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Comedy

TheatreSports Delivers Local Laughs

By SHERI RADFORD

Photo courtesy Vancouver TheatreSports

To Sep. 1, 2018 Do you know how to downward dog without spilling your venti decaf soy latte? Do you belong to a drum circle? Have you ever been renovicted? Do you complain about rain but also temperatures above 25 degrees? Do you cycle to work every day in a bike lane wearing gear purchased at MEC? Have you ever been caught in a traffic jam caused by waddling Canada geese, big white film trucks or a 420 protest?

Congratulations, you must be a Vancouverite.

The only known remedy is a healthy dose of self-deprecating laughter. That’s where Vancouver TheatreSports comes in. Their summer show, Avocado Toast – Vancouver Grown, Organic Free-Range Comedy, pokes fun at everything from local fitness trends and Carly Rae Jepsen to Car2Go and hiking the Grouse Grind. At the Improv Centre.

Photo courtesy Vancouver TheatreSports

Must-See Performances in November and December

NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER ARE FULL OF EXCITING PERFORMANCES FROM BALLET TO ACROBATICS TO MAGIC, AND MORE  

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The 7 Fingers Cuisine and Confessions merges acrobatics with the art of cooking. Photo by by Alexandre Galliez.

Mirvish Productions, Toronto’s largest theatre company, is closing out 2016 with a program of more esoteric—yet still ambitious—shows to complement its typical grander-scale fare. The 7 Fingers Cuisine and Confessions (November 1 to December 4), for instance, blends acrobatics and cooking in a theatrical feast for the senses, while Fight Night (November 4 to 20) concocts an immersive exploration of democracy—just in time for the fireworks of the U.S. presidential election. And there’s more spectacle to be found in The Illusionists (starts December 13), which features awe-inspiring tricks by seven of the world’s top magicians.

Aligator Pie, Soulpepper

Soulpepper’s Alligator Pie is fun for the whole family. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The spotlight also shines on sleight of hand courtesy of Soulpepper Theatre Company and magic maestro David Ben’s Hocus Pocus (starts December 10). Equally inventive—and family-friendly—are Rose (December 16, 17, and 22), a concert presentation based on The World Is Round, a children’s book by Gertrude Stein, and Alligator Pie (starts December 27), an award-winning adaptation of Dennis Lee’s poems. 

And for more adult-oriented fare, turn to the Canadian Stage and Daniel MacIvor. His solo show, Who Killed Spalding Gray? (November 30 to December 11), combines the Canadian playwright’s uniquely disarming scripting with some of the titular character’s famed monologues in an interrogation of truth and fiction.

ENCORE PERFORMANCES

A pair of repertory remounts round out the National Ballet of Canada’s year-end slate—alongside its annual production of The Nutcracker (December 10 to 31), naturally. Most recently performed in 2014, James Kudelka’s Cinderella (November 12 to 20) offers a thoroughly modern interpretation of the age-old fairy tale, and later, the expressive Onegin (November 23 to 27)—John Cranko’s adaptation of the Pushkin novel, Eugene Onegin—aims for emotional and psychological nuance even while its dancers push the boundaries of what the human body can do.

Sharing the Four Seasons Centre stage with the National Ballet means that the Canadian Opera Company has for the time being ceded the spotlight, but the COC presents a great reason to return in 2017: its ever-popular production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (January 19 to February 24).

HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES

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Itzhak Perlman enchants audiences with his performances of beloved movie scores.

The popular music of previous centuries—that is, classical music—is always in vogue with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. But the venerated ensemble keeps up with the times, too, by presenting contemporary scores. Among this winter’s biggest tickets are Itzhak Perlman’s “Cinema Serenade” (November 22)—in which the famed violinist performs themes from films, including Cinema Paradiso, Sabrina and Schindler’s List—and screenings of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with live TSO accompaniment (December 1 to 3). Christmas classics also get an airing in variety show-style concerts hosted by Colin Mochrie (December 9 to 11) and Jann Arden (December 13 and 14).

Meanwhile, another hallowed musical institution hones in on jazz. The Royal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall schedule features the likes of Joe Lovano’s quintet with Afro-Cuban piano legend Chucho Valdés (November 9), a cabaret-style pairing of vocalists Laila Biali and Pilar (December 1), and explorations of the trio format with threesomes led by pianist Stefano Bollani, bassist Roberto Occhipinti (both November 18), organist Joey DeFrancesco and saxophonist Christine Jensen (both December 10).

