The Broadway Across Canada tour of Legally Blonde: The Musical opened tonight in Vancouver for a limited run of 8 shows. If you like smiling and laughing (and pink) you should make an effort to get out to see it. Tickets are still available from Ticketmaster.
The musical adaptation of the 2001 Reese Witherspoon movie of the same name, Legally Blonde tells the “fish out of water” tale of Elle Woods and her journey from vapid, blonde “Malibu Barbie” to Harvard Law student and legal wiz. Along the way Elle faces many obstacles, rivals and roadblocks, while looking outstanding in a dazzling array of bubblegum pink outfits. Don’t feel that you have to have seen the movie to enjoy this musical, in fact it might even be better if you haven’t seen it. This adaptation eliminates and combines a few characters and scenes to give room to some brilliant comedic singing and dancing with a little romance…ok, a bunch of romance thrown in along the way.
Lead Nikki Bohne does an amazing job of growing up, from a ditsy college senior into a capable “serious” Harvard grad student, before our eyes. The supporting cast and chorus include male leads Matthew Ragas as Warner Huntington III, Elle’s college boyfriend who she follows to Harvard, and Nic Rouleau as Emmett Forrest, the Yale law teaching assistant who helps her to find herself. Supporting Elle and lending an sympathetic ear is Paulette the hairdresser with the lackluster lovelife, played with over-the-top verve by Jillian Wallach. Although there seemed to be some slight audio tweaks that were done during the first number all of the cast sounded great and the dance numbers were excellent. Especially the second act which gets into some of the larger song and dance pieces. All of it was FUN, I would think it hard to find someone who didn’t smile throughout the show (or at least part of the time) and I’m sure there was hardly anyone who didn’t leave the theatre humming “Oh My Gawd, Oh My Gawd, You Guys!”
Heart – Queen Elizabeth Theatre – February 26, 2011
Legendary rock band Heart wrapped up a 20 date cross Canada tour at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre this weekend, bringing them back to the city that gave them their start nearly 40 years ago.
I last saw them 25 years ago at Pacific Coliseum during their big haired power ballad 80’s era, while the hair is smaller they rock just as hard as ever. If we’d not been up close and able to see the extra lines that life has added to the indomitable Wilson Sisters, I wouldn’t have known it wasn’t 1986. Ann still sings with power and edge and Nancy still struts and strums with all the exuberance and energy as ever.
Whether it’s belting out hard rocking tracks like “Barracuda” and “Crazy On You”, a simple stripped down version of “These Dreams” or power ballad “Alone” these are classic tunes performed by consummate pros. In addition to the hits of the past new songs from the 2010 released album “Red Velvet Car” were fit into the set as well. Throughout the evening, the Wilson’s mentioned their ties to Vancouver, few local events and venues of the past, recording their first hit record “Dreamboat Annie”. They even had Vancouverite Ben Mink, who produced “Red Velvet Car” joined them on stage for a couple of the new singles adding a lush depth to the songs with his violin.
Over the years Heart’s sound has covered a wide range of eras and tastes; hard, electronic tinged, soft ballad, country but through it all there is the continuing knowledge that rock ties it all together and these ladies don’t look like they’ll stop rocking any time soon…thankfully!
