Ensemble Theatre Co. 7th Annual Repertory Festival

Ensemble Theatre Company Annual Summer Repertory Festival returns to Jericho Arts Centre, July 10th to August 16th. The 7th annual festival features An uplifting comedy set in a doughnut shop, a classic political satire for the age of Trump and a celebration of the power of storytelling. 

The 2019 line-up of works promise to provide with topical stories that can draw parallels from the climate of today’s news and politics. Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts, observes the relationships of the patrons and workers of different generations, races and cultures in a small Chicago donut shop. Garson Kanin’s classic Born Yesterday, follows a corrupt businessman turned politician and his naive showgirl, mistress to Washington DC. Rounding out the trio of plays, Michael Healey’s The Drawer Boy shows a young actor researching the lives of two bachelor farmers  and highlights the power of storytelling in creating and interpreting reality, and how it can transform lives. 

Ensemble’s talented group of actors, directors, and designers, bring to life this year’s selection of plays showcasing the humour, insight, and excitement that only live theatre offers. As Tariq Leslie, Artistic Director of Ensemble Theatre Company says: “Theatre brings us together to celebrate, challenge and provoke through the telling of stories. The plays we have programmed for our seventh season embrace conversations about what our culture was, is, and could be – the stories we tell ourselves and the truths we all share – each one filled with humour and with pathos.”

The Ensemble Theatre Company’s Annual Repertory Festival should be a highlight in every Vancouver theatregoers summer Arts calendar. 

The 7th Annual Summer Repertory Festival includes: 

THE DRAWER BOY
Back (R-L) Morgan (Darcey Johnson), and Angus (James Gill), seated: Miles (Chris Lam). Photo by Emily Cooper.

The Drawer Boy By Michael Healey
Directed by Alan Brodie / Asst. Director Caitlin Fysh
Featuring James Gill, Darcey Johnson, Chris Lam 

Preview Performance: Wednesday, July 10 / Opening Friday, July 12

BILLY HOLIDAY LEFT: Billie Holiday (Alexis Kellum-Creer), RIGHT: Paul Verral (Tariq Leslie). (c) Emily Cooper Photography

Born Yesterday By Garson Kanin 
Directed by Shelby Bushell and Michael Scholar Jr.
Featuring Alexis Kellum-Creer, Paul Herbert, Tariq Leslie, Kira Fondse, David Wallace, James Gill, Kenneth Tynan and Steven James

Preview Performance: Thursday, July 11 / Opening: Saturday., July 13

SUPERIOR DONUTS Back: Franco Wicks (Chris Francisque) (c) Emily Cooper Photography

Superior Donuts By Tracy Letts 
Directed by Keltie Forsyth
Featuring Ron Reed, Chris Francisque, Steve James, Darcey Johnson, Lindsay Nelson, Alexis Kellum-Creer, Anthony Santiago, Richard Meen, Kenneth Tynan

Preview Performance: Thursday, July 18 / Opening: Friday, July 19

Ensemble Theatre Company’s 7th Annual Repertory Festival runs July 10, 2019 to August 16, 2019 at Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery Street, Vancouver. Individual tickets and festival passes are available at ensembletheatrecompany.ca

Bard On The Beach : Taming Of The Shrew

The 30th Season of Bard on the Beach is underway, with Taming of the Shrew starting the season under the tents at Vanier Park. There are few spots in Vancouver nicer to spend a summer evening, add in a new adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s classic comedies by a brilliant company and it’s a near perfect theatre experience.

Bard on the Beach Taming of the Shrew Image: Emily Cooper

Taming of the Shrew tells the story of the fair Bianca and her sister, foul Katherine (Kate), and their suitors. Lady Baptista, the sister’s mother, has decreed that Bianca may not marry until after the elder Katherine is suitably married, much to the chagrin of Bianca’s many admirers. Seeing mutual benefit from working together, Bianca’s beaus conspire to find a husband for the shrewish Kate. Success comes with the arrival of Petruchio, who, in need of her large dowry, steps up to the challenge. Upon marriage, Petruchio ‘breaks’ Kate with a series of psychological gamesmanship and returns to Padua victorious in his taming of the shrew…or was he?

