New night sky festival marks MOA’s bid to become Vancouver’s first urban star park

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Next weekend, during the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, the Museum of Anthropology will welcome more than 1000 guests for a new festival of arts and astronomy.

Blackout: Night Sky Festival will take place on Saturday, August 12 and features Indigenous storytelling, an immersive art installation and interpretive stargazing set to a soundtrack of live and electronic music.  Continue reading

Iconic Vancouver restaurant Elbow Room Café, known for its sassy service and colourful characters, hits the York stage in Zee Zee Theatre’s new musical

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After two years of development, Zee Zee Theatre Company and The Cultch are thrilled to announce the world premiere of Elbow Room Cafe: The Musical. Elbow Room Café: The Musical offers a candid look inside the world of Vancouver’s iconic Elbow Room Café, home of raucous service, celebrity sightings, and hearts of gold. This show explores the notion of legacy: how we age together in a technicolour world. Elbow Room playwright/lyricist Dave Deveau (Lowest Common Denominator, My Funny Valentine), composer/lyricist Anton Lipovetsky (Cool Beans, Broken Sex Doll, The Park), and director Cameron Mackenzie (Lowest Common Denominator, 5@50) sink their teeth into the whimsy and heart of café owners Patrice and Bryan as they manage the hectic world of one of Vancouver’s most recognizable restaurants. They are the heart and soul of the show, and anchor an eclectic and campy cast of misfits, drag queens, and the perpetually hung over. Continue reading

Mouthpiece features two strong women in this bold, dynamic performance

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Mouthpiece follows one woman, for one day, as she tries to find her voice. The push and the pull, the past and the present, the progress and the regression: this is the inner conflict that exists within a modern woman’s head. Interweaving a cappella harmony, dissonance, text and physicality – Mouthpiece is a harrowing, humourous and heart-wrenching journey into the female psyche. Continue reading

Fight Night questions the democratic system through audience participation

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fight-night-roman-sarah-eechautFive performers. Five rounds. Your vote. One survivor. But does your vote really matter?

Fight Night tested audiences on what they most want in a candidate: someone honest but erratic, a hero of a hostage situation, or maybe attractive but manipulative. We were given all these options through many polls and votes, but in the end I was left feeling a bit out of the loop. This wasn’t improv, so how much did our votes matter? Were they even counted at all? Continue reading

The 13th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival has over 100 events, starting October 26

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Announcing the 13th annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival and twelve days of music, stories, songs, poetry, cultural celebrations, films, theatre, dance, processions, spoken word, forums, workshops, discussions, gallery exhibitions, public art, mixed media, art talks, history talks and history walks. Continue reading

Bard on the Beach has Record Breaking 2014 Attendance and Announces 2015 Season

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Bard on the Beach’s 25 anniversary season was a resounding success, with both critics and audiences. Setting an all time attendance high of almost 101,000 patrons to the 2014 season events, it’s a major increase from the previous record set in 2009 of 91,000 attendees.

“We are blessed with so many loyal repeat patrons, while also attracting thousands of locals and tourists to Bard for the first time. Together they fill our houses and this year they’ve given us a remarkable, record-breaking season,” says Christopher Gaze.

The upcoming season will bring back the tragedy that this year left out in the form of King Lear, directed by Theatre Calgary’s Artistic Director, Dennis Garnhum. Opening the season will be the hilarious audience favourite, The Comedy of Errors, directed by Scott Bellis, a respected actor/director and Bard Associate. You’ll have seen him this year as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Howard Family Stage in the Douglas Campbell tent opens with a world premiere of Shakespeare’s Rebel, a play based on best-selling author C.C. Humphrey’s historical novel and directed by Bard’s Christopher Gaze. Also on this stage is a music-filled Jazz Age rendition of Love’s Labour’s Lost, directed by Daryl Cloran of Kamloops’ Western Canada Theatre.

The upcoming season will run from June 4 to September 26, 2015, with tickets going on sale in early April.

 

Bard on the Beach September Events — More Shows Added!

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Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival has announced it is adding performances to its September schedule in response to the high ticket demand for its popular 25th anniversary season.

Three evening performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (BMO Mainstage) have been added between September 14 and 19. Six afternoon and evening performances of Cymbeline (Howard Family Stage) have been added between September 9 and 20, including a rescheduled later closing performance of Cymbeline on September 20 at 7:30pm. A Midsummer Night’s Dream also closes that evening, the final day of the 2014 festival. “Vancouverites and visitors alike have told us how excited they are about all our plays this season, and we’re happy to be able to provide more opportunities to see these two wildly popular productions before they disappear”, notes Artistic Director Christopher Gaze.

