Delinquent Theatre premieres Never The Last

Next week, Delinquent Theatre opens the emotional world premiere of Never the Last, as part of the SeeMore Theatre Series at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex. 

Anton Lipovetsky, Christine Quintana and Molly MacKinnon. Photo/Art by Bold Rezolution Studio.

Inspired by the life story of Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, an enormously innovative early twentieth century composer, the drama follows her 10-year marriage with the celebrated expressionist painter Walter Gramatté. Set to a live score of Eckhardt-Gramatté’s solo violin works, the multimedia presentation blends movement and text to tell a heartbreaking tale of adventure, poverty, and strife.

“As a strongly female-driven theatre company, it is vital for us to honour and share the stories of innovative women artists who blazed the trails before us. Especially those whose art has been forgotten or obscured due to discrimination based on gender and class,” says Christine Quintana, Co-Artistic Director with Delinquent Theatre and co-creator of Never the Last. “Eckhardt-Gramatté’s determination, adversity, and triumph in the face of tragedy is profoundly inspiring to us. In telling her story and lauding her rarely performed — but undeniably brilliant — body of work, we are honoured to share a narrative that pushes against society’s limitations for women — especially those in leadership positions — and rejects status quo.”

Molly MacKinnon as the Creator/Violinist Photo: Christine Quintana

Created by acclaimed playwright and actor Christine Quintana and violinist Molly MacKinnon, Never the Last was conceived out of MacKinnon’s curiosity with Eckhardt-Gramatté. During her research, MacKinnon discovered that many of Eckhardt-Gramatté’s innovative and experimental works were nearly lost in her male-dominated field before her immigration to Canada in 1950. MacKinnon approached Quintana with a vision to create Never the Last and help bring this gifted female composer’s tremendous life and legacy to the forefront.

Directed by award-winning Laura McLean and choreographed by Kayla Dunbar (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Arts Club Theatre Company), Never the Last is a music / theatre hybrid expressed through Eckhardt-Gramatté’s 10 solo violin caprices — poetic expressions of her visceral and dramatic relationship with her husband, expressionist painter Gramatté.

Performed by MacKinnon, Quintana, and Anton Lipovetsky, the love story unfolds in Berlin, 1919, where violin prodigy and composer Sophie-Carmen meets Walter, a German painter and war veteran in poor health.  Sparks fly and their resulting love affair spans 10 years, four cities, and numerous artistic successes and failures, all underscored by MacKinnon performing Eckhardt-Gramatté’s violin compositions. Fusing a classical music performance, movement, and text, Never the Last is an artistic expression of the enormities of loss and the complexities of love.

Following Gramatté’s death in 1929, Eckhardt-Gramatté later remarried art historian Ferdinand Eckhardt and eventually immigrated to Winnipeg in 1953. The musician’s legacy and work is preserved through the work of the Eckhardt-Gramatté Foundation in Winnipeg which provided the background biological information, recordings and documents that helped form Never the Last.

Delinquent Theatre’s  Never the Last, runs April 9–20, 2019, as part of the SeeMore Theatre Series at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex, 823 Seymour Street. For more information visit delinquenttheatre.com

The Tashme Project: The Living Archive brings history to the present

Tonight, The Firehall Arts Centre opens an eye-opening, award-winning play The Tashme Project: The Living Archives, on stage until April 13th.         

The play Created and performed by Julie Tamiko Manning and Matt Miwa, The Tashme Project: The Living Archives traces the history and common experience of the Nisei (second generation Japanese Canadians) through childhood, internment in Canada during the Second World War, and post-war resettlement east of the Rockies. The Nisei, now in their 70s and 80s, were children at the time of internment and their stories of adventure and play are presented in sharp relief with the more common internment narratives of hardship and justice.

Created from twenty interwoven interviews with Nisei from Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, Montreal, and Vancouver. The Tashme Project: The Living Archives moves from voice to voice and story to story with fluidity and with a purposeful and constructed gracefulness. The actors portray the voices of both men and women interviewees as they seek a deep emotional and spiritual connection with the stories of their elders, breathing new life into these memories.

The Tashme Project: The Living Archives highlights the Nisei character, language, spirit and story. Bringing to light this part of Canadian history, that is often kept in the dark, is an incredibly topical reminder of cultural division in the current social and political environment.

The Tashme Project: The Living Archives plays at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St, from tonight, Tuesday, April 2 to Saturday, April 13, 2019. Tickets and information available online at firehallartscentre.ca

Gateway Theatre finds Glory

Opening April 4, at Gateway Theatre, Glory tells the incredible true story about the Preston Rivulettes women’s hockey team.

Glory pic: Barbara Zimonick

In 1933, four friends set out to prove to Canada that hockey isn’t just a sport for men. Despite the battles over ice time, the struggle to finance the team, and the endless sexism that existed in the sport, they formed the Preston Rivulettes and defied odds. Fighting through the Great Depression, prejudice, and personal upheaval, will they overcome the odds and forge their own path to glory?

