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Sara-Jeanne Hosie in A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline

Stage struck

Victoria’s Belfry Theatre sees Red September 11 to October 14, specifically John Logan’s 2010 Tony Award-winner for Best Play. Co-produced with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Red ventures back to 1958 when abstract painter Mark Rothko was engaged to paint murals for the Seagram Building in New York, the most lucrative commission ever. Working with a young apprentice and threatened by a new generation of painters, Rothko must create a series of masterpieces. Red dives deeply into this incredible period when the fierce, uncompromising Rothko, at the height of his power, clashes with fame and commercialism.

Langham Court Theatre opens its 2012-13 season October 3 to 20 with the beloved classic 84, Charing Cross Road, adapted from the book by Jelene Hanff, while Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, Dean Reagan’s ever popular musical A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline runs from October 30 to November 10 with the talented Sara-Jeanne Hosie, recreating her role she has played to great acclaim for both the Vancouver Arts Club and the Chemainus Theatre Festival. Following the country legend’s climb to stardom from her hometown in Virginia to New York’s Carnegie Hall, the show features 20 hits, including Crazy, Walkin’ After Midnight, Sweet Dreams and I Fall to Pieces, this musical stars.


Toopy and Binoo


Fab kid fun

The fabulousness continues! Kid favourites Toopy and Binoo are warming up their funny muscles and stretching their active imaginations in preparation for their live stage show this fall. Toopy and Binoo and the Marshmallow Moon brings to life the two fun-loving and adorable characters, whose antics are driven by their out-of-this-world imaginations – and whose unpredictable adventures inspire children to push their own limits! Take in the fun September 16 at Victoria’s Royal Theatre.

Budding young gardeners will enjoy the second annual Children’s Harvest Festival & Field of Scarecrows, at the Gardens at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific October 6 from 11am to  3pm. Kids, bring your families for a free day of interactive stations on growing your own food, nature and healthy lifestyles!


Celebrate with a case of the Blues

Celebrate the end of summer by rockin’ and groovin’ to live blues, R&B and more at the 18th annual Vancouver Island Blues Bash! Headliners for the ticketed evening performances include Canada’s blues guitar favorite David Gogo (September 1) and Alligator Records’ blues guitarist Joe Louis Walker (September 2).

In addition to the ticketed performances, take in three afternoons of free-admission performances featuring some of Vancouver Island’s best performers, 12 to 5:15pm September 1 to 3.

Historic Events

The Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites throw open their grounds September 11 for  the 18th annual English Car Affair in the Park. At 10am precisely, the skirl of the pipes will herald the start of this popular event featuring more than 100 classic and vintage British automobiles from the Old English Car Club.

Return to the site September 24 for the 10th annual Fort Rodd Hill Lantern Tour, an exclusive, after-dark guided tour of the 19th century site. See the gun batteries by lantern light and eavesdrop on uniformed re-enactors going about the daily activities of garrison life. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of life at the Hill during the period of 1897-1956. There may even be a few surprises along the way! Tours leave every 15 minutes from 7 to 8:45pm. Tickets are $10, in advance only – call 250-478-5849.

Mother Mother

Rifflandia rocks on

Some the rock world’s best and brightest will descend on downtown Victoria for the third annual Rifflandia festival, September 13 to 16. With a who’s who of modern rock taking to local stages, highlights include Mother Mother, Cake, Band of Skulls, Sloan, The Dudes, The Stanfields, and many, many more. What a way to bid farewell to summer!

Cirque comes to the Centre

Everyone loves a circus – especially when the circus in question is the Cirque du Soleil. The renowned troupe brings its critically-acclaimed Quidam to the Save On Foods Memorial Centre September 5 to 9. A favourite since premiering in Montreal in April 1996, the international cast features 52 world-class acrobats, musicians, singers and characters, telling the story of  young Zoé, whose life has lost all meaning. Seeking to fill the void of her existence, she slides into an imaginary world – the world of Quidam – where she meets characters who encourage her to free her soul.


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: Shakespeare in the Park

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo: David Cooper

Following a one-year hiatus, Mount Royal University’s Shakespeare in the Park returns to Prince’s Island Park for its 25th anniversary and a five-night performance run of Shakespearian classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Set in a magical forest—Prince’s Island Park—the play follows the romantic intrigues of four Athenian lovers and a troupe of actors who are put under a spell and manipulated by the faeries of the forest. The production features a cast composed of Mount Royal Theatre Arts students and is directed by Victoria’s Belfry Theatre artistic director Michael Shamata.