Shifted from late 16th Century Italy to the late 1800s America West, Director Lois Anderson has created a play that fits well into its new era. Costume Designer Mara Gottler and Set Designer Cory Sincennes have crafted a look straight out of Gunsmoke.

Jennifer Lines & Andrew McNee | Photo: Tim Matheson
Taming Of The Shrew
Jennifer Lines & Andrew McNee
Photo: Tim Matheson

Leading the cast, Jennifer Lines and Andrew McNee play off of each nicely as Kate and Petruchio. Ms Lines’ intense and dramatic Kate contrasts with McNee’s comedic skills and mugging. Kate Besworth’s sweet, giggling Bianca was a contrast to Line’s abrupt character. Kamyar Pazandeh’s Lucentio, stood out amongst Bianca’s many suitors. Portraying his servant Triano, Chirag Naik is always dependable, both the character and actor.

At 2.5 hours, the light comedy is nicely paced to keep the show moving and manages to avoid feeling long. See for yourself why Taming of the Shrew makes for an enjoyable Spaghetti Western / Shakespearean mash-up.

Taming of the Shrew runs, in repertoire with Shakespeare In Love, until September 21, 2019 at Bard on the Beach tents at Vanier Park (behind Museum of Vancouver). Information and tickets are available online at bardonthebeach.org.

Picks of the Week – June 12, 2019

We’re into the start of another hot spell, and the weather is pretty good too! Let’s see what hot picks are on this week!

Musical: Adapted from Roald Dahl’s novel about the precocious, pint-sized, imaginative student, Matilda the Musical is running at Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until July 14th.

Global: The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra’s (VICO) 2019 Global Soundscapes Festival  wraps up tomorrow, June 13th

Moms: You don’t have to be a mom to enjoy Mom’s The Word 3 – Nest Half Empty, playing at The Arts Club Granville Island Stage, you just have to have one.

Dad: Join Vancouver TheatreSports on Sunday, June 16 at 2:00pm for The SuperDad Show, a special matinee performance in celebration dear ol’ Dad.

Popera: Top-selling solo classical singer Andrea Bocelli performs at Rogers Arena on Thursday June 13th.

Bard on the Beach
Taming of the Shrew

Tents: Another season of Bard on the Beach is underway at Vanier Park with Taming of the Shrew and Shakespeare in Love playing in repertoire through the summer

Pop: Canadian superstar Shawn Mendes brings his tour to Rogers Arena on Friday June 14th

Aeriosa
Aeriosa – Grand Firs

Aerial: The first-ever Vancouver International Vertical Dance Summit, wraps up June 15th, presented by Vancouver-based dance company, Aeriosa, brings events to SFU Woodwards (atrium), Van Dusen Botanical Gardens (Douglas Firs at Great Lawn), and Guinness Tower (outside).

Ball: The BC Lions football season gets under way Saturday when they play host to Winnipeg Jets at BC Place on Saturday

Puppets:Museum of Anthropologie’s Shadows, Strings and Other Things features a broad array of puppets, old and new, from 15 countries across Asia, Europe, and the Americas until October 14

Delia Brett & Daelik MACHiNENOiSY
We Are By Which We Are Moved In Return

Dance: Until June 15, at Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, MACHiNENOiSY & SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs co-present We Are By Which We Are Moved In Return which seeks to acknowledge the unseen forces, organic and inorganic, that make us and move us.

Matilda The Musical, Mesmerizes

“Children Are Maggots”, that is the motto of the Crunchem Hall Primary School, run by grim headmistress Miss Trunchbull, in Matilda The Musical. Now playing at The Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, Matilda the Musical is based on Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy novel, adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.

