There’s more than just Shakespeare at Bard on the Beach

Last night Chor Leoni’s Mane Event at Bard on the Beach filled the mainstage tent with the sounds of music.

The perfect way to wrap up the Canada Day weekend, the Lions brought to stage a varied selection of songs including a taste of Canadiana including iconic hits by Tragically Hip,  Ian & Sylvia Tyson along with Quebecois and Maritime folk faves and the touching Gimikwenden Ina from the Indigenous musical Children of God. In the second act, the men of Chor Leoni really let loose and ramp up the fun with the pop and Broadway hits.  Rob McAllister’s colourful costumes add to the comedic flare pop and Broadway hits.  Even Bollywood makes a showing too, really highlighting Ariana Barer’s choreography. Meghan Trainor’s Me Too, a Lady Gaga/Madonna mash-up Born To Express Yourself This Way, and Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling brings out the Trolls (not the internet type), to wrap up the feel good show.

This year’s Mane Event was the 25th and final Chor Leoni show at Bard on the Beach but it is just one of the many special events Bard on the Beach hosts each summer.  In addition to the plays in repertoire; Macbeth, As You Like It, Timon of Athens & Lysistrata, this year also features;

Bard-B-Q & Fireworks July 28, August 1 & 4 | 5:30pm & 6pm*
See As You Like It or Timon of Athens* followed by a salmon barbecue from Emelle’s Catering. Visit the PIXSTAR Photobooth, take in the award-winning Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band and more, before enjoying a private view of the spectacular Celebration of Light fireworks.

 Family Nights July 24 & August 21 | 6pm
A perfect night for the whole family! Geared for ages 6 and up, this special evening is filled with family-friendly activities. Arrive at the Village early for the PIXSTAR Photobooth, face painting, food truck, an exclusive pre-show talk designed just for kids and more. Then enjoy a performance of the Bard/Beatles musical-comedy mash-up As You Like It. 

Operas & Arias: Bold and Beautiful August 27 & September 3 | 2pm & 7:30pm (both days)
Join the UBC Opera Ensemble and members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra for a costumed concert performance. Drawn from a set of best-loved operas, the programme will include favourite selections from La TraviataLa BohèmeDie Fledermausand more. Bard Artistic Director Christopher Gaze hosts all performances, presented on the BMO Mainstage. 

For more information on these and all the other special events, education and speakers at Bard On The Beach visit bardonthebeach.org/special-events

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Chor Leoni brings Mane Event to the tents at Bard

As Bard On The Beach gets underway, Chor Leoni is also readying for its 25th, and final, season performing under the tents at Vanier Park with a new show Mane Event

Chor Leoni Memories of Bard

Mane Event blends the old with the new, folk songs with Broadway, and funk with power ballads in a program guaranteed to thrill you.  At their very first Bard performance, in 1993, the men’s choir premiered a mash-up arrangement by Miles Ramsay that merged Cole Porter’s So In Love with Leonard Bernstein’s Tonight from Westside Story.  For their 25th anniversary this beloved gem returns, along with other favourites culled from their repertoire from years past, including The Impossible Dream, Canadiana MedleyInto the West, and the tongue-twisting Trinque L’amourette. The production isn’t just about looking back at their past, it will include new arrangements including Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes, Try Everything (sung by Shakira in Zootopia), and a high-energy Lady Gaga/Madonna mash up.

Mane Event is the choir’s opportunity to shake out their manes for their 25th and final production at Vancouver’s favourite summer venue. Expect familiar tunes, mind-boggling choreography, over-the-top costumes, and a crackerjack band as the lions close out their season with a wink and a roar.  Add in amazing choreography, fantastic costumes, and a crackerjack band led by Ken Cormier and it’s clear this more than just a concert. 

Chor Leoni Men’s Choir (“choir of lions”) is recognized as one of North America’s premiere ensembles and performs to over 15,000 patrons each year. A local treasure, the choir has been voted Best Local Classical Vocal Ensemble four years in a row by the Georgia Straight readership, and Best Choir in the WestEnder’s Best of City 2017 poll.

MANE EVENT takes place Monday June 25,  and Monday July 2 at 3pm and 8pm in the BMO Mainstage Tent at Bard on the Beach, Vanier Park. Tickets start at $30 online at chorleoni.org

2018 PNE Summer Night Concerts

Once again, each night at 8:30pm the Pacific National Exhibition will come alive with the sounds of music, and this morning is your chance to get tickets to the summer’s best entertainment value, the 2018 PNE Summer Night Concerts series.

