; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: February 2013

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Vancouver International Wine Festival

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is now in full swing! Have you gone down to the tasting room yet to check out wines from all over the world? I'll be heading that way this evening, so chances are I might stumble into you if you're there! And I do mean stumble...

The festival began back in 1979, and has grown exponentially since then, from being hosted in a mansion over in Shaugnessy with only one wine merchant to now being a multi-day affair at Canada Place.

Cheers to everyone!

Monday, 25 February 2013

West Coast Women's Show

Calling all Young and the Restless fans! Joshua Morrow, aka Nick Newman, will be coming to Vancouver on March 3 at the West Coast Women's Show!

Also in attendance will be Tony Okungbowa, the DJ from the ELLEN show!

It looks like there's gonna be lots to do and see at this event, including a Vancouver Firefighters fashion show!! 

The West Coast Women's Show takes place this weekend, March 1-3 at the PNE Forum!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

My Funny Valentine at the Firehall Arts Centre

Returning to the stage is the Jessie-nominated My Funny Valentine, now running at the Firehall Arts Centre. It's the multi-layered story of a school shooting, told from a number of perspectives: fellow student, teacher, parent, reporter. The multitude of characters are all played seamlessly by one very talented Anton Lipovetsky, who dons each role with ease and precision.

Not only is the acting spot on, but it may also have something to do with the rich script that the actor is provided, written by Dave Deveau. Each monologue is separate and different from the other, yet shows off the multi-faceted and complex layers of the subject matter being explored. And just when you think the scene is heading off into another direction, there's a poignancy that comes around without hitting you over the head with its message of how much work our society needs to do. Director Cameron Mackenzie has done a wonderful job with making use of the space, the lighting, and allowing the actor to morph into each character before our very eyes. 

The show will have you laughing at parts, holding your breath in a heavy silence at others, and even getting your back up at some of the characters being portrayed on stage. It's an accomplishment to be able to get the audience to feel such a range of emotions, all within 85 minutes, with no intermission and with just one actor. 

Timely and sensitive, the return of My Funny Valentine is a much-needed dose of social consciousness, good theatre, and reflection. Zee-Zee-Theatre's production of My Funny Valentine runs now at the Firehall Arts Centre until March 2.  Tickets available here

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Gravity of Center at The Cultch

Montreal's RUBBERBANDance group lands at The Cultch this week with its 75 minute breathtaking performance, Gravity of Center.

It's a mind-bending no holds barred orgy of dance, that flows seamlessly from scene to scene. With superb lighting work and a hypnotizing soundtrack, this show is beautiful and haunting and felt like a silent film come to life. At points heavy and melancholic, and other moments free and liberated, the performance runs the gamut of emotion and there seems to be no restrictions as to what these talented artists can do with their own bodies.

It's not often that I choose to go out for an evening of dance, but this one is well worth your time! Gravity of Center runs at The Cultch now until February 23.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Happy Chinese New Year!

It's the year of the Snake!! May it be a good one for all of you!

If you're looking for events around town to celebrate the Lunar New Year, there's lots coming up this week!

The annual Chinese New Year Parade that winds its way through Chinatown will be taking place on Sunday, February 17. Also going on will be the Lion Dances and the Cultural Fair both of which you can check out after the parade!

You can also head over to International Village for festivities from Feb 15 - 17, including live performances and exhibition booths. Admission is free!

That same weekend is the CIBC Lunarfest, which is fun for the whole family down at the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza! Go check out the lanterns, live performances, and the dumpling fest!

Happy new year everyone!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Ride The Cyclone

If you take a school choir and thrust them on a devastating roller coaster ride, what would they sing about in the afterlife? That's what you'll find out in the Canadian born and bred musical, Ride the Cyclone, now playing at the Granville Island Stage. Think Glee meets Final Destination. This musical falls in line more with the likes of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Spring Awakening, in that it's got that dark and gritty element to it. You won't find John Travolta in a wig and mumu anywhere near this.

