Phoenix Theatre: BackstagePASS
Spring 2019 • Act 12 Scene 6 

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The Phoenix's theatre's production of 7 Stories has been getting wonderful reviews from local media and an incredible response from audiences — so much so that it is being HELD OVER for an extra performance on Sunday, March 24 at 2pm. If you haven't seen Morris Panych's contemporary classic comedy yet, reviewers below are saying this is the version to see!

Listen up! 

Last week's Friday lecture now online
Listen to last week's lecture with playwright, director, journalist and filmmaker Mark Leiren-Young as he talks about the history and significance of the first production of 7 Stories 30 years ago. He shares his insights as one of the original theatre reviewers who saw the first production as well as interesting behind-the-scenes relevations.

In the Press: Highlights & Media Round-Up

Showbill Canada:
Kiana Karimkhani (posted March 18)

"...Surrealist comedy with a surrealist set design that you really must see

"... 7 Stories is simple in premise, but the sharp-witted dialogue and philosophical overtones require a certain prowess to execute, and the Phoenix Theatre peaks with its latest staging

Before the production even begins, the grandeur of the set is enough to stir you. Director Fran Gebhard uses Ken MacDonald’s original set design of a 23-foot tall apartment building which extends from below the stage to the sky, so to speak, as the backdrop is a brilliant blue overlaid with heavy white clouds inspired by the surrealist artist, René Magritte. 

Written 30 years ago, Panych’s dark comedy is as relevant today, although discussions around mental health have evolved. A play about a man contemplating suicide benefits from a lighter but sincere approach, and the risible moments soften the tone. The man’s interactions on the building’s ledge provide him—and us, by propinquity—with new perspectives about the meaning of life, and his conclusive exchange with an elderly seer is particularly enlightened. 

The scenes are brief... A tribute to UVic’s Theatre program, the cast delivers Panych’s near-perfect dialogue well and don’t make the excitable misstep of rushing through it—they linger in the comedic beats, playing to the audience’s interest."

Check the Program:
(posted March 18)

"...very little to argue about in this gorgeously presented production.

"... there’s a lot to like in Morris Panych’s kooky Canadian comedy classic, currently celebrating its 30th anniversary. For one, there’s the amazing set; for another, there’s an amazing performance by student Rahat Saini, who pretty much steals the show with her delightful take on a hundred-year-old South Asian woman...

... this satire still holds up three decades on; indeed, some of the dialogue seems surprisingly current, given that it was written pre-social media. Brightly directed by Fran Gebhard, this is the fenestrial equivalent of a slamming-doors comedy: windows pop up and down while the cast of 12 interact with the Man on the ledge...

... a great chance to see the show that established Panych as a force to be reckoned with in Canadian theatre.... come for the set—an ode not only to the original production but also to René Magritte’s surrealist art... very little to argue about in this gorgeously presented production."

The Martlet:
Brianna Bock (posted March 19)

"Phoenix ends their season with a bang... Held over (for good reason)"

"Brought back for its 30-year anniversary, the Phoenix Theatre’s production of 7 Stories not only lives up to the legacy, but puts on a great performance in their own right. The black comedy satire is packed with a lot of laughs in between the philosophizing about the meaning of life and death from seven different perspectives.

The world of 7 Stories feels like it takes place across time... choices [that] simply add to the strange logic and surrealist tone of the play, especially at the end. Even when things get serious, there’s a playful wink and nudge that leaves both a fun and thoughtful mood.

The actors, meanwhile, successfully manage in towing the line between comedy and solemness, striking that perfect balance for dark comedy that Morris Panych is known for. ...even the smallest role is packed with strong characterization and a whole lot of laughs. By the end, it’s hard to pick a favourite amongst the cast."

Nexus Newspaper:
by Emily Welch (posted March 15, 2019)

"7 Stories Leaps into Greatness"

"... 7 Stories hits all of the right spots. I had heard it was funny, and as it was written 30 years ago, it’s full of the wicked jokes that today’s political correctness backs away from. That doesn’t mean it is offensive—not at all, actually. It’s gutsy and willing to take risks, and it smiles through them.

7 Stories takes place, yes, seven stories up, in one of the most jaw-dropping sets I have ever seen. Designed by award-winning set designer Ken MacDonald, the set is a mixture of interactive architecture and brilliant lighting. 

Stories’ ledge-teetering protagonist... The Man... Lyle Hendriks...plays his part with conviction; I felt the emotions he was feeling and wanted to tell him it will all be okay.

Aidan Guerreiro steps into the shoes of the under-slept and volatile psychiatrist, and Tallas Munro and Taryn Yoneda play Rodney and Charlotte, the couple everyone hates, thriving on their own drama of brutal fighting and passionate make-ups. Rahat cast as the elderly seer Lillian, who is the last person The Man meets in his adventure. She shines with humour and compassion, playing her role with as much of an impact as The Man’s final decision.

With its amazing set, marvelous actors, and evocative story that speaks so clearly to the human condition, 7 Stories is an experience that will stay with you for a very long time."

Play photos by Dean Kalyan. To see more photos visit the 7 Stories photo album on our Facebook page.

Other media stories and videos:


Upcoming Phoenix Events:

March 14 – 24, 2019
HELD OVER! Extra show added
Sunday, March 24 at 2pm
Written by Morris Panych 

Director Fran Gebhard 
Set Design Ken MacDonald 
Design Adaptation Conor Farrell 
Costume Design Bryce Butkiewicz 
Lighting Design Harry Zhe Lin 
Sound Design Olivia Wheeler 
Stage Manager Kelsey Ward

Fast-paced and full of eccentric characters, this dark comedy takes place on the seventh-storey window ledge building where a man is contemplating jumping. Endlessly interrupted by a variety of quirky building residents, he becomes drawn into the absurdity of their daily lives. So self-absorbed are his neighbours, that no one even bothers to ask why he’s out there! This quick-witted, sophisticated satire will have you philosophizing about life and death, right up to its existential conclusion. Written by the award-winning Canadian playwright Morris Panych 30 years ago this year, 7 Stories is the winner of six Jessie Awards, including Outstanding Original Play.

BOX OFFICE: Call 250-721-8000
Tickets for holdover show: all seats $26
All other performances as SOLD OUT. Ask about standby tickets for last minute availabilities on sold out nights.

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Sponsor Kudos:

Thank you to the Phoenix Theatre's many individual donors and corporate sponsors for their support of our programs and talented students!

Thanks also to our supporters over the past year from the Cadboro Bay Village Business Association including: For Good Measure, Pepper's Foods, Smugglers' Cove Pub, Caddy Bay Liquor Store, and Heart Pharmacy.

Find out how your company can reach our 10,000 audience members and UVic community of over 25,000. Contact us to discuss a customized sponsorship package to meet your goals.

Phoenix eNews is a regular email magazine for those interested in the Phoenix Theatre, the not-for-profit productions at the University of Victoria's Department of Theatre, PO Box 1700, STN CSC, Victoria, BC, V8W 2Y2 Canada. The University of Victoria is a Registered Charity. Charitable Registration No. 10816 2470 RR0001

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