Blood Brothers – Arts Club Theatre

Now playing at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage, Blood Brothers is a tale of nature vs nurture told in a musical retelling of the Alexandre Dumas tale, The Corsican Brothers.  Set initially in the working class industrial slums of 1960’s Liverpool the first act centers around single-mother of 7, Mrs Johnstone who, barely able to feed her family, works as a cleaner for the wealthy but childless, Mr & Mrs Lyons.  Finding out she is pregnant with twins, she is distraught at the prospect of two more mouths to feed, so reluctantly she agrees to secretly give one twin away to Mrs Lyons. This begins the diverse upbringing of the two boys, one in poverty, the other in privilege. However, different their circumstances they still manage to find each other and become “blood brothers” and best friends. Their live intertwine for the next 20 years until they meet a tragic and fateful demise brought about by their mothers; one in an attempt to separate them and the other to bond them.
The Willy Russell musical was first brought to the stage in London in 1983 when the poverty of 60’s and recession of the 80’s, as represented in the play, were still fresh in people’s memories. This production’s stage design well represent these eras and the cast do a valiant job of keeping their accents authentic to the region and class. Leads Terra C. MacLeod as Mrs Johnstone and John Mann (Spirit of the West) as Narrator provide  anchors to the production, each contributing strong vocals and presence when onstage, which is most of the time.  Adam Charles and Shane Snow play separated twins Eddie Lyons and Mickey Johnstone both doing capable jobs as they age from 7 to 20.  With the entire cast made up of just 12 players they almost all do double duty playing multiple parts of the ensemble.  While the staging and eras are no longer up to date the story is timeless and told in a timeless manner and provides an enjoyable evening out.

Blood Brothers runs until December 31, 2011 at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone 604.687.1644

Falling In Time – Theatre Review

Falling In Time – Performance Works Theatre

Set in Vancouver in 1994 and Korea during the Korean War years, Falling In Time tells the tale of how the war directly affected those involved in the conflict and the generations to follow.
Four actors portray an array of a diverse characters; Nelson Wong playing a young Korean immigrant as well as his predecessor, Allan Morgan playing both the young and old verision of a Korean veteran.  Manami Hara and Kevin Kraussler fill out the cast, each playing numerous characters.  Kraussler plays a pivotal role as an English teacher for Wong’s character.
The play is sentimenal, emotional and bold, it definitely doesn’t hold back on raw, gritty adult language, sexual situations and male nudity so it is not recommended for those with delicate dispositions or sensitive ears. Some of the language is charged with racial and homophobic slurs that may offend some but does need to be taken in context as it helps explain the characters psyche and stresses the generation gaps. 
Falling In Time does a good job of being thought provoking and emotional, although obvious, writer G.E. Gatchalian never clearly explains how the charcters lives are intertwined leaving it to the audience to interpret and assume. 
Leaving the theatre wanting to learn more about the Korean conflict is a good sign the play gained the interest and intrigue of the audience. 
Playing at Performance Works on Granville Island, the Screaming Weenie production of Falling In Time runs until November 12th. For tickets and information visit the website.

What’s On Weekend September 15-18, 2011

Is it the weekend already? Where did the week go?
Oh well, let’s see what’s happening?

Thursday Sept 15
next to normal– running until September 30th is the Friends For Life Society Toonie Drive. Help the society help raise funds by donating a toonie and the FFL board and staff will match it.
– continuing to Sunday is the final weekend of Vancouver Fringe Festival
– The Arts Club’s production of Next to Normal – the “feel everything” musical runs at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Friday Sept 16
– Hungry? Head out to the TRADEX in Abbotsford for EAT! Fraser Valley. Appearances by Iron Chef Rob Feenie, Food Network’s Chuck Hughes & the Original, Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr.

Saturday Sept 17
– electro-pop Junior Boys take over the Commodore Ballroom stage
– get your dancing shoes and head to Five-Sixty for MIX: An Evening of Art, Music, Video and Performance presented by Satellite Gallery and Blanket Contemporary Art Inc.

Sunday Sept 18
– Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! Everyone needs to see Devo at least once in their life. Tonight’s your chance at the Vogue Theatre

Mom’s The Word: Remixed

CALLING ALL PARENTS! This show is for you…especially mothers.

