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.

Picks of the Week – January 9, 2019

The holidays have past but still a few remnants of the season live on to keep up feeling a bit festive into January

Lake: This week is the last to visit Harrison Hot Springs Village’s Lights on the Lake sasquatch-themed illuminations.

Lights: Hop the Millenium SkyTrain Line to Lafarge-Douglas Station and enjoy the last weeks of Metro Vancouver’s largest winter light display – Lights at Lafarge until January 20th.

Laughs:  with a new year, comes a new venue for Vancouver’s queer improv comedy troupe, as they move Queerprov Fruit Bowl  to The Junctioni for an evening of laughter tonight, Jan 9th

Bowie: The 4th Annual Bowie Ball – A Celebration of the Life & Music of David Bowie brings an evening of bands benefitting the Canadian Cancer Society to the Rickshaw Theatre on Saturday night

Pucks: The Vancouver Canucks return to home ice, hosting Arizona Coyotes, on Thursday January 10th

Soul: British alternative R&B singer NAO takes the stage at The Vogue Theatre on Saturday with her funky vocals

The Full Light Of Day
photo: Don Lee

Electric: The Electric Company Theatre, in association with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, presents the world premiere of a provocative new work, The Full Light of Day, at the Vancouver Playhouse from January 7 – 12

Comedy: Just For Laughs Presents Bert Kreischer – Body Shots World Tour for two shows at The Vogue Theatre on Sunday, at 7pm and 9:30pm

Improv: Beat those post-Holiday blahs by beating it with laughter as Vancouver Theatresports presents Throwdown – International Theatresports Festival, until January 27th.

Warriors: Saturday night at Rogers Arena, Vancouver Warriors Lacrosse host the Saskatchewan Rush.

Country: Before it takes off on a USA Tour, get a preview of the story behind country music’s biggest love story as Kitty Night Productions Johnny and June a toe tappin’ musical story of June and Johnny Cash on January 12th at Biltmore Cabaret

 

 

Stretch Into 2019 with Gateway Theatre’s Yoga Play

Following the Holiday run of It’s A Wonderful Life, Gateway Theatre next presents Yoga Play, a contemporary comedy running February 7 – 16, 2019.

Written by Dipika Guha and directed by Gateway’s own Jovanni Sy, Yoga Play takes a satirical look at some strikingly familiar recent events, and what it takes to find authenticity in a world selling enlightenment.  The play tells of Joan, who has been hired to stabilize Jojomon, a yoga apparel giant, after its CEO is brought down by a fat-shaming scandal. But just as she finds her footing, more trouble surfaces and the sales freefall. Jojomon needs an image makeover—and fast. Risking everything on a wild plan, Joan and her colleagues are willing to try anything to save face.

In celebration of the upcoming production, Gateway Theatre is giving you the opportunity to find your own enlightenment, by opening up the theatre lobby to the community for free yoga classes.  Throughout January, take advantage of this opportunity to practice yoga in an unique setting,  possibly with some of the cast members.  Free Hatha Yoga Classes take place Wednesdays, January 9, 16, 23, and 30, 2019, from 8:45am – 9:45am.  Classes will be led by Perfect Hearts Yoga and are suitable for all levels.  Please pre-register for the class(es) you wish to attend and bring your own mat.

January’s free yoga classes, and Yoga Play, onstage February 7 – 16, 2019, at Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond, visit gatewaytheatre.com/yoga-play for more information, tickets and to register for classes.

Picks of the Week – December 26, 2018

Boxing Day is filled with activity as people hit the after-Christmas sales but if you’re not ready to brave the crowds and hustle of shopping, there’s plenty of festival entertainment to wrap up your week

Hockey: the holiday hockey tradition, IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships 2019, unfolds in Vancouver and Victoria starting today, until January 5th.

Life: Look in on the life of George Bailey as Gateway Theatre presents It’s a Wonderful Life, a new musical adaptation featuring tunes from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, running until December 31st

Pride: Catch the follow up to Pride & Prejudice with Miss Bennet : Christmas at Pemberley at The Arts Club Granville Stage until December 30

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

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.

Jazz: Tyrant Studio’s Friday Jazz  offers up Bebop Saxophone Jazz with the Sam Baglier Quartet at the Tyrant Studio Lounge upstairs from The Penthouse

Thieves: American electronic act The Thievery Corporation plays the Commodore Ballroom on Saturday

Year: Recap all the improv madcap madness of 2018 with Vancouver Theatresports Year In Review until New Year’s Eve

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

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

Lights: Many of the Festival light displays around the city continue to light up the nights into January like; Bright Nights, Van Dusen Festival Of Lights, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Canyon Lights, Glow Langley, Lights at Lafarge and many more

Laughs: Saturday nights Tyrant Studio’s Comic Strip brings stand-up comedy to the Studio Lounge Stage with Aaron Charles Read and Robert Peng with Headliner Ivan Decker

EDM: wrap up your year with one of the city’s biggest music festivals as Skrillex and The Chainsmokers headline the two day Contact Music Festival at BC Place Friday and Saturday.

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

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