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.

2018 DOXA Festival Closes With Awards Presentation

As the 2018 DOXA Documentary Film Festival came to a close last Sunday night, the annual DOXA Awards were announced in advance of the Festival’s closing night screening.

Four juried awards were presented to the following;

The Feature Documentary Award :  Mercedes Dominioni’s The Creator of Universes.

Of the winning film, jury members Tom Charity, Steffanie Ling and Anoushka Ratnarajah stated: “We celebrate Mercedes Dominioni’s patient and caring The Creator of Universes, a layered, captivating film built around a unique collaboration between the filmmaker’s teenage brother Juan, and their grandmother Rosa. This is a film of extraordinary formal creativity balancing Juan’s dramatic home movie/Telenovela footage (often very funny) with a sense of real life spilling over the edges. Dominioni’s love for these characters is simply transmitted.” 

Honourable Mention: Shevaun Mizrahi’s Distant Constellations “A poetic portrait of the inhabitants of an old people’s home in Turkey remarkable for its intimacy, humour and cinematography.”

The Colin Low Award for Canadian Documentary : Laura Bari’s Primas.

Jury members Ana Carruzales, Kelly Maxwell, and Susi Porter-Bopp said of the film: “Primas is a timely cinematic tale that travels beyond survival, walking the audience through the inconceivable with artistic sensibility, gently amplifying the voices of these courageous, unforgettable cousins. Filmmaker Laura Bari’s empathetic camera fiercely refuses to shy away from a heinous reality that is still so sadly relevant for young women. With poetic, sublime and rough imagery on its edges, Bari sheds a triumphant light by capturing the beautiful spirit of our Primas.”

Honourable Mention: Simon Plouffe’s Those Who Come Will Hear, for its evocative and unique representation of the languages, speakers, and context in Northern Quebec.  

The Nigel Moore Award for Youth Programming : Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap.

The jury of Steven Hawkins, Jacob Saltzberg, Tegan Dobson, Anna Hetherington, and Maya Biderman stated: “The film follows a group of three young men who bond together through friendship and skateboarding to escape violent families in a small town. Bing has an acute ability to extract raw emotions from his friends. He portrays the cruel cycles of domestic violence, and shows the ongoing dynamic effects these have on all the relationships surrounding them. This allows him to paint a picture of harsh realities that would otherwise be masked by society’s policing of machismo ideals. This is an important film for adolescents and parents alike to see, and therefore a clear choice to receive this award. Congratulations, Bing.”

Honourable Mention: Jules Koostachin & Rick Miller’s Butterfly Monument, “Equal parts a memorial to Shannen Koostachin, and a spotlight on the importance of her advocacy work. It shows the impact one young life can have on both a cause and community, and reminds us that spirit is transcendent.”

The Short Documentary Award : Paloma Martinez’s Cristanto Street.

Jury members Michelle Mason, Tony Massil, and Sonia Medel awarded the prize “for exposing the collateral social damage of contemporary racism and land cartels with surprising tenderness and hope. On a little street in San Francisco, Paloma Martinez captured the beauty of community and the true meaning of home in a powerful short with global implications.”

Honourable Mention: Michelle Latimer’s Nuuca for “its quiet urgency and artfulness in a timely meditation on land, tying the violent nature of resource extraction to the exploitation of indigenous women.” 

For more details about the award winning documentaries and jurist biographies, visit
Return next spring for more great documentary films from around the world at DOXA 2019.

A Night at the Movies with China Broadcasting Film Symphony Orchestra

Cinema In Concert with CBFSO

The China Broadcasting Film Symphony Orchestra (CBFSO), brings the sounds of movies to The Orpheum Theatre on January 12th for one night only.

The Canada-China Culture Development Association presents an evening of cinematic masterpieces.  Cinema In Concert find the internationally-renowned CBFSO, led by acclaimed conductor Pang Ka Pang, performing dramatic scores from Oscar-winning films, while iconic scenes are projected above them.  One of China’s oldest and finest symphony orchestras, the 80-member ensemble will bring life to film scores of five Academy Award winning composers, including Braveheart, Casablanca, Jurassic WorldLegends of the Fall, and Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as works from China’s cinema.

CBFSO Conductor Pang Ka Pang

Since forming in 1949, the CBFS Orchestra has performed and recorded music of nearly 2,000 films, TV dramas and documentaries. First touring abroad in 1992, the orchestra has now performed in more than 40 countries on five continents, working closely with renowned conductors, composers, dancers and performers.

During its performance at The Orpheum, the 80-piece orchestra will perform with special guest soloists from  the local Vancouver music community, including the 100-member local community choral group, the Vancouver Folk Song and Dance Troupe.

Cinema in Concert with the China Broadcasting Film Symphony Orchestra takes place Friday, January 12, 2018 at 8pm at The Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver. Tickets are on sale at

Watch “The Flick” at The Arts Club

The Flick ACTCIt’s not often you can combine a night of live theatre with watching the cinema, that’s exactly what you get with The Flick on stage now at The Arts Club Theatre Granville Island Stage.  Be a fly on the wall and see what happens when the viewers leave and the staff take over to clear out and clean up the cinema.

