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.

It’s A Wonderful Life brings music to Gateway Theatre

Gateway Theatre brings the holiday tradition, It’s A Wonderful Life, to the stage, until December 31, 2018.

Based on Frank Capra’s 1946 film, Peter Jorgensen has adapted a new musical production with music from the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s by some of the greatest songwriters of the period, from George and Ira Gershwin to Kurt Weill.  The Gateway Theatre also brings a wonderful 10-piece orchestra, conducted by Angus Kellett, onstage to fill the theatre with the live sounds of the holiday favourites and Broadway classics. 

Jorgensen has created a playlist for It’s A Wonderful Life that is bookended by the familiar Christmas carol “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear” and “Auld Lang Syne”, and in between a selection of tunes that will be familiar to some, and brand new to others.  Nico Rhodes’ arrangements and orchestrations are lush and help to create the mood of the scenes, the songs’ lyrics fit with the spirit of the scene but don’t necessarily do much to move the already slow story along.  As with the film, the story is a slow burn, at once nostalgic but also melancholy, until the last scenes reveal with the heartfelt message about family and friends.

The story starts with George Bailey’s (Nick Fontaine) life at a crossroads and recaps what leads him to this point. Fontaine has a commanding stage presence and voice, but rather than making George Bailey his own, it felt like he was trying to emulate the great Jimmy Stewart. While he found a similar voice to Stewart, he didn’t quite nail the emotional range, instead seemed to be perpetually perturbed.  As George’s wife, Mary, Studio 58 student Erin Palm is a stand-out in her Gateway debut, charismatic and possessing a voice beautifully suited for the standards. Just like we could all use an angel on our shoulders, It’s A Wonderful Life was at its best when Clarence, the Angel, played by Greg Armstrong-Morris, was involved.  Armstrong-Morris brought a fun, kind-hearted portrayal of the wingless angel.  Gateway Theatre’s Artistic Director Jovanni Sy does triple-duty as George Bailey’s father, the sheriff of Bedford Falls and the villainous Mr Potter.  The evil Potter allowed Sy to have some fun with the egomaniacal character, he just needed a moustache to twirl.

Fans of It’s A Wonderful Life, the film, will find something new to add to their holiday repertoire with this new musical adaptation.  It’s A Wonderful Life, the musical plays at Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond, until December 31, 2018.

 

Picks of the Week – October 3, 2018

How can it be Thanksgiving weekend already? Wasn’t it just summer? Let see what kinds of entertainment this week has harvested!

Domino: British belter Jesse J brings her powerful voice and pop tunes to the Vogue Theatre tonight.

Pucks: The Vancouver Canucks 49th Season opens tonight as they host Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena

Beer: Raise your mug, grab your schnitzel and hit the dancefloor at #DasOriginal Oktoberfest at Vancouver Alpen Club starting this weekend

Movies: The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) is now on, lighting up screens around the city until October 12, 2018.

Dog: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time opens the Arts Club Theatre Company’s season at Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until October 7th.

Twisted: At The Arts Club Granville Island Stage, find out what happens when an imaginary friend overstays his welcome, in Mustard, playing until October 20th

Test: Now open at The Cultch York Theatre, Testosterone is the true story of trans man Kit Redstone’s first entrance into a male gym changing room.

Comedy: Get double days of Jerry Seinfeld as he performs three shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Thursday and Friday

Improv: Grab your ghoulfriends and enjoy a month of eerie laughter as Vancouver Theatresports presents Spooktober; a selection of themed shows throughout the month

Poet: Indigenous Hawaiian Kealoha, Hawaii’s first official poet laureate performs at han Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC October 3, 2018, as part of the Beyond Words series at the Telus Studio Theatre

 

photo: Sepehr Samimi

Brothers: A tale of biblical proportions, The Firehall Arts Centre presents The Biting School’s Cain and Abel from October 3rd to October 6th.

Powwow: Kamloopa , playing at The Cultch Historic Theatre until October 6th is a high energy Indigenous matriarchal story following two urban Indigenous sisters and a lawless trickster, on a roadtrip to the West Coast’s largest Powwow.

Les Belles Soeurs:
Melissa Oei, France Perras and Agnes Tong.
photo: David Cooper

Women: Gateway Theatre opens its 2018-2019 season with the 50th anniversary of a Canadian classic, Les Belles-soeurs, a story of 15 women in a raucous, funny and heartfelt romp

Rock: Making their annual visit to the Commodore Ballroom, local legends 54-40 play Friday night.

Diwali: A Vancouver Guldasta peaks inside the home of the Dhaliwals —a Punjabi family in Vancouver as they deal with events at home and abroad in Punjab, in the early 1980s. Presented with Diwali in BC at The Cultch Culture Lab until October 21

Krapps Last Tape starring Linden Banks

Beckett: Seven Tyrants Theatre, opens its first season of work in their new performance venue with Samuel Beckett’s absurdist one-man masterpiece: Krapp’s Last Tape, opening October 5th at Tyrant Studio

 

Salt-Water Moon brings simplicity to Gateway Theatre

Ania Soul, Kawa Ada & Mayko Nguyen
Photo: Joseph Michael Photography

Salt-Water Moon has been performed countless times since its debut in the mid 1980s, yet the current production at Gateway Theatre brings a fresh take to the Canadian classic.

