Vancouver International Dance Festival opens Wednesday

The world of movement comes to Vancouver when the 2017 Vancouver International Dance Festival (VIDF) opens March 1st. The VIDF has curated a culturally diverse program to stages around Vancouver including; classical ballet, Japanese butoh, street & urban, modern interpretive and other creative avenues of expression.

Choreographers, companies and dancers from near and far like local company Kinesis Dance, husband & wife team Kaeja D’Dance from Toronto, San Francisco brings Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Akaji Maro from Japan, and Denmark’s Kitt Johnson to name a few.
To reach as many as possible VIDF includes a number of free performances at Woodward’s Atrium and Roundhouse Community Centre.  For those who are more than spectators, masterclasses and workshops allow many of the visiting choreographers to share their art with local performers and artists.
In addition to the movement pieces, VIDF also presents art, photography exhibits and life drawing classes.

Vancouver International Dance Festival runs March 1st to 25th, 2017 in spaces and venues all around the downtown Vancouver. The full calendar, online program and tickets are available online now at vidf.ca

 

Kinky Boots on Tour

Broadway Across Canada’s Kinky Boots wrapped it’s tour stop in Vancouver this weekend selling out most shows at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  The Tony Award winning musical, adapted from the 2005 British film of the same name, has a timeless theme of diversity and inclusiveness that stands out as topical in the current political environment.

J Harrison Ghee as Lola | photo: Matthew Murphy

 

Loosely based on a real-life story, Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price, (Curt Hansen) the 4th Generation in Price & Son shoe factory, who longs to break away from the family business and his father’s expectations to live his own life with fiance Nicola in London.  When his Father passes, Charlie is forced to accept the realities of being responsible for the livelihoods of the small town factory’s staff, many of whom he has known his whole life.   In a chance meeting with Lola (J. Harrison Ghee), a London drag queen, he falls upon an unusual niche market that he hopes will save the factory and the employees.
After accepting that footwear is in his blood, the pressures of being responsible for the factory workers take their toll on his relationships.  Both Charlie and Lola try to shake off the expectations placed upon them by society and their fathers, leading them to the inevitable epiphany that moves the musical’s story along to it’s rousing climax.

The book by Tony award winner, Harvey Fierstein, brings plenty of laughs and heart without being too heavy handed with the production’s theme.  The contrast between the Price and Son factory folk and Lola and her troupe of drag queens provide the opportunity to enforce the message of accepting other as they are. Cindy Lauper’s music and lyrics, much like her own pop career, swing from quiet heartfelt ballads to over-the-top dance-pop production numbers.  Lola and the drag queens give Director / Choreographer Jerry Mitchell the obvious opportunity for colourful over the top dance numbers but these were almost expected from the performers. It is the factory pieces or when two sides of the cast combine that really awoke the audience, seeing the contract of the drably garbed staff keeping up with the long legged, high-kicking queens.

While Kinky Boots has closed in Vancouver, it continues on Tour around Canada and the US.  It was also announced this week, that J Harrison Ghee will be making his Broadway debut when he takes over the role of Lola in the New York production in March.

If you can catch Kinky Boots on tour, Broadway or in London’s West End, I hope you’ll come away with a bit of joy in your heart.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical

Currently in previews at The Palace Theater on Broadway, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert: The Musical is based on the 1994 movie of the same name.
The a rousing tale of three drag queens discovering themselves as they take a road trip across the Australian outback in the title character…a big pink bus.
While camping is a part of their journey across the country, CAMP is a big part of the show! While not in the traditional Broadway musical style, the show highlights some great choreography and vocals to some of everyone’s favourite pop songs.  Starting off with a rousing rendition of “It’s Raining Men” sung by ‘The Divas’, a threesome of ladies who sing the numbers when drag queens perform & lipsync; “Sempre Libre”, “Shake Your Groove Thing” “MacArthur Park” or “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.  A number of these big production numbers are ‘drag shows’ within the show and feature over the top costumes, in fact there are 320 costumes used in this production. From a movie that won the Oscar for Best Costumes, the musical has a lot to live up to and indeed it does.
Other smaller numbers, like “I Say A Little Prayer”, “Always On My Mind” and “We Belong” help the story along, featuring the vocal talents of the very capable casts.  Leads Will Swenson, Tony Sheldon and Nick Adams have spent the last 12 weeks in Toronto before bringing the production

Leads: Tony Sheldon, Will Swenson, Nick Adams

to Broadway. This trial has given Swenson and Adams time to grow into their roles and I’m sure it helped them get used to the small costumes and very high-heels, Sheldon has played Bernadette in every production since the show debuted in Sydney in 2006 so was already ‘wearing’ the role like a dress.
Familiar music, outstanding sets and costumes along with a good story make Priscilla Queen Of The Desert a feel good, dancing in your seat, sing-along (but please don’t) rousing good time!
If you get the chance to see it when it in previews or when opens on Broadway March 20th, or even in London’s West End, you will have a smile across your face when you leave.