Beat Back The Winter Blahs with Throwdown TheatreSports Festival

Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) is getting ready to beat away the winter blahs with laughter during its annual improv celebration, Throwdown – International TheatreSports Festival. Taking place at The Improv Centre on Granville Island from January 2 to 27, 2019.

The best antidote to those dreary January days is a good dose of hearty laughter and Vancouver TheatreSports has it in spades.

Throwdown – International TheatreSports Festival welcomes TheatreSports teams from other cities to join the top Vancouver improvisers in head-to-head matches with each other.

VTS Artistic & Executive Director Jay Ono adds, “This year, we concentrated on inviting the best teams from the U.S. because later this year [2019] in October, the entire TheatreSports world will be gathering in Vancouver for the 2019 International TheatreSports Institute Conference, which VTS is privileged to host. Throwdown 2019 features fabulous team companies from Honolulu, Bellingham, Portland and returning champs, the talented group from Orlando – who have won for the past three consecutive years.”

From January 2 to 19, local teams comprised of VTS ensemble members play in a classic TheatreSports round-robin competition for bragging rights of the best team in Vancouver. Working from audience suggestions, the players start improvising in hopes of scoring the biggest cheers from audience members. As in all classic TheatreSports matches, the final outcome is determined by audience judges scoring each of the ‘games’ within a match. The team with the most points wins.

January 22 to 27 welcomes the four U.S. teams in a series of hilarious matches and showcases designed to banish even the gloomiest of times. The lineup features: Sak Comedy Lab – Orlando, Florida (returning champions); Curious Comedy Theatre – Portland, Oregon; On the Spot Improv – Honolulu, Hawaii; Upfront Theatre – Bellingham, Washington.

On the last evening of Throwdown, January 27, the winners of the international competitions play with the local victors from the previous weeks in a winner-takes-all laugh fest. 

“There’s nothing like a little healthy competition to bring out the best in improv comedy,” comments Ono. “And the winner gets bragging rights for an entire year plus an invitation to return in 2020 to defend their crown.”

While no one can predict the outcome, one thing is for certain – audience members will be the winners. Arriving with winter weighing them down, and leaving with an added spring in their step after an evening of laughter.

For a full schedule of time, match information and tickets (starting from $10.75) for Throwdown – International TheatreSports Festival,  visit vtsl.com.

Provence Marinaside celebrates The 12 Days of Bubbles

The holidays are a time for celebration and get-togethers, and what goes better with festive season than raising a nice, glass of bubbly to toast the occasion.  Provence Marinaside  is helping you get into the spirit of the season with The 12 Days of Bubbles.

Running December 17th to 31st, Provence Marinaside, renowned for having the largest list of bubbles in Vancouver, 35 including champagnes, will be offering a specially selected bottle of champagne at 25 percent discount each day leading up to the biggest and bubbliest night of the year, New Year’s Eve, when all the champagnes in their collection (17 in total) will be 25 percent off.
“If the holiday season and the new year isn’t a good enough reason to celebrate with friends, then this should do it,” says Carlson. “ Treat yourself to a bottle of bubbles, raise a glass, and toast to getting your Christmas shopping done early. If you’re still shopping, then you deserve a break with something tasty to eat and bubbly to go with it.”

The 12 Days of Bubbles culminates in the ‘bonus day’ of New Year’s Eve. As in past years, Provence will be offering an elegant a la carte menu designed by Executive Chef Jean-Francis Quaglia and Chef de Cuisine Sheldon Maloff especially for the evening, along with live music from Harris and DeBray. Reservations for ‘the bubbliest night of the year’ can be secured with a credit card by calling the restaurant.

If a full bottle of bubble is just too much of a good thing, pop into TWB-The Wine Bar , next door to Provence Marinaside, where all bubbly, including non-champagnes and by-the-glass pours, is 25 percent off as the Daily Deal on Saturdays (Sparkling Saturday) and Sundays (Sunday Funday).

Whichever way you raise a glass, enjoy your bubbly celebrations with your friends and family! For the full list of which bubbles are featured each day, visit provencemarinaside.ca/12-days-of-bubbles-2018

Picks of the Week – December 12, 2018

With just days left in 2018, let’s be sure to fill the last weeks with plenty of entertainment picks

Life: Look in on the life of George Bailey as Gateway Theatre presents It’s a Wonderful Life, a new musical adaptation featuring tunes from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, running until December 31st

Pride: Catch the follow up to Pride & Prejudice with Miss Bennet : Christmas at Pemberley at The Arts Club Granville Stage until December 30

Date: Until December 30, spend your date night watching Blind Date at The Arts Club Goldcorp Stage, each night is a unique show as a new audience member is the date in each show.

Craig Erickson as The Wicked Witch of the West
East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz
photo: Emily Cooper

Wiz: Take off to see the Wizard as The Cultch and Theatre Replacement present East Van Panto: The Wizard of Oz at the York Theatre until January 6th.

Shopping: Find those fine handmade finds for your holiday gift shopping (or for yourself) at the Make-It! The Handmade Revolution Holiday Show  Christmas Craft Market happening at PNE Forum this week.

Choir: Making Spirits Bright  with The Vancouver Men’s Chorus’ annual holiday music spectacular at St Paul’s Anglican Church in the West End tonight, Thursday and Friday

Drama: Seven Tyrants Theatre presents John Patrick Stanley’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama Doubt : A Parable closing this Friday, December 14

Improv: Vancouver Theatresports presents Merry Kiss-mas – an improvised holiday comedy, parodying all the inane clichés and funny, awkward moments you’d expect to see in a holiday TV special or film at Improv Centre until Christmas Eve

Ladies Dancing at Burnaby Village

Lights: Light up your nights by visiting some of the Festival light displays around the city like; Bright Nights, Van Dusen Festival Of Lights, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Canyon Lights, Glow Langley, Christmas at Canada Place and many more

Puppet: You’re in for some madcap marionette merriment as Ronnie Burkett’s Daisy Theatre presents Little Dickens, a take on the beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, at The Cultch Historic Theatre until December 22nd.

Pageant: Havana Theatre on Commercial Drive is the location of the Best Christmas Pageant Ever...or is it? Find out yourself until December 16th

Celtic: Find holiday cheer with celtic ensemble, Winter Harp, Wednesday and Thursday at BlueShore Financial Performing Arts Centre, Capilano University,
December 15th at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver, and
December 16th & 17th at The ACT Arts Centre, Maple Ridge

Maureen Washington with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir

Noise: Spread the cheer a Good Tidings with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir, on December 14-15, 2018 at Christ Church Cathedral and again on
December 17, 2018 at St John’s Shaughnessy

Mumbai: The acclaimed play Bombay Black, by Anosh Irani, features a poetic text, bold theatrical imagery and a gritty twist.  returns to Vancouver with a run at The Firehall Arts Centre until Saturday.

Belle:  Join your favourite characters as a tale as old as time, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, returns to the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage,  until January 6, 2019

Market:  The Vancouver Christmas Market celebrates its 9th year as it returns to Jack Poole Plaza, with dozens of food sellers and shopping vendors, until December 24, 2018

Festival: Aurora Winter Festival, Canada’s Largest Winter Festival, brings a a skating rink, a tube park, light displays, Christmas Market, amusement rides, food gardens, and many more activities to Concord Pacific Place November 23 – December 30

Lions: Join the lions of Chor Leoni as they perform their annual Christmas with Chor Leoni concert at December 14th, 16th, 17th at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver and on December 15th at West Vancouver United Church, West Vancouver

Ice: The Vancouver Canucks take to the ice twice this weekend, hosting Philadelphia on Saturday and Edmonton on Sunday

The Full Light Of Day is coming

Even though we’re still in the peak of the holiday entertainment season, we’re taking a look ahead at what’s to come in the new year. Coming in January, Electric Company Theatre, in association with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, presents the world premiere of a provocative new work, The Full Light of Day, at the Vancouver Playhouse.

