Picks of the Week – December 12, 2018

With just days left in 2018, let’s be sure to fill the last weeks with plenty of entertainment picks

Life: Look in on the life of George Bailey as Gateway Theatre presents It’s a Wonderful Life, a new musical adaptation featuring tunes from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, running until December 31st

Pride: Catch the follow up to Pride & Prejudice with Miss Bennet : Christmas at Pemberley at The Arts Club Granville Stage until December 30

Date: Until December 30, spend your date night watching Blind Date at The Arts Club Goldcorp Stage, each night is a unique show as a new audience member is the date in each show.

Craig Erickson as The Wicked Witch of the West
East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz
photo: Emily Cooper

Wiz: Take off to see the Wizard as The Cultch and Theatre Replacement present East Van Panto: The Wizard of Oz at the York Theatre until January 6th.

Shopping: Find those fine handmade finds for your holiday gift shopping (or for yourself) at the Make-It! The Handmade Revolution Holiday Show  Christmas Craft Market happening at PNE Forum this week.

Choir: Making Spirits Bright  with The Vancouver Men’s Chorus’ annual holiday music spectacular at St Paul’s Anglican Church in the West End tonight, Thursday and Friday

Drama: Seven Tyrants Theatre presents John Patrick Stanley’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama Doubt : A Parable closing this Friday, December 14

Improv: Vancouver Theatresports presents Merry Kiss-mas – an improvised holiday comedy, parodying all the inane clichés and funny, awkward moments you’d expect to see in a holiday TV special or film at Improv Centre until Christmas Eve

Ladies Dancing at Burnaby Village

Lights: Light up your nights by visiting some of the Festival light displays around the city like; Bright Nights, Van Dusen Festival Of Lights, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Canyon Lights, Glow Langley, Christmas at Canada Place and many more

Puppet: You’re in for some madcap marionette merriment as Ronnie Burkett’s Daisy Theatre presents Little Dickens, a take on the beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, at The Cultch Historic Theatre until December 22nd.

Pageant: Havana Theatre on Commercial Drive is the location of the Best Christmas Pageant Ever...or is it? Find out yourself until December 16th

Celtic: Find holiday cheer with celtic ensemble, Winter Harp, Wednesday and Thursday at BlueShore Financial Performing Arts Centre, Capilano University,
December 15th at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver, and
December 16th & 17th at The ACT Arts Centre, Maple Ridge

Maureen Washington with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir

Noise: Spread the cheer a Good Tidings with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir, on December 14-15, 2018 at Christ Church Cathedral and again on
December 17, 2018 at St John’s Shaughnessy

Mumbai: The acclaimed play Bombay Black, by Anosh Irani, features a poetic text, bold theatrical imagery and a gritty twist.  returns to Vancouver with a run at The Firehall Arts Centre until Saturday.

Belle:  Join your favourite characters as a tale as old as time, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, returns to the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage,  until January 6, 2019

Market:  The Vancouver Christmas Market celebrates its 9th year as it returns to Jack Poole Plaza, with dozens of food sellers and shopping vendors, until December 24, 2018

Festival: Aurora Winter Festival, Canada’s Largest Winter Festival, brings a a skating rink, a tube park, light displays, Christmas Market, amusement rides, food gardens, and many more activities to Concord Pacific Place November 23 – December 30

Lions: Join the lions of Chor Leoni as they perform their annual Christmas with Chor Leoni concert at December 14th, 16th, 17th at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Vancouver and on December 15th at West Vancouver United Church, West Vancouver

Ice: The Vancouver Canucks take to the ice twice this weekend, hosting Philadelphia on Saturday and Edmonton on Sunday

The Full Light Of Day is coming

Even though we’re still in the peak of the holiday entertainment season, we’re taking a look ahead at what’s to come in the new year. Coming in January, Electric Company Theatre, in association with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, presents the world premiere of a provocative new work, The Full Light of Day, at the Vancouver Playhouse.

The Full Light Of Day
photo: Don Lee

The new work from Siminovitch prize-winning playwright Daniel Brooks, is directed by Kim Collier. The Full Light of Day is a suspenseful and compelling hybrid of theatre and film in which a terminally ill woman confronts the choices that brought her family privilege; and then, takes a risk to secure their ultimate redemption. Utilizing 14 live-streaming cameras, state-of-the-art projections and film, The Full Light of Day immerses audiences in rich cinematic cityscapes, intimate inner lives, and invites them to reimagine the limitations of live theatre.

