Little Dickens: The Daisy Theatre is anything but small

The Daisy Theatre’s Esme Massengill as Esme Scrooge in Little Dickens

The Cultch Historic Theatre is presenting an evening of marionette madness with Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens featuring the cast of The Daisy Theatre.  Starring Daisy Theatre’s past-her-prime diva Esmé Massengill in the Scrooge role, and a cavalcade of Daisy Theatre stars helping bring the Dickens story of A Christmas Carol to life…or to strings.

Toronto-based The Daisy Theatre is a one man, many marionette theatre company brilliantly performed and improvised by Ronnie Burkett.  In the introduction Burkett states that “anything can happen” and over the course of the two hour show, anything does happen.  The story loosely follows A Christmas Carol with a number of detours along the way to fit in some jazzy christmas carol sing-along numbers.  Joining Burkett and the marionettes on stage are some audience helpers;  Ava, William, Christopher and Caroline were ‘recruited’ throughout the performance to help out in various ways and roles.  Helping Burkett from the booth, Crystal helped cue the music and lights, and in a couple of spots prompting what comes next in the play.  Part of the fun of Little Dickens is not knowing what’s going to come out of the marionettes’ mouths and laughing along with Burkett when even he can’t believe that he said that.  Plenty of laugh out loud moments fill the camp over-the-top scenes, accompanied by inside jokes about the theatre scene and Vancouver itself.

The Daisy Theatre Schnitzel as Tiny Tim in Little Dickens

Even though we clearly know that Ronnie Burkett is pulling their strings the marionettes really do come to life and the audience buys into Esme’s character development, taking her from selfish, tacky, vain diva to charitable, tacky, slightly less vain diva.

Being an improvised show, anything really can happen and with the introduction of different audience members no two shows will be the same, so it’s a great treat to see over and over again during the pre-Christmas season.
Ronnie Burkett’s  Little Dickens : The Daisy Theatre runs until December 22, 2018 at The Cultch Historic Theatre.  Find showtimes, information and tickets online at thecultch.com

East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz is a Wicked good time

Dorothy & friends are off to see the Wizard in
East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz
photo: Emily Cooper

Returning to the York Theatre for the sixth year, Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto : Wizard of Oz, paves the holiday road with laughter.  Until January 6, 2019 follow the yellow brick road to East Van as Dorothy and friends try to make it home to Poco.

Directed by Stephen Drover, the family friendly (not recommended for under 5 years) over-the-top musical combines the talents of playwright Marcus Yousef, choreographer Amanda Testini, and musician Veda Hille, who masterfully creates new lyrics for familiar pop tunes, with hilarious results.

East Van Panto
Christine Quintana stars as Dorothy in East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz
photo: Emily Cooper

Dorothy, skillfully played and beautifully sung, by Christine Quintana, lives in a Poco tiny house with her Aunts when the pipeline bursts and she is swept away to East Van, the progressive,  urban landscape of her dreams.  In order to make her way back to her beloved Aunts she must take that familiar journey to visit the Wizard. Along the way she meets a cavalcade of colourful, and familiar, West Coast characters, including a surprising Wicked Witch of the West, played by Craig Erickson.  Erickson and the supporting cast; Dawn Petten, Raugi Yu,  and Kayvon Khoshkam bounce between characters with gusto. Studio 58 students Angela Chu, Dylan Floyde, and Mallory James fill the chorus roles with the help of a rotation of adorable child actors.

In the long tradition of the British pantomime, the audience interaction adds to the fun and entertainment. The show starts with ‘the rules’,  which after this many seasons the audience has come to know, when to boo, when to cheer, show sympathy, and when to heckle the villain.  The joy of the unrestrained younger audience members’ participation brings an extra smile every year.

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

The writing keeps the show accessible for all ages, everyone will find laughter in the slapstick, jokes or situations.  This year’s show is a bit more political than most, resulting in some very topical humour but also meaning some jokes might not land well depending on your leanings.  The Vancouver insider jokes are often told with an East Van-centric point of view, mocking other neighbourhood stereotypes as well as some Commercial Drive self-deprecating humour.  It’s hard to walk away from East Van Panto without having laughed and smiled for the previous two hours.

East Van Panto : Wizard of Oz plays at The Cultch York Theatre, 639 Commercial Driver until January 6, 2019. Showtimes, information and tickets available online at thecultch.com

Backbone Makes You Sit Up & Take Notice

Backbone, now playing at the Vancouver Playhouse, is edge of your seat entertainment!

