; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: 2015

Thursday, 31 December 2015

James and the Giant Peach

Back by popular demand is Carousel Theatre's musical production of James and the Giant Peach, the classic story by Roald Dahl of an orphaned boy, a giant peach, and the cast of critters he befriends.

This all-ages show is fun for the whole family, with plenty of adventure and delights for the kids, but also enough humour and engagement for any young-at-heart adult to enjoy. Stealing the show were Patti Allan and Deborah Williams as the zany and evil Aunts.

With innovative and creative set designs, the show really manages to bring you into Roald Dahl's world.

With only a few days left to catch it, don't miss out on this wonderful live theatre experience!

James and the Giant Peach runs until January 3 at the Waterfront theatre on Granville Island. You can purchase tickets online!  #CTYPJames

Monday, 28 December 2015

The Hateful Eight

Now showing at the Park theatre is Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. I normally wouldn't review a mainstream movie on this site, but this one is a bit different. Why? Because Tarantino has two versions of the film. One is the regular theatrical version, and the other is toted as being the "traveling roadshow" version, which includes an Overture and Intermission and is shown on 70mm film.

The only theatre in Vancouver with this is the Park, over on Cambie Street. I got my ticket in advance, and managed to get there an hour beforehand to get a good seat. I went to the 2pm show and by the time I arrived, signs were already up saying that both the 2pm and 6pm show were sold out. So, get your tickets early!

As for the movie, it was more about the experience. It was great to see that ray of light streaming from the projector towards the screen. It was so pleasant to be around other patrons who weren't texting on their phones or talking - everyone was there to watch a MOVIE.

Monday, 21 December 2015

The Nutcracker

Everyone says to visit Vancouver in the summertime, and it's true that is probably the best season to be here and the most touristy. However, Christmastime has just as much to see and do, if not more. Considering that theatre season is usually quiet in the summer months, December more than makes up for it with countless shows. So why not make Vancouver a tourist destination for the holiday season? Not only can you visit the local mountains for skiing with all the other ski bunnies, but there are shows and so many holiday-time events taking place!

One of those events is the Goh Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. I had never seen the show before either live or on TV. I've always wanted to do it though, and was familiar with some of the music, specifically the Sugar Plum Fairy dance.

Wow, I was blown away! This was a gorgeous beautiful production, and even though I don't really ever attend the ballet, this was so easy to watch. It's probably a great way to introduce newbies into the ballet world, since there's a bit of a storyline that can be followed. And the production value that the Goh Ballet has put into this show is just phenomenal.

The Nutcracker plays at the Center in Vancouver until December 22nd!

Saturday, 12 December 2015


I think I just saw one of the coolest shows to ever grace the stage at the Jericho Arts Centre.

Seven Tyrants Theatre presents the very familiar tale of Ebenezer - A Christmas Ghost Story. This take on the beloved Dickens classic is a darker affair, bringing out the creepy and the eerie that comes along with being visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve. With a very minimal and stark set and effective lighting, this steam-punk holiday greeting is part Shakespeare, part musical, and part Tim Burton, all rolled into one.

Ebenezer is on now at the Jericho Arts Centre until January 2nd. Put it on your Christmas list! Tickets available at Tickets Tonight.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Chelsea Hotel

Back for what maybe its final run at the Firehall Arts Centre is the ever-popular musical, Chelsea Hotel, based on the songs of Leonard Cohen. If you haven't seen this show, it's a gorgeously choreographed and visually stunning piece of theatre set to one of Canada's most iconic songwriters.

"Leonard Cohen’s powerful and inspirational music and lyrics are the heartbeat for Chelsea Hotel, an illusory world full of enchantment, desire, passion and love.

Haunted by memories of his tumultuous love life, a Writer checks into New York’s infamous Chelsea Hotel desperate to find the words and inspiration for his next song. Wading through past relationships, he reluctantly comes face to face with the love of the present, a love he wishes he could not just forget, but erase from his memory.

Chelsea Hotel is a riveting fusion of music, dance, and theatre that takes its audience on an illusionary journey into the hotel room and creative mind of a Writer in search of the right words to cure love’s pain."

Friday, 4 December 2015

FlyOver Canada - Christmas Edition!

by Meaghan Smith

As an admittedly rather jaded person I went into my Flyover Canada experience expecting some amusement and some cool visuals, but came out giggling like a small child and using far too many “so”s to explain just how much fun I had to everyone who asked.

