VICO: Imagined Worlds – Intertwined

Saturday, March 31 at 8:00 pmVICO-Intertwined-smaller

Norman Rothstein Theatre (950 West 41st Ave., Vancouver)

Tickets ($28/$18) & information:


The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra brings its 10th anniversary season to a triumphant close with a concert featuring the 25-member ensemble and chamber choir Laudate Singers, premiering major new works commissioned by the VICO from Dutch composer Joël Bons and renowned Canadian composer Dr. Stephen Chatman. The programme will also include a new Canada Council commission by Coat Cooke for intercultural orchestra, and Moshe Denburg’s El Ginat Egoz for choir, erhu, zheng and marimba.


Bons, Chatman and Cooke have worked closely with the VICO to create their new pieces, in a ground-breaking commissioning and development project funded by Arts Partners in Creative Development. “Inter-cultural music-making involves combining instruments, musical traditions, techniques and aesthetics from all over the world into a cohesive, artistically effective whole,” says the VICO’s founding Artistic Director Moshe Denburg. “We are one of the only ensembles in the world doing this work on an orchestral scale. Thus, our work is not only to commission and perform new repertoire but also to develop the techniques necessary to perform that repertoire.” Over the past several years, the orchestra has evolved an innovative, interactive workshop format, through which musicians, singers, conductors and composers work together to address artistic and logistical challenges, and “test drive” new ideas.


The result is fusion music on a grand scale… from Bons’ contemporary/experimental work for intercultural orchestra and Cooke’s combination of improvisational techniques with written composition (both of which will feature Bic Hoang on danbau, a Vietnamese string instrument), to Chatman’s new setting of The Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam, which includes Persian, Chinese and Western elements, and requires the choir to sing a gamut of styles from traditional classical chorales to ragtime. With Imagined Worlds: Intertwined, the VICO presents an ensemble of 50 musicians, performing a programme of intercultural music that truly reflects the diversity, virtuosity and global scope of the artistic community in which it was created.

VICO: Orchestral Evolution

Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Gala Concert

One of the city’s most innovative world music ensembles celebrates a successful first decade on November 12, by doing what it does best: creating and presenting new music by Canadian composers – music that builds bridges between ancient and modern sounds and styles, performed by some of Vancouver’s finest musicians on instruments from all over the world. It’s the grand scale of its artistic vision that has always set the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra apart, so it’s fitting that its 10th anniversary concert will feature the full 24-member ensemble with North Shore-based chamber choir Laudate Singers and Iranian-born tenor soloist Amir Haghighi: 50 musicians in total, who will perform the world premieres of major new pieces by Vancouver composers Jin Zhang, Edward Henderson and Rita Ueda as well as works by Elliot Weisgarber (in a new arrangement by Mark Armanini) and Moshe Denburg.

ORCHESTRAL EVOLUTION: Gala 10th Anniversary Concert
With special guests Laudate Singers
Saturday November 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm
Norman Rothstein Theatre (950 West 41st Ave., Vancouver)
Tickets ($28/$18) & information:

“On our 10th anniversary, we are reminded of how fortunate we are to have, here in Vancouver, not only a tremendously diverse artistic population but one that is willing to work interculturally,” said VICO co-artistic director Moshe Denburg. “This sincere globalism is what makes our city truly world class.”

This global outlook will certainly be reflected in the featured repertoire for Orchestral Evolution. Edward Henderson’s new work for intercultural orchestra and choir, Drowned Out – a folk tale, is dedicated to the peoples of the Narmada Valley, India, who continue to protest the ongoing construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam system. It promises to be a moving tribute to the millions of displaced indigenous peoples around the world.

Jin Zhang will take audiences on a journey to Yunnan (a region in southwestern China of extraordinary ethnic and cultural diversity) with his new piece, which grew out of a research trip in 2010, during which he studied the region’s intricate folk music and brought several plucked and percussion instruments back to incorporate into his work.

Also on the programme: Yamato no Haru by seminal intercultural composer Elliot Weisgarber, in a new arrangement for choir and intercultural orchestra by VICO co-artistic director Mark Armanini, the premiere of Prayer, a piece for choir and percussion by Rita Ueda, and Dreams of the Wanderer, a major work for intercultural orchestra, tenor soloist and choir by Moshe Denburg, which incorporates settings of texts in Hebrew, English, Chinese and Farsi.

Orchestral Evolution is the final event in the VICO’s fall “City Full of Sound” series, produced in partnership with the City of Vancouver as a celebration of both the VICO’s 10th anniversary and the city’s 125th. “City Full of Sound” was designed to showcase Vancouver (past and present) as a city of wonderful diversity, a place that is uniquely equipped to foster adventurous cross-cultural collaborations. Only in such a city – one built of immigrant communities who not only tolerate but celebrate each other’s differences, one that is home to a world music scene internationally renowned for its diversity, possessing a deep pool of talent and artistic innovation – could an ensemble like the VICO, Canada’s first and only professional intercultural orchestra, have grown and thrived for ten years and counting.

“City Full of Sound” is presented by the VICO with support from the City of Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary Grants Program.

The Wizard of Oz (Footlight Theatre)


**A slight variation on this text was also published as the cover article in the October 2011 edition of Playboard Magazine.

Footlight Theatre Company presents
November 4-19, 2011
Michael J. Fox Theatre, Burnaby
Evening shows Nov. 4(preview), 5 (opening), 11,12, 17,18,19 at 7:30 pm
Matinees Nov. 6, 11, 13, 19 at 2:00 pm
Tickets ($20 – $43) at

This November, the team that brought you last year’s smash hit The Sound of Music takes on another family classic. Footlight Theatre Company is proud to present The Wizard of Oz, a musical adaptation of the beloved 1939 film starring Judy Garland. Footlight’s production features a large and talented cast of 70+ adults, teens and kids, including professional and amateur performers from Vancouver, North and West Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Delta, Langley, Surrey and White Rock.

The pivotal role of Dorothy Gale is traditionally played by a young adult, but 12-year-old Michelle Creber is more than up to the challenge. She’s a triple threat with some hefty stage, film and TV credits already under her belt, including rave reviews for her performance as Annie at both Theatre Under the Stars (2009) and Gateway Theatre (2010). Kimberley Page, a veteran of starring roles at TUTS, Gateway and RCMT, brings to life Dorothy’s nemesis, the nasty Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West.  Footlight welcomes back Bree Greig (Maria in The Sound of Music and the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Glinda the Good Witch. Dorothy’s quirky sidekicks will be played by Benjamin Wardle (Scarecrow), Theo Marx (Tinman) and Chris Adams (Cowardly Lion).  These talented performers share the stage with a colourful chorus of Munchkins, Ozians and exotic Flying Monkeys (yes, they really will fly!).

