Disney’s Beauty and the Beast roars into Arts Club

Who doesn’t start humming the tune and lyrics … ‘tale as old as time’ when they think about Disney’s Beauty and the Beast?  The Arts Club Theatre brings the beloved tale back to the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage for the holiday season for the first time since 2008.  Bill Millerd direct his final holiday show in his final year as Artistic Director of The Arts Club. The Beast, Belle, Gaston, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs Potts and all the other characters you love from the animated Disney classic, bring the music and story, based on the French fairy tale, to the stage.

The smaller Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage creates a more intimate show than other productions of Beauty and The Beast, that I’ve seen.  The intimacy brings a new life to the production, making us all feel like we’re a one of the villagers observing this love story about tolerance and acceptance of your own and other’s differences.  The peculiar girl named Belle is brilliantly played by Shannon Chan-Kent, whose voice fills the room with its power and precision.  With a powerful Belle, The Beast has to be even stronger to be both menacing, sensitive and balance her vocals, Jonathan Winsby definitely fits the bill.  It’s easy to see and hear why he’s played The Beast so often in his career, even behind the heavy mask he brings, humour, charm and compassion to the Beast.   The Beast’s castle is also filled with other lively characters, slowing becoming inanimate, lead by Shawn Macdonald’s officious Cogsworth, Peter Jorgensen’s randy Lumiere and Susan Anderson’s motherly Mrs Potts.  In the village, Belle’s father is the local legend Bernard Cuffling but the real stand out in the production is Kamyar Pazandeh who has managed to create an over-the-top Gaston that is the spitting image of the animated version, physically and vocally Kamyer knocks it out of the theatre.

Being nearly a decade since the last production, Alison Green has created a brand new dynamic set that fills the stage and seamlessly moves action and cast from town to woods to castle.  Scott Augustine adapts the original choreography of Valerie Easton, to this new set and staging.  Easton’s late daughter Amy Wallis was the original Belle and this production is dedicated in the memory of Amy.

If this production wasn’t already top notch, watching the number of children mesmerized by seeing their favourite characters come to life, adds even more to the show for us adults.  Go see it with the whole family!

Disney’s Beauty and The Beast is now playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. The show is so popular, The Arts Club has already extended the run, now playing until January 13, 2018.  For information and tickets visit artsclub.com

Picks of the Week – December 13, 2017

It’s day two of Hanukkah for our Jewish friends. As well, just two more weeks until Santa takes off on his flight. What will we do while we wait? Let’s find out in the picks of the week…

Talk: find out What Happened when Hillary Clinton comes to Vancouver to discuss life, elections and more at the Vancouver Convention Centre today.

Pucks: The Vancouver Canucks are in for a multi-game homestand – Tonight vs Nashville, Friday vs San Jose, Sunday vs Calgary

East Van Panto
Photo: Emily Cooper

Snow: Until January 6th, help Snow White and the Seven Dwarves evade her Evil Stepmother in East Van Panto at The Cultch York Theatre

Twinkle: Light up your nights with the Festival light displays all around Metro Vancouver; Lights of Hope, Canyon Lights, Bright Nights, Heritage Christmas, Glow Christmas, Lights at Lafarge all bring a little Christmas Spirit.

Festival: Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival makes its debut on Friday, bringing dozens of Chinese lanterns, throughout the 14 acre PNE site.

Stage: The Arts Club Theatre Company’s dramedy  The Day Before Christmas is onstage at the Goldcorp Stage until the day before Christmas, while fan favourite Onegin remounts the Arts Club, Granville Island Stage, until December 31st and Disney’s Beauty & The Beast is in previews starting tomorrow.

Ghost of Christmas Past (Josh Chambers) & Scrooge (Russell Roberts)
Photo: David CooperDickens: From December 7 – 24th, the Holiday Classic, A Christmas Carol comes to life onstage at Gateway Theatre in Richmond.

Narnia: Carousel Theatre, invites families to step through the wardrobe as C.S Lewis’  The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe comes to the stage until December 31st.

Carols: The 25th Anniversary of the VSO’s Traditional Christmas at St Andrew’s Wesley this weekend and in various venues throughout the month

Drag: The Christmas Queen is back to ruin Christmas for Vancouver Theatresports League and on Saturday nights, anything can, and will happen,  when Vancouver drag diva the Unstoppable Connie Smudge joins the stage,  it’s two queens for the price of one at Christmas Queen Drag Race.

A Christmas Carol at Gateway Theatre

This year, the Gateway Theatre holiday season takes a slightly darker tone as A Christmas Carol finds the Christmas spirit, or in this case four spirits.  It’s hard to tinker with a tale as familiar as Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, but this adaptation by Michael Shamata, directed by Rachel Peake, trims the play into a show that’s manageable for all ages and focuses on the ensemble and core spirit of the work.  All members of the creative team mention how they feel the play’s  message of finding and sharing good with your fellow man is especially needed in these current times.

