Picks of the Week – May 8, 2019

May is heating up, not just outside but on the Vancouver entertainment scene, find out what’s hot in these picks of the week

Anniversary: Tonight, Passion Pit takes to the Commodore Ballroom on tour in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of their debut album


Improv: Vancouver Theatresports celebrates Moms everywhere with its ‘mother of all Mother’s Day shows’ – MOM=WOW – a special, one-performance-only, Mom-themed show on Sunday at 4:00pm. As well,  Throne and Games – The Last Laugh continues to slay audiences with laughs.

Dance: Ballet BC, Program 3, wraps up its season with a trio of pieces performed at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings.

Jazz: Saturday, Surrey City Orchestra plays Jazz & Strings, an evening of jazz and movie music, featuring the Miles Black Trio – Miles Black (piano), Jodi Proznick (Bass), Jesse Cahill (drums) and special guest, singer Julia Copeman-Haynes

Ballers:The Great Leap explores a 1989 exhibition basketball game in Beijing at The Arts Club BMO Theatre Centre until May 19th.

Party: After a 4 year break The Tea Party are back with new music and taking to the stage for two shows at the Commodore Ballroom, Thursday and Friday

Bizet: Thursday at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC, Carmen in New York, presented by the 45th Avenue Jazz Band, is a novel arrangement of Georges Bizet’s Carmen Suite for Jazz Orchestra.

Film:DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Western Canada’s largest documentary Film Festival, returns to Vancouver for the 18th annual festival May 2nd through May 12th in cinemas around town.

Gallery: Friday night Vancouver Art Gallery FUSE : Gestures comes alive after hours with art, music, performances, artists bars throughout the gallery

Reconcile This by Krystle Coughlin at Bill Reid Gallery

Water: Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in downtown Vancouver presents the new exhibit, qa? y?xw – water honours us: Womxn and Waterways until October 2, 2019

Piano: Saturday night, award winning British singer-songwriter Tom Odell stops at the Commodore Ballroom in support of his third album

Choir: SummerSing! is the Vancouver Bach Choirs’ season finale, bringing together all eight choirs joining in song to celebrate the operatic tradition in an Operamania themed program at the Chan Centre, Saturday

Edward Bond’s The Sea

Jericho: Edward Bond’s The Sea, comes ashore at the Jericho Arts Centre, presented by The Slamming Door Artist Collective, from May 2nd to 19th.

Rock: Abbotsford Centre welcomes the 10th Anniversary tour of the 5 time Tony Award-winning Rock Of Ages for one night only on May 11th

Rock Of Ages at Arts Club Theatre

She’s just a small town girl, living in a lonely world and he’s just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit.  Sound familiar? If Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing brings back fond memories for you, you’re going to get along just fine with Rock Of Ages.

Now playing at The Arts Club Granville Island Stage, Rock Of Ages is a completely absurd jukebox musical filled with every bit of 80s nostalgia they could pack into 2 hours. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, the narrator, Lonny, opens the show by setting the scene on the Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip in the mid-late 80s.  Along with the required boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl of every classic John Hughes-esque story, we are then treated to a non-stop stream of 80s power ballads and rock anthems.  The music is definitely the star of the musical as the tracks are applied to tell the story, or in some cases the story is built to fit the song.  In the effort to pack as much in as possible the duelling tunes occasionally overwhelm each other, but you’ll still find yourself singing along. Rock Of Ages makes overlooking little foibles easier as it knows you’re here for a good time, not a long time (although Trooper’s song isn’t part of the songbook) and treats the audience like part of the show.
The performers are all strong but at times the audio let them down with some feedback from so many voices on the small stage.  Making his Arts Club debut, Brett Harris’ Lonny is an over-the-top character, part ringleader and part court jester. The rapport and chemistry between Lonny and Bar Owner Dennis Dupris, played by Kieran Martin, makes for many memorable moments. Romantic leads Sherrie, played by Marlie Collins and Kale Penny’s Drew are both great voices but didn’t quite hit the chemistry to ignite a fire.  For those of us who lived through this era, extra laughs come from the 80s references, language and costumes. Though some of the 80s wigs, especially mile-high Drew’s mullet and oddly un-80s loose trousers were at first distracting and kept me from really buying into the character.
While it’s not perfect, Rock Of Ages is a foolish, good time and a good chance to let your hair down.  Some in the audiences join in the theme with their own outfits and hairstyles. Breaking the fourth wall allows Rock Of Ages to keep an awareness of its ridiculousness making it easier to forgive its flaws as you let yourself drift off in the memory of the nostalgic soundtrack and simple story. Sing-along and enjoy!

The Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Rock of Ages runs through July 30th at the Granville Island Stage


Rdio New Release Tuesday – June 3rd, 2012

Rdio, (pronounced ar-dee-o) is a new way to play, share and discover music, from the creators of Skype. Rdio allows users to build a digital music collection that’s available wherever you are – on the web and your phone, even offline. Find new music through friends, bands, or people with similar taste and play any of over 15 million songs as much as you want.

Each Tuesday Rdio adds new releases to the line-up, ensuring the library is continuously growing and evolving.

Here is a selection of this weeks new releases:
Various Artists – Rock Of Ages: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Americana
The Hives – Lex Hives
Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events
Paul Simon – Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition
The Cult – Choice Of Weapons (Deluxe)
Alan Jackson – Thirty Miles West
Liars – WIXIW
The Melvins – Freak Puke
The Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made The Radio

Check out Rdio for yourself sign-up for a 7 Day Free Trial.


Rock Of Ages – Broadway Across Canada

Last night the audience at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts experienced some time travel as they were transported back to a time when hair was huge, pants were skin tight, shoulder pads were wide and the music was glam! The late 1980’s is the era and LA’s famous Sunset Strip is the setting for Rock Of Ages, a classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl story.  The tale evolves to the power rock classics of the late 80’s like, Poison, Twisted Sister, Starship, Pat Benatar, Europe and Journey.
As narrated (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) by Lonny (Justin Colombo), the story centers on Drew (Dominique Scott) a bar-back at “The Bourbon Room” who helps fresh-of-the-bus, wannabe actress Sherrie (Shannon Mullen) get a job. Then throw in an aging, druggie bar owner, a soon to be washed up and often shirt-less rock-god, alongside an antagonistic German developer, a Berkley hippie, an assortment of scantily clad waitresses and strippers and the requisite bawdy big voiced diva to complete the paint-by-numbers characters.  While the simple book by Chris D’Arienzo, will never be compared to Shakespeare it’s told with camp conviction, the limited dialogue serving as a bridge between the vast array of retro-tastic power ballads.  The kids of the 80’s in the audience ate up the healthy doses of sugary sweetness. The second act ups the camp factor even more as the pieces of the story are put together according to Lonny’s “Musicals for Dummies” handbook. With narrator Lonny continually breaking the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience, it allowed the crowd to feel part of the show and therefore treated it more like a rock concert versus a theatrical performance, cheering and shouting back to the performers. Foregoing a traditional orchestra in the pit, Rock Of Ages incorporates the band into the show by having the Bourbon Room’s house band, Arsenal, playing the musicals orchestrations.
While the far from traditional musical won’t be for everyone but for those who grew up with the music and era, it’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Judging by the groups of 80’s kids, especially ladies, around us having a great time, singing along, cheering and dancing in their seats, Rock Of Ages is highly recommended for a fun night out.

Broadway Across Canada’s Rock Of Ages plays at The Centre In Vancouver For Performing Arts until Sunday May 13th, visit Ticketmaster for ticket availability.