Picks of the Week – Aug 2, 2017

The August long weekend in Vancouver is always packed with so much entertainment; Pride, Fireworks, Festivals, Concerts and more make it hard to choose the picks of the week…

Lights: Look up, way up and witness the explosive entertainment of Celebration of Lights as United Kingdom lights the night tonight and Canada wows the crowds on Saturday

Punks: Reminisce with the contrasting of rock styles when Echo & The Bunnymen and Violent Femmes take the PNE Amphitheatre stage on Thursday

Arts: As if you need more to do this weekend, the 27th Harmony Arts Festival kicks off on Friday bringing 10 days of arts & entertainment to West Vancouver.

Shakespeare:  Bard on the Beach is under the tents at Vanier Park, Much Ado About Nothing and The Winter’s Tale are on the BMO Mainstage with The Merchant of Venice and Two Gentlemen of Verona in previews on the Howard Family Stage

Pier: Pride comes to North Vancouver this year with the new Prance on the Pier, an all-ages dance party at the Shipyards pier in lower Lonsdale

Bingo: At Wednesday’s Bingo 4 Life Pride Edition Grease is the word as Mina Mercury and Carlotta Gurl channel their inner Sandy’s while calling numbers to raise money for Vancouver Friends For Life

Bach: Early Music Vancouver presents the 2nd Vancouver Bach Festival with chamber music concerts, ensembles and soloists bringing classical music to Christ Church Cathdral and The Chan Centre until Aug 11th

Run: Get your weekend off and running, supporting charities while you’re at it. Drop your gear for the Pride Undie Run, a quick jog from the Vancouver Art Gallery to the Davie Street Party on Friday night.

Street: Pride really gets going with the annual Davie Street Dance Party filling the street from Burrard to Jervis with music, food, drink and entertainment

Stars: Enjoy the evening in Stanley Park at Theatre Under The Stars this season presenting Mary Poppins and The Drowsey Chaperone on alternating evenings.

Beach: Sunday the Sunset Beach Festival opens at 11am for a day of music, outdoor beer garden, food trucks and marketplace. 

Parade: The main event of Vancouver Pride the 39th Annual Pride Parade starts at Noon at Robson & Bute then makes its way to Sunset Beach entertaining thousands of spectators along the way.

Parties: Fill in the weekend with any of the multitude of parties and cruises like Love & Freedom Events’ Big Pride Weekend,  Ruff Vancouver, TFD Presents’ Rapture Pride Weekend, Vancouver Arts & Leisure’s Alternative Pride, Cruisy-T’s Boat Cruise and more

 

 

Picks of the Week – July 26, 2017

Where does the time go? July is already coming to a close but never fear there’s plenty of fun in these picks of the week…

Kick off: The 2017 Downtown Pride Premiere brings a taste of things to come with entertainment, Queens, food trucks, games and more at Robson Square, today from 3pm – 10pm

Mars: Not the planet but the popstar Bruno Mars comes to Rogers Arena for two nights, Wednesday and Thursday

Drum Is Calling Festival

Drum: Celebrate Indigenous Arts and Culture at the Drum Is Calling Festival, Free at Larwill Park until July 29th

Highschool: See the gritty and intense Girls! Girls! Girls! presented by Excavation Theatre at Havana Theatre  before it closes July 29th

Games: Head to Jim Deva Plaza on Davie for West End for some fun and play on West End Games Night on Thursday

Mary & Bert on a Jolly Holiday
photo: Tim Matheson

Stars: Enjoy the evening in Stanley Park at Theatre Under The Stars this season presenting Mary Poppins and The Drowsey Chaperone on alternating evenings.

KidFree:  Leave the kids at home and head to Playland, where Friday’s in July are Adults-Only. Spend your evening with a drink in hand as you wander the park surrounding by those 19+ only

Brit: Singer-Songwriter,  and sometime GoT guest, Ed Sheeran comes to Rogers Arena for a concert on Friday night

Arts: The Arts Club Theatre Company   season comes to a close this weekend when Bittergirl The Musical closes July 29th at Granville Island Stage

Sissy: The Odyssey gets Pride off to an early start with Sissy Boy: Pride! featuring the best of the 70s, 80s & 90s on Friday night

Shakespeare:  Bard on the Beach is under the tents at Vanier Park, Much Ado About Nothing and The Winter’s Tale are on the BMO Mainstage with The Merchant of Venice and Two Gentlemen of Verona in previews on the Howard Family Stage

Mystery: Join Joel, Jonah, Crow, Tom Servo and Gyspy as they Watch out for Snakes! on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Live at Orpheum Theatre on Sunday

Girls! Girls! Girls! from the headlines to the stage

Onstage this week at Havana Theatre on Commercial Drive, Excavation Theatre presents Greg MacArthur’s Girls! Girls! Girls!.

Director Jessica Anne Nelson crafts the gritty play into a sometimes uncomfortable, but insightful, look at teen angst and anger.  MacArthur wrote the play in the late 90s as a reaction to violent high school stories like the Columbine Massacre and, closer to home, the tragic death of Reena Virk in Victoria.

The bare-bones staging and intimacy of the Havana Theatre puts the audience in the midst of the action, forcing viewers to invest in the players more than in distant seating. The five characters of Girls! Girls! Girls! cover the cliques of high school that many of us will recall.  Splitz (Sachi Nisbet) is the key to the action, a popular gymnast used to winning and being the centre of attention with high expectations of her status.  When her world is rocked by not winning, jealousy and anger get the best of her.  This temperament trickles down to her ‘gang’ of friends, who in reality are more like followers, Puss (Bronwyn Henderson) and Jam (Demi Pedersen) are a hand-in-glove pair of outsiders, with Puss being the more aggressive, dominant of the two girls and Jam a more thoughtful follower.  Rounding out this gang of merry misfits is Little Bucky the Fag (Riley Davis) a seemingly innocent boy that the girls treat more as a mascot than an equal, making him show off his ‘wiggly piggly’ to elicit laughter and mirth to brighten Splitz blues.

Splitz’s anger towards the naive and innocent, and drunken, Missy (Isabella St Clair) who trumped her for the top prize at a gymnastics meet, cannot be contained, setting off a chain reaction of devastating proportions.  Sending her minions out to reclaim her title, by any means necessary, from Missy, Puss and Jam find her but Little Bucky finds his own trouble.  From here the play seems to move in two realms, Nisbet portrays Spitz with single-minded jealousy and rage, which emboldens the gleeful bully in Henderson’s Puss which in turn causes allows Pederson to bring confusion to Jam who must balance her own moral compass and need to fit in. Meanwhile, Little Bucky abused and alone confronts his own mixed feelings which Davis juggles like a cirque performer.  The 75 minute play builds like seething temper to a climax that’s not the expected outcome, taking a look at how far a bully can go and how much the bullied can take.  No matter what group you identified with Girls! Girls! Girls! takes us all back to those high school thoughts of loyalty, jealousy, self-worth and peer-pressure.   All the cast are captivating as they fit their roles into this complicated puzzle of teenagehood.

Girls! Girls! Girls! plays at the Havana Theatre, Tuesday to Friday this week, July 25 – 28, 2017 at 8pm. Tickets are available at the door or in advance on Eventbrite for $20, general admission.

 

 

The Drowsy Chaperone wakes up Theatre Under The Stars

For its 71st season, Theatre Under The Stars welcomes the Tony Award winning musical The Drowsy Chaperone to the stage.   Alternating with Mary Poppins, the slapstick musical parody is a hilarious good time.

Man In Chair listens to the 1928 musical The Drowsy Chaperone cast.
photo: Tim Matheson

The Drowsy Chaperone is a play- within-a-play format, opening on the single room apartment of a downtrodden musical-theatre lover (Shawn MacDonald, playing a perfectly relatable every-man) who perks himself up by taking to his chair and listening to a recording of his favourite musical, 1928’s The Drowsy Chaperone, sharing his love and insight of the show with the audience. Once the record plays we’re all taken back to the 1928 performance of The Drowsy Chaperone, a rip roaring prohibition-era good time.  If you’re a musical lover you’ll relate to the Man In Chair as he sings and dances along to his favourite bits from the musical, imparting his indepth knowledge about the cast and stars of the Jazz Age.

