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Category: performances Page 1 of 3

Nutcracker Ballet at Queen Elizabeth Theatre

This would be my first time witnessing a ballet performance. I have taken up the art as a child, but outside of that leotard that no longer fits, my experience with this artistic expression has been limited. However, I had the opportunity to bid on a prize pack for a good cause, and winning it, included two tickets to a ballet performance of my choice. Given that it was later in the year, I decided that my first professional exposure to the artistic dance should be the acclaimed “Nutcracker”, performed by “Calgary Ballet”.

And best of all you can drink at the theatre. Beer, wine, and high balls in glass when in the foyer. And up to two per person in plastic cups, when drinking in the theatre itself. And with three floors and multiple bars you need not wait too long to get hydrated. They also serve up nuts, cookies, and candies for guests to munch on. And ballet merch for those who want a keepsake. No Nutcrackers though, that was what I was looking for.

As for the performance, in hindsight, my guest and I made the mistake of not reading up on the story ahead of time. And I made the mistake of thinking the story and the ballet were one in the same. I didn’t realize the “Nutcracker” was an individual story and the ballet version was putting that story into interpretative dance. So I went in not knowing the plot, and thus being confused the duration of the 1.5 hour performance. The pace is fairly quick and if you aren’t aware of the story beforehand, you will get lost, and therefore won’t appreciate it as much. In fact I actually fell asleep. Without the dialogue there was nothing to follow. No plot, no story, no progression. Why were there dancing mice? How did they get on to the sled? Why are all these people dancing for who I assume are the main characters?

Nonetheless, I was able to appreciate the athleticism and the intricacies of their movements. I also liked the costumes. Women in ornate dresses, men in tights that didn’t leave anything to the imagination. It was all well done and everyone looked on point: beautiful, glittery, and shimmery.

We weren’t able to take photos of the actual performance, but I grabbed a feel shots to acknowledge the talent of the ballerinas, as they took their bows. This is a great experience for those who tend to be more visual by nature. Worth checking out if you have never seen a ballet performance, let alone the “Nutcracker”. But unfortunately the season is over and all the performances have been carried out. But for other, upcoming performances, visit the ballet website below.

https://balletbc.com/

LUZIA, Cirque du Soleil 2019

I cannot believe I have yet to watch a “Cirque du Soleil” performance. I mean, I have been to Vegas a handful of times, where several hotels host nightly Cirque shows. And every year their white tents get erected by Main Street skytrain station. But I guess the thought of a steep ticket price has kept me away until now. But honestly it is fairly affordable as a little indulgence. You only need to purchase your ticket on the right day, for the right day. We choose a slower night and took advantage of their Black Friday sale, to only have to pay $89 per second row seat tickets. And in actuality you want to sit further from the stage to be able to take in more, and that lowers the price.

Tickets don’t come with any instructions, and for first timers, we did spend some time trying to find the entrance. Not to mention we were late, unsure whether the time listed was the start time, or the time which the doors opened for seating.We made our way past security and their commercial trailers, and wandered into the largest tent. Two entrances funnelled traffic left or right based on your purchased seats.

Inside, the foyer has several booths offering food and drink, and of course souvenir merchandise for purchase. The lot of it themed in Mexican patterns and motifs with rainbow paper garlands, cartoon luchadors, and photographs of lush greenery. All of which spoke to the theme of “LUZIA”.

As taken from their website, “LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light quenches the spirit and rain soothes the soul”. Inspired by Mexico, the show combines high flying and death-defying acrobatics with the vibrant culture of Mexico. For those interested, I highly recommend taking in the show before they take down the tents on December 29th. And right now for the holidays they are offering 25% off tickets, on select days.

We did arrive late, so had to wait for the first set to finish before being guided to our seats by the usher. With targeted flashlights he lit the walkway and ensured we were safe and sound in our centre, second row seats. And the help was necessary, the aisle in between each row is narrow. You cannot get in or out without those around you getting up and out of their seats. This was reason one for me not wanting to drink during the performance, having to leave mid way for the toilet. Reason two was the actual lengthy lines for said toilets. The washrooms weren’t porto-potties, but they were located out doors in the rain and cold. And for those who had to go, they spent the entire intermission in queue waiting their turn. I can see why the intermission was 30 minutes. And all this will be the reason why I would look into the VIP package next year. Those premium tickets come with access to a VIP lounge, and I assume an express toilet.

Now back to our seats. We thought we would have the best in the house, being unobstructed by a sea of heads. But in actuality you want a seat further away from the stage, to avoid having to crank your head back and up. I suggest the ones in section 200, row H. These offer the largest amount of leg room, as it is an actual walk way in front of you. Plus you are able to take in the entire expanse of the stage, to not have to keep looking left or right, in order to not miss anything in your peripheral. Whereas our front row seats were so tightly packed side by side, that there was no place to store our over sized jackets and purses. And my guest had her neighbour practically sitting on her lap.

