Beat Back The Winter Blahs with Throwdown TheatreSports Festival

Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) is getting ready to beat away the winter blahs with laughter during its annual improv celebration, Throwdown – International TheatreSports Festival. Taking place at The Improv Centre on Granville Island from January 2 to 27, 2019.

The best antidote to those dreary January days is a good dose of hearty laughter and Vancouver TheatreSports has it in spades.

Throwdown – International TheatreSports Festival welcomes TheatreSports teams from other cities to join the top Vancouver improvisers in head-to-head matches with each other.

VTS Artistic & Executive Director Jay Ono adds, “This year, we concentrated on inviting the best teams from the U.S. because later this year [2019] in October, the entire TheatreSports world will be gathering in Vancouver for the 2019 International TheatreSports Institute Conference, which VTS is privileged to host. Throwdown 2019 features fabulous team companies from Honolulu, Bellingham, Portland and returning champs, the talented group from Orlando – who have won for the past three consecutive years.”

From January 2 to 19, local teams comprised of VTS ensemble members play in a classic TheatreSports round-robin competition for bragging rights of the best team in Vancouver. Working from audience suggestions, the players start improvising in hopes of scoring the biggest cheers from audience members. As in all classic TheatreSports matches, the final outcome is determined by audience judges scoring each of the ‘games’ within a match. The team with the most points wins.

January 22 to 27 welcomes the four U.S. teams in a series of hilarious matches and showcases designed to banish even the gloomiest of times. The lineup features: Sak Comedy Lab – Orlando, Florida (returning champions); Curious Comedy Theatre – Portland, Oregon; On the Spot Improv – Honolulu, Hawaii; Upfront Theatre – Bellingham, Washington.

On the last evening of Throwdown, January 27, the winners of the international competitions play with the local victors from the previous weeks in a winner-takes-all laugh fest. 

“There’s nothing like a little healthy competition to bring out the best in improv comedy,” comments Ono. “And the winner gets bragging rights for an entire year plus an invitation to return in 2020 to defend their crown.”

While no one can predict the outcome, one thing is for certain – audience members will be the winners. Arriving with winter weighing them down, and leaving with an added spring in their step after an evening of laughter.

For a full schedule of time, match information and tickets (starting from $10.75) for Throwdown – International TheatreSports Festival,  visit vtsl.com.

Picks of the Week – December 12, 2018

With just days left in 2018, let’s be sure to fill the last weeks with plenty of entertainment picks

Life: Look in on the life of George Bailey as Gateway Theatre presents It’s a Wonderful Life, a new musical adaptation featuring tunes from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, running until December 31st

Pride: Catch the follow up to Pride & Prejudice with Miss Bennet : Christmas at Pemberley at The Arts Club Granville Stage until December 30

Date: Until December 30, spend your date night watching Blind Date at The Arts Club Goldcorp Stage, each night is a unique show as a new audience member is the date in each show.

Craig Erickson as The Wicked Witch of the West
East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz
photo: Emily Cooper

Wiz: Take off to see the Wizard as The Cultch and Theatre Replacement present East Van Panto: The Wizard of Oz at the York Theatre until January 6th.

Shopping: Find those fine handmade finds for your holiday gift shopping (or for yourself) at the Make-It! The Handmade Revolution Holiday Show  Christmas Craft Market happening at PNE Forum this week.

Choir: Making Spirits Bright  with The Vancouver Men’s Chorus’ annual holiday music spectacular at St Paul’s Anglican Church in the West End tonight, Thursday and Friday

Drama: Seven Tyrants Theatre presents John Patrick Stanley’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama Doubt : A Parable closing this Friday, December 14

Improv: Vancouver Theatresports 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 at Improv Centre until Christmas Eve

Ladies Dancing at Burnaby Village

Lights: Light up your nights by visiting some of the Festival light displays around the city like; Bright Nights, Van Dusen Festival Of Lights, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Canyon Lights, Glow Langley, Christmas at Canada Place and many more

Puppet: You’re in for some madcap marionette merriment as Ronnie Burkett’s Daisy Theatre presents Little Dickens, a take on the beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, at The Cultch Historic Theatre until December 22nd.

Pageant: Havana Theatre on Commercial Drive is the location of the Best Christmas Pageant Ever...or is it? Find out yourself until December 16th

Celtic: Find holiday cheer with celtic ensemble, Winter Harp, Wednesday and Thursday at BlueShore Financial Performing Arts Centre, Capilano University,
December 15th at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver, and
December 16th & 17th at The ACT Arts Centre, Maple Ridge

Maureen Washington with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir

Noise: Spread the cheer a Good Tidings with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir, on December 14-15, 2018 at Christ Church Cathedral and again on
December 17, 2018 at St John’s Shaughnessy

Mumbai: The acclaimed play Bombay Black, by Anosh Irani, features a poetic text, bold theatrical imagery and a gritty twist.  returns to Vancouver with a run at The Firehall Arts Centre until Saturday.