Scrooge (Russell Roberts) & Marley (Allan Morgan)
Photo: David Cooper

Allan Morgan begins the play as narrator, talking directly to the audience to set the stage for what is to come, and has led to the moment we meet Russell Roberts’ Ebenezer Scrooge and Adam Olgui’s Bob Cratchit at work on Christmas Eve.  While the supporting characters are present, Peake has centred the production on the ghost story, and the message the spirits bring to Scrooge, starting with the eerie ghost of Jacob Marley bringing a warning to Scrooge of continuing his secluded, miserly way of life.  The simple staging by Drew Facey allows the audience to fill in the blanks as the ghosts take Scrooge from his past to present and future.

Ghost of Christmas Past (Josh Chambers) & Scrooge (Russell Roberts)
Photo: David Cooper

The Gateway Theatre holiday show often serves as a mentorship to up and coming actors and stage crew. This production includes five members from the acting program at Langara College’s Studio 58, all playing multiple roles alongside the seasoned, professional players.  At just 110 minutes, including intermission, the production is compact and conveys the spirit of the Holiday favourite in a way that the whole family can enjoy.

A Christmas Carol is onstage at Gateway theatre in Richmond until December 24th.  For Information and Tickets visit gatewaytheatre.com/achristmascarol

East Van Panto – Snow White & the Seven Dwarves

Through the enchanted viaduct and over to the York Theatre in East Vancouver, we find this year’s East Van Panto, Snow White & The Seven Dwarves.

Photo: Emily Cooper

For the fifth year, Theatre Replacement and The Cultch have teamed up to present a holiday treat for the whole family.  Sticking to the traditional structure of a pantomime; take a children’s tale, add music, slapstick comedy, cross-dressing characters, topical jokes and pop-culture references and you’ve got an uproariously silly good time.  East Van Panto takes Snow White, a goth teen, lock her up in her aerobic instructor stepmother’s West Vancouver home, whilst she longs for the freedom and hipness of East Van. As she escapes, Snow encounters a collection of East Van characters and locations.  Ming Hudson’s Snow White is the centre of the show, a surprisingly grounded heroine who anchors the panto and allows the other crazy cavalcade of characters the freedom to be over the top.  Allan Zinyk’s Wicked Stepmother is a scenery chewing, ridiculous villain, eliciting the well deserved boos and hisses of the audience.

Photo: Emily Cooper

Most of the actors play multiple roles throughout the show, creating some interesting and comedic moments when both of those roles are in the same scene.  Amy Rutherford and Chirag Naik stand out in their supporting roles, both excelling in the slapstick comedy and music.

Veda Hille, also returning for a fifth year, music brilliantly combines modern pop and rock tunes with updated, topical lyrics that both move the story along but also bring up plenty of laughs.  Set to tunes of Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child, Lorde’s Royals, Push It by Salt-n-Pepa, Lose Yourself from Eminem, Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling and many more tracks lend familiarity while tickling your funny bone with hilarious lyrics.

Talking about what happens to Snow White along her journey may give away too much of the story will ruin some of the current affairs humour and characters so just go see East Van Panto for yourself and find out what happens to Snow White.

East Van Panto : Snow White & The Seven Dwarves runs until January 6th at  York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive, Vancouver.  Visit thecultch.com for information and to purchase tickets.

 

Picks of the Week – December 6, 2017

Just 20 more sleeps until Christmas and 6 until Hanukkah ! If you’re not already in the Holiday spirit, the picks of the week have plenty to get you feeling festive.

Shop: Tonight, browse, taste and shop your way around the Vancouver Foodster Holiday Market, at merchants in South Granville, False Creek and Kitsilano

Symphony: Tonight, join Jann Arden and the VSO for an evening of music at the Orpheum Theatre

Rock: The Killers hit the stage tonight at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Arena at UBC for one night only

Sci-Fi: December 6 – 10, Some Assembly Theatre company presents Nicholas Harrison’s tale of strength and resiliency; How Star Wars Saved My Life 

Market: The Christmas Market season is in full swing with the Vancouver Christmas Market opening today, running until December 24, at Jack Poole Plaza plus River District, Make It!, Got Craft? & Shiny Fuzzy Muddy craft fairs throughout the weekend.

Tea: One of a kind duo, James and Jamesy  find their Christmas Spirit in thier latest touring show, O Christmas Tea, playing tonight December 6th at Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver

Ice: Thursday night, Vancouver Canucks play host to Philadelphia Flyers at Rogers Arena

East Van Panto
Photo: Emily Cooper

Snow: Until January 6th, help Snow White and the Seven Dwarves evade her Evil Stepmother in East Van Panto at The Cultch York Theatre

Jazz:  BC’s own Diana Krall brings her smooth sounds to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Friday night.