—Craig Moy

Get Set for Summer: Culture Vultures

THERE’S A LOT TO DO IN THE CITY THIS SUMMER. BELOW ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR THE CULTURALLY-MINDED VISITOR

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Thong Sandals. Oil on canvas by Marco Sassone.

The Second City  returns with The Best of Second City, a rousing combination of some of the funniest sketches from the company’s past 50 years. Families can enjoy Superdude and Doctor Rude, a superhero story with a twist based on audience participation. Matilda the Musical is another family-friendly production, which opens July 5, while Shakespeare in High Park presents Hamlet and All’s Well That Ends Well on alternating nights in scenic High Park.

For centuries, plants—particularly flowers—have been the inspiration behind the creation of beautiful textile designs. Bliss: Gardens Real and Imagined, on now at the Textile Museum of Canada, highlights the pervasive use of floral motifs across cultures, from intricate Persian carpets to handmade quilts. The Bata Shoe Museum commemorates Italian heritage month with a selection of oil paintings by American-Italian painter Marco Sassone. His Boots and Other Works illustrate the artist’s love of fashion and footwear, from worn out boots to party shoes.

Film buffs won’t want to miss the Hitchcock/Truffaut: Magnificent Obsessions double retrospective at TIFF Bell Lightbox, which starts July 7. Featuring more than a dozen films by each director, the series highlights their similarities and includes Alfred Hitchcock classics like The Birds, and Vertigo, alongside François Truffaut films like Jules et Jim and The 400 Blows.

EAT Experience the flavours of the Middle East, North and South Asia with Mark McEwan’s flavourful menu at Diwan, while taking in the gorgeous grounds of the Aga Khan Museum. After working up appetite at the Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario, visit Frank for a bistro-inspired menu amidst installations by Frank Stella. Moviegoers can dine at Luma, located at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. —Karen Stevens

 

Stand-up city

web Bob Marleyweb JulieKimweb Dave HemstadThe Halifax Comedy Fest returns this month for its 21st year, showcasing top international comics alongside East Coast up-and-comers. From April 27 to 30, some 30 comedians will perform 14 shows at venues around the city.

Returning for his third appearance at the festival is Bob Marley. With a wry take on daily life, Marley is always a fan favourite. He hosts the All Star Show on April 28 at Casino Nova Scotia and performs at the Gala of Laughs on April 29 at the Spatz Theatre.

This year sees the return of another long-time favourite, as Rich Hall comes back to Halifax’s stages for the first time since 2007.

Rich Hall, along with his trademark sour expression and cantankerous gravelly voice, appears at the All Star Show on April 28 at Casino Nova Scotia and the Gala of Laughs Finale on April 30 at the Spatz Theatre.

Also on the calendar is two-time Canadian Comedy Award nominee Julie Kim. She’s a mainstay of the country’s stand-up circuit, appearing on national TV and radio, and plays shows from coast to coast. She performs at the Opening Gala, Laugh@Lunch, and Gala of Laughs.

Local fans are also excited to see emerging star Aisha Alfa at this year’s festival. Born in Nigeria and raised in Canada, she won Winnipeg’s Funniest Person with a Day Job, was a finalist for NBC’s Stand Up for Diversity, was one of the first Toronto Bob Curry Fellowship recipients from Second City, and was regional finalist for SiriusXM’s Canada’s Next Top Comic. Her TV appearances include The Second City Project, Superchanel’s Too Much Information, MTV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation, and the Emmy Award winning Odd Squad on PBS. She also co-hosted on Much Music’s Video on Trial.

This Hour Has 22 Minutes veterans Mark Critch and Cathy Jones—local favourites—along with Elvira Kurt, Tim Steeves, Trent McClellan, Chuck Byrn, John Sheehan, Erin Foley, Caitlin Langelier, Marito Lopez, Adrian Cronk, Chris James, John Cullen, Mayce Galoni, Graham Kay, Ivan Decker, Rob Bebenek, Jean Paul, Michelle Shaughnessy, and Nathan Macintosh.

Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street hosts the Opening Gala on April 27 and All Star Show on April 28, while the Spatz Theatre at Citadel High School on Bell Road is home to the Gala of Laughs on Friday, April 29 and Gala of Laughs Finale on April 30. The Lower Deck Pub in the Historic Properties hosts a double feature of matinee shows on April 30.

The festival also includes two nightly Not Made for TV shows at Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel on Hollis Street from April 28 to 30. You can also sample the comedy with a free Laugh@Lunch show at the Halifax Central Libraryon April 29.

 

For tickets and schedule information, surf to halifaxcomedyfest.ca.