Director/choreographer Lalainia Lindbjerg Strelau, musical director Michael Creber, and a team of award-winning designers (sets by Marshall McMahen, costumes by Christina Sinosich and lighting by Michael Schaldemose) are guaranteed to put a fresh and exciting spin on the familiar story. Footlight’s production of The Wizard of Oz promises to be its biggest yet, and a fitting celebration of the company’s 45th season.

Promotional Images by Paul H. Wright & Production Stills by Jillian Chateauneuf:

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VICO: Classical Meets Intercultural

Sunday October 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm
Ryerson United Church (2195 West 45th Ave., Vancouver)
Tickets ($25/$15) & information:

In the second event of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra’s “City Full of Sound” series, VICO musicians Yun Song (erhu), Charlie Lui (dizi), Yu-Chen Wang (zheng), Lan Tung (erhu) and Jonathan Bernard (percussion) will join acclaimed string ensemble Orchestra Armonia for an innovative evening of classical music with an intercultural slant. The programme will include pieces by Vancouver composers Mark Armanini, Jung Sen Tung, Dorothy Chang and Lan Tung.

“Vancouver’s 125th birthday is the perfect moment to celebrate our city’s multifaceted Asian heritage with a collaboration between the VICO and Orchestra Armonia,” says conductor John van Deursen. This joint concert is designed to build bridges: between ancient and modern sounds and styles…between the classical musical traditions of Europe and China… between two very different ensembles that share an affinity for Asian music and a propensity for taking artistic risks.

Erhu virtuoso Yun Song, a first place winner in China’s national erhu competition in 1983, will join the 13-member Orchestra Armonia for Night Bird Singing, a concerto for erhu and strings by Vancouver composer and VICO co-Artistic Director Mark Armanini.  Armanini has been working with Song to develop a new approach to the erhu, pushing at the boundaries of traditional styles and techniques and expanding the possibilities of the instrument.

The dizi (Chinese bamboo flute), played by Charlie Lui, will be the featured instrument in Spring Awakening at Mount Yangming by Vancouver-based Taiwanese composer Jung Sen Tung. Originally composed in the 1960s, the piece became famous when it was used as the theme of a popular daily TV show in Taiwan. Conductor John van Deursen was given special permission to orchestrate an accompaniment for string orchestra.

Lan Tung (erhu), Yu-Chen Wang (zheng) and Jonathan Bernard (percussion), well known in world music circles as Orchid Ensemble, will perform From a Dream by Dorothy Chang. Rounding out the programme are two works for string orchestra, Memories of HengChun by Bao Yuan Kai (China) and Fuga  by Fou Tong Huang (Taiwan). Finally, all five VICO musicians and Orchestra Armonia will join forces on Ba Ban Variations by Lan Tung, an original work written for improvising musicians. Inspired by Ba Ban or Eight Phrases, the root of hundreds of pieces in traditional Chinese repertoire, the piece explores the contrasts between tonalities and genres. It embodies the paradox of many opposite characters: chromatic and pentatonic passages, composed and improvised materials, contemporary and traditional forms…and as such, is a fitting showcase for the ground-breaking collaboration of Classical Meets Intercultural.

This is Not a Review: Jesus Christ Superstar (Stratford Festival, 2011)

The second show we saw at Stratford this year was Jesus Christ Superstar at the Avon Theatre.  One of this year’s really hot tickets, from what I understand, although we didn’t know that when we bought ours, a few months ago. I was just curious to see JCS on the stage. H. went through a period in high school in which she listened to the soundtrack obsessively, so I know the songs pretty well, and I’ve seen the Norman Jewison film version…but I’ve never seen it done live.

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This is Not a Review: Richard III (Stratford Festival, 2011)

The first thing we saw in Stratford this year was Richard III at the Tom Patterson Theatre. I don’t remember the last time I saw a show there; I had forgotten that it’s quite similar to the Studio stage at Bard (only bigger), a long thrust that runs almost the entire length of the building, with audience rising in steep banks of seats on three sides in a strict rectangle shape, unlike the Festival stage where the seating radiates out from the thrust stage in more of a circle. It’s certainly the most intimate playing space of the three main stages at the Festival…even the back rows, though quite high up, would still be quite close to the action.

I can’t actually remember if I’ve ever seen Richard III on the stage before. I know we read it in English class at Glebe, and I’ve seen the Ian McKellen film version…and Dad thinks we did see it at Stratford once upon a time…but I’m going to have to look up the programmes from the years we went, because I am really not sure. Anyway, the reason for going this year was to see Seana McKenna in the title role. I’d really like to know whose idea it was to cast a woman – the director’s? Des McAnuff’s? Seana herself? It’s certainly not something you see every day, although I know there’s a relatively recent film version out there of The Tempest with Helen Mirren playing Prospero. It reminds me of Sarah Bernhardt doing Hamlet…at the turn of the century it was maybe more commonplace to see women playing “breeches” parts (la grande Sarah was also famous for L’Aiglon), but also more scandalous for one to take on one of the great male roles of the Western classical canon…even a superstar like Sarah. I wonder if the concept of a female Richard has caught any of that kind of flack in theatre circles more than a century later…?

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Summer Musical Theatre: Cinderella

52 kids aged 4 to 16…

1 artistic director, 1 production/stage manager, 2 stage directors, 2 choreographers, 2 stagecraft teachers (doubling as set designer and lighting tech respectively), 1 junior program coordinator, 6 volunteer student leaders…

3 preliminary audition sessions, 2 days of callbacks/casting, 8 rehearsal days, 1 weekend day of costume fittings…

Countless hours of prep, script adaption, budget wrangling, costume sorting and track editing…

…1 successful summer show!

This official blurb doesn’t really come close to describing the intense hard work and sheer fun of putting on a full-length musical in two weeks. We were thrilled with how the show turned out, though, and very proud of all the kids who threw themselves into the project with gusto, and grew by leaps and bounds in such a short time.