The simple but creative staging of The Flick takes us into a old-school movie theatre and watch three of it’s staff members; Rose (Shannon Chan-Kent), Avery (Jesse Reid) and Sam (Haig Sutherland). The play’s action is mostly the staff go about their rather mundane tasks of cleaning and sweeping the auditorium after the movie is over.  While the action may be similar to a Seinfeld episode, a ‘comedy about nothing’, The Flick packs a lot of insightful topics into the mundane actions.  Friendship, jealousy, socio-economic status, race, sexuality, family dynamics, mental health and much more are packed into the trio’s conversations.  Along the way, there’s plenty of drama and laughter during the 180 minutes.

The Flick runs at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage until October 29, 2016.

Shoot hoops with Pistol Shrimps & DoXa Festival

This week, DOXA Documentary Film Festival presented their 2nd Annual Free Outdoor Screening at Robson Square.  “Pistol Shrimps” was a fan favourite during the 2016 DOXA Festival and the screening on Wednesday brought the film to even more fans. To get the audience in the bball mood, early arriving spectators were treated to a display of basketball skills by the UBC Thunderbirds Women’s Basketball Team before the film started

Pistol 1Canadian filmmaker Brent Hodge’s documentary follows the Pistol Shrimps, a women’s intramural basketball team in Los Angeles.  A ragtag group of women have come together to revive the women’s recreational league in LA and come away with new skills, new friends and new confidence.  The Pistol Shrimps include musicians, comediennes, writers, and actresses, like Audrey Plaza, with little or no basketball skills but with a great love of the game and competition.  For some it’s a return to team sports they played in high school, for others it’s a chance to have a team experience they missed out on through their childhood.  For most it’s an opportunity to gain genuine female camaraderie that is lacking in Los Angeles especially in the entertainment industry.

Humour plays throughout the film but the players take their sport and the Pistol Shrimps with complete seriousness.  While it’s a funny film, the director never plays the subjects for laughs, instead telling a true tale of a group of naturally funny women playing on a serious team.

If you get the chance to catch the film at a festival near you, jump at the chance! Watch for more DOXA Screenings throughout the year leading up to the 2017 Festival May 4 – 14, 2017.



It’s A Wonderful Life at The Arts Club

It's a wonderful life at The Arts Club“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings”, the iconic line from It’s A Wonderful Life is now being heard nightly at The Arts Club Theatre’s Granville Island Stage as the Holiday favourite returns to the stage until December 26th.

Frank Capra’s legendary film comes to life in a simple and imaginative staging that pays homage to the classic movie while keeping it fresh.  While the stripped down set keeps the focus on the story and cast, selected use of film clips in the background help to flesh out the iconic moments without resorting to grand sets and action.

The fine cast is lead by the charismatic Bob Frazer, as George Bailey, who provides the grounding and emotion of the story. His supportive wife, Mary, played by Jennifer Lines, shares the heart of the story as well as his life along with 4 children.  The supporting characters include the antagonist Mr Potter, curmudgeonly acted by Alec Willows and various friends and family filling out the townsfolk of Bedford Falls.  Watching over all of them is Vancouver theatre legend Bernard Cuffling as Clarence the Angel.  Through Clarence the audience is given the feeling of interaction as we watch along with him and reach into George’s Wonderful life through the Angel’s actions.

Experience It’s a Wonderful Life at The Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island Stage until December 26th.  A great Holiday outing for the whole family.

Now Playing – A Christmas Story : The Musical

a-christmas-story-the-musicalA holiday favourite, A Christmas Story, comes to life on stage in new musical version by The Arts Club Theatre Company.   The Tony award nominated A Christmas Story : The Musical brings the nostalgia of the classic 1983 film, in turn based on Jean Sheperd’s book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash”, to stage with new music by Pasek & Paul and book by Joseph Robinette.

The old adage in entertainment is to not work with children and animals. A Christmas Story : The Musical takes neither of those to heart, with a cast of 9 very capable children lead by Valin Shinyei as “Ralphie”, who carries the bulk of the play’s musical numbers in his quest for an Official Red Ryder carbine-action BB gun.  Glen Gordon is perfect as younger brother “Randy” bringing to life some of the great comedic moments of the film.  Coincidentally, Shinyei portrayed “Randy” in the 2012 film sequel.  Parents; “Mother” Meghan Gardiner and especially, Matt Palmer as “the Old Man” add the familial charm to the show. “Narrator” Duff MacDonald fills in the gaps as he moves the story through the lead up to this 1940’s Christmas Day.

While A Christmas Story : The Musical captures all the main plot points of the original work, it’s 2.5 hour (including intermission) feels slightly excessive for a family show.  The original script for the musical called for massive 20 children,  but director/choreographer Valerie Easton paired the cast to 9 children for this smaller scale production.  Both acts could have also benefitted from a scaling down, feeling like a song or two longer than necessary.

Overall, whether you’ve seen the original film or not, A Christmas Story : The Musical is a great show for the whole family to enjoy this holiday season.

The Arts Club Theatre Company’s A Christmas Story : The Musical is now playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage with 8 shows weekly until December 27th (dark Mondays)