Kick off Pride Season with The Lady In Red Ball

The Vancouver Pride season is almost upon us, to kick-off the festivities the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is hosting the first Lady In Red Ball, on July 27th.

Benefitting the Dr Peter AIDS Foundation, the inaugural Lady In Red Ball will be hosted Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2017 winner, Kendall Gender.  The host will also delight attendees with a special performance with Vancouver’s drag troupe, The Brat Pack.  Taking place at The Roof (15th Floor) of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, guests will relive the heydays of the dinner & dances of the famed hot spot, the Panorama Roof.   Instead of the Dal Richards Orchestra performances of old, additional entertainment will come as Ballet BC leaps to the floor showcasing a specially choreographed work celebrating Pride.   Vancouver country music artist Patrick Masse will perform live, and a DJ will keep the party going into the evening.  Perhaps the Hotel Vancouver’s infamous ghost of the lady in red will also make an appearance to dance the night way?

Guests will find light reception fare at food stations around The Roof, tickets also include three beverages from the bar, additional drinks are available for purchase.  Partial proceeds from The Lady In Red Ball support The Dr Peter AIDS Foundation.  The Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation raises funds to support innovative health care at the Dr. Peter Centre in Metro Vancouver. The Centre is British Columbia’s only HIV/AIDS Day Health Program and 24-hour specialized nursing care Residence.

The Lady In Red Ball takes place from 7pm – 10pm on July 27, 2018. Guests must be 19+years of age to attend. Tickets are just $99 per person and available for purchase online at Eventbrite (fees extra)

Ensemble Theatre Festival has more than A Few Good Men

Ensemble Theatre Company 6th Annual Repertory Festival is now underway with A Few Good Men running in the repertoire at Jericho Arts Centre.

The military courtroom drama is best known for the star-studded film of the same name but this intimate stage version really allows Aaron Sorkin’s script to be the star.  Jericho Arts Centre layout brings the audience in so close to the players we felt like members of the jury. The intimacy draws the audience into the drama but also magnifies even the slightest of mistakes, some (presumably) opening-night nerves got the best of some actors. However, in such a dialogue heavy script some miscues and stumbles in delivery make it feel more natural.

The story follows the defendants, lawyers and witnesses in a high-profile court-martial, that the U.S. Marine Corp wants to quietly disappear, but internal affairs believes it’s more than an open and shut case.  The team soon uncover a high-level conspiracy that slowly unravels before them.  At first, the film comes to mind, but soon the cast steps out from the shadow of Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson to make the roles their own. Directors Alan Brodie and Tariq Leslie recast some of the characters with players of the opposite sex as in the film, making it even easier to look at them with fresh eyes.

Alexis Kellum-Creer (as Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway) & Zac Scott (as Lieutenant Daniel Kaffe)
photo: Derek Fu

As lead prosecutor Lt Daniel Kaffe, Zac Scott brings his own brand of cockiness to the first act, then really embodies the role as he emotionally connects to his clients and the audience.  Alexis Kellum-Creer brings a mix of bravado and innocence to the character of Lt Commander Joanne Galloway, boldly asserting herself into the defense team but humbled by missteps in her ability make her realize her junior officer, Kaffe, is not all style and show.  With the help of Sean Anthony’s Lt Sam Weinberg, the trio form a realistic camaraderie as they race to defend the pair of Marines accused of murder.  As the play evolves the guilt shifts from the accused to others involved in the major cover up of a murder.   Yurij Kis, as Col. Nathan Jessep, has one of the most difficult challenges to break free from the memory of Jack Nicolson’s Oscar nominated turn as the play’s villain.  However, in spite of it being one of the most famous scenes in film, Kis really connects as he takes the witness stand and delivers a scorching monologue to implicate himself in the show’s climax.

As a fan of Aaron Sorkin, the cast and direction of Ensemble Theatre’s A Few Good Men keep the pace and deliver the drama expected of the well written script.

A Few Good Men runs alongside Ian Rankin’s Dark Road and The Beauty Queen of Leenane at Jericho Arts Centre in Ensemble Theatre Company’s Annual Repertory Festival until August 17th.

