The Comedy of Errors at Bard thru September 26

by Richard Wolak on July 3, 2015

The Comedy of Errors

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival opens its 26th season with The Comedy of Errors. Directed by Bard on the Beach Artistic Associate Scott Bellis, this steampunk rendition of Shakespeare’s lively comedy runs June 4 to September 26 on the BMO Mainstage. Double trouble has never been more delightful! Two sets of long-lost twins meet up unexpectedly, creating hilarious confusion for their friends, loved ones – and most of all themselves.

After a shipwreck that split his family apart many years ago, Egeon (Scott Bellis), a merchant from Syracuse, finds himself facing the death penalty for illegally being in the rival city of Ephesus. Duke Solinus (Jeff Gladstone), moved by Egeon’s story, suspends the death penalty for just one day to give him time to raise the money to pay a fine, setting the plot in motion.

Meanwhile Egeon’s son, Antipholus of Syracuse (Ben Elliott), along with his servant, Dromio of Syracuse (Luisa Jojic), have also just arrived in town with the same family-seeking mission in mind. Things become complicated when they stumble upon the home of their identical twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus (Jay Hindle) and Dromio of Ephesus (Dawn Petten). Of course the locals of Ephesus all mistake the twins for their counterparts, from Antipholus’ wife Adriana (Sereana Malani) and her sister Luciana (Lindsey Angell), to Angelo the goldsmith (Andrew Cownden), Balthasar the merchant (Andrew McNee) and a Courtesan (Lili Beaudoin), turning the town upside down. When it seems like things could not get any stranger, we meet the mysterious Abbess (Anna Galvin), who has a secret of her own. Adding to the entertaining twists and turns along the way are Daniel Doheny (Maud, The Collections Officer) and Josh Epstein (The Smuggler).

Audiences will be transported into an alternate reality with the help of Malcolm Dow’s imaginative sound design and Gerald King’s lighting, adding to the eye-popping steampunk world that set designer Pam Johnson has created on stage. Costume designer Mara Gottler gives the classical Shakespearean play a full-blown visual makeover, using references to steampunk culture and colour to heighten the confusion, also showcased through choreography by Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg. Production Stage Manager Stephen Courtenay is assisted by Kelly Barker (Assistant Stage Manager) and Alexandra Shewan (Apprentice Stage Manager). Apprentice Director for The Comedy of Errors is Amanda Lockitch.

The play runs June 4 through September 26 on the BMO Mainstage and is directed by Bard Artistic Associate, Scott Bellis. Tickets: 604-739-0559 or


The Lion King

by Richard Wolak on June 25, 2015

From June 18-July 12, 2015, Broadway Across Canada brings the Tony-Award-winning musical, Disney’s The Lion King, to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

From the start, The Lion King promises to be a spectacle for the senses. From the opening lines sung by Tshidi Manye as Rafiki, to the entrance of the animals through the aisles onto the stage, the opening act takes the audience to the African plain and promises us an adventure. The production does not disappoint. The costumes are a visual wonder. Director and costume designer Julie Taymore radically reimagined the cartoon on which the musical is based, so that, rather than a cartoonish interpretation of the movie, all we see are beautiful animals interacting with the landscape. What was also wonderful was how they elevated the role of the lionesses to add a new dimension to the movie.

The beloved songs from the movie, including “The Circle of Life” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” are there, but they are richly interwoven with new music produced for the stage by Mark Mancina and Lebo M, allowing the audience transportation into Africa to be made even more real.

The actors perform their roles with such conviction that it is difficult to imagine them as humans. In particular, Nick Cordileone and Ben Lipitz as Simba’s buddies Timon and Pumbaa steal the show with their slick comic timing and impressive puppeteering. Kudos as well to Patrick R Brown as Scar, who plays the role with such menace that one shudders to meet him in a dark alley. The child actors Tre Jones and Mikari Tarpley bring boundless joy and energy to their roles as the young Simba and young Nala.

There is much to love about Disney’s The Lion King, that one can see why almost 110 million people have seen in over its 18 year history. Now it’s Vancouver’s turn, again, and I encourage you all to go and get your tickets to go on your journey to Pride Rock. You won’t be disappointed. Purchase tickets here.

By: Anna Wolak


BEST of the WEST August 5th

by Richard Wolak on May 29, 2015

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The 5th annual BEST of the WEST is a unique evening that pairs 12 of the Lower Mainland’s best restaurants with 12 BC wineries for a culinary arts event and competition. Sponsored by Grosvenor Americas and hosted by house wine, BEST of the WEST guests are encouraged to vote on their favourite pairing, with the winning team crowned BEST of the WEST.
Participating Restaurants:
Bene Sushi
Cactus Club Cafe
Feast Dining
Finch and Barley Restaurant
Mangia E Bevi
PARC Retirement Living
Pier 7 Restaurant + Bar
The Beach House Restaurant
The Observatory Restaurant
Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie
Zen Japanese Restaurant
Participating Wineries:
Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
BURROWING OWL estate winery
Laughing Stock Vineyards
Nichol Painted Rock Estate Winery
Poplar Grove
Quails’ Gate
Road 13
Stag’s Hollow
Stoneboat Vineyards
Tantalus Vineyards
BEST of the WEST is an event you’ll not want to miss. Tickets sell out quickly each year! Tickets will be on sale Tuesday, May 19 for $105 each and can be purchased through Select Your Tickets by phone at 1-866-514-5050 or online.