Flyover Canada, located at the back of Canada Place, is a flight simulation, which I described to friends as “part amusement ride, part cinematic experience.” The incredible organization of the team at Flyover Canada made every step of the process quite simple and fun. We got to enjoy the Christmas version of the ride, which starts when you enter the first room, decorated with a beautiful winter scene, and an introduction from Santa Claus who enlists you on a mission to find his elves. The scene ends and we were surprised to find it snowing! In Vancouver! I guess the fact that we were indoors should be more shocking to me, but I figure that’s almost the only way I’ll see snow out here!

The ride, or flight simulation, or whatever you’d like to call it, was one of the most dazzling and exciting things I’ve ever done! I had a blast trying to place all of the locations we were swooping over. The ride made it feel like we were on a roller coaster while we were safely jostled around in our seats. The visuals were stunning and who could complain about the landscape? Canada is such a beautiful country and it was fantastic to have a fifteen minute tour while following Santa, searching
for elves, and crashing through the clouds! 

One small warning I do have, after the ride had begun I hilariously discovered my companion on the trip’s extreme fear of heights. Thankfully she was a trooper and we came out giggling. If you share this fear, you may want to bring a hand to hold because it can at times feel like you’re about to fall off the side of a mountain, but rest assured, you are completely safe!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Wizard of Oz

The iconic musical The Wizard of Oz lands at the Gateway Theatre from December 10 - January 3. Brought to you by the same team who did last season's award-winning Crazy For You, this show is bound to be a spectacle of fun for all ages!

If you don't already know the story of Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West, then this is the perfect opportunity for you to find out everything about Oz at what is bound to be a thrilling and beautifully done show. I can't wait for it! Tickets can be purchased online!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


Hey it's that time of month again! SHOWTUNES NIGHT at 1181 Davie St!  Come on by for some festive Broadway tunes to help get you into the holiday spirit!

Follow us on Facebook for more info and a big thank you to YELP Vancouver this month for helping spread the word! Check them out for the latest news in dining and entertainment in Vancouver!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Peter and the Starcatcher

What a fantastic evening! Not only did I get to check out the brand new Goldcorp Stage at BMO theatre down in Olympic Village, but the latest Arts Club production, the Tony-nominated Peter Pan prequel Peter and the Starcatcher, was a wonderful show!

Admittedly, at first, I kinda hated it. I mean, I was definitely impressed with the set design and amazed by the ship masts going up. It looked like I was in for a good time! But the first few minutes of the show, I wasn't really feeling it and wondered what I had set myself up for. Perhaps I was busy being too much of an adult and needed to quickly find my inner child? Once I had given in to that notion, things got a LOT better. I found myself chuckling at the copious amounts of fart jokes. But then something else happened. I realized, hey wait a minute, this is a really SMART PLAY. There were all these hidden gems that were littered throughout the lines that if you weren't quick to catch, would um,... fly right past you.

The scene stealer of the evening had to be Colleen Wheeler, who played Captain Black Stache, the poetic pirate who eventually becomes Peter's arch nemesis. When she was on stage, I was living for every moment of her scenes. I didn't even realize it was Colleen Wheeler until after looking at the program to see who the actor was. I'd seen her in several other shows around town and she is definitely a Vancouver treasure.

This show is perfect for the entire family. There were little kids loving the show and giggling throughout, and then there were the "adults" who, once they rediscovered their childlike wonder, thoroughly enjoyed both the elementary and the elevated humour.

Peter and the Starcatcher is on now until January at the brand new Goldcorp Stage at BMO theatre! The show has been selling out so get your tickets now!!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Murder Ballad : A New Musical

Fighting Chance Productions is back with its new season and continues to bring shows to Vancouver that we may not get to see otherwise. Starting things off with a bang is the hit off-Broadway crime musical Murder Ballad: 

"A love triangle gone wrong, MURDER BALLAD tells the story of Sara and her two lives, the former a hard-drinking party girl, and the current a hardworking mother of one married to a NYU Literature professor. When her past and current lives explode one person will not be leaving alive. This new rock musical features music by two-time Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist and Jonathan Larson Award winner Julia Jordan and music/lyrics by indie rock singer/songwriter Juliana Nash. Fighting Chance promises an immersive theatrical experience, with this steamy thriller."

