Bombay Black returns to the Vancouver stage

In a change from the festive fair on most stages around town, next week The Firehall Arts Centre presents Bombay Black.  

Running December 5 to December 15, 2018, the play by the award-winning novelist and playwright Anosh Irani was heaped with praise during its 2017 production at Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Bombay Black : Arshdeep Purba
Photo: Raymond Kam

Bombay Black is set in the bitter reality of present-day India. The iron-willed Padma (Jessie Award nominee Nimet Kanji) takes money from men who watch her daughter, Apsara (rising star Arshdeep Purba), perform an exotic dance. When a mysterious blind man named Kamal (Jessie Award nominee Munish Sharma) arrives for an appointment, his secret threatens to change each of their lives forever.

Bombay Black (l-r) Munish Sharma & Arshdeep Purba
Photo: Raymond Kam

Directed by Mumbai-born, multiple award-winning Indo-Canadian producer Rohit Chokhani, Bombay Black features a poetic text, bold theatrical imagery and a gritty twist. In a first, Vancouver Arts stalwart Chokhani has reimagined Irani’s work to present the play from the perspective of a blind man. An earlier version of this production, which was Chokhani’s directorial debut at the 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival, enjoyed a sold-out run and received the Pick of the Fringe Award.

Donna Spencer had this to say about the production, “As Artistic Producer of the Firehall, I have always been excited about supporting the work of artists from diverse cultural backgrounds and providing opportunities for emerging directors to have their work seen. Rohit Chokhani’s production of Bombay Black provides just that opportunity to showcase his work as a director and to introduce the creative team and actors in the work to our audiences.”

Anosh Irani’s Bombay Black runs at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Wednesday, December 5 to Saturday, December 15th, 2018.

For showtimes and tickets visit firehallartscentre.ca

15th Annual Santa Claus Parade is on its way

Ho! Ho! Ho! The Holidays are here and Santa is on his way!

Santa will be riding into town this weekend, for the 15th Annual Vancouver Santa Claus Parade, December 2, 2018.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to fill downtown Vancouver to view the parade, volunteer and participate in the parade in bands, choirs, floats and community organizations.  Before the parade, fuel up your troupe with Breakfast with Santa at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver from 9:30am – 10:30am. Then 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.  The route passes Christmas Square at šx????n?q Xwtl’e7én? Square at Vancouver Art Gallery, which features fun for kids, young and old face painting, kids crafts, ‘letters to Santa’ writing stations, entertainment and more.

As well, Vancouver Santa Claus Parade charity partners the CKNW Kids’ Fund and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank will also be onsite at the Square collecting donations.  If you forget to bring your donation to the parade, stop by a TELUS corporate store until December 9th, for every food bank item donated to the collection boxes in the stores, TELUS will donate an additional $5.00 to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.  After the parade, head to Telus Garden Laneway between Robson and West Georgia St, for more entertainment, festive fun and get a family photo with Santa.

With the big crowds it is best to plan ahead, arrive early, take transit to avoid the road closures.  Viewing is most congested around the Georgia Steet & Howe Street intersection, good options are to watch near the start or finish of the route. An accessible viewing area set up in on the East side of Howe Street, just south of Georgia Street.
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 a week after the parade.

Picks of the Week – November 28, 2018

The last week of November and the first weekend of December brings us a plethora of festival fun to entertain the whole family.

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.

James & Jamesy – O Christmas Tree

Whimsy: The award winning duo, James & Jamesy’s O Christmas Tree brings their physical comedy to Massey Theatre on December 1st, with a Christmas cuppa brimming with holiday cheer, and much more.

EnemyThe Enemy at The Firehall Arts Centre is a topical, contemporary interpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, running until December 1, 2018

Jazz: Tyrant Studio’s Friday Jazz enjoy the New Orleans style sounds of Marc Lindy and Guests at the Tyrant Studio Lounge upstairs from The Penthouse

Merry Kiss-mas
VTSL

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

Lights: Friday night, catch the 12th annual light-up of the 76ft tall Vancouver Christmas Tree at Robson Square, and Saturday the annual Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens opens, plus enjoy many other Festival light displays around the city

Gold: The Vancouver Canucks play host to Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday at Rogers Arena

Pi Theatre’s Hir Jordan Fowlie and Victor Dolhai
Photo: Emily Cooper.

