Picks of the Week – February 28, 2018

The end of February…already!? Let’s see what March has to offer in these picks of the week.

HipHop: Tonight at The Vogue, Ty Dolla $ign brings his hip hop, soul blended sounds to the stage

Coastal First Nations Dance Festival

Dance: The 11th Annual Coastal First Nations Dance Festival at MOA brings together Indigenous Music and Dance from the Pacific to Scandinavia, until March 4th

Rain: 7 Tyrants Theatre’s 10th Anniversary season continues with A Steady Rain at the Penthouse Studio Theatre until March 3rd.

Folk: Canadian folk artist Bahamas brings his sunny sounding moniker to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Thursday

Comedy: Laughter reigns supreme as JFL Northwest bring the best and funniest of comedy stars to Vancouver from March 1st to 10th

Rock: Touring on behalf of their latest, Grace Street, rockers Big Wreck take to the Commodore Ballroom twice this week on Thursday & Friday

Trucks: The weekend gets raucous at Pacific Coliseum as Monster Jam has 4 shows over Mar 2-4, 2018

Theatre: The Arts Club has the Tony award winning Fun Home at Granville Island Stage running until March 10

Pucks: The Vancouver Canucks take to the ice on Friday as they play host to Nashville at Rogers Arena

Pss Pss photo: Pipo Gialluisi

Clowning: Taking inspiration from classic comedic works from Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin,  Pss Pss by Compagnia Baccalà runs until March 4th at The Cultch York Theatre.

Exhibition: The Vancouver Art Gallery celebrates the opening of Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg with a birthday bash, preview, dinner and party, the day before the opening of the Japanese artist’s first Canadian retrospective.

WhitecapsFCKicks: Whitecaps FC bring soccer back to BC Place to kick off their 2018 season on Sunday with a roster of new and old faces

Tasting Plates Heads To Coquitlam March 14th

Just as the SkyTrain extension has made Coquitlam more accessible for those in other suburbs, Vancouver Foodster is taking Tasting Plates on the road to find the diverse tastes that lay beyond Vancouver. Tasting Plates Coquitlam takes place March 14th, encompassing the area from Lincoln Lake Station and south towards downtown.

As always the participating establishments will present a Tasting Plate or Tasting Cup that they feel best exemplifies their kitchen.  Once the patrons check-in and pick up their Tasting Plates map and card, they are welcomed to roam the region and explore the establishments at their leisure.  Grab your family and foodie friends to join you in discovery of the tastes of Coquitlam

The participating restaurants for Tasting Plates Coquitlam include;

Polito’s Latin Cafe – 942 Westwood St.

Paparoti – 100-1196 Pinetree Way

Seoul Truck Streed Food – Henderson Place Mall 2082 – 1163 Pinetree Way

Mariner Brewing – H-1100 Lansdowne Dr

Kulinarya Filipino Cuisine – 2922 Glen Dr

Advance Tickets for Tasting Plates Coquitlam are on sale from Eventbrite for $45 until March 11th


Dance House & Toronto Dance Theatre Celebrate Anniversaries

Toronto Dance Theatre

This weekend Vancouver’s Dance House welcomes cross-county compatriots Toronto Dance Theatre to the Vancouver Playhouse.  As Dance House celebrates their 10th anniversary, Toronto Dance Theatre celebrates their 50th with House Mix, a retrospective of the works by Artistic Director and Choreographer Christopher House.

Dance House has a goal to connect Vancouver with the world of dance, including the best of what’s right here in our country. 50 years is a feat for any organization, let alone an arts group, to celebrate, Toronto Dance Theatre assembled a collection of pieces from the last 3 decades to showcase the diversity in their company’s performances and artists. Their 90 minute showcase included;

Martingales – first performed November 2014 in Toronto
An energetic piece filled with rapid movements and playful rhythms.

Fjeld (excerpt) – first performed March 1990 in Toronto
A sculptural work inspired by the films of Ingmar Berman & Renaissance art.

Thirteen – first performed November 2017 in Bogota, Columbia
Revisiting an early Christopher House work from 1983, with the movements repurposed with a new score.

Echo Dark – first performed November 2015 in Toronto
A modern, dance set to a dark, heavy beat.

Toronto Dance Theatre

Vena Cava – first performed November 1998 in Toronto
A fast-paces, energizing show set to the music of composer Robert Moran.

Dance House continues to bring world-class dance performances, next up Betroffenheit, a collaboration between Kidd Pivot & Electric Company Theatre, March 14 – 17, 2018 at Vancouver Playhouse. Tickets online at dancehouse.ca

3rd Annual Pizza Palooza Corners Vancouver Pizza

Wednesday night, the snow was coming down but the pizza ovens were heating up Vancouver Foodster’s 3rd Annual Pizza Palooza.  Guests visited all corners of downtown Vancouver to try out some of the city’s pizzas and flatbreads.  From Neapolitan, to Lebanese, and Indian, to Roman, the ovens and flattops were cranking out the pies for the crowds of guests exploring the world of flavours.

To start off the night, the Pizza Palooza check-in location, Living Produce Aisle in Yaletown brought out some palate cleansing and healthy fresh juices made some some of their wholesome house-grown greens.


Then we were off, and pizza hunting.

One of Yaletown Davie Street’s newest spots Manoush’eh, is a recent winner of the Vancouver Foodster 2018 Flatbread Challenge, and you could taste why from their layers of Lebanese flavours in their offerings.  A dual serving of Falafel Flatbread (house-made falafel mix coated flatbread topped with tahini, tomatoes, pickled turnip and parsley) and Lahm be Ajeen (a thin crust, open face meat pie with organic spiced ground beef, with diced tomatoes and onion)


Just a couple blocks away, a traditional Neapolitan pizza becomes a one of a kind creation as a “You Build” pie from Firecrust Neapolitan Pizzeria.  Starting with a hand-stretched 6 inch dough we chose from dozens of sauces, meats, vegetable and cheese toppings before our own creations were fired into the stone oven.



Further along Davie Street, into the West End, Davie Dosa Company turned their Indian pancakes into Indian pizza by topping their dosa with curried lamb on one half and vegetables (bell peppers, tomato, carrot, cottage cheese and cilantro) on the other half.  Alongside a zesty lentil soup dip, coconut and tomato/ginger chutneys added more flavour to the Indian pizzas.

Crossing the city to Gastown, the recent addition to the neighbourhood, Ignite Pizzeria Express near Waterfront Station offered a pair of slices from their rotating selection of artisan Neapolitan style pizzas.  The Ignite crew was quickly turning out a variety of topping combinations hot from their oven, like Four Formaggi, Spicy Soppressata, Pesto Chicken, Fresh Ricotta and others.

Finally the original Gastown location of Stretch Roman Pizza Co. offered another pizza pair; Pancetta e Scamozza (pancetta parmigiano and smoked mozzarella) plus Caprese Pizza (bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil) piled on their signature long stretched soft dough.

With the snow lightening up during the evening, the 3rd Annual Vancouver Foodster Pizza Palooza was a great evening of flavour exploration.  If this sounds appealing join the next Vancouver Foodster event, Tasting Plates Coquitlam coming March 14th

Pss Pss Grabs Attention at The Cultch

For theatre without dialogue, Compagnia Baccalà’s Pss Pss certainly creates a lot of buzz, on stage at The Cultch York Theatre.

Him and Her
photo: Geri Born

The award winning show stars Camilla Pessi and Simone Fassari, her and him, as they take the audience on an adventure in physical-comedy.  The two performers formed Compagnia Baccalà combining careers in circus and cabaret, which both shine through in Pss Pss.  Their mostly silent performance echos comedy greats like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and even Lucille Ball, their clown-like faces able to express so much with just a raised eyebrow, or curl of the lips.  Where their facial expressions bring laughter, their physical acrobatics and gymnastics skills bring awe.

Like a circus show, Pss Pss is a series of set pieces combining all of their skills into a hilarious and breathtaking hour long performance.  While their acrobatics are awe-inspiring the moments that are perhaps the most risky are incorporating the audience.

photo: Pipo Gialluisi

As with any audience interaction the performer hopes their instincts are sharp and they choose an able and game player. On opening night the audience members really got into the spirit of the show and the man they singled out to bring onstage perfectly fit the bill, incorporating into their balancing act with ease.  Even though not part of the direct interaction, hearing the large number of children in the audience vocalize their wonder and amazement add an extra bit of joy to the experience.

Compagnia Baccalà’s Pss Pss is an hour of theatre that is sure to put a smile on your face, and a thrill in your heart.

The York Theatre plays host to Pss Pss until March 4, 2018. Visit thecultch.com for tickets and showtimes.

Picks of the Week – February 21, 2018

Even through the current temperatures don’t feel like it, spring is just one month away, let’s see if the picks of the week can keep us warm in the meantime

Pizza: Tonight, find some of Vancouver’s best pizzas on Vancouver Foodster’s 3rd Pizza Palooza, a roaming exploration of the city’s pizzas and flatbreads.

Extended:  At Fly Over Canada the Lunar New Year double-bill of Flight of the Dragon, along with the regular Fly Over Canada experience, now held over until February 25th.

