Last week we were fortunate to attend one of the last showings of Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), at the Stanley Park Malkin Bowl, for the 2009 season. TUTS is a non-profit society that was first started in 1940 when a group of local theatre people formed to produce professional quality musicals during the summer. Since then, TUTS has been a Lower Mainland tradition. In 24 seasons from 1940 to 1963 TUTS presented 104 productions, both operettas and musicals, in various venues throughout Vancouver and a few across BC. Unfortunately, TUTS declared bankruptcy in 1963. In 1969, a new company, Theatre in the Park, began presenting two musicals each summer in the Stanley Park Malkin Bowl and renamed itself Theatre Under the Stars in 1980. In 1982 a fire destroyed part of Malkin Bowl but the company was able to survive and rebuild the damaged outdoor theatre and continued presenting musical theatre through to 2006, when TUTS took a season off to regroup and then returned in 2007 bringing us up to 2009 and the 63rd season.
This year TUTS ran two shows, the ever popular Annie and Thoroughly Modern Mille. We saw the ‘high spirited’ Mille which tells the story of a small-town girl, Millie Dillmount, who comes to New York City in 1922 at the height of the Wall Street boom. The lead was played exceptionally well by Diana Kaarina who was born and raised here in Vancouver but has preformed in both Les Mis and Rent on Broadway. The rest of the cast was also quite good. The goal of TUTS to be a training ground to develop amateur performers and technicians both young and old seems to be working. While it is too late to catch a show this summer, we recommend that you check it out next year.
We also have to admit that we have never been to see anything at the Malkin Bowl. Can you believe it? We did have very good reserved seats (Thanks James) but could see the fun in stretching out on a blanket to watch a concert from the top of the bowl. I will have to be on the lookout for the 2010 concert line-up.