Director James MacDonald directs local playwright Tracey Power’s inspirational story of the real-life Canadian championship women’s hockey team. Featuring electrifying swing dance choreography inspired by the jazz age, GLORY captures all the thrills, excitement, and tension of a great hockey game.

Glory pic: Barbara Zimonick

Gateway Theatre has a number of special events during the run of Glory; Pizza Preview Night on April 4, Tea Matinee on April 9, Talkback Thursday April 11. For patrons who don’t speak English as a first language or not regular theatregoers, Tues. April 9, 11:30am, pre-show primer, in English and Mandarin, offers an overview of GLORY and learn why hockey is a key part of Canadian culture prior to the matinee performance so you can sit back and enjoy the show. Also April 9, Theatre Club Dinner and Show combo includes dinner at Kove Kitchen plus the 8pm performance of Glory.

Glory runs April 4 – 13, 2019 at Gateway Theatre 6500 Gilbert. For more information on all events and tickets, visit gatewaytheatre.com

Jack and the Magic Bean comes to Presentation House Theatre

North Vancouver’s Presentation House Theatre and Mexico’s Marionetas de la Esquina present Jack and the Magic Bean, at Presentation House Theatre from April 11th to 28th.

Jack & the Magic Bean pic: Emiliano Leyva

In this whimsical and enlightening adaptation of the classic fairy tale, when Jacky tries to sell her beloved toys to buy food for her family and then trades them for a magic bean, she discovers something much more valuable than money — how to sustainably grow your own food and care for the land.

“This is a delightful and interactive presentation with an incredibly powerful underlying message,” saysKim Selody, Artistic Director of Presentation House Theatre and Director of Jack and the Magic Bean. “Young audiences ages three to eight are urged to accompany Jacky on her journey, helping her grow the beanstalk and climb it, and then become the bugs in the dirt to help make her garden grow. At the same time, the play tackles themes of poverty, irresponsible farming practices, and sustainability, offering a vital and urgent message — we must all learn to respect and care for the Earth for the sake of future generations.”

Jack & the Magic Bean pic: Emiliano Leyva

 Jack and the Magic Bean is a newly imagined version of the original Jessie Award-winning adaptation, written by Vancouver playwright Linda A. Carson, and co-produced by Presentation House Theatre and Mexico’s Marionetas de la Esquina, the company behind last season’s Sleeping Beauty Dreams.  Inspired by its recent international debuts in Kansas City, MO and in Mexico City — in which the play was translated into bilingual and Spanish versions — the beloved tale has been reworked in a joyful collaboration between the award-winning theatre companies.

A 55-minute interactive experience for families with children ages three to eight, Jack and the Magic Bean offers rich imagery and playful immersion, encouraging kids to not just watch Jacky’s story unfold, but to be an active part of its unfolding. Children will be captivated by the narrative’s ‘story gardener’ who needs their fertile imaginations to make the story grow; delightfully scared by the health-conscious ogre who likes to eat humans but refrains due to his indigestion; and gleefully enthusiastic to become the tiny bugs wriggling through the soil — both to escape the grasp of the mighty giant and to help teach Jacky about the process that will ultimately save her garden and help feed her family: composting.

Jack and the Magic Bean, runs from April 11th to 28th, 2019 at Presentation House Theatre, 333 Chesterfield Ave, North Vancouver. Visit phtheatre.org for show details and tickets 

Gateway Theatre brings Gross Misconduct

Next up at Gateway Theatre, comes the spring production of, Gross Misconduct, running March 14th to 23rd.

Ian Butcher as Deke photo: David Cooper

With the current global accountability, including the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Gross Misconduct, directed by Kayvon Khoshkam, brings a riveting take on the twinned experiences of revenge and redemption.  Written by Meghan Gardiner, familiar to Gateway audiences as a brilliant performer, shows she is an equally talented playwright in this world premiere of her provocative new drama.

Now in his early fifties, Deke has been in Millhaven Prison without a cellmate for the past twenty years. He is surprised and irritated when Corey, a twenty-something rich kid, joins him in his cell. With little in common, other than a shared passion for hockey, tensions emerge as the pair are forced to share a tiny space. 

As a complicated bond begins to form between these two unlikely cellmates, the ongoing threat of violence takes a new form when Corey begs Deke for protection inside the prison. The men are forced to re-evaluate how they see each other after the true nature of their respective crimes is revealed. Old patterns resurface and Deke is finally brought face-to-face with a decision that he made twenty years ago. 

