Fabulist Theatre presents Better Than This

Better Than This is Fabulist Theatre’s new production coming to the Havana Theatre stage February 28th to March 9th.  For decades, musical theatre has been the home of iconic female characters, but for every legendary woman even more stereotypes take the stage. 

Better Than This is an original musical revue chronicling the evolution of women’s roles in musical theatre. By celebrating some of the best known female characters from My Fair Lady’s Eliza Doolittle in the 1950s to Alison Bechdel in 2013’s Fun Home, Better Than This examines why certain tropes persist and looks at changing the narrative around the female voice in musicals. 

Featuring songs from the most beloved musicals of the past century including West Side Story, Chicago, Wicked  and many more! Better Than This stars, Brianna Clark (Showstoppers, Fabulist Theatre’s Once On This Island), Kyrst Hogan (Kitty Night Productions’ Johnny and June), Dionne Phillips (The Broadway Chorus’ Bootie and the Beast) and Cathy Wilmot (Arts Club Theatre Company’s Mamma Mia!)

Better Than This opens February 28th with a preview “Pay What You Choose” ($5-$20 suggested, at the door)
Tickets are $24 in advance online or $28 at the door.
Tuesday March 5 is Half-Price
Friday March 8 (International Women’s Day) includes special post-show talkback

Picks of the Week – February 6, 2019

Last weekend, Nova Scotia’s resident groundhog, Shubenacadie Sam, predicted more weeks of winter for Canadian, and the temperatures outside seem to be matching that for Vancouver. Let’s find some fun to keep us warm in these picks of the week.

Tasting: Tonight, join Vancouver Foodster and a gaggle of fellow foodies to explore the flavours of Tasting Plates 7th Anniversary downtown Vancouver

Lunar: Check out some of the fun and traditional Lunar New Year Festivities underway now throughout the city, at Jack Poole Plaza, Fly Over Canada, Oakridge Centre and others.

Cocoa: These cold temperatures are the perfect time to warm up with the Annual Hot Chocolate Festival filling cups throughout the city until February 14th

Contest: Enter to win a prize package to attend Vancouver Alpen Club’s Valentine’s Dance with The Continentals on Saturday night.

Orphan: Everyone’s favourite orphan is onstage at the Micheal J Fox Theatre in Burnaby, as Align Entertainment presents Annie, until February 16

Laughs:  Join Vancouver’s queer improv comedy troupe, Queerprov, at The Junction for improv laughter tonight.

Love: Work your way to your Valentine’s heart through their funnybone as Vancouver TheatreSports presents Romance Week, a whole week of fun, romantic and naughty improv.

Joni: This is your last days to enjoy the sounds of Circle Game: Reimagining The Music Of Joni Mitchell, at The Firehall Arts Centre until February 9th


Boats: The 2019 Vancouver International Boat Show brings everything nautical indoors at BC Place and the floating boat show at Granville Island until February 10th.

Rock: Enjoy the classic rock when Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band take the stage at Rogers Arena tomorrow night.

Yoga Play at Gateway Theatre

Yoga: You’ll bend over backwards to get into Gateway Theatre for the comedy Yoga Play.

Pop: Local acts Mother Mother and Said The Whale fill the Orpheum Theatre on Thursday night

Dance: February 6 – 9, SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts hosts the dramatic dance performance Blood on the Dancefloor by Australian ILBIJERRI Theatre Company

Dolly: Find out if it’s a match made in heaven, and see Dolly Levi in action as The Matchmaker (the inspiration for the iconic musical Hello Dolly!) opens at The Arts Club Theatre Company Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Crime: The criminal biographical play True Crime is now At the Arts Club Theatre Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, until February 24th.

The King’s Singers photo: Marco Borggreve

Choir: Early Music Vancouver brings the renowned King’s Singers to the Chan Centre at UBC on Saturday night

Puck: The Vancouver Canucks return to the ice at Rogers Arena on Saturday to host Calgary

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks comes to Chan Centre

In recognition of Black History Month, The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is bringing No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks to the Chan Shun Concert Hall on February 24th. 