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CYBERLIFE: The Musical

Cyberlife: the Musical

Written by Danny Balkwill, Dean Balkwill & Craig Salkeld

April 6, 7, 8 and 9 at 7:00pm

Linda Hamer Theatre, Mulgrave School
2330 Cypress Lane, West Vancouver (Exit 8 off Hwy 1)

This week, Mulgrave School is putting on a show like you’ve never seen before…literally.  A cast and crew of more than 60 students are presenting the world premiere of a brand new original musical. With a colourful cast of characters and a dynamic pop/rock soundtrack, Cyberlife: The Musical puts a 21st century spin on a classic teen movie premise: high school life is ruled by cliques, with the cool kids and jocks lording it over the geeks and loners, but behind the stereotypes, everyone just wants to have friends and fit in. Enter Cyberlife: an online role-playing game, in which anyone can create an avatar and become whoever they want. A nerdy music geek remakes himself as a singer-songwriter with a crowd of adoring fans; a popular girl, secretly confused and insecure, transforms into a smart, fast-talking 1920s bombshell à la Marlene Dietrich; and a lonely rich kid becomes a heavy metal rock star. In the anonymous world of Cyberlife, it’s okay for such a motley crew to become friends…but then a trouble-making hacker arrives on the scene. Suddenly their fantasy world is no longer the secret, safe place they thought it was, and things start to get complicated in real life. As the story unfolds, the characters discover the trials and tribulations of cliques, online communities and true friends.

Tickets for the performances (this Wednesday April 6 through Saturday April 9) are available for purchase during regular school hours, Monday to Friday 8:00am to 4:00pm. Contact Jessica May at 604-913-6050 or in person at the front office for sales. Tickets will also be sold at the door before each performance.

  • Tier 1 ($40): Premier assigned seating in the centre orchestra section and the first row of centre balcony.
  • Tier 2 ($20): Assigned seating in the orchestra and balcony.
  • Tier 3 ($10): Festival seating at the back of the orchestra.

The Story Behind the Show:

Cyberlife is an original commission with a twist: many of the students who are participating as cast and crew have been involved from the very beginning of the creation process. This past fall, before a single note or line of dialogue had been written, the creative team – composed of Danny Balkwill, Dean Balkwill and Craig Salkeld (professional performers, writers and musicians whose credits include Mirvish Theatres’ The Lion King and We Will Rock You, national tours of Tommy and Mamma Mia, and the Broadway production of Rent) – ran a workshop at the school, during which musical theatre students bounced ideas around, discussing themes and characters and possible storylines. The writers took those ideas away and turned them into Cyberlife, a musical uniquely tailored to the interests and talents of the students who will perform it. Visit for more background, photos and video clips from rehearsals.

Christmas on the Air

Midnight Theatre Collective & Pacific Theatre present

By Lucia Frangione
Pacific Theatre
December 10, 2010 – Jan 1, 2011

Journey back to the days when radio was king, as Yolanda and Percival B. Frank present their annual Christmas radio broadcast before a live studio audience. I am having so much fun stage managing this show, which is directed by Shel Piercy, and features Damon Calderwood, Lalainia Lindbjerg Strelau, Ben Elliott, Seana-Lee Wood and Diana Kaarina. The premise is that the five cast members are doing a live radio broadcast from a church basement on Christmas Eve in 1949. It’s set in Vancouver, so there are tons of fun local historical references. It’s Christmas-y without being too sickly sweet…there are stories (with old fashioned sound effects created by the actors on stage) and lots of lovely Christmas music…and, of course, plenty of behind-the-scenes shenanigans. Rumour has it that the stage manager even has a few lines… (eep!).

VICO: Rising Beats on the Infinite Horizon

Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra presents

Rising Beats on the Infinite Horizon

November 28, 2010 at 8 pm
The Historic Theatre at The Cultch
1895 Venables St., Vancouver
Tickets: $25 general / $15 students, seniors, VICO members, groups of 10+
Box Office: 604-251-1363 or online at 
General info: 604-224-6201 or

Rhythm: it’s the heartbeat of music the world over, a powerful means of connection between different cultures and traditions. The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra explores this nexus and its vast musical potential, in the major concert event of its 2010-2011 season. Rising Beats on the Infinite Horizon features the 22-member VICO with special guest percussionists Curtis Andrews, Jonathan Bernard, Joseph “Pepe” Danza, Daniel Tones, Niel Golden, Jason Overy and Boris Sichon, and New York City-based oud player Baruch al-‘Ajam. The programme includes three world premieres by acclaimed BC composers: Gypsy Chronicles, commissioned from John Oliver with funding from the Canada Council, Earthy Airs by Moshe Denburg, and I Dream of Fountains (in a new arrangement for intercultural orchestra) by Joseph “Pepe” Danza. Also on the bill is Kusumamaya, a tabla concerto by Niel Golden.

This is fusion music on a grand scale, performed by some of Vancouver’s finest musicians on tar, dizi, xiao, zheng, sanxian, erhu, santur, kamanche, oud, bansuri, tabla, darabuka, mrdangam, congas, frame drums, marimba, vibraphone, flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and bass, with additional Latin, Middle Eastern and African percussion. Audiences at Rising Beats on the Infinite Horizon will not only hear this extraordinary instrumental combination making exciting new music; in the intimate ambience of the Vancouver East Cultural Centre’s Hhistoric tTheatre at the Cultch they’ll also be able to watch it happen, up close and personal, via a live video feed that will project footage of the musicians and their instruments onto a large screen over the stage.. The programme will combine and contrast modern and traditional, written and improvised repertoire, showcasing the talents of Canadian composers and musicians as well as the musical cultures of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The VICO, founded in 2000, was one of the first concert orchestras in the world devoted specifically to performing new intercultural music on a grand scale. It is currently the only such professional orchestra in Canada. In the VICO, Western-trained orchestral musicians rub shoulders with performers in musical traditions from all over the world…shedding light on the musical traditions of Canada’s many cultures and the myriad bridges between them. For more information on the ensemble and its upcoming events, please visit

Media contact: Ellie O’Day, 604-731-3339 or 

Spring in Venice: Laudate Singers

Article written for the North Shore News‘ “Arts Alive” monthly supplement, May 2010:

Spring in Venice:
Laudate Singers journey to the heart of a rich musical heritage

By Melanie Thompson

Imagine: you have just stepped into a Venetian gondola. It glides away down a moonlit canal… transporting you back in time, four hundred years into the past. You alight close to the Piazza San Marco, walk across the square (avoiding the pigeons!), and pass through great bronze doors into the Chiesa d’oro (church of gold), St. Mark’s Basilica. Inside, vaulted ceilings curve into domes high overhead. Brightly coloured mosaics, edged in gold, glint in the candlelight. Shadowy choir lofts overlook the vast central space, and from them singers’ voices rise clear and pure, calling back and forth, weaving together in counterpoint. Even after they fall silent, the echo of the music still shimmers in the air.

