Let’s be real for a moment. As important of a text Decent of Man is, it is one dry read. Seriously, have you tried to sift through the gaudy jargon and period writing tropes with a casual interest? Absolutely not happening without frequent breaks, the occasional nap, and several pots of coffee. Incidentally, I have never had that opinion about hip-hop. In fact, I get wildly interested when I hear a rap song for the first time. Whether it is the crème of the genre or YouTube clip of some 9 year old thinking that 2Chainz is the perfect role model, I’ll listen with the same level intrigue.
Improv is a funny thing. No, literally, improv is a funny thing. It has funny people too. I had the (dis)honour of attending the premiere of The Amazing Improv Race last week. For those unfamiliar, it is a “competition” where three improv pairs show-off their best make-believe to a hysterical audience. The prize – at least on this night – was a six-pack.
While many people might be getting their fix of musicals from movies these days – this year’s edition of the Oscars even celebrated the movie musical – there are many good old fashioned stage shows coming to town. Vancouver’s premiere professional company, the Arts Club, keeps up the quality with their production of Dreamgirls. Dubbed the ‘Motown Musical’ and inspired, in part, by figures such as Berry Gordy, Diana Ross, and James Brown, the show follows the rivalry of two female show singers – Effie White and Deena Jones – their group “the Dreamgirls” and their conniving manager.
On Tuesday, March 5, The Cultch hosted the premier of Conspiracy Theatre’s Extraction, a theatre documentary surrounding oil mining in Alberta and the economic relationship between Canada and China. While the concept of a “theatre documentary” is peculiar and enticing, Extraction defines the genre and is now the standard to which similar performances should be held.
Unfortunately, that bar is now set rather high.
For anybody who is a regular fringe-goer, they have probably seen a show by festival legend TJ Dawe. He’s been touring the country’s summer festival circuit for the last 10 years or so. All his shows are one-man shows that are often comedic and inspired by life’s absurdities. But his new piece, Medicine, is vastly different than any past fringe show.
It is always when young aspiring thespians start their own theatre company. It can be doubly challenging when the actors are in their senior years. Brand-new acting company FOG Theatre Society pulls it off effortlessly with their rendition of Tom Stoppard’s “Heroes” – running at the PAL Studio Theatre until September 30. Directed by Terence Kelly and starring William Samples, John Innes and Michael Dobbin – all long-time veterans of the Vancouver & Canadian theatre scene – Heroes is a play for the ages (and aged).
I suspect that Astrid and Otto Rot are from another planet. No one is as wickedly funny as uber-talented musicians (and not just any planet; Kepler-22b to be specific.) The newly discovered planet happened to be the subject of their opening number. With Astrid looking like a 24th century Elizabeth 1 and Otto resembling a futuristic hippie, the near sold-out Cultch was quickly turning into a groove fest.
Headlines Theater does a lot of interesting work but it has also been around for a while. The company's latest offering Corporations in Our Heads was a four-night pilot that ran at the W2 Media Cafe from May 24th to 27th. In this forum theater production, on a stage lacking set, props or rehearsed actor-director David Diamond experimented with a new interactive theatrical technique.
To the orchestra, I give you my kudos. The accompaniment was stellar, the bass beautiful and not a note missed. The singing varied (did I mention this is a musical?). At times, a mic or two would have been nice, just to amplify the sound or put less strain on our performers’ voices.
Grey Gardens is a pillar of society, utter chaos, a documentary film, Broadway play, and most recently, a feature.
Fast forward to after the performance. I went home and listen to a bulk of Waits tunes. His voice is raspy, husky and at times, a parody of himself. He is eccentric, eclectic and comedic. He is gospel, and blues, and jazz, and bluegrass and folk. He is strange and yet, a skilled entertainer.