Gateway Theatre season opens with China Doll

Gateway Theatre opened its 35th Season with a production of Marjorie Chan’s China Doll. Ms Chan directs and revisits her 2004 play, inspired by Ibsen’s The Dollhouse, to bring it to the Gateway stage.

A period drama, telling the story of Su-Ling’s (Jennifer Tong) early life as she grows from 5 to 16 years. Starting with the traditional binding of her feet, to keep her feet dainty and make her more marriageable. The orphaned Su-Ling is raised by her traditional, and social climbing, Poa-Poa (Manami Hara) who is determined that she will marry well and bring prosperity to them both. Set in the time of China’s cultural upheaval Su-Ling is torn between two worlds, the traditions of her grandmother’s era, and the new world opening up to her as she learns to read by Merchant Li (Jovanni Sy). Seeing new possibilities and horizons, Su-Ling’s burgeoning independence puts her on a dangerous path.

China Doll – Jennifer Tong & Manami Hara photo: Tim Matheson

China Doll focuses on Poa-Poa’s tunnel vision of marrying Su-Ling off to a wealthy suitor, no matter how worthy he may or may not be. Historical and cultural references are hinted at, which I would have been interested to see more interwoven into the story. Merchant Li’s initial revolutionary leanings seem to be left behind as his paternal-like relationship with Su-Ling grows, bordering on uncomfortable at times.

China Doll – Jennifer Tong & Jovanni Sy photo: Tim Matheson

Heipo Leung’s simple stage set creatively let’s the audience imagine the indoor and outdoor settings. With such a simple set serving as multiple locations, the scene transitions were mainly defined by lighting cues, that felt a little too subtle at times. China Doll is an interesting work, juggling generational and cultural conflicts with the struggles that every adolescent goes through in seeking to gain their independence.

Presented with traditional and simplified Chinese surtitles, China Doll runs at the Gateway Theatre until October 26, special performances include Tea Matinee Tuesday October 22, Wine Wednesday (afterplay) October 23, and Talkback Thursday October 24. Find details, and tickets at gatewaytheatre.com

Thanksgiving Dinner To-Go Options

With just days to go until Thanksgiving Dinner, it’s hard to juggle a busy work and home week as well as plan to cook a bit meal for friends and family. Why not take some of the pressure off? Leave the cooking to someone else so you have more time to spend giving thanks for those gathered around the table.

Here’s a few places that will do the preparations for you this year;

Fairmont Vancouver Airport :
Fraser Valley Slow-Roasted Turkey
Dinner for 8-10 $399
Order by October 8th by phone: 604-248-3281 or email vancouverairport@fairmont.com
Pick-up on October 13th and 14th.

Sutton Place Hotel :
Thanksgiving Turkey To-Go
Dinner for 10-12 $375 (plus optional add-ons)
Order by noon October 8th by phone 604-682-5511 ext. 34
Pick up October 11th to October 14th

Hendricks Resto-Lounge at Westin Grand :
Thanksgiving Turkey Take Out
Dinner for 4 $240 / Dinner for 8 $450
Order by October 8th by phone 604-647-2521
Pick up October 12th to October 14th

Hawksworth Catering at Bel Cafe Kitsilano :
Herb-Roasted Turkey
Dinner for 8-10 $399
Order 3 days in advance of pick up by phone: 604-605-3325 ext 1 or online

H2 Rotisserie & Bar at Westin Bayshore :
Rossdown Farm Turkey Take-Out
Dinner for 6-8 $250 / Dinner for 10-12 $325
Order by email h2turkeytakeout@gmail.com

Whether you order from one of these, or go out to have dinner out, enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Picks of the Week – September 4, 2019

Many think of the Labour Day weekend as the end of summer, but we still have weeks until summer’s official end. Plenty of time for more entertaining picks…

@giselle featuring Catherine Hurlin
photo: Craig Foster.

Dance: Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY presents @giselle is a technology-driven, contemporary reimagining of the beloved classic ballet, at the Vancouver Playhouse September 5-7.  

FlipFlopsThe Waste to Wonder exhibit at the Grand Court of Metropolis at Metrotown, runs until September 8th, consisting of five life-size sculptures of Canadian at-risk wildlife (the narwhal, orca, bison, grizzly, and caribou), each made from more than 6,500 recycled flip flops by Ocean Sole Africa.

Coriolanus -Moya O’Connell photo: Emily Cooper

Bard: The 30th season of Bard on the Beach runs until September 21 at Vanier Park with Taming of the Shrew and Shakespeare in Love playing in repertoire through the summer on the Mainstage and Coriolanus on the Howard Family Stage.