As the title suggests this is a show about and for Mom’s, although I’m sure Dad’s will definitely relate to the humour.
Mom’s the Word: Remixed tells anecdotes and skits related to the trials, tribulations and tests that mother’s have endured through the ages.  The diverse cast of five ladies share and relive their humourous, heartwarming and heartbreaking stories and along the way some share a bit more of themselves than expected.  A pendulous breast pops out and sprays a stream of breast milk during one tale and during another, we get the full-monty as one mom ‘chases’ her child across the stage.
I have enough friends and family with children to get the gist of what the stories were about however judging from the raucous laughter from the audience, I think not being a parent meant I missed some of the relate-able humour in the sketches. Nonetheless it was still a humourous well acted evening of sketches.  Highly recommended for parents.

Mom’s The Word:Remixes is playing until July 23, 2011 at the Arts Club Revue Stage on Granville Island.

Eco Fashion Week 2 – Red Jade

Designer Margarita Angelatos is one busy artist, not only is the 2008 Generation Next Award winner presenting a new Red Jade collection at Eco Fashion Week but also has a second line, Peridot Kiss.
With a mantra – Love, Laugh, Play – Red Jade highlights feminine comfortable garments right for today’s busy confident women…or very young women as demonstrated by the debut model of the show, who we took to be the designer’s young daughter, a real heartbreaker in the making.  

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August: Osage County

August: Osage County – Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage – February 8, 2011

August:Osage CountyOne hot summer meltdown (literally & figuratively) in the life of the Weston Family is portrayed in this Tony award winning play by Tracy Letts.   The story plays out over the course of a swelteringly hot summer in the American South as a large family gathers to deal with love, loss, betrayal and intrigue. Throw in a dash of drugs and drinking to this perfect recipe of dark comedic family angst.

Directed for the Arts Club Theatre Company by award winning director/actress Janet Wright (Corner Gas) this production features a large ensemble of seasoned actors who bring this family to life…larger than life at times.  The two female leads bring some truly scenery chewing moments to the stage in the, often loud, battle of wits between matriarch and eldest daughter.  A couple of the characters seemed a bit underwhelming in the shadow of the great force of the leads but overall the cast was solid throughout.  The amazing set, bringing an entire three story house on to the stage, was almost another character as the family’s sense of ‘home’ was questioned throughout the play. Without the solid set to ground the play in reality it may have slipped closer to being a farce. Instead we get to peak into this family’s dramatic unravelling and feel for the characters instead of just laughing at them…although there are many moments of dark laughter throughout the memorable 3 hour performance.

If you are able to see this play live do it now, then you have something to compare the inevitable film version.   You can very much see this play being perfect for a screen adaptation and a movie version is in development.  The latest news is Meryl Streep and Julie Roberts are due to begin filming in March 2011. Let’s wait and see!

Avenue Q – On Tour

Avenue Q : The Musical – The Centre in Vancouver – February 1, 2011

The touring production of the long running Broadway and Off-Broadway hit has made its way to Vancouver for 6 shows only.  Opening tonight and running until Saturday February 5th (playing nightly plus matinee on Saturday) I highly recommend checking it out.

Set in a New York City where puppets and people live together in perfect harmony…ok, so at times not so harmoniously…in an apartment building on Avenue Q.  The tenants cover all walks of life; humans Brian and his Japanese fiancée Christmas Eve, Kate Monster (a puppet), Roommate puppets Rod & Nicky, Trekkie Monster (a bit of a reclusive porn addict) and newcomer Princeton (a fresh-faced college graduate puppet).  Watching over the tenants is Superintendent Gary Coleman, of Different Strokes child actor fame.  This character was presumably intended to mock the plight of the child star but since his passing has become more of homage.

Hilarious music and lyrics along with some ‘full puppet nudity’ lift this musical about real-life situations into an extraordinary fun filled two hours. You’ll never look at puppets the same way again!

Although this opening night production had a couple of small technical glitches it’s still very worth seeing…try to catch this unique musical before it’s gone.  Look for tickets from The Centre In Vancouver online.