Mary Poppins lands in Malkin Bowl this summer

 

Mary Poppins | Theatre Under the Stars | Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park | presented in repertory with The Drowsy Chaperone | July 7 to August 19

Mary Poppins is tart, sassy, and opinionated. Ranae miller is a bit shy and quiet. “This is a character that’s the furthest from who I am that I’ve played,” Miller told The Peak. She is enjoying embodying this strong-willed woman while bringing a bit of herself to the character at the same time. “She’s a little sassy, but still kind,” explained Miller. “She’s there to do a job and she has a lot of love to offer. She has a lot going for her.”

Read more: Mary Poppins lands in Malkin Bowl this summer

A magical production of The Winter's Tale at Bard on the Beach

The Winter’s Tale | Bard on the Beach | BMO Mainstage at Vanier Park | June 8 – September 22, 2017

 

Leontes, King of Sicilia, gets a dangerous idea in his head: he is convinced that his wife is having an affair with his friend, Polixenes, King of Bohemia. This idea and his fervent jealousy set in motion a series of not-so-credible events. It’s hard to get emotionally involved in a story that doesn’t seem to have rational motivation.

Read more: A magical production of The Winter's Tale at Bard on the Beach

Much Ado about Italian cinematic charm at Bard on the Beach

 

Much Ado About Nothing | Bard on the Beach | BMO Mainstage at Vanier Park | June 1 to September 23

The glamour of a film set, the sophistication of Italy, and the timeless wit of one of Shakespeare’s best comedies — Bard on the Beach has a hit on their hands with Much Ado About Nothing.

The show opens in a flurry of revelry with champagne bottles popping and a film crew celebrating the wrap of their latest project. A set of large white doors at the back of the stage serves as a screen for black and white projections and custom retro movie posters. This provides a stylish backdrop to the beautiful black and white costumes by Christine Reimer.

Read more: Much Ado about Italian cinematic charm at Bard on the Beach

Hand to God is a hilarious dark comedy

Hand to God | Arts Club Theatre Company | Written by Robert Askins | Directed by Stephen Drover | Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre | May 31 to June 25, 2017

Margery, a recent widow, laments that she can’t sing and her brownies taste like tires. So she contributes at church the only way she knows how: leading a puppet theatre group.  Jennifer Lines gives a tremendous performance as Margery whose son, Jason (Oliver Castillo), is one of her three puppet theatre students.

Read more: Hand to God is a hilarious dark comedy

The Hunger Room is full of surprises

The Hunger Room | Staircase Theatre | Written by Scott Button | Directed by Stephen Heatley | PAL Studio Theatre | May 25 – June 10, 2017

Two male high school teachers share a whiskey and discuss the challenges of working with young girls who sometimes look older than they are. One seems to be hinting that he struggles to resist acting on his sexual thoughts while the other becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Their “chain of trust” is soon stretched thin as a shocking confession emerges.

Read more: The Hunger Room is full of surprises

Children of God shows us the tragic realities of residential schools

Children of God | Urban Ink, National Arts Centre, Raven Theatre | The Cultch’s York Theatre | May 17 – June 3, 2017

“We’re trying to make you better,” says a priest to a little boy, implying that everything he is — his culture, his language, and everything he does — is wrong. This is how children were treated in residential schools in Canada. They were abused in many ways and made to feel like there was something wrong with them. The trauma of that experience is intergenerational — it is passed on the children of residential school survivors and the effects linger to this day. Corey Payette’s Children of God demonstrates the realities of residential schools in gripping detail through rousing song and heart-wrenching drama. Everyone should see this play — even those who are already educated about this part of our history.

Read more: Children of God shows us the tragic realities of residential schools

End of the Rainbow gives us an intimate look into the tragic end of Judy Garland's life

End of the Rainbow | Ace Productions | Jericho Arts Centre | April 26 – May 20, 2017  

“Give me the phone!” yells Judy Garland as she teeters on the window ledge outside her London hotel room. Her Scottish pianist, Anthony Chapman, reluctantly passes her the phone and she proceeds to guilt the hotel manager into getting an extension on their bill. This is just one of the erratic moments that we see from Garland as she spirals closer to self-destruction in this gripping drama set during her comeback run of shows in 1960s London.

Read more: End of the Rainbow gives us an intimate look into the tragic end of Judy Garland's life

The Watershed sheds light on our nation's most precious resource

The Watershed | Porte Parole and Crow’s Theatre | Gateway Theatre | April 6 – 15, 2017

A master of documentary theatre, Annabel Soutar draws on dialogue and text from everyday life to create her plays. In The Watershed, she uses her own family’s road trip and quest to find out more about the sudden closure of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a research facility in Northern Ontario, as her starting point. Woven into this quest are news reports, interviews, and speeches from rallies and events that provide a broader context to the issue.

Read more: The Watershed sheds light on our nation's most precious resource

Ronnie Burkett's The Daisy Theatre delights at The Cultch

The Daisy Theatre | Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes | The Cultch Historic Theatre | March 21 – April 9, 2017

“Fasten your seatbelts and clench those sphincters! Let’s do a puppet show!” Thus began Ronnie Burkett’s variety show of puppetry that lasts anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes and is never the same two nights in a row. While there are songs and skits that he has prepared, which ones make it on stage and what he adds to them each night depends on how he feels and what he thinks the crowd will enjoy.

Read more: Ronnie Burkett's The Daisy Theatre delights at The Cultch

The Pipeline Project tackles environmental concerns with frank, personal reflections

The Pipeline Project | ITSAZOO Productions and Savage Society with Gateway Theatre and Neworld Theatre | Gateway Theatre | March 9 – 18, 2017

Quelemia Sparrow and Kevin Loring, both members of First Nations communities, ask Sebastian Archibald, a white man of unidentified heritage, what his culture is. At first, he thinks he has an answer, but after hearing what their sense of culture is and how they feel connected to the land — to where they live — he isn’t so sure. Moments like these made The Pipeline Project relevant and relatable.

Read more: The Pipeline Project tackles environmental concerns with frank, personal reflections

Elbow Room Café: The Musical - Zee Zee Theatre

Elbow Room Café: The Musical | Zee Zee Theatre | The Cultch’s York Theatre | March 1 – 12, 2017

Tabby and Tim from Tennessee don’t know what they’ve gotten themselves into when they decide to stop for a quick bite at the Elbow Room Café on their way to Stanley Park. “Vancouver’s Famous Breakfast Café,” as the sign declares above the door, is run by partners Patrice and Bryan, a couple who loves to bicker and often airs their dirty laundry in front of the customers. The iconic real-life café is known for the tough love that customers receive from Patrice, and the do-it-yourself attitude when it comes to things such as coffee refills.