Visit ensembletheatrecompany.ca for festival passes and single tickets

Picks of the Week – July 18, 2018

The weather isn’t the only thing heating up, Vancouver entertainment is hot right now too. Here’s some great entertainment picks to select from

The Human Ear – Paige Louter (l) & Éanna O’Dowd (r)
Photo: Jalen Laine.

Irish: The new, young Irish theatre company Untold Wants Theatre Co., makes its Vancouver debut with the North American premiere of the acclaimed drama, The Human Ear. Opening July 18, at Pacific Theatre

Bard: Make your picks between a brilliant Beatles themed version of As You Like It or the dramatic Macbeth at Bard on the Beach 2018

Midway: Enjoy summer excitement at Playland opens daily from July 29th for all your family’s summer excitement, or leave the kids at home for Playland Nights, Fridays from 7pm to Midnight

SkyHigh: Take your dining experience to new heights with Dinner In The Sky, high above the shore of North Vancouver until July 29th.

Bats: Starting Thursday, Vancouver Canadians Baseball hit the diamond for a 5 game home stand at Nat Bailey Stadium

Laugh: Get a good laugh at those millenials and a whole lot more at Vancouver Theatresports League when you check out their new show Avocado Toast, or another evening of improv

Stars: The stars and future stars come out as Theatre Under The Stars opens its 2018 season of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and 42ND Street on alternating nights at Malkin Bowl.

Abba: You’ll have a hard time not singing along at the Abba musical Mamma Mia! at the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre Stage, until August 12th

Irish:  Once is not enough to see, the final show of the 2018 Arts Club Theatre Company season, ONCE, now extended until August 5th at the Granville Island Stage.

Stage: The Ensemble Theatre Company Summer Repertory Festival continues until August 17 with a trio of plays running through August: Dark Road by Ian Rankin, A Few Good Men by Aaron Sorkin & The Beauty Queen of Leenane

Resist: Until October 8th at MOA, 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.

Music: The CBC Musical Nooners are back for another year, bringing lunch time music to the outdoor CBC Plaza on Hamilton Street

Exhibit: Get away to the cabin at the Vancouver Art Gallery as Cabin Fever a new exhibit tracing the history of the North American cabin as an architectural form and a cultural construct, on view until September 30, 2018. As well, David Milne: Modern Painting  on until September 9th, offers highlights of Milne’s half-century career, which took him from New York City, to the battlefields of Northern  France and Belgium, and back to the wilderness of Canada and the US.

Wild: The Museum of Vancouver latest exhibit Wild Things: The Power of Nature in Our Lives, which takes a look at the relationship between local plants and animals and the people and places in the city, until 2019

Penthouse: Tyrant Studios Lounge, within the famed Penthouse Night Club welcomes Jazz Fridays and The Comic Strip Saturdays.

TUTS takes us to 42nd Street

The 2018 season of Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is now open with 42nd Street alternating nights at Malkin Bowl, in Stanley Park with Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

The company of 42nd Street
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Directed by Robert McQueen, 42nd Street is a show within a show jukebox musical that takes us back to 1930s Broadway.  A familiar selection of standards and showtunes are (very) loosely strung together by a behind-the-scenes story of the production of a Broadway show. The tried and true story of the small town girl looking to break into showbiz, follows fresh off the train Peggy Sawyer (Paige Fraser) making her way into the new Broadway musical, the show within the show, Pretty Lady. Acclaimed director Julian Marsh (Andrew Cownden) needs a hit to recover from his Stock Market Crash losses, star Dorothy Brock (Janet Gigliotti) needs to prove she’s not past her prime, even though she’s still very good at playing the diva in real life.

