10 Halloween Frights for Vancouver Families

Halloween is just around the corner; leaves crunching underfoot, jack o’lanterns are carved, costumes are being prepared, candy is being stockpiled in anticipation of trick or treating.

Get a chill when you take on these frightening (and mostly family friendly) Halloween in Vancouver.

  1. Fright Nights at Playland: Vancouver’s favourite fear fest, is on until October 31st, the annual Playland event is loaded with haunted houses and thrilling rides, but not for the younger members of the family. 
  2. Halloween at Fly Over Canada: Join Broomelda as she welcomes you to her Witch Academy before swooping across the country with her at Fly Over Canada until October 31st.
  3. Haunted Halloween Vancouver Trolley Tour: Spend 2.5 hours exploring the stories behind the city’s most haunted spots; Shaughnessy mansions, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver Police Museum morgue are just some of the ghost tales you’ll hear on the nightly Trolley Tours, until Halloween Night.
  4. Glow In The Garden: VanDusen Garden invites guests to wander through a whimsical garden with curious twists and magical moments from the classic tale Hänsel and Gretel, until October 31st.
  5. Stanley Park Ghost Train: Join Jack O’Lanterns journey through the dark forest and experience a Celtic Halloween, at the Stanley Park Ghost Train, book tickets until October 31st
  6. Haunted Village at Burnaby Village Museum:  Visit Burnaby Village under cover of night from October 26 to 29, 2018. Wear your costumes, and blend in with the witches, ghosts and other characters as you trick or treat through the village
  7. Harvest Glow: Until November 5th, Milner Gardens in Langley has become the ultimate family harvest festival; pumpkin patch, corn maze, pumpkin carving, Harvest Market with 20+ merchants.
  8. Lost Souls of Gastown: Join Forbidden Vancouver on a historic and theatrical walk through the dark side of Vancouver’s early days, nightly until Halloween.
  9. Spooktober: Vancouver Theatresports League has a spooktacular line-up of Halloween themed shows throughout the month; Monster Mashes, Cult Fiction, Scared Witless, WFT-What the Fright.
  10. Parade of Lost Souls: The east side tradition returns on October 27th, starting with the Parade of Little Souls at 7pm, followed by the Parade of Lost Souls at 8pm. Keep watching for the parade route to be announced at midnight prior to the parade.

TUTS takes us to 42nd Street

The 2018 season of Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is now open with 42nd Street alternating nights at Malkin Bowl, in Stanley Park with Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

The company of 42nd Street
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Directed by Robert McQueen, 42nd Street is a show within a show jukebox musical that takes us back to 1930s Broadway.  A familiar selection of standards and showtunes are (very) loosely strung together by a behind-the-scenes story of the production of a Broadway show. The tried and true story of the small town girl looking to break into showbiz, follows fresh off the train Peggy Sawyer (Paige Fraser) making her way into the new Broadway musical, the show within the show, Pretty Lady. Acclaimed director Julian Marsh (Andrew Cownden) needs a hit to recover from his Stock Market Crash losses, star Dorothy Brock (Janet Gigliotti) needs to prove she’s not past her prime, even though she’s still very good at playing the diva in real life.

Paige Fraser (Peggy), Blake Sartin (Billy Lawlor)
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Along the way Dorothy is juggling paramours, then breaks her foot, Tenor Billy Lawlor is hoping to date Peggy, who is fired, hired, fired and rehired by Julian during the course of 42nd Street.
While the story is familiar and predictable, the cast is likeable and makes the most of the, schmaltzy, depression-era dialogue. Fraser and Gigliotti each deliver strong vocals and are perfectly paired on their duet About A Quarter To Nine.  Cownden performs with a single-minded toughness like he’s stepped right out of a gangster film,  but manages to make Marsh endearing.

Blake Sartin (Billy Lawlor, left) with the cast of 42nd Street
photo: Lindsay Elliott

The show really comes to life in the brilliantly choreographed, by Shelley Stewart Hunt, production numbers.  With up to 30 cast members onstage lending a Busby Berkley-esque feel to the tap routines, the cacophony of the taps beating a rhythm to the catchy tunes, like We’re In The Money, Lullaby of Broadway, and 42nd Street, really lift the excitement of the show.

The tap dancers onstage won’t be the only ones with their feet in motion, the production will leave you tapping and humming along throughout your journey to 42nd Street at Theatre Under The Stars.
42nd Street runs until August 17, 2018 at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. Find tickets online at tuts.ca.

TUTS opens with a new Cinderella

The 2018 season of Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is now open with Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella alternating nights at Malkin Bowl, in Stanley Park with 42nd Street.

Mallory James as Ella
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella brings the familiar story to the stage, with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, written for the 2013 Broadway production. Without taking away from the classic, the updated book freshens the story, making Cinderella a more independent young woman, interested in the world and others around her. Marrying a prince for the sake of status has moved further down the list of benefits.  The book and Sarah Rodgers’ direction play up some of the traditional plot points for humour and to make a point about the modernization of the story.

As Ella, Mallory James brings a hopeful innocence and fine singing voice to the character’s dialogue and songs, and thanks to newly introduced character of Jean-Michel, a worldly rabble rouser, set on bringing change to the authoritarian reign of the regent. In another change from the usual story, one of the step-sisters, Gabrielle, is kinder to Ella and secretly in love with Jean-Michel.

