Hot Brown Honey Keeps The Hive Buzzing

Australian based Hot Brown Honey returned to The Cultch York Theatre building on the buzz from last year’s visit.

Hot Brown Honey photo: Chrissie Hall

The Honeys; Kim ‘Busty Beatz – The Queen Bee’ Bowers, Lisa Fa’alafi ‘The Game Changer’ , Ofa Fotu ‘The Myth Slayer’, Hope Haami ‘Hope One The Beatboxer’, Elena Wangurra ‘The Truth Sayer’, Crystal Stacey ‘The Peace Maker’ throwdown a one of a kind performance.

Hot Brown Honey is hard to define to one genre, The Honeys bring a hip-hop concert, burlesque, circus, theatre, comedy and politics to The Hive. Once the audience enters the theatre, it’s clear that something special is about to happen. With hip hop music playing the six performers are amongst the audience, dancing and interacting, as they take their seats. The Honeys instantly bond with the audience, easing them into what’s about to happen.

Hot Brown Honey – Childcare

Throughout the show they break the fourth wall to involve the audience, whether including them in dance or, like me, holding on to one of their ‘babies’ for the show, because a “revolution doesn’t happen without childcare”. Politics, indigenous peoples’ and women’s rights are amongst the themes but presented in such a way that doesn’t slap you in the face but gets the point across with much laughter, excitement, emotions and empowerment. Opening night, was dedicated to Christchurch, NZ which had just suffered a terror act on mosque that same day.

As Hot Brown Honey defies description so it’s best to be seen in person. You have until March 30th to catch The Honey’s in action at York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive. Visit thecultch.com for details and tickets.

Dakh Daughters Debut at The Cultch

Part of The Cultch Femme Series, Dakh Daughters it making its Canadian debut at York Theater until January 19, 2019.

Dakh Daughters
Dakh Daughters photo: Tetiana Vasylenko

The cabaret-style performance sees six performers from Kyiv’s Dakh Theatre, taking the stage to create a unique evening of genre-bending music. The Dakh Daughters rotate through a wide variety of instruments; wind, percussion, keyboards and strings. Sung mostly in Ukrainian, and bits of English and French, with English surtitles, the traditional Ukrainian folk, pop, and original works songs are arranged to blend a diverse range of styles. Ballads bleed into rock, rap mixes with pop and reggae lends its beats, to create a weirdly satisfying cacophony of sounds. As with the music, the sextet’s costume changes take them from a start as hip babushkas with hints of DEVO, to burlesque-punk divas, stylish sirens, and political patriots.

Talking about the performance doesn’t do the rock-opera justice, there’s no way to describe the connection the music had with the audience. The opening night audience seemed to have a number of Ukrainian fans who connected to the music, singing along with the tunes, acknowledging the topics. An audience member near me went from laughing with the lyrics to being in tears during one of the heartfelt ballads.

Dakh Daughter
Dakh Daughters photo: Igor Gaidai

During the show’s encore the Dakh Daughters were very thankful to their first Canadian show and felt the audience was receptive enough to draw attention to the Crimean conflict and Oleg Sentsov, and other Ukrainian political prisoners being held in Russia.

Dakh Daughters; Natalia Charpe, Nina Garenetska, Nataliya Halanevych, Tetiana Havrylyuk, Solomiia Melnyk, Ganna Nikitina, take the stage at the York Theatre January 15 – 19, 2019. Visit thecultch.com for tickets and more information.

Femme Series hits The Cultch this winter

This Winter, The Cultch is celebrating the power of female identifying voices, from Jan 15 – Feb 16, 2019, with its third annual Femme Series

Amplifying female identifying voices has always been important to Cultch Executive Director, Heather Redfern.
 “This is our way to say, ‘Come on, guys: you’ve got to pay attention to this,” Redfern told The Georgia Straight about the Femme Series in early 2018 “you have to do it deliberately. You have to commit to doing 50 percent of work [in your season] where the main thrust is from a female creation.”

This year’s Femme Series is bigger and better, than ever before, packed with special events—music, karaoke, new play-readings, and opportunities to mix and mingle. It continues the work from last year, with particular emphasis on deconstructing patriarchal language, expanding the limitations of the way gender is represented, and celebrating the intersectionality of the feminist perspective.

Femme Series Events, including Main Stage Productions:

Jan 11WROL (Without Rule of Law) by Michaela Jeffery—A new play reading presented by Touchstone Theatre, 8PM, Historic Theatre—FREE

Jan 12:  Soft Cedar Presents: Only a Visitor album release, with special guest Wallgrin—Only A Visitor is a quintet that blurs genre boundaries by straddling the line between art music and pop. Their new album, Technicolour Education, focuses on the Chinese diasporic experience in Vancouver through generations of immigrant stories. 8PM, Historic Theatre—$20

Jan 14: Women in the Arts Mixer5-7PM, Historic Theatre—FREE

Jan 14: Pitch, Bitch, and Ditch with Pippa Mackie and Kim HarveyJoin theatre creators and producers Kim Senklip Harvey and Pippa Mackie for an unforgettable night that puts the power in the hands of the patrons. 8-9PM, Historic Theatre—$10

Dakh Daughters
photo: Tetiana Vasylenko

Jan 15 – 19Dakh Daughters (Ukraine), York Theatre—Main Stage Season Production: Six actresses take musical instruments into their hands in order to create a life-affirming performance about love, freedom, and beauty which—at the end of the day—will save the world


Jan 22 – 26
Power Ballad, Julia Croft/Nisha Madhan (New Zealand), 8PM, Historic Theatre—Main Stage Season Production:  an angry, feminist, live art investigation of language and its sometimes hidden ideologies. Part performance lecture, part karaoke party, Power Ballad deconstructs gendered linguistic histories and rips apart contemporary language to find a new articulation of pleasure, anger, and femaleness.

Jan 25: Feminist Karaoke with Julia Croft, after Power Ballad, 9PM, Historic Theatre—FREE

Jan 27: Soft Cedar Presents: Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole, presented as part of CapU Global Roots Series—Kaumakaiwa brings to the stage an immense talent as a singer, chanter, and dancer as well as a deep understanding of her Hawaiian culture and her place as a modern, transgender (mahu wahine) Hawaiian in this contemporary world. She engages Indigenous thought to address today’s issues through music, chant, and sharing of spirit. 8PM, York Theatre—$40

Much Ado About Nothing
photo: Emily Cooper

Feb 5 – 16Much Ado About Nothing, Classic Chic Productions (Vancouver), Historic Theatre—Main Stage Season Production: Featuring an all-female cast, and set in a mesmerizing theatrical world, this deadly serious and sublimely ridiculous story—of soldiers in love and women confined by tradition—is a bold and playful romp through the extremes of desire and ambition, loyalty and redemption.

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.