It may sound like a dream, but in fact, you can take this magical journey without ever leaving the North Shore. Acclaimed local chamber choir Laudate Singers and artistic director Lars Kaario will be your guides, along with some of Vancouver’s finest early music instrumentalists: Nancy DiNovo and Pat Armstrong (violins), Ariel Barnes (cello), Ray Nurse (theorbo) and Christopher Bagan (organ). On May 14th, this fine ensemble will perform a glorious mosaic of works by Monteverdi, Gabrieli, Lotti and Caldara, composers who lived in Renaissance and Baroque-era Venice, and were closely associated with St. Mark’s Basilica. The sacred choral music they wrote for that unique space was some of the most innovative, expressive and colourful in all of Europe at the time. Its ability to transport and uplift audiences endures to this day. Laudate Singers are proud to bring this music to the North Shore community, and they look forward to seeing you at this, the grand finale of the choir’s 2009-2010 season.

Friday, May 14, 2010 8pm
St. Andrew’s United Church (10th & St. Georges), North Vancouver
Tickets: $35 Adults / $30 Seniors & Students / Free <18 years

VICO Spring Concerts: A Weekend of World Music

The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO) welcomes internationally acclaimed guest musicians from Japan and Taiwan for two major concerts over the last weekend in May (Asian Heritage Month in Vancouver). This is fusion music on a grand scale, collaborative art that breathes new life into centuries-old sounds from all over the world, creating global music for a global stage.

Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra
collaboration with Vancouver Pro Musica & Vancouver Community College

Imagined Worlds: Japanese Interventions

Saturday May 29, 2010 at 8 pm

Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra
Jin Zhang
, conductor
with special guests Curtis Patterson (koto), Bruce Huebner (shakuhachi) from Tokyo
& the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra of Taiwan

Imagined Worlds: Japanese Interventions will feature world-renowned Tokyo-based musicians Curtis Patterson (koto) and Bruce Huebner (shakuhachi), who will join the 22-member VICO to perform the world premiere of two Canada Council commissions by Vancouver composers Jin Zhang and Farshid Samandari, as well as a new arrangement by Mark Armanini of the traditional Japanese piece Chidori No Kyoku (Song of the Plovers) – all written especially for the unprecedented instrumental combination of koto and shakuhachi with the tar, dizi, xiao, zheng, sanxian, oud, pipa , erhu, santur, bansuri, tabla, marimba, flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and bass of the VICO. The evening will also include a guest appearance by the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra of Taiwan.
Tickets and information

Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra

Sunday May 30, 2010 at **7 pm**

Chih-Sheng Chen, artistic director
with Heidi Krutzen (harp) and members of Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra

The VICO is proud to sponsor the celebrated Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra in its first ever concert appearance in British Columbia. Established in 2000 and now a strong musical force in Taiwan, the LgCO represents a new generation of Chinese orchestral music developed over the last half century. The orchestra is headquartered at the prestigious National Concert Hall in Taiwan, presenting both the complete ensemble of over one hundred musicians and smaller chamber ensembles throughout the year. In Vancouver, the LgCO will present a chamber ensemble of 16 instrumentalists, conducted by artistic director Chih-Sheng Chen, performing a programme featuring the latest works by Taiwanese composers as well as two pieces by Vancouver composers Mark Armanini and Lan Tung. Harpist Heidi Krutzen and members of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra will also make guest appearances.
Tickets and information

The VICO is thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with these talented artists, and to mark Asian Heritage Month in Vancouver by bringing international guests together with some of our city’s finest world music practitioners, to create new contemporary music that reflects the cultural diversity of the society and the world in which we live.

Photo Post: Footlight’s Joseph

33 adult actors, 55 kids, 6 musicians and 21 production team/crew…

122 hours of rehearsal (3 times a week from mid-August to early November)…

150 costumes (not including kids)…

5 major set changes…

28 actor mics, 11 band mics, 4 choir mics and 500 AA batteries…

270 lighting, sound, follow spot & fly cues…

65 hours of tech (in 5 days)…

And 8 shows later…

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Michael J Fox Theatre, Burnaby

November 6-14, 2009

Footlight Theatre

Production stills taken by Paul H. Wright; candids by various cast and crew members.

Footlight Theatre presents Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat


Footlight Theatre Company Dreams in Technicolor

November 6 – 14, 2009

Michael J. Fox Theatre, Burnaby

Evening shows Nov. 6, 7, 8, 12, 13 & 14 at 7:30 pm; matinee Sunday Nov. 8 at 2 pm

Tickets $24-$32 at or 604-684-2787

“Go big or go home!” That’s Footlight Theatre’s motto for 2009. After many shows in a smaller venue at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, the community theatre company will be moving into the 600-seat, state-of-the-art Michael J. Fox Theatre for its annual fall production.  What better vehicle for this exciting step than Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoata hit musical about following your dreams, no matter where they take you.  With lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joseph is a family classic, a rags-to-riches story that is guaranteed to have audiences of all ages singing along and dancing in their seats.

Director/choreographer Lalainia Lindbjerg Strelau and musical director Monique Creber have assembled a large cast of 34 talented triple threat performers, led by Danny Balkwill in the title role. Danny recently returned to Vancouver after a two-year engagement with Mirvish Productions’ We Will Rock You in Toronto; his credits also include the Canadian touring company of Mamma Mia. He and the rest of the adult cast will be supported by a children’s chorus of 60 kids from all over the Lower Mainland, led by Michelle Creber (last seen in the title role of Annie at Theatre Under the Stars) and Emily Matchette (Young Cosette in the Arts Club’s production of Les Misérables). The whole group will be backed by a live band that includes Michael Creber (piano), Buff Allen (drums), Dave Ivaz (guitar) and Rene Worst (bass). These Juno Award-winning, Grammy-nominated musicians have played with such A-list entertainers as David Bowie, k.d. lang, Diana Krall, Aerosmith and Ray Charles; their theatrical credits include Broadway touring productions of Rent, Miss Saigon, Chicago, Showboat, The Wiz and Annie.

With a dynamic cast that’s almost a hundred strong, a world-class band, amazing Technicolor costumes by Christina Sinosich, sets by Ian Schimpf and lighting by Des Renard, this Joseph will be the biggest show in Footlight’s history – an adventure not to be missed.

Danny Balkwill as Joseph; photo by Paul Wright

Open Letter to Ministers Hansen, Krueger, Coleman & Premier Gordon Campbell

Dear Minister Hansen, Minister Krueger, Minister Coleman and Premier Campbell,

On the BC Budget 2009 website, the introduction states:

“September Budget Update 2009 protects vital services and positions British Columbia for renewed economic growth. Government is taking steps to protect the critical public services British Columbians rely on, to promote new investment and economic growth and move forward with long-term initiatives that will improve the quality of life throughout B.C.” (

And yet, the 2009 budget tabled last week includes a sudden decline in core funding for the arts, of more than 80 percent over two years (some analyses put the final reduction at 92 percent by 2012).  Why decide to drastically cut a sector that has consistently demonstrated its ability to do precisely the things listed above? Many studies (including one conducted by your own government) have shown that arts activity stimulates economic growth, generates jobs, provides a healthy return on investment, and fosters vibrant, healthy, diverse communities. And yet, you have refused to capitalize on this potential; in fact, you seem to be actively trying to destroy it. At best, I find this a dangerously irresponsible direction for the government to take, and I think that British Columbians deserve a real explanation of the rationale behind it.

I find it difficult to accept the justification that, for instance, Minister Coleman offered for the withdrawal of BC Gaming Direct Access funds: that the government is making tough but necessary decisions, prioritizing the really important things in these precarious times. The implication is that music, theatre, literature, dance, film and visual art are luxuries that our society cannot afford and will not miss.

For myself, I cannot imagine a world *without* these things – but I am a writer, an arts administrator, a publicist, a teacher, a stage manager, a musician; I have worked in the cultural sector since I was sixteen years old, and participated in it as a performer and audience member for at least ten years before that. Clearly, the arts are central to my life, both professional and personal. I understand that this is not the case for many people; that when decisions need to be made, it is sometimes easy to think of the arts as somehow outside of daily life, less urgently relevant than other concerns. But I ask you to consider the possibility that, in fact, the opposite is true. For instance, there is a direct relationship between the art forms listed above and the many industries and services British Columbians access every day when they turn on the radio, read a newspaper, play a video game, go to a movie, look at an advertising billboard, sign up their kids for extra-curricular programs, visit the library, or surf the internet. In the long term, cuts to arts funding will have a negative impact on all of these everyday things, and more. The ripple effect will be vast and profound.

It’s not just hundreds of arts organizations across the province that are threatened; it’s not just my livelihood and that of 80,000 other workers in BC’s creative sector that may be in jeopardy. Apart from stimulating economic growth and generating jobs, arts activity fosters creativity, innovation and volunteerism. Arts workers acquire transferable skills that benefit any number of other seemingly unrelated sectors. Through the arts, British Columbians talk to each other, communicate new ideas, remind ourselves of the past and imagine the future.  We learn to transcend linguistic, cultural and socio-economic barriers, to understand each other better, to forge connections and work together, to think outside the box. In a province as large and diverse as British Columbia, with the immense challenges (economic, social, environmental) that we face in the world today, how can the government *not* value a sector that offers all these things?

I am not asking for special treatment for the arts. When funds are distributed and budget decisions are made, I simply want the creative sector to be given consideration that accurately reflects its potential as a sound investment with substantial, far-reaching economic and social benefits.  I want my provincial government to recognize that culture matters.

Thank you for your attention to these issues.


Melanie Thompson

Vancouver, BC

Tempus Theatre: 36 VIEWS

Tempus Theatre Celebrates Asian Heritage Month

with Western Canadian Premiere of

36 VIEWS by Naomi Iizuka

May 1 – 23, 2009

Tues.-Sun. at 8:00 pm, Jericho Arts Centre

Tickets: $25 plus service charges at or 604-684-2787

Students & seniors: $20 at the door only / Preview April 30 & all Tues.shows: pay-what-you-can at the door

Tempus Theatre, one of Vancouver’s most exciting new theatrical voices, presents the Western Canadian premiere of 36 VIEWS by award-winning Japanese American playwright Naomi Iizuka, in an innovative multi-disciplinary production directed by Anthony F. Ingram and starring Keith Martin Gordey Annabel Kershaw, Michael Kopsa, Lissa Neptuno, Bert Steinmanis and Valerie Sing Turner. Part romance, part mystery and part con game, the play casts a enthralling spell of poetic language, evocative sounds and beautiful images, even as it asks compelling and timely questions about cultural authenticity, the value of art in society, and the quest for truth in art and in human relationships.

Appropriately for a production running during Asian Heritage Month, 36 VIEWS is a contemporary play set in a modern, metropolitan city that incorporates elements of traditional Japanese Kabuki and Noh theatre, as well as references to Japanese literature, music and visual art (including The Tale of Genji, the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and the works of Japanese master artists)…references that are fraught with fascinating ambiguity.  “When you live in a country like Canada and a city like Vancouver,” says Ingram (Tempus Theatre’s artistic director), “and you’ve got all these cultural identities struggling to fit themselves in or define themselves against a predominantly northern European cultural influence…what is the difference between bastardizing a cultural touchstone and borrowing it to create a new cultural language?”

36 VIEWS moves effortlessly between that bigger picture and a more intimate, more personal one: in the playwright’s words, “it’s a play about how difficult it is to arrive at some fixed, unchanging truth about a human being, or a work of art, or a love affair. What we thought was the truth changes. Our perceptions shift, and it’s complicated. People are complicated. Why they make certain choices is at times contradictory, and I wanted to build a play that captured in its actual form all those contradictions.”

Plot synopsis: An art dealer and an art historian discover what appears to be an ancient manuscript, a priceless Japanese pillow book created by a medieval courtesan. As they try to prove its authenticity, their search becomes an erotic game of greed, love, and sleight-of-hand. In a series of 36 interlocking scenes, Naomi Iizuka’s play explores the relationship between the imaginary and the real, and the lines and spaces that separate feelings and words, objects and images of objects, antiques and reproductions, and a person’s heritage and physical features. Culture and commodity, fetish and forgery, and personal and professional revenge are all exposed in 36 VIEWS.

Design Team: 36 VIEWS will feature lighting by Darren Boquist, set by Todd Parker, sound by Ronin Wong, projections by Corwin Ferguson and costumes by Nina Prelog. It is co-produced by Tempus founders Anna Hagan, Anthony F. Ingram, Bert Steinmanis and Valerie Sing Turner, with Maria Denholme as Associate Producer.

