; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: 2008

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Seussical The Musical

What a holiday treat! A local production of the Broadway musical, Seussical, based on the stories of Dr. Seuss! What can I say? It was fun and a perfect night out for the whole family. There's even a special toddler night for those of you who have really little ones. This could be a great way to introduce the kids to live theatre, which I would totally do if I had kids of my own!

It's playing now until January 3 at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Master Debaters

I laughed for two hours straight last night when I went to a taping of CBC Radio's The Debaters.

Hosted by the very hilarious Steve Patterson, this radio program takes two comedians and pits them against each other over topics such as "Santa Claus: A Good or Bad Role Model for Children" to "Is Blogging a Waste of Time?" and "Home Theatre vs the Movie Theatre." We were lucky enough to catch the program, along with almost 300 other fans who lined up on a chilly December evening, when it rolled into town this week. They said they've never had such a large audience before, and managed to entertain us with the taping of not one, but THREE shows! That meant a total of six debates! One of the best ones of the night was a gay comic vs a lesbian comic fighting over the surprisingly serious topic of "Portrayal of Gays and Lesbians in the Media." In the end it was just a bunch of silly fun, with everyone in the audience clutching their sides at the hysterics. (Unfortunately, the show doesn't come in a podcast format due to copyright issues with the different comedians' material.) However, try to catch the show when it airs in the upcoming weeks on CBC Radio, you might hear me laughing somewhere in the distance!

Friday, 21 November 2008

You Could Say I'm Hard To Hold, But If You Knew Me You'd Know...

Last night's Jay Brannan concert was so beautiful in that stripped down, acoustic, intimate setting, casual and uber-talented kind of way. I can't think of a better way to follow up last month's huge arena spectacle that was Madonna.

Thank you Mr Jay Brannan for returning to our city. I was so pissed at myself for having missed out on his last show back in January. I'm so glad I was able to catch him this time around. He sang a blanket of songs including Soda Shop, Housewife, Half-Boyfriend, and a new one he penned with Margaret Cho - a little ditty about bringing peace to the world by giving great head - aptly titled Relax Your Necks! (My favourite lines include the "horses at the gate" and "my esophagus is lined with silk"!)

If you've watched his clips, you'll know he likes to talk quite a bit, which made the show that much more fun and interactive. If he comes to your town, do go see him as he seems to be so genuine and grateful to have an audience, as he deserves! It was like hanging out with an old friend - a hot gay one whose lap you just want to put your head on while he strums away on his guitar and serenades you all night!

It was also refreshing to attend a concert where there weren't 100 cell phones and digital cameras in the air snapping photos and recording the songs to be uploaded later that night to YouTube. But that said, I'm glad there are a few online that I can look for and recreate the evening that I had.

For an encore, he covered Jann Arden's Good Mother. This song has always touched me, but Jay Brannan's version was downright heartbreaking. His voice simply soars on it. There's a cleaned-up version he does on YouTube, but I prefer this live footage taken from Toronto - there's just something more given out at a live performance and this clip conjured up similar emotions for me like it did last night.

Friday, 31 October 2008

If You Want Me Let Me Know, Baby Let It Show...

And so last night was Madonna's first touch-down in Vancouver, ever, and the 60,000 fans who packed the stadium to see her erupted in a sea of screams when the lights finally went out just before 9:30pm.

The floor seats I had were at first spectacular, but when everyone crowded the aisles in front of us, it got to be a bit annoying. There was no control whatsoever by the staff there, and they expect to hold the 2010 Olympics in here? Have fun!!

The ONE person in our section who stood on a chair happened to be RIGHT IN FRONT of me! She was this 3"4 woman so I couldn't really blame her, but Really? She wasn't even from our section! She had snuck up from behind with the 500 other people. And stood up on a seat that wasn't even her own. I managed to poke my head through little gaps in the crowd to see the stage, but if my view had been enetirely blocked by her, you KNOW i would have kicked that chair out from under her!!!

Anyway, the highlight for me of the evening was her rockin' rendition of Borderline, which for me, gave it an angrier/hurt/urgent feel. I belted it out along with her, singing about a guy who just keeps her hanging, who sends her mixed signals, and even though she's given all she can, he just keeps on pushing her love "over the borderline..." I feel it, Madge. I feel it!

Another song that struck a chord with me (no pun intended, even though she totally picked up that damn guitar of hers AGAIN for this number) was Hung Up. A song about being hung up on a guy, waiting for him to call, tired of waiting around for him? Gee, sound familliar, Hot-Lunch?