Shawn Macdonald as Man In Chair
photo: Tim Matheson

The Drowsy Chaperone began life in Toronto in the late 90s as a musical spoof written by Don McKellar, Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison for the stag party of their friends Janet van de Graaf and Bob Martin, both award-winning comedians and writers in their own right.  After the party, Martin joined the trio in fleshing out the musical into what we now know.   The lead character of the show-within-the-show retain the original names, Robert McKellar and Janet van de Graaf, and the show centres around their wedding day…on the way to the alter various musical tropes are used and abused to hilarious effect.  Man in Chair reveals how the plot of the 1928 show becomes more convoluted and funny with the many attempts to fit in every 1920s stereotype possible.

Shannon Hanbury as Janet & Stuart Barkley as Robert
photo: Tim Matheson

The performance I saw started off with some technical difficulties due to a power outage, which saw the cast having to get halfway through the first number without mics before being called off stage to restart the equipment. The restart showed the comedy skills of some of the performers, smartly making light of the replay in ad libbed lyrics.  The cast at TUTS is filled with stand out performers, the always classy-act, Caitriona Murphy plays the title character Drowsy Chaperone, bridesmaid to Janet. Shannon Hanbury plays Janet with maximum glamour and camp while Stuart Barkley’s Robert has the perfect matinee idol looks which combine with a talented song and dance man.  The dancing and comedic timing of the duo of Kai Bradbury and Nicholas Bradbury as the Gangsters stand out as well as they bounce around the B Plot, involving starlet Janet’s Follies produce attempts to hijack the wedding.

It wasn’t until the end of the performance that I realized that I’d been smiling and laughing for the entire 2 hours, and judging by the huge peels of laughter around the audience, The Drowsy Chaperone struck a chord with everyone.

The Drowsy Chaperone is onstage at Theatre Under The Stars, at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park, alternating with Mary Poppins until August 19th. Tickets available online at tuts.ca

Picks of the Week – July 19, 2017

Mid-July and summer fun is in full swing with more than enough activities to full two sets of picks of the week

Highschool: Opening tonight, Excavation Theatre presents Girls! Girls! Girls! a story relating the angst and traumas of high school life told in nursery rhyme-rap style at Havana Theatre until July 29th

Punk: British new wave act The Psychedelic Furs brings their reunited line-up to the Commodore Ballroom on Wednesday

Broadway: Give into the spirit of the night as Broadway Across Canada brings the legendary Phantom of the Opera to the Queen Elizabeth Stage starting tonight until July 23

photo: Ken Thorne

Youth:  Midtwenties Theatre Society presents their brilliant debut production of Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth,  at the Red Gate Revue Stage on Granville Island through this weekend

KidFree:  Leave the kids at home and head to Playland, where Friday’s in July are Adults-Only. Spend your evening with a drink in hand as you wander the park surrounding by those 19+ only

Festival: The 3rd Annual African Descent Festival takes over Thornton Park on Main Street, Saturday and Sunday, to celebrate Vancouver’s vibrant and rich African descendant community

Stars: Theatre Under The Stars has returned for another year with Mary Poppins and The Drowsey Chaperone alternating throughout the summer at Malkin Bowl

Orange: Show your Lions Pride as BC Lions host Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday

Arts: The Arts Club Theatre Company  Hand To God at The Goldcorp Stage, closed June 25th while Bittergirl The Musical continues until July 29th at Granville Island Stage

Shakespeare:  Bard on the Beach is under the tents at Vanier Park, Much Ado About Nothing and The Winter’s Tale are on the BMO Mainstage with The Merchant of Venice and Two Gentlemen of Verona in previews on the Howard Family Stage.

Run: Vancouver Pride events get an early start with the annual Pride Run & Walk happening in Stanley Park on Saturday July 22nd

Fancy: Don your finest and spend the day at the races, the 9th Annual Deighton Cup returns to Hastings Racetrack on Saturday

Closing: With the new Polygon Gallery nearing completion the Presentation House Gallery comes to a close with a closing party on Saturday afternoon; Exile On Mainstreet

Kicks: Whitecaps FC play host to Portland Timbers in a MLS/Cascadia Cup clash at BC Place on Sunday

Mary Poppins flies into Theatre Under The Stars

The 2017 Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) season got under this week with the opening of Mary Poppins.  A summer tradition for over seventy years, TUTS brings another great family favourite musical to Malkin Bowl.