North: The Great White North meets the Land of Fire and Ice as Flyover Canada welcomes Flyover Iceland to the cinematic adventure August 29th, until October 20

Puppets: Museum of Anthropology’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

Festival: Vancouver Fringe Festival brings 10 days of arts, theatre and experiences to Vancouver stages September 5 – 15.

Avalon: English singer-songwriter, Bryan Ferry performs his solo hits and those from his Roxy Music years on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage on Thursday

VTS Back to School

School: Hit the books and laughs as Back to School Theatresports comes to The Improv Centre on Granville Island, Tuesdays to Saturdays from September 3 to October 12.

Rock: Death Cab For Cutie takes the music outside to the stage at Malkin Bowl on Thursday evening.

Trio: Friday night, Malkin Bowl is filled with more music, as local group Said The Whale take the outdoor stage in Stanley Park

Chilliwack Sunflower Festival – Dahlias

Blooms: The second Chilliwack Sunflower Festival runs until September 15th, with a total of 20 acres of flowers, bringing colour to the Fraser Valley community

Folk: Indie-Folk outfit Bon Iver play the Pacific Coliseum at PNE on Saturday September 7th.

Art:  The Vancouver Art Gallery dives into its permanent collection to present Robert Rauschenberg 1965–1980, an exhibition of important but rarely seen works by the prolific twentieth-century American artist, until October

The Arts Club’s Bed & Breakfast Entertains

Now onstage, The Arts Club Theatre Company presents, Bed & Breakfast by Mark Crawford at the Granville Island Stage.

The heartwarming comedy follows Brett and Drew, a 30-something couple in Toronto, struggling with typical big-city life; finding an affordable house, job prospects and progress. Their life changes when Brett inherits a family home in his small, hometown. Realizing this was their chance at home ownership, and entrepreneurship, the couple decide to stay in the small town and open the house as a Bed & Breakfast.

Mark Crawford (l) and Paul Dunn (r)
photo: Moonrider Productions

The play features just two actors; playwright Mark Crawford as Brett and Paul Dunn as Drew. In addition to the two lead characters, the play includes another dozen characters, all brilliantly played by Crawford and Dunn. While Brett and Drew are fully fleshed out characters, with emotions and a connection to their relationship, the other characters are more like caricatures. In Bed & Breakfast, Brett and Drew are telling their story to the audience. Just like someone telling a story at a party would, they pick up on key quirks and stereotypes of the other characters’ personalities to portray them within their story to comedic effect. Crawford and Dunn make the amazingly quick transitions between the characters look easy with a with a flip, a twirl or a change in body language.

The audience is sure to relate to at least a couple of the cavalcade of characters, whether it’s a parent, neighbour, co-working, family member or acquaintance. Bed & Breakfast isn’t all laughs and giggles, as the pair become more entrenched in their new small town home they also feel the insecurities of not being able to hide behind big city anonymity. The story also packs in a family secret and mystery, LGBT teen angst, sexual fluidity, small-town neighbours, Santa and much more.

With so much happening and so many characters, there’s so much happening in Bed & Breakfast that a whole series of plays could bring the story from the viewpoint of the other characters to create a comedy franchise to hit the stage year after year. Find out what the laughs are about when you book into Bed & Breakfast at The Arts Club Granville Island Stage until May 4, 2019. Find showtime and tickets on artsclub.com

Pi Theatre opens the Canadian Premiere of Hir

Pi Theatre’s Hir. l to r: Jordan Fowlie, Andrew Wheeler, Victor Dolhai, Deb Williams. Photo: Emily Cooper

Just as the American Thanksgiving brought families together, laying bare all the dysfunction, family drama, laughter and love that accompanies holiday get togethers, Pi Theatre opens, Hir, a darkly comic exploration of family.  The Canadian premiere of acclaimed American playwright Taylor Mac, Hir runs until December 8, 2018, at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex. The production explores the dynamics of a suburban family dealing with PTSD, identity crises, and gender politics in a realistically comedic fashion.

“Hir is an outrageously provocative play in the rich tradition of black comedies centered on the dysfunctional American family,” says Pi Theatre Artistic Director Richard Wolfe, who also directs the work. “Mac’s take-no-prisoners satire of family dynamics is very much of our time, interrogating the bumps of transition that we are experiencing as the world turns away from a Western-centric hegemony. Hir examines the conflict between our need for safety and our desire to risk it all to find a better, truer way to live — no matter the collateral damage to those we love. Each of the characters in the play is undergoing profound transformation, just as we are feeling colossal shifts in our cultural and political landscape. Hir puts a deliciously caustic bow on all of it.”

Pi Theatre’s Hir Jordan Fowlie and Victor Dolhai
Photo: Emily Cooper.