Gender: Pi Theatre presents the Canadian premiere of American playwright Taylor Mac’s Hir, exploring the dynamics of a family dealing with PTSD, gender politics & more, from November 22–December 8, 2018, at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex.

Drama: Seven Tyrants Theatre presents John Patrick Stanley’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama Doubt : A Parable from November 23 – December 14

Swing: Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox brings a vintage touch to modern pop songs at The Vogue Theatre on Saturday night

Laughs: Saturday nights Tyrant Studio’s Comic Strip brings stand-up comedy to the Studio Lounge Stage with Byron Bertram, plus James Hammond and Alex Sparling

Dance:  From Montreal Frédérick Gravel’s This Duet That We’ve Already Done (so many times) continues at The Cultch Historic Theatre until Saturday

Vancouver Christmas Market
Photo: Lindsay Elliott

Market:  The Vancouver Christmas Market celebrates its 9th year as it returns to Jack Poole Plaza, until December 24, 2018

Couture: The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Guo Pei: Couture Beyond is the first Canadian exhibition devoted to the work of Guo Pei, China’s preeminent couturière until January 20, 2019

Shopping: From the West End, to Dunbar, and Delta, Visit one of the many Christmas Craft Markets happening around Metro Vancouver this weekend

Aurora Winter Festival

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

Albireo, A New Musical, Shines

Like it’s namesake star, Albireo, a new work by Annahis Basmadjian, shines with potential. Albireo was brought to the Red Gate Revue Stage by producers Rushed Productions Ltd with support from UBC Players Club.  Liam Lazenby directs a cast of experienced and new to the scene actors and singers to bring Annahis Basmadjian’s light musical-comedy to life.

Telling the story of two estranged brother’s Charon Chambers (Colton Fyfe) and Wriker Writeov (Jed Weiss), who we learn are half-siren/half-human. Orphaned by their siren mother and deaf-father (therefore could not succumb to the siren song), the brothers fended for themselves using their power for a life of crime.  When Chambers took another young human orphan, Holly, under his wing to settle down and raise her, he left behind his brother and their grifter ways.  When Writeov finds Chambers and Holly about to host a party, some comedic and dramatic events occur that push the brothers to work together to save their family.  Realizing that the bonds of family make their power stronger they are able to fend off a rival.

Being sirens, music is a vital part of Chambers and Writeov’s lives and therefore the play.  Basmadjian has crafted some catchy, pop tunes for Alberio and witty dialogue to go along with them.

The actors’ varying skill levels come into play during the performance, creating a uneven rhythm to the musical as the players move between flat out comedy and dramatic portrayals of their characters.  Seasoned musical-theatre performer Colton Fyfe brings a fully developed character and a more dramatic turn to his Chamber.  Whereas, recent graduate Jed Weiss, in his theatre debut, brings an erratic Jim Carey-style to his comedic portrayal of Writeov.  Having more stage experience performing with his band, his singing and guitar playing skills excel.   Some of the ensemble also stand out, for the wrong reasons, lampooning or murmuring too loudly drawing attention to the background.  On a small space, like the Revue stage, it doesn’t take much to distract and requires creativity from the director, managers and cast to avoid excess noise and balanced performance volumes.

While this Rushed Production Ltd production has ended, if we are lucky enough, we will get to see Alberio again with different companies and stages as the musical continues to develop over the year, it definitely has the DNA for success.

12 Festive Light Displays for the 2018 Holiday Season

With less than a month until Christmas, Metro Vancouver is ablaze with lights as people and places put up light displays all around. Some of the brightest and most festive displays are now open or opening soon to the public, here’s a list of light displays to enjoy the twinkle of the Holiday Season:

Aurora Winter Festival

Aurora Winter Festival – downtown Vancouver’s newest addition to the Holidays, guests can explore the beautifully illuminated mystical worlds of Aurora Festival, at Concord Pacific Place until December 30th, 2018, 4-10pm. Once you’ve explored the mystical worlds’ lights, hit the Tube Park, strap on your ice skates to glide along the Frozen River, ride the Ferris Wheel, listen to Stories with Santa, shop the market, eat and drink in the Entertainment Tent. Admission (online): Adult $19.99, Family: $59.99 (2 adult/3 children)