As for the actual show. I will be briefly recap the scenes, but not to worry my words won’t spoil anything for you. There is nothing like seeing the following live. And without the ability to use my phone to capture it in photo or video, I was fully able to immerse myself in the performance.

The first act was a lively showcase of acrobats dressed as birds. They ran and flapped their feathers on moving conveyor belts, built in to the stage floor. Their set had them flying through the air, and leaping through varying sizes of hoops.

Next, we were introduced to the entire “LUZIA” assembly as they gathered on stage. Live singing, musical instruments, and prancing commenced. They all wore colourful costumes that looked as though they came from a time period once upon ago, far far away. Suspenders and bowler hats, Mary janes and apron dresses; dapper in linen and silk. A few were dressed as animals with shells and tails, fur and scales. All very elaborate.

Following this, everyone left the stage and a dancer was propelled into the air by her three 3 dance partners. They made tossing her, swinging her like jump rope, and passing her between one another look fluid.

After, two women came to the stage and did things with large metal hula hoops that I didn’t think was possible. All while an acrobat was lowered from the ceiling, twirling while balancing on a bar. Mid set rain fell from the ceiling (a motif that would reappear a few more times). The performers continue to spin and dance, embarrassing the falling water like you would a warm rainfall. Be warned, the front row does get a little sprinkling.

In between sets the water was cleared with mops and what looked like a decorative lawn mower being pushed over puddles. And instead of hiding the clean up, an entertainer was brought out to distract the audience from it. Like the rest of the show, no words were spoken. Communication was done using a whistle and hand gestures. And with an inflatable ball and crowd participation, he brought the tent to laughter.

The tight rope walker charmed on his slack rope. The premise was he was trying to impress a a girl, as he balanced on a wooden board and tube, stood on his hands, and flipped and flopped around with ease.

The soccer ball tricks were playfully done. Bouncing, balancing, and even breakdancing. One of the athletes was pregnant, and doing a fine job keeping up with her male counter part. Here, the water returned and the whole team took to it with joyous excitement.

To which, our humorous, whistle blowing entertainer came back with a comedy routine. It was based around him trying to capture water in his flask. Although he found himself unable to keep up with the playful stream of liquid.

Then our songstress came back. She sang a deeply moving melody in Spanish. And as she bellowed, the steady stream of falling water she stood beside, began falling in patterns. You were able to make our images of stars, hearts, birds, and fish. A visual treat for the eyes and the ears. Then to close out the first act, the entire cast came back out to help finish the song with gusto.

We spent the performance not drinking, so were able to use our 30 minutes exploring their souvenir shop. Butterfly wings, soccer balls, light up wands, and themed tees and hoodies. Most memorable was the bedazzled skull purse for over $300.

When time, we reassembled by the stage and were welcomed back to act 2 by 3 costumed cacti posing like tourists with flash photography. They led the way for a collection of DescriptionPapier-mâché trees that rotated around the stage. Their lack of green and wispy branches set up the dessert theme. Poles were next to join the scene with acrobats that climbed and twirled down them, jumping from one to another.

I was on the edge of my seat watching the masked luchador swinging at terrifying heights. He stood tall and flipped over the bar without flinching.

After, the show slowed down with a sensual performance utilizing a pool of water. The acrobat here was lowered from the ceiling on bungees. He utilized droplets of water in his performance by way of flicking himself and them though the air. A dynamic performance joined by three actors controlling a mechanical looking cheetah. Fully committed with the mannerisms you’d expect from a giant feline.

Next, we were serenaded with more live singing and percussion instruments, as a juggler took to the stage. He built our excitement up by juggling batons in ascending order. Starting with 3, he worked his way up to 7. I was impressed, having never seen more than 4 attempted at a time. And here he was doing 6 while running.

He amped the crowd up, only for the show to be slowed back down by the jaw dropping contortionist. This man spun and twisted his body in ways that made the audience gasp, yet stare in awe.

He was followed by more acrobats on swings. Their apparatus rotated on the stage swinging back and forth. Then one after another they all took a leap and spin of faith, landing two feet flat on the other side.

And then it ended just as it started, with everyone on stage, singing, making music, and dancing. Followed by each feature performer taking a bow.

Overall this was a great show, one I would recommend. Theatrics, edge of your seat entertainment, and a mix of stunts and humour all rolled into one fast paced show. There was plenty here, yet it left me wanting more; enough to make me want to watch all the other “Cirque” shows that will come to town, years after. Recapping it in words it sounds like a lot, but watching it in the moment it felt like it ended all too fast. My girl friend and I will definitely be making this an annual thing.

LUZIA
Plaza of Nations Marina – Lot #499
811 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2R6
https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/canada/vancouver/luzia/buy-tickets

Night Dreamer at Blue Light Studios

I didn’t know East Vancouver had its own recording studio!

