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 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.

Arts Club remounts hit play Onegin for 2017.

Last season, The Arts Club Theatre Company debuted Onegin, an ambitious new work based on the verse Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin and the opera by Tchaikovsky.   This season, the cast remains the same but the home of Onegin changes to Granville Island for a run until December 31st.

Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille have written the book, music, and lyrics that covers all the emotions in the two hour show; light-hearted comedy, romance, drama, tragedy.  The musical is mostly sung-through with very little dialogue and most of that dialogue is directed at the audience, when the players break the fourth wall. The pop-rock infused songs are strong enough to stand alone, and with the band (Jennifer Moersch, Barry Mirochnick & Marguerite Witvoet) onstage throughout, suggest the whole show could be performed in concert without set or costumes and still be brilliant.  However, Drew Facey’s set filled with chandeliers, books and candles and Jacqueline Firkins’ Imperial Russian costumes do great work to place Onegin in 19th century St. Petersburg, Russia.

The whole theatre is the stage as players regularly step into the aisles to interact and bring the audience even closer to the production.  Sharing laughter, drinks, chit chat and passing notes, the casual atmosphere is like a visit with friends that you don’t want to end, the two hour show passes all too quickly.  In their second season in these roles the actors and characters mesh as one, allowing them to deliver the adlibs and scripted lines with equal comfort.  The cast is filled with veterans of Vancouver stage and screen and no one performer stands out because they are all equally brilliant in delivering one of the best new shows that has crossed our stages in recent years.

Onegin plays at The Arts Club Theatre’s Granville Island Stage until December 31, 2017.  Visit artsclub.com for tickets and more information.

Picks of the Week – November 29, 2017

We’re into the one month countdown to Christmas with more festive flair popping into the picks of the week.

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 Toque, River District craft fairs as well.

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

Flamenco Rosario

Dance: The Dance Centre’s Discover Dance Series presents Flamenco Rosario on Thursday November 30th honours the traditions of dance with a lunchtime performance

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.

Oratorio: The spirit of the season and the sound of music fills the air as Early Music Vancouver presents Handel’s Messiah, November 30th in White Rock and December 1st & 2nd at Vancouver Playhouse.

Wheel: Take a ride on the Sky Wheel on the Pier at the Annual Shipyards Christmas Market December 2nd in North Vancouver; artisan market, family activities, entertainment, tree lighting and the weekend-only observation wheel sponsored by the Lower Lonsdale BIA.

Rock: American rockers, The National plays a two-night stand at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on December 1st and 2nd.

Sax: December 3rd, Kenny G plays some of his hits and holiday favourites at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

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.

Scoop: At Firehall Arts Centre, until December 2nd,  Only Drunks And Children Tell The Truth tells the tale of the 60’s Scoop of indigenous children with truth and humour

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.

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.

Pucks: The Toronto Maple Leafs make a rare Western appearance as they visit Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday night.

St Nick: Santa Claus is coming to town as the 14th Annual (and newly renamed) Telus Santa Claus Parade makes it way through downtown Vancouver on Sunday afternoon. 

Vancouver Christmas Concerts for 2017

Christmas has a long association with music;  carols, hymns and cantatas, bringing spirit to the Season’s concerts.  Calendars are filled with school and church concerts, and to help you get in the song-filled spirit, here’s a list of concerts around Vancouver to take in this Season for your listening pleasure:

Handel’s Messiah: Friday December 1 & Saturday December 2, 2017, Vancouver Playhouse
Early Music Vancouver presents Messiah for the first time, with Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Vancouver Cantata Singers.

Kenny G The Miracles Holiday & Hits Tour: December 3, 2017, Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Award winning instrumentalist Kenny G performs some of his biggest hits as well as holiday classics from his best-selling Miracles: The Holiday Album.

A Jann Arden Christmas with the VSO:  Wednesday, December 6, 2017, Orpheum Theatre
Join Canadian pop songstress as she joins the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for an evening of song and her quick wit.

A Traditional Christmas: Friday December 8, Saturday December 9, 2017, Sta Andrew’s Wesley Church, plus dates all around Metro Vancouver through December 17th.
Join the VSO and host Christopher Gaze (Bard on the Beach) for the 25th Anniversary of this Christmas favourite.

Making Spirits Bright with Vancouver Men’s Chorus

Vancouver Men’s Chorus are Making Spirits Bright:

Saturday December 9, Sunday December 10, Thursday December 14, Friday December 15, 2017, St Paul’s Anglican Church
Are you naughty or nice? Doesn’t matter the VMC will entertain you for their lighthearted Christmas concerts.

Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir by Leigh Righton.

Good Tidings, a Good Noise Gospel Christmas:  Friday December 15 and Saturday December 16, 2017, Christ Church Cathedral
Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir with special guest vocalist Maureen Washington and the 90 voice choir bring joy of the season.

Christmas with Chor Leoni: Friday December 15 and Monday December 18, 2017, St Andrew’s Wesley Church (twice/night)
A Christmas tradition to gather friends and family together to enjoy old Christmas favourites and encounter new ones as sung by the men’s choir.

Festive Cantatas – Vivaldi – Gloria and Magnificat: Saturday December 23, 2017, Chan Shun Concert Hall at Chan Centre for Performing Arts
Early Music Vancouver presents Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat as they were originally performed, by an all-female ensemble.

The Tenors – Christmas Together Tour

The Tenors – Queen Elizabeth Theatre – November 24, 2017

The Tenors are inviting fans to spend “Christmas Together” with them as they tour North America this season.  Friday night, the trio brought their smooth vocal style to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for an evening of Holiday cheer in support of their new Christmas Together album.  Filled with Christmas carols, classic holiday season favourites and some new tunes, the 2 hour show brought the Christmas spirit to the audience.

Joined on stage with the BC Girls and BC Boys Choirs for some Christmas joy on some tracks.  Add-in many of Fraser Walter’s family and friends being in the audience for extra emotion, especially on his solo. Smiles were all around as Victor, Clifton and Fraser ventured into the audience to play a game of complete the lyrics with fans, and found Frasers young nephew to adorably join in the reindeer games.  The evening had a feel of a sing-a-long as all the songs were mostly tried and true favourites and The Tenors invited fans to join in on some carols.  Even the new track from Christmas Together, Santa’s Wish (Teach the World), is based on the familiar, “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”.

The Tenors’ Christmas Together Album is available now and the Tour continues throughout North America, with a stop in New York next week, to appear on NBC’s Christmas In Rockefeller Center, airing November 29th.

And…Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas…