; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: November 2014

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

It's an iconic story, one of which I was not familiar with. It's true. I haven't read the book nor have I seen the movie. So, what better way to have my Cuckoo cherry popped than by the fine company at Studio 58?

You have one week left to see this show, that has been garnering rave reviews all around town. And well deserved too! The set itself is a wonder to marvel at. The moment you walk into the theatre, you are walking through the famed asylum, with the utmost attention paid to every last detail so big props to Gregory Radzimowski and his Set Crew team who cobbled this wondrous world together.

All of the actors do a tremendous job, with a huge amount of leg work done by lead actor Markian Tarasiuk as the notorious R.P. McMurphy. You know everyone will be comparing him to Jack Nicholson's performance, but I fortunately have the luxury of not having seen it so was able to enjoy Tarasiuk's performance on its own without comparison. He is devilish and charming and heartbreaking in one fell swoop.

For anyone else out there not familiar with the story like me, it's about a new patient who arrives at a psych ward and tries to rally the troops against the evil Nurse Ratched (played by Erin Cassidy) who runs the floor with an iron fist. Even she is somewhat sympathetic, however, because really, she's just trying to do her job and her job is seemingly all she has going for her in life.

Dramatic and emotional,  One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is on now until November 30 at Studio 58 at Langara. Tickets available online.

Friday, 21 November 2014


OMG. Like I went to see Flashdance last week which was a national touring show from Broadway Across Canada, and I hated it. Many friends of mine who went also hated it. Tonight however, I went to a local production of Urinetown at the Firehall Arts Centre, and WHOA, this was a million times better than Flashdance could even hope to be.

It helps that this is a Tony award winning musical, but really it has more to do with the cast and this production. I saw this show on Broadway about ten years ago, and I walked out at intermission because I was so bored. This time around, I could not get enough, and I will not stop until I make all my friends go and see it.

Seeing Andrew Wheeler dancing around in the Mr. Cladwell number is worth the cost of admission alone. And I didn't know who was playing the role of Bobby Strong, and after reading the program I found out it was Vancouver's very own Anton Lipovetsky who is a city-wide favourite and who could easily keep up with the likes of Neil Patrick Harris. Narrator Officer Lockstock (played by David Adams) does a great job in keeping the show moving along, while busting out some smooth stylings of his own during one of the numbers.

This is also the hardest working ensemble cast currently on stage in Vancouver. Their costume changes and their dance numbers - choreographed to a tee by Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg (seriously, she should have choreographed Flashdance) - all executed brilliantly under the strong direction of Donna Spencer (who does double duty and shows up in the show as Ma Strong). Each scene was so distinct from each other, whether it was a brigade of dancing police officers behaving like bunnies or a gospel-inspired sermon, the entire show was memorable from start to finish.

The show is hilarious and satirical and I am begging you to go see it! And bring all your friends with you, I promise you won't regret it! The Firehall is a small intimate venue, but the show it is currently housing is so much larger than life.

Urinetown is on now at the Firehall Arts Centre until November 29th.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Subway Stations of the Cross

Ins Choi's Subway Stations of The Cross is a bold and surprising selection for Pacific Theatre's second show of the season.

The harsh fluorescent lighting that you walk into upon the start of the show helps exemplify the starkness of the mood that Choi is trying to create with his one man show. Part religious sermon, part musical, and part social commentary (and 1/4 part knock knock jokes), the performance is based on an encounter Choi had with a homeless man in Toronto years prior.

I'm not sure the show landed quite right for me, as the message seemed to be a bit lost. Choi's performance was heartfelt and his singing showcased the passion he had for this work. With the stylings of a slam poet to the croonings of a musical storyteller, Choi manages to run the gamut of emotions from anger to sadness with spoken word soliloquies and the strumming of his ukulele.

Subway Stations of the Cross is on now at the Pacific Theatre until November 23.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Art is supposed to raise up humanity, someone once said to me. I believe that with Loon, that is exactly the case. This poetic performance from Portland's Wonderheads tells the solitary tale of a lonely janitor searching for love.

It's more than that however.  It's a love letter to the lonely and broken hearted. It's an affirmation that your story is worth telling. I know because I am one of the many who are out here looking up to the moon for some answers.

Beautifully done with no intermission, this show is great for any age, young, old, in-between. Everyone will get something out of it, whether that be humour or sadness or both. This is easily an instant classic, done with such grace and simple beauty.

Loon is on now at The Cultch until November 23.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Flashdance The Musical

What a feeling, alright. That feeling being total and utter disappointment. WTF Broadway Across Canada? I try to be positive on this blog but if I'm shelling out $80+ for a show, and if neither myself nor anyone else in my party enjoyed it, then I'm gonna rip you a new one.

Everything started out exciting. People showed up in the audience dressed in legwarmers and headbands, shirts falling off one shoulder. Why didn't I think to dress up for the occasion? Sadly, that was the most entertaining part of the night. When the lights dimmed and the first few notes of What a Feeling were teased, everyone went wild.

