Vancouver Christmas Concerts for 2018 Holidays

Christmas and music go hand in hand;  carols, hymns and cantatas, bring spirit to the Season.  Home calendars are filled with school and church concerts.  To help you get in the spirit of song, here’s a list of concerts around Vancouver to make your season bright;

Handel’s Messiah: 
December 7, 2018: Orpheum Theatre with Vancouver Chamber Choir
December 8, 2018: Bell Performing Arts Centre with Vancouver Bach Choir with Surrey City Orchestra

51st Annual Singing Christmas Tree: 
December 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 2018 at Broadway Church

Making Spirits Bright with Vancouver Men’s Chorus 
December 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 2018: St. Paul’s Anglican Church

Winter Harp Celtic Ensemble:
December 12-13, 2018 at Blue Shore Financial Performing Arts Centre, Capilano University, North Vancouver
December 15, 2018: St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver
December 16-17, 2018: The ACT Arts Centre, Maple Ridge

Maureen Washington with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir

Good Tidings with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir:
December 14-15, 2018 at Christ Church Cathedral
December 17, 2018 at St John’s Shaughnessy

Christmas with Chor Leoni:
December 14, 16, 17, 2018 at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver
December 15, 2018 at West Vancouver United Church, West Vancouver

VSO Traditional Christmas Concerts: 
December 13, 2018 at Kay Meek Arts Centre, West Vancouver
December 14, 2018 at Centennial Theatre, North Vancouver
December 15, 2018 at Bell Performing Arts Centre, Surrey
December 16, 2018 at Michael J. Fox Theatre, Burnaby
December 20-22, 2018 at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver

Early Music Vancouver’s Festive Cantatas: A Monteverdi Christmas Vespers:
December 23, 2018 at Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC

 

 

Little Dickens: The Daisy Theatre is anything but small

The Daisy Theatre’s Esme Massengill as Esme Scrooge in Little Dickens

The Cultch Historic Theatre is presenting an evening of marionette madness with Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens featuring the cast of The Daisy Theatre.  Starring Daisy Theatre’s past-her-prime diva Esmé Massengill in the Scrooge role, and a cavalcade of Daisy Theatre stars helping bring the Dickens story of A Christmas Carol to life…or to strings.

Toronto-based The Daisy Theatre is a one man, many marionette theatre company brilliantly performed and improvised by Ronnie Burkett.  In the introduction Burkett states that “anything can happen” and over the course of the two hour show, anything does happen.  The story loosely follows A Christmas Carol with a number of detours along the way to fit in some jazzy christmas carol sing-along numbers.  Joining Burkett and the marionettes on stage are some audience helpers;  Ava, William, Christopher and Caroline were ‘recruited’ throughout the performance to help out in various ways and roles.  Helping Burkett from the booth, Crystal helped cue the music and lights, and in a couple of spots prompting what comes next in the play.  Part of the fun of Little Dickens is not knowing what’s going to come out of the marionettes’ mouths and laughing along with Burkett when even he can’t believe that he said that.  Plenty of laugh out loud moments fill the camp over-the-top scenes, accompanied by inside jokes about the theatre scene and Vancouver itself.

The Daisy Theatre Schnitzel as Tiny Tim in Little Dickens

Even though we clearly know that Ronnie Burkett is pulling their strings the marionettes really do come to life and the audience buys into Esme’s character development, taking her from selfish, tacky, vain diva to charitable, tacky, slightly less vain diva.

Being an improvised show, anything really can happen and with the introduction of different audience members no two shows will be the same, so it’s a great treat to see over and over again during the pre-Christmas season.
Ronnie Burkett’s  Little Dickens : The Daisy Theatre runs until December 22, 2018 at The Cultch Historic Theatre.  Find showtimes, information and tickets online at thecultch.com

Picks of the Week – December 5, 2018

December has arrived and the Holidays are in full swing, Hanukkah is upon us and Christmas is just around the corner. Along the way fill your entertainment stockings with this great line-up of picks of the week

Dorothy & friends are off to see the Wizard in
East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz
photo: Emily Cooper

Wiz: Take off to see the Wizard as The Cultch and Theatre Replacement present East Van Panto: The Wizard of Oz at the York Theatre until January 6th.

Bands: Indie rock acts Yukon Blonde and The Zolas take to the stage at The Commodore Ballroom on Wednesday night.

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.

Life: Find out what happens when the bell rings as Gateway Theatre presents It’s a Wonderful Life, set to the music of the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, running December 6 to 31st

Whimsy: This week the award winning duo, James & Jamesy’s O Christmas Tree  visit Maple Ridge The ACT and Chilliwack Culture Centre with a Christmas cuppa brimming with holiday whimsy, cheer, and much more.

Merry Kiss-mas

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: Light up your nights by visiting some of the Festival light displays around the city like; Van Dusen Festival Of Lights, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Canyon Lights, Glow Langley, and more

Bach: Early Music Vancouver presents Bach Collegium Japan, joined by acclaimed British soprano Joanne Lunn, performing the works of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, on December 9th at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC

Dance: Ballet BC presents the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Nutcracker at Queen Elizabeth Theatre for three days only, December 7,8 & 9

Pucks: On Saturday evening, the Vancouver Giants return to their old home at the Pacific Coliseum to host the Victoria Royals and the annual Teddy Bear Toss

Choir: The Vancouver Men’s Chorus annual Making Spirits Bright brings some festive holiday music to St Paul’s Anglican Church in the West End on Saturday and Sunday.

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, until Saturday December 8th, at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Pageant: Havana Theatre on Commercial Drive is the location of the Best Christmas Pageant Ever...or is it? Find out yourself December 6 – 16th.

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

Mumbai: The acclaimed play Bombay Black, by Anosh Irani, features a poetic text, bold theatrical imagery and a gritty twist.  returns to Vancouver with a run at The Firehall Arts Centre until December 15th.

Belle:  Join your favourite characters as a tale as old as time, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, returns to the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage,  until January 6, 2019

Juniors: For a different take, it’s a tale as young as time when Children’s Theatre of Richmond presents Beauty and the Beast Jr at the Massey Theatre, December 7-8.

Symphony: Saturday night, Vancouver Bach Choir and Surrey City Orchestra join forces to present Handel’s Messiah at the Bell Centre in Surrey

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

Puppet: There’s some marionette merriness as Ronnie Burkett’s Daisy Theatre presents Little Dickens, a take on the beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, at The Cultch Historic Theatre until December 22nd.

Shopping: Tonight, Vancouver Foodster’s Holiday Market brings you tastes and tidbits from around town, then this weekend check out Got Craft! and Shiny Fuzzy Muddy, just some 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

 

East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz is a Wicked good time

Dorothy & friends are off to see the Wizard in
East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz
photo: Emily Cooper

Returning to the York Theatre for the sixth year, Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto : Wizard of Oz, paves the holiday road with laughter.  Until January 6, 2019 follow the yellow brick road to East Van as Dorothy and friends try to make it home to Poco.

Directed by Stephen Drover, the family friendly (not recommended for under 5 years) over-the-top musical combines the talents of playwright Marcus Yousef, choreographer Amanda Testini, and musician Veda Hille, who masterfully creates new lyrics for familiar pop tunes, with hilarious results.

East Van Panto
Christine Quintana stars as Dorothy in East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz
photo: Emily Cooper

Dorothy, skillfully played and beautifully sung, by Christine Quintana, lives in a Poco tiny house with her Aunts when the pipeline bursts and she is swept away to East Van, the progressive,  urban landscape of her dreams.  In order to make her way back to her beloved Aunts she must take that familiar journey to visit the Wizard. Along the way she meets a cavalcade of colourful, and familiar, West Coast characters, including a surprising Wicked Witch of the West, played by Craig Erickson.  Erickson and the supporting cast; Dawn Petten, Raugi Yu,  and Kayvon Khoshkam bounce between characters with gusto. Studio 58 students Angela Chu, Dylan Floyde, and Mallory James fill the chorus roles with the help of a rotation of adorable child actors.

In the long tradition of the British pantomime, the audience interaction adds to the fun and entertainment. The show starts with ‘the rules’,  which after this many seasons the audience has come to know, when to boo, when to cheer, show sympathy, and when to heckle the villain.  The joy of the unrestrained younger audience members’ participation brings an extra smile every year.

Craig Erickson as The Wicked Witch of the West
East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz
photo: Emily Cooper

The writing keeps the show accessible for all ages, everyone will find laughter in the slapstick, jokes or situations.  This year’s show is a bit more political than most, resulting in some very topical humour but also meaning some jokes might not land well depending on your leanings.  The Vancouver insider jokes are often told with an East Van-centric point of view, mocking other neighbourhood stereotypes as well as some Commercial Drive self-deprecating humour.  It’s hard to walk away from East Van Panto without having laughed and smiled for the previous two hours.

East Van Panto : Wizard of Oz plays at The Cultch York Theatre, 639 Commercial Driver until January 6, 2019. Showtimes, information and tickets available online at thecultch.com

Go On A Blind Date at The Arts Club BMO Stage

Just like a true blind date, with Blind Date at The Arts Club Theatre Company BMO Stage what’s about to unfold is a mystery.

The premise of the mainly improvised Blind Date is a blind date between a couple, who don’t know each other.  In this case, they really do not know each other, the male partner is selected from the audience to go on the date with Mimi (played in this performance by Tess Degenstein).   During a pre-show mingle the cast; Degenstein, Lili Beaudoin, Ali Froggatt (who all play Mimi on different nights) and Jeff Gladstone, get to know the audience.  People putting themselves (or being pushed) forward to participate in Blind Date.  Starting out a small cafe the date progresses through the course of the evening.

On this night, recently-married Ben, a 30something construction manager, has been selected, after prodding from wife Megan. The uncomfortable awkwardness that Ben feels makes for some nervous laughter and outright hilarity.  While Mimi asks him about himself, Ben loosens up and shares more about his life, which allows a seasoned improvisor like Tess Degenstein to grab tidbits to keep the play humourously moving along on its loose outline.

As skilled as she is, her scene partner is the key to the success of the show, I’m sure in the 700+ performances the troupe has completed there have been more than a few ‘dates’ that have gone awry.  Anything can happen in improv and in this performance, the quantity of beer that Ben consumed, smartly used to avoid answering or to allow himself time to think of an answer, became part of the show.  Late in the play Ben was forced to make a trip to the washroom, a first amongst Blind Date performances according to Degenstein.

The skill of the cast to improvise and roll with the punches ensures that each night is a fresh and unique performance. Check out Blind Date more than once to find out how different guest performers and different Mimis influence the outcome of your blind date experience.

Blind Date plays until December 30, 2018 at Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, 162 East 1st Avenue. Showtimes and Tickets available online at artsclub.com

 

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.