Pop, rock, country, disco, soul and R&B all come to the PNE Amphitheatre stage throughout the 15 Summer Night Concerts.  You can take it way back with the likes of Kool & the Gang, Wilson Phillips or Air Supply.  Feel like a kid again with I Love The 90s or Lost 80s ensemble nights. Then rock out with Goo Goo Dolls and Marianas Trench.

The 2018 Summer Night Concerts are included free with admission but be aware that seating is first come-first seated so you’ll want to make sure you arrive early.  Beer Gardens around the PNE also show the concerts on big screens so you can still enjoy the shows even if the Amphitheatre is already at capacity.  If you don’t want to wait, limited reserved seating is available from $25 + admission.  Reserved seats go on sale today, May 25, 2018 at 10am.
In addition you can gather your friends and family to reserve a private party suites  that cater to groups of 12 or 14 including the private suite, gate passes, concert tickets, food & beverage service, plus parking passes.

The 2018 Summer Night Concerts are:

August 18 – Boyz II Men
August 19 – Air Supply
August 21 – Dean Brody
August 22 – Goo Goo Dolls
August 23 – I Love the 90’s ft: Salt-N-Pepa with Spinderella, All-4-One, Color Me Bad, and Young MC
August 24 – Wilson Phillips
August 25 – Marianas Trench
August 26 – Lost 80’s Live ft: A Flock Of Seagulls, Men Without Hats, Wang Chung, Farrington & Mann (from When in Rome UK), Animotion, and Nu Shooz
August 28 – 112 ft; Slim
August 29 – Kool & the Gang
August 30 – Jan Arden
August 31 – Burton Cummings and Band
September 1 – Chicago
September 2 – Village People
September 3 – Cyndi Lauper

Get your tickets online at PNE now.

Say I Do to Mamma Mia at Arts Club

MammaMiaFrom the opening notes of the overture to the final sing-along curtain call, Mamma Mia now play at The Arts Club Theatre Company Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, will have you dancing in your seat.

The feel-good jukebox musical inspired by the hit music of Abba is composed by Abba’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and written by Catherine Johnson with this production directed and choreographed by Valerie Easton.  Set Designer David Roberts’ beautiful set transports the audience to the beaches and tavernas on the fictional Greek Island of Kalokairi.

Mamma Mia opens as Sophie Sheridan (Michelle Bardach) prepares for her wedding to fiancé Sky.  Raised by single mother, innkeeper, Donna, Sophie seeks to know who her father is and discovering her mom’s diary she discovers three possible fathers.  Inviting all three, Sam, Bill and Harry, to her wedding unbeknownst to Donna, with none of them, other than Sophie, really sure why they are all on the island, all sorts of miscommunication comedy ensues.  Donna is supported by her two long time girlfriends and former girl-group bandmates, Rosie and Tanya.

Throughout the 2 hour musical the story of love, female empowerment, and friendship is perfectly woven into the familiar Abba songs.  Amongst the solid storytelling, some numbers are just for the sheer fun of it, enter Donna and the Dynamos who’s camp costumes takes the audience back to the heyday of the Swedish quartet.  The Dynamos, Rosie and Tanya, are played with just the right blend of slapstick and camp by Cathy Wilmot and Irene Karas Loeper (respectively), while Stephanie Roth brings a perfect balance of power and emotion to Donna’s vocals.  With Ms Bardach vocally matching Roth’s, the two leading ladies anchor Mamma Mia with the grace and strength.  Among the male leads Michael Torontow as Sam, stands out with a strong voice and leading man charisma.  Local theatre veterans, Warren Kimmel as Aussie Bill and Jay Hindle as Harry, while not carrying as much of a musical load, bring a nice blend of comedy and fatherly friendship to their roles, in spite of Hindle’s distractingly wavering British accent.

While there appeared to be a couple prop and wardrobe slips on opening night, not surprising in such a physically challenging song and dance production, the veteran cast improvised their recovery with seamless ease.  The overall spirit of Mamma Mia and the joyous Abba music is sure to win over even the hardest demeanour with smiles and laughs throughout the show, especially during the rousing encore as the company (and many audience members) reprise Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen and Waterloo.

Mamma Mia plays at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre until August 12th, with special sing-along performances on July 28th. Visit artsclub.com for showtimes and tickets.