Big City Laughs: Guide to the YYComedy Festival

By ADELE BRUNNHOFER

Alternative comic Andy Kindler performs in Calgary. Photo: courtesy YYComedy Festival.

Alternative comic Andy Kindler performs in Calgary. Photo: courtesy YYComedy Festival.

Following a successful launch last year, the YYComedy Festival is back and even bigger. September 9 through 15, the festival features over 80 comics at 15 venues.

Whereas last year’s festival was largely a showcase for local talent due to its association with the Calgary 2012 Cultural Capital campaign, this year’s roster has expanded to include several big names from across North America. “It really opened the doors for us to bring in whoever we want,” says festival organizer Harry Doupe of its inaugural 2012 success. (more…)

Hot Dates in Halifax: May

Beauty and the Beast plays a five-show engagement May 24-26. Photo: Joan Marcus

Beauty and the Beast plays a five-show engagement May 24-26. Photo: Joan Marcus

May 9:  Acclaimed roots singer/songwriter David Myles, fresh off a collaboration with rapper Classified, plays the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

May 10: Steve Patterson, host of The Debaters on CBC Radio brings his This is Not Debatable tour to Halifax. 

May 12: The Saint Cecilia Concert Series wraps up another season of celebrating classical music with a matinee concert at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts on Chebucto Road. Musician-in-Residence and cellist extraordinaire Shimon Walt performs, joined by his colleagues in the Rhapsody Quintet. Their varied repetoire includes a show-stopping rendition of the rock standard “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

May 15: One of the godfathers of outlaw country, Merle Haggard is enjoying a renaissance of late, releasing a string of critically acclaimed songs. He performs at the Halifax Metro Centre.

May 17 to 19: Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Blue Nose Marathon has plenty for both experienced runners and newcomers to the sport, including a youth run, a 5K and a 10K. The full marathon begins at the Old Town Clock on Sackville Street on May 19. It runs past Halifax Citadel, through the North End, back through the downtown along Barrington and Hollis streets, around Point Pleasant Park and back up to the Clock.

May 24 to 26: The classic Disney fairy tale Beauty and the Beast comes to life, as the touring version of the Broadway production plays a five-show engagement at the Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street. Young fans will love the opulent costumes, detailed sets and familiar music.

 

Editor’s Choice

May 27 to June 9: The Scotia Festival of Music, Atlantic Canada’s largest annual celebration of chamber music, returns with a roster that reads like a who’s-who of chamber-music scene, including conductor Kenneth Woods, pianist Lynn Stodola, violinist Robert Uchida, cellist Denise Djokic, trumpeter Richard Simoneau, Composer-in-Residence Tim Brady and many more.

 

 

Halifax Hot Dates in December

En Vogue Performs

En Vogue Performs December 28th at Casino Nova Scotia

December 2: Nova Scotian rockers The Trews are back in the Maritimes with their hard-drivin’ sound, for what’s sure to be a raucous show at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

December 14 to 22: Back for its 59th year, the Student, Staff, Faculty and Alumni Exhibition at the Dalhousie Art Gallery features works by members of the Dalhousie University community.

December 14: Comedian Greg Morton headlines the Halifax Comedy Fest’s Christmas-themed show HA! HA! HALIDAY at Casino Nova Scotia

December 14, 29: The city’s hometown hockey heroes, the Halifax Mooseheads, are a major-junior team featuring many up-and-coming stars, competing in the same league where superstar Sidney Crosby got his start. The Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street hosts games throughout the season. On December 14, the Mooseheads take on Acadie-Bathurst in their final game before the holiday break, returning on December 29 to play cross-province rivals Cape Breton.

December 28: Acclaimed R&B act En Vogue  has won more MTV Video Music Awards than any other female group. They perform at Casino Nova Scotia.


Halifax Hot Dates in November

Gerry Dee

Gerry Dee returns to Halifax November 23rd.

Editor’s Choice:
November 23: Halifax teacher-cum-comedian Gerry Dee, gaining national fame for his CBC series Mr. D, brings his Life After Teaching tour back to his hometown, performing at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue.

November 10: Young Parisian guitarist Thibault Cauvin performs French Stylings in the Saint Cecilia Concert Series. His repertoire ranges from Scarlatti to contemporary composers. 

November 10: One of the National Basketball League of Canada’s founding teams, the Halifax Rainmen return for another season of minor-pro hoops. The season begins with a visit from the Saint John Mill Rats. The Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street hosts.

November 15: Popular Halifax rocker Matt Mays returns to his old stomping grounds, performing with The Meds at the Halifax Forum Multi-Purpose Centre.

