; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: November 2015

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.