Bright Nights, Stanley Park Christmas Train– Millions of lights twinkle throughout the plaza and Miniature Train. Ride the train, watch the dozens of festive displays as you stroll around the plaza sipping a hot cocoa, from November 29, 2018 to January 5, 2019 opening hours vary for Matinee and Night Trains. – Matinee Train tickets are $6 for all ages, Night Train tickets are $12(Adults) or $8(Children/Seniors). Admission to Bright Nights Train Plaza only, is by donation (proceeds to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund)

Canyon Lights

Canyon Lights Winter Festival at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park runs until January 27th, 2019 (closed Christmas Day) 11am-9pm. Thousands of lights spread throughout the Park, the bridge, Treetops Adventures, with 8 of the tallest living Christmas Tree. – All-day Adult park admission is $46.95, or $14.95 children, includes the holiday activities, crafts and entertainment begin at 4pm each day.

Chanukah in the City – Join the Jewish Community and celebrate the 8 Days of the Chanukah Festival Of Lights with music, latkes, hot cocoa, doughnuts and entertainment as the Silber Family Agam Menorah, Canada’s tallest, lights up the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza  on December 6th, 2018 at 5pm

Christmas at Canada Place – Port Metro Vancouver presents the annual Christmas at Canada Place holiday event, from December 7th, 2018 to January 3rd, 2019. Make your way along The Canadian Trail (west promenade) to see the Canada’s North light display at the North Point of Canada Place, keep your eye out for the historic Woodward’s department store holiday windows, take in the Christmas fun at Fly Over Canada and don’t forget to look up to the Canada Place Sails of Lights. – Free Admission

Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden run December 1st, 2018 to January 6th, 2019 gates open at 4:30pm. Over a million lights turn the botanical gardens into twinkling winter wonderland.  Carolers, dancing gnomes and the popular Dancing Lights show (on the half hour) make this one of the city’s most popular Christmas Light displays – Adult Admission $18.50 (in advance) or $20(at gate)

Glow Langley brings the warmth of the season indoors to Milner Village Garden Centre in Langley, until January 19, 2019, from 4-10pm daily. Themed “Glow Around the World” explore the Christmas Light Gardens, find Food Trucks & Bars, shop the Craft Market and more, November 23rd to December 30th, 2017 – Admission online – Adults: $22.99, Family: $69.99 (2 adults/3children)

Seven Swans at Burnaby Village Heritage Christmas

Heritage Christmas presented by Concord Pacific at Burnaby Village Museum – Celebrate a Heritage Christmas with the Holiday traditions of a century ago at Burnaby Village. Explore the illuminated Village looking for clues on the 12 Days of Christmas scavenger hunt, November 25th 2017 until January 4th, 2019 – Free Admission / Carousel Rides $2.65

Lights at Lafarge – Until January 20, 2019, Coquitlam’s Winter Light Festival brings back Metro Vancouver’s largest free Christmas light display, Town Centre Park is illuminated with hundreds of thousands of lights, with roving performers, hot chocolate & cookies, a Holiday Market and of course Santa are all just steps from Lafarge Lake – Douglas Skytrain Station – Free Admission

Lights of Hope

Lights of Hope at St Paul’s Hospital – 100,000 bulbs illuminate St Paul’s Lights of Hope, on Burrard Street, in the West End helping to raise much needed funds for the hospital. The 2018 Lights Of Hope support the St Paul’s Hospital Foundation and the thousands of British Columbians who make use of the hospital throughout the year. Stroll past, admire the lights, look for the sponsor’s stars, and, perhaps, make a donation of your own – Free Admission

Lights on the Lake brings the waterfront of Harrison Hot Springs Village alive with a Sasquatch-Themed light display, until January 13th 2019.  See what the Saquatch gets up to in the winter.  Check out the “Whoville” style Christmas trees and light displays will adorn the village, stay for storytelling time, or other entertainment. Visitors can also follow the Christmas Tree Trail to find other Christmas displays and have a Happy Harrison Holiday

Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting – the 12th Annual Christmas Tree lighting takes place Friday November 30th at Robson Square. Four Christmas Trees up to a grand 76 feet tall will be shining over the centre of Vancouver throughout the Holidays.  Guests at the tree-lighting event can enjoy live entertainment and music from Side One and the Soul Gospel Choir plus free cookies and hot chocolate.