Matilda The Musical

Matilda The Musical is a riot from start to finish, at times quite literally, as Matilda the 5 year old title character declares ‘sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty’. Well played by Georgia Acken, who alternates the role with Thailey Roberge, both making their Arts Club debuts, Matilda is a smart-as-a-whip, bookworm, bullied by her parents and more comfortable in the library than home. As she starts school, she finds herself allied with the other students, played by a mix of newcomers and up-and-coming young local actors, who are bullied by Miss Trunchbull. While the young ensemble all bring a smile to your face as they sing and dance their way through the insults and tyranny of the headmistress, it’s the adults who really bring the laughs. Lauren Bowler plays Mrs Wormwood with the comedic flair of a classic Carol Burnett character. As Mr Wormwood, Ben Elliott brings cartoon-like physical comedy with a dancer’s lightness to the stage. However, the real stand-out is John Ullyatt playing Miss Trunchbull, the former Olympic hammer thrower now rules Crunchem with an iron fist as its headmistress, who finds children revolting. Ullyatt gives an over-the-top performance that would fit in perfectly at St Trinian’s, able to bring the audience to tears of laughter without saying a word, a scowl or raised eyebrow is all that’s needed.

The Arts Club’s Artistic Director Ashlie Corcoran noted that Matilda was on her wish list for a dream season when she interviewed for her position. Now, in partnership with Citadel Theatre and Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, her dream is a reality. Matilda The Musical is directed by Citadel Theatre’s Daryl Cloran, who also brought is the amazing Beatles-inspired As You Like It to Bard On The Beach last season, and brings his creative brush to Roald Dahl’s whimsical creation. While Dahl’s story of being able to change your story to get more out of like was written more than 3 decades ago, the theme is timeless. Even though the musical runs a lengthy 2 hours 35 minutes (with intermission) you’ll leave the theatre wishing you had more time with these eccentric characters and brilliant young Matilda.

Matilda The Musical runs until July 14, 2019 at The Arts Club Industrial Alliance Theatre. For tickets and showtimes visit artsclub.com

Colin Mochrie returns to Vancouver TheatreSports

Prepare for loads of laughter when Colin Mochrie, Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) alumnus and star of Whose Line Is It Anyway, returns to Vancouver TheatreSports for three benefit performances.  All performances benefit Vancouver TheatreSports, a registered non-profit charity, and the Colin Mochrie Scholarship Fund at VTS’ theatre school, The Improv Comedy Institute. Established in 2014, this scholarship provides assistance to those wishing to study improv but are unable to do so because of financial barriers.

The trio of funny-bone tickling performances take place at the intimate Improv Centre on Granville Island and historic The Vogue Theatre.

COLIN UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL – Thursday, May 30, 7:30pm at The Improv Centre
See Colin up close and catch every expressive comedic nuance in an intimate space! This very special evening includes a full 90-minute improv performance starring Colin along with VTS ensemble members, and a Q&A session where audience members ask the questions. VTS patrons who arrive early for a drink at The Improv Centre’s Neil Macrae Bar & Lounge might even get lucky and snag a selfie with Colin Mochrie before the show. Ticket prices for this performance range from $99 (theatre seats) to $109 (tables/banquette seats).

COLIN AND FRIENDS – Friday, May 31, 7:30pm at The Improv CentreColin returns to The Improv Centre, to perform with some of his improv friends from the VTS ensemble. This is a wonderful opportunity to catch an improv master at work in an evening that is sure to tickle your funny bone. The intimate, 186 seat, Improv Centre is fully-licensed and guests are welcome to take their beverages with them into the theatre to help lubricate their laughter during the show. Ticket prices for this performance range from $89 (theatre seats) to $99 (tables/banquette seats).

THE COLIN MOCHRIE EXPERIENCE – Saturday, June 1 | 7:30pm | The Vogue Theatre
Saturday night the laughs move to Vancouver’s Entertainment District as Colin take the stage at The Vogue Theatre. This performance once again features the improv master with some of your favourite VTS  improvisers in a free-wheeling improv laugh-fest. Ticket prices for this performance range from $29 to $65.

Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to catch one of the world’s greatest improvisers at his best. Colin Mochrie’s return to VTS and Vancouver is sure to be one of the hottest comedy tickets this spring.

For more information and tickets visit Vancouver TheatreSports online at vtsl.com

Throne and Games – The Last Laugh at VTS

This week it’s been difficult to avoid talk about the Lannisters, Starks, and Targaryens. Vancouver TheatreSports is jumping into the pop culture battle with their own unique show Throne and Games – The Last Laugh.

