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January 27, 2012

A few years ago Canadian musician Veda Hille had an idea for a series of 20 minute musicals. Here the Craigslist Cantata was born. I blogged about its funny and enthralling debut at the 2009 PuSh festival and was not about to miss the expanded version at this year's fest.

Bill Richardson combed Craigslist for the weird, beautiful and sublime and put together a libretto of songs which create characters, list strange things for sale and remind us of both the pathos out there in the world but also inside of us.

You will not be disappointed if you attend the show.  The lyrics are clever, amazing in their strange content and often rich in poetry. The music, on piano and drums, is the confident sound we expect from Hille. It is the theatrical staging of the performance which is most changed from the original show. There is much more acting to accompany the singing now and it does make this into more of a real theatrical performance.

For me, this event lacked the wow factor of the first performance, even with an hour more of material. Maybe it was because I knew what was coming, but while I liked the show a lot, I did not love it as much as the first time around. The show is longer, true, but I don't know that this expansion makes it any more sophisticated or revealing and it seems like a little opportunity was missed.

I was glad that the free sponges remained in the show, as well as the guy looking for a friend to share his chili. Memorable new sections include an "I saw you" to a clown on stilts and a young adult trying to part with her penguin toy collection.

There is some unevenness in the performances. Most are fairly good, but Bree Greig is the true stand out and both her voice and acting are spectacular.

It runs until February 11, 2012 at 8:00pm, Tues 7:30pm. Matinee Wed & Sat 2:00pm, No show Sun.

Arts Club, Revue Stage. 1601 Johnston Street, Granville Island. Post-Show Talkback Feb 7.

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January 27, 2012

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