Avenue Q – On Tour

Avenue Q : The Musical – The Centre in Vancouver – February 1, 2011

The touring production of the long running Broadway and Off-Broadway hit has made its way to Vancouver for 6 shows only.  Opening tonight and running until Saturday February 5th (playing nightly plus matinee on Saturday) I highly recommend checking it out.

Set in a New York City where puppets and people live together in perfect harmony…ok, so at times not so harmoniously…in an apartment building on Avenue Q.  The tenants cover all walks of life; humans Brian and his Japanese fiancée Christmas Eve, Kate Monster (a puppet), Roommate puppets Rod & Nicky, Trekkie Monster (a bit of a reclusive porn addict) and newcomer Princeton (a fresh-faced college graduate puppet).  Watching over the tenants is Superintendent Gary Coleman, of Different Strokes child actor fame.  This character was presumably intended to mock the plight of the child star but since his passing has become more of homage.

Hilarious music and lyrics along with some ‘full puppet nudity’ lift this musical about real-life situations into an extraordinary fun filled two hours. You’ll never look at puppets the same way again!

Although this opening night production had a couple of small technical glitches it’s still very worth seeing…try to catch this unique musical before it’s gone.  Look for tickets from The Centre In Vancouver online.

Interpol – Kicks off N. American Tour

Interpol - Orpheum VancouverInterpol – Orpheum Theatre Vancouver – January 27, 2011

Looking fittingly sartorial for the elegance of the classic Orpheum Theatre, Interpol kicked off their North American tour with a 90 minute set that had the sold out crowd on its feet from start to finish.

Returning from a recently completed  European tour the band seemed thrilled to bring promotion of their self-titled fourth album back home to this side of the Atlantic.  Kicking off the night with “Success” the set mixed about half of the current album with hits and faves from their previous releases.Interpol Orpheum Vancouver II

Interpol showed no signs of wear from having recently finished a long tour abroad but rather renewed excitement to embark on this leg. That excitement extended into the audience who filled the floor of the auditorium with enthusiasm (kudos to the Orpheum staff for going against the norm & allowing fans to move into the aisles & front of stage areas) The enthusiasm extended throughout the night and after as the chatter on the street was filled with raves for the show just witnessed!Interpol Orpheum Vancouver III

Don’t miss the chance to see Interpol as they come to a city near you!
Interpol 2011 North American Tour Dates:

Jay Brannan – Simply Sing-sational

Jay Brannan – Biltmore Cabaret – November 24, 2010

A boy and his guitar, that’s all it took for an evening of beautiful music.

Jay Brannan, fresh off the plane from Montreal, is on a quick 5 city Canadian tour.

Jay Brannan
Jay Brannan

This half-way show in Vancouver came upon one of the coldest nights of the year, yet somehow the cold suited the night as everyone was huddled together in the cozy Biltmore warmed by some witty, emotional lyrics and his lush vocals.  Perhaps reflecting his acting skills, Jay has an almost musical theatre like voice, at times emotional and melancholy where as to others it’s comedic and charming.  Telling stories, whether in lyrics or to the audience between songs is an art that he has perfected. The audience was genuinely enamoured by the charms of this superstar in the making as he carried on a what felt like conversation with a couple hundred of his closest friends who sang along to “Christmas Really Sucks”, “Housewife” and “Beautifully”

Jay & Jay
The Two Jays

No pretension, no demands, just great music from a sincerely nice, brilliantly talented guy

Stars -Come Out At Night

STARS – Vogue Theatre – November 4, 2010

Stars brought their infectiously catchy indie-pop to the historic Vogue Theatre in Vancouver. A nearly sold out audience was completely entranced during their set, dancing, bouncing, swaying and singing along as waves of melody (and bubbles) washed over the auditorium. With a vast catalogue of tunes to choose from a Stars show is always full of variety, in tempo, sounds and vocals as they alternate between the great Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan on leads.  The Vogue was a great setting to match the Stars style which can range from laid back and mellow or upbeat and raucous just as the audience in the Vogue can sit for a while then stand up and dance…and in the area I was in, dance, they did! Fun!

Bubbles

I had to cut my experience a bit short of the whole set to see another show but that definitely left me looking forward to their next gig in Vancouver!

