Say I Do to Mamma Mia at Arts Club

MammaMiaFrom the opening notes of the overture to the final sing-along curtain call, Mamma Mia now play at The Arts Club Theatre Company Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, will have you dancing in your seat.

The feel-good jukebox musical inspired by the hit music of Abba is composed by Abba’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and written by Catherine Johnson with this production directed and choreographed by Valerie Easton.  Set Designer David Roberts’ beautiful set transports the audience to the beaches and tavernas on the fictional Greek Island of Kalokairi.

Mamma Mia opens as Sophie Sheridan (Michelle Bardach) prepares for her wedding to fiancé Sky.  Raised by single mother, innkeeper, Donna, Sophie seeks to know who her father is and discovering her mom’s diary she discovers three possible fathers.  Inviting all three, Sam, Bill and Harry, to her wedding unbeknownst to Donna, with none of them, other than Sophie, really sure why they are all on the island, all sorts of miscommunication comedy ensues.  Donna is supported by her two long time girlfriends and former girl-group bandmates, Rosie and Tanya.

Throughout the 2 hour musical the story of love, female empowerment, and friendship is perfectly woven into the familiar Abba songs.  Amongst the solid storytelling, some numbers are just for the sheer fun of it, enter Donna and the Dynamos who’s camp costumes takes the audience back to the heyday of the Swedish quartet.  The Dynamos, Rosie and Tanya, are played with just the right blend of slapstick and camp by Cathy Wilmot and Irene Karas Loeper (respectively), while Stephanie Roth brings a perfect balance of power and emotion to Donna’s vocals.  With Ms Bardach vocally matching Roth’s, the two leading ladies anchor Mamma Mia with the grace and strength.  Among the male leads Michael Torontow as Sam, stands out with a strong voice and leading man charisma.  Local theatre veterans, Warren Kimmel as Aussie Bill and Jay Hindle as Harry, while not carrying as much of a musical load, bring a nice blend of comedy and fatherly friendship to their roles, in spite of Hindle’s distractingly wavering British accent.

While there appeared to be a couple prop and wardrobe slips on opening night, not surprising in such a physically challenging song and dance production, the veteran cast improvised their recovery with seamless ease.  The overall spirit of Mamma Mia and the joyous Abba music is sure to win over even the hardest demeanour with smiles and laughs throughout the show, especially during the rousing encore as the company (and many audience members) reprise Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen and Waterloo.

Mamma Mia plays at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre until August 12th, with special sing-along performances on July 28th. Visit artsclub.com for showtimes and tickets.

2018 DOXA Festival Closes With Awards Presentation

As the 2018 DOXA Documentary Film Festival came to a close last Sunday night, the annual DOXA Awards were announced in advance of the Festival’s closing night screening.

Four juried awards were presented to the following;

The Feature Documentary Award :  Mercedes Dominioni’s The Creator of Universes.

Of the winning film, jury members Tom Charity, Steffanie Ling and Anoushka Ratnarajah stated: “We celebrate Mercedes Dominioni’s patient and caring The Creator of Universes, a layered, captivating film built around a unique collaboration between the filmmaker’s teenage brother Juan, and their grandmother Rosa. This is a film of extraordinary formal creativity balancing Juan’s dramatic home movie/Telenovela footage (often very funny) with a sense of real life spilling over the edges. Dominioni’s love for these characters is simply transmitted.” 

Honourable Mention: Shevaun Mizrahi’s Distant Constellations “A poetic portrait of the inhabitants of an old people’s home in Turkey remarkable for its intimacy, humour and cinematography.”

The Colin Low Award for Canadian Documentary : Laura Bari’s Primas.

Jury members Ana Carruzales, Kelly Maxwell, and Susi Porter-Bopp said of the film: “Primas is a timely cinematic tale that travels beyond survival, walking the audience through the inconceivable with artistic sensibility, gently amplifying the voices of these courageous, unforgettable cousins. Filmmaker Laura Bari’s empathetic camera fiercely refuses to shy away from a heinous reality that is still so sadly relevant for young women. With poetic, sublime and rough imagery on its edges, Bari sheds a triumphant light by capturing the beautiful spirit of our Primas.”

Honourable Mention: Simon Plouffe’s Those Who Come Will Hear, for its evocative and unique representation of the languages, speakers, and context in Northern Quebec.  

The Nigel Moore Award for Youth Programming : Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap.

The jury of Steven Hawkins, Jacob Saltzberg, Tegan Dobson, Anna Hetherington, and Maya Biderman stated: “The film follows a group of three young men who bond together through friendship and skateboarding to escape violent families in a small town. Bing has an acute ability to extract raw emotions from his friends. He portrays the cruel cycles of domestic violence, and shows the ongoing dynamic effects these have on all the relationships surrounding them. This allows him to paint a picture of harsh realities that would otherwise be masked by society’s policing of machismo ideals. This is an important film for adolescents and parents alike to see, and therefore a clear choice to receive this award. Congratulations, Bing.”

Honourable Mention: Jules Koostachin & Rick Miller’s Butterfly Monument, “Equal parts a memorial to Shannen Koostachin, and a spotlight on the importance of her advocacy work. It shows the impact one young life can have on both a cause and community, and reminds us that spirit is transcendent.”

The Short Documentary Award : Paloma Martinez’s Cristanto Street.

Jury members Michelle Mason, Tony Massil, and Sonia Medel awarded the prize “for exposing the collateral social damage of contemporary racism and land cartels with surprising tenderness and hope. On a little street in San Francisco, Paloma Martinez captured the beauty of community and the true meaning of home in a powerful short with global implications.”

Honourable Mention: Michelle Latimer’s Nuuca for “its quiet urgency and artfulness in a timely meditation on land, tying the violent nature of resource extraction to the exploitation of indigenous women.” 

For more details about the award winning documentaries and jurist biographies, visit doxafestival.ca/festival-awards.
Return next spring for more great documentary films from around the world at DOXA 2019.

Picks of the Week – May 16, 2018

The Victoria Day, May long weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season for many of us, bringing with it a bounty of entertainment to fill our picks of the week.

Abba: You’ll say thank you for the music as the Arts Club opens the Abba musical Mamma Mia! at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre Stage tonight, onstage until August 12th

Rock: Your hair might not be as long but be ready to bang your head as thrash metal group Slayer takes to the Pacific Coliseum

Kicks: Can Whitecaps FC redeem themselves in fans eyes and find a win when San Jose Earthquake come to BC Place tonight?

GollyMolly Misbegotten is the new play from by Beau Han Bridge, presented by the Mid Twenties Theatre Society at Havana Theatre May 10-12 and 15-19, 2018.

Ice: Catch Canadian Olympic Figure Skaters including Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir,  Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, Kaetlyn Osmond and many more as Stars On Ice 2018 Tour comes to Rogers Arena May 17th

Country: The 72nd Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair returns to the Surrey fairground for 4 days of family entertainment, May 18-21, 2018

Friendship: The unlikely friendship between JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis and its influence on Middle Earth and Narnia is on stage in Pacific Theatre’s Tolkien running May 11 – June 9

Magic: American magician, illusionist and endurance artist David Blaine brings his unique talents of amazement to Queen Elizabeth Theatre for 2 shows, Friday and Saturday

Comedy: English stand-up comedian Jimmy Carr brings his dry, deadpan humour to the Vogue Theatre for two shows on Sunday night.

Haida:  Museum of Vancouver is presenting, Haida Now. A collaboration with The Haida Gwaii Museum bring 450 works together in a one of a kind collection of Haida arts and culture, until June 15.

Museum of Anthropology

Culture: Musqueam, Squamish, Lil’wat, Heiltsuk, Nisga’a, Haida are collaborating for the first time so you can learn more about the cultures of these First Nations and the importance of their cultural centres at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC’s exhibition Culture at the Centre, until October 8th

Resist: Also until October 8th at MOA, the new exhibit, Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America, invites visitors to take a closer look at the political and social significance of Latin American artistic traditions to express political realities.

Duo: The Vancouver Art Gallery unites the works of two dynamic female early 20th century artists Emily Carr in Dialogue with Mattie Gunterman, on view at the Gallery until September 3, 2018

Offsite: Vancouver Art Gallery presents Offsite: Shigeru Ban by renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban’s Kobe Paper Log House, organized by the Gallery’s Institute of Asian Art at the Offsite Location at Shangri-La Vancouver

Wet

Play: ITSAZOO presents the Western Canadian Premiere of David James Brock’s award-winning drama, WET, May 8-27, 2018 in the intimate basement of The Russian Hall.

Amusement: Weekend just got more exciting as Playland reopens on weekends with three added rides for the family’s excitement.

Coastal City Ballet

Ballet: Coastal City Ballet closes out its 2018 season with a remount of Irene Schneider’s ballet, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream,  onstage at Vancouver Playhouse May 19 and if you miss it, catch it June 8 at Surrey Arts Centre

Babelle Theatre reveals 2018 Season.

