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Q+A: Welcome to Calgary, Stafford Arima


Acclaimed Broadway director Stafford Arima became Theatre Calgary’s new artistic director on April 3, 2017. (Photo by Abigail Alcala.)

In April 2017, Theatre Calgary welcomed a new artistic director into their ranks—acclaimed Broadway director Stafford Arima. Originally from Toronto, Arima flourished as a director both in New York and abroad for the past two decades, with credits like Allegiance, Ragtime, Altar Boyz and Carrie under his belt. Arima has returned home to Canada just in time to oversee Theatre Calgary’s 50th season.

Although he’s still pretty new to Calgary, Arima is no stranger to city living. Six months into his new role, we caught up with Arima to see how he’s settling in here, why he left New York for Calgary and where to go for the best Alberta beef in town. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Aug 3 – 6

On Friday night, the Calgary Fringe Festival kicks off with uncensored, non-juried performances featuring both local and international playwrights and actors. Where recommends Push in Case of Emergency by local playwrights Kyle Schulte, Brett Gartley and Talore Peterson. This comedy-drama explores the interactions of group of strangers unexpectedly trapped in an elevator. The show begins at 6:30 pm at Lolita’s Lounge, tickets $12.

After opening with a stellar concert lineup at Shaw Millennium Park on Thursday night (more…)

Hot Date: WICKED

WICKED plays at the NAC from July 11 to 29. Copyright: Joan Marcus

July 11-29

You’ve heard all about the wizard, but how well do you know the witches of Oz? Learn what happened long before Dorothy dropped in when blockbuster musical WICKED returns to Ottawa after a sell-out run here in 2008. The show tells the story of two unlikely friends who meet in the Land of Oz — one with emerald-green skin who is smart, fiery, and misunderstood, the other a beautiful, ambitious, and popular blonde — who later become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good. If you don’t already know what all the fuss is about, this is your chance to find out!

National Arts Centre, Southam Hall, 53 Elgin St., 888-991-2787, www.nac-cna.ca.


Hot Date: Memphis Raises the Roof for Rock

photo by Joan Marcus

DECEMBER 6 to 24 The life of Dewey Phillips, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s pioneering disc jockeys, inspires a story of fame, forbidden love, and a rousing new style of music in Memphis. Follow the intertwined paths of a white radio DJ and a black club singer through the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, where the sounds
of soul, gospel, and rhythm and blues fuse together to create the anthems of a young generation poised to confront racial segregation in the American south. The 2010 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Memphis also features a Tony Award-winning original score with music by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan. Christopher Ashley directs the show, in Toronto for a limited run, while former Jersey Boys choreographer Sergio Trujillo crafts the musical’s exhilarating dance routines. Toronto Centre for the Arts, Tuesday to Sunday, $51 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or click here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: Fela Kuti’s Groovin’ for Good Governance

Sahr Ngaujah stars as Fela Kuti in Fela! (photo by Monica Carboni)

OCTOBER 25 TO NOVEMBER 6 Fela Anikulapo Kuti has been described as Che Guevara and Bob Marley rolled into one. A fitting description, as throughout the 1970s and ‘80s Kuti utilized his big band–styled music as a conduit for scathing critiques targeted at the oppressive military regimes in his native Nigeria. The creation of his unique sound and the story of his activism are showcased in Fela!, the hit Broadway musical now on stage in Toronto for a limited engagement. Featuring lively performances, electric choreography by Bill T. Jones, and Kuti’s legendary brand of Afrobeat—a fusion of jazz, funk, rock, and African chants and rhythms that he created with drummer and comrade Tony Allen—this Tony-winning production offers a powerful political statement backed by some of the 20th century’s most vital music. Canon Theatre, Tuesday to Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m. and
8 p.m., Sunday 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., $35 to $130; call 416-872-1212 or click here for tickets.

Hot Date: This American Life

Jake Ehrenreich (photo by Charlotte Nation)

TO MAY 16 Jake Ehrenreich’s multimedia stage memoir A Jew Grows in Brooklyn was a smash hit in the heart of Broadway and has been playing to critical acclaim and standing ovations across the United States. Now, Ehrenreich brings his story to Toronto for its Canadian premiere. Join this U.S.-born son of Holocaust survivors as he navigates from adolescence through to adulthood, trying to conform to his vision of what it means to be a “real” American. Humorous and poignant, this true tale of discovery and acceptance will not only pull you into the author’s past, but also have you revisiting your own. Panasonic Theatre, $25 to $60; call 416-872-1212 or click here for showtimes and to buy.

Hot Date: Man Behind the Monster

Young Frankenstein (photo by Paul Kolnik)

MARCH 17 TO APRIL 18 Whether or not you’ve seen the 1974 comedy classic filmed by Mel Brooks, the new theatrical version of Young Frankenstein—also written by Brooks—promises to be fiendishly funny. Watch as a young Doctor Frederick “Fronkensteen” visits his dead grandfather’s Transylvanian estate and attempts to create a living man from a dug-up corpse and pillaged brain. Hilarious intellectual exchanges and musical numbers ensue—just try to keep a straight face as the reanimated monster hoofs it to “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Princess of Wales Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $26 to $120; call 416-872-1212 or check out TicketKing to buy.

Hot Date: Broadway’s Best Reunite

Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin (photo by Brigitte Lacombe).

Two of Broadway’s brightest stars reunite
on stage for An Evening with Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin. Appearing together for the first time since their Tony Award–winning performances in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita, the long-time friends collaborated in the creation of this original dramatic concert which features 11 heartfelt love songs from popular musicals including South Pacific and Showboat. Choreographed by fellow stage veteran Ann Reinking, the show celebrates the history of musical theatre and the enduring chemistry between its legendary vocalists. Royal Alexandra Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m.,
$28 to $150; call 416-872-1212 or visit here to reserve tickets.

Dancing Queen

Lion King dance captain Kendra Moore on becoming a lioness, learning to sing, and returning to Alberta.

By Sally MacKinnon

At the age of five, Kendra Moore found her passion—one that has defined her life for more than three decades. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet came to her hometown of Edmonton, and when ballerina Evelyn Hart took the stage, Moore had a moment of pure clarity.

“I remember it exactly,” she says. “I just thought, ‘I want to do that.’”

This summer, Moore will come full circle. She is returning to Alberta not as a prima ballerina, but a dance captain in Broadway Across Canada’s presentation of Disney’s The Lion King. The musical is based on the 1994 hit movie, about a lion cub named Simba and his journey from exile to king of the jungle.

Moore teaches choreography—which has been set since the show’s inception in 1997—to members of the ensemble, the dancers performing behind main characters. She also takes over when a dancer is sick, injured or on vacation. That means at every performance she is backstage, ready to jump in as a gazelle, lioness or piece of the Serengeti.

Moore doesn’t find her duties stressful, even when she has to take over at a moment’s notice; her transformations give her the same serenity she discovered at five-years-old.

“There is something about it, expressing yourself through movement,” she says. “I’m thinking about nothing else. It’s more than just being in the moment.”