Valerie Sing Turner in 36 VIEWS; photo by Tim Matheson

Valerie Sing Turner in 36 VIEWS; photo by Tim Matheson

Benefit Concert: Every Road Leads Home


The Universal Gospel Choir

& Shari Ulrich in


A Benefit Concert for the Callanish Society

Saturday April 18, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

2750 Granville St.

Tickets $32.50 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Box Office (604-687-1644)

or online at

Vancouver’s Universal Gospel Choir and singer-songwriter Shari Ulrich join forces in this benefit concert for the Callanish Society, a grassroots non-profit organization that provides emotional and spiritual support to people with cancer, their families and their health care providers ( “Every Road Leads Home” will be the first time that these two much-beloved local acts have performed together, and audiences are sure to be uplifted by the interweaving of Juno Award winner Ulrich’s evocative original songs with the Universal Gospel Choir’s passionate renditions of sacred songs from all over the world – including a healthy helping of on-your-feet-booty-shaking-gospel. Pianist Diane Lines, drummer Rob Ferguson and multi-instrumentalist Bill Runge provide accompaniment. “Every Road Leads Home” promises to be an evening full of joy, hope and the healing power of music…all in support of a cause that touches us all.

Directed by Kathryn Nicholson, the Universal Gospel Choir is a multi-faith, multi-cultural community choir that has been bringing the healing and uplifting power of the world’s sacred song traditions to diverse audiences since 1985. The UGC has established a reputation for engaging audiences with its passion, commitment to musical authenticity, and dedication to the community-building power of shared song. The choir’s eclectic repertoire reflects African-American, Cuban, African, European, Asian and Native American influences.

A 2002 inductee into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, Juno Award winner Shari Ulrich‘s finesse on violin, mandolin, flute, piano, sax and dulcimer was first heard in the early 70s with the Pied Pumkin.  After two years with the “Hometown Band,” Shari went on to record six solo albums of original songs as well as two with UHF (Ulrich/Henderson/Forbes) and two with the re-emergent Pied Pumkin.  She just released a live concert CD with Barney Bentall & Tom Taylor, and is currently recording a long overdue new solo album. Shari also composes, produces and engineers music for television and documentaries, and teaches songwriting, both in the university and workshop setting.

Laudate Singers: Voice of the Tango


Laudate Singers present



Douglas Schmidt, bandoneon

Kay Sleking, guitar

Saturday March 21, 2009 at 8:00 pm

St. David’s United Church, West Vancouver


Tuesday March 24, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Capilano University Performing Arts Theatre, North Vancouver

Tickets $25 / $20 / Free for ages 17 & under (reservation required)

For March 21st: 604.729.6814 or

For March 24th: as above, and via Capilano University at 604.990.7810 or

Laudate Singers and artistic director Lars Kaario invite Vancouver audiences to dance a few steps off the beaten path with Voice of the Tango: a ground-breaking programme of sensuous, alluring choral music from Central and South America, featuring internationally-renowned instrumentalists Douglas Schmidt (on bandoneon, the quintessential instrument of the tango) and Kay Sleking (guitar).  The repertoire – much of it very seldom performed in Canada to date – will include works by Astor Piazzolla, Oscar Escalada, Miguel Matamoros, Gustavo “Cuchi” Leguizamón, Eduardo Ferraudi, Jorge Cardoso, Carlos Gardel and Hector Stamponi among others, as well as newly commissioned works for choir, bandoneon and guitar by Douglas Schmidt and Laudate’s composer-in-residence Bruce Sled.

Laudate Singers – well known for their high level of technical skill and interpretive flexibility, as well as for consistently presenting repertoire that spans centuries and continents in a relevant and accessible manner – are excited about the artistic challenge of performing this dynamic, passionate music. They also look forward to working with and learning from instrumentalists who are internationally recognized experts in Latin and South American music. Mr. Schmidt, a transplanted British Columbian best known in Canada as a member of Tango Paradiso and Montreal’s Quartango, comes to Vancouver from Germany. Mr. Sleking is based in Amsterdam, and works extensively in Europe both as a soloist and as a member of several high-profile tango ensembles.

VICO: Planetful of Sound

vico-chan-poster3The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra presents


March 14, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts – Telus Studio Theatre

Tickets $20/$10 at Ticketmaster

604-280-3311 or

The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra presents sounds of China, the Middle East, India and the West, in works by Vancouver composers Mark Armanini, Moshe Denburg, Lan Tung, Jin Zhang and special guest composer Joel Bons (artistic director of Amsterdam’s Atlas Ensemble): music that transcends cultural boundaries, performed on instruments from all over the world. For the first time ever at a VICO concert, the performance will include large-screen video, giving audiences an up-close view of the musicians and their instruments in action.

The VICO is currently the only professional orchestral ensemble in BC (possibly in Canada) devoted to performing inter-cultural music on a grand scale. Planetful of Sound offers VICO musicians and composers an exciting opportunity to connect with Joel Bons, who has been breaking similar ground in Europe with his acclaimed contemporary music group Nieuw Ensemble and the Atlas Ensemble. The latter is described (very similarly to the VICO) as “a unique chamber orchestra uniting brilliant musicians from China, Central Asia, the Near East and Europe, presenting an unheard soundworld of western and non-western instruments.” Like the VICO, the Atlas Ensemble’s repertoire consists almost entirely of specially commissioned works, by such composers as Guo Wenjing, Jia Daqun, Faradj Karajev, Fabio Nieder, Theo Loevendie , Frangiz Ali-Zade, Bun-Ching Lam, Jack Body, Stefano Bellon, Artjom Kim, Javanshir Guliev and Evrim Demirel. (

Planetful of Sound will feature the North American premiere of Joel Bons’ piece Tour à Tour as well as Floating on the Sea of Serenity (Armanini), Little Suite for Erhu and Harp (Zhang), Market Place, Chapter 1: China (Tung) and Camel Hop at the Caravanserai (Denburg), performed by a 22-member ensemble that includes zheng, sanxian,  santur, oud, dizi, bansuri, sheng, suona, flute, oboe, clarinet, marimba, Celtic harp, percussion and Western strings. The programme will also feature a solo by visiting Taiwanese musician Janelle Yichen on satar (Uighur fiddle from northwestern China).

In the VICO, Western-trained orchestral musicians rub shoulders with performers in musical traditions from all over the world…shedding light on the musical traditions of Canada’s many cultures and the myriad bridges between them. For more information on the ensemble and its upcoming events, please visit

Planetful of Sound was made possible through the generous assistance of the Chan Endowment Fund of the University of British Columbia.

Vancouver International Storytelling Festival 2009

Announcing…The 17th Annual

Vancouver International Storytelling Festival

February 6-8, 2009
Heritage Hall (Main St. @ W. 15th Ave.)
Tickets (see prices below) at or 604-684 2787

The Vancouver International Storytelling Festival celebrates its 17th season with a weekend of performances by sought-after professional storytellers from home and abroad, all on the theme of “In the beginning…” Main Street’s Heritage Hall, decorated in the style of a magical, Arabian Nights-inspired Bedouin tent, will be home to origin stories from all over the world, and tales about beginnings of all kinds. Local favourites Kira Van Deusen, Jean-Pierre Makosso, Melanie Ray, Naomi Steinberg, EvenSteven, Wing-Siu Wong, Max Tell, Philomena Jordan, Kagan Goh and Helen Mintz will be joined by special guests Janet Blake (world-renowned teller from the UK), Eric Gauthier (from Montreal) and Pat Braden (from the NWT).