The intimate space of “Blue Light Studio” serves as a place where local talent can come together to work on their projects, and get tips and insights from their fellow musicians and music makers. They are a professional, full-service recording studio with services that include Recording, Mixing, Mastering, Production, Arranging, Voice Overs, ADR, and Video Production. And all of “Blue Light’s” Producer, Engineers, and even Interns are musicians and avid music lovers. They started the studio with the desire to create an environment where artists can be comfortable, and thus are able to freely create their best music. They do this in part by upholding the highest sonic quality possible. Given that “Blue Light Studio” is co-owned by one of the owners of “Water St. Cafe”, I could see the caliber of the restaurant in several facets of this studio.

In fact they even have a bar out back, serving beer and cider by the can. This outdoor space constructed with shipping containers, and kept dry and warm for the season with plastic tarps strung up overhead, heat lamps cranked high, and a fire pit roaring with blue glass. On a warm summer’s day I can imagine this locale being popular spot. A destination to hang out at, and grab a beer with your round of darts or foosball.

But tonight with the wind chill and pattering rain, we would grab our drinks and descend back in doors. Because on this Monday we were invited down for a private performance of “Night Dreamer”. The new collaborative duo of “The Smashing Pumpkins” guitarist Jeff Schroeder and “Wam Dingis” member Mindy Song. The pair has recently released their debut EP, “Treasure”, on October 11th of this year. And have been touring in the US: Chicago, New York, and LA; and most recently Seoul, Korea promoting it. This is their first Canadian performance, and the acoustics of “Blue Light Studio” was the perfect venue to showcase their debut.

The space is a tighter fit, not meant to host large groups, but serves as an intimate venue for breakout performers to showcase their talent, and a way for music lovers to literally get up close and personal with the creators. The “main stage” is lit in blues and pinks, hues that blend in to their cut out wall with wooden features. The hardwood floor underfoot is softened with patterned carpets and worn furniture. Here, instruments and equipment sit at the ready.

We, the audience crowded around the makeshift stage in a free for all. It was tight knit as we stood shoulder to shoulder. Our position and proximity added to the experience. It felt real, raw, authentic. Nothing between us and the talent. The crowd so small and so tightly packed, that those up front were able to reach out and touch Jeff’s neon salmon coloured guitar. Furthered by the great acoustics of the studio space, the two man band sounded like six.

I am not a music critic, but I know what I liked, and I liked this. Our artists were both dressed modesty in black. Their dress code spoke to the “night” in their collective name and their message. Simplicity was the key, they didn’t need gimmicks or costumes when their music and sound resonated, vibrating to your core. Their music was melody forward with great beats. Naturally there were impressive guitar rifts and solo from Jeff. They paired well with transitional vocals of Mindy, you could hear it in her voice: she was really putting in work at being acknowledged. The blend of guitar and vocals lends to a dabbling in the electronica, rock and pop genres. A smooth sound as they are blended into one. I would listen to this while studying, reading, or during a peaceful car ride cross country. This was easy listening, yet if you cranked it up loud enough, you were able to bop to it. They definitely had the small, intimate crowd bobbing their heads and twitching hips. Tonight we heard music that has yet to be recorded, and songs that were produced in Canada

In between said songs Mindy engaged the audience with stories of their travels, reception, and inspiration behind a few of their songs. Like “24” and “Heatwave”. They ended their set with “Taste”, with her reminding the crowd to check out their video when it drops on December 10t, 2019 on YouTube. It was filmed in an abandon airplane hanger. Once their performance ended to a warm reception, the audience then had time to engage with “Night Dreamer”, asking questions in a Q & A”.

We were also given a once over of the closed door studio, and had the opportunity to sit behind the big chair. There was a joke made about each studio needing a lava lamp. It holds up. In short, I highly recommend stopping by the studio for their next break out talent/performer. This was such a unique experience and I fully enjoy supporting local. For more on show dates and times, and how to get tickets, visit the link below.

BLUE LIGHT STUDIO
1839 Franklin Street, Vancouver BC
(778) 227-3414
https://bluelightstudio.ca/

A Royal Romance, Vancouver Theatre Sports League

The weather is turning, the lights are out, and Christmas is right around the corner. So leave it to the “Vancouver Theatre Sports League” to regale you with yule-time spirit and laughter in their newest improv series, “Merry Kissmas: A Royal Romance”!

Available from November 20th to December 24th, we attended their first weekend release on a Saturday night. I have attended other improv shows here before, but never on a weekend. And I must say, the day of the week certainly does make a different to your experience. The energy of a Saturday night changed the dynamic of the show. It was a sold out performance, so already there was more energy to feed off of, more suggestions were being shouted out, and a greater number of laughs came after each punch line. Although what stayed the same, was the very little number of hands being raised to come up on stage to participate in person.

It is also worth nothing that in house bar, the “Neil Macrae Barl was busy. Show goers arrived early and partook in a couple of drinks before the doors to the theatre opened. Wine was being poured into tumblers, beers were being cracked open, and their popcorn machine had the room smelling of melted butter. With bottles in buckets at tables and glasses in the hands of the audience, everyone was here for a rowdy good time.