Twinkle: Light up your nights with the Festival light displays all around Metro Vancouver; Lights of Hope, Canyon Lights, Bright Nights, Heritage Christmas, Glow Christmas, Lights at Lafarge all bring a little Christmas Spirit.

Spirits: Join the Vancouver Men’s Chorus for an evening of Making Spirits Bright at St Paul’s Anglican Church on Saturday and Sunday evening

Stage: The Arts Club Theatre Company’s dramedy  The Day Before Christmas is onstage at the Goldcorp Stage until the day before Christmas, while fan favourite Onegin remounts the Arts Club, Granville Island Stage, until December 31st and Disney’s Beauty & The Beast is in previews starting tomorrow.

Dickens: From December 7 – 24th, the Holiday Classic, A Christmas Carol comes to life onstage at Gateway Theatre in Richmond.

Narnia: Carousel Theatre, invites families to step through the wardrobe as C.S Lewis’  The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe comes to the stage until December 31st.

Carols: The 25th Anniversary of the VSO’s Traditional Christmas at St Andrew’s Wesley this weekend and in various venues throughout the month

Drag: The Christmas Queen is back to ruin Christmas for Vancouver Theatresports League and on Saturday nights, anything can, and will happen,  when Vancouver drag diva the Unstoppable Connie Smudge joins the stage,  it’s two queens for the price of one at Christmas Queen Drag Race.

 

 

 

 

 

Handel’s Messiah from Early Music Vancouver

This weekend, Early Music Vancouver (EMV) presented Handel’s Messiah for the first time in their repertoire.  EMV welcomes music lovers to four performances over the weekend, at the White Rock Baptist Church, Vancouver Playhouse and Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver.  Virtually sold out for the whole run,  there was definitely an appetite for the classic work.

Pacific Baroque Orchestra photo: Jan Gates

Since Handel wrote Messiah in 1742, the oratorio has been performed countless times due to its enduring popularity and familiarity of the famed Hallelujah Chorus.  Over the years the productions of Messiah have swelled to epic proportions, with some performances reaching orchestras and choruses of 100+, as the producers tried to outdo other versions.  EMV had a trimmed down vision for their first foray into the Baroque work.  Music director and harpsichordist Alexander Weimann lead the 20 piece Pacific Baroque Orchestra, playing period instruments. The 30 member Vancouver Cantata Singers, nimbly brought the chorus to life .  Bringing extensive experience in Baroque music, four internationally acclaimed vocalists joined the EMV ensemble;  Yulia Van Doren (soprano), Krisztina Szabó (mezzo-soprano), Charles Daniels (tenor), and Tyler Duncan (baritone).

Vancouver Cantata Singers

Watching our first full performance of Handel’s Messiah, I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than knowing it was a long work.  I was happy to find that while it was long at nearly 3 hours, EMV’s Handel’s Messiah was a fast paced (impressively so, at times), easy to grasp classical work.  The Chorus, and soloists filled the room with their voices and the orchestra was tightly rehearsed to sound as one. Of course, a highlight was the Hallelujah Chorus, bringing the audience to their feet for the uplifting moment.

With the popularity of these performances, I won’t be surprised to see Handel’s Messiah on next year’s Early Music Vancouver calendar. In the meantime, get another Seasonal music experience when EMV presents Festive Cantatas – Vivaldi – Gloria & Magnificat on December 23rd at The Chan Centre for Performing Arts.

14th Annual Santa Claus Parade is coming to town

With a wink of an eye and a twist of his head…the jolly ol’ elf is coming!

It’s time for the man in the big red suit to come riding into town as the 14 annual Vancouver Santa Claus Parade presented by Telus fills downtown Vancouver with festive fun on Sunday December 3rd, 2018.

Starting at Noon, the parade route begins at West Georgia at Broughton Street, runs east on West Georgia to Howe Street then comes to an end at Howe at Davie Street.  Global BC news anchor Chris Gailus leads the parade as this year’s Grand Marshall, along with colleagues from the city’s other media outlets and the CKNW Orphans Fund, one of the parades charity partners.  Another beneficiary is the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, volunteers will be on hand throughout the day, to collect cash or non-perishable food donations for the food bank.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to line the streets and participate in the parade in bands, choirs, floats and community organizations.  Before the parade, feed your troupe with Breakfast with Santa at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver from 9:30am – 10:30am then get in the holiday spirit at the Christmas Square, in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.  From 10am until Noon, the Square features fun for kids, young and old face painting, gingerbread man and christmas ornament decorating, ‘letters to Santa’ writing stations and entertainment on the Main Stage. After the parade, head to Telus Garden at Seymour and West Georgia St, to get a picture with Santa.

With the big crowds it is best to plan ahead, take transit and arrive early. If you can’t make it to downtown Vancouver to watch the parade in person, tune into Global BC and BC1 to watch the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade telecast starting December 17th, 2018.