Performances run Wed to Sun until Aug 10 at 7 pm. Weekend matinees at 2 pm. Weather permitting. No performances July 25 – 29. Admission is by donation.

– Sarah Sussman

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.


Canada’s Best Outdoor Summer Theatre


Bard on the Beach, Vancouver

It’s a given that the Bard dominates summer theatre, but you can find more than Shakespeare under the stars—as well as in parks, on beaches and even in barnyards across Canada this summer. Musicals, new and classic plays, plus dance, opera and circus arts are part of the many fresh-air Canadian theatre festivals. Here’s the short list of favourites from Where editors across the country.

Start the slideshow » (more…)

Our Editors’ Picks for Amazing Summer Activities

Taste of Victoria

Savour the flavours of Vancouver Island with the fourth annual Taste: Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine. Kicking off July 19 at the Crystal Garden with the Main Event, an evening brimming with more than 100 BC wines and great Vancouver Island eats, events continue to July 22.  Other highlights include the Swine and The Vine pig roast on the Hotel Grand Pacific patio, a three-course brunch at Vista 18, and a Sips and Seafood extravaganza at Inn at Laurel Point.  And you won’t want to miss a dining adventure in the middle of the fields at the Vantreight family farm, overlooking the Saanich Peninsula and Pacific Ocean where guests can reach back and pick what’s on their plate! (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for April 20 to 22

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.

[boxhead]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…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for March 30 to April 1

Chic coats, cool jewellery, and plenty to decorate the home are on offer at this weekend's Ottawa Antiques Show.

Friday, March 30
The Ottawa Antiques Show is back for its annual spring edition, bringing with it a slew of great finds. But make no mistake: this isn’t your grandma’s show. While it does boast an assortment of century-old antiques, it’s also the place to find designer goods and hidden treasures. Vendors carry a selection of retro and vintage products; think designer jewellery by Tiffany & Co., haute couture accessories from Chanel and Hermès, handbags by Prada, and Rolex watches. Happy hunting!

Celebrate Canada’s diverse musical talent with Classical JUNOs in Concert, where JUNO nominated performers, such as Susan Hoeppner and Christina Petrowska Quilico, break out an array of instruments to perform classical pieces, including those by nominated composers. The afternoon concert is free and held in the lobby of the National Arts Centre.

Saturday, March 31
Step into the fantastical world of Tara Luz Danse – Les Billes, a creation of choreographer Anik Bouvrette, at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Here, dancers incorporate unusual objects into their movements: large marbles, lit hoops, and Chinese lanterns that resemble planets. In this lush performance of contemporary dance that has charmed both children and adults – not an easy task – the audience gets swept up in the question “When I close my eyes, in my imagination, I see…”

Come and be astounded by the magic of world-class illusionist Greg Frewin in his Vegas-style show, Beyond Belief, at the Théâtre du Casino. Frewin is the only magician to have won every major magic award in North America, and he has performed throughout the world. His show, featuring tigers, showgirls, and amazing illusions, will undoubtedly leave you beyond belief, just as it’s name promises. (more…)

Hot Date: Shrek’s a Green Monster

photo by Joan Marcus

MARCH 20 TO APRIL 1 Everyone’s favourite secretly affable green ogre is back at it in Shrek the Musical. Joined by the comedic antics of Donkey, the sharp wit of Princess Fiona and an extensive cast of fairy-tale characters, Shrek sets out to reclaim the deed to his land in an epic adventure featuring 19 all-new songs. The new production offers up stunning set design, rousing dance numbers and, of course, laughs for the whole family. Toronto Centre for the Arts, Tuesday to Sunday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2:30 p.m., $46 to $180; call 416-644-3665 or visit here to purchase tickets.

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for March 16 to 18

Friday, March 16
Get creative at the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s Vintage Fun – Making Do workshop, which is part of their March Break program. Bring your whole family and travel back in time to the 1920s and 1930s. Play Bingo, do some candle dipping, make arts and crafts, play a giant board game, or put your shoes on and try your feet at some swing dancing.

Art, nudity, and live performances come together at Bleu Nuit, a multimedia performance Art show at Falldown gallery this Friday. The show features a 1960s nude style photography collection called “Business Casual Fun,” by Irene Barrot Vasquez, in collaboration with Nilton De Menezes. NDMA, Zoo Legacy, and Live Projections and body art by Ariane Beauchamp will make up the live performance roster. With door prizes from Gypsy & Co., Young Janes, and Allegro, this is an art show not to be missed!

