurel Harris plays the role of Elphaba in Wicked, the other leading lady. This role is probably one of the most demanding of all the musicals I have seen over the years. Not only does she wear amazing green makeup that she has to act her character through (oh M.A.C., you have genius character makeup), she is often “alone” on stage in her singing, without the backup of the ensemble cast, as she is the different and disliked witch. Laurel has a fantastic presence on stage. You can hear the strength of her voice among the others. I don’t think I have seen a better Defying Gravity. You are captivated when she flies into the air.

The duet Glinda and Elphaba sing together, For Good, had me weepy at the end.

Other notable mentions in the cast are Kathy Fitzgerald as Madam Morrible and Matt Shingledecker as Fiyero. However, it is challenging to even pick out favourites among the supporting cast and ensemble- I noticed particular and special pieces from all of them.

This musical also has some of the best costuming I’ve seen in a musical. Brilliant colours and fabrics have a wonderful “whimsyness” about them. Black and white striped socks, the glittering Glinda gowns and the darkness of the Elphabas’s transition from geeky girl to the Wicked Witch all stand out to support their characters.

Kudos to the crew who put this magical scenery together- this must be well oiled machine of individuals, each with their own tasks to accomplish. It is truly masterful work. The lights, the sounds, the scenery are all amazing.

This production also includes nine local musicians in the orchestra which is wonderful to see. They also had local crews to help set up the stage.

Wicked is an amazing work of art to see. I enjoyed every second of it. Our audiences did too- there was no hesitating at all for the standing ovation it received.

If you’d like to see Wicked, you can purchase your tickets through Wicked runs until June 29, 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth theatre in Vancouver. You can also try your luck at the Wicked Lottery –  two hours before the show starts, you can put your name into the Cauldron and a half an hour later, if your name is drawn, you can purchase two orchestra level tickets to that performance of Wicked for $25.00 each, cash only.