For more than 75 years, Theatre Under the Stars has brought soaring works of musical theatre to Vancouver’s Stanley Park. So much more than just a night at the theatre, Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) interweaves a kaleidoscope of elements – setting, scenery, concessions, and quality art – into a fun, encompassing experience much greater than the sum of its parts.

In 1940, Theatre Under the Stars started 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, delighting generations of locals and tourists alike under the stars in the pastoral outdoor setting of historic Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park.  TUTS provides performers and technical staff an opportunity to work in a real world theatrical venue alongside seasoned professionals.


So, I was able to take in both of these productions, back-to-back, two days in a row, which is perfect for visitors in town for a limited time. I love outdoor theatre, and TUTS is one of the longest running production companies in all of Canada. Set within beautiful Stanley Park, the natural environment is expertly bordered around the stage set up itself.

Arriving for evening one of “Something Rotten!“, I had no expectations of the show, except that it was a comical farce based on the theatre industry itself, with a hint of Shakespeare tossed in. I had a quick chat with one of the volunteers who I advised I was seeing both productions, which they had as well. They told me their favourite was this production, but each one is quite different, and attracts a different audience (which they were correct on).

Act one begins in daylight, while Act Two continues after dark, allowing for two different unique stage perspectives. The production itself took a while to ramp up, building character and gaining over the audience. On a side note there are several sexual innuendos throughout the performance, and how could there not be with two of the main characters being the Bottom brothers? The two brothers conflict in their interpretation of what their play should be about, wanting to be the next Bard on the scene. However, (sexy) Shakespeare lurks around every corner trying to gather information on these two new script writers. The younger Bottom wants to keep things real and sentimental, while the older Bottom wants to keep it silly and satirical.

The older brother eventually wins the younger over, and their musical production of “Omelet” takes hold, all based around, you guessed it, an egg….a rotten one at that! So yes, it’s absurd and farcical, but it makes for great theatre. I chatted with the volunteer at intermission and they advised that only two of the actors on this production are professionally trained, but it would be hard to determine which too, as all gave strong performances. In the end, the Bottom’s missed the mark, and Shakespeare once again prevails with his production of….

The next evening was all about Queen, the band, not the monarchy. However, don’t expect to see a character as Freddie Mercury, as We Will Rock You is more a story based on the lyrics of the band’s top hits, and in particular Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s also a story of a love-lorn couple (Galileo and Scaramouche) who want to be together, but are from two different sectors of society (Romeo and Juliet?) and their parents strictly oppose the relationship.

Most of the songs are done originally, however a couple had the lyrics changed to reflect the story line. There are many inside jokes that not all in the audience were picking up on, but by the time the second act begins the audience begins to loosen up a bit. We follow the “Bohemians” as they try to navigate and instigate, and in the end, well I’m sure you can guess what happens as most every story of conflict has a happy ending. Speaking of ending, as the show came to a close and the cast take their bows, leave the stage, and the lights dim, I made my way to the exit. Once again, a friendly volunteer advised “there’s still one more song”, of which I replied, of course there is, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” So, just a heads up to wait for the real ending, and sing along with the cast and dance along with the audience.

Both wonderful performances. A note to attendees (and presenters), I’d suggest arriving a bit early as the signage to find the Malkin Bowl is not that prominent, making it a bit difficult to find the exact location. However, once you do, you’re in for a treat! Also, bring something for when night falls, as it does tend to get chilly even on those hot summer days. Oh, and once again, thank you to the wonderful, helpful, and pleasant volunteers!!!

We Will Rock You

It’s a Kind of Magic. The Hard-Rocking International Phenomenon.

It is 300 years in the future. A post-apocalyptic world is ruled by the Globalsoft Corporation and its sinister leader Killer Queen. But a pair of dreamers – Galileo and Scaramouche – are ready to ‘break free’ from this control and mount a rock-and-roll fuelled revolution!

Featuring more than 20 hits from Queen’s iconic songbook including ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘We Are the Champions’, ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, and many more – the fist-pumping, foot-stomping anthem to individuality arrives in Stanley Park having rocked more than 16 million audience members around the globe!

Blending the excitement of a musical with the electricity of a concert, We Will Rock You is a high-octane feast for the senses and a triumphant tribute to one of the greatest bands of all time.

Something Rotten!


In the streets of Elizabethan England, William Shakespeare is a Renaissance rock star while playwright siblings Nick and Nigel Bottom are stuck in his shadow.

Desperate to write a hit show, the Bottom brothers enlist the aid of a mysterious soothsayer who foresees they can beat the Bard’s success by creating a brand new form of theatre… the musical!

Hilarity ensues and absurdity reaches new heights, in this satirical spectacle that pokes fun at everything audiences adore about Broadway. Featuring show-stopping song and dance, a wacky cast of characters, and gut-busting comedy, Something Rotten! is a love letter to the sequined, splashy, and spectacular form called the musical.

Theatre Under the Stars, 610 Pipeline Rd, Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park



About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.