Bard is also adjusting its September student matinee schedule in response to the unresolved labour situation in the BC public school system. Some student performances are being consolidated and others have been rescheduled or cancelled. All remaining shows have been opened up for public sale.

In addition, the performance schedule has been changed for Will Shakespeare’s ImprovMusical, a new comedy event at Bard this season, and the 25th anniversary special event Gazing Back, hosted by Christopher Gaze. See below for more event details.
Check http://www.bardonthebeach.org or call the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559 for the complete revised September schedule.

Bard on the Beach has a wide variety of special events coming up this month. Join in its 25th birthday celebrations by attending one of the colourful events being held at the Vanier Park site, including sword-play, improvisational comedy, music and beer-sampling.

Opera and Arias: Shakespeare’s Opera – Monday, September 1 (matinee & evening)
Christopher Gaze will host Shakespeare’s Opera, which features vocal and orchestral repertoire inspired by some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, from Hamlet and The Merry Wives of Windsor to Romeo & Juliet. The concert is an annual tradition, highlighted by Bard’s unique and beautiful performance space. The operatic showcase features the rising stars of the UBC Opera Ensemble, directed by Nancy Hermiston; members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra provide instrumental performances conducted by Leslie Dala. Shakespeare’s Opera will be staged on Monday September 1 at 2pm and 7:30pm. Matinee ticket prices are $35 for adults and $27 for youth (ages 6-25); evening ticket prices are $47 (adults) and $27 (youth).

Will Shakespeare’s ImprovMusical – Mondays, September 1, 8 & 15
Get a taste of what Broadway musicals would have been like if William Shakespeare had written them! Bard on the Beach hosts a unique musical theatre event based on the language and plots of William Shakespeare. Performers from Grand Theft Impro will improvise every night, making each show a brand new experience. Performances begin on Monday, September 1 at 7:30pm on the Howard Family Stage with additional performances on Monday, September 8 and 15 at 7:30pm. Ticket prices are $25 for adults, $20 for students.

Fight Night: Academie Duello – Monday, September 8
Experience the excitement of rapiers, swords, shields and longswords in action – plus a unique twist on a quarterstaff fight! Academie Duello, the world’s largest school of European swordplay, will descend on Bard on the Beach for a thrilling night of martial arts, including sword fights from Shakespeare’s plays, a behind the scenes glimpse of how fight choreography is created, and an authentic historical Prize Fight. Featuring Academie Duello Director Devon Boorman, Stage & Screen Program Head David McCormick and AD senior students, plus Bard’s longtime fight choreographer Nick Harrison; Bard Artistic Director Christopher Gaze also appears. Fight Night: Academie Duello is a one-time event on Monday, September 8 at 7:30pm on the BMO Mainstage. All tickets are $25.

Bard, Beer & Pretzels! – Monday, September 8
Start your evening off with some Elizabethan-inspired revelry! Sample fine ales from NorthAm Beverages and crafted pretzels from Swiss Bakery – plus Emelle’s food truck will be on site to further satisfy your appetite. Continue the night with Bard on the Beach’s Fight Night: Academie Duello or Will Shakespeare’s ImprovMusical. Ticket purchasers to both the beer tasting and either of the two evening events receive $5 off their combined ticket price. Bard, Beer & Pretzels is at 5pm on Monday, September 8 in the Bard Village; tickets are $25.

Gazing Back – Reflecting on 25 Years at Bard – Friday, September 12
Join Christopher Gaze, the Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach, as he recalls highlights, hiccups and some well-kept secrets from twenty-five years of fascinating Festival history. The founding force behind Vancouver’s signature summer theatre event begins with his early vision for his life, carries on through his travels west and finally delves into the creation and success of Western Canada’s largest Shakespeare festival. Gazing Back starts at 7:30pm on Friday, September 12 and all tickets are $25.

Bard on the Beach is Western Canada’s largest professional Shakespeare festival, staged every June through September in Kitsilano’s Vanier Park, adjacent to Vancouver’s downtown core. Bard productions are staged in open-ended tents on the waterfront against a stunning backdrop of mountains, sea and sky. Performance schedule and information are on the Bard website at bardonthebeach.org. For full details and to buy tickets, call 604-739-0559 or (toll free) 1-877-739-0559 or order online through the Bard website.

