This Is Our Youth at Red Gate Revue Stage

photo: Ken Thorne

This Is Our Youth is the debut production by the fledgling Mid Twenties  Theatre Society as well as the directorial debut of its founder Beau Han Bridge.  Now playing at the Red Gate Revue Stage on Granville Island, This Is Our Youth is a play by American playwright and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan.  Since its stage debut in 1996, This Is Our Youth has been staged numerous times over the years, off and on Broadway, in the West End and around the world.

photo: Ken Thorne

While there is reference to the President, updated to President Trump, from its original Reagan era setting, the play doesn’t feel dated, in spite of it being written two decades ago.  Set wholly within Dennis Zeigler’s New York studio apartment, This Is Our Youth is a weekend in the lives of an early-twenties trio; Dennis, Warren Staub and Jessica Goldman.  The play mostly surround the awkward and dynamic friendship between Dennis and Warren, but Jessica Goldman, the object of Warren’s clumsy amourous advances, also stops in and out in each of the two acts.   At two hours, including short intermission, the oft-intense interaction between Dennis and Warren, Warren and Jessica plus the simple staging keeps the play move quickly.

photo: Ken Thorne

All three of the players were perfect in capturing the angst and intensity of the characters.  Zack Currie brilliantly portrays the frenetic energy and intensity of drug-dealer Dennis’ often verbal diarrhea of random thoughts on life and how he interacts with others.  Warren Staub is brought to life by Quinn Hinch in a turn that balances Warren’s sheltered innocence and desire to get out from under his parents and the burden of memory of his deceased sister. Mackenzie Cardwell provides Jessica, someone who always wants to have the last word, with the protective wall of her argumentative personality while maintaining the arrogance of youth.  This trio can more than hold their own against the impressive line up of respected actors who have previously played these roles like; Jake Gyllenhaal, Matt Damon, Michael Cera, Anna Pacquin to name a few.

Even though situations, styles and cultures may shift everyone should be able to relate to the themes in This Is Our Youth; finding your way from childhood to adulthood, balancing being your parent’s child and being your own person, and how to make your mark in the world.

If this debut is the way they’ll proceed, Mid Twenties Theatre Society has a bright future ahead of them.

This Is Our Youth continues at Red Gate Revue Stage on Granville Island; tonight July 17, 19, 21-23. Nightly at 7pm with 3pm matinees Saturday and Sunday. Visit for tickets.
*Audience Warning: the play includes graphic language and drug use including non-toxic smoke

DOXA Documentary Film Festival Returns

DOXA Documentary Film Festival returns to screens around Vancouver this May 4th to 14th, bringing over a hundred film screenings, panels, workshops and artists talks to cinemas across the city.

The 2017 Festival opens with Marie Clements’ documentary musical The Road Forward, a celebration of First Nations history and a portrait of a people who have retained their identity and power through art, activism and community.   Closing DOXA 2017, Julian Rosefeldt’s MANIFESTO shouts revolution from the rooftops in the protean form of Cate Blanchett, playing thirteen different characters reciting this century’s greatest cultural and social manifestos.

DOXA’s midweek special presentations include Olivier Babinet’s youth blast of teenage energy in Swagger, and Jacob Smith’s Waking the Sleeping Giant that follows an intersectional coalition of activists, politicians and ordinary folk who are fighting for real democracy in the post-Trump USA.

On the eve of the Provincial election, we are very proud to present a special town hall screening of Charles Wilkinson’s new film Vancouver: No Fixed Address, which looks at the hot topic of Vancouver’s housing market.

As always, DOXA has a great line up of curated special programs some of which includes:

Justice Forum pairs each film with a speakers panel to facilitate active and critical engagement between audience, community and filmmakers.

Spotlight on Troublemakers celebrates folk who upend the applecart, wreak havoc and generally disrupt business as usual with a selection of films that resist, rage on and fight for real change.

Transmissions is DOXAs acclaimed short film program exploring the convergence between contemporary arts practices and non-fiction films.

Trumped! Now What? Guest curated by David Beers is an ensemble selection of incendiary new political films.

French French includes a retrospective of the work of the legendary filmmaker Chris Marker.

DOXA Documentary Film Festival opens May 4th at 7pm with The Road Forward at The Vogue, and closes May 14th  at 6:30pm when MANIFESTO is screen at Vancity Cinema.

Gateway Theatre debuts 2017-18 Season

Richmond’s Gateway Theatre recently pulled back the curtain to reveal their 2017-2018 season line-up.  A selection of classics and new works the season’s theme is Reflections in Time as the four mainstage productions are set in different eras of the past.

Artistic Director, Jovanni Sy says, “In looking back in time, these plays hold up a mirror to our lives today and provide a glimpse of what our future might be.”

The mainstage season opens October 12, 2017 with Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award winning A Little Night Music. Set at the turn of the 20th Century, A Little Night Music includes the Sondheim classic “Send In The Clowns”

Gateway Theatre’s signature Christmas show is always a treat for the family, this year Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol carries on the tradition December 7 – 24, 2017

February 15 – 24, 2018 sees a Canadian tale, Salt-Water Moon come to the mainstage. A love story set in 1926 Newfoundland with a paired down production by director Ravi Jain

The final mainstage production of the season, Nine Dragons, is a new work by Gateway Artistic Director Jovanni Sy. A gritty detective story, which Jovanni says was inspired by his love of mysteries in the Raymond Chandler theme.

The Gateway Theatre season also includes two Studio B productions. Sink or Swim, November 16 – 25, 2017 is another semi-autobiographical set of songs and stories from the great Beverley Elliott.

