Blood Brothers – Arts Club Theatre

Now playing at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage, Blood Brothers is a tale of nature vs nurture told in a musical retelling of the Alexandre Dumas tale, The Corsican Brothers.  Set initially in the working class industrial slums of 1960’s Liverpool the first act centers around single-mother of 7, Mrs Johnstone who, barely able to feed her family, works as a cleaner for the wealthy but childless, Mr & Mrs Lyons.  Finding out she is pregnant with twins, she is distraught at the prospect of two more mouths to feed, so reluctantly she agrees to secretly give one twin away to Mrs Lyons. This begins the diverse upbringing of the two boys, one in poverty, the other in privilege. However, different their circumstances they still manage to find each other and become “blood brothers” and best friends. Their live intertwine for the next 20 years until they meet a tragic and fateful demise brought about by their mothers; one in an attempt to separate them and the other to bond them.
The Willy Russell musical was first brought to the stage in London in 1983 when the poverty of 60’s and recession of the 80’s, as represented in the play, were still fresh in people’s memories. This production’s stage design well represent these eras and the cast do a valiant job of keeping their accents authentic to the region and class. Leads Terra C. MacLeod as Mrs Johnstone and John Mann (Spirit of the West) as Narrator provide  anchors to the production, each contributing strong vocals and presence when onstage, which is most of the time.  Adam Charles and Shane Snow play separated twins Eddie Lyons and Mickey Johnstone both doing capable jobs as they age from 7 to 20.  With the entire cast made up of just 12 players they almost all do double duty playing multiple parts of the ensemble.  While the staging and eras are no longer up to date the story is timeless and told in a timeless manner and provides an enjoyable evening out.

Blood Brothers runs until December 31, 2011 at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone 604.687.1644

Falling In Time – Theatre Review

Falling In Time – Performance Works Theatre

Set in Vancouver in 1994 and Korea during the Korean War years, Falling In Time tells the tale of how the war directly affected those involved in the conflict and the generations to follow.
Four actors portray an array of a diverse characters; Nelson Wong playing a young Korean immigrant as well as his predecessor, Allan Morgan playing both the young and old verision of a Korean veteran.  Manami Hara and Kevin Kraussler fill out the cast, each playing numerous characters.  Kraussler plays a pivotal role as an English teacher for Wong’s character.
The play is sentimenal, emotional and bold, it definitely doesn’t hold back on raw, gritty adult language, sexual situations and male nudity so it is not recommended for those with delicate dispositions or sensitive ears. Some of the language is charged with racial and homophobic slurs that may offend some but does need to be taken in context as it helps explain the characters psyche and stresses the generation gaps. 
Falling In Time does a good job of being thought provoking and emotional, although obvious, writer G.E. Gatchalian never clearly explains how the charcters lives are intertwined leaving it to the audience to interpret and assume. 
Leaving the theatre wanting to learn more about the Korean conflict is a good sign the play gained the interest and intrigue of the audience. 
Playing at Performance Works on Granville Island, the Screaming Weenie production of Falling In Time runs until November 12th. For tickets and information visit the website.

What’s on Weekend – Oct 20-22, 2011

Another week, another fun-filled weekend of festivities

Thursday Oct 20
– enter a world of words, take part in one of the many readings, talks, interviews with 100 of the worlds top authors at the Vancouver International Writer’s Festival on until Sunday.
The penelopiad– Canadian writer Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad opens at the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, until November 20.
– Seattle indie-rockers The Head and The Heart take on the Commodore Ballroom
– Vancouver’s Wild Weekend begins, offering over a dozen events for bears, otters, wolves and friends to help Camp Moomba, which sends children affected by HIV/AIDS to camp.
– as usual, it’s Thursday and therefore We Like Boys must be the night at The Helm

Friday Oct 21
– Canadian country singer-songwriter George Canyon is at Red Robinson Theatre

Death Cab For Cutie

– alt-rockers Death Cab For Cutie crosses the border for a show at Rogers Arena
– playing the first of two nights at Commodore Ballroom is Big Sugar
– country-pop star Shelby Lynne is at the Rio Theatre
– Five-Sixty has the opening party to Wild Weekend with Bearracuda

Saturday Oct 22
– Sam Roberts Band hits the Island at the Royal Theatre in Victoria
– legendary Lindsey Buckingham performs at The Centre for Performing Arts.
– as part of Wild Weekend, TFD & Celebrities Nightclub present Cub-a-licious with DJ Marcus Purnell
– Five-Sixty rings in Saturday night with another edition of Slut Puppy with guest DJ Marc Tattoo
– running just 8 night, you’d better hurry to catch Vancouver Opera’s production of West Side Story at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

 

 

Aeriosa Dance Company

AeriosaHelping to celebrate the Scotiabank Dance Centre’s tenth anniversary, the Aeriosa Dance Company performs a visually stunning piece on the exterior of the seven story building.
Nightly from September 15-17 at 8:30pm grab a spot on the sidewalk and watch as the troupe combines the athleticism of rappelling and rock climbing and the grace and beauty of dance.  Swinging high above the audience, duos, trios and the entire troupe fly through the air like super heroes of dance.
AeriosaIn addition to Aeriosa’s performance, free events will take place at the Centre throughout the weekend, September 17th and 18th.  Participating artists and companies include: Ballet BC, Barbara Bourget, DancAeriosae 4U (salsa), Kinesis Dance, Mandala Arts and Culture, Raven Spirit Dance and Shiamak’s Bollywood Jazz. Visit the Dance Centre’s website for a full list of events.

What’s On Weekend September 15-18, 2011

Is it the weekend already? Where did the week go?
Oh well, let’s see what’s happening?

Thursday Sept 15
next to normal– running until September 30th is the Friends For Life Society Toonie Drive. Help the society help raise funds by donating a toonie and the FFL board and staff will match it.
– continuing to Sunday is the final weekend of Vancouver Fringe Festival
– The Arts Club’s production of Next to Normal – the “feel everything” musical runs at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Friday Sept 16
– Hungry? Head out to the TRADEX in Abbotsford for EAT! Fraser Valley. Appearances by Iron Chef Rob Feenie, Food Network’s Chuck Hughes & the Original, Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr.

Saturday Sept 17
– electro-pop Junior Boys take over the Commodore Ballroom stage
– get your dancing shoes and head to Five-Sixty for MIX: An Evening of Art, Music, Video and Performance presented by Satellite Gallery and Blanket Contemporary Art Inc.

Sunday Sept 18
– Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! Everyone needs to see Devo at least once in their life. Tonight’s your chance at the Vogue Theatre

What’s on Weekends – August 18-21, 2011

Lots of summer still left in the tank, time to take advantage of , head out and check out some of these events this weekend!

Thursday Aug 18
– Vancouver Queer Film Festival continues with the Centrepiece Gala , after watching “Grown Up Movie Star” head to The Helm for an evening of fun. If you don’t want to party it’s your last chance to catch “Judas Kiss“, which made its international premier early in the festival.  VQFF continues until Sunday.

Friday Aug 19
Mr Heavenly (featuring members Modest Mouse, ManMan, Islands & Unicorns) are on stage at The Biltmore Cabaret
– Girl from Oz, Sia brings her pop/jazz stylings to the Commodore Ballroom
– at Lulu’s Lounge at the River Rock Resort it’s The Tabloids, covering all your fave UK hits, playing the first of a two night stand.

Saturday Aug 20
– it’s a sure sign of summer coming close to an end as the 101st edition of the PNE opens, included with the gates entry are some great nightly concerts including Chris Isaak, Serena Ryder, Kenny Rogers, Donny Osmond and more.
– a new summer tradition kicks off it’s second year today as well. In a beautiful setting, Live at Squamish Music Festival presented by Virgin Mobile features Weezer, Metric, Black Mountain, John Butler Trio and many more acts over the
two day fest.
– Grad your honey and head down to Canada Place and get  your smooch on! Look in the comments section for details about the Kissing Flash Mob aka Smooch Mob set for noon sharp! Sounds like fun!

Sunday Aug 21
– it’s time for another edition of Big Gay Rodeo at Bourbon Country Bar, Bull Riding, Pork & Bean Wrestling, Meat Pie Eating…it’s all here plus raising some cash for Friends For Life, HIM (Health Initiative for Men) QMUNITY, and Keep a Breast Canada
– it’s closing night of Mamma Mia at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, if you haven’t already this is your last chance to see this fun musical comedy based on the music of Abba

Mamma Mia – Broadway Across Canada

Mamma Mia – Queen Elizabeth Theatre – August 16, 2011

Mamma Mia : The MusicalFor one week only Mamma Mia returns to Vancouver.
Opening night brought a full house to see the musical comedy inspired by the music of Abba.  Mamma Mia is set in a small Greek Island and tell the tale of Sophie, well performed by Chloe Tucker, a young woman about to be married. Having never known her father, finds her mother, Donna’s diary and invites three possible men to her wedding to find out which one is her father and have him walk her down the aisle.  The ensuing drama of Donna seeing the three former suitors for the first time in 20 years is played out in Abba songs, like S.O.S., Our Last Summer and The Winner Takes It All.
Donna’s longtime friends and former backup singers from her days in the girl group, Donna & the Dynamos, provide her a shoulder to cry on as well as much of the comic relief thoughout the play.  Played by Alison Ewing as thrice divorced (and seeking more) Tanya and Mary Callanan as the rubenesque, “free woman” author Rosie, the duo are a power house when performing together and completely grab the spotlight in their solo numbers, Does Your Mother Know and Take A Chance On Me, respectively.  Add in Kaye Tuckerman’s Donna and the trio truly make a great girl group, perfectly playing off  each other for their ‘one night only reunion” to Super Trouper.  However, at time’s I felt, Tuckerman’s hugely powerful voice and intensity on her own seemed to overpower the more intimate songs feeling like she was just angry than mixed of emotions and melancholy the character.  The three potential fathers were well acted by James Michael Lambert, John-Michael Zuerlein and Tony Clements but were definitely out-sung by the female cast.
As a whole the company was a good match, unlike a previous performance I’d seen of Mamma Mia with a noticeably weaker cast member standing out for the wrong reason.  Here everyone held their own, making for a good ensemble and displaying good chemistry.  The chemistry seem even more noticeable during the finale as the actors break character slightly.  After the wedding and story of Sophie and Donna concludes the entire cast break into rousing renditions of Dancing Queen as they take their bows.  Part way through the song “Donna & The Dynamos” appear in their Abba inspired costumes to be followed on the next verse by the ‘Fathers’ in their own versions of the costumes.  The Super Group then lead the cast into the songs Mamma Mia and Waterloo, wrapping up the production on a feel good mood with the audience on their feet clapping and dancing (and in some cases singing) along as they leave the theatre.  Leaving on such a fun musical high, make the tiny criticisms of the production insignificant.  Grab your friends and “take a chance” on Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia plays at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver until August 21, 2011.  Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.ca