“Other than the weather, real estate may well be our country’s most frequently discussed topic. In this work, we dive deeper – and consider the consequences of a society grown obsessed with property and possession,” says Director Kim Collier, who, like playwright Brooks, is also a winner of theatre’s highest honour, the Siminovitch Prize. “Consequently, it raises questions about the very nature of land ownership. How can we own land? Land owns us. It is us. Paradoxically, by using live-streaming cameras and an enormous array of projection technologies, audiences will be able to feel an innately rich and intimate connection to our characters’ inner lives and truly experience that pang of self-recognition in the stories reflected onstage.”

The Full Light Of Day
photo: Don Lee

Complementing the stage production, Electric Company Theatre Co-Founder Kevin Kerr has created a collection of short films shot in 360° Virtual Reality. The works can be viewed separately from the theatre production or experienced at special installations located throughout the Vancouver Playhouse lobby. These films are told from the perspectives of individual characters, placing the viewer inside their actions and perceptions. The films will be available to the public for free viewing in the Playhouse lobby during the afternoons prior to performances of The Full Light of Day.

The Full Light of Day runs January 7 – 12, 2019 at The Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton Street. For showtimes and tickets visit electriccompanytheatre.com

Bombay Black returns to the Vancouver stage

In a change from the festive fair on most stages around town, next week The Firehall Arts Centre presents Bombay Black.  

Running December 5 to December 15, 2018, the play by the award-winning novelist and playwright Anosh Irani was heaped with praise during its 2017 production at Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Bombay Black : Arshdeep Purba
Photo: Raymond Kam

Bombay Black is set in the bitter reality of present-day India. The iron-willed Padma (Jessie Award nominee Nimet Kanji) takes money from men who watch her daughter, Apsara (rising star Arshdeep Purba), perform an exotic dance. When a mysterious blind man named Kamal (Jessie Award nominee Munish Sharma) arrives for an appointment, his secret threatens to change each of their lives forever.

Bombay Black (l-r) Munish Sharma & Arshdeep Purba
Photo: Raymond Kam

Directed by Mumbai-born, multiple award-winning Indo-Canadian producer Rohit Chokhani, Bombay Black features a poetic text, bold theatrical imagery and a gritty twist. In a first, Vancouver Arts stalwart Chokhani has reimagined Irani’s work to present the play from the perspective of a blind man. An earlier version of this production, which was Chokhani’s directorial debut at the 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival, enjoyed a sold-out run and received the Pick of the Fringe Award.

Donna Spencer had this to say about the production, “As Artistic Producer of the Firehall, I have always been excited about supporting the work of artists from diverse cultural backgrounds and providing opportunities for emerging directors to have their work seen. Rohit Chokhani’s production of Bombay Black provides just that opportunity to showcase his work as a director and to introduce the creative team and actors in the work to our audiences.”

Anosh Irani’s Bombay Black runs at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Wednesday, December 5 to Saturday, December 15th, 2018.

For showtimes and tickets visit firehallartscentre.ca

Picks of the Week – November 28, 2018

The last week of November and the first weekend of December brings us a plethora of festival fun to entertain the whole family.

Pride: Catch the follow up to Pride & Prejudice with Miss Bennet : Christmas at Pemberley at The Arts Club Granville Stage until December 30

Date: Until December 30, spend your date night watching Blind Date at The Arts Club Goldcorp Stage, each night is a unique show as a new audience member is the date in each show.

James & Jamesy – O Christmas Tree

Whimsy: The award winning duo, James & Jamesy’s O Christmas Tree brings their physical comedy to Massey Theatre on December 1st, with a Christmas cuppa brimming with holiday cheer, and much more.

EnemyThe Enemy at The Firehall Arts Centre is a topical, contemporary interpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, running until December 1, 2018

Jazz: Tyrant Studio’s Friday Jazz enjoy the New Orleans style sounds of Marc Lindy and Guests at the Tyrant Studio Lounge upstairs from The Penthouse

Merry Kiss-mas
VTSL

Improv: Vancouver Theatresports presents Merry Kiss-mas – an improvised holiday comedy, parodying all the inane clichés and funny, awkward moments you’d expect to see in a holiday TV special or film at Improv Centre until Christmas Eve

Lights: Friday night, catch the 12th annual light-up of the 76ft tall Vancouver Christmas Tree at Robson Square, and Saturday the annual Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens opens, plus enjoy many other Festival light displays around the city

Gold: The Vancouver Canucks play host to Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday at Rogers Arena

Pi Theatre’s Hir Jordan Fowlie and Victor Dolhai
Photo: Emily Cooper.