OPERA & ARIAS: Shakespeare’s Opera at Bard on the Beach

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Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival presents its annual Opera & Arias concerts with highlights from operas by Verdi, Handel, Gounod, and Bellini. Celebrate Shakespeare and the 25th anniversary of Bard on the Beach by attending a live performance of some of most beautiful and popular arias and ensembles from Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor and more.

The gifted young stars of the UBC Opera Ensemble and members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra bring Shakespeare’s operas to life. Thrill to one of Baroque opera’s greatest masterpieces, George Friedrich Handel’s Giulio Cesare. Experience the conqueror’s victory in Cesare’s aria, the grief, anguish, torment and desire for revenge of Cornelia and her son, Sesto, the unrequited love of Achilla, the changing personality of that eternal femme fatale, Cleopatra and the ultimate union of two of the most powerful personalities in history, Cleopatra and Cesare. Witness Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page take sweet revenge on that wily rascal Falstaff, in the beautiful selections from Otto Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. Delight in the operatic renditions of Shakespeare’s tale of Romeo and Juliet, as the story of these ill-fated lovers is recounted first in French through the beautiful music of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet and then in Italian through Bellini’s account in I Capuletti e Montecchi.Wash away those sorrows with Hamlet’s drinking song by Ambroise Thomas and return to another interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s favourite characters, Falstaff, brought to life by Giuseppe Verdi. The selections have been chosen to show why William Shakespeare was revered and admired by so many of the world’s most famous composers. UBC’s Nancy Hermiston directs the in-concert staging with conductor Leslie Dala leading the musicians. “It will be such a pleasure to present these tragic and comic works by composers who were all inspired by Shakespeare, and chose to adapt his greatest masterpieces for the operatic stage,” says Dala. All performances are hosted by Bard Artistic Director Christopher Gaze.

UBC Opera Ensemble was created in 1995 by Professor Hermiston and draws from advanced students in the UBC School of Music. For Shakespeare’s Opera, the talented cast features both familiar and debut soloists. In Handel’s Giulio Cesare, countertenor Shane Hanson and mezzo soprano Yeeun Lee will alternate in the title role. Laura Widgett, Natascia Dell’erba, Tamar Simon and Chelsi Walsh will share portrayal of Cleopatra, the eternal femme fatale, while Francesca Corrado and Rachel Stewart portray the long suffering Cornelia and Katie Miller will sing the role of her son, the young hero Sesto. Peter Monaghan will sing Achilla. Nicole Brooks, Eden Tremayne, Natascia Dell’erba and Laura Widgett take turns singing the various versions of Juliet in either the Gounod or Bellini version of the famous Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet. From Gounod’s version of this famous love story we hear baritones Micah Schroeder and Sheldon Baxter singing Mercutio’s aria about Mab, and Katie Miller and Courtney Bridge sing Stephanos’  Que fait tu blanche tourterelle. Alireza Mojibian and Brent MacKenzie join their soprano colleagues in the duet, Ange adorable and in the famous Wedding Quartetthese singers are joined by Francesca Corrado and Rachel Stewart as Juliet’s nurse Gertrude, and Peter Monaghan andDuncan Watts-Grant as Friar Laurence. Geoffrey Schellenberg sings Hamlet’s famous drinking song. The fugue from Verdi’s Falstaff will be the closing tribute to Shakespeare’s inspiring impact on the world’s greatest operatic composer, featuring the characters of Alice (Eden Tremayne and Natascia Dell’erba), Meg Page (Katie Miller), Quickly (Courtney Bridge and Francesca Corrado), Nanetta (Chelsi Walsh and Elizabeth Harris), Ford (Micah Shroeder and Sheldon Baxter), Fenton (Brent MacKenzie), Pistola (Duncan Watts-Grant), Bardolfo (William Grossman and Alireza Mojibian) Dr. Caius (Ian McCloy and Ian Bannerman) and Falstaff (Peter Monaghan).

Matinee performances (2pm) and evening performances (7:30pm) are on Monday, August 25 and Labour Day Monday,September 1. The concerts are on Bard’s BMO Mainstage, backed by a spectacular vista of mountains, sea and sky.

Opera & Arias: Shakespeare’s Opera – Reserved seats $47 (evenings) and $35 (matinees) for adults; Global BC Youth Price $27 (ages 6–25). Call 604-739-0559 or buy online at bardonthebeach.org. Sponsored by Primacorp Ventures Inc.