The Factory Theatre production, on tour with Why Not Theatre is directed by Ravi Jain who reimagines David French’s story about the romantic beginnings of Jacob Mercer and Mary Snow’s relationship.  While it is the third in French’s Mercer Family play cycle, a tale about the Mercer’s a family of Newfoundland immigrants to Canada, Salt-Water Moon is really the beginning of the family’s story.   Salt-Water Moon is a snapshot of one night early in the courtship of Jacob and Mary.  The two-hander usually takes place on a stage set with the clapboard board porch of a 1926 Newfoundland home with the detailed period costumes as outlined by the playwright.  Ravi Jain has departed from this traditional take and added a new element to this staging.

Kawa Ada (left) & Mayko Nguyen (right) – Joseph Michael Photography

The gloss black stage is set with a constellation of floating candles, reflecting the night sky and creating a warmth as the stage twinkles.  Joining the two actors, Kawa Ada as Jacob and Mayko Nguyen as Mary, onstage is Ania Soul.  The soul/R&B musician provides a musical background to the poetic script and recites aloud David French’s script notes.  The notes describe the setting and actions but with the blank stage before them, the audience is allowed paint their own mental image to surround the two actors, who are dressed in simple modern street clothes.

By casting non-white actors as the Newfoundlanders, director Jain gently reminds the Canadian audiences that this is a play about immigrants, set before Newfoundland joined Confederation.  Kawa Ada, an Afghan-Canadian and Mayko Nguyen, who is of Vietnamese descent, bring a natural realism to their dynamic, even though they are clearly older than their teenage characters.  I believe by allowing the audience to set so much of the stage in their mind, it’s easier to believe the pair’s teen angst.  Ada’s Jacob is a cocksure, charismatic boy who has matured beyond his years after a year-long stint in Toronto. Meanwhile, Nguyen’s Mary, in spite of the firm facade forged from being in-service to the local Member of Parliament’s household from an early age, maintains the innocence of small-town Newfoundland.  With a mother unable to care for her and her younger sister, who is now in the care of a convent, Mary thinks she has it all worked out, until Jacob’s return to town throws a wrench in her plans.

Kawa Ada is a commanding presence onstage, nicely balancing Mayko Nguyen’s intensity.  Although I did find it a bit hard to hear her when she was facing the back of the stage and it took a few moments to adjust to the Newfoundland dialect the play is an enjoyable opportunity to visit the other side of the country in a time long-ago. The 90 minute (no intermission) moves along quickly as your mind fills in the paint-by-numbers imagery while the actors provide the dialogue and Ania, the music.

Salt-Water Moon runs until February 24, 2018 at Gateway Theatre in Richmond.  Find tickets and times online at gatewaytheatre.com 

A Christmas Carol at Gateway Theatre

This year, the Gateway Theatre holiday season takes a slightly darker tone as A Christmas Carol finds the Christmas spirit, or in this case four spirits.  It’s hard to tinker with a tale as familiar as Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, but this adaptation by Michael Shamata, directed by Rachel Peake, trims the play into a show that’s manageable for all ages and focuses on the ensemble and core spirit of the work.  All members of the creative team mention how they feel the play’s  message of finding and sharing good with your fellow man is especially needed in these current times.

Scrooge (Russell Roberts) & Marley (Allan Morgan)
Photo: David Cooper

Allan Morgan begins the play as narrator, talking directly to the audience to set the stage for what is to come, and has led to the moment we meet Russell Roberts’ Ebenezer Scrooge and Adam Olgui’s Bob Cratchit at work on Christmas Eve.  While the supporting characters are present, Peake has centred the production on the ghost story, and the message the spirits bring to Scrooge, starting with the eerie ghost of Jacob Marley bringing a warning to Scrooge of continuing his secluded, miserly way of life.  The simple staging by Drew Facey allows the audience to fill in the blanks as the ghosts take Scrooge from his past to present and future.

Ghost of Christmas Past (Josh Chambers) & Scrooge (Russell Roberts)
Photo: David Cooper

The Gateway Theatre holiday show often serves as a mentorship to up and coming actors and stage crew. This production includes five members from the acting program at Langara College’s Studio 58, all playing multiple roles alongside the seasoned, professional players.  At just 110 minutes, including intermission, the production is compact and conveys the spirit of the Holiday favourite in a way that the whole family can enjoy.

A Christmas Carol is onstage at Gateway theatre in Richmond until December 24th.  For Information and Tickets visit gatewaytheatre.com/achristmascarol

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 gatewaytheatre.com/subscribe. 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.

 

 

Picks of the Week – April 5, 2017

I guess we need these April showers bring May flowers? Before we picks spring blooms, let’s see what’s in these picks of the week.

Champions: The Vancouver Whitecaps play host to Mexican club Tigres in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champion’s League semi-final

Folk: Canadian folk-pop act City And Colour comes to the stage Thursday night at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Angels: The acclaimed Angels in America: Part 1 continues at The Arts Club’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage through April 23

Photography: The 4th Annual Capture Photography Festival continues to bring lens based art to all corners of the city throughout April.

Stage: At the Gateway Theatre, a Canadian docu-play, The Watershed opens on Friday, continuing until April 15th.

Pucks: Vancouver Canucks host playoff bound Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena on Saturday night

Blossoms: The 2017 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival continues with events and blossoms throughout the City until April 23rd.