The Full Light Of Day
photo: Don Lee

The new work from Siminovitch prize-winning playwright Daniel Brooks, is directed by Kim Collier. The Full Light of Day is a suspenseful and compelling hybrid of theatre and film in which a terminally ill woman confronts the choices that brought her family privilege; and then, takes a risk to secure their ultimate redemption. Utilizing 14 live-streaming cameras, state-of-the-art projections and film, The Full Light of Day immerses audiences in rich cinematic cityscapes, intimate inner lives, and invites them to reimagine the limitations of live theatre.

“Other than the weather, real estate may well be our country’s most frequently discussed topic. In this work, we dive deeper – and consider the consequences of a society grown obsessed with property and possession,” says Director Kim Collier, who, like playwright Brooks, is also a winner of theatre’s highest honour, the Siminovitch Prize. “Consequently, it raises questions about the very nature of land ownership. How can we own land? Land owns us. It is us. Paradoxically, by using live-streaming cameras and an enormous array of projection technologies, audiences will be able to feel an innately rich and intimate connection to our characters’ inner lives and truly experience that pang of self-recognition in the stories reflected onstage.”

The Full Light Of Day
photo: Don Lee

Complementing the stage production, Electric Company Theatre Co-Founder Kevin Kerr has created a collection of short films shot in 360° Virtual Reality. The works can be viewed separately from the theatre production or experienced at special installations located throughout the Vancouver Playhouse lobby. These films are told from the perspectives of individual characters, placing the viewer inside their actions and perceptions. The films will be available to the public for free viewing in the Playhouse lobby during the afternoons prior to performances of The Full Light of Day.

The Full Light of Day runs January 7 – 12, 2019 at The Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton Street. For showtimes and tickets visit electriccompanytheatre.com

It’s A Wonderful Life brings music to Gateway Theatre

Gateway Theatre brings the holiday tradition, It’s A Wonderful Life, to the stage, until December 31, 2018.

Based on Frank Capra’s 1946 film, Peter Jorgensen has adapted a new musical production with music from the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s by some of the greatest songwriters of the period, from George and Ira Gershwin to Kurt Weill.  The Gateway Theatre also brings a wonderful 10-piece orchestra, conducted by Angus Kellett, onstage to fill the theatre with the live sounds of the holiday favourites and Broadway classics. 

Jorgensen has created a playlist for It’s A Wonderful Life that is bookended by the familiar Christmas carol “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear” and “Auld Lang Syne”, and in between a selection of tunes that will be familiar to some, and brand new to others.  Nico Rhodes’ arrangements and orchestrations are lush and help to create the mood of the scenes, the songs’ lyrics fit with the spirit of the scene but don’t necessarily do much to move the already slow story along.  As with the film, the story is a slow burn, at once nostalgic but also melancholy, until the last scenes reveal with the heartfelt message about family and friends.

The story starts with George Bailey’s (Nick Fontaine) life at a crossroads and recaps what leads him to this point. Fontaine has a commanding stage presence and voice, but rather than making George Bailey his own, it felt like he was trying to emulate the great Jimmy Stewart. While he found a similar voice to Stewart, he didn’t quite nail the emotional range, instead seemed to be perpetually perturbed.  As George’s wife, Mary, Studio 58 student Erin Palm is a stand-out in her Gateway debut, charismatic and possessing a voice beautifully suited for the standards. Just like we could all use an angel on our shoulders, It’s A Wonderful Life was at its best when Clarence, the Angel, played by Greg Armstrong-Morris, was involved.  Armstrong-Morris brought a fun, kind-hearted portrayal of the wingless angel.  Gateway Theatre’s Artistic Director Jovanni Sy does triple-duty as George Bailey’s father, the sheriff of Bedford Falls and the villainous Mr Potter.  The evil Potter allowed Sy to have some fun with the egomaniacal character, he just needed a moustache to twirl.