Bard on the Beach’s CYMBELINE Delights Audiences and Keeps Them Guessing

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Theatre review: Bard on the Beach’s Cymbeline leaves audience gasping at the plot twistsShakespeare is generally known for two types of plays: tragedy and comedy, but in CYMBELINE we get the best of both genres. This dramatic story rife with mistaken identity, murderous plots, and convuluted tricks is turned on its head with Shakespeare’s unmistakable one liners. Cymbeline is one of the most rarely performed plays, but I am incredibly delighted that Bard on the Beach has chosen to tackle it for their 25th season.

One of the best decisions in this production that added wonderfully to the comedy was to have each of the male actors double up on how many characters they were playing. It kept the play light enough to allow for the comedy to come through. As the drama heated up, actors were quickly swapping their costumes onstage to play both of their characters at once. This Monty Python-esque, TheatreSports style was a great addition and seemed as though it were how the play was meant to be performed.

Some of the standout performances in these roles were the villanous Queen, stepmother to Imogen, who plots her death. Played by Shawn Macdonald, he kickstarted the play with his stark contrast to all others initially on stage, the only one not laughing and joining in the fun but instead hands clasped tightly together with a cocked eyebrow that immediately identified him as one to watch.

Bob Frazer presented the cunning Roman seducer with a goal to entrap Imogen, the ungrateful Second Lord to her stepbrother, and a Roman soldier set to bring war to England. He transfers between roles smoothly, but his best moment is as the seducer Iachimo when he manages to get himself in front of Imogen herself.

The most stunning of these multiple character performances was surely done by Anton Lipovetsky, as Imogen’s lover, hated stepbrother, and unknown brother. With three large roles and references between them, it was always enjoyable seeing him on stage. The characters were each so incredibly separate from each other it was sometimes forgotten that they were all played by the same man. The different emotions and mannerisms from each character seemed to take complete control of him, requiring no other distinction for the audience.

The sole woman of the play, Imogen (Rachel Cairns), King Cymbeline’s daughter, was a vision on stage. Her evil stepmother the Queen plots her death while a Roman bets her lover that she’ll fall to his advances, but all throughout Cairns delivers an amazing performance as the audience experiences each of her emotions just as strongly as she does, and ends up falling in love with her much as the rest of the characters do.

The energy of this play would have been impossible without Benjamin Elliot’s musical creation that was threaded throughout each scene. With the actors usually sitting at the back of the set they contributed to this production with mandolins, guitars, drums, and an accordion and kept the casual, comedic aspects of the play through every scene.

Although this play may not be one you’re familiar with, that’s part of the fun. Experiencing one of Shakespeare’s masterful creations for the first time, especially when it’s presented so wonderfully, is part of the joy of theatre. You can get a ticket for this play, or any of Bard on the Beach’s 25th season here.

Bard on the Beach’s THE TEMPEST Opens to a Standing Ovation

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bard-on-the-beach-shakespeareA simple set filled marvellously by colourful costumes and expressive characters, The Tempest creates a magical experience as the second play for Bard on the Beach’s 25th anniversary season.

After a magical storm destroys a ship carrying the King of Naples and his court, everyone is separated assuming the others have perished. The King’s son Ferdinand discovers the island’s inhabitants Prospero and Miranda, immediately falling for her and becoming Prospero’s slave to keep her favour. The King and his followers search for Ferdinand but are subdued by enchantments while two of his party plot the King’s demise. All the while, two women of the King’s court get drunk off the ship’s wine and fall in with Prospero’s slave Caliban who wants power over the island.

ART_Tempest3_2116Everything seemed to come together perfectly for this opening night performance. A stormy afternoon that slowly cleared as the play progressed provided the backdrop audiences saw which mirrored the actions on stage. As in many of Shakespeare’s plays, there is one character at the helm manipulating the rest of the characters. For The Tempest, it is Prospero’s fairy Ariel. Shakespeare’s fairies are some of the most eccentric and interesting characters of all his plays, and Ariel is no different. Jennifer Lines beautifully came to life as the lively and aggressive yet sometimes timid Ariel. She had a spritely singing voice that emanated both her power and her feebleness, depending on the scene.

One of the highlights for me in the play were the two women (Luisa Jojic and Naomi Wright) and their interactions with Caliban (Todd Thomson). They’re synchronized dances and their comedic timing kept everyone laughing and engaged throughout the play.

Bard on the Beach is known for their minimal sets but it inspired imagination in the audience and allowed for the fanciful costumes and props to come to the fore. With quick lighting changes and the musicians on stage throughout the play, The Tempest seemed both intimate and tremendous.

For a very enjoyable evening, I would recommend an outing to see The Tempest. For tickets, go here.