A couple more than others, including one audience member that volunteered to help out with a skit, only to be not sober enough to understand what was expected of him. He was suppose to make sound effects into a microphone, but kept adding commentary over what the actors were trying to say. From there any volunteers were checked for sobriety. As a watcher, it was great to be able to witness the improv players on stage being able to take everything this drunk man was throwing at them, and to incorporate it into their performance with a laugh. It was disruptive for them and the rest of the audience, but we all took it on the chin and was able to joke about it subsequently. Naturally any show you attend won’t be exactly like this, that is the beauty of improv. Improv gives you the ability to watch as many of the same shows as you like, and for each one to be different, depending on the performers and suggestions given out that day.

As for the rest of the performance, the first half of the show featured improv games with wintery themes. The actors acted out the same scene as it took place in different countries. They made up dances based on winter time activities. And gave up control of their body as an audience member moved them about the stage like a living doll.

After the intermission and more wine, came the second half of the show was inspired by Hallmark Christmas movies. Theses movies are cliché and cheesy, but feel good with plenty of love and happily ever afters. Here, one audience member joined a multi scene story that played out a proposal and royal wedding before our eyes.

Overall, this is another great production by “Vancouver Theatre Sports League”, and a great way to shake off those winter blues. Improv is great for some laughs, or as a date night option, and with its wintery themes, a great way to get into the holiday spirit. For ticket information, visit their website listed below.

VANCOUVER THEATRE SPORTS
Neil Macrae Bar & Lounge
1502 Duranleau Street, Granville Island
vtsl.com

Lumière 2019

Lumière Vancouver returns for its 6th year. This is the festival that sets “the city’s downtown and West End neighbourhoods aglow in spectacular fashion. The annual event that is inspired by light and artistic expression, with over 25 interactive art installations at four different sites: English Bay, Jim Deva Plaza, Lot 19, and šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (formerly known as the North Plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery)”. (As taken from the press release).

The origins of this one of a kind light show came from the desire to breathe life into November. Between Halloween and Christmas this month sees slower visitor traffic and an increase in cold and rainy weather. So in order to combat this trend and bring life to downtown Vancouver’s prominent areas, Lumière is lighting up the night.

From November 1st to the 3rd you can expect live performers, great music, and interactive displays. But for those who can’t make it out between 6-10pm, you can still take in several of light displays until February of 2020.

The following are some of what you can expect from each site. Each completely different, so I suggest taking the time to visiting each one. But for a more telling view and engaging experience, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

We started at English Bay where the art work will remain until February. Here, the light installations are all animal themed, with a goal to bring awareness to the conservation of these endangered species.

“Luna” by MK Illumination is returning for her 5th year. The iconic whale was made specifically for “Lumière” in recognition of the whales in the waters around Vancouver.

Joining her is a heron in its twinkling nest. “Stanley” by MK Illumination is named after Stanley Park, which is home to one of the largest urban great blue heron colonies in North America.

“Davie” by MK Illumination is a 24 foot tall grizzly bear. He pays homage to BC’s wilderness, in hopes of shining a light on the story of BC’s grizzlies.

“Eugenia” by MK Illumination represents the iconic oak tree that has decorated the English Bay skyline for three decades. A colour changing tree, set to the beautiful English Bay backdrop and setting sun. The original currently sits on top of the famous Beach Avenue residency, Eugenia Place.

I especially thought the daddy long legs spider was creative. An eight legged creature that offered warmth and a place to sit with real flames and faux webbing. And this weekend “Ember Art Fire Performances will be putting on one “hot” show at 6, 7, and 8pm.

Next, we took a Vancouver trolley to our second stop. And if and when you visit, so can you. They have transportation services all throughout the weekend from 5-10pm. Free shuttles looping between the 4 locations, running in 15-20 minute intervals.

“Jim Deva Plaza” on Davie Street will have live DJ’s, drag performances, visual art displays, and a beer garden from 3-10pm November 2nd and 3rd.

As for the art installations, “Tetra Velo” by Hfour is a pyramid of lights that flash and strobe. It uses public data to generate and create colour patterns.

“Chromatic Shadows” by Willie Ng consists of 6 lamps facing a white backdrop. Here, your shadow becomes a moving installation. The exhibit mimics the colourful distortions that occurs when a lens fails to focus all colours of light onto the same spot.

“Woven” by Tangible Interaction is a series of arches, interlocking into one. The playful light patterns hop from arch to arch as you walk beneath them.

The “Lumière Block Party” by Public Disco is a licensed 3-day block party at Davie Village. Guests gather under a 80ft tent with smoke machines, disco balls, and strobing lights. Here there is a cash bar and seats to enjoy your beverage at. Or you can take your drink to the dance floor; and be inspired by the live dancer and DJ on the projected stage.

“Visitor” by Tangible Interaction was commission by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for digiPlaySpace. Covered in hundreds of responsive LEDs and proximity sensors, you are able to interact with this cloud through a button and a joystick.

Next on our “Lumière” tour was “šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square”, at the “Vancouver Art Gallery”. Here, You can show your love for our city, by posing next to the giant “<3 VAN” sign.

