Albireo, A New Musical, Shines

Like it’s namesake star, Albireo, a new work by Annahis Basmadjian, shines with potential. Albireo was brought to the Red Gate Revue Stage by producers Rushed Productions Ltd with support from UBC Players Club.  Liam Lazenby directs a cast of experienced and new to the scene actors and singers to bring Annahis Basmadjian’s light musical-comedy to life.

Telling the story of two estranged brother’s Charon Chambers (Colton Fyfe) and Wriker Writeov (Jed Weiss), who we learn are half-siren/half-human. Orphaned by their siren mother and deaf-father (therefore could not succumb to the siren song), the brothers fended for themselves using their power for a life of crime.  When Chambers took another young human orphan, Holly, under his wing to settle down and raise her, he left behind his brother and their grifter ways.  When Writeov finds Chambers and Holly about to host a party, some comedic and dramatic events occur that push the brothers to work together to save their family.  Realizing that the bonds of family make their power stronger they are able to fend off a rival.

Being sirens, music is a vital part of Chambers and Writeov’s lives and therefore the play.  Basmadjian has crafted some catchy, pop tunes for Alberio and witty dialogue to go along with them.

The actors’ varying skill levels come into play during the performance, creating a uneven rhythm to the musical as the players move between flat out comedy and dramatic portrayals of their characters.  Seasoned musical-theatre performer Colton Fyfe brings a fully developed character and a more dramatic turn to his Chamber.  Whereas, recent graduate Jed Weiss, in his theatre debut, brings an erratic Jim Carey-style to his comedic portrayal of Writeov.  Having more stage experience performing with his band, his singing and guitar playing skills excel.   Some of the ensemble also stand out, for the wrong reasons, lampooning or murmuring too loudly drawing attention to the background.  On a small space, like the Revue stage, it doesn’t take much to distract and requires creativity from the director, managers and cast to avoid excess noise and balanced performance volumes.

While this Rushed Production Ltd production has ended, if we are lucky enough, we will get to see Alberio again with different companies and stages as the musical continues to develop over the year, it definitely has the DNA for success.

Celebrate the Season with Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley

The Arts Club Theatre Company welcomes the holiday season with the opening of Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley, playing at Granville Island Stage until December 30, 2018.

The seasonal sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice revisits the Bennet sisters, focusing on the bookish, unmarried middle sister Mary (Kate Dion-Richard).  Written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley casts a modern eye on the sisters, and their lot in life.  To celebrate a family Christmas, three sisters arrive early to Pemberley, the country home of Mr Darcy (Chris Walters) and wife, Elizabeth (Lauren Jackson), the second eldest of the sisters. Jane (Leslie Dos Remedios), the eldest, pregnant and married to Charles Bingley (Tim Carlson), is supported on the journey by Mary, the spinster sister.  Lydia (Baraka Rahmani) is the younger flighty, vain sister, stuck in an unhappy marriage.  Mary is bold, forthright and tactless but also saddened by being the unmarried sister, burdened with caring for their parents. Left to be comforted by her books and pianoforte she starts to find discontent in her expected role within the family.  Suddenly her world is thrown for a turn with the arrival of equally bookish, nervous Lord Arthur (Matthew MacDonald-Bain), Darcy’s distant cousin.  In Lord Arthur we see Mary has met her match in brains, tact, and experience with the world.  Throw in an unexpected romantic rival (Carmela Sison), and the situation lends itself to camp comedy of classes and the sexes.

While never quite fully realizing the farce, the likes of Oscar Wilde, Miss Bennet does allow this cast to chew the scenery as they spit out fun, fast paced comedy. The scenery by Ted Roberts is a beautiful re-creation of the Pemberley country house drawing room.  Director Roy Surette keeps the pace and the eight characters in motion like a dance to the sounds of Mary’s pianoforte.  Like all good Holiday stories, Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley wraps itself in a ribbon of happy endings for all.

Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley runs at The Arts Club Theatre Company Granville Island Stage until December 30, 2018.

 

10 Plays For The Whole Family This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to gather the family together and enjoy the fun of live theatre.

Align Entertainment started the season off with their, just ended run of, A Christmas Story : The Musical. This holiday season finds theatre offering something for everyone in the family, from romance, to drama, comedy to fantasy.

Check out the list of 10 plays to find something that’s sure to please you and your family or friends this season.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley – November 15 – December 30, 2018 Arts Club Theatre Company Granville Island Stage, 1585 Johnston Street, Vancouver
In this modern follow up to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, take another trip to Pemberley as romance and comedy mix with Christmas festivities.

Merry Kiss-mas

Merry Kiss-Mas – November 21 – December 24, 2018 – Improv Centre, Granville Island, 1502 Duranleau Street, Vancouver
‘VTS Channel’ presents Merry Kiss-mas – an improvised holiday comedy parodying all the inane clichés and funny, awkward moments you’d expect to see in a holiday TV special or film.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr – November 24 – 25, 2018 – Massey Theatre, 735 8th Ave, New Westminster
Children’s Theatre of Richmond Association presents this children’s production of Disney’s musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale.

East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz

East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz – November 28, 2018 – January 6, 2019 – The Cultch York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
East Van Panto returns for its sixth year, finding Dorothy and Toto flung to the Land of Oz in the depths of East Van

Disney’s Beauty And The Beast – December 1, 2018 – January 6, 2019 – Arts Club Theatre Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver
Disney’s tale as old as time comes to life, with a song as old as rhyme, lavish costumes, lush sets and great casting in this remount.

James & Jamesy – O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tea – Various Locations including; December 1, 2018 -Massey Theatre, 735 8th Ave, New Westminster // December 10 – 11, 2018 – Kay Meek Arts Centre, 1700 Mathers Avenue, West Vancouver
The award winning duo, James & Jamesy bring their physical comedy to the regioni with a Christmas cuppa brimming with holiday cheer, and much more.

Little Dickens – December 4 – 22, 2018 – The Cultch Historic Theatre – 1895 Venables, Vancouver
Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens, finds the cast of The Daisy Theatre take on the beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, in the merriest marionette mash-up ever.

It’s a Wonderful Life – December 6 – 31, 2018 Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond
Take a trip to Bedford Falls and watch George Bailey come back from despair to realize that it is a wonderful life.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – December 6 – 16, 2018 – Havana Theatre, 1212 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
In this lively Christmas classic, the six Herdman kids, “the worst kids in the history of the world”, take over the annual Christmas pageant, much mayhem and fun follows in this hilarious and heartwarming story.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr – December 7 – 8, 2018 – Massey Theatre, 735 8th Ave, New Westminster
Children’s Theatre of Richmond Association presents this children’s version of Disney’s beloved musical

 

Vancouver International Writer’s Festival opens the cover October 15th

The Vancouver International Writers Festival (VIWF) opens in one week, celebrating the written word for the 31st year. The VIWF mission is to bring readers and writers together to reimagine our lives and our world, through story and vibrant dialogue. After three decades the Writers Festival is proving the written word is still relevant and holding its own in this digital world of 280 character Tweets and instant communication.

The Vancouver Writers Fest encourages readers of all ages to explore the power of storytelling, and books, through our dozens of events with local and international writers. While the Writers Festival holds events all year around, the marquis program runs from October 15th to 21st, 2018. Centred all over Granville Island, the Festival has events for all walks of life and all ages, and all budgets. Non-Fiction, Fiction, Poetry, Children, Youth literature and more all take the leap from the page to the stage. More than 100 authors take part in dozens of events each day of the week, including Free Saturday October 20th, making sure everyone in the community can engage the writers. 

This year look for events with writers from near and far including; Buffy Sainte-Marie, Shane Koyczan, Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Hay, Ondjaki, Aminatta Forna and more

Past writers in attendance have included; Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley, John Irving, Robbie Robertson, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Rohinton Mistry, Alice Munro, Ian Rankin, J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie, Frank McCourt. 