Juno Award nominated and Polaris Prize shortlisted Plants and Animals kicked off their latest cross Canada tour in Vancouver Friday night. The relative newcomers are touring in support of their 2010 release “La La Land” but also debuted a few new songs during the set, presumably to be included on their next album. Although the band are new to me I was impressed by their live set…the songs sounded tight and for a threesome they make a whole lot of sound. This big stage performance is reminiscent of Muse, who are consistently voted one of the best live acts. The only drawback was the gaps of ‘dead air’ when the band switched or tuned guitars…this I’m sure will change as they gain experience and staff to hand them equipment. Their straight ahead modern rock sound appears to appeal to a wide range of audience, every clique seemed to be present: hipsters, hippies, plaid wearing students, goths and rockers. Throughout the 75 minute set, everyone danced and bounced along whether it was an established hit like “Bye Bye Bye” or a new tune like the tentatively titled “2010”. If Plants and Animals are coming to your town I recommend checking them out now, before they move on to bigger things and venues
Gone is the Fabio-esque long flowing mane of hair so synonymous with Michael Bolton of the 80’s and 90’s but the voice and the hits live on. Stopping in Vancouver for a sell-out show at the River Rock Casino Theatre (in addition to a private charity fundraiser the evening prior) Michael Bolton certainly cannot be accused of limiting himself to a single genre. Over his lengthy career, beginning in a hard rock band, he has recorded R&B, Contemporary Pop, Classic pop, Standards, Swing, Opera and his career is still going to there’s ample time for a few more genres…perhaps Bolton Goes Country is in the future?During this 2 hour show the audience was treated to all these genres, showcasing the diversity of Bolton’s musical range and skill. Having just an image of the 80’s Michael Bolton as a frame of reference, I was quite impressed with what was presented. Especially surprising and welcome was his visit to the Blues…he plays a mean Blues guitar! Following was a trip into Swing and Opera with a set of classic Sinatra standards and a very capable rendition of Nessun Dorma, which he’d performed with the great tenor Luciano Pavarotti. After a short interlude, in which band-member, saxaophonist and successful recording artist in his own right, Michael Lington performed his own single “You & I”,
Michael Bolton returned, having changed out of a suit and into jeans and a t-shirt, to the auditorium in the middle of the audience. This began a set of the best know Michael Bolton songs, “How Can We Be Lover”, “Georgia On My Mind”, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You”… Singing in the midst of the audience, I’m sure hearts of more than a few of the ladies present skipped a beat…although judging by the demographic in the theatre this might not have been a healthy option. A number of ladies had brought flowers with them to present to Bolton, sadly he hasn’t quite reached the Tom Jones status of receiving panties, one younger lady in the front row was nearly overwhelmed with excitement when he pointed at her…she timidly presented him with her flowers. This seemed to draw her out of her shell and she kept on dancing at the stage, grabbing her friends to join in. Earlier, the slightly overzealous River Rock security ‘removed’ a younger lady (and her glass of Chardonnay) from the edge of the stage. Now the floodgates seemed to be open as more and more ladies (and a couple of men) rushed the stage and I don’t think any security dared face the wrath of a women refused the chance to get up close to Michael Bolton and his tight t-shirt. Dancing with great enthusiasm the wildly diverse audience was like a cross section of dance and fashion styles from the last 30 years. I think more than a few “Girls Night Out” were in the audience and they seemed to work themselves into a frenzy whereas those who came with a husband/boyfriend had equally good of a time dancing on their own. It was an excellent night for people watching, my friend and I were so mesmerized by one particular lady in pink dancing up a storm that we ended up forgetting to watch the show onstage. All the positive feelings in the room translated into a very entertaining evening, no matter what you say or feel about Michael Bolton it was great to see so many people having such a good time. That ability to know exactly how to win over the whole audience is the difference between a good performer and great
Elton John – Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena – February 15, 2011
Elton John kicked off his North American tour with his only Canadian dates and first ever visit to Victoria. The back to back shows filled Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena with 16,000 fans over the two night, the largest crowds the 6 year old venue has experienced. The buzz was definitely good for local business as many, like myself, came from out of town to catch the ‘Rocket Man’ perform his 45+ years of hits. And did he ever perform…3hours of non-stop hits! Elton sat down at the piano exactly at 8pm and belted out hits until 1059 (a City noise ordinance means concert events must end at 11pm). His voice hasn’t seemed to have changed at all over the decades and still maintains the tone and strength to make each hit sound as familiar as ever. The sound in the Save-On centre was outstanding as well, I’d heard that the building had good acoustics but this was even better than expected. I’m sure the experience of 40 years of touring, many with the same band members, helps the songs sound perfect time after time. This tour is in support of “The Union” Elton’s new album with American singer-songwriter Leon Russell. The concert features many songs from the album but although these were the first time the band was performing them live they sounded so familiar and tight they fit right into the set without missing a beat. As the 2.5 hour mark approached, the hits rolled on and the audience was on it’s feet dancing for The Bitch Is Back, I’m Still Standing and finally Crocodile Rock (featured in the new Elton John produced film; Gnomeo & Juliet) wrapped up the main set. After a quick minute break (the only one of the show) the band returned as Elton took the time to acknowledge the fans, spending a few minutes signing CDs, programs, t-shirts, even a glittery shoe. To close the show the encore began with the 41 year old Your Song…sounding as fresh as ever…and finally Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me wrapped up a remarkable evening of music by a consummate performer.