The Cultch – Backbone
Photo: Carnival Cinema

Presented by The Cultch, Australian circus troupe Gravity and Other Myths (GOM) will literally throw your perceptions of circus out the window.  Like other contemporary circus/physical theatre troupes, GOM tests the boundaries of the human body.  Backbone strips down any flashy sets and theatrics, to put the 10 acrobats and their mesmerizing abilities front and centre.  The company themselves also strip down to start the performance, swapping and changing clothing as they warm up with some tumbling and leaping. The show feels as though organically flows from beginning to end. Although it appears improvisational the movement is like a finely choreographed dance as the acrobats move from skill to skill.  The warm up leads to balance tricks, many in motion as they walk across the stage while stand (up to four performers) tall on others’ heads or shoulders. An extended set of swinging, and tossing of performers high across the stage keeps the audience’s’ eyes busy following all the action.  Backbone is full of brilliant action, I was afraid to miss a single twist, toss or tumble.

The Cultch – Backbone
pic: Darcy Grant

The company fills the Playhouse Theatre with so much energy and fun, the gap between performer and audience shrinks as everyone shifts to the edges of their seats.  The 10 members and 2 musicians, are on stage throughout the 80 minute show, tagging each other in and out of tricks to quickly change, or take a breathe.  The trust and connectivity demonstrated by the company creates sexy, but not sexual, intimacy as the ten performers become one creative movement.  In spite of the rough and raw sets and costumes of Backbone, the fluidity of their skills form a beautiful work.

Backbone will enchant everyone in the family, get your tickets soon.

Gravity and Other Myths’ Backbone, presented by The Cultch, is playing until November  4, 2018 at The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, 600 Hamilton St.
for Showtimes and Tickets visit thecultch.com

Picks of the Week – October 31, 2018

It’s Halloween night! As the veil between realms is lifted, get out and have a hauntingly good time. Then get ready to fill the longer nights of November with more entertaining picks of the week.

Fright: It’s the final night to experience the thrills and chills of the haunted houses, rides and ghouls of Fright Nights at Playland

Improv: Grab your ghoulfriends and enjoy a month of eerie laughter as Vancouver Theatresports presents Spooktober; a selection of themed shows wraps up tonight.

Glow: Van Dusen Garden invites the whole family to Glow In The Garden. Like Hansel and Gretel follow the breadcrumbs to find Halloween fun for all ages all around the garden.

Train: Tonight is the last night to right the Stanley Park Ghost Train on a voyage of the dead to explore a Celtic Halloween.

Pie: It’s your last chance to visit Mrs Lovett’s Pie Shop at 348 Water Street as The Snapshot Collective presents the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Harvest: Until November 5th, Harvest Glow at Milner Gardens in Langley isthe ultimate family harvest festival; pumpkin patch, corn maze, pumpkin carving, Harvest Market with 20+ merchants.

Owen Scott as Ralphie
pic: Emily Cooper

Ralphie: Align Entertainment brings the holiday classic A Christmas Story: The Musical to the Michael J. Fox Theatre stage in Burnaby, from November 2 – 17, 2018.  

Fest: Music on Main invites you to immerse yourself in the diverse music of the 2018 Modulus Festival from November 2 – 6, 2018.

Gum: Until December, visit Mouthfeel at Western Front, a spectacular, peculiar exhibition commissioned by the City of Vancouver about gum, co-created by students

The Cultch – Backbone
Photo: Carnival Cinema

Acrobat: The Cultch presents Backbone, a mesmerizing take on the circus,  that leaps from the Vancouver Playhouse stage with breathtaking excitement, until November 4th.

Puck: The Vancouver Canucks play host to Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night and then host Colorado on Friday night at Rogers Arena

Play: The Arts Club Theatre Company continues to Sweat at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, until November 18th.

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

Bros: Part of The Ceasefire Series, The Believers are But Brothers is now playing at The Cultch Vancity Culture Lab until November 10th.

Roar: Saturday, head to BC Place for the final BC Lions home game of the regular season against Calgary Stampeders

Lumiere – Luna

Lights: November 2-4 are brighter as Lumiere Vancouver lights up the nights with illuminated light displays and events at Jim Deva Plaza, English Bay and šx????n?q Xwtl’e7énk Square (Art Gallery North).

Stage: The Cultch & Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre present The Ones We Leave Behind a mysterious, comedy about the redemptive power of human connection, playing until November 3 at The Cultch Historic Theatre

‘While Others Are Sleeping’ acrylic on canvas by David Wilson

Art: Visit Kimoto Gallery November 2 – 24, for a new series of paintings, Water, by Vancouver artists David Wilson looking at the natural watery surroundings and rain-soaked city streets of his hometown.  

Films: The 22nd Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival brings both English and subtitles Asian language features and shorts from independent Asian filmmakers around North America and around the world.

Jazz: East End Blues and All That Jazz at Firefall Arts Centre, is an evening of gospel and blues, jazz and memories, with remarkable historical photos that pays tribute to the life and contributions of the historic East End Black residential community featuring a tribute to local legend Thelma Gibson and family, until November 3rd.

Ceasefire Series at The Cultch honours the armistice anniversary

As we approach the centenary of the signing of the armistice to end WWI on November 11, 1918, The Cultch presents The Ceasefire Series.

From Oct 30 – Nov 17, The Cultch’s three venues will bring to their stages three shows that explore the causes, effects, and traumas of war from different lenses. The series features two Canadian premieres and a local world premiere from renowned playwright Amiel Gladstone:  one taking place during WWI (SmallWaR), one taking place during WWII (Three Winters), and one taking place in contemporary times (The Believers Are But Brothers).

100 years after the Allied and German forces signed the armistice ending the fighting on the battlefields of WWI, Cultch Executive Director, Heather Redfern considered how she wanted The Cultch to engage with such a significant centenary. What resulted was the programming of three distinctly different shows; a high tech and interactive show about the ways modern young men (in particular) are recruited online (The Believers Are But Brothers), verbatim reflections from soldiers and nurses in WWI, from star Belgian performer, Valentijn Dhaenens (SmallWaR), and  the world premiere of Amiel Gladstone’s Three Winters, a show with seven young women performing a play about prisoners in Stalag Luft III—the famous WWII POW camp—who put on theatre to maintain morale.

“As you watch these productions I ask you to remember, and I ask you to think about what comes next if we dare to forget. I want to thank all of the inspirational artists who have brought us this work for their roles as agitators and initiators in society. Their contributions are a political force because they speak to people’s hearts and emotions” — Heather Redfern, Cultch Executive Director

The Ceasefire Series trio of performances are:

The Believers Are But Brothers
photo: Jack Offord

THE BELIEVERS ARE BUT BROTHERS Canadian Premiere
written, performed & co-directed by Javaad Alipoor and co-director Kirsty Housley (UK) part of Diwali in BC
Oct 30 – Nov 10, 2018 at Vancity Culture Lab, 1895 Venebles Street

 

Small War
photo: Daily Dolores

SMALL WAR Canadian Premiere
directed & performed by Valentijn Dhaenens of SKaGeN Theatre Collective (Belgium), with producers Richard Jordan Productions & Theatre Royal Plymouth (UK)
Nov 6–16, 2018 at York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive

 

Three Winters
photo: Emily Cooper

THREE WINTERS World Premiere
written and directed by Amiel Gladstone (Vancouver)
Nov 7–17, 2018 at the Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street

Tickets for all shows are available from The Cultch’s Box Office: 604-251-1363 or tickets.thecultch.com. Individual tickets $24, or three packs for $65

Vancouver Fringe Festival 2018 opens September 6

The 2018 edition of Vancouver Fringe Festival is onstage from September 6th to 16th, bringing 11 days of theatre for everyone.  Since 1985, Vancouver Fringe Festival has consistently  produced “Vancouver’s Best Arts Festival” (as voted by Georgia Straight readers), with the mission to cultivate artists and audiences to create an open and vibrant independent theatre community.

Vancouver Fringe Festival employs an everyone is welcome selection process, drawing the mainstage performances out of a hat. Giving all artists from novice performers to veteran theatre companies, the chance to participate, and artists receive 100% of the box-office revenue during the festival. To make sure everyone has the opportunity to experience live theatre, Vancouver Fringe Festival keeps ticket prices affordable for all, most shows are just $15 or less. Some performances employ a pay-what-you-can policy.

Mainstage shows centre around Granville Island at the Revue Stage, Performance Works, and Waterfront Theatre. Other shows in the BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) category allow artists to stage their performances in unique and different venues, and in collaboration with The Only Animal, at site-specific performances.

With more than 100 performances over the run of the festival it can be hard to select your personal program, so join The Georgia Straight Fringe-For-All, September 5th at 8pm, and write your notes as 40 companies and performers offer a two minute taster of their show to entice you to put them on your must-see list.

A few of the diverse performance for this Vancouver Fringe Festival include:

Big Sister – Naomi Vogt photo: Matt Reznek

Big Sister – A One Woman Show About Sisters : A comedy about the relationship between two sisters and what happens when one of them changes, Big Sister explores a world of evil siblings, fat shaming, and unlikely collaboration. Written by Little Sister Deborah Vogt, performed by Big Sister Naomi Vogt, directed by award-winning Jamie King, playing at Revue Stage.