Gender: Pi Theatre presents the Canadian premiere of American playwright Taylor Mac’s Hir, exploring the dynamics of a family dealing with PTSD, gender politics & more, from November 22–December 8, 2018, at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex.

Drama: Seven Tyrants Theatre presents John Patrick Stanley’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama Doubt : A Parable from November 23 – December 14

Swing: Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox brings a vintage touch to modern pop songs at The Vogue Theatre on Saturday night

Laughs: Saturday nights Tyrant Studio’s Comic Strip brings stand-up comedy to the Studio Lounge Stage with Byron Bertram, plus James Hammond and Alex Sparling

Dance:  From Montreal Frédérick Gravel’s This Duet That We’ve Already Done (so many times) continues at The Cultch Historic Theatre until Saturday

Vancouver Christmas Market
Photo: Lindsay Elliott

Market:  The Vancouver Christmas Market celebrates its 9th year as it returns to Jack Poole Plaza, until December 24, 2018

Couture: The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Guo Pei: Couture Beyond is the first Canadian exhibition devoted to the work of Guo Pei, China’s preeminent couturière until January 20, 2019

Shopping: From the West End, to Dunbar, and Delta, Visit one of the many Christmas Craft Markets happening around Metro Vancouver this weekend

Aurora Winter Festival

Festival: Aurora Winter Festival, Canada’s Largest Winter Festival, brings a a skating rink, a tube park, light displays, Christmas Market, amusement rides, food gardens, and many more activities to Concord Pacific Place November 23 – December 30

Albireo, A New Musical, Shines

Like it’s namesake star, Albireo, a new work by Annahis Basmadjian, shines with potential. Albireo was brought to the Red Gate Revue Stage by producers Rushed Productions Ltd with support from UBC Players Club.  Liam Lazenby directs a cast of experienced and new to the scene actors and singers to bring Annahis Basmadjian’s light musical-comedy to life.

Telling the story of two estranged brother’s Charon Chambers (Colton Fyfe) and Wriker Writeov (Jed Weiss), who we learn are half-siren/half-human. Orphaned by their siren mother and deaf-father (therefore could not succumb to the siren song), the brothers fended for themselves using their power for a life of crime.  When Chambers took another young human orphan, Holly, under his wing to settle down and raise her, he left behind his brother and their grifter ways.  When Writeov finds Chambers and Holly about to host a party, some comedic and dramatic events occur that push the brothers to work together to save their family.  Realizing that the bonds of family make their power stronger they are able to fend off a rival.

Being sirens, music is a vital part of Chambers and Writeov’s lives and therefore the play.  Basmadjian has crafted some catchy, pop tunes for Alberio and witty dialogue to go along with them.

The actors’ varying skill levels come into play during the performance, creating a uneven rhythm to the musical as the players move between flat out comedy and dramatic portrayals of their characters.  Seasoned musical-theatre performer Colton Fyfe brings a fully developed character and a more dramatic turn to his Chamber.  Whereas, recent graduate Jed Weiss, in his theatre debut, brings an erratic Jim Carey-style to his comedic portrayal of Writeov.  Having more stage experience performing with his band, his singing and guitar playing skills excel.   Some of the ensemble also stand out, for the wrong reasons, lampooning or murmuring too loudly drawing attention to the background.  On a small space, like the Revue stage, it doesn’t take much to distract and requires creativity from the director, managers and cast to avoid excess noise and balanced performance volumes.

While this Rushed Production Ltd production has ended, if we are lucky enough, we will get to see Alberio again with different companies and stages as the musical continues to develop over the year, it definitely has the DNA for success.

Celebrate the Season with Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley

The Arts Club Theatre Company welcomes the holiday season with the opening of Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley, playing at Granville Island Stage until December 30, 2018.