Okay, in order, she did Candy Shop, coming out on a purple throne which my friends and I had already dismissed as a Gwen Stefani/Love Angel Music Baby rip-off. This was followed by another newbie, Beat Goes On, which included a cameo by a Rolls Royce being wheeled onto the stage.

Human Nature followed, with the much balley-hooed Britney Spears sequence in tow. Meah. Madonna just stood there with that goddamned guitar again. I wasn't sure if I should watch her or Britney, but neither were very interesting at this point.

Vogue was up next and it was frickin' awesome! Done to a Four Minutes mash-up, the new vogue dance moves were killer and I so need to learn them!

Costume change time, while we watched a Die Another Day montage featuring M in her boxing attire. I'm a sucker for video sequences like this. I could watch those all day long.

The next section was the funnest of the night, beginning with Into The Groove and including Keith Haring images in the background and some serious jump-roping and double-dutch! Heartbeat, one of my favourite songs from the new album, was next. "Hut hut, get down!" I hate that part of the song, but love it. Know what I mean?

Then Borderline, followed by She's Not Me which included four dancers dressed like old incarnations of Madonna. There was Express Yourself Madonna, Open Your Heart Madonna, Material Girl Madonna, and Like a Virgin Wedding Dress Madonna. The real Madonna proceeded to rip their costumes off them and shoving them aside, while literally proclaiming, "She's not me!" Sadly, I didn't notice the part where she and Pharell randomly shout out: "Wendy!"

Music was next, and I liked how it began as though they were all getting off a subway train. This song is overdone for me, having seen it performed for each of her last four tours! Hey Mr DJ, put the record down already!!! Put something else on for cryin' out loud!

Time for another interlude, with Rain mixed up with Eurythmics' Here Comes The Rain Again. Random.

It was time to bring the mellow into the show, beginning with a beautiful performance of The Devil Wouldn't Recognize You which had Madonna shrouded in a black cloak for most of the song, atop a piano, behind a cylinder screen that had images of water being projected onto it. Spanish Lesson was next, and forgettable, much like the track itself. (Though I admit I like the "If you do your homework, maybe I will give you more" bit.)

Miles Away was amazing, with the whole stadium clapping along. La Isla Bonita, another overplayed song of hers, was redone gypsy style a la her Live Earth performance and it was pretty good. I wasn't paying too much attention during You Must Love Me. I think the chaos going on around me on the floor was distracting me at this point.

A little interlude about saving the Earth, followed by Four Minutes which is not a favourite of mine at all. The crowd went nuts for the raved-up version of Like a Prayer, immediately followed by Ray of Light. A singalong of Like a Virgin took the request part of the night. Personally I was hoping for Open Your Heart or Dress You Up - two songs I've yet to see her perform live in front of me. This final stretch kicked it all into high gear with the dance tunes, including the aforementioned Hung Up and the final song of the evening, Give It 2 Me. It was energetic but I'm not sure if people knew it since it doesn't get any radio airplay here!

In the end, I'm sure it was a very historic night for many a Vancouverite who were finally touched for the very first time! As for me, I got home at 1am, and was up at 5:30am to get ready for work. So, please forgive me any typos or lazy reviewing!!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Cause She's Your Number One...

Last night's Goldfrapp concert was magnificent! The band returned to Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom to a sold out audience who swayed to the new mellow sounds of their latest disc, Seventh Tree and went ballistic for oldies but goodies like Strict Machine, Ooh La La, and Number One. I was sad she didn't do Ride a White Horse but seeing Alison do Utopia live was breathtaking to say the least. She is so unique and talented and wonderful, it was amazing to have seen her live!

Added Details: Thought I'd write a little bit more to give you a sense of the show. The stage was over-run with stuffed owls and crows, and Miss Alison was wearing a clown-esque outfit. She toasted the crowd several times with her wine glass and said Cheers everytime we screamed insanely for her.

Highlights for me were Number One, Ooh La La, Clowns, A&E, Happiness, Strict Machine, and as I said above, Utopia just blew me away when she hit those high operatic notes.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Swarm 2008!

It's that time of year again! SWARM began last night in the Mount Pleasant district, and tonight's "zone" is the Downtown/Gastown corridor, and tomorrow it ends with the Hastings and Commercial area....

If you haven't gone, it's a totally fun thing to do! Hopping from art gallery to gallery with the masses...!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Renaissance Fest, Me Lords and Me Fair Maidens?

I don't know what y'all got planned for the long weekend, but I know where I'll be!

The BC Renaissance Festival!!

Aye, it is no lie, fine Sir!! Come hither with me, let me be thine guide!!

