Vancouver Opera’s Die Fledermaus Feb 28 – March 8

by Richard Wolak on February 25, 2015

Vancouver Opera presents Die Fledermaus for four performances only at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre from February 28 – March 8, 2015.

In high society Vienna every night is party night! Lighthearted, romantic, and wickedly funny, Die Fledermaus has the power to lift our spirits. Strauss’s melody-filled music, especially his famous waltzes, is effervescent and intoxicating. Be prepared to laugh! Featuring soprano Joyce El-Khoury as Rosalinde, tenor Roger Honeywell as Gabriel von Eisenstein, and Christopher Gaze as the tipsy jailer, Frosch.

The Story, in brief

In high society Vienna every night is party night! At a lavish soirée hosted by Prince Orlovsky, the champagne flows, fuelling an elaborate trick by the dapper Dr. Falke to repay his friend Gabriel von Eisenstein for having abandoned him one night, dressed as a bat. Eisenstein’s maid, Adele, appears as the exotic “Miss Olga”. The prison governor, Frank, is the “Chevalier Chagrin”. And Eisenstein’s wife, Rosalinde, in disguise as a mysterious Hungarian countess, bamboozles him into trying to seduce her. The evening winds down at the city jail, where true identities are revealed, transgressions are forgiven, and everyone raises one more glass of champagne.

Lighthearted, romantic, and wickedly funny, Die Fledermaus has the power to lift our spirits. Strauss’s melody-filled music, especially his famous waltzes, is effervescent and intoxicating. Be prepared to laugh!


Johann Jr. (1825-1899) was the second Strauss to carry the mantle “Waltz King.”  His father (1804-1849), along with another Viennese composer and orchestra leader, Joseph Lanner, developed what became universally and instantly recognizable as the Viennese waltz. Strauss father and son presided over a concert and dance scene in Vienna almost beyond imagining today: ballrooms that dotted the city were regularly crammed with dance-mad citizens swirling to the highly infectious music and idolizing the charismatic bandmasters.

In his highly successful career, Strauss Jr. wrote hundreds of waltzes and other dances before his first wife, Jetty, prodded him into writing for the operatic stage. Die Fledermaus was by far his most successful effort.

In this work, Strauss’s irresistible music masks a biting critique of Viennese society – a critique that caused something of a scandal at the time of its premiere in 1874. Bored and rich Prince Orlovsky, for example, is a stark representation of the decadent upper classes of the time. But this theme is not dominant. However dishonest or duplicitous the characters, their actions are propelled by the most lighthearted and carefree music, powerful in its ability to lift our spirits and to make us laugh.

Single tickets are available from the Vancouver Opera Ticket Centre, online, or by phone at  604-683-0222.

Groups: For special pricing for groups of ten or more, call  604-683-0222.


Zvuloon Dub System and Twin Wave

by Richard Wolak on February 22, 2015


Zvuloon Dub System headlined a show held at the beautiful Imperial club on Friday night that had most on their feet Ethiopian reggae party style. Called “Israel’s top reggae band” – yet Zvuloon Dub System is more than that! Emerging from a multicultural middle-eastern music scene, the eight-piece band sings in both English and Amharic, seamlessly fusing influences from a variety of music styles – Ethiopian jazz, rare grooves from the 70s, American soul, funk and jazz, all impressively blending alongside Israeli mizrahi music. The band who’s performance was their first in Vancouver, managed to swoon the audience into singing along, clapping and dancing. The group has musicians playing all sorts of instruments, the lead singer (Gili Yalo)  was energetic with an emerging presence. With an amazing horn section of trumpet and sax, the 2 members had a solid sound that carried each of the songs. For the Mount Zion song, the lead singer taught the crowd the simple lyrics which turned into a great rendition. Towards the end of the show their was an electric guitar solo that magnified the audience into joy. Adopting their name from one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the band was formed in 2006 by the Smilan brothers. Ilan Smilan, Lead Guitar and Asaf Smilan, Drums and Percussions; the other members include Inon Peretz, Trumpet, Idan Salomon, Alto Sax, Ilan Adiri, Tenor Sax, Simon Nahum, Rhythm Guitar Lior Romano, Organ, andTal Marcus, Bass.


Opening act was Twin Wave from Brooklyn, New York also new to Vancouver, as they said this Vancouver performance was their first outside of New York, and hopefully it won’t be their last, this 5 member group had a solid rock sound. Labeled as a psych-pop band Twin Wave, fuses elements of jazz, soul, rock and pop into a sound that’s both fresh and vibrant.


Chutzpah Festival February 19 – March 15

by Richard Wolak on February 6, 2015

Zvuloon Dub System Zvuloon Dub System

In their 15th year of showcasing world-renowned artists in a vibrant celebration of the performing arts, the Chutzpah! Festival has unveiled another amazing the line-up of electrifying music, riveting theatre and breath-taking dance scheduled for presentation at various venues around Vancouver.

Maria Kong in their first North American appearance is set to open the first night of the Chutzpah Festival.  Performing BACKSTAGE, a hip multiple art experience that combines dance, a live rock band, theatre, video and interactive media technology, this cutting-edge event is not to be missed.


Dance continues throughout the festival with Vancouver’s own multi-faceted award-winning choreographer/dancer Shay Kuebler, (co-founder of the 605 Collective), with his new dance company and its world premiere of GLORY.  Keeping with Chutzpah!’s tradition of giving dance artists multiple opportunities to expand their international profiles, Chutzpah’s multi-year international resident dance company, BODYTRAFFIC returns to the festival.  This hot, LA based contemporary company featuring its ten company dancers will bring to the stage four Canadian premieres by renowned choreographers Victor Quijada, Kyle Abraham, Joshua L. Peugh and a new work by Chutzpah! favourite Richard Siegal.

Idan Sharabi & Dancers (Israel/Holland) with Vanessa Goodman opening (BC) Idan Sharabi & Dancers (Israel/Holland)
with Vanessa Goodman opening (BC)

The ‘Namgis T’sasala Cultural Group from Alert Bay  bring their traditional Kwakwaka’wakw dances to the festival for the first time, sharing their dance, music and storytelling in a FREE daylong celebration, everyone is welcome.  Idan Sharabi & Dancers (Israel) return to the festival, with a much anticipated sectional full-length work. Opening for Idan is Vancouver’s Vanessa Goodman with a world premiere featuring seven of the city’s most notable dancers.  This year Chutzpah!PLUS dance co-presents, with The Dance Centre,  the world premiere of BC choreographer, writer, painter Serge Bennathan’s new work, Monsieur Arbutun. Mr. Bennathan will be the key performer, and includes live music and text.

Les Yeux Noirs Les Yeux Noirs

Internationally-celebrated music gets underway with the exceptional, truly unique Ethiopian-fused Reggae band Zvuloon Dub System (Israel) with Brooklyn’s up-and-coming psych-rock fused R&B  band Twin Wave opening; the eclectic Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird with their matchless mix of punk cabaret, and radical Yiddish song (Germany); the world premiere of Paul Alexander’s Remembering Steel Skies Raining Tears featuring the Borealis String Quartet, Eric Wilson and Boris Sichon (BC); returning after their sold out performance at the 2010 Festival, the incomparable Les Yeux Noirs (France), co-presented with Caravan World Rhythms; and the distinctive Diwan Saz, a multicultural Jewish, Muslim, Beduin, Arab  group of world musicians performing ancient music from Central Asia, Turkey, Persia, and the Holy Land – promoting peace and understanding through their music (Israel). Our 2015 Chutzpah!PLUS music concert will feature singer-songwriter, Ester Rada (Israel) whose music gracefully combines Ethiopian-Jazz, Urban-funk, Neo-Soul and R&B, with mixed undertones of black grooves all deeply reflecting her Israeli-Ethiopian heritage.

What You’re Missing What You’re Missing

Chutzpah!’s comedy and theatre lineup is always at its best. Comedian, actor, writer Wendy Hammers, performs RIPE,  her part stand-up confessional, part booty shakin’ biography –  a  funny and moving juicy new one woman show; You’re Funny, But You Don’t Look Jewish performed by three hilarious South Asian, Italian and Vietnamese American-Jewish comedians Samson Koletkar, Mike Capozzola and Joseph Nguyen (USA); Kafka and Son – adapted from Franz Kafka’s Letter to His Father by Mark Cassidy and Alon Nashman and performed by the remarkable Alon Nashman (ON); Sisypesan Theatre’s physical theatre in the round production of MARATHON, a soul-searching metaphor on the Israeli lifestyle (Israel); and a multi-show run of emerging Canadian playwright Tamara Micner’s What You’re Missing directed by John Cooper (BC).

Celebrating our 15th Anniversary Chutzpah!’s Artistic & Managing Director, Mary-Louise Albert says, “This is going to be a great anniversary year with a focus on world premieres by BC artists and the continuation of our established, excellent and well warranted reputation of bringing numerous outstanding international music, dance, theatre and comedy to our audiences!”