Caitlin Clugston (Madame), Mallory James (Ella), Amanda
Lourenco (Charlotte), Vanessa Merenda (Gabrielle)
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Of course, Cinderella wouldn’t be complete without a villain, Caitlin Clugston as Madame, Ella’s stepmother, brilliantly bites into the role with her wicked digs aimed at keeping Ella in her place with a flourish of maniacal laughter thrown in for good measure.  Laura Cowan’s Fairy Godmother balances the wickedness with a sweet performance Disney would have approved.  In contrast to James’ traditional vocals, Cotten has a more contemporary, pop delivery, and while he charms the audience it doesn’t quite feel like he charms Ella, leaving the romance a bit flat.  Amanda Lourenco as the vapid, clumsy stepsister Charlotte, and Caleb Lagayan’s Lord Pinkleton, bring a stand-out note of comedy to their roles.

Tré Cotten(Topher) & Mallory James(Ella)
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Choreographer Nicol Spinola makes excellent use of the TUTS stage to create the grand scale of all the court coming together for The Ball and set designer Brian Ball simple design creates a castle, town, forest, and Ella’s home inside and out, as much onstage as in our imaginations.  Costumes and props make a couple odd choices that seem to stand out, awkwardly.  Asian-style red paper lanterns appear during royal celebrations.  Prince Topher wears a dashiki for formal occasions, and gives a “Black Panther” style salut to the crowd, which feel like they’re jumping on the Marvel film’s bandwagon rather than highlighting the diversity of the players.

Those very minor quibbles do little to take away from the two hours of fun, and enjoyment presented by Theatre Under The Stars.
Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella runs until August 18, 2018 at Malkin Bowl. Find tickets online at tuts.ca

EVO Summer Cinema returns to Stanley Park for 2018

Celebrating its 10th Anniversary,  EVO Summer Cinema outdoor movie series returns to Second Beach in Stanley Park. Tuesday nights from July 3 to August 21, 2018, the the Grand Lawn at Ceperley Field will turn into a free public cinema.  

Seating is free, on a first-come, first-seated basis, for up to 5000 people around the meadow. So bring a blanket (or buy one from the Fresh-Air Cinema Snack Bar) and join in the fun.  Step it up a notch and move your movie date night to one of 200 Reserved VIP Gold Circle Seats, available in a Adirondack cottage-chair placed in the front row of the cinema. Book ahead or take the chance on rush seats being released the Monday prior to the film.

Why not make it dinner and a movie? Packages with a three-course meal from one of the West-End’s many restaurants + VIP Gold Circle seating are also available.

Bike Valet is onsite for those who peddle to the park. Food trucks and pre-show activities keep patrons entertained while waiting for the films to begin, at dusk.

New this year, the EVO Summer Cinema Marketplace brings a selection of carefully curated local artisans and vendors to the cinema meadow each week.

The 2018 EVO Summer Cinema line-up of fan favourite flicks is:
(note movies begin after sunset, times are approximate)

The Princess Bride 
Tuesday, July 3
98 minutes
Sunset: 9:20pm

Stand By Me
Tuesday, July 10
89 minutes
Sunset: 9:15pm

The Lion King
Tuesday, July 17
89 minutes
Sunset: 9:10pm

Mean Girls
Tuesday, July 24
97 minutes
Sunset: 9:05pm

Spice World
Tuesday, July 31
93 minutes
Sunset: 8:55pm

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Tuesday, August 7
108 minutes
Sunset: 8:45pm

Grease
Tuesday, August 14
110 minutes
Sunset: 8:30pm

Titanic
Tuesday, August 21
195 minutes
Sunset: 8:20pm

See you at the cinema!

Summer Cinema Line up 2018 from FreshAirCinema Video Production on Vimeo.

SKOOKUM Festival 2018 Announces Line-up & Tickets.

A multi-day music festival in the heart of the city, SKOOKUM Festival, has released its inaugural line-up and tickets go on sale tomorrow.  Four stages will fill Vancouver’s beloved Stanley Park with music from September 7th to 9th, 2018.

Headliners The Killers and Florence + The Machine will be joined by Metric, Arkells, The War On Drugs, St. Vincent, Father John Misty, Blue Rodeo,
Mother Mother, Chromeo, Bahamas, Stereophonics, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and dozens of more acts.

In addition to 50 plus contemporary music acts, live and multimedia art installations; pop-up and roaming entertainment as well as gourmet food from some of city’s top restaurants; tasting areas showcasing some of the best BC wines, locally brewed craft beer as well as select offerings from local area craft distilleries will round out the weekend.   Festival organizers BrandLIVE are also working with the local First Nations to provide opportunities for Indigenous musicians, chefs, and visual artists as well as an opportunity to inform and educate attendees on aspects of the their historical connections to the land.

With the Stanley Park festival site just steps from downtown Vancouver, and the addition of shuttle buses SKOOKUM is one of the most easily accessible festivals in the region.

Vancouver’s BRANDLIVE, producers of the Squamish Valley Music Festival, are known for putting on exceptional fan experiences and working in collaboration with Virgin Mobile on SKOOKUM Festival, this is sure to be another.  Paul Runnals, Festival Director says “This is the result of a conversation that began five years ago to create a more accessible, inclusive, and sustainable Festival.  We feel this first year lineup reflects the spirit of what are trying to achieve in a way that also acknowledges the significant history of the location”.

SKOOKUM Festival passes go on sale tomorrow, Friday March 16, 2018 and many Pre-Sales launch this morning. Visit skookumfestival.com for more festival information, the full line up and tickets.

SKOOKUM Music, Food, Art from Skookum Festival on Vimeo.

 

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

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