Vancouver Opera La Bohème celebrates Valentine’s

Vancouver Opera celebrated St Valentine’s Day with the opening of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

La Bohème photo: Tim Matheson
Ji-Min Park as Rodolfo & France Bellemare as Mimi photo: Tim Matheson

The lush production impresses from the first moment as the curtain rises on Marché aux Puces, Paris’ largest flea market. As tourists explore the stalls, one imagines how the market was in the 1920s. As she and the audience are transported back to the age of The Lost Generation, we are introduced to a group of carefree but impoverished artists. Poet Rodolfo (Ji-Min Park) and Painter Marcello (Phillip Addis) live in a drafty attic room and can barely keep themselves warm let alone fed. Friends Colline and Schaunard help out but life is a struggle for all of them. Rodolfo meets and falls deeply for Mimi (France Bellemare) and Marcello rekindles feelings with Musetta (Sharleen Joynt). Like a classic tragedy we’re treated to the ups and downs of the friends’ lives, centred on Rodolfo’s doomed love of the terminally ill Mimi.

Phillip Addis as Marcello & Ji-Min Park as Rodolfo photo: Tim Matheson

This production of La Bohème was Ji-Min Park 100th turn singing the part of Rodolfo. For a young singer, Ji-Min Park has experience and skills that belie his age, his comfort with the material projected in his powerful performance. In France Bellemare, Park finds an easy chemistry and a beautiful pairing of voices. Playing a star singer within the show, Sharleen Joynt’s Musetta grabs the spotlight as she enters the stage. Everyone in the production fills the theatre with brilliant vocals. The stage is also filled on many occasions during the as performers from Vancouver Opera Chorus join some scenes bringing 50+ players to the stage.

Sharleen Joynt as Musetta photo: Tim Matheson

Directed by Renaud Doucet with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra conducted by Judith Yan, from start to finish, La Bohème’s sound, staging, sets, costumes and performers are polished to perfection. Even without knowing Italian (there are English Surtitles) the show is filled with emotion and passion.

Vancouver Opera presents La Bohème continues at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, February 16, 19, 21 and 24, 2019. For more information, showtimes and tickets visit vancouveropera.ca/boheme

Che Malambo Stomps Across The Stage

Like a troupe of gauchos storming the Pampas of Argentina, Che Malambo burst onto the stage at Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver.  A breathtaking 90 minute spectacle of thundering South American rhythms and music.

Presented by Caravan World Rhythms, Che Malambo brings the spirit of the gaucho (South American cowboys) signature step dance styles, Malambo and Zapateo, to the stage.  Two dozen feet moving as one, the dancers opened the show with a rousing number that matched their feet with beats of the drums.  Choreographed and developed by renowned dancer and choreographer Gilles Barnes the non-stop action that followed was simply breathtaking, from stripped-down barefoot dances, to full-throttle, boot-stomping body percussion dance battles. The dancers performed their own music, either by accompanying the dance with guitar and drums, using body percussion, or matching their steps with the beats of illuminated bolas on the stage.  Midway, the audience was treated to another talent as the dancers sang a set of Argentine folks songs, drawing the audience into the fold to clap along to the rhythms.

We were on the edge of our seats and there were many spontaneous whoots and cheers from the audience throughout the 90 minute performance. Inspired by their lightening quick footwork, the audience leapt to their feet to deliver a long standing ovation to see Che Malambo off-stage.

Caravan World Rhythms has more performances from around the world this year. Fiesta MexiColmbiana brings three Latin American acts to the Wise Hall, May 26, Noreum Machi from Korea is at Norman Rothstein Theatre in July to name just a couple, visit caravanbc.com for more.

Che Malambo coming to Vancouver April 11

Photo: Diane Smithers

Next week, Caravan World Rhythms brings world class dance troupe Che Malambo to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Combining the lightning-fast footwork of Irish dancing with the heat and passion of flamenco and tango, Che Malambo takes the  Vancouver stage April 11th with a new program that promises to thrill audiences with pulsating rhythms, magnetic physicality, and a delicious hint of danger.

Photo: Diane Smithers

“It’s hard to fully comprehend the pride, panache, and raw power of the South American gaucho tradition until you have encountered an ensemble like Che Malambo,” said Robert Benaroya, Managing Artistic Director of Caravan World Rhythms. “At their 2015 Vancouver premiere, audiences were mesmerized by the artists’ charisma and ferocity. We were overwhelmed and thrilled by the demand to bring back their expert drumming, fiery dancing, and exhilarating dueling. We can’t wait for Che Malambo’s triumphant return!”

Celebrated for their strength, sensuality, and speed, Che Malambo’s 14 dancers display their hypnotic rhythms and technical prowess with humour and confidence. Night after night, they create an edge-of-the-seat experience showcasing the inherent precision in every member of this highly skilled ensemble.

Founded by renowned French dancer and choreographer Gilles Brinas, Che Malambo has been delighting audiences around the world since 2007. Captivated by the South American gaucho tradition, Brinas’ interest took him to the Pampas region of Argentina to study the signature gaucho dance style, Malambo. Originally a form of competitive duel between 17th century gauchos, Malambo evolved to include zapateo.