Party it up in Chinatown with Poptronic at Shanghai Restaurant. Poptronic is a DJ night led by CKCU’s DJ Jeff Main. He will be spinning an upbeat mix of indie electronic, synthpop, and electropop. This is anything but top 40 pop music! So come out, listen to songs you won’t hear anywhere else, and diversify your musical tastes.

Canoeing is just one of the activities to explore at the first annual Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show in Ottawa.

Saturday, March 17
As frigid winter winds give way to warm, spring sunshine check out the first-ever Outdoor & Adventure Travel Show at the CE Centre. Learn about amazing travel destinations from safaris to eco-holidays and camping trips. Watch kayak, canoe, and scuba experts in the demo pools, climb the Rock Wall, or get inspired to bike, hike, run, or play water or mountain sports. Make sure to see the world premiere of The Best of the Reel Paddling Film Festival. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for March 9 to 11

Rococode from Vancouver is just one of the bands playing at Mavericks this weekend. Photo credit: Robyn Jamieson.

Friday, March 9
Start your weekend off right by partying it up with some fun indie bands at Mavericks. This is the LP release show for Anchors, the newest album from Ottawa indie rock band and show headliner Kalle Mattson. Also on the bill: Rococode, a three-boy and one-girl band from Vancouver that strives to make exciting and meaningful pop music; The Richardson Band, an Ottawa indie/folk band that just recorded its first EP; and the Ashleys, another Ottawa indie/rock band.

Get lucky at the first late night performance of Third Time Lucky, performed by Toronto-based comic storyteller Paul Hutcheson at The Gladstone. Pornography, an allergic reaction to shellfish, and orgies are just some of the topics Hutcheson covers in this solo show. Hutcheson has performed in more than 25 fringe festivals, winning awards in New York, San Francisco, Montreal, and Ottawa.  This play is part of the Black Box Set Theatre Festival, which runs until March 17.

Get in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day a few days early with Ottawa Irish Week. The week-long festival and longstanding Ottawa tradition invites you to celebrate Ireland through music, poetry, history, dance, theatre, and sport. This Friday, get entertained and eat Irish fare at The Erin Luncheon at St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa. Various events run from March 8 to 17.

Saturday, March 10
Laugh, cry, and support a good cause at The Vagina Monologues this Saturday. Carleton University’s own Vaginas Against Violence are once again putting on a fantastic show, which is run and performed by Carleton students. All proceeds from ticket sales go towards  the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre and the international V-Day campaign, which supports victims of sexual violence in Haiti in an effort to end gender-based violence locally and globally. If you’ve never seen this show that serves up story after story to honour the female anatomy, you’re missing out. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for March 2 to 4

This photo shows actors from Orpheus Musical Theatre Society rehearsing for "Rent."

Friday, March 2
Orpheus Musical Theatre brings its rendition of the Tony Award-winning Rent to the stage. Based on Puccini’s La Bohème, this rock opera follows a group of young, struggling artists trying to make it in New York City. Gritty and modern, the friends face challenges that range from relationships to money to the health threat of HIV and AIDS. See why the musical lasted 12 years on Broadway when this local theatre group takes on the show. (And don’t be surprised if you start humming songs like “La Vie Bohème B” and “Seasons of Love” and dreaming of running away to the Big Apple.) Opening tonight and running until March 11.

In 1971, Pink Floyd played two shows in Quebec, one in Montreal and one in Quebec city, for the first time ever. Celebrate the 40th anniversary of these legendary concerts with the 2011 travelling show Eclipse – The Pink Floyd Story, on at Casino du Lac-Leamy. This commemorative performance demonstrates the band’s evolution, with a live band performing the best of Pink Floyd from the early days to the later years. Moving lights, spectacular lasers, and video projections make this a complete sensory experience.

Enter the musical universe of Kyssi Wète this Friday at the National Arts Centre. Wète mixes the sounds and rhythms of blues, reggae, rumba, soul, raga, and pop to transport his audiences somewhere between France, Jamaica, and the Congo. Using human diversity and relationships as his inspiration, he relays messages of interracial harmony with his unique voice.

Saturday, March 3
Celebrate International Women’s Week on the opening day of the Celebrate HER Charity Music and Art Festival. The festival celebrates outstanding women in the Ottawa community with a week full of art, music, dance, theatre, and spoken word poetry. Check out this year’s centrepiece: the “Amazing Women-Femmes d’exception” photo installation at Alpha Soul Café, which includes women such as University of Ottawa professor Constance Backhouse and children’s author Naomi Guzman Poole. (more…)