Fans of It’s A Wonderful Life, the film, will find something new to add to their holiday repertoire with this new musical adaptation.  It’s A Wonderful Life, the musical plays at Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond, until December 31, 2018.

 

Vancouver Christmas Concerts for 2018 Holidays

Christmas and music go hand in hand;  carols, hymns and cantatas, bring spirit to the Season.  Home calendars are filled with school and church concerts.  To help you get in the spirit of song, here’s a list of concerts around Vancouver to make your season bright;

Handel’s Messiah: 
December 7, 2018: Orpheum Theatre with Vancouver Chamber Choir
December 8, 2018: Bell Performing Arts Centre with Vancouver Bach Choir with Surrey City Orchestra

51st Annual Singing Christmas Tree: 
December 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 2018 at Broadway Church

Making Spirits Bright with Vancouver Men’s Chorus 
December 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 2018: St. Paul’s Anglican Church

Winter Harp Celtic Ensemble:
December 12-13, 2018 at Blue Shore Financial Performing Arts Centre, Capilano University, North Vancouver
December 15, 2018: St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver
December 16-17, 2018: The ACT Arts Centre, Maple Ridge

Maureen Washington with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir

Good Tidings with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir:
December 14-15, 2018 at Christ Church Cathedral
December 17, 2018 at St John’s Shaughnessy

Christmas with Chor Leoni:
December 14, 16, 17, 2018 at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver
December 15, 2018 at West Vancouver United Church, West Vancouver

VSO Traditional Christmas Concerts: 
December 13, 2018 at Kay Meek Arts Centre, West Vancouver
December 14, 2018 at Centennial Theatre, North Vancouver
December 15, 2018 at Bell Performing Arts Centre, Surrey
December 16, 2018 at Michael J. Fox Theatre, Burnaby
December 20-22, 2018 at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver

Early Music Vancouver’s Festive Cantatas: A Monteverdi Christmas Vespers:
December 23, 2018 at Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC

 

 

Little Dickens: The Daisy Theatre is anything but small

The Daisy Theatre’s Esme Massengill as Esme Scrooge in Little Dickens

The Cultch Historic Theatre is presenting an evening of marionette madness with Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens featuring the cast of The Daisy Theatre.  Starring Daisy Theatre’s past-her-prime diva Esmé Massengill in the Scrooge role, and a cavalcade of Daisy Theatre stars helping bring the Dickens story of A Christmas Carol to life…or to strings.

Toronto-based The Daisy Theatre is a one man, many marionette theatre company brilliantly performed and improvised by Ronnie Burkett.  In the introduction Burkett states that “anything can happen” and over the course of the two hour show, anything does happen.  The story loosely follows A Christmas Carol with a number of detours along the way to fit in some jazzy christmas carol sing-along numbers.  Joining Burkett and the marionettes on stage are some audience helpers;  Ava, William, Christopher and Caroline were ‘recruited’ throughout the performance to help out in various ways and roles.  Helping Burkett from the booth, Crystal helped cue the music and lights, and in a couple of spots prompting what comes next in the play.  Part of the fun of Little Dickens is not knowing what’s going to come out of the marionettes’ mouths and laughing along with Burkett when even he can’t believe that he said that.  Plenty of laugh out loud moments fill the camp over-the-top scenes, accompanied by inside jokes about the theatre scene and Vancouver itself.

The Daisy Theatre Schnitzel as Tiny Tim in Little Dickens

Even though we clearly know that Ronnie Burkett is pulling their strings the marionettes really do come to life and the audience buys into Esme’s character development, taking her from selfish, tacky, vain diva to charitable, tacky, slightly less vain diva.

Being an improvised show, anything really can happen and with the introduction of different audience members no two shows will be the same, so it’s a great treat to see over and over again during the pre-Christmas season.
Ronnie Burkett’s  Little Dickens : The Daisy Theatre runs until December 22, 2018 at The Cultch Historic Theatre.  Find showtimes, information and tickets online at thecultch.com