Pi Theatre opens the Canadian Premiere of Hir

Pi Theatre’s Hir. l to r: Jordan Fowlie, Andrew Wheeler, Victor Dolhai, Deb Williams. Photo: Emily Cooper

Just as the American Thanksgiving brought families together, laying bare all the dysfunction, family drama, laughter and love that accompanies holiday get togethers, Pi Theatre opens, Hir, a darkly comic exploration of family.  The Canadian premiere of acclaimed American playwright Taylor Mac, Hir runs until December 8, 2018, at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex. The production explores the dynamics of a suburban family dealing with PTSD, identity crises, and gender politics in a realistically comedic fashion.

“Hir is an outrageously provocative play in the rich tradition of black comedies centered on the dysfunctional American family,” says Pi Theatre Artistic Director Richard Wolfe, who also directs the work. “Mac’s take-no-prisoners satire of family dynamics is very much of our time, interrogating the bumps of transition that we are experiencing as the world turns away from a Western-centric hegemony. Hir examines the conflict between our need for safety and our desire to risk it all to find a better, truer way to live — no matter the collateral damage to those we love. Each of the characters in the play is undergoing profound transformation, just as we are feeling colossal shifts in our cultural and political landscape. Hir puts a deliciously caustic bow on all of it.”

Pi Theatre’s Hir Jordan Fowlie and Victor Dolhai
Photo: Emily Cooper.

Called an “audacious and uproarious black comedy” by The New York Times, the play follows the dishonourably discharged Isaac, returning home from the battlegrounds of Afghanistan to find an equally embattled homefront. His father, Arnold, has suffered a stroke and been rendered incapacitated; his mother, Paige, is finally out from under the thumb of her violently domineering husband; his younger sibling, Max, is a transgender teen out to destabilize the patriarchy. The confluence of Arnold’s disability and Max’s coming out has turned Paige toward a radical feminism that sees her refusing to clean the house in an act of unbridled defiance. She exacts revenge on her husband for years of verbal and physical abuse, humiliating Arnold by force-feeding him estrogen, dressing him as a wild drag clown, and putting him in diapers. While Hir is a manic, absurdist tragicomedy, it is also a wake up call about the need for honest communication. 

Directed by two-time Jessie Award-winning Richard Wolfe, Hir features an extraordinary cast of accomplished performers from across Canada.
Hir is now onstage at
Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex, 823 Seymour St, Vancouver. Tickets are on sale at pitheatre.com/hir

Celebrate the Season with Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley

The Arts Club Theatre Company welcomes the holiday season with the opening of Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley, playing at Granville Island Stage until December 30, 2018.

The seasonal sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice revisits the Bennet sisters, focusing on the bookish, unmarried middle sister Mary (Kate Dion-Richard).  Written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley casts a modern eye on the sisters, and their lot in life.  To celebrate a family Christmas, three sisters arrive early to Pemberley, the country home of Mr Darcy (Chris Walters) and wife, Elizabeth (Lauren Jackson), the second eldest of the sisters. Jane (Leslie Dos Remedios), the eldest, pregnant and married to Charles Bingley (Tim Carlson), is supported on the journey by Mary, the spinster sister.  Lydia (Baraka Rahmani) is the younger flighty, vain sister, stuck in an unhappy marriage.  Mary is bold, forthright and tactless but also saddened by being the unmarried sister, burdened with caring for their parents. Left to be comforted by her books and pianoforte she starts to find discontent in her expected role within the family.  Suddenly her world is thrown for a turn with the arrival of equally bookish, nervous Lord Arthur (Matthew MacDonald-Bain), Darcy’s distant cousin.  In Lord Arthur we see Mary has met her match in brains, tact, and experience with the world.  Throw in an unexpected romantic rival (Carmela Sison), and the situation lends itself to camp comedy of classes and the sexes.

While never quite fully realizing the farce, the likes of Oscar Wilde, Miss Bennet does allow this cast to chew the scenery as they spit out fun, fast paced comedy. The scenery by Ted Roberts is a beautiful re-creation of the Pemberley country house drawing room.  Director Roy Surette keeps the pace and the eight characters in motion like a dance to the sounds of Mary’s pianoforte.  Like all good Holiday stories, Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley wraps itself in a ribbon of happy endings for all.

Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley runs at The Arts Club Theatre Company Granville Island Stage until December 30, 2018.