Called an “audacious and uproarious black comedy” by The New York Times, the play follows the dishonourably discharged Isaac, returning home from the battlegrounds of Afghanistan to find an equally embattled homefront. His father, Arnold, has suffered a stroke and been rendered incapacitated; his mother, Paige, is finally out from under the thumb of her violently domineering husband; his younger sibling, Max, is a transgender teen out to destabilize the patriarchy. The confluence of Arnold’s disability and Max’s coming out has turned Paige toward a radical feminism that sees her refusing to clean the house in an act of unbridled defiance. She exacts revenge on her husband for years of verbal and physical abuse, humiliating Arnold by force-feeding him estrogen, dressing him as a wild drag clown, and putting him in diapers. While Hir is a manic, absurdist tragicomedy, it is also a wake up call about the need for honest communication. 

Directed by two-time Jessie Award-winning Richard Wolfe, Hir features an extraordinary cast of accomplished performers from across Canada.
Hir is now onstage at
Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex, 823 Seymour St, Vancouver. Tickets are on sale at pitheatre.com/hir

10 Halloween Frights for Vancouver Families

Halloween is just around the corner; leaves crunching underfoot, jack o’lanterns are carved, costumes are being prepared, candy is being stockpiled in anticipation of trick or treating.

Get a chill when you take on these frightening (and mostly family friendly) Halloween in Vancouver.

  1. Fright Nights at Playland: Vancouver’s favourite fear fest, is on until October 31st, the annual Playland event is loaded with haunted houses and thrilling rides, but not for the younger members of the family. 
  2. Halloween at Fly Over Canada: Join Broomelda as she welcomes you to her Witch Academy before swooping across the country with her at Fly Over Canada until October 31st.
  3. Haunted Halloween Vancouver Trolley Tour: Spend 2.5 hours exploring the stories behind the city’s most haunted spots; Shaughnessy mansions, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver Police Museum morgue are just some of the ghost tales you’ll hear on the nightly Trolley Tours, until Halloween Night.
  4. Glow In The Garden: VanDusen Garden invites guests to wander through a whimsical garden with curious twists and magical moments from the classic tale Hänsel and Gretel, until October 31st.
  5. Stanley Park Ghost Train: Join Jack O’Lanterns journey through the dark forest and experience a Celtic Halloween, at the Stanley Park Ghost Train, book tickets until October 31st
  6. Haunted Village at Burnaby Village Museum:  Visit Burnaby Village under cover of night from October 26 to 29, 2018. Wear your costumes, and blend in with the witches, ghosts and other characters as you trick or treat through the village
  7. Harvest Glow: Until November 5th, Milner Gardens in Langley has become the ultimate family harvest festival; pumpkin patch, corn maze, pumpkin carving, Harvest Market with 20+ merchants.
  8. Lost Souls of Gastown: Join Forbidden Vancouver on a historic and theatrical walk through the dark side of Vancouver’s early days, nightly until Halloween.
  9. Spooktober: Vancouver Theatresports League has a spooktacular line-up of Halloween themed shows throughout the month; Monster Mashes, Cult Fiction, Scared Witless, WFT-What the Fright.
  10. Parade of Lost Souls: The east side tradition returns on October 27th, starting with the Parade of Little Souls at 7pm, followed by the Parade of Lost Souls at 8pm. Keep watching for the parade route to be announced at midnight prior to the parade.

5 Egg-celent Easter Events for 2018

The Easter Long Weekend is upon us, spring should be here and after a long winter people are anxious to get outside for some Easter fun.

Here’s a few family friendly fun events to get you and yours out hunting Easter Eggs and visiting the Easter Bunny.

VanDusen Great A-Maze-Ing Easter Egg Hunt
From Friday to Sunday, kids can take part in an outdoor Easter Egg hunt at the beautiful VanDusen Botanical Gardens.

Stanley Park Train Easter Fair
From Thursday to Monday, take a ride with the Easter Bunny on the iconic miniature train and look for his buck-toothed friends as you ride through the Stanley Park woods.

 

Vancouver Aquarium Easter Scavenger Hunt
Throughout the weekend, take a self-guided tour through the Aquarium looking for the inhabitants and their eggs & Easter treats.

Big Easter Run 2018
Saturday, hop around Jericho Beach Park on the Big Easter Run,  join in a 5k, 10k (adults) or 1k (kids) supporting Canuck Place.

 

 

Brunch Buffet
After you’ve burned off all those calories and energy running around the park or hunting Eggs, you’ll need something to eat. Check out some of the great Easter Brunch Buffets around the City at; Notch 8, Boulevard, Oceans 999, Yew seafood + bar and plenty more.