Murder Ballad runs November 25 - December 6 at the Odd Fellows Hall. Tickets available online

Saturday, 21 November 2015


I've seen Broadway's Tony award winning musical Once twice now (both times on the Great White Way), so when I found out it was actually going to be in Vancouver, I knew I had to round up everyone I knew and make them go see it, even if it meant that I had to go for a third time. Okay, twist my rubber arm!

Broadway Across Canada has brought us one of the most beautiful and touching musicals of the decade. Based on the indie film and featuring the Academy Award winning song, Falling Slowly, amongst a backdrop of other equally beautiful songs, the story is one of boy meets girl and but boy is still not over previous girl but current girl has a husband anyway, so really, what's going to happen.

With all the actors playing instruments live on stage, this is an experience not to be missed. Who knows when it will hit town again? Also, get there early for a chance to get up on the stage and get a drink from the show's "bar" and then witness some wonderful pre-show entertainment!

ONCE is on for one more day - Sunday, Nov 22 - matinee and evening performances. There are also half price tickets available at Tickets Tonight.

Friday, 20 November 2015

52 Pick-Up

There's a charming little show going on right now at the Havana Theatre, which if you've never been, is itself charming because it's in the back of the Havana Cafe restaurant on Commercial Drive. Tj Dawe and Rita Bozi's 52 Pick-Up is an exploration of a relationship gone awry.

Presented by Twenty Something Theatre, the simple yet effective production involves two characters and a deck of cards. Writen on each card is a different scene. They throw the cards in the air at the start of the show, and then proceed to play an actor's game of 52 pick-up, where they must act whatever scene it is they pick up from the scattered deck.

More than a gimmick, it's also representative of the pieces that make up a relationship, the good, the bad, the jumbled memories of love and heartache, first kisses and final goodbyes. By doing the show in this way, each night will likely make for a different experience!

52 Pick-Up is on now at the Havana Theatre until November 29th!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Jurassic Parody: The Musical

Review by Roxanne Kalenborn

Last night I attended the Geekenders’ production of Jurassic Parody: The Musical! at the Cultch Theater on Commercial Drive. I was pretty excited to see a combo of some of my favorite things: musicals and satires based on the cinematic thrillers of my 1990s childhood. With such high expectations, I’m happy to say they NAILED IT. Casting was on point, from the disgruntled Dennis Nedry played by Sean Fabrisch, to the actor they clearly “spared no expense!” to cast as John Hammond, the jovial Scotsman who owns the park. However, Dr. Ian Malcom, famously played by Jeff Goldblum, and channeled by Graeme Thompson in the Geekenders production, stole every scene he was in by simultaneously making chaos theory look sexy with his Old Spice Man bit (“Look at your man, now look back at me”) combined with the cackle that has become one of the movie’s more famous memes.

Of the non-human leads, the chorus of “Clever Girls,” literally man-eating glamour-girl tap-dancing raptors and the diva T-Rex were the real stars of the show, belting out their intentions to “Eat All the Children.” I left the theater wondering how I’ll be able to make a Halloween costume rival to their sparkly dino-leotards. I was also pleased to note that if there was such a thing as a Bechdel test for lady-dinos, then this production would pass with flying colors.

I was impressed by the number of musical acts included in the show, and any Broadway enthusiast will enjoy naming the tune the cast is spoofing on during any given number. During some points of the show it seemed that they were having some technical difficulties with sound and there were a few missed line marks, but overall, I was delighted by the obvious care, creativity and fun the company had in creating this show and I look forward to attending the next production coming form the Geekenders.

Jurassic Parody: The Musical! is showing at the York Theatre on Commercial Drive through November 21.

Monday, 16 November 2015


It's been a somber weekend with the state of the world. The constant drizzle that is encompassing Vancouver is not helping things. Perhaps in times like this, what one needs to do is head to the Vancity VIFF Theatre on Seymour Street and escape into a brilliant film or two.

I did exactly that last night, and took in the documentary MAVIS! about gospel/R&B singer Mavis Staples. In true art fashion, this film lifted me up, brought me out of my emotional state and into a new one - a state of hope and light. Isn't that what art is all about, in all its many different forms? To transform the human experience? To affect?

I had known who Mavis Staples was by name only. I couldn't have named a song nor told you anything about her life. After this documentary though, I consider myself a lot more informed about her work and her as a person. It contains tremendous footage of her and her family singing at a folk festival in the 60s! That alone astounded me. Not only did I consider that rare but the quality was also above par. There were loads more footage too where that came from.

Mavis! is on tonight at the Vancity theatre at 6:30pm and again on November 19th at 1pm & 9pm.

Saturday, 14 November 2015


What better place to find oneself on Friday the 13th than at the Cambrian Hall at Main and 17th for a 10pm showing of Shakespeare's tragedy, Macbeth? Presented by Standing Room Only Theatre, this eerie production of the Scottish Play is a minimalist and modern take that brings out the creepier aspects of the Bard's darker side.

The witches' role in Macbeth's downfall is emphasized a lot more in this production. Add in a haunting soundtrack mixed with famous speeches (from JFK to Chairman Mao to Hitler), and the show is a step in the direction of New York's Macbeth-based Sleep No More experience. How cool would it have been if it was as immersive an experience as that, for those who have been fortunate enough to travel to NYC for it and know what I'm talking about.

It's definitely not Bard on the Beach (which in my case, makes it a good thing), so if you're looking for traditional Shakespearean staging and costume, this is not for you. But if you want to bask in the language of the Bard with a stripped-down set in a theatre-of-the-round type setting, then you only have this weekend to check this show out!

Standing Roon Only Theatre's production of Macbeth is on tonight and tomorrow at the Cambrian Hall.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

A Christmas Story: The Musical

I went to the opening night of the Arts Club Theatre's production of A Christmas Story: The Musical. I'm glad they brought this show to Vancouver for the holiday season rather than the usual White Christmas that they've been running the past few years. This is a refreshing change and will definitely delight fans of the classic 80s movie. I wasn't too familiar with the movie, but still enjoyed the production.

The two scenes that shone like a leg lamp were the Santa Claus at the mall number and the teacher's cabaret-esque sequence.

This quirky comedy about a little boy obsessed with getting a BB gun for Christmas is given the Broadway musical treatment with decent enough songs to get you into the festive spirit.

For fun, laughs, and holiday cheer, stop on by the Stanley Theatre for A Christmas Story: The Musical, which is on now until December 27.

Friday, 6 November 2015

SHOWTUNES - Fight Night

You mad, bruh? The gloves are off and the battle lines are drawn! So let's get ready to rumble at SHOWTUNES NIGHT! Got some pent up frustration? Nothing like a show tune to help you let off some steam! Put 'em up! Are you a Jet or a Shark? A Mary or a Rhoda? And the first rule of Fight Night is you DO talk about FIGHT NIGHT cause it's just a noisy hall where there's a nightly brawl and you know, all that jazz! Come belt it out at 1181 on Friday November 6 for SHOWTUNES FIGHT NIGHT! 

We've got great prizes to give out tonight, including tickets to The Wizard of Oz at Gateway Theatre, tickets to the off-Broadway crime musical Murder Ballad from Fighting Chance Productions, a pair of passes to see the Leonard Cohen musical Chelsea Hotel at the Firehall Arts Centre, a $100 gift card to 1181 Lounge, and a pair of tickets to see Bianca Del Rio (winner of Rupaul's Drag Race) on her comedy tour, Rolodex of Hate, which rolls into town on December 8th at the Vogue Theatre (tickets available here)! 

For further updates, be sure to check out the
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ShowtunesYVR

3... 2... 1...

Speakeasy Theatre explodes onto the Vancouver theatre scene with its inaugural show, 3...2...1.. written by Nathan Cuckow and Chris Craddock.  I have high hopes for this theatre company as many of them are graduates of Langara's esteemed Studio 58 Theatre School.

This first production that they've chosen to step forth with shows an interest in pushing the envelope and bringing thought-provoking theatre to the audience. At first, I wasn't too sure what to expect with "3...2...1..."  This is a story set in smalltown, Alberta (Wetaskiwin, to be exact) and revolves around two young men holed up in their garage just hanging out, shooting the shit. Throw in more than enough booze and drugs, and things get a bit more redneck. Did I really want to see a play where the word "fag" is used several times?

Then I thought okay, well these people exist in the world and maybe this is a slice of their lives. I didn't really need to go to the theatre to witness this, when I could just as easily head out to the suburbs and hold hands with another guy to see what reaction we would elicit. But there's more than meets the eye to "3...2...1..." as the layers unravel before you. We learn that the two boys are in fact going on a bender because it's the day of their best friend's funeral.

Tom Krushkowski saddles up in the role of Clinton, who is tormented by his friend's death and wants to escape through any means necessary. Meanwhile, Markian Tarasiuk does double duty as both Kyle, the weaker third-wheel wimp of the group, and as Danny, the deceased Alpha male that the other two boys aspire to but who struggled with his own inner demons.

The show is intense and the two actors wallop you with terrifically emotional performances. There are issues of race, homophobia, and classism brought up as the characters cope with loss and try to face life living in a small rural Canadian city. In the bright lights of Vancouver, the show is a scene from the other side. But I'd be curious to see what audience reactions would be like in an actual small town with people like these characters who struggle and identify with these very issues.

3...2...1.. is on now at Studio 1398 (Festival House on Granville Island) until November 8th.

Tickets are "pay what you decide" after the show is done, a different kind of model the company is exploring, in an effort to build up an audience and following. So go see the show and then decide how much you want to pay!! You can reserve your "tickets" online!

Photos by Ryan McDonald.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Off Leash

With the changes going on at the Vancouver Opera, is it safe to say that opera is now gone to the dogs? Quite literally, in fact! Fugue Theatre brings us Off Leash,  "a 'fusion-operetta' that deals with savage loneliness in an urban area." How's that for operatic drama?

The story revolves around dog owners and their pets at a local off-leash dog park. Living in Vancouver, we're bound to have gone to one of these at some point in our lives. But the regulars of these haunts may see familiar territory as the canines and the humans (both played by the same actors) turn on one another and erupt into a tension filled showdown.

Off Leash runs this week until November 8 at Studio 16 on Granville Island. Tickets available online.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Bianca Del Rio - Rolodex of Hate

Drag superstar and winner of Rupaul's Drag Race, Bianca Del Rio storms into town on December 8th at the Vogue Theatre with her comedy special, Rolodex of Hate! This will be the last chance to see her on tour this year, so get your tickets early as it is likely to sell out!

For a taste of her acidic tongue, here's the best of Bianca Del Rio from her season on #RPDR

Tickets are on sale today, get them online!

Monday, 26 October 2015

...Didn't See that Coming

Attention fans of the TV show Once Upon a Time! Dear sweet Granny is setting up shop over in Richmond at the Gateway Theatre with her very own show, "...didn't see that coming" in which "she takes you on a comedic musical ride with her funny and moving collection of autobiographical stories. Tales of unexpected blessings and uncomfortable epiphanies, this comedic romp takes you from small town Ontario to Vancouver’s gay bars and red carpets to our very own Steveston." 

An audience favourite from the Pick of the Vancouver Fringe Festival 2014! With orginal songs and stories starring Beverley Elliott!  ...didn't see that coming runs from November 12 to the 21st at Gateway Theatre!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Dining Room

Currently playing at the PAL Studio Theatre is A.R. Gurney's The Dining Room, presented by Western Gold Theatre. This table-side play invites the audience to take a seat and witness an array of homages to one of the most important areas of a house, the dining room. For those who grew up with one, it can be a source of good or painful memories, as depicted in the multitude of vignettes that bleed into one another in this impressive production.

The actors get to flex all their acting muscles as they jump from character to character, whether it's a teenage girl from the 80s or a domestic servant polishing the silverware. The scenes are served like a 12-course meal, coming one after the other, overlapping and complementing with contrast and subtlety.

Stealing the scene for me had to have been Anna Hagan, who gives a heartbreaking performance in one of the Act One scenes as a mother suffering from Alzheimer's, and then coming back in comedic form in Act Two as the monosyllabic maid Bertha.

The set was beautifully done, reminding me of an early 1900s Frank Lloyd Wright house, with the audience perched on either side of the stage, making us feel like we were part of the dinnertime conversation. The show starts off with a group of visitors at a museum exploring an antique dining room display, but things actually begin in the lobby as the person who brings you up to the theatre in the elevator has a little name tag on that reads "Museum Staff." Little nuanced touches like that were a great addition to the show!  

This was an enjoyable evening at the theatre and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and engaging night out!

The Dining Room is on now at the Pal Studio Theatre until November 8th.

Friday, 23 October 2015

VPL Book Sale!

Once a year, the Vancouver Public Library has its annual book sale where it offers up an entire room full of books available at low low prices. This is happening RIGHT NOW until tomorrow! Books for 75 cents, people! You can't beat that!

 Check out the VPL website for more info! 

Monday, 19 October 2015

Postcards From Vancouver: Breaking Bad edition

I haven't posted a Postcard from Vancouver in a long time, but I came across this washroom sign up at UBC the other day and just had to snap a photo. For all you Breaking Bad & Heisenberg fans out there...

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Postcards from Vancouver: Astoria Hotel

The iconic Astoria Hotel in Vancouver shows off the magnificence of the city's once vibrant neon scene with its fully restored neon sign. 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Madonna in Vancouver

After a few months of avoiding tour spoilers, I finally got to see Madonna's REBEL HEART tour as it rolled into town last night! The photos I took were not great and I really didn't want to watch the whole show through my phone, so I didn't document much, but I'm sure you can look online for footage.

If you're familiar with the tour already, you know the setlist, the costumes, the set, etc. So what was different for the Vancouver show? Well, she performed SECRET which she hadn't done at any other show during the tour! That was exciting! Unfortunately, it replaced the song Who's That Girl, which I would rather have heard as I've never seen her do that live before.

Also specific to the Vancouver show? Amy Schumer and Sean Penn were in the audience!

(photo from Twitter)

At one point, Madonna had Amy do shots with her. After Amy was done, she put the plastic shot glass back on the stage and Madonna was all, "Don't leave your garbage on my stage!" which had the crowd laughing. 

Overall, Madonna was a lot friendlier than the last time she came to town. The crowd was more enthusiastic too, so that might have helped things. But I have read reviews of how she's way more laid back during this tour. It is nice to see. 

Highlights for me included the acoustic/ukulele version of True Blue, the 1920s flapper-style Material Girl and Gatsby-infused Holiday. Also, all the fan art during Rebel Heart was beautiful.

Thank you Madonna for visiting Vancouver again!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Maria Eichhorn

On now at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery up at UBC is an exhibit on German artist Maria Eichhorn. This marks the very first time that Eichhorn's work has ever been exhibited in Vancouver.

It's part sensual, part sensational, at times comedic, and an interesting look at censorship and sexuality.

The first iteration of Prohibited Imports was realized for an exhibition in Tokyo in 2003. For this occasion, Eichhorn sent several parcels of books from Berlin to Tokyo between 2000 and 2002 on the assumption that Japanese customs would open the parcels and censor the books. The book Mapplethorpe: Die große Werkmonographie, among many others, was censored by the customs authorities at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, and was displayed in the 2003 exhibition alongside an uncensored copy of the same book. Unlike Canadian customs practice, which involves the seizure and then destruction of offending published material, the censors in Japan altered the images with a kind of sandpaper pen, scratching the paper and rubbing off the layer of printing ink from the paper’s surface and ultimately replacing parts of images with a white nimbus. For the exhibition at the Belkin Art Gallery, Eichhorn made new photographs of censored pages from three of the books she had sent between 2000 and 2002 to Tokyo: Jeff Koons, Wolfgang Tillmans and the Kinsey Institute. By coincidence, one of the works censored in the Tillmans book is in the Belkin’s permanent collection.

 Also in the exhibit are 20 three-minute long films that run off 8mm and need to be requested to have screened. Each film depicts a close-up shot of a sexual activity, i.e. french kissing, anal coitus, etc.

For the Belkin exhibit, three new films were commissioned: Japanese bondage, wax play, and needle play.

The Maria Eichhorn exhibit is on now until December 13.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room is not a typical musical. Written by celebrated playwright Morris Panych, this tells the story of a man who has been diagnosed with cancer and his fight against it. Aesthetically, the show is gorgeous. Ken MacDonald did the Set and Costume Design, Gerlad King provided Lighting, and Wendy Gorling supplied the beautiful choreography and movement for the actors on stage. To see it is to be astounded and in awe.

Unfortunately, the music jarred me right out of that dreamscape. John Mann, who is the lead vocalist of the band Spirit of the West, provided the music and lyrics which is fitting since this story is based on his true life experience. I was never a Spirit of the West fan, so maybe that's why this just wasn't for me? Nor was it for my theatre companion either, as she said, "I loved everything about the show - except the music." This is not to knock Mann's talent as a singer or songwriter. But considering this is being toted as a musical, there were certain expectations I had. The songs were fragmented into so many little pieces that I found it really difficult to appreciate them. As well, none of the actors sang the songs, but rather, John Mann did all the singing as the band played in the background. I don't normally enjoy a one-person musical, with the huge exception of Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The music had bits of country twang and barnyard jigs thrown in, mixed with some indie rock-pop and a touch of Celtic. Considering the subject matter, I guess this wasn't the type of music I expected the show to have. But maybe that's intentional? Maybe for a show about cancer, the music needs to be uplifting and light? It just was too much of a contrast for me to grasp, although the song "Moving Day" was brilliantly done with its imagery of selling off and giving away the belongings of a deceased loved one. 

All in all, the actors were good, everything was good, but just the music had me...waiting.

The Waiting Room is on now at the Granville Island Stage until October 31st.

Monday, 12 October 2015


The Arts Club theatre opened its 2015/2016 season with Disgraced at the Stanley Theatre.

Meaghan and I attended the other day and we both left feeling... confused. We weren't quite sure what the point of this Pulitzer Prize-winning play was all about. The story revolves around a Muslim lawyer and his White wife. He basically denounces his faith while his wife embraces the world of Islam through her art. His nephew, who has changed his Muslim name Hussein to something more Western - Abe, is suddenly all concerned about a local imam, while the lawyer uncle doesn't give a crap about the imam but is incensed about his nephew's name change and refuses to call him anything but Hussein. Contradictory, no? Why is the Westernized nephew suddenly into defending Muslim leaders? And why is the Muslim-denouncing lawyer not seeing why his nephew would want to change his name to something more Western?

That's just the tip of the iceberg. I think the play is very layered, maybe a bit too much. Another couple enters the scene, consisting of a Jewish man and his African American wife. Heated debates and arguments erupt over race relations. Is that the point of the play? That everyone's got it hard? As a person of colour myself, perhaps I already got that memo.

A sordid love affair rears its head, which seems to spring from nowhere. Although that could also be the lack of chemistry between the actors. Meaghan thought the acting was quite stiff and was obsessed with the bad wig she saw on stage. I found it refreshing to see the diversity of actors up on the stage.

I also had some misgivings about the direction of the show. Having taken a stageplay course in Creative Writing and working with directors, I've always been told to never have the characters sit on stage, because it takes the energy completely out of the show. At one point, one of the actors sits at the dinner table with her back to the audience. Throughout the play, it was hard to hear some of the lines too as the actors are facing a certain direction.

There could be a lot of discourse and discussion inspired by this show, but the production at the Stanley has too many distractions to really get into the meat of it. And even if you look past all the minor things that we found ourselves obsessing over, was there really anything substantial there to begin with?

A head scratching beginning to the Arts Club season, though many of the upcoming shows look promising. Disgraced will definitely make you feel uncomfortable and question your own beliefs. It is thought-provoking and at times difficult to swallow. It is on for one more week at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Smoke on the Mountain

Opening the 2015/2016 season at Pacific Theatre is Smoke on the Mountain, a musical revue of sorts that will transport you back to a Baptist church revival set in the 1940s. Complete with live instruments, the show incorporates sermons and stories of each of the characters between songs as you are immersed into participating in a lively gospel church service.

Stealing the show for me was Kaitlin Williams as June Sanders, whose comedic timing is spot on as the one member of the musical family to not be seen as musical; rather, she signs the songs for the hearing impaired while the rest of the troupe entertains, though her struggles at signing is what's really entertaining. Not to mention the slapstick style of instrument playing she takes on, from a spoon on a washboard to creating the sounds of hell or the trotting of a horse.

Another highlight was Kim Larson's character Denise Sanders, whose story line of being torn between religion and her desire to see more of the world was probably the most interesting part of the show. Not everything is black and white anymore, as we watch this congregation deal with the changing world around them, beginning with the arrival of electricity.

For a high-spirited evening of music and theatre, Smoke on the Mountain is a great escape from the doldrums of rainy Vancouver nights. The show is on now at Pacific Theatre until November 1st. 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

The other night I got the opportunity to go see a concert put on by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

As I sat there and let the music wash over me, I realized just what a magical experience it really is. Why don't I go to the symphony more often? The musicians are wonderful, the selections are unique and varied, and the Orpheum theatre is simply gorgeous. It really is a beautiful cultural evening out on the town that will whisk you away from your daily troubles if only for a few hours. Who doesn't want that? Go experience the symphony!