A satirical parody, loosely based on the wildly popular HBO’s TV series of a similar name. This instalment marks the last ‘season’ in VTS’ comedy trilogy, which began in 2015 with Throne and Games – Laughter is Coming and continued with Throne and Games – A Chance of Snow in 2016.

Starting April 26th, Throne and Games – The Last Laugh will feature some familiar characters along with a myriad of unexpected plot twists as suggested by the audience. Because of this key element, no two performances can be the same. As in its TV inspiration, the audience has no idea what to expect next…and neither do the VTS master improvisers.

With a new scenario mapped out by popular ensemble members Graeme Duffy and Denise Jones, a murderous cast of characters, an innovative set by Mo Sherwood and more plot twists than the original TV show, this all-new VTS production comes with a severe hilarity warning: attendance could lead to sore sides from laughing.

Vancouver TheatreSports’ Throne and Games – The Last Laugh runs at The Improv Centre on Granville Island every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30pm from Friday, April 26 to Saturday, June 15, 2019. Ticket prices start at $10.75 and are on sale now at www.vtsl.com.

Come see for yourself which of the characters will have the last laugh and sit triumphant on the Iron Throne?

The Matchmaker makes her match at The Arts Club

Say hello to the famed matchmaking busybody Dolly Gallagher Levi as The Matchmaker brings her to The Arts Club Theatre Company Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Thorton Wilder’s 1954 comedy served as the inspiration for the iconic musical Hello Dolly!, which turned Dolly Levi into a legendary role.

In The Arts Club Theatre Company’s The Matchmaker, director Ashlie Corcoran, guides an ensemble of 14 actors playing 16 characters through a maze of forbidden love, mistaken identities, madcap adventures and hysterical hijinx, resulting in much spontaneous laughter and applause from the audience throughout the performance.

Nicole Lipman as Dolly Levi
photo: David Cooper

While Nicole Lipman’s Dolly stirs the plot and characters with her cunning charm, it’s cantankerous Horace Vandergelder, played by Ric Reid, who sets the wheels in motion as the other characters seek to avoid or win “the first citizen of Yonkers'” favour. Whether it’s trying to keep his niece Ermengarde (Julie Leung) from marrying artist Ambrose Kemper (Nadeem Phillip), keep his love interest Mrs Molloy on a string whilst there is another potential suitor, or keep his employees in check in spite of their desire for adventure, Mr Vandergelder never quite succeeds with Dolly really pulling the strings.

The Matchmaker
photo: David Cooper

As the characters move the action from Yonkers “where nothing ever happens”, to New York City, Mrs Molloy (Naomi Wright) and her flighty shop assistance Minnie (Georgia Beaty) are the first bold flashes of colour both in character, costume and setting of her millinery shop. When they stumble into the shop, the ladies awaken something within Mr. Vandergelder’s naive shop clerks, Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker. Played with leading-man charm and charisma by Tyrone Savage and wide-eyed innocence by Daniel Doheny, respectively, the gentlemen were seeking an adventure and found much more than they bargained for, or could afford, but in Dolly’s world everything has a way of working out, for everyone.

Throughout the adventure we meet an assortment of colourful characters each with their own over-the-top eccentricities. The audience becomes a 17th character when many of the characters break the fourth wall to speak directly to the room; sharing their feelings, or words of wisdom albeit when coming from drunkard Malachi Stack, hilariously played by Scott Bellis, they might be taken with a shot of whiskey. With so much happening on stage, the whole performance moves like a dance as players move in, out and over the sets and costumes on their way to happily ever after.

Drew Facey’s beautiful production design creates a world, with four distinct sets, reminiscent of The Gilded Age but with hints of modernity in the set decorations and costumes that make it a world all its own. The set and costumes lends just enough realism to ground the show but the colourful winks and whimsy fit perfectly with the absurdity of the farce. If you listen closely, you’ll also note that the music doesn’t fit the period but does fit the characters, with a short nod to Hello Dolly!, as well.

Experience the laughter for yourself as The Matchmaker plays at The Arts Club Theatre Company Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until February 24, 2019. Visit artsclub.com for tickets and showtimes.