I bid thee adieu until another fort night, where chance may have it, we will reconvene and meet again upon a midsummer night's dream!

Friday, 22 August 2008

For My Eyes Only: A Night With Sheena Easton

"Let me take you somewhere, you've never beeeeeeeeeeeen....." - Sugar Walls

So, Wednesday it was pouring rain. I bought my gate admission tickets to the PNE, a local fair that takes place every summer for two weeks. The cost was $15, but I managed to get the discounted rate at $12. Move To This and I stood at the front of the stage, awaiting the arrival of one Sheena Easton. We were both sooo excited! I personally never would have dreamed in a million years I'd get to see Sheena perform, let alone for $12!!!

She was a bit late, having trouble getting across the border, but it was worth the wait! She started with a song that I wasn't familliar with, but it kept repeating the word "Celebrate" in it. Yes, she looked older, but the girl is pushing 50 so give her a break, right? She can still pull off a fantastic bitch-face if she wants though! We tried to give her one back but really, who can compete? We did however, manage to give her an arm-crossed snap of the fingers the way she does it in so many of her videos. She then went into The Lover In Me, which had us screaming for more!

She approached the edge of the stage and shook some of our hands, including Move To This! Lucky bastard!! I was feeling a bit snubbed by her and it made me sad. But when she sang her other hits like Almost Over You, U Got The Look, and Sugar Walls, I was feeling better about things!

She actually talked quite a bit, poking fun at her age and how people constantly confuse her with Sheila E. (During the performance, she did break into a few lines from The Glamorous Life, much to my delight and amusement!)

NOT Sheena Easton!!

She also started talking about how in her day, there was a thing called "records." At this point, I jumped up and down and waved my copy of her album "A Private Heaven" around so she could see it! She stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me and said, "Gimme that baby!!" and came over and took the album cover and showed it to everyone, then struck the same pose as on the cover, i.e. the fist under the chin pose!!

So much hilarity, so much joy. I did not feel snubbed any longer! She performed the Kenny Rogers duet, We've Got Tonight and a medley of Burt Baccharach songs, which infuriated me cause she could have been singing Modern Girl or Swear or even Jimmy Mack for all I cared at that point, not stupid Burt Baccharach songs! Is that even how I spell his name?! Who cares!!!

Everyone cheered when she erupted into Strut!!

My favourite song was next: Telefone!! She told the crowd that the song was older than cell phones. Older than text messaging and answering machines. She explained that there was once a time when you would call someone and WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO REACH THEM! "It's so sad that I have to explain the meaning of this song because I am so old!!" she shouted before breaking into it in all its 80s glory!

And of course then led us all in a Morning Train sing-along!

She then faked an encore and ended the 90 minute show with For Your Eyes Only.

(Singing For Your Eyes Only)

Afterwards, she approached the edge of the stage again to shake people's hands and this time, I managed to get a handshake!!! Yes, that's right, I shook Sheena Easton's hand!!!!!

Best. Week. Ever.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Guess Who I Met Last Night!?

Last night I wound up drinking from 5:30pm onwards and heading to the 20th floor of a friend of a friend's apartment building to watch the fireworks. It was a stunning spectacle from China as there is currently a fireworks competition going on in Vancouver with Canada, the US, and China vying for top honours. I haven't gone to the Celebration of Light (formerly known as the Symphony of Fire) for a while as I don't like dealing with the massive crowds some of whom can get rude/violent. It's been relatively quiet and calm this year, however.

Canada started off the contest last Wednesday with a Godzilla-themed display, while the USA countered with a fireworks theme of Love. Last night, China's theme was the Olympics and it was just gangbusters! The sky was brilliant with reds, greens, blues, golds, silvers... From the moment it started to the moment it ended, it was non-stop explosions of light in the evening sky.

Afterwards, I met up with some friends and went down to Celebrities (gay bar) as Vancouver is currently also in the midst of celebrating Pride, culminating with the big parade this Sunday! What better way to party mid-week than to go clubbing, get drunk, run into your boss' boss, and then meet the legendary transgendered icon Amanda Lepore!!! She was the special guest of the evening and did a performance for everyone, which brought the house down! Afterwards, people lined up for photos and as I didn't have my camera with me, I just went and told her how awesome she was and to thank her for being here. She was a total sweetie, which the organizers of the event also attested to.

Happy Pride everybody!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Vancouver Art Gallery

The recent exhibit KRAZY! at the Vancouver Art Gallery could have you cooped up for days if you're not careful. The exhibit is a study on comic books, anime, manga, and video games. Given enough time, you could spend all day reading all the comic strips they have framed up on the walls, sitting and going through all the graphic novels at a rest station, or taking a breather and playing some video games including an old school original Pac Man arcade machine. An interesting exhibit with lots to see and do, especially for folks who don't normally go to the art gallery but are interested in this genre of pop culture.