The original songs are all completely different from one another. Whether it's a French-inspired number set in a twisted Moulin Rouge cabaret hosted by a drag queen, or a Ziggy Stardust-esque number featuring aliens evolved from cats, this show is unstoppable! It starts off quietly with a low rumble, then gathers speed until it twists and turns in all sorts of crazy directions, till it finally reaches its loop the loop, and brings you back down to earth with a smooth ease that some seasoned musicals can't even do.

Each performer was exceptionally talented, the highlight being Sarah Jane Pelzer as Jane Doe, whose voice just lifted us up to new heights, as it absolutely soared throughout the theatre.

Ride The Cyclone began its life in Victoria back in 2009. Since then, it has toured cities in Canada and this marks its return to Vancouver. I could easily see this succeeding off-Broadway, and dare I say, having a turn on to the Great White Way itself. Perhaps we are seeing the start of something big here? What if in a few years time, this little show that could wound up winning the Tony Award for Best New Musical? I've seen a lot of crap on Broadway: Shrek, Title of Show, Wonderland - to name a few. Ride The Cyclone is easily a winner in my books.

Ride The Cyclone is on now at the Granville Island Stage until February 16. Go now or you'll be kicking yourself for missing it before they hit it big!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Spring Awakening at Studio 58

If it's a bitch of a living, then you might need some Spring Awakening in your life. Currently playing at Langara's Studio 58, is the Western Canada premiere of the hit Tony-award winning musical, Spring Awakening.

Fans of the show Glee might know it as the production that gave Lea Michele her start. The show lends itself well to giving more than just one of the performers the limelight. Some stand-outs for me included Dallas Sauer as the tragic Moritz, Lauren Jackson as Wendla, and Stephanie Izsak as Ilse.

(l-r: Anthea Morrit, Lauren Jackson, Erica Hoeksema; photo by David Cooper)

The story centers around a group of teenagers coming of age and discovering their sexuality in a small German town circa late 1800s. The dialogue and the musical numbers however, are all modern-day, with songs written by Duncan Sheik. The show has a darkness to it with a young couple dabbling in some S&m while two girls sing about the sexual abuse they have to deal with every night from their fathers in the brilliantly performed and written number, The Dark I Know Well. Like many of the scenes, it had the entire audience holding its breath from the sheer intensity of what was going on in the story. 

Director David Hudgins does find the light however, in all the darkness - inserting humour when appropriate to help alleviate the tension. The sparse set works wonderfully as well, thanks to a set design by Shizuka Kai. It hasn't strayed too much from the original Broadway production, with chairs being the main prop. Marina Szijarto's costume design is also a delight with the boys in their school uniforms and the girls wearing period piece dresses. Shelley Stewart Hunt's choreography helps bring up the energy level with lots of jumping and jerky dance moves.

(l-r: Alex Strong, Dominic Duchesne ; photo by David Cooper)

I saw Spring Awakening on Broadway a few years ago and was ecstatic to learn that it was finally going to make its debut here in Vancouver, and by the oh so talented people of Studio 58! This is an electrifying production and a great opportunity to see this musical that may not otherwise come to town. 

Spring Awakening plays at Langara's Studio 58 until Feb 24! Shows are already selling out, so get your tickets now!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Tobias Wong exhibit - Museum of Vancouver

Have you gone yet? The Tobias Wong exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver ends this month, and it is the coolest exhibit you will get a chance to see. I wrote about it back in September, and since then the museum has put on numerous events to coincide with the show, including a pop-up tattoo parlour.

The final event for this exhibit takes place on Feb 7 and is a Talk and Tour with Pablo Griff, who was a close and personal friend of the artist. I knew Tobias as well, and have already gone to the exhibit more than once. More recently, I acquired the catalogue that accompanies the show, and it is so beautiful and so well done!

Don't believe me? Check out what the Canadian Design Resource has to say and what the Globe and Mail thought about the exhibit.

The Tobias Wong exhibit ends on February 24, at the Museum of Vancouver. Catch it before it's gone!