The seasonal sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice revisits the Bennet sisters, focusing on the bookish, unmarried middle sister Mary (Kate Dion-Richard).  Written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley casts a modern eye on the sisters, and their lot in life.  To celebrate a family Christmas, three sisters arrive early to Pemberley, the country home of Mr Darcy (Chris Walters) and wife, Elizabeth (Lauren Jackson), the second eldest of the sisters. Jane (Leslie Dos Remedios), the eldest, pregnant and married to Charles Bingley (Tim Carlson), is supported on the journey by Mary, the spinster sister.  Lydia (Baraka Rahmani) is the younger flighty, vain sister, stuck in an unhappy marriage.  Mary is bold, forthright and tactless but also saddened by being the unmarried sister, burdened with caring for their parents. Left to be comforted by her books and pianoforte she starts to find discontent in her expected role within the family.  Suddenly her world is thrown for a turn with the arrival of equally bookish, nervous Lord Arthur (Matthew MacDonald-Bain), Darcy’s distant cousin.  In Lord Arthur we see Mary has met her match in brains, tact, and experience with the world.  Throw in an unexpected romantic rival (Carmela Sison), and the situation lends itself to camp comedy of classes and the sexes.

While never quite fully realizing the farce, the likes of Oscar Wilde, Miss Bennet does allow this cast to chew the scenery as they spit out fun, fast paced comedy. The scenery by Ted Roberts is a beautiful re-creation of the Pemberley country house drawing room.  Director Roy Surette keeps the pace and the eight characters in motion like a dance to the sounds of Mary’s pianoforte.  Like all good Holiday stories, Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley wraps itself in a ribbon of happy endings for all.

Miss Bennet : Christmas At Pemberley runs at The Arts Club Theatre Company Granville Island Stage until December 30, 2018.

 

PuSh Festival Debuts Its 15th Anniversary Program

This week, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival launched its 2019 Festival Program, at a party at John Fluevog Shoes in Gastown. The 2019 Push Festival, January 17 to February 3 will mark the milestone 15th annual festival, bringing international performing arts to venues around Vancouver. Featuring 26 works from 24 companies from 13 countries — including six world premieres — this showcase of visionary collaboration and cutting-edge arts brings a welcome highlight to the winter culture season.

Lucy McCormick’s Triple Threat
Feb 2 –
Club Push at XY
Photo: The Other Richard

 “We launched in 2003 as a three-show series that drew 2,500 people to 21 performances at three Vancouver venues,” says Roxanne Duncan, PuSh Festival’s Interim Executive Director. “The inaugural festival opened a short two years later in 2005. Now as we prepare to celebrate our 15th anniversary, PuSh has welcomed more than 300,000 people to 366 productions from 30 countries.”

 Joyce Rosario, Interim Artistic Director of the PuSh Festival, adds: “Our programming ignites important, meaningful discussions about the world around us and is a reminder that we are a part of something bigger. The 15th anniversary holds personal significance to me. Not only does it mark the final iteration guided by the vision of Norman Armour, PuSh’s co-founder and former Artistic and Executive Director, but it’s also the sixth shaped by our collaboration together as a curatorial team. This year’s festival is the result of many such partnerships, amongst the intrepid team at PuSh and with our presentation partners — some of whom have been with us since the very beginning. In 2019, we bring audiences face-to-face with a broad range of thought-provoking works that subvert the dominant narrative by changing whose perspectives are centred.”

Kids by Liu Kuan-Hsiang
Jan 24-26 at Dance Centre
Photo: Etang Chen

The six world premiere performances will be presented by contemporary dance organization Company 605; boundary-breaking dance company MACHiNENOiSY; composer and musical director Joelysa Pankanea; Dora Award-winning dub poet and actor D’BI; the performers of Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons; and Guatemalan performance artist Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa.

In addition to the world premieres, another 11 performances will be Canadian premieres, including a suite of three sound-based works from Japan by ASUNA, Marginal Consort, and Tetsuya Umeda; Dancenorth Australia featuring music from Indonesian band Senyawa; and a piece from Taiwanese choreographer Liu Kuan-Hsiang.

X Marks the Movement – Opening Night at The Beaumont Studios
Photo: Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons

New for the 2019 season, Club PuSh, the home of the festival’s most edgy and experimental work,  will be located in multiple spaces across the city and home to Opening and Closing Night parties.

The PuSh Film Series at Vancity Theatre, presents movies perfectly paired to the program,  and PuSh Assembly will stimulate dialogue through free talks for the public and industry networking events.

To celebrate its 15th year, PuSh Festival is offering audiences a limited time offer of $15 tickets for 15 days. The 15x15x15 offer applies to the full festival program: 26 critically acclaimed works from different artistic disciplines. The 15X15X15 promotion is on now and November 30th so get your tickets at pushfestival.ca before they’re all gone.