November 17 to 18: Acclaimed jazz guitarist Jesse Cook brings the Blue Guitar Sessions to the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue.

November 23 to 24: Television personalities Alan Halsall (Tyrone Dobbs) and Andy Whyment (Kirk Sutherland) from the long-running British TV series Coronation Street appear live at Spatz Theatre.

November 30, December 1: Cape Breton singer/songwriter Jimmy Rankin joins Symphony Nova Scotia at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.


Hot Date: John Pinette Offers All-Consuming Comedy

OCTOBER 11  For more than two decades, John Pinette has been making audiences chuckle with his self-deprecating wit and original observations about everyday life. The veteran stand-up comedian and actor has toured with Just for Laughs and appeared in all manner of media—from guest spots on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Seinfeld and The View to a role as Edna Turnblad in the Broadway musical Hairspray. You can now get up close and personal with the full-figured funnyman when he makes his way north of the border as part of his “Still Hungry” tour. Massey Hall, 7:30 p.m., $39.50 to $49.50; call 416-872-4255 or visit here to purchase.

Long Weekend Roundup October 5 to October 8

Patricia Piccinini. Still Life with Stem Cells, 2002. Courtesy of the Artist.

Friday, October 5  If you’re looking for activities the whole family can enjoy this weekend, check out Fairytales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination at the Glenbow Museum. The exhibition is comprised of works by contemporary artists who are inspired by the fantastic stories and characters of myths, fairytales and science fiction in which the boundaries between human and animal are blurred. The exhibition includes approximately 60 paintings, photographs, sculptures and video works by contemporary artists from Canada and around the world. The exhibition will run until January 2nd. Tickets are $14 adults, $10 senior, $9 student and youth $9. 

Scared yet? Screamfest 2012 starts this weekend. Photo: Courtesy Screamfest.

Friday, October 5 and Saturday, October 6 This Friday and Saturday, check out the first weekend of Screamfest. During the month of October, Stampede Park transforms into a carnival of carnage. This Halloween festival includes six terrifying haunted houses, a renovated Bates Motel, indoor maze, rides, musical entertainment, food vendors and contortionists. Tickets are available at Ticketbud and range from $20 to $40. The event runs from 7 pm to midnight.

On Friday and Saturday, check out Soulocentric Festival 2012 at Vertigo Theatre. The festival showcases independent performing artists that are creating new and original solo works in dance, theatre, music and multi-media. Start times vary. To purchase tickets, call 403-221-3708 or visit the festival’s website. (more…)

Hot Entertainment: Hot Nuts & Popcorn 2.0 at Loose Moose

Last week, Calgary comics were joined by some of the nation’s top comedians in performing at the first YYComedy Festival. The week-long affair proved a success and will now be an annual event.

Hot Nuts & Poporn 2.0 returns Oct. 6. Photo: Photobat.

The festival coincided with the 35th anniversary of the Loose Moose Theatre Company. The improv comedy company is known across Canada for its innovative theatre sports and well-known alumni (including Kids in the Hall actors Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney).

A festival highlight was the reunion show of the company’s popular late night live talk show, Hot Nuts & Popcorn. For those who missed the show, it will be held again on Saturday, October 6 at 11 pm. Hot Nuts & Popcorn 2.0 reunites hosts Derek Flores, Comedy Central’s Eric Amber and Terry Cahill of the cult movie FUBAR. The show ran weekly from 1999 to 2002 and featured hilarious improvised interviews with local celebrities. Tickets for the show are $12 and can be purchased on the Loose Moose website. (more…)

Hot Entertainment: Gavin Crawford at the YYComedy Festival

Gavin Crawford performs Thursday night in Calgary. Photo: Courtesy: YYComedy Festival.

Gavin Crawford, of This Hour Has 22 Minutes fame, performs at the University Theatre tomorrow—Thursday, September 27—during the YYComedy Festival. Wherespoke with Crawford about what fans can expect from his stand-up show.

Where: Most Canadians know you from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, what can we expect from your stand-up show?

Crawford: Characters. A whole lot of characters. The live stuff I do is a bit edgier than you will see on CBC, not offensive per say but perhaps slightly more real. My live shows are kind of like concerts I guess, only with characters instead of songs. There’s some stuff people may know from 22 Minutes like Mark Jackson or Rufus Wainwright [impressions], but I can go a little deeper with them because the pieces don’t have to be two minutes long. I also get to play other people who don’t fit into the 22landscape. I like to make fun of things through characters, and sometimes impressions, so the show is really a mix of character monologues and impersonations. (more…)