“Neon at The Post” is presented by “QuadReal Property Group”. They have a partnership with the Museum of Vancouver to bring back to life some of the classic neon signs that lit up Vancouver in the middle of the last century. These 3 signs are available for viewing at Lumière, before permanently lighting up public spaces at “The Post” (the site of the former Canada Post building downtown).

“Alternity” by Wiz (Roy Tremmell) is a branching tree of lights that speaks to the future. It gets you to consider how everyday decisions determines your path through an infinity of possibilities.

“Segmentium” by Adrian Wilson and Dayna Scodras is a kinetic art installation whose speed and rotating direction are computer-controlled, and responsive to the ambient temperature. It it meant to represent a connection to the outside.

“Steely T” by Hippo Love Creative Art Society is a giant turtle with a shell that strobes lights and shoots flames. Riders are able to hop on and take in all the sights from an elevated perch.

“Orchidelirium” by Alysia Crissman is 3 steel orchids sprouting out from the concrete. You are able to customize the blooms by using the colour wheel touchpads, to change the colours reflected on their petals.

“Daisy” by eatART is the world’s largest solar-powered tricycle, used as the platform for Sam Carter and Emily Cheung to perform opera on. The carriage is the stage with room for a DJ booth.

Special Performances at this site includes the above mentioned opera nightly at 7pm, with rotating DJs at 8:30pm.

Then it was back on to the trolley and down to the last stop: “Lot 19”. Named after the parking lot that is located under this plaza.

Tonight, hula hoop artists and jugglers showcased their craft with LED lit equipment.

“Telefunkin’ Shadow Stage” by Alejandro Samper invites spectators to step behind their giant TV and have their silhouettes projected on the screen on the other side. You are encouraged to get wild and animated with your movements.

“The Beating Heart” by Ron Simmer is a 250lb., half-inch thick reinforced fiberglass polyester resin, anatomically correct heart. It represents the fragility of life, personal connection, and togetherness. You place your hand on a sensor and it will detect your heartbeat, reflecting it, amplify it, and projecting the rhythm of it through LEDs inside the heart sculpture.

“Key to My Heart” by Shadow Puppet Productions is built as two giant antique skeleton keys and a lock. It allows participants to change the lights within the lock, with their touch. You place you hand in the mold. A pulse sensor within detects your heartbeat, and the lighting of the infinity mirror lock will sync and flash to your pulse.

“Lux Memoriae” by Ari Lazer is a collection of large and medium scale geometric lanterns. Each lantern is designed to explore the harmonic form as it arises in nature or through the fundamental principles of space.

Once again majority of these exhibits will only be around for this weekend: November 1-3rd. So be sure to take in the experience and get excited for November and all the beautiful lights to come. For more information and specific performance times, visit their website with the link below.
https://www.lumiereyvr.com/

The Tours for the Recently Deceased, Beaumont Studios

I am excited to write about this one! This is a one of a kind interactive display, musical, cabernet, comedy show, haunted house, and dance hall; all in one. A performance like no other that celebrates the arts and Halloween across 13 spooky nights: October 18th to 27th from 7-10pm (11pm on weekends).

This is “The Tours for the Recently Deceased”, brought to the you by “Beaumont Studios” in partnership with “Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret”. This is the studio’s largest “most outrageous theatrical initiative to date”. My coverage is based on my media night attendance, where we were able to take photos and videos to help share this experience. Something that I am more than happy to do. I have honestly been raving about the following since its launch night.

I have never been to “Beaumont Studios” before, so this was just as much an opportunity to explore this shared space (I didn’t know this was even a thing), as it was to see the actors within them. The building is set up like “WeWork”, but for artists. “An open and supportive environment to cater to a wide variety of emerging artists and creative professionals”. Several studios/rooms under one roof: hair salon, mechanical garage, musical studio, art gallery, and fashion house; to name a few.

All together, a great location for the 13 nights of guided Halloween Tours. Which includes 8 audience participation performances, and the spooky Tim Burton inspired characters they are hosted by. You were not only able to engage with the actors and take part in the scenes, but can explore the elaborately deviated setting they were in as well.

Your journey begins as you check-in at the front counter. There, you are greeted by your “afterlife” caseworker, June. With cheek and humour she explains that you are dead, but can still escape the afterlife yet. You receive “your handbook”, which are a series of riddles to solve. One by one you visit each character listed and from them and their performance, you extract a clue. A number that correlates to a letter in the alphabet. And together they spell out a word, a password to get you into purgatory, and past that: the land of the living (aka the exit).

You are able to explore the rooms at your leisure and pace, in whatever order you please; even doubling back the way you came, so should you need to. I liked the freedom of exploration, and the choose your own type adventure that puts you in the shoes of the protagonist. Although letting a group of people loose in a limited space can become chaotic quick.