Now is the time to catch Elton as he tours across the USA Upcoming shows include:
Feb 17 – Eugene, OR Feb 19 – Reno, NV Feb 24 – Kahului, HI Feb 25 – Kahului, HI Mar 11 – Uncasville, CT Mar 12 – Worcester, MA Mar 16 – New York, NY Mar 18 – Norfolk, VA Mar 20 – New York, NY Mar 23 – Pittsburgh, PA Mar 25 – Philadelphia, PA Mar 26 – Baltimore, MD Mar 27 – University Park, PA Apr 06 – Bismarck, ND Apr 08 – Spokane, WA Apr 09 – Boise, ID Apr 10 – Billings, MT Apr 22 – Wilkes-Barre, PA Apr 23 – Rochester, NY May 06 – Duluth, MN
I’ve seen very few bands that can built such positive energy in a crowd without even being on stage. Such is the anticipation the audience feels as they prepare for a Chromeo show…before the band is on stage (perhaps not even in the building) the crowd was super energized; on their feet, buzzing and dancing.
As the Montreal duo of P-Thug and Dave 1 enter the stage to chants of Chro-mee-oh-oooh-oh! The show gets right into the swing of things with a flash from the brilliant light show…no gradual build up here…getting everyone dancing immediately was clearly the aim. The audience was participating to its fullest, luckily the sprung dance-floor in the Commodore Ballroom there to rebound the sold out crowds boundless energy as they danced and bounced along to every moment of the show. Fists were pumping, butts were shaking and heads were bopping as the band tore through their catalogue of retro infused electro-pop hits for a fun filled 80minute set.
Since their last visit to Vancouver 6 months ago they’ve enjoyed mainstream success and
airplay with the single “Hot Mess” from their 3rd album “Business Casual”. This success has brought with is a new fan base that was evident tonight as the audience was far more varied than the gig half a year ago, when they were the secret passion of a smaller demographic. Having many of the audience new to the band added to the excitement and anticipation as the crowds mixed and melted in to a pot of delicious dance music.
I have the good fortune to see a lot of artists and bands perform live many of them are new me and along the way there are some hits and misses. One of the recent hits is Andrew Allen; a relatively new independant artist who is presently on the road touring in support of a forthcoming spring major-label album release. While he is a unique artist in his own right, Andrew’s witty and energetic performance style is like a perfect hybrid of Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson and John Mayer. Like many the first introduction to an Andrew Allen song was his stunning soulful single “Amazing” played during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Since then he’s gone from strength to strength as his independently released EPs have lead to signing with EPIC Records, meaning a full length album is now in production. If the lead single “Loving You Tonight” is anything to go by, I’m looking forward to a feel good album. Now on tour with Joshua Radin and Justin Nozuka throughout the U.S. and Canada if the show makes a stop in your town, please get out and catch it…you’ll be in for a treat!
Upcoming Tour Dates: 2/7 – Plaza Theater – Orlando, FL 2/8 – State Theatre – Tampa, FL 2/9 – Workplay – Birmingham, AL 2/11 – Jefferson Theatre – Charlottesville, VA 2/12 – HOB – Boston, MA 2/14 – Trocadero – Philadelphia, PA 2/15 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC