Spooktober starts with Fright Nights 2019 at PNE!

It’s Spooktober! Time for Vancouver’s most hallowed halloween haunt to scares up some fun as Fright Nights rises from the grave at Playland

On select nights from tomorrow, October 4th through October 31st, visitors will carefully creep through 20 hair-raising rides, astounding live shows, and eight haunted houses, all guaranteed to make this Halloween season the scariest ever. 

Thrilling live shows from fan favourites, the Monsters of Schlock, as well a host of ghouls and monsters roaming throughout the park are sure to chill and thrill visitors. If your stomach can handle it stop for food from Playland vendors, for some liquid courage hit up the Sanitarium Bar. If adrenaline isn’t enough, get a sugar rush stop by the Candy Shoppe for some sweets before hitting the thrill rides.

General admission tickets  are on sale at the gates, or save by purchasing in advance online.  Tickets include all the haunted houses, live shows and 20 night rides; including The BeastPirate Ship,Hell’s Gate, Hellavator, Atmosfear, Wooden Roller Coaster and more

Guests also have the option to purchase a Rapid Pass, which offers the same access as a regular gate pass PLUS access to one expedited entry to each of the eight houses and some night rides. 

Due to the overwhelming demand and to ensure a quality guest experience, Fright Nights is capping the number of tickets sold per day. Tickets must be purchased for a specific date. Each night of Fright Nights have limited availability and may sell out so book early. 

Playland warns that this event is not recommended for ages 12 and under, seniors 65+, people with sensitivity to strobe lighting or fog machines, people with high blood pressure, heart conditions, pregnant women or scaredy-cats. Absolutely no guest costumes or guest costume face make up allowed.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit frightnights.ca.

Picks of the Week – October 2, 2019

We move into the first week of October there’s a fest of activities in the picks.

Indie: Aussie act Boy & Bear play the Commodore Ballroom, supported by Stu Larson on Wednesday October 2

Oktoberfest at Vancouver Alpen Club

Alpen: #DasOriginal Oktoberfest gets underway this weekend, and the following three weekend’s of October at Vancouver Alpen Club

Race: Challenge your perceptions of race and culture as Speakeasy Theatre’s The Shipment wraps up its run at Firehall Arts Centre this weekend.

Pop: Multi-hyphenate pop sensation Charli XCX brings her hits to the stage at Commodore Ballroom on Saturday night

Fest: Transform: A Cabaret Festival takes over the three stages of The Cultch with a multi-disciplinary festival of indigenous, local and international works

Pigskin: BC Lions play host to Toronto Argonauts at BC Place on Saturday evening

North: Take off and see the Great White North meets the Land of Fire and Ice as Flyover Canada welcomes Flyover Iceland to the cinematic adventure until October 20

Skerryvore

Celtic: Multi-award-winning Scottish band SKERRYVORE make their Vancouver debut: Saturday, October 5, at North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre.

Balls: Whitecaps FC bring their season to a close playing host to Real Salt Lake at BC Place on Sunday afternoon.

BigTop: Cirque du Soleil brings their latest show, Luzia to the Big Top at Concorde Pacific Place, starting October 3rd.

Suns: The Arts Club Theatre Company season begins with A Thousand Splendid Suns at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, running until October 13th.

Bedrooms: The Arts Club Granville Island Stage opens The Birds & the Bees is a Canadian bedroom comedy about love, lust, beekeeping, and the artificial insemination of turkeys.

Focus Cia de Dança photo: Fernanda Vallois

Dance: Brazil’s Focus Cia de Dança makes its West Coast debut with Still Reich, a program of thrilling contemporary dance at The Scotiabank Dance Centre October 2 – 4

Jazz: Friday Jazz is live at Tyrant Studios, this week featuring Tiny Islands’ NOLA-style classic sounds.

Comedy: Saturday Comedy takes the stage at Tyrant Studios, this week’s stand-up finds headliner Jon Gagnon supported by Byron Bertram  and Gavin Clarkson 

Vancouver Foodster Sandwich Challenge Wraps Up

Since the start of September, readers and fellow foodies have been searching for their favourite entry in the Vancouver Foodster Sandwich Challenge, and the results are in. Finding something to savour between slices of bread has been the privilege of the media judges and public, who tasted the four entries.

Vancouver Foodster challenged Metro Vancouver cafes and restaurants to create a sensational sandwich and they came up with a diverse line-up of dishes. With most of the entry locations only having recently opened, it was an opportunity to see what they could do with such a menu staple.

 In addition, a group of judges, David of @BCFoodieBlogger, journalist Tara Lee  @VanGlutton and myself tried all the sandwich entries to select the Judges’ Choice Sandwich. The public was also invited to try any or all of the entries, then vote for their selection to claim the title of People’s Choice Iced Summer Drink.

With such diverse flavours to sample, the voting was tough but very enjoyable to sample all the entries. The Judges Choice came out in a result for Food By Fanta’s The Trans-Atlantic Sandwich. The People’s Choice result was a win for MixxBao’s Stewed Pork Bao.

For the full details of the drinks and all the results of the Vancouver Foodster Sandwich Challenge online at vancouverfoodster.com

Prepare for Vancouver Opera 2019-2020 Season

Verdi’s La Traviata

The Vancouver Opera 2019/2020 season gets underway with Verdi’s La Traviata opening October 17th at Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The remainder of the season consists of two more full-scale opera produc­tions plus the 4th annual Vancouver Opera Festival. In addition to La Traviata, Vancouver Opera also presents Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and the West Coast premiere of Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera, based on lyrics and music of Roger Waters’ The Wall.

“Never has there been a more exciting time for Vancouver Opera as we prepare to welcome traditional and new work to our stages with two opera classics and a West Coast premiere,” said Kim Gaynor, Vancouver Opera General Director. “We will celebrate Canadian artists and emerging talent alongside international talent with our three productions and the Vancouver Opera Festival. Our 2019-2020 season will appeal to traditional audiences as well as entice and engage new audiences broadening the reach of opera’s ability to tell theatrical stories through music.”

“We will also present a new opera designed for young audiences; The Flight of the Hummingbird, which will be touring British Columbia from January to April 2020,” adds Gaynor. “Our investment in opera for young audiences is central to our mission.”

Vancouver Opera will take The Flight of the Hummingbird on a school tour between January and April 2020. Based on an indigenous parable from the Quechuan people of South America, the story of the brave hummingbird travelled through pre-contact trade routes to become well known within Haida culture. This opera is influenced by the graphic novel written by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas and will include elements of his dramatic Haida-manga illustrations.

Gaynor adds, “with its 2019-2020 season, the Vancouver Opera continues to create extraordinary experiences that engage, inspire and entertain audiences. We continue to be committed to the development of young artists as they transition into their professional careers. Our Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program is a proven springboard for emerging Canadian singers and opera professionals.”

The five emerging Canadian artists participating in this year’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program are Irina Medvedeva, soprano, born in Russia (Canadian citizen) living in Toronto, Gena Van Ousten, mezzo-soprano from Montreal, Daevyd Pepper, tenor and Nicholas Borg, baritone, both from Toronto, and Andrea Van Pelt, pianist from Burlington. Performers will participate in the opening production, La Traviata, which is part of a collaboration between five Canadian opera companies.

The Vancouver Opera 2019 / 2020 Season includes:

La Traviata by Guiseppe Verdi
Thursday, October 17, Saturday, October 19,
Thursday, October 24 & Sunday, October 27, 2019 (matinée)

The Barber of Seville

The Barber of Seville By Gioachino Rossini
Thursday, February 13, Saturday, February 15,
Thursday, February 20 & Sunday, February 23, 2020 (matinée)

2020 Vancouver Opera Festival
April 23—May 3, 2020
The 4th annual Vancouver Opera Festival will include two mainstage operas, special events, speakers, family events, and more. Additional festival event details will be announced in spring 2020.

