Summers were made for picnics, hikes, beach days, barbeques, lying underneath the stars on comfy grass, oh the list can go on…Summer also means watching shows outdoors, underneath the beautiful stars. The annual Theater Under The Stars (TUTS) is a favourite for many people living in Vancouver, as well as those visiting Vancouver.
Last evening, I had the opportunity to attend 1 of the 2 shows offered by TUTS this year, West Side Story. The other is Disney’s classic Beauty and the Beast. As usual, I don’t want to give too many spoilers of the plot, but allow me to take you through a glimpse of what to expect at a TUTS show.
West Side Story is beyond just a romantic storyline between the leads Tony and Maria, issues of racism, poverty, and stereotyping are also brought up. Think similarities to Grease or The Outsiders crossover with Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story follows two groups of teenagers, the Jets and Sharks, from different ethnic backgrounds, and their encounters due to the forbidden passionate romance between Tony and Maria. Tony is a member of the Jets, although Maria isn’t exactly a member of the Sharks, her brother Bernardo is. As the plot evolved throughout the various acts, it definitely kept me on my seat and holding my breath at times. West Side Story is another piece I studied extensively during my Royal Conservatory of Music days, so it has been a favourite of mine from a young age. I was very excited to learn TUTS chose it as one of their musicals this summer!
I arrived about 45 minutes before the show started. The venue was fairly easy to find, it is close to the rose garden and Pavillion at Stanley Park.
You can either purchase your tickets in advance or at the door, both lines to purchase or pick up were moving quite quickly.
When you first enter, on your right you will find a tent set up. Inside there are displays from past productions, and information about the long history of TUTS, I loved this set up! Perfect for someone like me that likes to learn about fun facts of things.
Dress from their previous Shrek production.
You can purchase souvenirs on the other side of the tent.
Enjoy some preshow snacks at the Garden Cafe, there is a grill for some barbeque meals, or popcorn, candy, and drinks to bring inside the performance. There is also a bar for wine and a bar for hot drinks (tea, coffee, hot chocolate) near the entrance. The hot drinks are perfect for when it gets colder later in the evening!
Programs and seat cushions are available by donation.
Little props and a backdrop to take photos of the memorable evening.
When the sun is completely sets, the lights look even prettier!
Overall, I really enjoyed the performance. The leads Jennifer Gillis and Matt Montgomery as Maria and Tony have great chemistry together and delivers a solid performance individually, as with the rest of the cast and orchestra. I barely blinked during ‘Tonight’ and especially at the last scene, my fingers were literally gripping the edge of my seat! Jennifer Gillis is capable of portraying the multiple emotions Maria experiences, all in the span of a couple hours. Another notable mention is Alexandra Lainfiesta’s performance as Anita, her inner conflicts of whether to support Maria’s decisions was very well portrayed.
TUTS most certainly does an amazing job with providing a ‘local theater’ vibe, no wonder many look forward to their shows each summer. Vancouver has a lot of talent, as clearly seen from the choreography and performance from each of the cast members. Also great to see the number of volunteers from the community to support the shows and help in making it happen.
You can still buy tickets for the remaining performances here. I hope you all enjoy your night(s) out under the stars, and remember to bring a wrap or blanket as it does get chilly after intermission when the sun completely sets!
Thank you again Theater Under The Stars for hosting me at your show last evening!
*All photos were taken by me, with the exception of 2 of the production photos. Please remember there is absolutely no photography or video recordings allowed during the performance.