I Lost My Husband by Catherine Leger, March 15  – 24, 2018, is a comedy about Evelyn, who loses her husband but finds herself.

Season Ticket subscription packages are on sale now at If you subscribe before May 15th, you will be automatically entered to win a Helijet Getaway Package.  If a Season Subscription is not for you, keep your eyes out for single show tickets to go on sale later in the year.



Mom’s The Word 3 – Nest Half Empty at the Arts Club Theatre

The hilarious team of Mom’s The Word returns to The Arts Club Theatre for the threequel – Mom’s The Word 3 – Nest Half Empty.

Through the years, we’ve followed the moms, Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nicol, Barbara Pollard and Deborah Williams, as they experienced the trials and tribulations of becoming new parents, suffered through teenage tempers and hormones, and now they’re back with the kids grown and leaving the nest.  After decades of being mom, see what happens when the kids are grown and fly the coop and maybe return. Do you rejoice, worry, or lament?

Even though the kids have moved out, the moms find they can’t stop being Mom. Their own lives keep moving on, and now they have to deal with aging, menopause, divorce, marriage challenges, libido changes, mental health and more.  Just like real-life moms, Mom’s The Word 3 handles life’s challenges with wit, compassion, anger, beer and friendship.  Along the way the audience is treated to some side-splitting humour, blunt advice, crass insights, hilarious musical interludes, grace and heart-wrenching emotion. Even the heavier story arc, surrounding Jill Daum and her husband John Mann’s challenges living with Alzheimers are handled with dignity and light.

Judging by the laughter and emotion from the audience, the play struck the right notes for the moms present.  However, you don’t have to be a mom to enjoy Mom’s The Word 3 – Nest Half Empty, you just have to have one.

Mom’s The Word 3 – Nest Half Empty plays at The Arts Club Theatre Company Granville Island Stage until May 6th.

Refuge – a powerful play at Firehall Arts Centre

Refuge - Firehall ArtsBalancing a fair refugee system and public safety are especially topical subjects with the current global debate on immigration.    Halagonian Mary Vingoe’s play, Refuge, reminds us that even a country as diverse as Canada has been touched by class, culture and sectarian violence as well as blemishes in our treatment of refugee claimants.

A powerful and relevant work, Refuge is a based on actual transcripts from an award-winning CBC Radio documentary “Habtom’s Path” about Eritrean asylum-seeker Habtom Kibreab.  Using the radio factual radio script as the centre of the story, changing the character’s name to Ayinom, Mary Vingoe has dramatized the rest of  his time in Canada.  Director Donna Spencer, has staged and cast the play nicely to keep the intimate story centred in the realism of the radio interviews with the rest of the staging kept sparse leaving focus on the human drama.

Pamela Ross (Sangeeta Wylie) & Saul Ackman (Robert Moloney)
Photo: Emily Cooper

Refuge feels a bit like a mystery, through the past vignettes we get clues to piece together the story being referenced in the radio interviews.  Although Ayinom is the central character, he never appears in the play, perhaps reflecting his uncertain refugee status. His limbo-like status is referenced by Pamela Ross (Sangeeta Wylie), the Halifax-born half-Indian woman who helps Ayinom’s mother Amleset (Angela Moore) learn English. Pamela learns of Ayinom’s plight and enlists her ex-boyfriend, human-rights lawyer Saul (Robert Moloney) to take his refugee case.

Interviewer (Nicola Lipman) & Mebrahtu (Aadin Church)
Photo: Emily Cooper

Brought together by the case, Pamela and Saul work through their own personal baggage, much involving the Air India bombings, and her family. Pamela’s husband Allan, played by Frank Zotter, is the voice of caution and fear of the unknown foreigner in his spare room. Perhaps a healthy dose of jealousy is nudging Allan to take the counter-argument to Saul as he sees his wife drawn to her human-rights activist past. Allan’s character is perhaps the least likeable character but also offers up dialogue that could be heard on any current-day debate on immigration.
Since Ayinom is never present but ever-present,  his friend and interpreter Mebrahtu, (Aadin Church) becomes his surrogate as he reads from his diary and shares his own first hand recollections. As the soft-spoken gentleman, Aadin’s performance offers up the most emotion and emotional scene of the 90 minute play.

See Refuge at the Firehall Arts Centre until April 1st, 2017 (dark on Mondays). Runtime is 90 minutes without intermission.

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.

As I Lay Dying – The Arts Club Theatre

William Faulkner’s Southern Gothic opus As I Lay Dying is now playing at The Arts Club Theatre’s Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre until February 12, 2017.  The uniquely creative production is staged by Toronto’s Theatre Smith-Gilmour and presented in partnership with PuSh Festival.  The touring show brings the novel to life with incredible simplicity, the only props on stage for the 2+ hour play are a board, a bucket, some bananas and a small wooden chair.  The 7 players bring 19 characters to life and paints their rural existence through simple sound effects, creative dance and drama and relies on the audiences imagination to fill in the blanks.

The play traces the poor Bundren family’s journey to take their late mother’s body from their rural farm to her final resting place in Jefferson, MS.  Along their 40 mile wagon trek the family encounters perilous trials and tribulations that test the bonds and bounds of what the family can endure.  Narrated by many of the characters, the story’s vignettes touche on a cross-section of social topics, that would surely have been controversial when the source novel was published in 1930. Poverty, pride, prejudice, infidelity, social status, motherhood, sibling rivalry, abortion, mental health, and many more subjects are touched up.

As I Lay Dying, is a perfect PuSh Festival co-production as it brings the unique creativity that we expect from PuSh to Arts Club’s wide audience catch it until February 12 at Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre.