SnapShots: A Musical Scrapbook

by Richard Wolak on October 30, 2015

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SnapShots is one of the musicals that will have you humming along throughout the show as I did during opening night last night. It’s funny, well played out and has a great cast.

Starring Stephen Aberle, Annabel Kershaw, Steve Maddock, Jocelyn Gauthier, Daniel Johnston and Georgia Swinton; each actor complements the other so graciously and they were in sync throughout both acts. This wonderful show is produced by Ron and Wendy Stuart with Direction and Choreography by Max Reimer with Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz.

It’s a musical scrapbook of the lives of Dan (Stephen Aberle) and Sue (Annabel Kershaw) who’s friendship developed into a long marriage where Sue had wanted to escape. Through Snapshots of their life together the actors piece it all in so well by song and wonderful performances. From scene to scene, it’s pure delight as the story unfolds in front of the audience.

Snapshots takes place in the attic of Sue and Dan, a couple whose marriage has fallen apart after 30 years. Sue, who is about to leave her husband, has gone to the attic to retrieve a hidden suitcase when Dan unexpectedly comes home early. During this encounter, a box of photographs falls to the floor and leads them to relive the memories of their past selves captured in the snapshots.

Snapshots showcases the music of legendary composer and lyricist, Stephen Schwartz – who first exploded onto Broadway with Godspell, and more recently, wowed audiences with Wicked. His songs fit flawlessly into this compelling story, strengthening it and moving it forward in multi-layered and thought-provoking ways.

Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook plays through to November 8, at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver. This is a show you do not want to miss, it is one of the gems of the fall season.


Hofesh Schechter Company at DanceHouse November 13 & 14

by Richard Wolak on October 17, 2015

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For the opening of its 2015/16 season, DanceHouse is pleased to announce the return of the Hofesh Shechter Company.

The internationally renowned UK-based troupe is bringing its new work, barbarians, to the Playhouse this November. The trio of pieces premiered this summer to great acclaim at Berliner Festspiele as part of the illustrious international performing arts festival Foreign Affairs.

Very much recognizably in Shechter’s style, barbarians also signifies an advance in the Israeli-born choreographer’s career and artistic ambitions.

Renowned for his dramatic juxtaposition of musical elements with movement, Shechter once again employs bombastic scores to showcase his masterful choreographies. This time though, this often political artist aims to illuminate some the most fundamental of all human experiences—intimacy, passion and love.

In the barbarians in love, the first piece, six white-clad figures move as one to the strains of an ecclesiastic baroque score as well as narration. The piece reveals Shechter’s choreography at its most elegant, intimate and perturbing, as the barbarians in love builds to a truly contemporary confession.

tHE bAD is a joyous, trance-like work for five dancers. Focussing on the groove and the body, it combines baroque classical with the street language and beats of hip-hop artist Mystikal in a volatile explosion of dubstep grooves and urban choreography.

Two completely different angles of the same fucking thing offers a quirky yet poignant duet from the company’s longest running dancers. The music jumps from baroque to the industrial grime of Bredren and MC Swift’s Control.

In 2009, Hofesh Shechter wowed Vancouver audiences with his pieces Uprising and In your rooms. He and his company will undoubtedly do the same with barbarians, both delighting and challenging dance enthusiasts with an evening of music and movement that prompted the Guardian to remark, “Superb stuff: juicy, nervy ensembles and a wittily unsettling commentary.”

Pre-show talk: 7:15pm, Upper Lobby of the Playhouse.

Purchase tickets here 


Ballet BC Launches their 30th Season November 5-7

by Richard Wolak on October 17, 2015

Under the artistic leadership of Ballet BC Artistic Director Emily Molnar, PROGRAM I features three individual works by choreographers who are reshaping contemporary ballet. The program includes a World Premiere by Belgian-born choreographer Stijn Celis, the Canadian premiere of Solo Echo by Vancouver-based Choreographer Crystal Pite and the return of the critically acclaimed 2014 World Premiere of Twenty Eight Thousand Waves by Resident Choreographer Cayetano Soto.

“This year’s opening program will make you forget what you thought you knew about ballet.” says Ballet BC Artistic Director Emily Molnar. “Our 30th Anniversary season opens with three distinct voices that are reshaping the landscape of dance. Compelling and diverse, we are thrilled to offer our audience this exceptional program by some of the world’s leading dance makers today.”

Belgian-born Stijn Celis’ has choreographed an original work for Ballet BC. This World Premiere is one of a limited number of new creations Celis has developed outside of his own company, Saarländisches Staatstheater. Celis’ work has graced the major stages of Europe and North America, and his unique voice is notable for its explosive, grounded, and sensual style. For the first time ever, we partner with one of the finest male vocal ensembles in North America, Vancouver’s Chor Leoni. This extraordinary collaboration with Ballet BC features more than 40 male singers accompanied by sacred texts spanning the human existence from darkness to light.