As part of the Beyond Words series, this multimedia work from innovative art-collective Manual Cinema in collaboration with Chicago-based poets Eve L. Ewing and Nate Marshall, featuring a live six-piece band and original score by Jamila Woods and Ayanna Woods, creates an inspiring biographical narrative, of Gwendolyn Brooks. The late poet was a radical and disruptive presence within the national literary scene, becoming the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950.

Photo of Manual Cinema by Julia Miller

“Manual Cinema creates magic, pure and simple. Through the unlikely pairing of high-tech digital equipment and old-school overhead projectors they are known for completely captivating audiences,” says Wendy Atkinson, Programming Manager at the Chan Centre and curator of Beyond Words. “Two years ago they performed here to rave reviews and when I heard about their most recent project — a biography of poet Gwendolyn Brooks that also includes a live band — I couldn’t resist inviting them back!”

Born in 1917 in Kansas and raised in Chicago, Gwendolyn Brooks worked for decades as an acclaimed artist, mentor to aspiring poets, and advocate for schoolchildren. Gaining much acclaim, she became one of the most widely read authors in America, using her poetic eloquence to convey the black experience.

No Blue Memories traces the political arc of her career and the development of her craft. Manual Cinema’s production uses a combination of shadow puppetry, vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and live music. Written by Ewing and Marshall — also known collectively as Crescendo Literary, a name taken from a Brooks composition — the evocative performance poetically explores her legacy. Fellow Chicago-based soul singer Jamila Woods collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Ayanna Woods for the original score, which will be performed live. 

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks takes the stage at The Chan Centre for Performing Arts at The University of British Columbia at 7pm, Sunday February 24, 2019. For information and tickets visit chancentre.com

The Matchmaker makes her match at The Arts Club

Say hello to the famed matchmaking busybody Dolly Gallagher Levi as The Matchmaker brings her to The Arts Club Theatre Company Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Thorton Wilder’s 1954 comedy served as the inspiration for the iconic musical Hello Dolly!, which turned Dolly Levi into a legendary role.

In The Arts Club Theatre Company’s The Matchmaker, director Ashlie Corcoran, guides an ensemble of 14 actors playing 16 characters through a maze of forbidden love, mistaken identities, madcap adventures and hysterical hijinx, resulting in much spontaneous laughter and applause from the audience throughout the performance.

Nicole Lipman as Dolly Levi
photo: David Cooper

While Nicole Lipman’s Dolly stirs the plot and characters with her cunning charm, it’s cantankerous Horace Vandergelder, played by Ric Reid, who sets the wheels in motion as the other characters seek to avoid or win “the first citizen of Yonkers'” favour. Whether it’s trying to keep his niece Ermengarde (Julie Leung) from marrying artist Ambrose Kemper (Nadeem Phillip), keep his love interest Mrs Molloy on a string whilst there is another potential suitor, or keep his employees in check in spite of their desire for adventure, Mr Vandergelder never quite succeeds with Dolly really pulling the strings.

The Matchmaker
photo: David Cooper

As the characters move the action from Yonkers “where nothing ever happens”, to New York City, Mrs Molloy (Naomi Wright) and her flighty shop assistance Minnie (Georgia Beaty) are the first bold flashes of colour both in character, costume and setting of her millinery shop. When they stumble into the shop, the ladies awaken something within Mr. Vandergelder’s naive shop clerks, Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker. Played with leading-man charm and charisma by Tyrone Savage and wide-eyed innocence by Daniel Doheny, respectively, the gentlemen were seeking an adventure and found much more than they bargained for, or could afford, but in Dolly’s world everything has a way of working out, for everyone.

