10 hottest Calgary arts shows in March: Polyamorous Mormons and Comic Heroes

Feb 15 2017, 11:30 pm

An eclectic mix of themes hits Calgary stages this month, with dispositions ranging from sunny side up to dark and stormy.

If you prefer your humour as dark as black coffee, there’s plenty on offer. Gracie explores the secrets of a polyamorous Mormon society in small-town BC. Likewise, Theatre Calgary’s adaptation of A Thousand Splendid Suns is hardly going to be all sunshine and rainbows.

Finally for the truly obscene, Spurt of Blood comes with the equivalent of an ‘R’ rating — but we’re pretty sure that’s not going to deter you.

But in case your dreams are full of sunshine and unicorns, there are some great gems this month. Comic books and musicals collide in Crime Does Not Pay, or follow a clueless-Brit-turned-secret-service-agent around in Our Man in Havana.

Whatever your preference, go the extra mile and commit to attending at least one show this month. In tumultuous times like these, spending on your local arts scene remains one of the soundest investments around.

See also

Gracie – Alberta Theatre Projects

Image: David Cooper

Book of Mormon opened the floodgates to renewed interest (okay, scrutiny) in the Church of Latter Day Saints, so this new Canadian play comes at a perfect time to capitalise on the trend. Go beyond the headlines through the eyes of a young girl, in this ‘inspired by real-life’ look at an isolated polygamous community in Bountiful, British Columbia. By award-winning playwright Joan MacLeod, Gracie will focus on a personal struggle between the outside world and conformity to a community’s traditions.

Where: Martha Cohen Theatre, Arts Commons – 215 8 Avenue SE

When: February 28 to March 18

Tickets: At Arts Commons, $25-$62

Crime Does Not Pay – Downstage and Forte Musical Theatre

Image: Tim Nguyen

Gorgeous songs and explosive ideas mesh together in this brand new musical, about an aspiring comic book writer in the 1940s. Artist Bob hits his stride after sexing up his stories with ‘babes and blood’, after falling for a lounge singer with an abusive ex-husband. Does art mimic life, or the other way around? Find out next time on the exciting adventures of Crime Does Not Pay!

Where: Arts Commons, Engineered Air Theatre – 225 8th Avenue SE

When: March 2 to 5, and March 7 to 11

Tickets: At Arts Commons, $25

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Theatre Calgary

Image: Kevin Berne

Based on the book of the same name, and the second adaptation of the series to stage by Theatre Calgary, A Thousand Splendid Suns is set in war-torn Afghanistan. Unlike 2013’s production of The Kite Runner, the show is interwoven around the lives of two women, brought together by fate and cruelty.

Where: Max Bell Theatre, Arts Commons – 240 9th Avenue SE

When: March 7 to April 1

Tickets: At Theatre Calgary, $55-$121

Our Man in Havana – Vertigo Theatre

Image: Courtesy of Persephone Theatre

1950’s Cuba. Clueless Englishman. British Secret Service. What could go wrong? When offered a fine position as their “man in Havana,” Jim Wormold has to say yes. This hilarious, fast-paced romp through the world of espionage is March’s offering from Vertigo Theatre.

Where: The Playhouse – 115 9th Avenue SE

When: March 7 to April 1

Tickets: At Vertigo Theatre, $29-$61

To The Pain That Lingers – Theatre Junction

Image: Mathieu Doyon

Up-and-coming choreographer Virginie Brunelle hails from Montreal, where she’s making an impact with her romantic yet crude style, an ongoing investigation of human relations. The resulting work is distinct and frequently unforgettable, with performers marring classical choreography with jagged rhythms and raw gestures.

Where: Theatre Junction GRAND – 608 1 Street SW

When: March 8 to 11

Tickets: At Vendini, $45

The Festival of Animated Objects

Image: The Umbrella, courtesy of The Festival of Animated Objects

You may not know it, but Calgary has a long and distinguished history for puppetry. The festival seeks to bring the love for the art under one roof, from traditional puppetry techniques to new creations. Check out their free shows and all-ages offerings, but also keep an eye out for mature fare in ways you’d never expected from puppets. Our money’s on Red Leather Yellow Jacket, featuring new multicultural takes on clowns — a second-generation Chinese Canadian and a Metis-Cree, to be exact.

Where: Various Locations

When: March 16 to 19

Tickets: At Arts Commons, $25-$38

Girl Crush – Lunchbox Theatre

Image: Sharron Matthews

This Calgary premiere of cabaret artist Sharron Matthews is all about the music. Matthews’ reimagines her tales of heartbreak, obsession, awe and love through the lens of a wide variety of catchy musical influences: Elton John, The Police, Blondie, Little Big Town, Rick Springfield, The Killers, Beyonce and Cyndi Lauper. Come spend your lunch hour in the most lively way possible, and return to the office with a bounce in your step.

Where: Lunchbox Theatre – #160 115 9th Avenue SE

When: March 20 to April 8

Tickets: At Lunchbox Theatre, $25

Spurt of Blood – Theatre Encounter

Image: Dean Mullin

With only 14 audience members per performance, Theatre Encounter continues their pursuit of a ‘theatre of cruelty’. If you love theatre that comes with warning labels attached, then Spurt of Blood is the visceral experience for you. Generally considered ‘unstageable’ by most, the one-hour performance will be steeped in sex, violence and images of metaphysical horror. Or, y’know, otherwise known as the good stuff.

Where: Theatre Junction Grand – 608 1st Street SW

When: March 22 to 25

Tickets: At Vendini, $25-$30

One-Act Play Festival – Pumphouse Theatre and Alberta Drama Festival Association

Image: Pumphouse Theatre

It’s exciting to see that we’re now in the 34th year of the annual Calgary Region One Act Play Festival. Original works reign supreme over four evenings, from a variety of local artists. Whether it’s drama or comedy, contemporary or classic, there’s something for everyone at the One-Act Play Festival.

Where: Pumphouse Theatre – 2140 Pumphouse Avenue SW

When: March 22 to 25

Tickets: At Pumphouse Theatre, $12-$45

oblivion – Third Street Theatre

Image: Third Street Theatre

This highly-acclaimed play on faith and queer identity is being performed for one night only, at a small church in Foothills. For many, the drive will be more than worth it, as the semi-autobiographical work is a staged reading which delves into the complexities of religion and sexual orientation. Flipping the script on the audience, the second act of oblivion opens up into an honest and raw discussion on the themes of the play.

Where: Red Deer Lake United Church – 96187 – 178 Avenue West, Foothills (Just west of 37th street on 22x)

When: March 25

Tickets: At Red Deer Lake United Church, $20