Belle:  Join your favourite characters as a tale as old as time, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, returns to the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage,  until January 6, 2019

Market:  The Vancouver Christmas Market celebrates its 9th year as it returns to Jack Poole Plaza, with dozens of food sellers and shopping vendors, until December 24, 2018

Festival: Aurora Winter Festival, Canada’s Largest Winter Festival, brings a a skating rink, a tube park, light displays, Christmas Market, amusement rides, food gardens, and many more activities to Concord Pacific Place November 23 – December 30

Lions: Join the lions of Chor Leoni as they perform their annual Christmas with Chor Leoni concert at December 14th, 16th, 17th at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver and on December 15th at West Vancouver United Church, West Vancouver

Ice: The Vancouver Canucks take to the ice twice this weekend, hosting Philadelphia on Saturday and Edmonton on Sunday

Go On A Blind Date at The Arts Club BMO Stage

Just like a true blind date, with Blind Date at The Arts Club Theatre Company BMO Stage what’s about to unfold is a mystery.

The premise of the mainly improvised Blind Date is a blind date between a couple, who don’t know each other.  In this case, they really do not know each other, the male partner is selected from the audience to go on the date with Mimi (played in this performance by Tess Degenstein).   During a pre-show mingle the cast; Degenstein, Lili Beaudoin, Ali Froggatt (who all play Mimi on different nights) and Jeff Gladstone, get to know the audience.  People putting themselves (or being pushed) forward to participate in Blind Date.  Starting out a small cafe the date progresses through the course of the evening.

On this night, recently-married Ben, a 30something construction manager, has been selected, after prodding from wife Megan. The uncomfortable awkwardness that Ben feels makes for some nervous laughter and outright hilarity.  While Mimi asks him about himself, Ben loosens up and shares more about his life, which allows a seasoned improvisor like Tess Degenstein to grab tidbits to keep the play humourously moving along on its loose outline.

As skilled as she is, her scene partner is the key to the success of the show, I’m sure in the 700+ performances the troupe has completed there have been more than a few ‘dates’ that have gone awry.  Anything can happen in improv and in this performance, the quantity of beer that Ben consumed, smartly used to avoid answering or to allow himself time to think of an answer, became part of the show.  Late in the play Ben was forced to make a trip to the washroom, a first amongst Blind Date performances according to Degenstein.

The skill of the cast to improvise and roll with the punches ensures that each night is a fresh and unique performance. Check out Blind Date more than once to find out how different guest performers and different Mimis influence the outcome of your blind date experience.

Blind Date plays until December 30, 2018 at Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, 162 East 1st Avenue. Showtimes and Tickets available online at artsclub.com

 

Picks of the Week – November 21, 2018

The Holiday Season is in full swing, as we are just a couple weeks away from Hanukkah and a month away from Christmas, there’s plenty of festive fun in this week’s picks.

Ariel: Children’s Theatre of Richmond Association presents Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr a children’s production of Disney’s musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, November 24-25 at Massey Theatre

EnemyThe Enemy at The Firehall Arts Centre is a topical, contemporary interpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, running until December 1, 2018

Late-night: Vancouver Art Gallery’s late-night art party returns with FUSE: Object Lessons on Friday, November 23, 8pm – midnight.

Dancers: Dancers of Damelahamid an Indigenous dance company from the Northwest Coast of BC, with a rich history of masked dance performs Thursday at Noon, part of the Discover Dance! series at Scotiabank Dance Centre

Dancer Dennis Alamanos in Chotto Desh.
Photo: Richard Haughton

Dance:  DanceHouse, with SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs and Théâtre la Seizième, are co-presenting the Vancouver premiere of Akram Khan Company’s award-winning solo, Chotto Desh at SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts until November 24th

Jazz: Tyrant Studio’s Friday Jazz finds Jimi James Trip making their way to the Tyrant Studio Lounge upstairs from The Penthouse

Merry Kiss-mas
VTSL

Improv: Vancouver Theatresports 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 at Improv Centre until Christmas Eve

Ice: Join Moana, Belle, Elsa and other Disney favourites as Disney On Ice takes to the Pacific Coliseum until November 25

ASL: Red Gate Revue stage welcomes a world premiere of Albireo: A New Musical, a unique new production by Annahis Basmadjian, featuring ASL (American Sign Language), the story of brothers Wriker and Chambers, half human, half siren, their mythological hypnotic powers only activate when singing together in harmony.

