ELBOW ROOM CAFE - THE MUSICAL

ZEE ZEE THEATRE, York Theatre, 1st-12th March 2017

My Two Cents

By Kelly Moncton

 

The Elbow Room Cafe is crowded, delicious, warm, loving, and blunt. The musical of the same name lives up to its namesake in every way. If you haven’t been yet, the cafe on Davie street has become famous for over-the-top rude servers and ‘get it yourself’ refills and water. It’s also known for fundraising tirelessly for Loving Spoonful, a charity dedicated to feeding locals living with HIV/AIDS.

David Adams and Allan Zinyk play Bryan and Patrice, the local legends who have owned and operated the cafe for decades. Their ability to play the harsh cafe personas and caring couple behind the scenes anchored the show beautifully. As an occasional patron of the restaurant, I was impressed by Zinyk’s mannerisms, and I’ve been on the receiving end of a couple of the trademark insults used onstage.  

Another love story was beautifully performed by Christine Quintana and Olivia Hutt. Their more sincere storyline had lovely moments of levity sprinkled in, and their singing balanced heart and power perfectly.

A bachelorette party provided some of the silliest moments in the show, with Synthia Yusuf’s wildly drunk bride flopping around the stage with wonderful abandon. My only quibble was an awkward transition where she had to go from singing a great trio in the 2nd act nearly sober, to rolling on the cafe floor again a moment later. That said, the writers didn’t let her story end in a traditionally neat way, which I appreciated.

Steven Greenfield and Emma Slipp were charming as clueless tourists who stumbled upon the cafe, and their songs about machismo and eating were over-the-top highlights. Their storyline felt a bit more stop-and-start than the rest. Justin Lapeña did an impressive job of seamlessly switching  between three brash, charming characters throughout the show. Even the Assistant Stage Manager, Hannah Case, joined in for a few numbers! 

 

The show looked and sounded fabulous, from the often-campy esthetic to the impressively tight band. Once or twice the lyrics flew by me quite quickly, and I felt like I was missing out on something awesome, but there was too much going on to regret the lost moment. The whole show felt like it was overflowing with jokes and story to share. Elbow Room Cafe is full of great performances, fun and heart. Go take part in a Vancouver tradition!