Schedule Overview
Friday Feb. 6, 8 pm – Opening Concert: In the Beginning
Hosted by Naomi Steinberg, with Janet Blake, Wing-Siu Wong, Jean-Pierre  Makosso,  Melanie Ray & the 2008 StorySlam Champion; also featuring fiddle tunes by Mary Brunner
Saturday Feb. 7, morning – story circles for kids & teens (FREE for ages 16 & under!) with Max Tell, Pat Braden, Jean-Pierre Makosso and Janet Blake
Saturday Feb. 7, afternoon – Mother’s Stories, Women’s Story Jam, “Leaving Home, Finding  Home”, “Big Bang! Primal Traditions of Myth & Magic”, and a workshop for multi-lingual tellers
Saturday Feb. 7 (OFF SITE) – Montreal teller Eric Gauthier at the Alliance française
Saturday Feb. 7, 8 pm – Speak Easy: Cabaret Night – Non-Traditional Telling hoted by EvenSteven with Pat Braden, Janet Blake, Philomena Jordan, Kagan Goh & Tanya Evanson
Sunday Feb. 8, morning – Epic tales and creation stories over coffee, featuring an ancient Tibetan epic about the heavenly trickster Gesar, as told by Kira Van Deusen; also  “Secret Melodies: Jewish Women’s Stories” with Helen Mintz and “Coming into Being” with Janet Blake & Pat Braden
Sunday Feb. 7, afternoon – panel: contemporary myths & the storyteller’s responsibility, moderated by Kierstin De West (CEO, Conscientious Innovation) with Janet Blake, Tanya Evanson, Helen Mintz & Kira Van Deusen; also “The Wind At My Back: Stories and     Songs of the Human Spirit” with Wing-Siu Wong, Vanessa Richards & The Cultural     Medicine Cabinet Choir
Sunday Feb. 7, afternoon (OFF SITE) – Montreal teller Eric Gauthier at Le Centre culturel     francophone
Sunday Feb. 8, evening – Community Pot Luck
**NOTE: Opening Concert and Cabaret are adults only (there will be a cash bar).

storytelling-festival-poster-2009Tickets: Available at or 604-684-2787
Opening Concert or Saturday Cabaret (adults only): $20
Day Pass – Saturday or Sunday: $18 (adults) / free admission for ages 16 & under on Saturday morning
Individual Adult Weekend Pass: $55 (general) / $50 (seniors, students, VSOS members)
Family Weekend Pass: $100

Sinfonia Family Christmas



The Music of the Carpenters

Saturday December 20, 2008 at 7:30 pm
Centennial Theatre, North Vancouver
Tickets $35/$30 (seniors)/$15 (students) at 604-984-4484

Sinfonia, Orchestra of the North Shore
Monique Creber, vocalist

The Michael Creber Band
Mulgrave Community Choir
The CM Singers

Sinfonia, Orchestra of the North Shore, is pleased to announce its annual family Christmas concert, which will feature both traditional hymns and carols (including audience sing-alongs!) and selections from two of the most beloved Christmas albums of all time – The Carpenters’ Christmas Portrait and An Old-Fashioned Christmas. Under the direction of Maestro Clyde Mitchell, Sinfonia will be joined by vocalist Monique Creber and the four-piece Michael Creber Band (Michael Creber on piano, David Sinclair on guitar, Brian Newcombe on bass and Phil Robertson on drums) for an evening of heartwarming holiday classics.

“These have been my favourite Christmas albums for years,” says Monique Creber, whose own singing voice has been described as “eerily similar” (The Province) and “remarkably close in tone” (CBC Radio) to that of the late, great Karen Carpenter. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to perform Richard Carpenter’s beautiful arrangements as he originally wrote them, with orchestral accompaniment.” Backing vocals will be contributed by Joani Bye, Janet Warren, Gord Maxwell and Sean Hosein, with the Mulgrave Community Choir and The CM Singers.

Sinfonia is a professional chamber orchestra based on Vancouver’s North Shore, employing 25 to 40 musicians and performing the greatest works from the Baroque and Classical eras to the present. Founding Music Director Clyde Mitchell is a former Resident Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and is sought after across North America as a conductor, adjudicator and speaker.

Laudate Singers: MYSTERIUM

Laudate Singers proudly present


A Winter Concert By Candlelight

Saturday December 13, 2008 at 8 pm
St. Andrew’s United Church, North Vancouver
Friday December 19, 2008 at 8 pm
St. David’s United Church, West Vancouver

Tickets $25/$20 (students/seniors)/Free (age 17 & under)
Call 604-222-3158 or buy online at

In their annual winter concert, Laudate Singers and artistic director Lars Kaario will explore the beauty and mystery of the season through different settings of O Magnum Mysterium, an ancient liturgical text traditionally sung during Matins on Christmas Day. By shimmering candlelight, the North Shore’s premier chamber choir will perform interpretations of this medieval chant by composers from all over the world, spanning several centuries. Audiences will hear O Magnum Mysterium as put to music by the Spaniard Tomas Luis de Victoria (c.1548-1611), the Venetian Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1612), the Englishman William Byrd (1539-1623), the Frenchman Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) and the American Morten Lauridsen (b.1943), as well as the world premiere of a brand new setting by award-winning Vancouver composer Bruce Sled, offering a contemporary Canadian perspective on the text.

The evening will also include Today the Virgin and a setting of William Blake’s The Lamb by John Tavener (b. 1944), Hodie Christus natus est by Miklós Csemiczky (b.1954), motets by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901), and such beloved seasonal classics such as Anton Bruckner’s Ave Maria, the classic Es ist ein Ros entsprungen by Praetorius, Joseph lieber, Joseph mein by Johann Walther and Puer natus in Bethlehem by Samuel Scheidt.  With Mysterium, Laudate Singers once again create a warm, luminous oasis amid the grey days of winter, spiriting audiences away on a transcendent musical journey.

Also, don’t miss Laudate Singers’ annual Free Family Christmas Concert at St. Andrew’s United Church on December 14th at 3 pm – a rollicking community event that has also become a North Shore holiday tradition.

