Thursday, December 20, 2012

Arts Cliffs

In the general context of Boehner and Obama's waltz ever closer to the financial precipice, I'm reposting a very interesting ArtsJournal blog entry forwarded to me by Lydia Marston-Blaauw (former PuSh Board President), about the contiguous cliffs facing arts organizations these days.

Click here to read more.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Memos to Self

Two re-posts (ripostes?) to share from the wider theatre-writing community that nonetheless gave me local pause.

The first comes from the Guardian theatre critic Lyn Gardner, whose wonderful contributions to that paper's Stage blog usually keep me up-to-date with what's on the boards in the UK. Today, however, she was talking about a recent incident at our very own Vancouver East Cultural Centre, when the actress Miriam Margolyes, in town with her one-woman ode to Dickens' Women, apparently berated an audience member in the front row for refusing to join with her fellow patrons in giving the performance a standing ovation. Am I ever glad we decided to give a pass on that one. And now I have one more reason not to capitulate and start watching the Harry Potter movies. I just wonder why the incident hasn't received more play in the local press.

Then, in the Globe and Mail, it was J. Kelly Nestruck's turn to offer his annual Canadian theatre round-up, which basically turned into a catalogue of all the sins committed by different organizations' Boards of Directors over the past year. Included alongside indictments of the Factory Theatre Board (for canning Ken Gass) and the Tarragon Board (for apparently censoring longtime playwright-in-residence Michael Healey for his satirical play about Stephen Harper) was a sharp (and, I have to say, deserved) rebuke of the Vancouver Playhouse Board for closing up shop after 49 years at an eleventh-hour, in camera meeting, leaving the community without the time or resources to mount a rescue plan in response. Not that any of this should find me looking over my shoulder as President of the PuSh Festival Board. I serve with 17 other incredibly talented and professional and supportive directors, all of whom have absolute faith in the vision and talents and fiscal responsibility of our ED and the entire staff. This year's Festival is our biggest yet. And my only worry as Board President right now is how I'm going to see everything.

You can join the fun by purchasing tickets here.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

EL Vez

EL Vez has got to be the hardest working holiday entertainer ever. The self-styled "Mexican Elvis" brought his Merry MexMas show to the Fortune Sound Club last night. It's a hilarious send-up of classic standards from the season (an East LA version of "Jingle Bell Rock" about getting through Christmas at lighting speed thanks to a little blow).

Despite the myriad costume changes that constituted EL Vez's most theatrical homage to the King (the one from Memphis, not Bethleham), the very fit and energetic 52 year-old seemed to be channeling more of a James Brown vibe, what with all of his high kicks and stage splits and booty work with the lovely Elvettes, his nubile back-up singers. But it was largely lost lost on the Vancouver audience, most of whom seemed to be there for the after-party, when I gather the venue turns into a meat-market of a dance club.

It was a pity, because EL Vez put on a great show. Thanks to my colleague Diana for dragging me out on a rainy Saturday.


Friday, December 14, 2012

VAG Saga, Part 999

The latest salvos from the opposing camps on the future of the Vancouver Art Gallery played out in today's Vancouver Sun and Globe and Mail.

On one side, we have details of developer Bob Rennie's 22-page plan (co-written with urban demographer David Baxter) for a new multi-site VAG, with the current Robson Street location its hub.

On the other side, VAG Director (and Rennie arch-nemesis) Kathleen Bartels has announced a new artist advisory group to provide "high-level input" on the development of a new single-site, purpose-built building at Larwill Park.

Stay tuned for the musical.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

There's Something About Fairy

A brief shout-out to the PuSh Festival's Development Manager Jocelyn Macdougall, who is currently starring in The Broadway Chorus production of There's Something about Fairy, on at Performance Works through this Saturday. A patchwork pastiche of songs from Broadway musicals past and present (with the odd pop standard thrown in), around which Artistic Director Ashley Lambert-Maberly has constructed a whimsical confection of a plot, There's Something tells the story of Terry (the lovely Jocelyn), a misfit fairy who discovers from her all-powerful mother, the Queen of the Fairies (Catherine Shaw, in superb voice), that she's actually a foundling from the human world.

So off Terry goes to said world (along with a rag-tag of fairy friends), whereupon through a series of twists and turns too complicated to relate she lands a job at Helle magazine working for the Anna Wintour-like terror of an editor Greta (a finely comic Yvonne Connors). Who, it turns out, has a secret of her own...

I won't spoil any more of the plot, though that should be the least of your Aristotelian worries in checking out this show, which is all about paying due homage to the show tune. And if all the voices are not always in tune, no matter. Because there can be no doubt that all the performers are feeling each number--and the charismatic Jocelyn, who is in almost every scene, no more than any other. Consequently, we exit the theatre in the way all Broadway shows wish us to: humming along.