There were points where we didn’t know where to go. We found ourselves bumping into others, joining scenes mid way, interrupting performances/actors, and missing out on key narratives. But worst of all, we had puzzles solved by those before us. And for a completion-ist like myself, and those who are heavily invested in the experience, this takes away from its entirety. Not to mention we were scolded several times by the in-character actors, telling us that we weren’t suppose to be here. For a couple I couldn’t tell if they were acting or acting out. And that shift the mood. With no instructions and no guides, who are we the guests to know where we are suppose to be and when? Therefore, what I am proposing is set groups that roam the space together. Being ushered by a “tour guide” from scene to scene. You pause, solve any mystery as a group (escape room style), and enjoy the fullness of the show. After all, tickets are already booked in 20 minute intervals to facilitate this.

The following recap is in the order in which we experienced it. I will not be divulging too much detail as to what we saw. I don’t want to give away any of the suspense and surprise. Just enough to entice you to visit yourself. And at $30 per ticket ($25 for members) you well get your money’s worth. All the following to see and be a part of, and strategically placed snacks to munch on, along the way.

Please excuse the quality of my photos. I avoided using flash as to not distract the performers even more. It was also hard to focus on the moving actors.

A witch and the Headless Horseman gave you the scare of your life.

In the hair salon, Edward Scissorhands give you one heck of a hair cut.

We walked in on the Mad Hatter having his tea party. Alice and the white rabbit joined us around the table with cookies and mini cupcakes to enjoy.

There was also chips and salsa in the kitchen.

Outback, a mirrored maze stood between you and the Red Queen. She invites you to a croquet match, but on her terms. She supplies the balls and the flamingos.

I enjoyed the comedic stylings of the Penguin, and marvelled at the beauty of Cat Woman and her flexibility.

The Corpse Bride was an amazing singer. She sang of loved lost and curses broken.

Meat Pie was on the menu in Sweeney Todd’s barber shop. A saucy baker gave us a memorable cooking lesson. She also let us in on the secret ingredient in her famous pies.

While Sweeney himself offered guests free shaves. All in a studio of an artist that makes knives, how fitting.

Also roaming around were a host of characters that could help and guide you on your journey in the afterlife. Like Jack Skellington and Sally from “A Nightmare Before Christmas”.

Along the way, each connecting hallway or corridor was just as elaborately decorated. Be it a mystical wonderland or a spooky scene. Plenty of photo ops and backdrops to take advantage of.

And if you make it through this choose your own adventure theatre experience, you meet the ghost with the most himself: Beetlejuice. Purgatory’s most entertaining and most mischievous DJ.

With a cash bar and an open dance floor, visitors are invited to get down and boogie with all that go bump in the night. Admission includes a complimentary drink ticket to get you started. Exchange it or cash for soda, water, beer, wine, or highballs.

In conclusion, for those who like the macabre and art that is off the beaten path, this is for you. Hands down my favourite Halloween experience for this season and year, and one that I highly recommend. A great first of its kind event, that already has me looking forward to next year’s assembly. Get your tickets now with the link below!!

BEAUMONT STUDIOS
316 W 5th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1J0
(604) 733-3783
https://www.thebeaumontstudios.com/
#beaumonthaunt

Vancouver Theatre Sports League goes Back to School

September has hit and the feeling of “back to school” came with it. And tonight we would be living it at “Vancouver Theatre Sports League”.

We planned the evening around our live show, and to get us in the mood started with happy hour and some drinks at local Granville Island restaurants. Already pretty funny, drinking does help along the experience. It gets you to let your guard down and get into the participation process of the night. Especially helpful for myself, as for the first time I volunteered to be part of a skit; and I was asked to be one of the judges for the entire show. One of three with laminated numbers ranking the performers on their comedy. One being the lowest, 5 the highest.

The stage is set up as the halls of a school. A grey backdrop with metallic gears bathed in neon lights. Our host was the gym teacher. He introduced himself and set the tone for the evening. Two rival teams, two different cliche high school cliques. Both completing in the following improv games, with the goal of winning a fictitious $100 prize. The “rebels” who were “too cool for school”, and more concerned with repairing motorcycles than anything else. And the glee club with an ambitious leader, that lead her trio in cappellas that reflected their situation. As great as these two group and there actors were, be warned each night is a different cast, with different characteristics. Similarly, all the games would be different. Therefore you needn’t worry too much about spoilers here.

Different from night to night and from last year’s rendition. Tonight’s competitions included a game where the audience suggests themes and the actors play off of it, scenes where our improvers sang their made up lines, and one where they popped on and off stage depending on the noise that rang. Here, they had to find a reason why they left or came back to the scene. One of the funniest was when one actor changed his character’s emotion based upon another’s request. Excitement, anger, sadness, and uglier sadness. This one had me tearing up.

The one I was a apart of had me standing on stage, adlibbing words into the actor’s conversations, when I was pointed to. One word responses like “scab” and “turtle” (which I actually used and was not an easy fit in to their “crime scene” scene) Although speaking from experience, it is hard to keep it one word at a time. I found myself offering phrases and the improvers rolling with it, but commenting on the fact that it was two or three words long. This added to the laugher from the audience.

