Studio 58, Langara College

Pal Joey

Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Book by John O'Hara

Venue: Studio 58, Langara College
Dates: 18 March - 11 April 2004

Reviewer: Jane Penistan



Director Robert McQueen Music director Lloyd Nicholson  Costume design Mara Gottler Set and Props design Pam Johnson Lighting design Shane Droucker Choreography Shelley Stewart Hunt Stage manager Robin Greenwood




Josh Epstein as Joey, Studio 58

Pal Joey takes us back to Chicago of the 30s, with a script based on a series of short stories which appeared in the New Yorker in that decade. Chicago had a sleazy reputation at that time, and Pal Joey as a small time conniving, self seeking cad was thought of as one of a type of the multi ethnic impecunious section of the city's less reputable inhabitants. This was also the first musical to introduce an anti-hero.

The production at Studio 58 directed by Robert McQueen is extremely well dressed in sets that almost reek of squalor in the street and nightclub scenes, and cheap ostentation in Vera's boudoir and the tailor's shop. The chorus girls in the clubs are particularly colourful and decorative. They dance well as a chorus, in the clever and physically challenging choreography, and act well both as a company and individually.

As the leading man Pal Joey, Josh Epstein excels. This versatile young man can dance, sing and act well, with considerable energy, and is no mean performer on the saxophone. Joey is ably abetted in his ambitious desire to rise to fame by Vera Simpson, a wealthy Chicagoan, played by Nicola Correia-Damude with great maturity and authority. Her singing is one of the highlights of the evening.


Joey's charming and unsophisticated girlfriend Linda is a delight and charmingly presented by Emily Cain. The supporting actors each have their own personality and add to the diversity of the assembled company. The crafty Ludlow Lowell (Josue Laboucane), the harassed Victor (David Hurwitz), the brash and pushy reporter Melba Snyder, with her attendant, long suffering photographer (Tara Jean Wilkin and Lisa Oppenheim), and the supercilious tailor of Anthony Johnston, are some of the assorted characters, with manicurists, hairdressers and others playing more than one role, in this large and talented cast.

PalJoey, Studio 58

There is tremendous energy in the first act of this demanding musical, which tends to flag a little in the second. This is probably due to the text, as there is considerably more dialogue here, than at the first. There are also refreshing, quiet moments in both acts which are well realized, their tranquility a breathing space and time for romance in the otherwise fast, frenetic pace of the soulless life of the competing citizens.

Pal Joey is a very professional production and a credit to the talent and direction of Studio 58, and yes, it is a funny, slick and entertaining show. A triumphal end to Studio 58's season!

Pal Joey runs at Studio 58, Langara College, 100 West 49th Avenue, 18 March - 11 April, 2004, Tuesday to Saturday at 8.00 p.m. with matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 3.00 p.m. (No matinee March 20). For more information, tickets and reservations call 504-257-0366, or visit

2004, Jane Penistan