Mary & Bert with Jane & Michael Banks
photo: Tim Matheson

One of the most beloved Disney movies of all time comes to the stage as Mary Poppins the Musical.  Like the original film, Mary Poppins the Musical is loosely based on P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins books. However, this Cameron Mackintosh – Disney theatrical production returns some characters from the original books and drops others from the film.  A combination of songs from the Disney film and new pieces move the story along, in a new order and with new set pieces.

As often with TUTS productions, directed by Theatre Under The Stars veteran Shel Piercy, this version of Mary Poppins the Musical includes a large cast and company.  Lead by Ranae Miller as the magical nanny Mary Poppins, and Victor Hunter as jack-of-all-trades Bert, cast stand outs include the entire Banks family, Lalainia Lindbjerg-Strelau adds an emotional turn as Mrs Banks, the matriarch looking for her place and position in society and her family. In contrast, Russell Roberts as Mr George Banks adds the burden of being the master and breadwinner for the family.   Lola Marshall as Jane and Nolen Dubuc as Michael, the much in need of a nanny, Banks children are stand outs. Both young players have great tone and blend together perfectly in many of their harmonized songs as well they maintain their accents better than some of the adult actors.  This Mary Poppins story shifts the focus a bit more to the growth and development of the whole Banks family, making all of them more central than in the film.

Mary & Bert on a Jolly Holiday
photo: Tim Matheson

Since Mary Poppins must share the Malkin Bowl stage with The Drowsy Chaperone (on alternate nights) the stage has to be less permanent than in some other stagings. Set designer Brian Ball has created an imaginative set that takes us seamlessly through the songbook; from the Banks family residence; upstairs (Cherry Tree Lane), downstairs (A Spoonful of Sugar) and up to the rooftops (Chim Chim Cher-ee), then to the park (Let’s Go Fly A Kite), and George’s workplace at the bank (Precision and Order) or the steps of St Paul’s (Feed The Birds).  Along the way intricate choreography and prop work make full use of the 30+ cast to create some stunning showstopper numbers that are worth seeing the show for on their own; Jolly Holiday pays special homage to the Disney film’s animation with a pair of penguins joining the dance at Bert’s feet.  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, now taking place at Mrs Corry’s Shop, becomes a technicolour dance extravaganza, and Step In Time is a high-kicking romp across the rooftops of London.

Even if you’ve seen the film or another live musical production, this Theatre Under The Stars production of Mary Poppins the Musical is a Practically Perfect, (to borrow from Mary’s intro song), evening at the theatre.

Theatre Under The Stars presents Mary Poppins The Musical on alternating evenings at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park until August 18, 2017. Tickets available online at tuts.ca

A showstopper Jolly Holiday
photo: Tim Matheson

Picks of the Week – July 12

Mid-July and hopefully your summer is as hot as the weather. If not, the picks of the week have lots of finds for your week’s entertainment value.

Food: Tonight, join other food lovers for Tasting Plates – Stadium District, experience the tastes of the eateries around BC Place and Rogers Arena

Broadway: Give into the spirit of the night as Broadway Across Canada brings the legendary Phantom of the Opera to the Queen Elizabeth Stage starting tonight until July 23

Folk: The 40th Vancouver Folk Music Festival finds Jericho Beach Park filling with Folk and folks on July 13,  14, 15 & 16.

Youth: Newly formed theatre company Midtwenties Theatre Society presents their first show This Is Our Youth, starting Friday July 14th at the Red Gate Revue Stage on Granville Island

 

Front: Fridays on Front is a new evening market experience on Front Street in New Westminster; food, artisans, entertainment and more

Adults: Friday’s in July are Adults-Only at Playland, spend your evening with a drink in hand as you wander the park surrounding my those 19+ only.

Stage: The Arts Club Theatre Company stages are loaded with entertainment; Million Dollar Quartet at The Stanley Stage, wraps up this Sunday, July 16th, Hand To God at The Goldcorp Stage, continues until June 25th and Bittergirl The Musical runns until July 29th at Granville Island Stage

Shakespeare:  Bard on the Beach is under the tents at Vanier Park, Much Ado About Nothing and The Winter’s Tale are on the BMO Mainstage with The Merchant of Venice and Two Gentlemen of Verona in previews on the Howard Family Stage.

Rock: Nineties faves Matchbox Twenty and Counting Crows share the stage at Rogers Arena on Sunday night.