Single tickets for Chutzpah! are $20 to $36 and can be purchased online by phone at the Chutzpah! Box Office: 604-257-5145 or Tickets Tonight: 604-684-2787. Chutzi Packs are also available: see 4 different shows of your choice for only $85 (excluding Diwan Saz and Ester Rada concerts).


Après Moi and The List

by Richard Wolak on January 30, 2015



Three beds set the stage, in three bedrooms in a motel set in the Caribou region of British Columbia. This sets the stage of Après Moi by Christian Begin for six versions of the same story, six ways of experiencing the same moment with increasing intimacy. In a motel off Route 117, three rooms are in use. In the first, a man and woman will commit adultery for the first time. In the second, a couple will make love for the last time. In the third, a lonely man wants to die. In each room, a singular, extraordinary event will occur. And when one door opens, will it make any difference to anyone’s destiny?

This was a well-acted play of thoughts with the different scenarios and my wondering how each was going to play out, both tragedy and life come into play, then connections and how these guests in each of these rooms are connected in one way or another. Fascinating production by Ruby Slippers Theatre taking the audience on a very human journey through love, loss, compassion and memory.

Après Moi is the English language premiere production (commissioned by Ruby Slippers), is directed by Diane Brown and stars Vancouver theatre veterans Scott Bellis, David Bloom, Jennifer Lines, Chirag Naik and Dawn Petten. The List is directed by Jack Paterson and stars France Perras. With Set and Lights by John Webber, Costumes by Drew Facey and Sound Design by Mishelle Cuttler, the double bill runs through February 1, 2015 at Studio 16.


The 2nd play in this double bill, is another production from Ruby Slippers Theatre that sees a woman tell the story from her kitchen, about her neighbor that died. In The List by Jennifer Tremblay, the woman, who prides herself on never letting anything slip by, has overlooked an item on her list. This play is a riveting tale that challenges the audience to see that the essential and the ordinary are inextricably entwined.

The List is written by Jennifer Tremblay and translated by Shelley Tepperman.| Venue: Studio 16 1555 W 7th Avenue | Tickets: $23/$18.5 | Runs through February 1, 2015-8pm, with a $15 Preview on January 27 with 2 2pm matinees on January 31 and February 1. Purchase tickets here.

Photos by: Tim Matheson


One Man, Two Guvnors

by Richard Wolak Theatre

Tweet One of latest productions to grace the Stanley Theatre stage is the hilarious, One Man, Two Guvnors, a side-splitting English update of the Italian comedy The Servant of Two Masters. Set in 1963 Brighton, this marvelously crafted show abounds with a unique blend of satire, songs, slapstick, and sparkling wit that will make you […]

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Ballet BC Presents Miami City Ballet Balanchine February 19-21

by Richard Wolak Dance

Tweet For the first time in the company’s history, Ballet BC presents Miami City Ballet in a program of George Balanchine’s revolutionary choreography at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Performed by Miami City Ballet, one of America’s finest Balanchine interpreters, Balanchine is a triple bill of acclaimed George Balanchine works: Serenade, Symphony in Three Movements, and Ballo […]

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Valley Song at the Richmond Gateway February 5-21

by Richard Wolak Theatre

Tweet In post-apartheid South Africa, in a valley where properties are still owned exclusively by white people, 76-year-old Abraam ‘Buks’ Jonkers (David Adams) continues to till the land he will never own. But while Buks loyally maintains the prized property of his past, his golden-voiced granddaughter, Veronica (Sereana Malani), can’t wait to star on Johannesburg […]

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FUSE on January 30 at Vancouver Art Gallery

by Richard Wolak Art

Tweet The Vancouver Art Gallery and the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival will co-present the second special edition of FUSE x PuSh on Friday, January 30th, 2015. Pushing boundaries where art and performance collide, FUSE x PuSh is a spectacular and unforgettable evening featuring artists from the PuSh Festival, once again transforming the Vancouver Art […]

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Disney’s Beauty and the Beast February 3-8

by Richard Wolak Theatre

Tweet Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the award-winning worldwide smash hit Broadway musical, returns to Vancouver as part of the Broadway Across Canada 2014 – 2015 season. Produced by NETworks Presentations, this elaborate theatrical production will come to life on stage at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast features the Academy Award®-winning […]

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Crazy For You

by Richard Wolak Theatre

Tweet A fun, toe tapping musical, I was delighted from the beginning to the end, this show is pure family entertainment. 1930s New York swings to life in this high-octane, tap dancing phenomenon! Bachelor Bobby Child begrudgingly works at the family bank while he plugs away at his theatre career, but after he’s forced to […]

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