Read more: Elbow Room Café: The Musical - Zee Zee Theatre

JFL Northwest 2017: Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman | JFL Northwest | Queen Elizabeth Theatre | February 25, 2017

Exuding the cool confidence of a seasoned comedian, Sarah Silverman knows her strengths and weaknesses and how to please a theatre full of fans. But not everyone is a fan it seems. The heightened security and metal detectors at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre were in response to threats against Silverman’s life after she tweeted in support of a military coup against President Donald Trump. Silverman’s stand up is infused with a similar boldness. She isn’t afraid to talk about anything, including her own internet porn search terms.

Read more: JFL Northwest 2017: Sarah Silverman

JFL Northwest 2017: Michelle Wolf

Michelle Wolf | JFL Northwest | Biltmore Cabaret | February 19, 2017

With her sometimes acerbic, always thought-provoking sense of humour, Michelle Wolf packed the Biltmore Cabaret for an evening of cathartic laughs. Opening the show was Kevin Banner, originally from Vancouver Island, who gave us some local flavour, self-deprecating stories, and tales of failed relationships.

Wolf wasted no time mentioning Trump, but commented that we have a “cute president” in Trudeau. I guess we can’t blame her for not knowing that we don’t have a president? There were a few other forced Canadian references that fell flat — such as her comment about everyone speaking two languages and not understanding why there were French signs at the airport in Vancouver.

Read more: JFL Northwest 2017: Michelle Wolf

JFL Northwest 2017: Comedy Short Shorts

Comedy Short Shorts | JFL Northwest | Rio Theatre | February 18, 2017

Hosted by Paul Anthony (of local variety show Talent Time fame), the short film series at JFL Northwest was a grab bag of all types of humour. Forty filmmakers entered their creations, and out of those 17 were shortlisted for this presentation where judges chose the winner of $1,000 and a screening at Just for Laughs in Montreal.

The winner, Grocery Store Action Movie, was easily the funniest film of the bunch. Written by Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson (comedy duo Peter ‘n’ Chris), and featuring Ryan Beil as a stoic cashier, the epic hunt for crackers to bring home for a dinner party turns nasty.

Read more: JFL Northwest 2017: Comedy Short Shorts

JFL Northwest 2017: Iliza

Iliza | JFL Northwest | Vogue Theatre | February 17, 2017

For a good girls’ night out, Iliza doesn’t disappoint. With most of her humour based on general assumptions about the way men and women act and how they interact with each other, she pokes fun at gender stereotypes while also infusing her material with feminism.

Local comedian Ivan Decker opened the show and warmed up the crowd with hyper local jokes about referring to his neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside, as Gastown and how unprepared Vancouverites are for snow. I also enjoyed his bit about Dark Table, the restaurant where you eat in complete darkness, as he talked about how overrated that experience is.

Read more: JFL Northwest 2017: Iliza

Kinky Boots is a fabulous feel-good musical

Kinky Boots | Broadway Across Canada | Queen Elizabeth Theatre | February 7 – 12, 2017

Drag queens, Cyndi Lauper tunes, and sequins galore. How can one go wrong? Kinky Boots is a musical about acceptance, following your heart, and feeling fabulous in your own skin.

Charlie Price (Curt Hansen) is the classic hero who is pulled back to his small tow to save the family shoe factory, Price & Sons, after his father passes away. He is eager to get back to London to be with his fiancé Nicola (Katerina Papacostas), but soon gets involved in the daily running of the company and trying to save it from bankruptcy.

Read more: Kinky Boots is a fabulous feel-good musical

Odysseo by Cavalia needs to be seen to be believed

Odysseo by Cavalia | January 31 – March 5, 2017 | White Big Top, Olympic Village

Breaking all kinds of records for touring shows, Odysseo is something that has to be seen to be believed. From start to finish this show bombards the senses with a series of impressive acts that are as beautiful as they are technically challenging. The true stars of the show are the 65 horses, ranging in age from three to 14, and representing 11 different breeds from seven countries. They are accompanied by 48 artists who respect their four legged co-stars and all work together to create a magical spectacle.

Read more: Odysseo by Cavalia needs to be seen to be believed

PuSh 2017: Mouthpiece

Mouthpiece | Quote Unquote Collective | presented by PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and The Cultch | January 31 – February 4, 2017

We all have conflicting voices in our heads at one time or another, but how do we reconcile them and find our true voice amidst the chaos of life and the pressures of societal expectations? Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava embody two voices of one grieving woman in Mouthpiece, their duet based on personal experience.

Read more: PuSh 2017: Mouthpiece

PuSh 2017: As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying | Theatre Smith-Gilmour | presented by PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and Arts Club Theatre company | BMO Theatre Centre | January 19 – February 12, 2017

This production of William Faulkner’s classic novel is described as experimental, physical theatre. I can see the physical element for sure, but I’m not sure it was that experimental. Perhaps the folks who were discussing whether they should leave at intermission would disagree, but I thought Theatre Smith-Gilmour was using physicality and no props to fill our imagination with a highly detailed story. A show that can create scenes in our mind’s eye without the use of props is much more of a success than a show relying on elaborate set pieces to create the scene for us.

Read more: PuSh 2017: As I Lay Dying

PuSh 2017: Concord Floral

Concord Floral | PuSh International Performing Arts Festival | Roundhouse Community Centre | January 25 - 29, 2017

The cast of this show is comprised of teenagers from all over the Lower Mainland, some of whom have little or no theatrical experience. Despite (or perhaps because of) this fact, they were able to bring a refreshing authenticity to their performances. Created by Toronto artists Jordan Tannahill, Erin Brubacher and Cara Spooner, the play is based on Boccaccio’s The Decameron — but in this case the setting is a huge abandoned greenhouse called Concord Floral.

Read more: PuSh 2017: Concord Floral

Cuisine and Confessions is a feast for the senses

Cuisine and Confessions | Les 7 doigts | Jaunuary25 – 29, 2017 | Vancouver Playhouse | Presented by Théâtre la Seizième 

Death-defying acrobatic feats, infectious humour, and a meal at the end of it all: these are the ingredients for a spectacular show. From the audience interaction before the show to the tasty treats at the end, this show was a complete joy.