Paige Fraser (Peggy), Blake Sartin (Billy Lawlor)
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Along the way Dorothy is juggling paramours, then breaks her foot, Tenor Billy Lawlor is hoping to date Peggy, who is fired, hired, fired and rehired by Julian during the course of 42nd Street.
While the story is familiar and predictable, the cast is likeable and makes the most of the, schmaltzy, depression-era dialogue. Fraser and Gigliotti each deliver strong vocals and are perfectly paired on their duet About A Quarter To Nine.  Cownden performs with a single-minded toughness like he’s stepped right out of a gangster film,  but manages to make Marsh endearing.

Blake Sartin (Billy Lawlor, left) with the cast of 42nd Street
photo: Lindsay Elliott

The show really comes to life in the brilliantly choreographed, by Shelley Stewart Hunt, production numbers.  With up to 30 cast members onstage lending a Busby Berkley-esque feel to the tap routines, the cacophony of the taps beating a rhythm to the catchy tunes, like We’re In The Money, Lullaby of Broadway, and 42nd Street, really lift the excitement of the show.

The tap dancers onstage won’t be the only ones with their feet in motion, the production will leave you tapping and humming along throughout your journey to 42nd Street at Theatre Under The Stars.
42nd Street runs until August 17, 2018 at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. Find tickets online at tuts.ca.

TUTS opens with a new Cinderella

The 2018 season of Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is now open with Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella alternating nights at Malkin Bowl, in Stanley Park with 42nd Street.

Mallory James as Ella
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella brings the familiar story to the stage, with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, written for the 2013 Broadway production. Without taking away from the classic, the updated book freshens the story, making Cinderella a more independent young woman, interested in the world and others around her. Marrying a prince for the sake of status has moved further down the list of benefits.  The book and Sarah Rodgers’ direction play up some of the traditional plot points for humour and to make a point about the modernization of the story.

As Ella, Mallory James brings a hopeful innocence and fine singing voice to the character’s dialogue and songs, and thanks to newly introduced character of Jean-Michel, a worldly rabble rouser, set on bringing change to the authoritarian reign of the regent. In another change from the usual story, one of the step-sisters, Gabrielle, is kinder to Ella and secretly in love with Jean-Michel.

Caitlin Clugston (Madame), Mallory James (Ella), Amanda
Lourenco (Charlotte), Vanessa Merenda (Gabrielle)
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Of course, Cinderella wouldn’t be complete without a villain, Caitlin Clugston as Madame, Ella’s stepmother, brilliantly bites into the role with her wicked digs aimed at keeping Ella in her place with a flourish of maniacal laughter thrown in for good measure.  Laura Cowan’s Fairy Godmother balances the wickedness with a sweet performance Disney would have approved.  In contrast to James’ traditional vocals, Cotten has a more contemporary, pop delivery, and while he charms the audience it doesn’t quite feel like he charms Ella, leaving the romance a bit flat.  Amanda Lourenco as the vapid, clumsy stepsister Charlotte, and Caleb Lagayan’s Lord Pinkleton, bring a stand-out note of comedy to their roles.

Tré Cotten(Topher) & Mallory James(Ella)
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Choreographer Nicol Spinola makes excellent use of the TUTS stage to create the grand scale of all the court coming together for The Ball and set designer Brian Ball simple design creates a castle, town, forest, and Ella’s home inside and out, as much onstage as in our imaginations.  Costumes and props make a couple odd choices that seem to stand out, awkwardly.  Asian-style red paper lanterns appear during royal celebrations.  Prince Topher wears a dashiki for formal occasions, and gives a “Black Panther” style salut to the crowd, which feel like they’re jumping on the Marvel film’s bandwagon rather than highlighting the diversity of the players.

Those very minor quibbles do little to take away from the two hours of fun, and enjoyment presented by Theatre Under The Stars.
Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella runs until August 18, 2018 at Malkin Bowl. Find tickets online at tuts.ca

Chill with Vancouver Foodster Iced Tea Challenge

Just in time for sunny, summer weather the Vancouver Foodster Best Iced Tea Challenge is here to find you the coolest chilled summer drink in the city.

Until August 5th, 2018, Vancouver Foodster has challenged cafes around Metro Vancouver to create their best cold tea drink.  Sweet, tart, milky, black tea, green tea and anything in between is being poured into glasses. Get out and try any or all of the unique Iced Tea entries prepared by the participating cafes.