Globally celebrated and Vancouver-based choreographer Crystal Pite explores recurring themes of acceptance and loss with Solo Echo, a work originally developed for Nederlands Dans Theater. Inspired by two sonatas for cello and piano by Johannes Brahms and the poem “Lines for Winter” by Mark Strand, Pite continues her lifelong artistic exploration of tension and its resolution. Solo Echo moves from aggression to yearning, from the individual to the collective, travelling the pathways from conflict to acceptance.

When Cayetano Soto’s Twenty Eight Thousand Waves premiered in 2014, it was clear that magic had happened between the Company and the choreographer. As Resident Choreographer of Ballet BC, we celebrate his vision and energy by remounting this examination of adaptation and boundaries. The work, featuring music by David Lang and Bryce Dessner, is inspired by the fact that an oil tanker at sea is hit, on average, twenty eight thousand times a day by waves. This resilience in the face of extremity inspired this compelling look at the thin line between life and death, and the human instinct for survival, creating a transformative experience for audiences.

PROGRAM I plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at 8:00pm November 5-7, 2015. Tickets range from $30.00 to $90.00 (including service charges) and can be purchased through Ticketmaster at 1-855-985-2787 (855-985-ARTS) or online at


Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s October Highlights

by Richard Wolak on October 17, 2015

His mother claimed that an Angel visited her in a dream and promised that her son would have miraculous musical ability. Others viewed his talent as anything but God-given. In fact they openly speculated that it must be the result of a deal with the Devil. Music by Niccolò Paganini takes a prominent place in VSO concerts this month. An abundance of musical talent is also on display in the work of three visiting conductors:  Carlos Miguel Prieto, from Mexico; French conductor Alexandre Bloch; and Darrell Ang from Singapore. They are among the performers joining the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as our 97th season gets underway.

He was the original Rock Star. Countless music lovers in the early 19th century were enthralled by the talented young violinist from Genoa, on the Northern Mediterranean coast, Niccolò Paganini. He could break a string onstage, but continue playing flawlessly. Women fainted at his flamboyant gestures and gyrations. Rivals swore that they could see the Devil himself, hovering offstage when Paganini played. Paganini’s looks—tall and gaunt, dark haired, with deep set eyes and talon-like fingers—contributed to his mystique, and he played up the rumours, by dressing in black from head to toe. He took frequent absences from the concert circuit to fuel demand for his appearances, and the time away was often spent gambling, as well as wooing wealthy women.

Paganini was as blessed with his pen as he was with his bow. His compositions include six surviving violin concertos, the second of which bears the nickname La campanella (The Little Bell), for the recurring sound that announces each return of the theme in its dazzling finale. It will be heard (October 3, 4 & 5) with the soloist Tianwa Yang, whose violin prowess may just match its composer. She recorded Paganini’s virtuosic 24 Caprices for solo violin at the age of 13.

Singapore`s Darrell Ang makes his Vancouver conducting debut with works of Debussy and Zhou Long – music that reflects his current career in France and his Asian roots. Joining him on October 17th and 19th will be Canada`s own Angela Cheng, who makes a welcome return to the Orpheum Theatre as soloist in Beethoven`s Piano Concerto No.1. Darrell Ang’s international career well and truly launched in 2007 with his triumph at the 50th Besançon International Young Conductor’s Competition, where he took all three top awards: Grand Prize,  Audience Prize and Orchestra Prize.

There’s much more to come this month, including three performances by the VSO Chamber Players, the return of the Tiny Tots series (at the Vancouver Playhouse and now at New Westminster’s Anchor Theatre Centre) and a Hallowe’en Spectacular under the baton of John Morris Russell, with more devilish delights.

See below for a complete list of the VSO’s October offerings.

Tickets for all concerts available at or through VSO Customer Service at 604.876.3434.


Vancouver Jewish Book Festival November 21-26

by Richard Wolak Culture

Tweet This popular cultural extravaganza attracts celebrated authors and a wide audience from the Lower Mainland as they welcome an exciting roster of writers from across Canada, the US, and Israel.. The Festival week is jam-packed with innovative literary events including unique meet-the-author opportunities, readings and panel discussions,  the annual book club event, writing workshops, […]

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FUSE on August 15 at Vancouver Art Gallery

by Richard Wolak Art

Tweet FUSE will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the biggest FUSE event in its history with FUSE: DISRUPTION, joining forces with the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA2015), one of the world’s most prestigious global festivals presenting work at the intersection of art and technology, to bring you the works of 50 top local […]

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The Comedy of Errors at Bard thru September 26

by Richard Wolak Theatre

Tweet 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 […]

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The Lion King

by Richard Wolak Theatre

Tweet 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 […]

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BEST of the WEST August 5th

by Richard Wolak Food

Tweet 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 […]

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Ballet BC Presents Rite May 7-9

by Richard Wolak Dance

Tweet 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 […]

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