Meanwhile, two floors up, a new exhibit has just opened, featuring Chinese artist Zhang Huan. His pieces were more on the creepy and shocking side, with photographs, videos of his live performance installations, and painting/sculpture. One photo that stood out for me was of the artist doing a live installation inside an outhouse in Beijing, where he sat naked for an hour on top of the toilet, covered himself in fish juice and let flies cover and attack him.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Hive 2

So, this weekend I went to Hive 2, a smorgasborg of theatre that took place back in 2006 at a funeral parlour in the Downtown Eastside. I was looking forward to this second coming of the event but made the mistake of going on the final night of a two week run, after it had already received major press coverage and selling out. I should have gone earlier during the two-week run.

It was a bit of a stressful evening, beginning first with trying to get a friend in at the last minute and then jockeying for position at all the different theatre productions. I didn't get to see the shows that I wanted to get into, which was highly frustrating. One had a one-person audience and used a lottery system to get in. You had to draw straws (only 10 were available), and out of the 10, only one of them had the magic mark on the end, and the person with that stick was the one who got to go in to see the show. My friend Emily made it in, and described the intimate show as this: "You look into a microscope and see this eyeball staring back at you. Then you look at this book and a projector is showing drawings and images on it for you. Suddenly a real life hand comes crashing down on the book and this actress appears before you and starts performing." Those aren't her exact words but you get the idea.

The Electric Company's "Flanigan Affair" was apparently the best show there, but I didn't get to see it because it was constantly surrounded by a mob to get in. This probably had a lot to do with a review in a local paper that basically said, "This is the best one there, go see it if you can" causing the onrush. Boo!!

Another production had us all get orange armbands which we wore all night long until a soldier came to grab us without notice. Peter and I were in line for one production when we were pulled out, put into orange jumpsuits, blindfolded and had headphones placed on our ears. We were then led through the room holding onto a rope and shut into seperate rooms. Peter was put in a room where he saw images and news footage of Guatanamo Bay, including George W. Bush repeating over and over, "We haven't done anything wrong." I, on the other hand, was sequestered in a room that was pitch black and heard audio of soldier's talking about the prisoners. "I like to throw corn at them," laughed one. It was a neat experience, scary and sad. Actress Sandra Oh was in attendance a week prior and the word spread like wildfire that this particular production brought her to tears.

One that I missed out on was a YouTube thing, where people from the night before pick out videos for the next night's audience to see, and then after watching the videos, actors come out and do a performance by using the comments that are left underneath the videos as their dialogue. Supposed to be pretty hilarious, with lots of stupidity and homophobia in the comments. The reason I missed this was because our group of 4 got separated. Two of us were able to make it in, but the other two weren't, and I felt obligated to keep everyone together so we decided not to go in without the rest of the gang. We thought we could hit it up again by the end of the evening but it never happened.

Boca Del Lupo's offering this year wasn't as cool as last year's dumpster bin diving, but it was still nice to see. We were led into a space where we all had to lay down and look up into what appeared to be an elevator shaft of sorts. Seperating us was a see-through plastic partition, on which lay an actor looking down at us. Without words, the piece told the story of someone trapped at the bottom of this shaft or well, and slowly going insane down there. From above, a cover is slid open to reveal blue sky and the arrival of someone to come rescue our fallen character, who ends up striking the rescuer with a monkey wrench and climbing up the rope ladder to freedom and closing the lid behind, leaving the new person laying on the partition staring down and waiting for the next audience to arrive.

Next year, if they have it again, I have a plan: go on a weekday and don't go on the last night of the event. Also, if I'm going to be with more than one person, screw them if they can't get into a show and let everyone fend for themselves!!!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

I Don't Care If Monday's Blue

Off the top of my head, I can recognize and name a handful of Cure songs.

Looking at The Cure's discography, I can recognize and name a handful of Cure songs.

How then, did I find myself swaying to the melodic songs of Robert Smith and company last night at The Cure concert? I think I wanted to go because they are iconic. They make me feel like I am young again.

Although, I felt a bit old when they launched into their THIRD encore and I glanced at my watch and saw it was nearing the witching hour and boy am I going to be tired in the morning when I have to be at work by 7:30am...

The show was pretty good. Robert Smith did not talk much. I've been going to way too many concerts recently.

If only I'd thought of the right words...