Another Brick In The Wall:The Opera

Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera Based on the lyrics and music of Roger Waters’ The Wall. Operatic version composed by Julien Bilodeau Concept & stage direction by Dominic Champagne
Thursday, April 23, Saturday, April 25 & Sunday, April 26 (matinée)
Wednesday, April 29, Thursday, April 30, & Saturday, May 2, 2020

Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Friday, April 24 & Wednesday, April 29, 2020 (matinée)
Saturday, May 2 (matinée) & Sunday, May 3,
Wednesday, May 6, Thursday, May 7, Saturday, May 9, 2020

Tickets and season subscriptions are available online from vancouveropera.ca 

Transform: A Cabaret Festival Takes Over The Cultch

The Cultch 2019/2020 season will kick off next week with a revolutionary new festival co-curated by Corey Payette (Artistic Director of Urban Ink) and Heather Redfern (Executive Director of The Cultch). Transform: A Cabaret Festival will contain performance in a multitude of disciplines—dance, music, comedy, burlesque, theatre, etc.—and include a wide variety of Indigenous, local, and international work.

Raven Transforming – Quelemia Sparrow photo: Emily Cooper

This inaugural year will bring together over 50 Indigenous and non-indigenous performers—comedians, musicians, burlesque performers, drag artists, and more. This varied group of multi-disciplinary performers take over The Cultch’s three theatres, including its lounges and lobbies from October 2-12, 2019.

Around the world, cabaret festivals emerged as a raucous and exhilarating way of expressing uprising during periods of change. “It’s been a platform for political discourse and for engaging in deep conversations all around the world,” says festival co-curator, Corey Payette. “It’s also a space where people can push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable in the mainstream.” Transform: A Cabaret Festival is inspired by a bold new concept to bring radical and lasting change to live performance in these unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. “I think that reconciliation is a really difficult subject matter, because we are not as far along as we should be,” says Payette. “What I know for sure, is that artists are always the ones to lead the way.

Transform: A Cabaret Festival – Virago Nationi

“You name it; it’s going to be part of the cabaret festival,” says festival co-curator Heather Redfern.  From Cirque Transforming (a night of circus performance), to Drag Transforming (a night of drag performance), to The Women of Comedy (featuring Martha Chaves, Steph Tisdell, Nour Hadidi, and Erica Sigurdson), The Cultch’s spaces will be alive with every imaginable type of show. Other not-to-be-missed events include Virago Nation: Stripping for Sovereignty (Vancouver’s all Indigenous Burlesque troupe), The Darlings (Vancouver’s multidisciplinary non-binary drag show), Journey to South Asia & Beyond (a collaboration with Diwali in BC), Family Drag Brunch and Dress Up (hosted by Peach Cobblah and Isolde N. Barron), African Village Experience (hosted by Jacky A Yenga), Where the Two-Spirit Lives (Marshall Vielle’s one-person show), and The Flame: Cabaret Edition (Vancouver’s favourite storytelling series).

Transform: A Cabaret Festival – Peach Cobblah & Isolde N Barron photo: Shimon

A cabaret festival would not be complete without plenty of great music and Transform: A Cabaret Festival will spotlight musicians such as Leela Gilday, Silla and Rise, JB the First Lady, M’Girl, Sandy Scofield, Veda Hille, and Corey Payette. In addition, festival participants are invited to join artists and VIPs each night at a festival club night, a creative space for festival artists to collaborate and test out exciting new and developing material, while enjoying the beats of DJ Kookum and DJ Skylar Love.

Transform: A Cabaret Festival takes over The Cultch Historic Theatre, York Theatre and Vancity Culture Lab October 2 to 12, 2019. Full line-up details and tickets are available online at transformcabaret.com

The Shipment opens Firehall Art Centre’s Season

The Firehall Art Centre kicked off its 37th season with Speakeasy Theatre’s production of the provocative work The Shipment by Young Jean Lee.

Omari Newton opens The Shipment photo: Ryan McDonald

The play takes a look at black cultural stereotypes and makes us examine our ingrained assumptions and perceptions of race. Starting off, the first half of the show firmly places the 5 black actors in stereotypical roles; brash comedian, wannabe rapper, drug dealer, crackhead, video vixen, and more in a variety show format.

The cast of The Shipment
photo: Ryan McDonald

The opening stand-up set by Omari Newton sets the audience up for the show that’s to follow, crass, graphic, offensive and uncomfortable, his set is equally amusing and thought-provoking. Amongst the spontaneous laughs, some of the audience’s laughter sounded awkward and forced, as though they felt like they needed to laugh along to prove they were ‘woke’. Following the stand-up set the cast; Omari Newton, Kiomi Pyke, Chris Francisque, Adrian Neblett & Andrew Creightney, whip through the previously mentioned roles in a choreographed minstrel-style review. Throughout the rest of the 75 minute play, laughter mixed with uncomfortable silence, actions, setting and dialogue designed to test our preconceptions of race, even if we didn’t think we had any.

The Shipment photo: Ryan McDonald

The simplicity of the direction by Kayvon Khoshkam and Omari Newton, plus staging keeps the focus on the actors and their actions, and of course, leaves us thinking.

Challenge your own notions about race, as The Shipment continues at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E Cordova, until October 5, 2019. Visit firehallartscentre.ca for more information

Picks of the Week – September 25, 2019

Summer has officially come to a close, autumn is upon us bringing cooler, wet weather and pumpkin spice…everything. Let’s see what entertainment picks the first week of fall offers us.

Speakeasy Theatre Company – The Shipment photo: Jens Kristian Balle

Opening: Firehall Arts Centre opens their season with a presentation of SpeakEasy Theatre’s powerful and provocative comedy, The Shipment

Park: The Festival Lawn at Deer Lake Park is filled with the sounds of Vampire Weekend on Wednesday night

Culture: The 10th Annual BC Culture Days celebrate arts & culture from September 27 to 29, in venues in every corner of the province.

Hub: This weekend, BC Culture Days CBC Culture Hub kicks off with Opening Ceremonies on Saturday morning followed by dozens of free events Saturday and Sunday

Plaza: Haida-Tsimshian siblings Gillian and Robert Thomson are Sister Says, a pop/indie group performing outdoors at Jack Poole Plaza on Friday September 27th, at 1130, for BC Culture Days

Date: Explore a variety of artistic endeavours when you go on a Date with Culture, a free BC Culture Day event at Chain & Forge at Granville Island.

North: Take off and see the Great White North meets the Land of Fire and Ice as Flyover Canada welcomes Flyover Iceland to the cinematic adventure until October 20

Dance: The Vancouver International Flamenco Festival continues to bring rhythm to Vancouver’s stages until Sunday September 29.

Doll: Celebrate BC Culture Days & Gateway Theatre’s upcoming production, China Doll, with a Chinese Arts & Culture Celebration at Gateway Saturday and Sunday

Stage: The Arts Club Theatre Company season begins with A Thousand Splendid Suns at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, running until October 13th.

Orange: BC Lions play host to Montreal Allouettes at BC Place on Saturday September 28th.

Away With Home:
L to R: Zefanya Hardhian (in front), Lucy Luo, Kevin Nguyen, Arjun Panesar and Lennox Johnston-Yu pic: Amanda Skuse Photography

Home: For two nights only, MISCELLANEOUS Productions, presents their 2018/19 new work, Away with Home at The Scotiabank Dance Centre

Film: Celebrate Culture Days and the 100th anniversary of Korean Film with four popular recently released Korean films, presented by the Korean Cultural Centre of Canada, at the Coquitlam Library Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Gallery: Transits and Returns, is an exhibition of twenty-one Indigenous artists from around the Pacific at the Vancouver Art Gallery, from September 28, 2019 until February 23, 2020.

Music: Explore the Feel-good Factor of Music at Polygon Gallery on Sunday during BC Culture Days, students and teachers will present a short informal performance featuring different styles and instruments.

VTS Back to School

Improv: Hit the books and laughs as Back to School Theatresports comes to The Improv Centre on Granville Island, Tuesdays to Saturdays until October 12.