When the show actually started however, everything went mild. I was wondering why the official CD being sold at the merchandise booth for $25 only had 8 songs on it?!? It's because most of the songs in the show are basically tepid. They pale in comparison to the well-known ones from the original 80s flick, but even those familiar tunes were...watered down and somewhat disappointing. Speaking of water. The whole plug behind this musical was that wow they use real live water!! You know, for the infamous chair scene! It looked more like someone running through a sprinkler followed by a dribble from a broken down shower than a sexy water dance.

And where was the famous strobe-like kabuki inspired dance? Not here. They even managed to mangle up Gloria! And whose bright idea was it to make the character of Hannah look exactly like Tyne Daly? We had to hold our laughter whenever Alex and Hannah had a scene, because we kept thinking, "Does she know she's talking to an angel?"

So it's no wonder that the musical has not made its way to Broadway. The songs suck, the dialogue is meh, and the storyline is muddled.

I appreciate the work that Broadway Across Canada does, because when else would I get to see a production of Flashdance? I wish they would have more shows and possibly include Broadway plays as well. There's stuff like Time Stood Still or Equus that I think people would love to see. I was lucky enough to see those on Broadway, but would happily go again if it were to come to my town. And why am I depending on local theatre companies to see things such as The Drowsy Chaperone (Canadian-made musical!), In The Heights, and Xanadu? Is it because there aren't national tours of this going on? I feel like the way Broadway Across Canada works needs to change up its structure or something. If the calibre of shows is anything like Flashdance, then I'm not sure anyone will be going to any future productions brought to us by Broadway Across Canada.

Let's hope next Spring's Book of Mormon isn't as ghastly a feat.

For those who still are interested in Flashdance, have fun, but you're better off watching the movie.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

GLEE Night At Showtunes!

Attention all Gleeks! This Friday we will be celebrating GLEE Night at Showtunes at 1181! Come on down and bring out your inner Gleek!  Friday, November 7th at 1181 Davie St, from 6-9pm!

Monday, 3 November 2014

AI WEIWEI: NewYork Photographs 1983 - 1993

On now up at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at UBC, is controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, with an exhibit of photographs taken during his time in New York City from 1983 - 1993.

The exhibit "consists of 227 black-and-white photographs taken by the artist during the decade that he resided in New York City, his first time away from China. The photographs were personally selected by the artist from over 10,000 negatives that are housed at Three Shadows Photography Art Center in Beijing and together represent a single work of art—no one image is more important than another. The exhibition is complemented by a 43-minute video interview with Ai Weiwei by Zheng Shengtian and videographer Don Li-Leger that discusses his growing up during the Cultural Revolution and his time in New York."

The Ai Weiwei New York Photographs exhibit is on now until November 30th at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at UBC. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Stickboy the Opera

I got a chance to go see Stickboy The Opera recently, which is having its world premiere at the Vancouver Playhouse and presented by Vancouver Opera.

I'm not an opera fan in the slightest. I do enjoy musicals, though. Actually, I love musicals. Which is not to say that they are one and the same. In fact, opera is very different. Usually, the lack of hummable Broadway show tunes has me infuriated that I'm wasting my time watching an opera. Also, they are usually in another language so I don't have any idea what's happening, despite the help of subtitles that are normally provided.

However, with Stickboy, comes a VERY accessible opera not only in the modern way that it's presented (animated images on a screen in the background), a very thorough write up of the story and yes it is in English! The story itself was also easy for me to connect with, having been bullied in school during my teenage years. The premise revolves around an overweight boy who is the target of harassment and bullying in his high school. The scenes are simple but effective, and will keep you poised on the edge of your seat as you root for him to find the courage to overcome.

Stickboy would be the perfect introduction for anyone who is looking to get into opera, in its accessibility and relate-able storyline. I can easily see troops of high school classes being taken here for a field trip both as a lesson in opera and the effects of bullying.

Stickboy is on now at the Vancouver Playhouse until November 7th.

Hunter Gatherers

The last time I saw a show from local theatre company Staircase Theatre, it involved a dinner party and a woman named Pam. (See: Cocktails at Pam's) In the company's latest outing, we get director Ryan Gladstone (who was brilliant a few months back in his own show at the Fringe) bringing to life yet another dinner party involving yet another woman named Pam, in the play Hunter Gatherers.

Maryanne Renzetti and Pippa Mackie

Uproariously hilarious, the show had the entire audience in stitches with its quick witted one-liners and absurdist and at times over-the-top scenarios.  You know the evening is going to be a good hot mess when the first scene involves the slaughter of a lamb in hosts Pam and Richard's living room. When their friends Wendy and Tom arrive, things only get more out of control with impromptu wrestling matches, sordid love affairs, reiki, and a good sized serving of murder.

Peter Carlone and Jay Clift

If you're headed to the Havana on Commercial Drive for dinner, don't be surprised to hear rounds of laughter emanating from the back theatre, which is where Hunter Gatherers is playing. Don't miss out on the Canadian premiere of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's play, which embraces the ridiculous with an even undercoat of darkness. It's been awhile since I've had this much fun at the theatre, and leave it to Staircase Theatre for being the ones to make that happen again!

The show runs until November 15th at the Havana Theatre. Buy your tickets online!