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens – Orpheum Theatre Vancouver – October 28, 2010

Tonight I got my first Sufjan Stevens (pronounced soof-yahn) live experience at the Orpheum Theatre. His melodic voice was perfect for a beautiful auditorium that was designed for live performances.
His angelic vocal styliings contradicted the rather melancholy topics of his music, which he explained was mostly new for this concert and was centred around internal emotions, physical and mental illness and heart sickness. Although these subjects might be enough to put a damper on the evening, his lighthearted and good natured banter between sets made sure the show wasn’t too pessimistic.  Even when telling the tragic tale of Royal Robertson, who was the inspiration of the song “Get Real, Get Right”, it managed to stay interesting and light.
Being that most of these were new songs, no one knew them but that didn’t keep people from shouting out their affection for Sufjan. It wasn’t until two thirds of the way into the show that people got up to dance, including Sufjan and his two back up singers / dancer. They really brought the house down and the mood up with their dance moves on the final song of the nearly two hour main set.  After a short, equally entertaining encore of mostly older songs did the audience have something to hum along to on the way home. 
This may have been my first time watching Sufjan Stevens but I certainly hope it won’t be the last?

She & Him

She & Him – Orpheum Theatre – October 24, 2010

I can’t think of many other actress / singer’s side projects taken as seriously as Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward’s ‘She & Him’
The buzz surrounding this project is huge! Since my friend David and I didn’t know their music very well we thought we’d check out what the buzz was all about. This gig at the beautiful Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver and the last one on their world tour, certainly lived up to it!
Although we were a bit put off by the “No Photographs” signs posted on the doors and the hawkish security guards around the auditorium. Soon the poppy goodness of Zooey’s lovely folk inflected voice won us over. As she bounced around the stage with her tambourine, M. Ward displayed his serious guitar skills.
Soon the ‘hipster’ heavy audience warmed up and the duo seemed to warm up too, loosening up onstage. Half way through the set Zooey invited everyone to get on their feet and dance, which the whole audience took to heart, many of them rushing closer to the stage. Security seems to have loosened up a bit too as they allowed the fans to crowd the stage as well as take photos. Zooey did make one point to ask people not to take flash photos so not to temporarily blind them on stage.
The 90 minute set comprised songs from their two albums; Volume One & Volume Two, interwoven with some classic cover songs well suited to their alt-folk style. In fact their encore was completely covers; Fools Rush In, Roll Over Beethoven and I Put A Spell On You. The arrangements of the old songs blended well with the new and put the distinct ”She&Him” stamp to the whole set. Overall the cuteness of Zooey’s stage presence, combined with the serious musician vibe of M. Ward made for an amazing night. They said “we’ll be back” and I hope they are soon…I’d go see them again!

Don Quixote – Arts Club Theatre Company

Opening Nights at the theatre are full of anticipation; will you like it, will it be boring, will it be… Even more so when you’re seeing a new work as we did last night at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage. 
Don Quixote is a collarboration between The Arts Club, Centaur and Axis Theatre Companies. This comedic adaptation by Colin Heath and Peter Anderson of Cervantes classic tome also stars Peter Anderson as the title character.
With inventive sets and costumes, especially the masks by Melody Anderson, take us from a simple stage out into the Spanish countryside or within a castle walls.
Having not read the orginal work I can’t say how true to the story this play followed but it obviously took some liberties as they began to play the dialogue for laughs.  Colin Heath told us, at the Artistic Directors Circle, he found his ‘angle’ in the second volume of the original work, written after the exploits told in the first book have made ‘Don Quixote’ famous throughout Spain, taking the point of view of a story within a story or play within a play in this case.  
The writing, unfortunately, left me a bit wanting, I felt unsure exactly what this play was trying to be, as it wandered from a period drama to buddy/road trip comedy to pantomime, never quite resonating on any level. There seemed to be plenty of laughs from the audience but some of them came very cheaply via out of place toilet humour. Maybe I’m being overly critical but I don’t think I was completely alone in feeling unsatisfied.  
The producers have developed a good structure for this play but still could use a bit more time refining the writing to have a hit.  Afterall, not all plays begin life as an instant ‘classic’ and thanksfully we have companies like The Arts Club Theatre that allow playwrites and producers a place to nurture new works and new ideas.