Art: It’s your last chance to visit Kimoto Gallery to view Water, by Vancouver artists David Wilson a series of paintings looking at the natural watery surroundings and rain-soaked city streets of his hometown, closing November 24.

Pi Theatre’s Hir
Photo: Emily Cooper

Gender: Pi Theatre presents the Canadian premiere of American playwright Taylor Mac’s Hir, exploring the dynamics of a family dealing with PTSD, gender politics & more, from November 22–December 8, 2018, at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex.

Drama: Seven Tyrants Theatre presents John Patrick Stanley’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama Doubt : A Parable from November 23 – December 14

Laughs: Saturday nights Tyrant Studio’s Comic Strip brings stand-up comedy to the Studio Lounge Stage with Simon King, Darcy Boon Collins, Ari Matti, and Colin Sharp

Vancouver Christmas Market
Photo: Lindsay Elliott

Market:  The Vancouver Christmas Market celebrates its 9th year as it returns to Jack Poole Plaza, until December 24, 2018

Couture: The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Guo Pei: Couture Beyond is the first Canadian exhibition devoted to the work of Guo Pei, China’s preeminent couturière until January 20, 2019

Shopping: From the West End, to Dunbar, and Delta, Visit one of the many Christmas Craft Markets happening around Metro Vancouver this weekend

BBall: The Vancouver Showcase featuring 4 men’s and 8 women’s U.S. Division I college basketball teams compete until Nov. 24 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Festival: Aurora Winter Festival, Canada’s Largest Winter Festival, brings a a skating rink, a tube park, light displays, Christmas Market, amusement rides, food gardens, and many more activities to Concord Pacific Place November 23 – December 30

Candy: Saturday, Yaletown transforms to Candytown, Vancouver’s free Christmas festival filling Hamilton, Mainland and Davie Streets with Holiday fun.

 

Picks of the Week – October 10, 2018

Hope you had your fill of good food and good company over the Thanksgiving weekend, now’s the time to burn off some of those extra calories with exciting entertainment in these picks of the week

Oktoberfest

Beer: Raise your mug, grab your schnitzel and hit the dancefloor at #DasOriginal Oktoberfest at Vancouver Alpen Club this Friday and Saturday night.

Movies: The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) continues to fill cinemas around the city until October 12th.

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

Fright: Experience the thrills and chills of the haunted houses, rides and ghouls of Fright Nights at Playland throughout the month.

Pants: Drop your pants on October 11th and support Prostate Cancer Canada, at Pants Off for Prostate Cancer at Pinnacle Harbourfront Hotel

Test: At The Cultch York Theatre until October 13th, Testosterone is the true story of trans man Kit Redstone’s first entrance into a male gym changing room.

Theatresports Spooktober

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

Dub: Friday night join the legendary reggae/jungle/dub performer and producer Lee “Scratch” Perry & Subatomic Sound System at Commodore Ballroom

Country: Saturday dust off your boots and join American Idol judge Luke Bryan’s What Makes You Country Tour with guests, Sam Hunt, Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce and DJ Rock

A Vancouver Guldasta

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 21th.

Lights: In addition to Vancouver Guldasta, check out the other events included in Diwali in BC

Krapps Last Tape starring Linden Banks

Beckett: Seven Tyrants Theatre brings Samuel Beckett’s absurdist one-man masterpiece: Krapp’s Last Tape, to Tyrant Studio until October 26th

Humans: A Brief History of Human Extinction runs October 10 – 20 at The Cultch Historic Theatre, taking a look as the last couple, plus otter, on earth prepare to take off on a space arc to save humanity

 

Picks of the Week – September 5, 2018

As we move past Labour Day, and people head back to school and work, it’s easy to think summer is over, but we still have a couple weeks to go, so let’s keep it going with these picks.

Bard: There’s just days left for some of the shows at Bard on the Beach 2018.  Make your picks between a brilliant Beatles themed version of As You Like It,  or the dramatic Macbeth on the Mainstage, and find Timon of Athens or Lysistrata on the Howard Family Stage, all wrapping up in the next week.

Fringe Fest: Midtwenties Theatre Society – The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant

Fringe: The 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival opens Thursday, bringing 11 days of cutting edge theatre and entertainment all around town.

Punt: The BC Lions return to BC Place to host Ottawa Redblacks on Friday night

Park: The much anticipated Skookum Festival makes its debut at Stanley Park this weekend,  bringing 3 days of music, food, & art to Brockton Oval & Meadow featuring Florence & The Machine, The Killers, Metric, Arkells, Stereophonics, X Ambassadors and more.