East Vancouver based Babelle Theatre has revealed its 2018 season of new works aimed for millennial and young audiences.
Co-directed by Marie Farsi and James Gordon King Babelle Theatre has a mandate is to produce experimental and ambitious theatrical works; inspired by multiple cultural traditions, the company aims to push borders of space and language and to assemble the common from the dissimilar. Babelle also seeks to nurture next generation of theatre artists through collaborations with other artists from all disciplines around the creation of theatre.   “Part of our success in producing original work is that Marie and I remain consistent in our collaboration process. We work in a way that is more integrative: the specificity of a performance space is integrated into a design concept, design concepts are integrated into play’s narration, actor’s personality traits are integrated into their roles.” says co-Artistic Director James Gordon King

For 2018, Farsi and King have created adventurous new works that investigate our relationships to the wild within and the wild without.

This, Here 
By James Gordon King. Directed by Marie Farsi
July 12 – 14, 2018 — Gibsons Heritage Hall (Gibsons)
July 18 – 28, 2018 — The Culture Lab (Vancouver)

A vacation slideshow at an intimate party unpacks big existential questions.

Torontonian couple, Alison and Maddie, just got back from a trip to Gibsons, BC to visit Alison’s father, Brian, who she hasn’t seen in three years. Recalling events as photos are projected, their trip submerges into a murky world of decomposing appearances and unresolved issues as the distinction between wild and civilized elides. As Alison re-discovers her natural environment, she re-examines her connection to the people she loves, and in turn, her relationship to herself. Through the simplicity and intimacy of an informal gathering, This, Here asks audiences to consider who we are in relation to each other and our environment.

All My Friends Are Animals
By James Gordon King. Directed by Marie Farsi
A co-production with Axis Theatre
September 2018. Russian Hall, Vancouver.
50 min. Ages 10+. Attendance free for school groups and the community.

An all-ages romp from the city into the wild.

When a bear wanders from the mountains into the city, natural boundaries are blurred and a perplexed teenager named Jo struggles to makes her way home. On her adventures, she crosses paths with coyotes, raccoons, and mice, and learns the importance of trusting her instincts. Loosely based on the real-life story of a bear that entered downtown Vancouver in the Winter of 2011, All My Friends Are Animals is about the extraordinary nature of these encounters and the primal feelings they awaken. Featuring performances from four youth aged 15-24, and intended for audiences aged 10 and up, this is a playful little piece that ignites a youthful spirit and sense of delight.

Visit babelletheatre.com for tickets and more information on the 2018 Season.

Babelle 2018 Season Trailer from Babelle Theatre on Vimeo.

2018 BC Book Prizes Winners Revealed

The Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront once again hosted the 34th annual BC Book Prizes Gala where the winners of this year’s BC Book Prizes were announced.

The BC Book Prizes celebrate the achievements of British Columbia writers and publishers. Since 1985, annual awards are presented in seven categories with finalists and winners from all around the province and covering multiple genres children’s, fiction and non-fiction.

The 2018 BC Book Prizes were awarded to:

Brother by David Chariandy (McClelland & Stewart) – Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize

 

Zero Repeat Forever by G. S. Prendergast (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) – Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize

 

On Island: Life Among the Coast Dwellers by Pat Carney (TouchWood Editions) – Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award

 

Prison Industrial Complex Explodes by Mercedes Eng (Talonbooks) – Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

 

The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land, Rebuilding the Economy by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson (James Lorimer and Company Ltd., Publishers) – Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize

 

The Nameless City: The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks (First Second) – Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

 

Changing Tides: Vanishing Voices of Nikkei Fishermen and Their Families by Kotaro Hayashi, Fumio “Frank” Kanno, Henry Tanaka, and Jim Tanaka (editors) (Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre) – Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize

To see the finalists and all the nominated authors, illustrators, and publishers visit the BC Book Prizes online 

Picks of the Week – May 9, 2018

It’s May and the sun has (mostly) returned to bring light to our longers days filled with entertaining picks of the week

Taste: Join the tasty tribe as Vancouver Foodster’s Tasting Plates Kitsilano explores the West Side neighbourhood this evening

Woods:  Head Into The Woods until Saturday, as the North Shore Light Opera Society brings the Tony Award winning musical to Centennial Theatre for their 70th Anniversary Season

Abba: You’ll say thank you for the music as the Arts Club previews the Abba musical Mamma Mia! at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre Stage for the week, before next week’s opening night

Golly: Molly Misbegotten is the new play from by Beau Han Bridge, presented by the Mid Twenties Theatre Society at Havana Theatre May 10-12 and 15-19, 2018.

Grr: The Cultch presents Bears, a multi-disciplinary dark political comedy about the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline from Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts and Punctuate! Theatre.