Check out some of the special events coming up, including this Bugs Bunny/Looney Toons night!

And for anyone 35yo and younger, or any full time student, you have the ability to get tickets to the symphony for only $15! What are you waiting for?

Friday, 9 October 2015

Harry Potter and the Rain City

 "This fall, UBC Library celebrates the legacy of the Harry Potter series and Vancouver’s special relationship with “the boy who lived” with a special exhibition at three library branches, featuring first editions of the books, stories and memorabilia from local businesses and people affected by the series. Share your Harry Potter memories with the Library via #harrypotterUBC.

Curated by Rare Books and Special Collections, the Harry Potter and the rain city exhibition is on display from October 6 to December 11, 2015 at three different Library branches."

There will also be a colloquium and a costume party! 

For more information, check out the website.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

literASIAN Festival - Oct 8-11 !

Just to wet your appetite before the Writer's Festival begins, LiterASIAN is a festival Pacific Rim Asian Canadian Writing that begins tomorrow Oct 8 for the entire weekend, featuring workshops and readings and book launches and even a dinner party celebration!

For more information visit: http://literasian.com/

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Romeo + Juliet

This is not just any production of Romeo + Juliet. No indeed. Studio 58 continues to bring thought provoking and innovative theatre to Vancouver, this time turning Shakespeare on its head with two female protagonists in the lead roles of Romeo + Juliet!

How amazing does this sound?

In this version of Shakespeare’s classic, created for the anniversary season, travel back in time fifty years to 1965.  Get up close and personal with the lovers and their entourage and abandon yourself to the passion of youth and all that it brings. This production features an accomplished design team who will create a atmospheric and immersive space inspired by Andy Warhol’s infamous parties at The Factory in New York City. In this R & J, the visuals and music pulse alongside Shakespeare's timeless words. Indulge in this tale of love and living to the edges.

Romeo + Juliet runs from October 1 - 18 at Langara's Studio 58. Get your tickets now! 

VIFF: Ninth Floor

(reviewed by Meaghan Smith)

An Insider Look at the Sir George Williams Affair

The filmmakers introduced the film by telling us that we were the third audience to ever see the film. The film covers the Sir George Williams Affair mostly from the side of the students. After an accusation of racism goes ignored for too long the students host a sit-in in the school’s computer lab in 1969. Sir George Williams would later go on to be part of Concordia University. Like many other protests it all starts peaceful until the protesters are pushed just a little too far. The computer lab ended up being destroyed and the ninth floor set ablaze.

I went into Ninth Floor with little knowledge of this protest and riot. Raised in a French speaking school I was very aware of many of the large scale protests and crises that took place in Quebec including the FLQ and the October Crisis and the École Polytechnique Massacre, so I was a little disappointed in my gap in knowledge. I like that the film reunited as many of the original complainants and protesters as possible to tell their version of the story instead of the one that has become public knowledge. The main differences in these two sides are of course how dangerous the protesters were; it was a group of peaceful students hosting a sit-in, and whether or not they lit the fire themselves, or if the locked door that trapped them in a room on fire was a clue to something a little more insidious.

The film combines new interviews with old footage to try and give as much of the student perspective as possible. The film had a little too much stock footage and overly stylized shots for my tastes, which usually pings my assumption that the film didn’t have enough primary material to make it feature length. The subjects of the film are now elderly, incredibly well spoken, and obviously well educated which helps to legitimize what they are saying. The use of a “where are they now” segment was so powerful that many members in the audience forgot their film etiquette and started speaking at the screen (something I may broach in a later piece. Long story short, don’t speak during film screenings, it’s incredibly rude and disruptive).

 Although the film is in the BC series, the film is about Quebec and race relations in Canada. The Sir George Williams Affair is something incredibly important for the people of Canada to learn about, especially now that we see ourselves as such a multicultural country. I had no idea how bad racial tensions in 1960’s Canada were because I was only ever taught about the civil rights movement in USA, and the racial tensions there and never what was happening here. Racial tension and horrifying acts of racism were and are committed right here at home and maybe a shake from the foundation is what we need to open our eyes.