Gross Misconduct plays at Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond, from March 14th to March 23rd, 2019. Tickets, showtimes and details available at gatewaytheatre.com

Circle Game : Reimagining the music of Joni Mitchell at Firehall Arts Centre

The songs of Canadian legend Joni Mitchell come to The Firehall Arts Centre in Circle Game : Reimagining the music of Joni Mitchell.

Circle Game photo: Emily Cooper

In celebration of her recent 75th birthday, the revival of Circle Game pays tribute with a couple dozen tunes rearranged and mixed from Joni Mitchell’s iconic songbook. Co-creators Andrew Cohen and Anna Kuman forgo any storyline, presenting the music in a series of vignettes built around each song, some with a bit of drama, others feature Kuman’s choreography, while others are straight ahead performances. Like the collection of songs from a decades long career, Carolyn Rapanos’ set design it a beautifully curated display of musical paraphernalia.

Circle Game photo: Emily Cooper

The six multi-talented performers; Samantha Bourque, Kimmy Choi, David Z. Cohen, Benjamin Millman, Scott Perrie and Adriana Ravali, dance, sing and perform all the instrument throughout the 2 hour show. The show takes some time to find its rhythm, but once I stopped trying to find a storyline, I was able to let go and just enjoy each song individually. Andrew Cohen’s arrangements have moments reminiscent of Godspell showtunes, a garage-band’s all out jam sessions, other times acapella, and then parts that felt like a 70’s variety show, bringing something for everyone to the stage. Circle game changes the tempo and pace on many of the classic Mitchell tunes, but some of her most recognizable classics get respectful treatment in the second act, with beautiful renditions of River, Both Sides Now, and Big Yellow Taxi to close the show and leave the audience with the memories of their memories of Joni Mitchell’s legacy.

Circle Game photo: Emily Cooper

Circle Game : Reimagining the music of Joni Mitchell plays at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St, until February 9, 2019. Visit firehallartscentre.ca for information, showtimes and tickets.

The Sun Will Come Out when Annie takes the stage

Cast of Align Entertainment’s Annie
photo: Emily Cooper

The Sun Will Come Out when Align Entertainment presents the positively perky adventures of everyone’s favourite little orphan. Annie takes the stage at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby, February 1–16, 2019.  Following the successful fall production of A Christmas Story: The Musical, Align Entertainment closes the 2018/2019 season with the story of that plucky, optimistic red-haired 11-year-old, Annie.

The Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical is set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, throwing into sharp relief the beauty of the spirited character’s hopefulness in dire times. Featuring a fresh cast of young local talent, the production is a heart-warming antidote to the long grey days of winter.

Annie is a touching and timeless musical with a strong core message that money can’t buy you happiness,” says director and co-producer Chad Matchette. “Oliver Warbucks is the richest man in the country and yet his life is unfulfilled until he meets Annie. This delightful little girl reminds us about the power of love and inspires people to hold onto their dreams against all odds.”

The original Broadway production from 1977 is based on Harold Gray’s widely read comic strip Little Orphan Annie. The 1924 comic was popular for its poignant political commentary, and subsequent adaptations maintained this feature. The story follows the adventures of Annie, who longs to find the parents who left her as a baby on the steps of a New York City orphanage. Tired of matron Miss Hannigan’s cruelty, Annie escapes into the city and befriends the abandoned but loveable mutt Sandy. Upon her return, she is selected to spend Christmas with local billionaire Oliver Warbucks. He is soon won over by her bright outlook and even introduces her to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Along the way, Annie helps inspire the New Deal, learns the truth about her parents, and finds a loving home to call her own.  

Annie played by Camryn Macdonald
photo: Emily Cooper

With a book by Thomas Meehan (The Producers, Hairspray) and lyrics by Charles Strouse (Bye Bye Birdie), Annie earned seven Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards, and brought the world the iconic songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life” and others. Align Entertainment’s production brings the musical to life with a live 12-piece orchestra under the direction of Kevin Woo and a talented ensemble of a dozen young actors, who were selected from auditions by more than 100 children. 

Several cast members will be making their Align Entertainment debut, including the bright-eyed Camryn Macdonald (Veruca in Delta Youth Theatre’s Willy Wonka Jr.) in the role of Annie and Arne Larsen (Dom Claude Frollo in Secondary Characters’ The Hunchback of Notre Dame) as Oliver Warbucks. Erin Matchette (Mrs. Schwartz in Align’s A Christmas Story) will play Miss Hannigan, and Laura Cowan (Fairy Godmother in Theatre Under the Stars’ Cinderella) will be Grace Farrell, Warbucks’ assistant who first finds Annie. Next week, Align Entertainment begins the Search for Sandy, auditions for the real dog to fill the role of Sandy the dog. If you think your pooch can fill the role, check out alignentertainment.ca for audition information.

Align Entertainment’s Annie runs February 1 – 16, 2019 at Michael J Fox Theatre, 7373 MacPherson Ave. Burnaby