The nine acrobats of Les 7 doigts weave culinary stories in between their impressive acts while sharing their favourite foods, discussing intimate food-related memories, and fantasizing about foods they love. Their first course is an omelet, and the perfect omelet, they explain, needs eggs, peppers, onions — and love. Cracking eggs with one hand, throwing eggs over the audience, and finally bringing an audience member on stage, they prepared the omelet of love while the acrobats, utensils and ingredients alike were tossed around the stage and over the large kitchen island that served many purposes.

Read more: Cuisine and Confessions is a feast for the senses

The (Post) Mistress is full of small town charm

The (Post) Mistress | Arts Club Theatre on tour | January 7 – February 4, 2017

Full of gossip, energy, and enthusiasm, Marie-Louise Painchaud (Patricia Cano) is instantly likeable. Telling stories, spinning fantasies, and dreaming about her future, her stunning voice is accompanied on stage by piano (Michael Creber) and saxophone (Chris Startup).

Working in the post office of small-town Lovely Ontario, Painchaud knows everybody’s business. She hears all the latest gossip when people drop off their packages, and has no shame in holding a letter up to the light to read its contents. The contents of these letters, inspires her daydreams and fuels her fantasies.

Read more: The (Post) Mistress is full of small town charm

The Fighting Season shows us another side of war

The Fighting Season | Bleeding Heart Theatre | January 10 – 21, 2017 | Vancity Culture Lab at The Cultch

A serene lake, a pristine lawn, a hockey game on TV, and an ice cold beer. That’s all Terry wants after his tour in Afghanistan as a doctor in a busy medical facility at the Kandahar Airfield. Based on the experiences of playwright Sean Harris Oliver’s father, Dr. John Oliver, this is an intense telling of the events that profoundly affected three of the hospital’s Canadian personnel.

Read more: The Fighting Season shows us another side of war

PuSh Festival 2017: Volker Gerling's Portraits in Motion shows us moments of truth

Portraits in Motion | York Theatre | January 24-26, 2017

Volker Gerling collects flipbooks like some people collect acquaintances. “I’m curious about people; about souls,” he said on the phone from his home in Germany. Gerling started taking photos as a child with his super eight film camera, and dreamed of becoming a film director. It was at film school in 1997 that the flipbook seed was first planted. He saw a documentary about people in a retirement home, and one scene grabbed his attention. He remembers one lady showing a flipbook of herself from the 1920s — the flipbook of herself as a young woman flipped in her old hand and she came to life. “This scene is the reason I had the idea to do flipbooks,” explained Gerling.

Read more: PuSh Festival 2017: Volker Gerling's Portraits in Motion shows us moments of truth

Potted Potter is a hilarious re-telling of all seven Harry Potter books

Potted Potter | December 13 – 24, 2016 | Vogue Theatre 

This show is a classic comedic duet. James Percy, the straight man, is trying to summarize all seven Harry Potter books for the audience as best he can, while Joe Maudsley, his less competent partner, makes things difficult for him at every opportunity.   

It all starts with Joe unveiling the set pieces he’s created, all with some significant imperfections. The Forbidden Forest set is a sunny beach scene, and there is a wardrobe that leads to Narnia. It doesn’t help that Joe admits he hasn’t actually read any of the books, and he blew their budget on a special dragon for book four.

Read more: Potted Potter is a hilarious re-telling of all seven Harry Potter books

East Van Panto rides into town with Little Red Riding Hood

East Van Panto: Little Red Riding Hood | Theatre Replacement

York Theatre | November 23 – December 31, 2016

For those who live in East Vancouver or who are very familiar with that area of the city, this hyper-local pantomime was created for that audience and contains endless references to their neighbourhoods. In heater Replacement’s fourth year of partnering with The Cultch to bring the East Van Panto to life, it has become even more localized and specific to the areas surrounding the York Theatre. For everyone who is familiar with this area, this is probably a welcome progression, but for everyone else it can seem a bit alienating.

Read more: East Van Panto rides into town with Little Red Riding Hood

Touchstone Theatre and Diwali Fest present Anusree Roy's Brothel #9

Brothel #9 by Anusree Roy | presented by Touchstone Theatre and Diwali Fest  

The Cultch’s Vancity Culture Lab | November 17 – 27, 2016

For a play about sex slavery in Calcutta, there was at times too much joviality in Anusree Roy’s Brothel #9, but the complicated relationships between the four main characters are what keep this story endlessly interesting while producing a constant tension.

Rekha (Adele Noronha) arrives in Calcutta at what she thinks to be a light bulb factory. Her innocent eyes are lit up with the hope of a good job and a fresh start in a new city. She quickly finds out that she has been sold by her brother-in-law into sex slavery and that Jamuna (Laara Sadiq), a fellow sex slave and the only woman who she can confide in, has completely submitted herself to her new reality and is not interested in Rekha’s pleas for help.

Read more: Touchstone Theatre and Diwali Fest present Anusree Roy's Brothel #9

Long Division presents math as a metaphor for human connection

Long Division | Pi Theatre at Gateway Theatre | November 17 – 26, 2016

When I go to the theatre, I don’t really want to feel like I’m at a university lecture or a didactic educational play that is trying to no-so-subtly feed me information in between bits of disjointed plot. Unfortunately Peter Dickenson’s Long Division felt like this.

I understand that the educational nature of the story was intentional, but the plot was interrupted too often to let me get into the story, which was intriguing. I wanted to hear more about Paul, the poor math genius who was bullied in high school, about the way the lives of the seven characters onstage intersected, and how everything lead up to the climactic event at Paul’s high school. We never see Paul, instead seven characters tell us his story in fragments.  

Read more: Long Division presents math as a metaphor for human connection

The Pianist: A Concert Catastrophe

The Pianist: A Concert Catastrophe 

October 26 – November 6 | The York Theatre

As Thomas Monckton swung off his piano holding onto a chandelier, peals of laughter bounced all around the theatre. This climactic moment is just another hilarious stunt in a show full of silliness and slapstick. Reminiscent of Mr. Bean’s mute brand of misadventure and physical humour, Monckton plays a pianist whose performance goes awry in every possible way.

Read more: The Pianist: A Concert Catastrophe

Straight Jacket Winter - Théatre la Seizième

Straight Jacket Winter | Théatre la Seizième, 2par4, Centre National des Arts

October 18 – 29, 2016 at Studio 16

Moving to a new city can be a daunting experience, especially when you don’t know anyone and don’t speak the language fluently. Esther Duquette (Artistic Director of Théatre la Seizième) and Gilles Poulin-Denis moved from Montreal to Vancouver in 2011, and they wrote Straight Jacket Winter about their experience of finding a new home. This could have been a banal, commonplace story, but they expertly pulled out the most poignant moments and wove in literary references from L’Hiver de force by Réjean Ducharme that added another layer of meaning.

Read more: Straight Jacket Winter - Théatre la Seizième

Fight Night is a democratic theatre experience

Fight Night – Ontroerend Goed (Belgium)

The Cultch | October 18 – 29, 2016

The host of this show manipulated the audience, asked us personal questions, and sent actors off stage based on arbitrary polls. And we loved it. The first vote of the evening, choosing our favourite of five candidates, happened before we even heard them speak. This emphasized the degree to which people base their decisions on appearance, and was the first of many polls that exposed the strategies and manipulations of election campaigns.

This show turned actors into candidates and audience members into voters, and it was the most fun I’ve had at a participatory theatre show. We all got a kick out of seeing the results of each audience poll immediately. Before the candidates came out, we were warmed up with some demographic questions, and the host, Angelo Tijssens, added his own witty commentary about the options and the results.

Read more: Fight Night is a democratic theatre experience

King of the Yees - Gateway Theatre

King of the Yees – by Lauren Yee

October 13 – 22, 2016 | Gateway Theatre

There were three Lauren Yees at Gateway Theatre on the opening night of King of the Yees. One, the playwright from San Francisco, was sitting in the audience, and the other two were onstage. King of the Yees is about Lauren’s relationship with her father, Larry Yee, and the play is partly about her process of writing the play itself.

In the opening scene we see Lauren (Donna Soares) and Larry (Raugi Yu) in the ornate Yee family association building — at least we think they are Lauren and Larry. Then in walks Lauren (Andrea Yu) to add some directorial notes and we realize they are playing actors in Lauren’s play within the play. Are you still with me? Then Lauren’s father (Gateway artistic director Jovanni Sy) joins them, and after already presenting a unique opening scene, they break the fourth wall and talk to the audience.

Read more: King of the Yees - Gateway Theatre

Cathy Jones feels like a Stranger to Hard Work

Canadian comedy icon Cathy Jones talks about her new show, Stranger to Hard Work
September 28 - October 8 | Firehall Arts Centre

Sitting in the mattress department of a Sears department store in Halifax, Cathy Jones is having a pretty hectic day. She’s had a haircut, got a new screen on her cell phone, and now she’s found somewhere relatively quiet and comfortable to sit while she does a barrage of interviews one after the other about her new solo show. And yet, she says she feels like she could be working harder; doing more.

Read more: Cathy Jones feels like a Stranger to Hard Work

Bard on the Beach presents a new adaptation of the strange epic Pericles

Pericles might be the strangest play in Shakespeare’s canon with its themes of incest and dead characters coming back to life. It also isn’t always easy to understand on your first pass. Rather than reduce that barrier, I found this adaptation by director Lois Anderson somewhat hindered an easy understanding of the plot. Using dolls to represent characters being described in narration and moving between present and flashback in real life and magical worlds, this show was not easy to follow.

Read more: Bard on the Beach presents a new adaptation of the strange epic Pericles

Civil War Othello doesn't live up to expectations at Bard on the Beach

Othello, a civil war general for the Union Army, consults with his trusted advisor, Iago. As they sit in silence poring over maps and strategies, Iago masterfully manipulates Othello into thinking that his new wife, Desdemona, may be unfaithful. Once Iago has planted the seed of doubt, this play unfolds with such elegance that it’s impossible not to get drawn into the intrigue.

Read more: Civil War Othello doesn't live up to expectations at Bard on the Beach

The Merry Wives of Windsor is back on the big Bard on the Beach stage

“These Boots are Made for Walking” fills the Bard on the Beach mainstage tent as a colourfully dressed cast takes the stage of The Garter Inn in 1960s Windsor, Ontario. At this moment I wondered what a modern day song like this was doing in a Shakespeare play, and whether these kinds of modern renditions that mix the old and the new are even appropriate. I think it depends. In this case, director Johnna Wright successfully translated the play to 1960s Ontario where it feels right at home, and then from the smaller Bard stage where it first appeared in 2012 to the larger space where it easily fills it with mirth and song.

Read more: The Merry Wives of Windsor is back on the big Bard on the Beach stage

Romeo and Juliet teach us the importance of love at Bard on the Beach

 June 3 - September 23, 2016 at Bard on the Beach, Vanier Park

 Juliet sneaks out of her bedroom at night to meet Romeo. She sprinkles rose petals on the ground and lays down a blanket. She’s preparing for her first time, and the scene evokes memories of young love that will resonate with many in the audience. Romeo and Juliet share a tender, romantic night under the stars and plan to be together forever.

Andrew Chown and Hailey Gillis shine in the title roles. They made me believe in their love, in their innocence, and in their anguished demise. I think this play, as tragic as it is, is a tribute to love, teaching us the importance of pursing it against all odds. Yes, the ending is extreme with both lovers taking their own lives, but so often theatre goes to extremes to get a point across. Their deaths are the result of a family feud, and we are warned to against letting hatred get in the way of love.

Read more: Romeo and Juliet teach us the importance of love at Bard on the Beach

Good People is too good to miss

Good People - Arts Club Theatre Company
March 24 – April 24, 2016
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Margie (Colleen Wheeler) sits on the sofa in her ex-boyfriend Mike’s fancy house. He left South Boston, became a doctor, got married and had a baby, and become what she calls “lace curtain” — someone who thinks they’re better than others based on their income and where they live. While his wife is in the kitchen, Mike askes Margie not to tell her that they used to go out. Margie not only tells her they used to go out and that Mike asked her not to, but she tells Mike that her daughter is actually his. The tension in that living room could be cut with a knife.

Read more: Good People is too good to miss

Kayak is political and personal

Jordan Hall’s play focuses on the impact of global warming.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Some people are so insufferably righteous that you can’t stand them. You know the type: in a way you admire them, but those feelings are quickly overcome with the urge to slap them in their fair-trade-buying, bicycle-riding, self-satisfied faces. That’s how Mrs. Iverson feels about Julie.

Read more: Kayak is political and personal

Five Cures for Winter Boredom

Got the post-Christmas blues? Here are a few ways to distract yourself until spring.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

1. Discover Thug Notes

If you’re ever in need of a quick summary and analysis of a classic piece of literature, Thug Notes has your back. Hosted by character Sparky Sweets, PhD, watching this web series promises to turn you into one well-read balla.

Read more: Five Cures for Winter Boredom

Samuel Beckett at his best

Blackbird Theatre presents the Canadian premiere of Beckett’s classic radio play.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Written in 1956, All That Fall by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett has never been professionally produced in Canada, until now. First broadcast on BBC radio, Beckett never allowed the play to be produced on stage. He insisted that it was meant to be heard, as it was better if the audience could imagine the story for themselves. The Beckett estate recently allowed for the play to be produced on stage, but only as a radio play.

Read more: Samuel Beckett at his best

Christmas Queen - Vancouver Theatresports

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

If improv and pantomime had a child, it would be Christmas Queen, an “improv comedy fairytale.” This magical story is brought to life each night through audience suggestions and a spunky narrator, who guides the action as the evil Christmas Queen tries to ruin the holiday for everyone. In true pantomime fashion, the audience is told to boo every time the Queen comes on stage, and the Queen is played by a man. This character, with overly perky fake breasts and classic pantomime makeup, is hilarious on its own. With the addition of the other improvised characters and a crazy plot of random elements, the night is guaranteed to be entertaining.

Read more: Christmas Queen - Vancouver Theatresports

Loon - Wonderheads Theatre

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

You wouldn’t think that one person in a full-face mask not speaking for almost an hour would be an entertaining show, but this melancholic story about a man who falls in love with the moon was incredibly moving. Wonderheads, a physical theatre company from Portland, brought Grim and Fischer to The Cultch last year, and it was so popular they’re back again this season with Loon.

Kate Braidwood plays Francis, a lonely janitor searching for love. He compulsively calls to see if he has any voicemails from his phone dating service, but he is always left disappointed. While finding solace in a comic book from his childhood, the power goes out and the moon is the only light he has. Thus begins his bizarre courting of the moon as he pulls it down from the sky and brings it home.

Read more: Loon - Wonderheads Theatre

Arts Club’s Saint Joan is a long epic about a brave woman

This three hour journey into Joan of Arc’s life is one of George Bernard Shaw’s masterpieces.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

George Bernard Shaw is widely considered to be the greatest playwright after Shakespeare, and Saint Joan is one of his final great works, written when he was 67. The play is long. Even though director Kim Collier, leading lady Meg Roe, and dramaturge Rachel Ditor spent some time editing the script, it still clocks in at over three hours. I’m not against long plays — Shakespeare’s plays, even when edited, are still lengthy — but this didn’t seem to have enough dynamism to hold our undivided attention.

Read more: Arts Club’s Saint Joan is a long epic about a brave woman

Flashdance - Broadway Across Canada

November 11 – 16, Queen Elizabeth Theatre

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Everyone can picture the iconic scene from the film Flashdance, when Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) drenches herself in water, but unfortunately this iconic image was missing on opening night. Alex did the dance and arched her back over the chair, but the water was a blatantly missing element that everyone was expecting. The image used to advertise this show involves the main character on a chair with water spraying off of her hair as she puts her head back, so it was too bad that the opening night crowd missed out on this essential piece of the show. I’ve been assured that this won’t be a problem for the remaining performances.

Read more: Flashdance - Broadway Across Canada

Urinetown - Firehall Arts Centre

 November 1 – 29, Firehall Arts Centre

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

What if there comes a time when water shortages are so severe that it becomes a privilege to pee? Urinetown is back at the Firehall to explore this possibility with hilarious characters and songs, while playing with established musical theatre tropes.

Unique to this show is the narrator who breaks the fourth wall to welcome us to Urinetown, “the musical not the place,” and explain what we’re about to see. His conversations with the inquisitive Little Sally throughout the show explain what is going on, and as he explains in detail what we’re about to see, he says things like, “too much exposition can kill a show,” while Little Sally asks “what kind of musical is this?”

Read more: Urinetown - Firehall Arts Centre

Hunter Gatherers - Staircase Theatre

October 30 to November 15, Havana Theatre

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Any play that reminds me of Yasmina Reza’s Carnage is doing something right. Peter Sinn Nachtreib’s Hunter Gatherers begins similarly, with a calm household gathering that slowly descends into chaos. Pam and Richard invite Wendy and Tom over every year for an anniversary dinner to celebrate the day both couples got married. Their calm, upstanding dinner party gradually descends into an animalistic disaster as secrets and true personalities are revealed.

I first heard about the play when interviewing Pippa Mackie about another of her projects, and she said she had been thrilled to be part of a play with such a good script. I couldn’t agree more that this is an extremely well-written play. Almost every line is punchy and unexpected, and hilarity runs through the entire play as things become increasingly strange.

Read more: Hunter Gatherers - Staircase Theatre

Three Tall Women - Western Gold Theatre

October 23 to November 9, PAL Studio Theatre

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story impressed me so much during this year’s Fringe Festival that when I found out Three Tall Women was also written by him, I had to go see it.

I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as Zoo Story, but I could see the similarities in Albee’s style. This play also featured only one setting, and it wasn’t so much a story as an interesting conversation.

Read more: Three Tall Women - Western Gold Theatre

The Tandoori Kings of Comedy are coming to Surrey

Sunee Dhaliwal and Hollywood Harv join forces in this stand up show.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

“If I stayed on course I would be a lawyer right now. I would be making a lot more money,” laughed Sunee Dhaliwal. Before leaving school to pursue stand up comedy, Dhaliwal spent some time studying criminology at SFU, and the plan was to become a lawyer. “I took one semester off that turned into six years,” he said.

“I always liked comedy. I’d study and watch it as a kid,” said Dhaliwal. While working at Staples, his manager encouraged him to try stand up. He was too shy to email the comedy clubs in Vancouver, so his manager took it upon himself to email, pretending to be Dhaliwal, and signed him up to perform. “He said he’d do it with me, but he never did, and it turned out to be an amazing experience.” That was seven years ago and Dhaliwal has never looked back.

Read more: The Tandoori Kings of Comedy are coming to Surrey

Sesame Street for adults

Arts Club tours the Broadway hit Avenue Q around the Lower Mainland.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Did you watch Sesame Street as a kid? The hilarious Broadway musical Avenue Q is the perfect grown up version, complete with full puppet nudity. The show won Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score at the 2004 Tony Awards, and the music and lyrics are catchy, irreverent, and universal. Having seen the Broadway Across Canada production a couple of years ago, I was eager to see what Arts Club’s version would be like.

There are many parallels to be seen between Avenue Q and Sesame Street. Bert and Ernie are roommates Rod and Nicky, the Cookie Monster is Trekkie Monster, a grumpy, porn-obsessed bachelor. Some of the show’s familiar devices are also used, such as sounding out words one syllable at a time to introduce a new concept.

Read more: Sesame Street for adults

A toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou is deeply captivating

Theatre la Seizième opens their 40th season with a powerful play by Michel Tremblay.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

The first thing that struck me as outstanding about Theatre la Seizième’s season opener was the set. With three raised platforms to separate the space, each character was isolated and stood out when they delivered their lines. Marie-Lou sat on the far left in her rocking chair, knitting while watching TV, and her husband, Léopold, sat at his table full of empty beer glasses on the other side. In between them, and a bit lower down, were their two daughters, Manon and Carmen.

Carmen has returned home to visit Manon, and as they revisit their childhood we learn shocking things about their parents’ relationship and their tragic death. Manon is a single, religious woman who is obsessed with their death, and Carmen has become a country singer who wants to forget the past all together.

Read more: A toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou is deeply captivating

Improv superheroes save the day at Theatresports

Theatresports' new show is a comedic adventure with a new superhero each night.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Theatresports’ Superhero Show! Each night, the improv masters of Theatresports entertain audiences at The Improv Centre with a different caper involving a unique superhero created from audience suggestions. For example, the night I was there the hero was the Pecker, a bird whose special ability was spaghetti fingers.

The narrator has a bit of control over the action on stage as he asks for the audience to shout suggestions or signals a scene change for the performers. There is also a basic structure and setting to the show — it’s set in Big City, and the narrator asks the audience specific questions in order to create the tale. Other than that, nothing is scripted, and the performers have to make up a hilarious story on the spot, given only a couple of pieces of information.

Read more: Improv superheroes save the day at Theatresports

Educating Rita is dead funny

Arts Club's production shows that we all have something to learn.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

What does it mean to get an education? When we hear the word, most of us picture the typical university lecture hall with a professor at the front sharing his or her wisdom, but there are other types of education to be had.

When Rita (Holly Lewis) shows up at Frank’s (Scott Bellis) university office wanting to “know everything,” it’s the beginning of a special relationship that has each of them learning more than they bargained for. Rita gushes about her favourite novel, Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, and Frank tries to explain the merits of Faulkner and Blake.

Read more: Educating Rita is dead funny

Studio 58 opens their 49th season with Kosmic Mambo

This physical theatre piece is loosely based on Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Continuing the long tradition of physical theatre at Studio 58 (joining works like Nocturne, Scenes from a Courtroom, and The Company), Kosmic Mambo is an adaptation of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, set during the space race of the 50s and 60s. Instead of a ship on the ocean, this story takes place on a spaceship. Telling the story entirely through movement, gesture, facial expression, and body language, this was a unique production performed by a talented cast.

Read more: Studio 58 opens their 49th season with Kosmic Mambo

Since You Left Us is a hilarious tale of dysfunction

Susinn McFarlen’s play is a comedy about a family reunion, forgiveness, and learning to let go.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Like watching a hilarious television sitcom, Since You Left Us is about a sister returning home to her dysfunctional family and learning to accept them for who they are. Susinn McFarlen has written characters that are just exaggerated enough to make you laugh out loud, yet authentic enough to represent people you know.

Fanny (Jillian Fargey) shows up at her sister Denny’s house in Vancouver after flying from Toronto to look for her runaway son, Danno (Mike Gill). Denny (Colleen Wheeler) has her dog Jack in a baby carrier and, having just come back from their mother’s birthday party at Hooters, is furious that Jack wasn’t allowed in the restaurant.

Read more: Since You Left Us is a hilarious tale of dysfunction

4000 Miles crosses the generational divide

A touching, humorous tale of a grandmother and grandson who become roommates and friends.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

A simple premise and a beautifully portrayed relationship can lead to a very immersive theatre experience. In Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles, Vera and her grandson Leo have a relationship that gradually becomes something very touching. It was so immersive that, during one scene an audience member shouted “Avocado!” to help Vera, frustrated about forgetting her words, remember the name of a slimy green fruit with a pit in the middle.

Nicola Cavendish was endearing and highly comical as Vera, the 91-year old former activist. Nathan Barrett as her hippie grandson Leo complimented her well. When Leo shows up at her door at 3:00 a.m. one morning, Vera barks, “Are you high?” She doesn’t mince her words, and she is a strong character who elicited many laughs through subtle things such as meticulous laundry folding or angrily kicking aside shoes in the doorway.

Read more: 4000 Miles crosses the generational divide

Our Town: As much as things change, they always stay the same

Bob Frazer talks about his company's production of Thornton Wilder's classic.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.


Sitting at a picnic table beside the main stage tent at Bard on the Beach, Bob Frazer explains that Thornton Wilder and Shakespeare have one very important thing in common: they wrote plays about human emotions.

“One of the great things about Shakespeare, and why I firmly believe he gets done over and over again, is that he doesn’t deal with his time period, he doesn’t deal with what’s going on, he deals with human emotions. Our Town may take place between 1901 and 1913, but that’s not the point. The point is that it deals with human emotions and human truth.”

As his summer acting in Equivocation and Cymbeline at Bard on the Beach comes to a close, Frazer’s company, Osimous Theatre, has started rehearsing their production of Our Town. The play has been around since 1938 and is still so popular that it is staged daily somewhere in the world. It hasn’t been done professionally in Vancouver in over 20 years, and Frazer said he thinks this has to do with the play’s unfortunate reputation as a play reserved for high school drama class or community theatre.

Read more: Our Town: As much as things change, they always stay the same

In review: dramatic Fringe

A round up of reviews from some of the dramatic offerings at the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

 

For Body and Light – 3 stars

Slow and pensive, this show was poetry in motion. The poetry and music of Ian Ferrier and choreography of Stéphanie Morin-Robert, Linnea Gwiazda, and Allison Burn, combined to create a vivid atmosphere full of maritime imagery. Like the ocean tides, these dancers moved fluidly below one large light hanging above centre stage, representing the moon.

The mesmerizing poetry came alive, yet left room for imagination and interpretation. The large light, maneuvered by a pulley, changed the tone of the space as it was moved to different heights and pulled to the side of the stage. Opening the show were a young musician and spoken word duo who were extremely talented and set the tone for the show. The show ended in a puddle of water as one of the dancers stood in rubber wellingtons filled to the brim. As she moved, the water spilled out around her.

Read more: In review: dramatic Fringe

In review: comedic Fringe

A round up of reviews from some of the comedic offerings at the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

 

No Tweed Too Tight – 4 stars

This cheesy genre spoof of insurance investigator Grant Canyon was over the top in a good way. Acting like an exaggerated, drunken cross between Philip Marlowe and James Bond, Grant Canyon is on the trail of a huge insurance fraud case. If only he can remember what happened to him, he might be able to solve the mystery and escape death.

Read more: In review: comedic Fringe

Art imitates life in Fringe show about actors who work at a restaurant

Industry: The Food Must Go Out is an ode to the restaurant industry and all the actors who spend their second lives there.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Sometimes life imitates art and vice versa in a serendipitous feedback loop. Pippa Mackie is an actor, and she also works in a restaurant; not the other way around. The line between these two parallel lives is becoming a bit blurred lately as she performs her new show, Industry: The Food Must Go Out, at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. “The vibe is a chef, a busser, and a server walk into their own restaurant, it’s closed down, and they want to have some fun — that’s really what the show is,” said Mackie.

The show is performed at Edible Canada on Granville Island, the hub of the Fringe Festival, and the circumstances couldn’t have been more perfect for this show. Mackie works with chef Nik Bunting, a sketch comedian, and server Lauren Jackson, who is a fellow theatre school grad. Mackie has had an idea brewing for a while to do a show involving life in the restaurant industry, but a couple of months ago it all started to come together when she thought about doing a show at her workplace.

Read more: Art imitates life in Fringe show about actors who work at a restaurant

Monty Python take their final bow

The remaining Pythons put on a fitting farewell show.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Broadcast from the O2 Arena in London to cinemas around the world, Monty Python Live (Mostly) included many of the comedy troupe’s classic sketches and hit songs, although they weren’t always done in predictable ways. Some have been updated with current references, but others remain the same and are as funny as always. The parrot may have passed on, but the members of Monty Python are not dead yet (mostly), and they joked that the subtitle of the show is One Down, Five to Go.

This epic comedy reunion was the perfect way for the remaining Pythons to perform together for one last hurrah. The “female Python” Carol Cleveland also joined them and reprised her role in “The Lumberjack Song,” among others. Although their Flying Circus has been off the air since 1974, and the Pythons haven’t done a stage show since 1980, their impact on pop culture is immense and has trickled down through the generations.

Read more: Monty Python take their final bow

Ogres and lawyers at Theatre Under the Stars

Musical versions of Shrek and Legally Blonde entertain audiences at Malkin Bowl this summer.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Playing this year at Stanley Park are two comedies adapted from the big screen featuring original scores, stories of overcoming adversity, and plenty of laughs. Shrek: The Musical features the lovable ogre and all his fairytale friends, and Legally Blonde: The Musical returns for a second year in all its peppy, pink glory.

Perhaps it’s the extra year of performance that the show has under its belt, or maybe it is the stronger writing, but Legally Blonde was a much more polished production. Jocelyn Gauthier was stunning as Elle, Peter Cumins complemented her well as Warner, and Cathy Wilmot was an audience favourite as Paulette.

Read more: Ogres and lawyers at Theatre Under the Stars

Cymbeline is a modern drama

This lesser-known play doesn’t fit neatly into any of Shakespeare’s categories

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Late in his life, Shakespeare seemed to get a bit sentimental, writing plays that don’t fit neatly into one of his usual categories. Cymbeline is not exactly a tragedy, although it involves war; it’s not exactly a comedy, although it ends happily, and it’s not exactly a history, although it is about a king. The play is really a modern drama with elements of each and a happy Hollywood ending. 

Director Anita Rochon makes her Bard on the Beach debut with this small cast of seven who play multiple roles. The setting is ancient Britain where King Cymbeline (Gerry Mackay) is being threatened by the Romans. To Cymbeline’s dismay, his daughter, Imogen (Rachel Cairns), has married Posthumus (Anton Lipovetsky). Cymbeline had ordered her to marry his new wife’s son, Cloten (Lipovetsky), and he banishes Posthumus to Rome. In Rome, Posthumus meets the manipulative Iachimo (Bob Frazer), who makes a bet that he can seduce Imogen. 

Read more: Cymbeline is a modern drama

What would Shakespeare do?

Shagspeare is commissioned to write about the gunpowder plot in Equivocation

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak

Bard on the Beach almost never presents plays that are not written by the Bard himself, but when they do, it is for good reason. Bill Cain’s tale of art and politics is a masterpiece of suspense and humour played by a cast of six talented actors. It is presented in partnership with the Belfry Theatre in Victoria, where it premiered this spring.

The story is set in Jacobean England in 1606 as Robert Cecil (Anousha Alamian), King James’ Prime Minister implores Shagspeare (Bob Frazer) to write a play titled The True Historie of the Gunpowder Plot. Shagspeare explains that he writes histories and plays based on events that happened in the past, but he does not do current events. 

Read more: What would Shakespeare do?

Shrek and Fiona find love in Stanley Park

Theatre Under the Stars presents Shrek: The Musical this summer

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Matt Palmer has never played a character quite like Shrek. “It feels very large, very green, very grumpy,” laughed Palmer. Even just getting into costume is a unique experience. It takes him one and a half to two hours to make the transformation into the lovable ogre, and the process involves prosthetics along with tons of green make-up. 

Shrek, playing in repertory with the return of Legally Blonde, should be a popular show for all ages. Just as the animated film cleverly included many jokes that only adults would understand, the musical will be entertaining for the whole family. The adaptation follows the story pretty closely, said Palmer, with a few additions of some characters’ backstories. The score, however, is completely original except for the inclusion of “I’m a Believer” during curtain call. 

Read more: Shrek and Fiona find love in Stanley Park

True identities are revealed in The Tempest

Meg Roe returns to remount this production at Bard on the Beach

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

The ethereal beauty of Prospero’s deserted island and Ariel’s spritely magical powers make The Tempest a unique exploration of identity and longing. Meg Roe is back to direct this remount of her 2008 production as it moves from the studio stage to the larger main stage. Some of the actors have also returned; most notably Jennifer Lines as Ariel.

Although Prospero (Allan Morgan) is our protagonist, his servant Ariel and her sprites control much of the action with their spells. She creates the tempest that shipwrecks Alonso, King of Naples; Antonio, Duke of Milan; and their entourage. Prospero has asked Ariel to raise the storm in order to seek revenge on his brother, Antonio, who cast him away years earlier. Prospero and his daughter Miranda ended up on the island and managed to survive.

Read more: True identities are revealed in The Tempest

Kick up your heels at Red Rock Diner

Dean Regan's musical is a tribute to Vancouver DJ Red Robinson

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

One of the first DJs to play Elvis, Buddy Holly, and other rock n’ roll acts regularly in Canada, Red Robinson is a Vancouver radio star who was extremely popular with young people. He went on to have a very successful radio and TV career while authoring a couple of books along the way. I’m sure some people attending Red Rock Diner remember the days when Robinson dominated the airwaves, and this show is a nostalgic trip back to those days. It’s full of toe-tapping classic ’50s music, but it’s lacking a strong narrative. 

Read more: Kick up your heels at Red Rock Diner

Believe in fairies with A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Bard on the Beach opens their 25th season with this classic comedy

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

I’ve seen many productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream over the years, but I have to say I laughed the most at this one. The Players, Puck, and even Helena were all just a bit more exaggerated in their humour, and it was refreshing. 

From the colourful circus-inspired fairy costumes to the umbrella motif used throughout the show, this was a unique staging that allowed for plenty of dreaming. The first thing the audience saw coming up over the stairs at the back of the open-ended tent were large black umbrellas as Theseus and Hippolyta discussed their daughter Hermia’s betrothal to Demetrius. 

Read more: Believe in fairies with A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Putting the pieces together with The Other Place

Nick Hunnings discusses this well-written tale full of twists.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Like a good film full of plot twists and layered meaning, The Other Place is a play that will leave you wanting to see it again. As star Nick Hunnings explained, it will require another viewing to catch parts and clues you may have missed.

As the play develops, the audience begins to piece together the story. “There’s a moment when people will begin to piece it together,” he said, “but there will still be questions — provocative questions. You’ll have to retrace your steps. There will be moments you missed and clues in the script.”

Read more: Putting the pieces together with The Other Place

Totem explores the infinite potential of human existence

Cirque du Soleil brings their latest big top show to Vancouver.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Chronicling the evolution of the human species from amphibians, to apes, to the present, Totem is a new Cirque du Soleil production that fuses many cultures and inspirations to create a magical tapestry of human ingenuity. As tour publicist Francis Jalbert explains, “It explores the infinite potential of human beings. We’re always moving onwards and upwards; we don’t accept the status quo.” It’s also about the evolution of our own lives and the way we evolve as individuals.

Read more: Totem explores the infinite potential of human existence

Wicked - The untold story of the witches of Oz

The relationship between the witches is what people can relate to the most.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Are you good or evil? What does that even mean? Wicked explores the idea that none of us are really good nor evil, but a combination of both, and how we end up that way is more complex than we probably realize. Matt Shingledecker, who plays the witches’ love interest, Fiyero, explained that the idea of the show is to strip away the labels of good and evil to look deeper into individual character and motivations.

Read more: Wicked - The untold story of the witches of Oz

Blue Man Group on Tour

Jesse Nolan talks the Blue Man Group and its upcoming Vancouver show.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak

Three years of working on the Blue Man Group show has changed Jesse Nolan’s perspective on the world.

“It has changed the way that I look at everything,” he said. As the show’s musical director, Nolan said his challenge is to create musical accompaniment that outlines the stories and action on stage. He describes it as “painting with sound.”

Working on the show and thinking like the Blue Man character has helped Nolan expand his own thinking. “I’ve been encouraged to think a little bigger about everything,” he said, “I think more creatively in all aspects of life.”

Read more: Blue Man Group on Tour

Are you Proud of your government?

Michael Healy's political play takes the stage at Firehall Arts Centre.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Whether or not you’re proud of the current federal government, if you’re interested in politics, Michael Healy’s Proud will be an enjoyable show. “I would hope people of all political stripes come to the show,” said director and Firehall Arts Centre producer Donna Spencer. She believes the show will really appeal to political science students, political writers, and anybody with an interest in the subject.

Read more: Are you Proud of your government?

Hirsch: Remembering a Canadian Legend

Theatre Review

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Would you want someone to tell your story after you’re gone? And if so, who could be trusted with this task?

Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson took on the responsibility of bringing the life of John Hirsch to the stage, paying tribute to this Canadian theatre legend. After an enormously successful premiere at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 2012, Hirsch has made its way west to the Firehall Arts Centre.

Read more: Hirsch: Remembering a Canadian Legend

Rodgers and Hammerstein - Out of a Dream

Patrick Street Productions creates an ode to musical masters Rodgers and Hammerstein.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

The careers of Rodgers and Hammerstein encompassed 11 musicals, 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Grammys, and one Pulitzer Prize. What the duo also did was leave a lasting legacy in the musical theatre community, spawning a lineage of artists who continue creating work in the same spirit.

Read more: Rodgers and Hammerstein - Out of a Dream

Nashville Hurricane

The Vancouver Fringe Festival presents Chase Padgett's Nashville Hurricane. 

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Chase Padgett loves Canadians and Canadian Fringe Festivals. “I often feel that I’m a Canadian trapped in an American’s body,” he said.

Padgett is returning to Vancouver with his new show Nashville Hurricane after last year’s successful Vancouver Fringe Festival show, 6 Guitars, and he is looking forward to being back in this city.

Read more: Nashville Hurricane

Underbelly: Burroughs and The Beats

The Cultch presents one-man show performed by Jayson McDonald.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg represent the Beat Generation in American Literature. Full of drug-induced episodes, a rejection of authority, and spontaneity, their works have influenced and inspired artists of all genres.  

“They’re like the Three Musketeers,” said Jayson McDonald, “flinging themselves headlong into calamity.” McDonald embodies William S. Burroughs in his one-man show, Underbelly.Kerouac and Ginsberg also have cameos, but Burroughs is the star.

Read more: Underbelly: Burroughs and The Beats

Whose Life is it Anyway? Tackles Disability in the Theatre

An interview with Realwheels Theatre Artistic Director, James Sanders.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Sometimes art and life imitate each other a little too well. During the research process for his new show, Whose Life is it Anyway? James Sanders fell ill and had to spend some time in the hospital. Since the play’s protagonist, a sculptor who has become paralysed, spends the whole show in a hospital bed, this experience provided actor Bob Frazer with a real life research opportunity.

Having been good friends with Sanders since their theatre school days, Frazer was at the hospital almost daily, observing the environment and forming relationships with doctors and nurses.

Read more: Whose Life is it Anyway? Tackles Disability in the Theatre