The restaurants have entered their favourite glass of chilled tea either existing from their menu or they have come up with a unique recipe for their Vancouver Foodster Best Iced Tea Challenge cup. The chef’s entries range from simple to fancy, from whole leaf teas, to bubble tea, or milk tea, fruits and infusions might also be on the menu.
As with all of Vancouver Foodster’s food challenges, a panel of media judges (including myself, eatwithmao.com and vieamaggi.com) will taste and crown the Judges’ Choice Best Iced Tea.  The public is also invited to try any or all of the entries, then vote for the People’s Choice Iced Tea creation at vancouverfoodster.com/ice-tea-challenge. On social media, tag your iced tea drinks with #IceTeaChallengeYVR and see what other’s are enjoying along the Best Iced Tea Challenge.
The participating cafes in Vancouver Foodster Best Iced Tea Challenge are;

Boba Monster, 5766 Fraser Street, Vancouver

Sencha Tea Lounge, 3468 W Broadway, Vancouver

Taan Char, 7908 Granville Street, Vancouver

Treasure Green Tea, 227 East Georgia Street, Vancouver

Vietnamese Tea House, 2526 E. Hastings Street, Vancouver

T-Go Tea, 4720 Mcclelland Road #1810, Richmond

For more details and how to vote for your fave Iced Tea Challenge entry visit vancouverfoodster.com/ice-tea-challenge

Untold Wants Theatre Co. Makes Its Vancouver Debut

Paige Louter (l) & Éanna O’Dowd (r)
Photo: Jalen Laine.

Irish eyes bring The Human Ear to Vancouver. The new, young Irish theatre company Untold Wants Theatre Co., makes its Vancouver debut with the North American premiere of the acclaimed drama, The Human Ear. Opening July 18, at Pacific Theatre, award-winning British playwright Alexandra Wood’s eerie play, breaks down language and certainties, playing with chronology and flashback.

The Human Ear stars Paige Louter as Lucy, whose father was a soldier killed in the Gulf war and, following an act of protest and retribution of his death, her brother Jason ran away from home. Now she’s just lost her mother in an attack on a city bus. Following a ten-year absence, her brother has now returned. But is he who he says he is? Lucy’s boyfriend Ed, a police liaison officer, doesn’t think so.

Éanna O’Dowd
Photo: Jalen Laine

“With The Human Ear, the theme of difficulty with facing identity when we are experiencing grief or shock is a feeling to which we can all relate,” says Éanna O’Dowd, who plays both Lucy’s brother and Ed, her boyfriend.

“The difficult work is in accepting truths we may not want to. But Alexandra Wood turns that concept on its head. Her writing makes us see that it’s okay not to be in control when facing our struggles, but to see what’s right in front of us in any given moment. For Lucy, the possibility to accept help is around her. But who can she trust when she is split herself?”

Pacific Theatre’s intimate design allows Untold Wants Theatre Co. to reflect the staging of the play’s 2015 Edinburgh Fringe debut. “Theatre is where people can go to experience universal truths, and come out the other side with perhaps a different view of their environments,” says Jessica Aquila Cymerman, director and co-producer (along with O’Dowd). “Traversing culture is important to us, so bringing a company to Canada, that started in Ireland with theatre-makers who were trained in Scotland, offers a unique perspective to the Vancouver scene.”

Director Jessica Aquila Cymerman
Photo: Jalen Laine

Originally from Los Angeles and Galway, Ireland, respectively, Untold Wants Theatre founders Jessica Aquila Cymerman and Éanna O’Dowd met while studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. They established Untold Wants Theatre to bring new, contemporary voices to a wide range of audiences. The Human Ear is their second production, and first in Vancouver, following a successful run of the Irish premiere of Reasons to be Pretty by Neil LaBute in Dublin.

Untold Wants Theatre Co.’s The Human Ear runs July 18 to 25, 2018 at Pacific Theatre, 1440 W. 12th Avenue. Find showtimes and tickets online now