In short, a great night. I have yet to be disappointed by any of the “Vancouver Theatre Sports” improv performances! So, if the fall weather and the thought of “going back to school“ has you down, I definitely suggest taking a trip down to Granville Island and laughing until you cry; helped along with wine from their in house bar (true story). For show times and how to get your tickets visit the link below.

VANCOUVER THEATRE SPORTS
Neil Macrae Bar & Lounge
1502 Duranleau Street, Granville Island
vtsl.com

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Improv Mondays with Michelle, Vancouver Theatre Sports

At this point I have been to a handful of improv shows, so I am not exaggerating when I say this has to be my favourite one to date. As our host of the night so aptly claimed, “this is the most fun you’ll have on a Monday night”.

Tonight was the first of many Monday performance to come, hosted by “Michelle”. This was her show, featuring actors she hand picked to work with. Essentially each challenge and scene was in the form of a familiar improv game. And with the audience’s suggestions our performers injected humour into every day people, places, and things. The only and most important difference was Michelle. She set the tone and the pace, really elevating the stage presence.

She was the hostess with the mostest, and this is the first time I can actually utilize that saying fully. She caught your attention with her elegance in sequin gowns and retro shoulder pads. They paralleled her bougie persona and dry humour. She had quick quips and great reactions to suggestions, and even her expression to her actor’s ad libs added to the over all performance. I don’t want to spoil the whole character for you, but I wish it was her actual personality, because it was larger than life and one that I aspire to.

To start, she welcomed the audience up by assuring us that we were at the place to be on a Monday night. And that drinking was the right course of action, as she herself threw back a cosmopolitan cocktail. Then she got us warmed up to improv by having us shouting out our names and favourite foods.

From there, she set up scenarios and threw curve balls for tonight’s actors. Act one had our players unable to look at one another, unless music was playing. Another game had them freezing in place at random, and taking over for one another, keeping their positions but changing the scene. I was especially impressed by their “four square” match. A game that had all four actors switching scenarios with rapid fire speed, backwards and forwards. This was a great way to see their talent and ability to think on their feet.

Act two had Michelle highlighting her improv chops in a group scene. Here, each player took on multiple roles and they tried to trip each other up. There was the suggestion of intense dialogue between two characters, played by the same person. And for individuals to give long winded explanations told through song. The scene was set with the audience’s suggestions and drama ensued. Tense music and elongated pauses. Secret romances and drug fuelled story lines. All the above a sneak peak at Michelle’s other acting project.

Tonight was the perfect platform for you to fall in love with her character and want more. The perfect time to introduce you to her YouTube web series. A comedic drama that takes place in the “fast pace” night life of Hope, BC’s restaurant scene. If your aren’t able to check out any of the upcoming shows on Monday, you should at least see what you are missing. The entire first season has been uploaded with the link to the first episode below. Spoilers, the ex is back in town with his new girlfriend and is coming for Michelle’s restauranteur crown.

Overall a great night of improv with a show worth checking out, a character worth visiting, and the most fun you’ll have on a Monday.

 

VANCOUVER THEATRE SPORTS
Neil Macrae Bar & Lounge
1502 Duranleau Street, Granville Island
vtsl.com

Vancouver Opera Festival launch: VOX

Today I was invited down to Queen Elizabeth Theatre for the launch of the 3rd annual Vancouver Opera Festival, and 1st annual singing competition: VOX. Many young singers across Canada auditioned, and they managed to dwindle this number down to eight to compete. Eight future opera stars from across the country, competing for cash prizes and recognition on Vancouver’s large stage. A decision as voted by six judges and the entire audience. A panel of esteemed judges chaired by Music Director Emeritus, Jonathan Darlington. And we, the live audience voting for our favourite singer.

Attendees gathered prior to the show for a cocktail reception. The bar poured glasses of sparkling non stop. A pop and a fizz to get the night flowing.

You couldn’t bring glassware into the auditorium, but beer or wine in plastic sippy cups were fine.

And to keep you balanced, servers offered up small bites on slate trays. Like this tomato bruschetta on a crostini.

Seared tuna on crispy wonton skin.

And chocolate covered strawberries in milk and white chocolate.

Then when 6:30pm neared, we were invited into the auditorium for the live competition. Where I got my first taste of live opera and the ability to live out my “America’s Got Talent” dream as a judge.

The first performance got the pace going. Shantelle Przybylo was energetic and welcoming in her singing.

By comparison Amanda Perera was soft spoken. Her voice didn’t project the same and I couldn’t properly take her range in. But she was stunning, and great to watch; with her body motions matching the intensity of the effort she put into her singing.

I like having a male voice next for contrast: Ryan Nauta was mellow and smooth, and he sang us a smoothing ballad.

Joé Lampron-Dandonneau was another male voice, giving us a Tenor with more range.

Ana Toumine was a Soprano with powerful vocals. Though that broadcast came at a cost. You could hear the quick breaths and at points her being out of breath. She also showed off her ability with plenty of high to low notes in her choice of music. It was certainly interesting to listen to.

Sarah Bissonnette, a Mezzo, sang the happiest of all the tunes. It was upbeat and loud to start, really drawing you in. And the humorous gestures and quirky quips in piece kept you wanting more. She also choose the best song to showcase her skillful voice manipulation, and proved that the choice of song can determine a win.

 

Elizabeth Harris, a Soprano, too choose a difficult song. This one also showcased her ability to hit high peaks and low dips. Like her out reaches arms, her voice called you and pulled you in. Her mystical melody make me think of the ones mermaids would call out. Especially when the accompanying piano stopped playing and only her voice rung out through the hall.

Our last performer, Zainen Suzuki was a Baritone. I enjoyed how animated his facial expression were. They brought me into the story he was telling. And the audience gave him the loudest clap for it.

Next came time for us to vote, using hand held remotes, we keyed in our pick by number.

And while the judges deliberated we were serenade by Vancouver’s own Erin Wall, Canada’s leading opera singer. She melted so much through her facial expression and hand movements, that she had to stabilize herself against the Stanley and sons piano.

In the end Elizabeth Harris won third place. Second went to Ana Toumine. And for both first place and people’s choice, the win went to Sarah Bissonnette. Winning $5k and $2.5k respectively.

This was just the beginning of the night, as Vancouver opera’s signature fundraising event. A handful of attendees also purchased dinner tickets that began when the competition ended, and the curtains on stage lifted to reveal a banquet hall set to serve.

In short, this was a very nice way to kick start Vancouver’s Opera Festival, a taste of what to expect, leaving you wanting more. For all other showings and all opera fest events, and how to get your tickets, visit the link below soon to not miss out. This year’s theme is fables and fairytales, as told through visual, musical and theatrical arts.

Vancouver Opera Festival creates extraordinary experiences that redefine opera. Running from April 27 to May 5, the annual festival features nine days of operas, concerts, and free events. Explore #VOFest and buy tickets at www.vancouveropera.ca

Titanic the Musical, presented by the Lindbjerg Academy

On the anniversary of the Titanic‘s sinking I was invited down to the “Shadbolt Centre for the Arts” for a special musical performance.

This was only the second time that the five-time Tony award winner, “Titanic the Musical” was coming to Metro Vancouver. During this occasion it would be preformed by 27 locals from “Lindbjerg Academy of Performing Arts”, under the direction of music theatre instructor, Mark Turpin. This show ran from April 12 – 14, 2019 and I had the privilege of taking in the second day’s showing during, its matinee performance.

About Lindbjerg Academy of Performing Arts as taken for their website. “Lindbjerg Academy is a performing arts centre dedicated to teaching the art of musical theatre, dance, singing and acting. Classes are open to all different levels of ability and children between the ages of three to 18. For more than 20 years, Lindbjerg Academy has taken pride in the fact it is not only a centre where children learn the skills to perform, but also a place where those skills are applied and enjoyed. The school is parent-participation focused and offers volunteer opportunities throughout the year to ensure parents can share their talents and feel engaged with every show the school delivers.”

The Lindbjerg’s production of “Titanic the Musical” was as authentic as possible to the original Broadway production. One that was eclipsed by James Cameron’s blockbuster that centred around the fictional love story of Jack Dawson (Leonardo di Caprio) and Rose DeWitt (Kate Winslet).

This shipwreck story began as a vision of the shipbuilder and the pride he felt seeing its fruition, from page to metal sitting at a dock.

The production moves pretty quick from scene to scene and song to song. It follows the view points of a handful of characters and tells the story of the ship’s triumphant maiden voyage through their wide eyed wonder.

Irish immigrants looking for a new life and their chance to recreate themselves in America. A second class passenger wanting more for herself, starting with the ability to hob-nob with the elite welcomed into first class. A worker in the boiler room longing to complete this journey, in order to be back in the arms of the woman he wishes to marry. And the captain under the pressure of the ship’s financier, wanting the ship to push harder and travel fast than any others before it.

Given that this is the story of the Titanic, we all know what happens with the ice berg, therefore I won’t go into detail recapping it. But with this retelling you get more characters, more story lines, and more of the actual logistics of its travel then from Leo and Kate’s rendition.

Naturally, the performers were much younger than the historic characters that they are depicting, but with accurate costuming and the right props they were able to draw you into the illusion. These rising stars spent the greater part of seven months working hard to reproduce this show, to capture the real chronicles of the actual passengers and crew on the Titanic. Studying music and lines, and memorizing choreography. They even studied the passengers in-depth and even went to the Titanic exhibit that was on display in Metro Vancouver for inspiration.

It was my first foray into this world, and I was glad it was on a topic that I was already family with. This and other shows at the “Shadbolt Centre” are a great way to support local talent, and a way to take in the Arts in Burnaby. This was a great experience and a great performance. And best of all, during the intermission they do open up the drink bar, where you can order a glass to help better immerse you into this sing-song world.

For more shows and their next big project visit the link below.

What’s Happening!

 

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