VICO: Imagined Worlds


The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra proudly presents


Sunday November 23, 2008 at 8 pm
UBC School of Music Recital Hall (6361 Memorial Road)
Tickets $20 General, $10 Students/Seniors/VICO Members/Groups of 10+
To purchase tickets call 604.739.8047, e-mail, or visit

In its first major concert of the season, the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra proudly presents the world premiere of a pioneering inter-cultural work by renowned composer/ethnomusicologist Elliot Weisgarber (1919-2001).  Songs of a Thousand Autumns, a choral piece based on classical texts from the 8th century Manyoshu Anthology of the Imperial Court of Japan, and sung in Japanese, was commissioned in 1984 but has never yet been performed in its entirety. The VICO and guest choir Laudate Singers will present the piece in a new arrangement by Mark Armanini, as the centrepiece of an exciting programme that also includes “The Inner Light” (by another pioneer of inter-cultural music: George Harrison of Beatles fame), the world premiere of Habitaculum – Dwelling Place, a new commission for choir and inter-cultural orchestra by Vancouver composer Larry Nickel, and Nasime Shiraaz (from Dreams of the Wanderer) by Moshe Denburg, featuring astounding Iranian tenor Amir Haghighi.

Imagined Worlds: Past & Futures Unveiled offers Vancouver audiences a rare opportunity to learn about the roots of inter-cultural music in BC, and to witness the potential it holds for the future.
The musical programme will be accompanied by a photographic exhibit by Laurie Gish entitled A Living Heritage: the Composers’ Community. The collection, curated by Mark Armanini, includes portraits of pioneering BC composers such as Harry, Frances and Murray Adaskin, Barbara Pentland, Jean Coulthard, Elliot Weisgarber and more. A Living Heritage will be shown alongside recent photographs of VICO performers and musicians by Alistair Eagle and others… images that reveal the people behind the scores and instruments, and tell compelling stories of artistic innovation, documenting the talent and diversity of BC’s leading musicians across several generations.

The VICO is currently the only professional orchestral ensemble in BC (possibly in Canada) devoted to performing inter-cultural music on a grand scale… shedding light on the musical traditions of Canada’s many cultures and the myriad bridges between them.

“Music that sounds like Vancouver looks”
– The Georgia Straight

In the VICO, Western-trained orchestral musicians rub shoulders with performers in musical traditions from all over the world…and fertile ground is created for cross-cultural teamwork between classical, jazz and world music artists. For more information on the ensemble and its upcoming events, please visit

Main Street Theatre: GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS


Main Street Theatre Equity Co-op presents

By David Mamet

Directed by Stephen Malloy
Featuring Ryan Beil, Ian Butcher, Bill Dow, Josh Drebit,
Alex Ferguson, Patrick Keating, Daryl King, Michael P. Northey

November 19-29, 2008 at 8:00 pm (No show Nov. 24)
Little Mountain Studio

196 East 26th Ave. at Main St.
Admission: Pay What You Can ($12 suggested)
Info: 604.992.2313

Stephen Malloy directs a dynamite ensemble cast in David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play about fast-talking real estate salesmen and the lengths to which they will go to make a deal. Ryan Beil, Ian Butcher, Bill Dow, Josh Drebit, Alex Ferguson, Patrick Keating, Daryl King and Michael P. Northey will make Mamet’s rapid-fire dialogue ricochet off the walls of Little Mountain Studio, a small art gallery converted into an intimate performance space. Sparks will fly!

Like so many other creative and ambitious endeavours, this production of Glengarry Glen Ross came about over pints of beer. “We were talking about how we’d love to see more of the contemporary classics – Mamet, Stoppard, O’Neill, Simon, Coward, Albee and others – produced in Vancouver,” says King, who is producing the show with Beil and Drebit. “Nine times out of ten, the ideas that come out of conversations like this remain in the bar with the empty pint glasses. But this time, we decided to forge ahead. We settled on Glengarry Glen Ross because of the power of the writing, the comment it makes on modern business practices, and the strong ensemble feel of the show.” Respected Vancouver actor Bill Dow agreed to join the cast in the pivotal role of Levene, and everything seemed to fall into place with remarkable ease after that.  The result: an explosive evening of theatre in an intimate, unconventional venue…and a rare Vancouver mounting of a modern classic.


Bill Dow (Levene) and Josh Drebit (Williamson); photo by Mike Fly

Blackbird Theatre: PINTER’S BRIEFS

Blackbird Theatre presents


Harold Pinter at his comic best

Photo by Tim Matheson
Photo by Tim Matheson

The Dumb Waiter & selected shorts

September 9 – 27, 2008
Presentation House (333 Chesterfield Ave., North Vancouver)
Previews Sept. 6 & 7; evening shows 8 pm Tues.-Sat.; matinees 2 pm Sat. and Sun.
Tickets (prices below) at theatre box office or call 604-990-3474, online at

October 8 – 16, 2008
Studio 16 (1555 W. 7th Ave.)
Preview Oct. 7; evening shows 8 pm (no show Oct. 13); matinees 2pm Sat and Sun
Tickets at Tickets Tonight, 604-684-2787 or online at
All evening shows $27 / $20 (seniors) / $10 (students and groups of 10 or more).
All matinees $20; all previews are Pay-What-You-Can.
(Prices include taxes and service charges)

Blackbird Theatre launches its 2008-2009 season with Pinter’s Briefs, a collection of quirky, superbly entertaining short plays by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter, directed by John Wright and starring Simon Webb and Anthony F. Ingram. These rarely-performed comic gems – six short pieces and the iconic one-act play The Dumb Waiter – have been collected from the master’s oeuvre and polished to perfection by Vancouver’s award-winning Blackbird Theatre. Pinter’s Briefs will be presented in intimate venues over the next several months.

Blackbird’s 2006 production of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party was enthusiastically received by critics and audiences, garnering multiple Jessie Award nominations (including one for Anthony F. Ingram’s performance as Stanley). With Pinter’s Briefs, the company mines a lighter vein: existential comedy, funny and touching, that nonetheless contains a lurking undercurrent of suspense…a frisson of fear that will keep audiences riveted to their seats.

Photo by Tim Matheson

Photo by Tim Matheson

Pinter’s Briefs will feature set and costume design by Marti Wright, lighting design by Mélissa C. Powell and sound design by Alexander Brendan Ferguson, with production management and technical direction by Jayson Maclean and stage management by Noa Anatot.

Note: Pinter’s Briefs will also be mounted in the new VanCity Culture Lab at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre from December 3 to 6 (preview Dec. 2). Tickets will be available at Ticketmaster; please check for details.