Sunday, 6 April 2008

True West

On Thursday, I was treated to the Sam Shepard play True West, now running at the Vancouver Playhouse.

It tells the story of two brothers, one a successful screenwriter, the other not so much. The two meet up at their mother's cabin and get on one another's nerves, eventually switching roles so that the laid-back cool one becomes the agressor in the relationship. It was well acted and a decent production, but nothing mindblowing. I don't know much about Shepard's work but his name rings a bell. The play was a bit intense at times, slow at others, but there were comedic moments as well so all in all, it wasn't a bad night.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Seeing Sarah Silverman

Last night I attended Sarah Silverman's show at the River Rock Casino. She was pretty funny, although about half of the material she was giving us was recycled from previous shows. For instance, if you've seen her DVD Jesus Is Magic, then you'll recognize 50% of the jokes that she told last night, not to mention most of the songs that she sang (Jews Driving German Cars, You're Gonna Die Soon, etc). In that respect, the show was disappointing. I came to see her do new material, not something I've already watched.

In terms of joke-telling, she more or less stumbles through stories until something strikes her or your funny bone. She's not like a classic comedian who has the punchlines ready to go, and can sometimes come off a bit rambling. She wound her way here and there and back again, going off on tangents and probably being as annoyed as I was at all the STUPID PEOPLE who kept getting up and out of their seats during the program!! WTF, Vancouver!? Go to the washroom before you come to the show!! OY! I was embarassed for our city. (This also happened at Margaret Cho, too!) Do people have small bladders or something?

Anyway, it was a fun evening and her opening act had awkward/uncomfortable jokes as well, which I thought were fantastic! I didn't laugh uncontrollably like I did at Margaret Cho's show, but it was a different type of comedy - darker, politically incorrect, and a bit more intelligent (which explains why the annoying woman in front of me who kept talking didn't quite "get" it)!

Friday, 28 March 2008

We Are Beautiful, No Matter What They Say...

I just got back from the Margaret Cho "Beautiful" show and it was downright hysterical! She's got her groove back! It was a lot lighter than her other tours, which seemed to come off pretty heavy and full of moral teachings. This had its messages of love and peace but the laughter far outweighed the preaching.

Opening act Liam Sullivan was good too, starting off his set with a song from Aunt Susan, Kelly's lesbian relative. This was followed by a new video not yet uploaded to YouTube and then a screening of "Let Me Borrow That Top." He then came out as Kelly and performed "Shoes" live, which was great but for those who have never seen the video might not have gotten.

I managed to snag an interview with Liam last week and get it published over in the Westender. I actually secured the interview before securing a publication for it. I wanted the chance to talk to him that I was willing to put the cart before the horse! Thankfully, after pitching the piece to 3 separate newspapers, one finally responded and said yes at the very last minute.

If the Beautiful tour comes by your city, do check it out if you're looking for a fun night out. You are guaranteed a laugh!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Into The Woods

Today I celebrated World Theatre Day by going out and catching the local production of Sondheim's Into the Woods, playing until the 29th at The Cultch. I am not a fan of Stephen Sondheim's work, which I've talked about on here time and time again. However, for a Sondheim musical, this is probably the one that I actually enjoyed the most! Music wise it did nothing for me. His work on the Dick Tracy soundtrack is light years better than all his other stuff, in my opinion and not just because Madonna is in it. However, the show itself was very fun and entertaining and even funny.

And for a community theatre group? This was a full fledged musical! The cast was larger than 5 and they could all actually sing! Who knew? Broadway, eat your heart out! The set was simple but it worked. If you've got time this weekend, catch Into The Woods at The Cultch, which is a cool old theatre off Venables that has an upper balcony that's cramped but fun in that New York City kind of way.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Interview with Margaret Cho

Hey, my interview with Margaret Cho is in this week's Georgia Straight! She was a lot more upbeat this time around when I interviewed her. A few years ago I talked with her and she was quieter and more soft spoken. This time though, she was laughing and more spirited, though she is still pretty quiet compared to her on stage persona.

We talked about her tattoos and how straight guys are the new fag hags. Check it out online here!

Margaret's coming to town next Friday with her Beautiful tour. Her opening act is Liam Sullivan (of Kelly/"shoes" fame!) I snagged an interview with Liam as well and am currently waiting to hear back from a local paper to see if they will run the piece...

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Author Reading : Alexis Kienlen

Author Alexis Kienlen will be in town on Wednesday night reading from her book of poetry, She Dreams In Red. It takes place from 7pm - 9pm at Radha House (728Main Street).

Alexis often comments on my blog, and some of you may already know her as Blue Lotus. Check out her reading on Wednesday night!