Ballet BC Presents Rite May 7-9

by Richard Wolak on April 29, 2015

Ballet BC closes its 2014-15 season with a program of two extraordinary World Premieres in RITE at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, May 7-9, 2015. This program in two parts is inspired by The Rite of Spring, the ballet and orchestral concert work that premiered in 1913 and is widely considered one of the most influential, and revolutionary, works to shape 20th century art with its bold venturing. These interdisciplinary World Premieres offer new perspectives on design, music and dance.

Choreographer Emily Molnar, Ballet BC’s Artistic Director, collaborates with Omer Arbel, an internationally renowned Vancouver-based designer and Creative Director of Bocci, and recent recipient of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Allied Arts Medal for 2015, alongside Jeremy Schmidt, a member of the band Black Mountain and “Vancouver’s godfather of contemporary space rock”. Molnar’s choreography, combined with Arbel’s set design and Schmidt’s original score, create a hallucinatory, otherworldly homage toThe Rite of Spring. Molnar’s vision to challenge traditional choreographic thinking, together with Arbel’s innovative sense of space and Schmidt’s cosmic exploration of sound, will offer a new way to perceive and discover the unconscious.

The dynamic work of Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, featuring set design by Luis Crespo, is a full-company reimaging of The Rite of Spring set to Igor Stravinsky’s complete orchestral score, with a 21st century perspective that explores “…universal awakening.” As Sansano says, “rather than telling a story I am more interested in dance as an expansion of feeling and emotion…an expression of something that is universal and personal at the same time.” Former Artistic Director of the Luna Negra Dance Theater, Sansano has created work for Compañia Nacional de Danza, Hamburg Ballet, Budapest Dance Theatre and the Netherlands Dance Theater, among others. He recently created Lost and Seek, which had its World Premiere with Ballet BC in April 2014.

Molnar describes RITE as an opportunity to provide “a collaborative platform for artists of different disciplines to come together.” She says, “RITE will be a riveting evening that offers a new perspective on dance, music and design through an investigation of the spirit embodied in the experimentation and innovation of a significant period of history that modernized music and ballet. In researching The Rite of Spring as a starting point for this evening, it has been fascinating to draw inspiration from a work of such historic importance and impact.”

RITE runs for three performances at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, May 7-9, 2015 with shows nightly at 8:00pm. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at 1-855-985-2787 (855-985-ARTS) or online at and range in price from $30 to $80 (including GST and service charges).


FUSE on April 24 at Vancouver Art Gallery

by Richard Wolak Art

Tweet Vancouver’s best art party returns on Friday, April 24, 2015 with a new ensemble of inspiring art, cutting-edge performance and experimental music at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Guest curated by David Pay, one of today’s leading classical and contemporary music programmers and Artistic Director of Music on Main in Vancouver, FUSE: The Noise of Silence […]

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Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

by Richard Wolak Theatre

Tweet Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, was a hilarious play with a refreshing script, playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre. Christopher Durang’s witty mash-up of Chekhov characters and smartphones is a delightful new farce for our hyperconnected era. Middle-aged siblings Vanya (Jay Brazeau) and Sonia (Susinn McFarlen) live an angst-ridden, melancholic existence […]

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KÄFIG BRASIL at DanceHouse on April 10 & 11

by Richard Wolak Dance

Tweet DanceHouse presents Kafig Brasil at the Vancouver Playhouse April 10 & 11, 2015, 8pm.  What do you get when you combine a French/Algerian choreographer steeped in hip-hop and circus arts, and eleven male dancers from Rio de Janiero’s notorious favelas? The answer is  CCN Créteil et Val-de-Marne / Compagnie Käfig, which combines the energy and […]

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Mike Shum and his Chan Chan Cocktail

by Richard Wolak Drink

Tweet Local bartender Mike Shum has won a spot in the Bacardi Legacy global cocktail competition, he will be representing Vancouver when he competes against 7 other bartenders from across Canada. The Canadian competition will be held in Toronto on March 23rd where he will have a chance to present his cocktail to the judges. […]

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BC Distilled Spirits Festival April 18

by Richard Wolak Drink

Tweet Artisan distillers from twenty-three of the province’s leading small-batch distilleries, including eleven new to this year’s festival, will showcase their ingenuity through distinctive gins, vodkas, and other fine spirits and liqueurs. Aficionados and curious seekers alike will have the opportunity to sip and taste their way through these unique spirits complemented by locally-made beverages from Bittered Sling Extracts, Walter All-Natural Craft Caesar […]

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The Sonic Boom Festival March 25-29

by Richard Wolak Music

Tweet The Sonic Boom Festival returns for its 28th year of contemporary classical music (new music). This truly unique musical experience will run for only 5 days, from March 25-29th, in two acoustically beautiful venues on Seymour Street in downtown Vancouver – the Orpheum Annex and Pyatt Hall. Sonic Boom Festival 2015 showcases original compositional […]

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