Cycle: This weekend watch for the RBC Gran Fondo, North America’s largest, to bring masses of cyclists to the sea-to-sky.

Sisters: Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Daniel MacIvor’s acclaimed play Marion Bridge, at Kay Meeks Arts Centre in West Vancouver until September 20th.

Things: The Museum of Vancouver’s exhibit Wild Things: The Power of Nature in Our Lives,  brings the great outdoors, indoors to take a look at the relationship between local plants and animals and the people and places in the city, showing until 2019

Inked: The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Art examines the deep-rooted traditions of Indigenous tattooing, piercing and personal adornment, in BODY LANGUAGE: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest  an exhibit curated by Dion Kaszas of the Nlaka’pamux First Nation, until January 2019

Emilio Suarez plays Tyrant Studio Friday Jazz, September 7

Lounge: The Tyrant Studios continues their Friday Jazz and Saturday Night Comedy Series into September

Rock: After cancelling a series of shows due to illness, the Foo Fighters return to the stage in Vancouver on Saturday night at Rogers Arena

Cabin: Take a trip to the cabin while staying indoors, at the Vancouver Art Gallery as Cabin Fever  an exhibit tracing the history of the North American cabin as an architectural form and a cultural construct, on view until September 30, 2018

Laugh:  Head Back to School with laughter as Vancouver Theatresports League lampoons the classroom, also check out the other laugh-filled show like the late night show WTF – What The Fun!

 

Picks of the Week – August 8, 2018

It’s a lucky day 08/08/18, and as luck would have it there’s plenty to keep you entertained in this week’s picks.

Balls: Tonight at BC Place cheer on Whitecaps FC on the first leg of the Canadian Championship Finals against Toronto FC.

Bach: Early Music Vancouver’s 3rd Bach Festival is filling Christ Church Cathedral and Chan Centre for Performing Arts with the sounds of the classical composer until August 10th

Harmony Arts Festival Mixology Night on the Pier – Aug 9

Arts: Harmony Arts Festival makes West Vanancouver’s Ambleside park the place to be for food, fun and entertainment until August 12

SkyHigh: Take your dining experience to new heights with Dinner In The Sky, high above the shore of West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park Aug 4 – Sep 3.


Jericho
: The Ensemble Theatre Company Summer Repertory Festival continues until August 17 with a trio of plays at Jericho Arts Centre: Dark Road by Ian Rankin, A Few Good Men by Aaron Sorkin & The Beauty Queen of Leenane

VQFF Opening Film “1985”
photo: dutch rall

Festies: The Vancouver Queer Film Festival gets underway this week with a kick off screening at party at šx???ex?n Xwtl’a7shn Plaza (QET Plaza) on Thursday Aug 9th.

Punt: The BC Lions play host to Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday August 9th at BC Place

Bard: Make your picks between a brilliant Beatles themed version of As You Like It,  now extended until September 28, or the dramatic Macbeth on the Mainstage, and find Timon of Athens or Lysistrata on the Howard Family Stage at Bard on the Beach 2018

Charlie Demers Headlines The Comic Strip August 11

Tyrant: Enjoy the August line-up of comedy and jazz at Tyrant Studios Summer Lounge Series: Friday Jazz & The Comic Strip Saturdays

Disco: There’s no reason to panic it’s not really a disco, but Panic at the Disco is coming to Rogers Arena on Saturday August 11.

Rock: Jack White brings his solo show to the stage at Rogers Arena but expect to hear tunes from his many other collaborations and bands on Sunday night

Laugh:  Visit one of the best patios in Vancouver, the Neil McRae Bar at the Improv Centre on Granville Island and while you’re there get a good laugh a at Vancouver Theatresports League zany improv antics when you check out the fun at Avocado Toast or stay for the late night show WTF – What The Fun!

Stars:  Theatre Under The Stars has extended the 2018 season of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and 42ND Street on alternating nights at Malkin Bowl, now closing August 25th.

Abba: I dare you to not sing along at the Abba musical Mamma Mia! at the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre Stage, until August 12th

Midway: Enjoy summer excitement at Playland opens daily from July 29th for all your family’s summer excitement, or leave the kids at home for Playland Nights, Fridays from 7pm to Midnight

Music: The CBC Musical Nooners are back for another year, bringing lunch time music to the outdoor CBC Plaza on Hamilton Street

Dine: Pay an ode to the summer tomato harvest at Provence Marinaside’s Tomato Festival through the month of August