The Fratellis kicked off North American Tour

The Fratellis – Commodore Ballroom – April 26, 2018

Scottish act, The Fratellis flew into Vancouver to kick off their North American tour supporting their latest release, In Your Own Sweet Time. The fifth full length album by the Fratelli trio, brings an alt-country sound to the stage with a relaxed twang mixed with a Scottish burr.

The Commodore Ballroom was filled with a mix of fans from near and far as the opening act, Brighton’s Blood Red Shoes, warmed up the room.  The headliners made their way to the stage the audience was ready to hang on their every note.   Most Vancouver Canucks fans may have a distaste for the Scottish act responsible for the dreaded Chicago Blackhawks goal song, but they’re music is much more than the pop/punk sound of Chelsea Dagger, taken from their first release.

Jon Fratelli

Not ones for a lot of chatter, other than the odd greeting from lead singer/guitar Jon Fratelli, and a laugh at their jetleg caused gaffs.  The band lets the music speak for them, plugging away with song after song from their five albums, for the 90 minute set.  The Commodore fans were left satisfied with the return of The Fratellis and their first taste of what audiences around North America will experience in the month to come.

The Fratellis In Your Own Sweet Time Tour continues with dates around Canada and the US until wrapping May 22nd in Atlanta.

Take 6 In Concert at Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Take 6
photo: John Shyloski

An otherwise dreary Vancouver Friday night was brightened by the sweet sounds of the renowned a cappella group, Take 6.  The award winning sextet made their Vancouver debut at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre before a mostly full house.  Presented by Chor Leoni as part of their VanMan Male Choral Summit the audience included a number of fellow singers who seemed right at home singing along with Take 6.

With their twelfth studio album, Iconic, coming out this spring, the vocalists call upon their 30+ years of making music to fill the theatre with only the sounds of their voices.  Taking songs from all genres into their repertoire, the audience was treated to 90 minutes of gospel, jazz, pop, R&B and soul.  Ben E. King’s Stand By Me, The Beatles’ Got To Get You Into My Life, Pharrel’s Happy to name just a few of the most familiar tunes.

Founding member Claude Mcknight – elder brother to the famed solo artist Brian Mcknight, along with fellow artists Alvin Chea, Khristian Dentley, Joey Kibble, Mark Kibble, David Thomas are the most award recognized a cappella group in history; multiple GRAMMY, DOVE and Soul Train Music awards, Top Ten lists aplenty and a 2014 induction into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.

Their affable stage presence and camaraderie with each other and the audience made the show a more than enjoyable evening of music and interaction.  If you have a chance to see Take 6 in person, I strongly recommend you take the opportunity.

Take 6 is opening Chor Leoni VanMan Choral Summit

Take 6
photo: John Shyloski

Chor Leoni 4th Annual VanMan Male Choral Summit opens with a the Vancouver debut of Take 6.  The award-winning a cappella group performs this Friday April 6, 2018 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Part of the weekend long VanMan Male Choral events at the Queen E and Chan Centre, audiences are invited to experience the rich jazz, gospel, pop, and R&B, sounds of this all-male sextet.

“Coming off their 25th anniversary world tour, Take 6 is simply the gold standard of a cappella singing,” says Chor Leoni’s Artistic Director Erick Lichte. “I wanted to bring to our festival a group who could move effortlessly between pop, jazz and gospel music. I also felt it was important to celebrate a cappella singing from a totally different tradition and culture than what we hear with most Vancouver choirs. We can’t wait to introduce local choral-lovers to these internationally-renowned, vocal heavyweights!”

Since they began in Huntsville, Alabama in 1980, Take 6 has won the hearts of fans and critics at venues across the globe, racking up a staggering 10 GRAMMY’s, 10 Dove Awards (Gospel Music Awards), Best Jazz Vocal Group honours for seven consecutive years in Downbeat’s Reader’s and Critic’s Poll, a Soul Train Music Award, and many other prestigious recognitions. In 2014, the illustrious crooners were inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.

Touring in support of the Spring 2018 release of ICONIC, the multi-platinum selling group’s 12th studio album, audiences can expect to hear classic ballads such as Ben E. King’s Stand by Me, chart-topping hits like Pharrell’s Happy, or jazz standards like, Nat King Cole’s Straighten Up and Fly Right, Take 6 are known to “bring the house down”, famously praised by inimitable producer Quincy Jones as the “baddest vocal cats on the planet!”

Take 6 play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Friday April 6th as part of Chor Leoni’s VanMan Male Choral Summit. Tickets, from $70 to $10 (Student Rush) are on sale online at Chor Leoni