The Shape of Things : New Westminster’s Heckin’ Good Theatre brings acclaimed playwright Neil Labute’s biting tale of love, lust, and betrayal to The Cultch Vanity Culture Lab

Weirdo: Playwright Robbie T, a magician, yes, a magician, takes audiences on a one man journey, from socially awkward to utterly inept, through a mix of storytelling, magic, and hilarious overshares, Robbie reveals his inner weirdo, and encourages you to embrace your own. Onstage at Performance Works.

La Palabra en el Tiempo : Victoria’s Palabra Flamenco present a blend of poetry and flamenco, with dancer Denise Yeo, poet Garth Martens, guitarist Gareth Owen, and singer Veronica Maguire plunging mythological depths and excavate human shadow. Playing at Studio 16.

Midtwenties Theatre Society – The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant

The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant : An intimate melodrama about a successful fashion designer who becomes obsessed with a cold-hearted aspiring model. Presented by Midtwenties Theatre Society, an all-female cast tackles playwright Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s themes of narcissism, intergenerational love, sexuality, and sadomaschocism, as part of the Dramatic Works Series at The Cultch Vancity Culture Lab

In addition to cutting edge theatre, Fringe Festival prides itself one being part festival and part party with live music and fun at the Phillips Fringe Bar located at Ocean Art Works (outside the Ocean Concrete on Granville Island) offering music performances every night, with no cover.

Vancouver Fringe Festival takes place September 6 – 16, 2018, in various venues around the city, mainly centred on Granville Island.  Explore the Vancouver Fringe Festival guide and book passes and tickets by visiting vancouverfringe.com

Ignite! Festival 2018 takes over The Cultch

The Cultch’s Youth Panel are bringing IGNITE! Youth-Driven Arts Festival to The Cultch’s Historic and Vancity Culture Lab — with youth led programming and new work by local youth playwrights— from May 8-19.

 IGNITE! is an eclectic festival, programmed and curated entirely by members of the Youth Panel at the Cultch. It features theatre performers, dancers, and visual artists —all aged 11-26— as well as participants in the Cultch mentorship programs. In its 19th year, this year’s festival will be headlined by tonight’s performance of The Chemical Valley Project from Broadleaf Theatre (Toronto) — a co-presentation with Intrepid Theatre’s UNO Festival. The festival also includes the production of two new One Act Plays by local youth playwrights. In addition, each of the main festival nights offer a diverse spread of performances in a variety-show style under a theme; from Avocado Toast to Floral Friday. This year’s IGNITE! includes spoken word, contortion, live music, short plays, and original contemporary dance, plus much more.

The line-up for IGNITE! Festival includes:  

THE CHEMICAL VALLEY PROJECT

May 8th 7:30pm at Vancity Culture Lab

IGNITE! presents a special one night performance of The Chemical Valley Project, a show created by youth-run Toronto company, Broadleaf Theatre centering themes of environmental racism in Canada, and presented in partnership with Intrepid Theatre’s UNO Festival.

ONE ACT PLAYS

May 11th and 12th 7:30pm at Vancity Culture Lab

Two new short plays by local youth playwrights are showcased in the intimacy of the smaller Culture Lab Venue.

IGNITE! FESTIVAL MAIN EVENTS

May 15th to 19th 7:30pm at The Cultch Historic Theatre

Five nights featuring a diversity of young performers and participants in the Cultch Mentorship Program. Enjoy five-six performances per night in this eclectic format.

Each night’s artists are loosely assembled into a category and audiences are invited to dress according to the theme! 

May 15th – Avocado Toast
Can’t afford a house? Can’t afford avocados? Can’t even afford toast? The IGNITE! Youth Panel are here to help you reclaim everything millennial! Join us for a showcase of millennial art, from circus to Craigslist.

May 16th – Cozy Campfire
The world getting you down? Come curl up by the fire for an evening of acoustic and s’mores. Camping gear encouraged.
 

May 17th – Dapper Flapper
Get out your top hat and tails, and enjoy a night of mystery and class ranging all the way from saxophone to contortion, and starring a baby Michael Buble

May 18th – Floral Friday
We’re ready to bloom! Enjoy the garden of young local artists Vancouver has to offer. Dress as your favourite flower.

May 19th – Dynamite Night
The explosive end to a high energy week. Don’t miss this special finale evening.

 IGNITE! Festival tickets are on sale now through The Cultch’s Box Office: 604-251-1363 or tickets.thecultch.com.