Throughout the adventure we meet an assortment of colourful characters each with their own over-the-top eccentricities. The audience becomes a 17th character when many of the characters break the fourth wall to speak directly to the room; sharing their feelings, or words of wisdom albeit when coming from drunkard Malachi Stack, hilariously played by Scott Bellis, they might be taken with a shot of whiskey. With so much happening on stage, the whole performance moves like a dance as players move in, out and over the sets and costumes on their way to happily ever after.

Drew Facey’s beautiful production design creates a world, with four distinct sets, reminiscent of The Gilded Age but with hints of modernity in the set decorations and costumes that make it a world all its own. The set and costumes lends just enough realism to ground the show but the colourful winks and whimsy fit perfectly with the absurdity of the farce. If you listen closely, you’ll also note that the music doesn’t fit the period but does fit the characters, with a short nod to Hello Dolly!, as well.

Experience the laughter for yourself as The Matchmaker plays at The Arts Club Theatre Company Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until February 24, 2019. Visit artsclub.com for tickets and showtimes.

Watch for Blood On The Dancefloor at SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts

Blood On The Dancefloor
photo: Bryony Jackson

Next week, SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts welcomes the West Coast premiere of ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s Blood on the Dance Floor by Jacob Boehme. Presented by DanceHouse, SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, and Talking Stick Festival, Blood on the Dance Floor takes the stage February 6th to 9th.. Rooted in Aboriginal Dance, theatre, and storytelling, this award-winning work, is based on the deeply personal experience of performer Jacob Boehme, a renowned dancer, writer, and choreographer from the Narangga and Kaurna nations of South Australia. Blood on the Dance Floor unapologetically shares Boehme’s emotionally honest story of gay, Blak, and poz identities; and explores the struggle, heartache, and enduring spirit of someone living at the intersection of Aboriginal, queer, and HIV-positive communities.

“This work comes at a landmark moment in the history of HIV. With the increasing availability of preventative medication, HIV transmission rates are decreasing and life expectancy for those with the virus is increasing,” says Jim Smith, Artistic and Executive Director of DanceHouse. “However, in both Australia and Canada HIV rates in Indigenous communities are sadly on the rise. Blood on the Dance Floor is a poignant work that shines a powerful and captivating light on the stigma, the discrimination, and the silence that surrounds HIV/AIDS in Indigenous communities. But the work also embraces our need for community, our deepest fears, our secret identities, and what blood means to each of us — questioning how this most precious fluid unites and divides us.”

When Boehme was diagnosed with HIV in 1998, he reached out to his ancestors in search of answers. Blood on the Dance Floor pays homage to Boehme’s ancestors’ ceremonies through a series of vignettes combining video and sound design, choreography, and visceral narrative that transverses time, space, and characters. From a ‘gay elder’ grieving young men lost to disease and despair, to the current culture of hook-ups and casual sex, deeper moments sketched between Boehme and his father will underscore the legacy of racism, homophobia, and shame permeating the work with both personal and cultural history.

Written and performed by Melbourne-based Jacob Boehme, choreographed by Mariaa Randall, and directed by Isaacc Drandic Blood On The Dancefloor runs February 6 – 9, 2019 at SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. For more information and tickets visit dancehouse.ca 

Warning: For audience members age 15 and up. Performance includes adult concepts (sexual & drug references), coarse language, and loud music. 

Picks of the Week – January 30, 2019

Can you believe it’s already the end of January! Those of us in the West are already seeing blossoms, early but just in time for the Spring Festival events included in this week’s picks.

Lunar: Check out some of the fun and traditional Lunar New Year Festivities underway now throughout the city, at Jack Poole Plaza, Fly Over Canada, Oakridge Centre and others.

Laughs:  Join Vancouver’s queer improv comedy troupe, Queerprov, at The Junction for improv laughter tonight.

Yoga: Don’t miss your chance to take part in the last free Wednesday yoga class at Gateway Theatre before the opening of their upcoming Yoga Play.

Annie played by Camryn Macdonald photo: Emily Cooper

Orphan: Everyone’s favourite orphan comes to the Micheal J Fox Theatre, when Align Entertainment presents Annie, February 1 – 16

Rock: Prepare for grease-paint, leather and fireworks as the Kiss : End of the Road tour comes to Rogers Arena on Thursday evening.