The zapateo style is characterized by its breakneck footwork inspired by the galloping of horse hooves. Its rhythms are drawn from the traditional Argentine bombos, and its bravado is summoned with the same boldness as the gaucho tossing its whirling boleadoras (percussive lasso). Inspired by the theatrical dynamism of this art form, Brinas created Che Malambo to share it with the world.

Experience the electrifying thrills of Che Malambo in person when the troupe takes the stage at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, April 11th. Tickets available from Tickets Tonight

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 

JFL Northwest Inaugural Festival Announced

Wanda Sykes_publicity imageThis week, JFL NorthWest announced the lineup of comedians who will be in town for its inaugural festival.  Hilarity will fill the city from Thursday, February 18 to Saturday, February 27, 2016 in venues all around Vancouver.

Some of the big names in stand-up comedy, many tv mainstays, bringing the laughs to the stage are;

Trevor Noah, Wanda Sykes, Lewis Black, Miranda Sings, Jeremy Hotz, Janeane Garofalo plus many more.

In addition to the big names, JFL Northwest plans to highlight local comedy talent in their “Best of the West Series” which will see Vancouver faves like; Instagraham, Hip.Bang, 10 Speed, The Hero Show, The Ryan And Amy Show, Teenage Dirtbag and more, featured throughout the fest.

Trevor Noah_publicity image2The big ticket fun-stivities get going with “The Daily Show” host, Trevor Noah on stage at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on February 19th, 2016, Wanda Sykes on February 24th, and Lewis Black is at Hard Rock Casino on February 28th. Tickets will be on sale tomorrow, watch jflnorthwest.com for more details

Primal Scream and The Cult rock Vancouver

Primal Scream / The Cult – Queen Elizabeth Theatre – November 15, 2015

Primal Scream and The Cult rolled through Vancouver on their West Coast co-headlining tour.  The British acts both attracted a solid crowd to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre to hear them recount their 3 decades of music.
Primal Scream were up first for the early arrivals, bounding on stage with their mix of indie-pop, alt-rock.  Followed by the harder sounds of The Cult. Both bands sounded tight, as you’d expect of groups with this much experience under their belts.  Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie and The Cult’s Ian Astbury voices gave a hint to the years of singing (and possibly some audio issues with their mics) but still sounded good as they energetically worked the stage.

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Primal Scream

 

Giving a slightly ‘Mick Jagger-esque’ but fairly quiet presence on stage Gillespie worked hard to fill the room with energy as the audience started to fill the venue, drawing more of the fans lingering in the lobby.  The band’s set showcased the range of musical styles they’ve experimented with since their early-80s start.

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The Cult

Astbury’s stage presence was a slightly more erratic state. Seemingly distracted with fixing his setlists and other things underfoot,  his random chatter ranged from an introduction in French to political musings to sarcastic outbursts.  Co-songwriter Billy Duffy solidly kept the bands’ sound moving throughout the set filled with The Cult classics and new music from their upcoming Hidden City album, the newer tracks suiting Astbury’s mature vocals and revealing the duo’s continued skill and keeping their audience onside.

The enthusiasm amongst the fans of both acts kept the atmosphere in the theatre boisterous as a core groups of fans gave back solid spirit, singing and cheering their onstage memories of youth.

5th Annual Vancouver Christmas Market

VanChristmasMarketNow celebrating its 5th year, The Vancouver Christmas Market has become a holiday tradition for Vancouverites.  Once again the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza will be filled with traditional European wooden huts from November 22nd to December 24th, 2014. With a total of over 50 unique vendors, including 14 new huts and 17 different food choices, more than ever before, visitors of all ages will find the festive spirit at the Christmas Market.

Parents are encouraged to bring their kids along, so they can decorate their own gingerbread; take pictures with Vancouver Christmas Market mascots, Holly and Jolly; and try their hand at crafting their own Herrnhuter star. While sipping on your Glühwein be entertained by the cultural entertainment like the annual X-Mas Factor Singing Competition, carolers and of course Vancouver’s only Christmas Carousel.

VanChristmasMarketThe 2014 Vancouver Christmas Market runs November 22nd to December 24th, open from 11am to 9pm daily (except Dec 24th until 6pm).
Admission*:          
Adults (13+): $4 Special! Mon-Fri 11am-4pm / $7 – Mon-Fri 4pm-9pm & Weekends 11am-9pm
Seniors (60+): $1 off regular admission
Youth (7-12): $3
Child (0-6): FREE
Carousel Rides: Admission plus $3 per ticket; $10 per package of 5 tickets

*Admission Bonus: For the price of any paid admission, visitors receive a Season’s Pass to enjoy the Vancouver Christmas Market over and over during the 33-day event. Also, visit from 11 am to 2pm on weekdays and enjoy 2-for-1 lunch admission to help make your lunchtime spirits bright.

For tickets and information visit vancouverchristmasmarket.com and follow @VanChristmas on Twitter & Instagram or Vancouver Christmas Market on Facebook to see the festive fun.