Ballet BC Encore photo by Michael Slobodian
January 15 to February 3
Push your boundaries at the annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, which challenges spectators to change their perspectives and expand their horizons with thought-provoking shows such as I, Malvolio, Ride the Cyclone and Ballet BC’s Encore (pictured).—Sheri Radford
VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights. Photo by R. Chan
Ho ho ho! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, with a chill in the air and seasonal festivities filling up the calendar.
Larger-than-life characters encourage singing along in The Magic of Santa! (Dec. 21 to 22).
Irving Berlin classics such as “Blue Skies” and “Sisters” sparkle in White Christmas: The Musical (to Dec. 23), based on the beloved film.
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet puts a uniquely Canadian spin on a Christmas classic in The Nutcracker (Dec. 14 to 16).
David Sedaris reveals the down-and-dirty truth about surviving a job as a Macy’s elf in SantaLand Diaries (to Dec. 22).
The Christmas Carol Project (Dec. 16 to 18) is a musical interpretation of Charles Dickens’ timeless tale about Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim.
The Festival of Lights (Dec. 7 to Jan. 1) fills VanDusen Botanical Garden with more than a million twinkling lights.
Winter Harp celebrates the season with several concerts of harps and rare medieval instruments (Dec. 12, 13, 16, 22).
Click here for more Christmas event listings.—Sheri Radford
Wizard of Oz photo by Tim Matheson
Pull on your sparkliest ruby slippers and practise the words to “Over the Rainbow,” because Carousel Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz is back by popular demand. All the characters you know and love from L. Frank Baum’s timeless book and MGM’s toe-tapping movie musical are travelling down the Yellow Brick Road again, off to see the wizard. It’s a magical time, guaranteed, at the Waterfront Theatre (Dec. 7 to Jan. 6).—Sheri Radford
By Louise Phillips
From left: Aaron Craven as Jack, Craig Erickson as Charles, Kwesi Ameyaw as Henry and Marsha Regis as Susan in David Mamet’s Race. Photo by Shimon Karmel
Our politically correct society abhors prejudice, especially the racial variety. We profess colour blindness in our friendships and in our hiring practices. “Employment equity,” as it’s known in Canada, attempts to compensate for past exploitation. Behind closed doors, however, racist attitudes can surface in even the most self-styled liberal…of any colour. These are a few of the issues explored in Race, staged by Mitch and Murray Productions at Studio 16 until Dec. 1.
Strong performances by its four actors and tight direction by David Mackay make the most of a David Mamet script that moves along like a game of ping-pong in which there are no winners.
Read on for more about David Mamet’s play Race »
Chelsea Hotel photo by David Cooper
A writer checks into a hotel, looking for inspiration, and ends up examining relationships past and present. Fusing theatre, dance and the haunting music of Leonard Cohen, this show is back by popular demand at the Firehall Arts Centre (to Nov. 3). Fans of Cohen can also catch the man himself at Rogers Arena (Nov. 12).—Sheri Radford
The Unplugging at the Revue Stage. Photo by David Cooper
By Louise Phillips
Ever wondered what might happen when the world ends? When you can no longer tweet or text or phone? When the canned food runs out, and the night is lit only by fire? The Unplugging, a provocative new play by Yvette Nolan at the Revue Stage (to Nov. 3), is a post-apocalyptic scenario that tells the story of two middle-aged women ejected by the community — into a northern winter. In a promising dramatic start, Elena and Bernadette trudge into view with their toboggan, and quickly organize a survival strategy. Elena snares a hare and Bern scavenges in cabin cupboards, and over time they become strong and resilient. Then along comes young Seamus, whose intentions might be suspect, and the resulting conflict tests the women’s delicate friendship.
With its reliance on characterization, The Unplugging is well suited to the intimate Arts Club Revue Stage. For a dark and epic subject, it offers a surprising amount of humour, and committed and nuanced work by Jenn Griffin and Margo Kane as the hungry and desperate pair. The production, directed by Lois Anderson, benefits from a simple but atmospheric set, with a subtly backlit boreal forest on the horizon, and a soundscape that combines a keening female voice with the howl of wind.
The story itself occasionally bogs down in the icy wastes of earnestness. The women overcome their obstacles too easily—starvation seems unlikely, given Elena’s skills, and their concerns about Seamus ring hollow despite Anton Lipovetsky’s best efforts to keep us guessing.
It’s worth seeing just for the interplay between the women, and its chilling premise: if we were all suddenly unplugged, testing our “civilized” notions of wealth and friendship, would we prove morally bankrupt?
Blind Date photo by Greg Tjepkema
Gents with stage fright might want to sit in the very back row for this one: when Mimi’s blind date stands her up, the fearless Parisian temptress selects a man from the audience to be her date instead. What ensues is 90 minutes of heart-warming improvisation and spontaneous clowning, all wrapped up in a social experiment. Catch the hilarity at the Cultch (Sep. 18 to Oct. 7).—Sheri Radford
Jersey Boys photo by Joan Marcus
September 5 to 23
“Sherry.” “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” “Walk Like a Man.” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons racked up dozens of hits, but their path to stardom was rocky. Find out how four blue-collar boys went from the wrong side of the tracks to the top of the charts, in a touring production of Jersey Boys at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre—and just try to keep from singing along.—Sheri Radford
Daren Herbert as Harold Hill in The Music Man. Photo by Tim Matheson
When the weather is so hot and sticky that even the mosquitoes leave town, there’s no place like Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park for an evening that’s cool in more ways than one.
Vancouver’s legendary summer company Theatre Under the Stars, in its 66th season, sets feet tapping and hands clapping with a stylish production of that good old chestnut, The Music Man. An enormous and energetic cast romps through the story of con man Harold Hill, who sells musical instruments and band uniforms to naïve parents of school children in small-town Iowa, then skips town with the cash before giving a single lesson. (more…)
Bard on the Beach at Vanier Park. Photo by Aerial Blimp Photography
To September 22
All the world’s a stage—even the eye-catching tents in Vanier Park, which pop up every summer to house Vancouver’s popular annual Shakespeare festival Bard on the Beach. Headlining this year’s fest are The Taming of the Shrew and Macbeth, while The Merry Wives of Windsor and King John are performed on alternating nights on the Studio Stage. It’s everything a Bard lover could want, plus a few extras: special fireworks evenings, lectures and, of course, a stunning False Creek backdrop.—Sheri Radford
Shelter from the Storm is at Firehall Arts Centre June 1 to 9. Photo by Pink Monkey Studios
What does it mean to be courageous or cowardly in a time of war? Shelter from the Storm, an award-winning play by local writer/director/actor Peter Boychuk, focuses on two Americans who fled to Canada, 40 years apart, to escape war. At the Firehall Arts Centre (Jun. 1 to 9).—Sheri Radford
Friday, April 20
The Ottawa Shakespeare Company stages the most famous assassination story of all time. Julius Caesar, a classic Shakespearean tragedy, tells a story of betrayal and the death of the world’s leader. Experienced actors bring Shakespeare’s timeless story to life at the Centrepointe Theatre.
Evolution Theatre is offering two plays for a single ticket! [boxhead] is about a young geneticist who one day discovers a cardboard box stuck on his head and undergoes many revelations in his quest to remove it. Mary Magdalene and Adventures in Sobriety tells the story of a woman who has spent 2000 years homeless, and discovers spirituality and passion after literally crashing into an AA meeting.
Bring your kids to celebrate Earth Day at the Canadian Children’s Museum. Kids can get their hands dirty with clay, build the city of the future with MEGABloks®, and learn how to make music using everyday items. Activities are available for ages five and under. (more…)