Arts: The third and final week of 15th Annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival continues to fill our stages and venues with world-class performing arts to the city, before wrapping up on February 3rd

Showcase: Friday night, join Midtwenties Theatre Society at Havana Theatre for its first Open Performance Showcase, check out original performances and pieces of theatre, poetry, dance and more

Broth: It’s your last days to visit participating restaurants in the 1st Vancouver Foodster Soup Festival to taste and vote for your favourite soup.

Cocoa: Warm your heart and soul with sips from the Annual Hot Chocolate Festival filling cups throughout the city until February 14th

Dine: It’s your last week to try out a new or favourite restaurant, experience a one of the unique foodie event, and sample some of the city’s multitude of food trucks, before Dine Out Vancouver Festival, ends for another year on February 3rd

Wander: The Winter Wander at Vanier Park returns on Saturday, February 2nd, a family fun event with $5 admission opening the doors to Museum of Vancouver, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Vancouver Maritime Museum, City of Vancouver Archives, and Vancouver Academy of Music with performances by Bard on the Beach and Vancouver Academy of Music, plus food trucks, prize and other fun all day.

Joni: Continue to enjoy the sounds of Circle Game: Reimagining The Music Of Joni Mitchell, at The Firehall Arts Centre until February 9th

Nicola Lipman & Ric Reid in The Matchmaker
photo: David Cooper

Dolly: Find out if it’s a match made in heaven, and see Dolly Levi in action as The Matchmaker (the inspiration for the iconic musical Hello Dolly!) opens at The Arts Club Theatre Company Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Make it a date night at Vancouver TheatreSports

Valentine’s Day is coming and Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) is ready to make date night hilarious with Romance Week from February 5 to 14, 2019.

VTS Romance Week

Cupid’s arrows bring love and laughter to The Improv Centre and straight to lovers’ hearts. Solo patrons may even a suitable single to bond with over titillated teehees. It’s common knowledge that romance thrives when sprinkled liberally with laughter.  Vancouver TheatreSports has been the spot for many first dates and there have even been some marriage proposals made during shows. 

So forget the boring box of chocolates for Valentine’s and bring your someone special for a week of ‘improv and chill’ as VTS celebrates with three special shows for Romance Week. 

The talented improvisers of VTS will win your heart and put the ‘ha-ha’ in ‘Ha-ha-ppy’ Valentine’s with the following shows:

  • Love Matches – classic TheatreSportsTM matches with a romantic twist.
  • Love Unscripted – an improvised rom-com celebrating all the inane clichés and funny, awkward moments you’d expect to see in any romantic comedy as suggested by the audience.
  • Red Hot Improv – taking its cue from today’s hook-up culture. If you think OK Tinder is steamy, you’ll want to swipe left on Red Hot Improv’s xxx-rated hilarity. (NC17)

Romance Week ‘climaxes’ with My Funny Valentine – VTS’ special Valentine’s Day event on Thursday, February 14 – which will be hosted by none other than Cupid along with the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. My Funny Valentine features an all-out love battle of epic proportions as three ‘improv couples’ duke it out in an audience-inspired competition to prove that love conquers all. This full evening event will also include special roving characters, a ‘Love Astrologer’ who will check your ‘Love Chart’ (are your sun signs compatible?), personalized improvised love sonnets you can take with you, and drink specials such aspersonal-size bottles of sparkling Henkell Rosé.

Romance week isn’t just for couples, grab your single friends and celebrate your friendships on a fun night out. Memories created by an evening of laughter will last a lot longer than any bouquet of roses.

Create your memories as Vancouver TheatreSports presents Romance Week, Tuesday February 5 to Thursday February 14, 2019, at The Improv Centre on Granville Island. 
Ticket prices start at $10.75 (cheaper than chocolates!) and are available online at vtsl.com.