Every year readers are introduces to new writers and genres to bring home or to their book clubs, families and friends. What new discoveries will you find? Tickets are available online at writersfest.bc.ca

Beyond the festival special events continue through the fall, including Ian Rankin in conversation with Jerry Wasserman on October 27th, and Yotam Ottolenghi in conversation with Meeru Dhalwala, October 31st. 

Join the Slow Fish Canada Dinner

Lovers of local seafood are in for a treat as the 5th Chefs’ Table Society of BC’s Slow Fish Canada Dinner returns to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) on Sunday, September 23rd.

photo: Meighan Makarchuk

This annual event allows seafood lovers to interact with local chefs and indulge in local sustainable seafood. Starting with Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) culinary student-prepared canapés, and Frizzante Rosé from Salmon-Safe winery St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery, attendees then flow through PICA’s eight professional teaching kitchens to meet the visiting chefs, who will each be preparing a tasting-sized portion of local sustainable seafood delicacies.  Chefs’ Table Society event committee lead by chef Darren Clay, executive culinary chef instructor at PICA, and Poyan Danesh, culinary director at Ocean Mama Seafood welcome guests to a sensational seafood supper.

photo: Meighan Makarchuk

This year’s participating chefs include:

Julian Bond, Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts
Andrea Carlson, Burdock and Co.
Welbert Choi, Forage
Warren Chow, Juniper
Jason Harris, Colette Grand Café at Holt Renfrew
Edgar Kano, Four Seasons Hotel
Greg McCallum, Le Crocodile
Mark Singson, Food Art and Music (Top Chef Canada Finalist Season 6)

Dishes will include the chefs’ creative interpretations of how to serve sustainable local sturgeon, arctic char, Humpback Shrimp, Honey Mussels, Spiny Scallop Geoduck, Albacore tuna and Octopus.
Wines pairings from Peacock & Martin, and several Salmon-Safe BC wineries, will compliment the chef’s creations.

photo: Meighan Makarchuk

The Slow Fish Canada Dinner takes place at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, on Granville Island, September 23, 2018, 6pm-9pm.

Tickets are available online now. Only 100 tickets are available for the Slow Fish Canada Dinner. Early Bird $99 (+ taxes and fees) tickets are on sale until September 9th, before rising to $109 from September 10th until sold out.

The evening’s proceeds, as with all Chefs’ Table Society events, help fund scholarship; including one that will be awarded at the Dinner. In addition to fundraising, the event also aims to raise awareness for Slow Fish Canada (a Slow Food initiative) and its role in protecting our oceans.

Vancouver Fringe Festival 2018 opens September 6

The 2018 edition of Vancouver Fringe Festival is onstage from September 6th to 16th, bringing 11 days of theatre for everyone.  Since 1985, Vancouver Fringe Festival has consistently  produced “Vancouver’s Best Arts Festival” (as voted by Georgia Straight readers), with the mission to cultivate artists and audiences to create an open and vibrant independent theatre community.

Vancouver Fringe Festival employs an everyone is welcome selection process, drawing the mainstage performances out of a hat. Giving all artists from novice performers to veteran theatre companies, the chance to participate, and artists receive 100% of the box-office revenue during the festival. To make sure everyone has the opportunity to experience live theatre, Vancouver Fringe Festival keeps ticket prices affordable for all, most shows are just $15 or less. Some performances employ a pay-what-you-can policy.

Mainstage shows centre around Granville Island at the Revue Stage, Performance Works, and Waterfront Theatre. Other shows in the BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) category allow artists to stage their performances in unique and different venues, and in collaboration with The Only Animal, at site-specific performances.

With more than 100 performances over the run of the festival it can be hard to select your personal program, so join The Georgia Straight Fringe-For-All, September 5th at 8pm, and write your notes as 40 companies and performers offer a two minute taster of their show to entice you to put them on your must-see list.