Ania Soul, Kawa Ada & Mayko Nguyen
Photo: Joseph Michael Photography

Moon: The Canadian Classic play, Salt-Water Moon, comes to the Gateway Theatre from February 15 – 24

RingTravel The Road To Wrestlemania with the WWE as they set up the ring in Rogers Arena on Friday night

R&B: Singer/Songwriter Miguel brings some soul to the PNE Forum on Saturday night

A Steady Rain : Daniel Doerksen & David Newham

Rain: 7 Tyrants Theatre starts their 10th Anniversary season with A Steady Rain at the Penthouse Studio Theatre until March 3rd.

Theatre: The Arts Club has a pair of shows on stage, experience the backstage antics of Jitters on at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until February 25 and the Tony award winning Fun Home at Granville Island Stage running until March 10.

performer: Anne Cooper photo: David Cooper

Dance: The Firehall Arts Centre welcomes the movements of From Where We Stand: A Share Evening Of Dance, two individual performances unnecessary and I Can’t Remember The Words For I Can’t Remember

Rock: German rock group at Tokio Hotel takes the Vogue Stage on Saturday night

Clowning: Taking inspiration from classic comedic works from Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin,  Pss Pss by Compagnia Baccalà runs until March 4th at The Cultch York Theatre.

Exhibition: The Vancouver Art Gallery celebrates the opening of Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg with a birthday bash, preview, dinner and party, the day before the opening of the Japanese artist’s first Canadian retrospective.

Toronto Dance Theatre
photo: Guntar Kravis


Mix: DanceHouse presents the Toronto Dance Theatre 50th Anniversary performance House Mix at the Vancouver Playhouse on Friday and Saturday


Salt-Water Moon brings simplicity to Gateway Theatre

Ania Soul, Kawa Ada & Mayko Nguyen
Photo: Joseph Michael Photography

Salt-Water Moon has been performed countless times since its debut in the mid 1980s, yet the current production at Gateway Theatre brings a fresh take to the Canadian classic.

The Factory Theatre production, on tour with Why Not Theatre is directed by Ravi Jain who reimagines David French’s story about the romantic beginnings of Jacob Mercer and Mary Snow’s relationship.  While it is the third in French’s Mercer Family play cycle, a tale about the Mercer’s a family of Newfoundland immigrants to Canada, Salt-Water Moon is really the beginning of the family’s story.   Salt-Water Moon is a snapshot of one night early in the courtship of Jacob and Mary.  The two-hander usually takes place on a stage set with the clapboard board porch of a 1926 Newfoundland home with the detailed period costumes as outlined by the playwright.  Ravi Jain has departed from this traditional take and added a new element to this staging.

Kawa Ada (left) & Mayko Nguyen (right) – Joseph Michael Photography

The gloss black stage is set with a constellation of floating candles, reflecting the night sky and creating a warmth as the stage twinkles.  Joining the two actors, Kawa Ada as Jacob and Mayko Nguyen as Mary, onstage is Ania Soul.  The soul/R&B musician provides a musical background to the poetic script and recites aloud David French’s script notes.  The notes describe the setting and actions but with the blank stage before them, the audience is allowed paint their own mental image to surround the two actors, who are dressed in simple modern street clothes.

By casting non-white actors as the Newfoundlanders, director Jain gently reminds the Canadian audiences that this is a play about immigrants, set before Newfoundland joined Confederation.  Kawa Ada, an Afghan-Canadian and Mayko Nguyen, who is of Vietnamese descent, bring a natural realism to their dynamic, even though they are clearly older than their teenage characters.  I believe by allowing the audience to set so much of the stage in their mind, it’s easier to believe the pair’s teen angst.  Ada’s Jacob is a cocksure, charismatic boy who has matured beyond his years after a year-long stint in Toronto. Meanwhile, Nguyen’s Mary, in spite of the firm facade forged from being in-service to the local Member of Parliament’s household from an early age, maintains the innocence of small-town Newfoundland.  With a mother unable to care for her and her younger sister, who is now in the care of a convent, Mary thinks she has it all worked out, until Jacob’s return to town throws a wrench in her plans.

Kawa Ada is a commanding presence onstage, nicely balancing Mayko Nguyen’s intensity.  Although I did find it a bit hard to hear her when she was facing the back of the stage and it took a few moments to adjust to the Newfoundland dialect the play is an enjoyable opportunity to visit the other side of the country in a time long-ago. The 90 minute (no intermission) moves along quickly as your mind fills in the paint-by-numbers imagery while the actors provide the dialogue and Ania, the music.

Salt-Water Moon runs until February 24, 2018 at Gateway Theatre in Richmond.  Find tickets and times online at gatewaytheatre.com