Theatre Passe Muraille brings Elle to Firehall Arts Centre

Severn Thompson stars as Marguerite de la Rocque de Roberval photo credit: Michael Cooper

Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille brings its award winning play, ELLE, to the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver until February 18th. ELLE tells a tale of the real-life Marguerite de la Rocque de Roberval, a 16th century French noblewoman who spent a number of years marooned on an island in the New World. Having set sail with her uncle the governor of New France, on one of Jacques Cartier’s expeditions, de la Rocque de Roberval’s libido got the notice of the pious General.  As punishment for taking a lover, but more likely as a way to embezzle her inheritance, the Uncle abandons his niece, her lover and maid on a desolate island in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

ELLE stars Jonathan Fisher & Severn Thompson
photo credit: Michael Cooper

Over the centuries and through varying interpretations Marguerite’s herstory has taken on almost mythic proportions.  Elle is adapted from Douglas Glover’s book of the same name, by the star Severn Thompson who portrays the heroine as a headstrong, resourceful women who doesn’t let circumstances get in the way. The one woman show (along with one man Jonathan Fisher who provides the soundtrack and makes a short but pivotal appearance in the story) is set in both Marguerite’s present and past as the ‘present-day’ character recounts her story for the audience albeit with some possible flask induced embellishments creating an entertaining and dramatic piece of work.  Simple staging, bold dialogue and creatively choreographed movement, along with Fisher’s subtle music allow the audience to create the vivid picture of Marguerite’s life.

ELLE plays at the Firehall Arts Centre until February 18, 2017

The Day Before Christmas at The Arts Club

Love it or loathe it…no matter what you do (or what you celebrate) the Holidays are going to happen whether you like it or not. The Day Before Christmas, playing at the Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, opens the door on a festival season that many will be able to relate to.

Alex, played by Jennifer Clement, is a multi-tasking caterer/event organizer by trade, who is determined to hold the perfect family Christmas each and every year.  Narrating the story by breaking the 4th wall, Alex welcomes the audience into her impeccable home (creatively dressed by set designer Drew Facey) on the day before Christmas and goes back in time to show us how they got to the this point.

With her children growing up and business booming, family and personal pressures start to take their toll causing cracks to start to show in Alex’s perfectly crafted facade. The tight cast portray a realistic family dynamic with gruff and lovable father Alan (Andrew Wheeler) balancing life between his wife and children; self-absorbed 17 year old Brodie (Julie Leung)  and adolescent Max (Daren Dyhengco). Brother-in-law Keith exasperates Alan as he constantly Skypes into the scene, cleverly projected above the audience along with the ubiquitous mobile phone screen captures.

Writers Stacey Kaser and Alison Kelly along with director Chelsea Haberlin have crafted a tale that most, especially moms, will relate to, as Alex states “…every woman feels like this at Christmas”. Angst and drama, along with a healthy dose of comedy, create a recipe like a Alex’s favourite Christmas cake.  You can feel a love for the Holiday and while it’s cliched to say, the meaning of Christmas, at least for this family, wins out. In reality you could probably substitute any tradition-filled family holiday for Christmas with a similar result.

The Day Before Christmas plays until the day before Christmas, December 24th at the Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre.

Bakersfield Mist at The Arts Club Theatre

The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Bakersfield Mist, now playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, reminds the audience just how subjective the art world really is, and who decides what makes a masterpiece.

Award-winning playwright Stephen Sachs based Bakersfield Mist on a true event. Detailed in the documentary “Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock” tells the story of retired truck driver Teri Horton’s $5 thrift shop painting that was possibly a Jackson Pollock.  The story follows Teri’s, or Maude Gutman as she’s now named in the play, attempt to have the painting authenticated and the fight against the established art world.

Bakersfield Mist takes place completely in Maude’s Palm Springs trailer, filled with her art ‘finds’. The contrast of the tchotchke laden trailer with the supposed Pollack masterpiece shadows the contrast of foul-mouthed Maude, played by the brilliant Nicola Cavendish, against the uptight, pretentious art expert Lionel Percy, played by Jonathan Monro.  The performances from both players make the character feel authentic as they try to cement their viewpoint.  I’m sure we’ve all had debates like this about subjectivity of art, Bakersfield Mist is the amplification of all of those debates – who decides what makes art.

While the trailer-park perfect set may seem cluttered and the language is colourful, the simplicity of having just the dynamic duo on stage and no intermission grabs the audience and drags them along on the pairs back and forth as they find they have more in common than first meets the eye.

Bakersfield Mist is now playing at The Arts Club Theatre’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, running until November 20th.

Take a trip to “Ithaka” on stage

Ithaca_2016-04-24 23.55.50Opening in one week at the Havana Theatre, Ithaka, is a new play by Andrea Stolowitz, directed by Jessica Anne Nelson. Co-produced by dream of passion productions and Excavation Theatre, the Canadian Premiere performance runs, May 3-7 and 10-14, 2016 at the intimate Commercial Drive stage.

Ithaka is about a Marine Captain, Elaine Edwards, who has just returned from her latest tour in Afghanistan but this time things are different – home doesn’t feel right and nothing makes sense. After a blow up fight with her husband propels her to skip town, she undertakes an Odyssean journey through the American landscape battling her monsters, trying to find her way home.

Stefania Indelicato, artistic director of dream of passion productions, also a performer in Ithaka, found the work and brought it to the stage under the direction of Jessica Anne Nelson of Excavation Theatre. The duo previously collaborated on 2014’s After, also at the Havana Theatre.

In response to the plays subject matter, a marine dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the producers have partnered with Wounded Warriors Canada (WWC), a non-profit organization that supports Canada’s ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, and their families, through a wide range of national programs and services.  Corporal David Macdonald, WWC’s National Partnerships Director says, “Having served in Afghanistan with the Canadian Infantry, this portrayal of a US Marine coming home from war strikes an all too familiar tone with me. Andrea Stolowitz captures it completely with an ending that will leave the audiences feeling what it means to be a veteran now home from war.”

To experience the powerful story yourself, get Ithaka tickets online now.
The Havana Theatre is located at 1212 Commercial Drive.
Performances are May 3-7 & 10-14, 2016 nightly at 8:00pm nightly with a 2pm matinee on May 7th.

Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike @ Stanley

vanya-and-sonia-and-masha-and-spikeThe Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Christopher Durang’s Tony Award winning comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, is playing until April 19th at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.

In spite of its references to the works of Chekov, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a ridiculously topical comedy. The mash-up of the classics and the world of mobile phones and short attention spans masking as “multi-tasking” collide brilliantly in the cross generation cast.  The male leads bookend the play; the always brilliant Jay Brazeau as Vanya, grounds the play with the hope of keeping things the same while Robert Salvador’s Spike strips off the ways of yesterday and brings the modern world into the monotonous day to day shared by Vanya and scattered, spinster sister Sonia (beautifully played by Susinn McFarlen). Hollywood diva sister Masha played by Anna Galvin is torn between the worlds which causes much angst in her attempt to stay relevant as she ages. Punctuated by a hilarious, scenery chewing performance by Carmen Aguirre as Cassandra the housekeeper and Nina, the classics fan, played by Katey Hoffman the whole company fits perfectly into their rolls.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike runs until April 19, 2015 at the Arst Club Theatre Company’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. 

“One Man, Two Guvnors” – Lots of Laughs

one-man-two-guvnorsNow playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, One Man, Two Guvnors is an uproarious funny comedy starring Andrew McNee as the ‘one man’, Francis Henshall.  Set in 1963 Brighton, England the play is performed in a classic British farce/vaudeville style.

Between scenes the cast take turns performing musical numbers alongside The Craze, the on-stage skiffle-band who ushered in the acts and perform songs that help reinforce the Swingin’ 60’s British invasion ambience. The plot, based on the 18th Century Italian comedy Servant of Two Masters,  revolves around the confusion of Francis trying to hold down two jobs, with subplots of mistaken identity, con-artists and love-triangles.  The juggling of predicaments results in hilarious slapstick and physical comedy, coming mostly from McNee and Andrew Cownden’s senior citizen character, Alfie. The remainder of the brilliant cast enhance McNee’s antics and even when playing the straight-man tongues are firmly planted in cheeks. Many break the ‘fourth wall’ for a wink and a nod to the audience but McNee smashed it down to venture out and speak directly with the audience and to choose unsuspecting audience members to ‘assist’ onstage for added hilarity.  The show makes the audience feel like they’re participating in the fun rather than just watching from the pews.

One Man, Two Guvnors runs at The Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until February 22, 2015, catch it before it sells out!


Krokodile Pear Yaletown

Photo 2014-11-01, 16 14 17Vancouver juice company Krokodile Pear has recently opened a new retail outlet in Yaletown.  The bright and spacious location on Davie at Richards, is a great, central location to grab your juice on the way to work, home or before spending the afternoon in Emery Barnes Park across the street.

Krokodile Pear believes we are what we eat and is committed to making their cafe a place to get quality, natural, organic food and drinks.  Sixteen ounce bottled juices, smoothies and 2oz juice shots are all ready to serve from the coolers for quick and easy service.  To compliment their range of cold-pressed juices they have partnered with like-minded local food providers like Nourish Vancouver, to carry complementary food items.  If you’re looking to kickstart your diet, Krokodile Pear also offers a 1, 3 or 5 day juice cleanse.

Juice Shot with Nourish Vancouver Salad
Juice Shot with Nourish Vancouver Salad

Krokodile Pear Yaletown is located at 518 Davie Street.
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