A few of the diverse performance for this Vancouver Fringe Festival include:

Big Sister – Naomi Vogt photo: Matt Reznek

Big Sister – A One Woman Show About Sisters : A comedy about the relationship between two sisters and what happens when one of them changes, Big Sister explores a world of evil siblings, fat shaming, and unlikely collaboration. Written by Little Sister Deborah Vogt, performed by Big Sister Naomi Vogt, directed by award-winning Jamie King, playing at Revue Stage.

The Shape of Things : New Westminster’s Heckin’ Good Theatre brings acclaimed playwright Neil Labute’s biting tale of love, lust, and betrayal to The Cultch Vanity Culture Lab

Weirdo: Playwright Robbie T, a magician, yes, a magician, takes audiences on a one man journey, from socially awkward to utterly inept, through a mix of storytelling, magic, and hilarious overshares, Robbie reveals his inner weirdo, and encourages you to embrace your own. Onstage at Performance Works.

La Palabra en el Tiempo : Victoria’s Palabra Flamenco present a blend of poetry and flamenco, with dancer Denise Yeo, poet Garth Martens, guitarist Gareth Owen, and singer Veronica Maguire plunging mythological depths and excavate human shadow. Playing at Studio 16.

Midtwenties Theatre Society – The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant

The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant : An intimate melodrama about a successful fashion designer who becomes obsessed with a cold-hearted aspiring model. Presented by Midtwenties Theatre Society, an all-female cast tackles playwright Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s themes of narcissism, intergenerational love, sexuality, and sadomaschocism, as part of the Dramatic Works Series at The Cultch Vancity Culture Lab

In addition to cutting edge theatre, Fringe Festival prides itself one being part festival and part party with live music and fun at the Phillips Fringe Bar located at Ocean Art Works (outside the Ocean Concrete on Granville Island) offering music performances every night, with no cover.

Vancouver Fringe Festival takes place September 6 – 16, 2018, in various venues around the city, mainly centred on Granville Island.  Explore the Vancouver Fringe Festival guide and book passes and tickets by visiting vancouverfringe.com

Arts Club Theatre Company : Once

Gili Roskies & Adrian Glynn McMorran
photo: Emily Cooper

Once is definitely not enough when it comes to seeing Arts Club Theatre Company’s Once, now playing at the Granville Island Stage.  The final show of the season, and for Artist Director Bill Millerd’s 45 season reign as the guiding force of the Art Club, certainly makes a memorable impact.

The heartwarming and heartbreaking story of Guy meets Girl, based on the 2007 film of the same name, takes the audience on a journey filled with music, laughter, melancholy, romance and inspiration.  Known only as Girl (an ‘honest’ Czech aspiring pianist, played by Gili Roskies) and Guy (a struggling Dublin musician, played by Adrian Glynn McMorran), our leads’ meet cute involves busking and a Hoover.  That oddball scenario, foretells the unique show that’s to come.  While Girl struggles with her feelings for Guy and loyalty to her estranged husband, she champions Guy to never give up on his heart and music.  Once would be nothing without that music, written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglova (the original film’s leads) the heartfelt songs stand-out like a third lead; moving the story along, connecting the characters and allowing Guy and Girl to sing what they can’t say.

To help bring the duo’s musical aspirations to a fruition, a company of colourful characters gather; both Czechs and the Irish play multiple instruments, dance, and sing often all at the same time.  While all the company are solid; stand outs include Chris Cochrane as Billy the music shop owner and admirer of Girl, who plays well off of the always solid Caitriona Murphy.  There are a couple moments when the Irish accents sound a bit like their protecting their Lucky Charms, but it’s not enough to distract from the feeling that the audience is a Dublin pub with the company.  Set designer Ted Roberts makes the most of the small Granville Island stage to recreate the feeling of an Irish Pub, which is open to the audience for on stage drinks and a kitchen party style opening jam session that leads into the show.  From this lively opening to the emotional Academy Award winning song “Falling Slowly”, Once moves us and makes us cheer for Guy and Girls’ relationship and leaves us fulfilled but wanting to know the rest of their stories.

See it once or often but definitely see it before it’s gone.  Once is playing at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage until July 29, 2018.