 

Kicks: The Whitecaps hope to gain another home win when Houston visits BC Place on Friday

Legends: Rock legends, The Eagles 2018 Tour flies into Rogers Arena on Friday night

Friendship: The unlikely friendship between JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis and its influence on Middle Earth and Narnia is on stage in Pacific Theatre’s Tolkien running May 11 – June 9

Rock: American rockers, MGMT come to the Orpheum Theatre in support of their latest release; Little Dark Age.

Haida:  Museum of Vancouver is presenting, Haida Now. A collaboration with The Haida Gwaii Museum bring 450 works together in a one of a kind collection of Haida arts and culture, until June 15.

Culture: Musqueam, Squamish, Lil’wat, Heiltsuk, Nisga’a, Haida are collaborating for the first time so you can learn more about the cultures of these First Nations and the importance of their cultural centres at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC’s exhibition Culture at the Centre, until October 8th

Offsite: Vancouver Art Gallery presents Offsite: Shigeru Ban by renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban’s Kobe Paper Log House, organized by the Gallery’s Institute of Asian Art at the Offsite Location at Shangri-La Vancouver

Pop: Expect a spectacular performance when P!nk takes on the Rogers Arena stage on Saturday night.

Amusement: Weekend just got more exciting as Playland reopens on weekends with three added rides for the family’s excitement.

Run: Mom spent enough time chasing you as a youngster, now you can follow her as Blue Shore Financial Mother’s Day Run, 3k, 5k, & 10k run & walks through beautiful Stanley Park

Rugby: Across the pond, the Canada Women’s Sevens Rugby Tournament brings the world to Langford for world class rugby sevens.

Laughs: Humourist, Satirist, Comedian, no matter what you call him expect laughter when David Sedaris comes to the Vogue Theatre on Sunday.

Ignite! Festival 2018 takes over The Cultch

The Cultch’s Youth Panel are bringing IGNITE! Youth-Driven Arts Festival to The Cultch’s Historic and Vancity Culture Lab — with youth led programming and new work by local youth playwrights— from May 8-19.

 IGNITE! is an eclectic festival, programmed and curated entirely by members of the Youth Panel at the Cultch. It features theatre performers, dancers, and visual artists —all aged 11-26— as well as participants in the Cultch mentorship programs. In its 19th year, this year’s festival will be headlined by tonight’s performance of The Chemical Valley Project from Broadleaf Theatre (Toronto) — a co-presentation with Intrepid Theatre’s UNO Festival. The festival also includes the production of two new One Act Plays by local youth playwrights. In addition, each of the main festival nights offer a diverse spread of performances in a variety-show style under a theme; from Avocado Toast to Floral Friday. This year’s IGNITE! includes spoken word, contortion, live music, short plays, and original contemporary dance, plus much more.

The line-up for IGNITE! Festival includes:  

THE CHEMICAL VALLEY PROJECT

May 8th 7:30pm at Vancity Culture Lab

IGNITE! presents a special one night performance of The Chemical Valley Project, a show created by youth-run Toronto company, Broadleaf Theatre centering themes of environmental racism in Canada, and presented in partnership with Intrepid Theatre’s UNO Festival.

ONE ACT PLAYS

May 11th and 12th 7:30pm at Vancity Culture Lab

Two new short plays by local youth playwrights are showcased in the intimacy of the smaller Culture Lab Venue.

IGNITE! FESTIVAL MAIN EVENTS

May 15th to 19th 7:30pm at The Cultch Historic Theatre

Five nights featuring a diversity of young performers and participants in the Cultch Mentorship Program. Enjoy five-six performances per night in this eclectic format.

Each night’s artists are loosely assembled into a category and audiences are invited to dress according to the theme! 

May 15th – Avocado Toast
Can’t afford a house? Can’t afford avocados? Can’t even afford toast? The IGNITE! Youth Panel are here to help you reclaim everything millennial! Join us for a showcase of millennial art, from circus to Craigslist.

May 16th – Cozy Campfire
The world getting you down? Come curl up by the fire for an evening of acoustic and s’mores. Camping gear encouraged.
 

May 17th – Dapper Flapper
Get out your top hat and tails, and enjoy a night of mystery and class ranging all the way from saxophone to contortion, and starring a baby Michael Buble

May 18th – Floral Friday
We’re ready to bloom! Enjoy the garden of young local artists Vancouver has to offer. Dress as your favourite flower.

May 19th – Dynamite Night
The explosive end to a high energy week. Don’t miss this special finale evening.

 IGNITE! Festival tickets are on sale now through The Cultch’s Box Office: 604-251-1363 or tickets.thecultch.com.