‘La Traviata’ Opera Preview for Vue Weekly

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I had a fun time previewing La Traviata in Vue Weekly this week. It’s described as the ‘pinnacle’ of opera, and this production is set in a cabaret club.

Mercury Opera’s slogan may be “Opera where you least expect it,” but for this week’s production of the iconic La Traviata, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting venue in Edmonton than the Chez Pierre Cabaret.

La Traviata tells a tragic tale of overlapping love triangles in 1920s Paris, with Violetta Valéry (an accomplished courtesan) and Alfredo Germont (the first man she feels has truly loved her) at the centre.

And within the intimate club setting of Chez Pierre, Mercury Opera artistic director Darcia Parada says an eight-piece orchestra will bring Giuseppe Verdi’s music to life while internationally acclaimed singers unleash their voices up close as if every audience member is a part of the characters’ party. Guests are even invited to attend in ‘20s attire to suit the occasion. Read more

I can’t wait to see what it feels like to be so close to the performers. I love the way Mercury Opera‘s tries to hook new audiences, and Chez Pierre couldn’t be a better choice to flaunt that approach. The show runs through Mar. 11.

‘Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown’ Review for Vue Weekly

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Women The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is my new favourite musical (overtaking Chicago and Rent) and I reviewed it for Vue Weekly.

Plain Jane Theatre Company has always had a knack for reviving musicals that didn’t necessarily live up to their initial potential during Broadway runs, but Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is a standout.

A farcical tale of love, infidelity, and crime in ‘80s Madrid, Jeffery Lane’s screenplay (based on the 1988 film by Pedro Almodóvar) boasts an abundance of the embellishments that make a great romantic comedy work, while also presenting an endearing human narrative that’s brought to life with surprising continuity by Plain Janes’ cast and crew. Read more

Until now, I’ve never felt like I absolutely need to see a show twice during its run before, but this Plain Janes production absolutely warrants it. The show runs through Saturday at the Varscona Theatre, and you don’t want to miss it if you’re in Edmonton!

Mary and the Witch’s Flower review: A magical debut flight for Studio Ponoc

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It’s easy to get excited about an animated feature when you hear its coming from some of the creators behind Studio Ghibli’s greatest works, and in almost all respects, Mary and the Witch’s Flower (Mary to Majo no Hana) meets expectations.

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Clips from the rewarding Leduc Rep reporting gig I held in summer 2017

 

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I worked as a reporter at the Leduc Rep weekly newspaper from the start of June until the end of August 2017. The newsroom was small, but my audience was engaged. My writing and photography also served several municipalities, appearing in the Devon Dispatch, Beaumont News and several other small papers. I was worked to the bone, but I learned a lot in the process. Here are some of my favourite stories from the internship.

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Blind Enthusiasm and Small Breweries’ Success Report for Vue Weekly


Dish-LiquorProducers-Jan25.jpgThis week for Vue Weekly, I checked in with Greg Zeschuk, founder of Blind Enthusiasm Brewery (and co-founder of BioWare) to see how business is going under relatively new government supports.

Beer-brewing newcomer Blind Enthusiasm Brewery opened shop almost half a year ago, and owner Greg Zeschuk says business is going well. That’s thanks in part to financial boons offered by the provincial government.

“Brewing in Alberta is thriving, with more breweries and distilleries opening their doors or growing their businesses,” Premier Rachel Notley said in a release this month. Read more

While researching, I found that nearly 85 per cent of Canadian beer sales come from domestic brewers. When small local businesses like Blind Enthusiasm Brewery are empowered to thrive, that stat doesn’t seem so crazy.

‘Chasing the Kind Rhythm’ Feature for MacEwan University’s The Scavenger

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Macewan University’s The Scavenger magazine ran my feature profile of Edmonton’s 2016-17 Youth Poet Laureate today. Nasra Adem is an inspiring artist, and I’m so happy to share part of her story.

On this hot summer day, Nasra Adem gazes out at the 600 demonstrators packed against a precautionary police line at the steps of the Alberta Legislature, and puts her body where her poetry is. Wearing a traditional orange-and-green African dress that hangs past her ankles, and a matching headdress that temporarily tames the frizz of her thick black hair, she looks out from the podium into the faces of the crowd, and finds sympathetic eyes staring back.

This August rally has formed under an “End Racism in Canada” banner. It is, in part, a reaction to the alt-right extremists who had  marched in the streets of Charlottesville, Va., two weeks before, and, in part, a denunciation of the myth that racism doesn’t exist in Edmonton. Adem leaped – as she often does – at the chance to present her work for an important cause. Not necessarily as 2017’s Edmonton Youth Poet Laureate, but as an affected voice trying to change the world for the better.

Some days, she changes the young, urging them to embrace love and question what they see. Some nights, she changes the old, chipping away at their hardened views from a place of vulnerability. And sometimes, she is blocked by a seething lie that has poked at the Canadian psyche as long as she can remember. Read more

Special thanks to several writers who helped me workshop the story over at Flat Worms Writing Studio. And be sure to check out 13 other stories in The Scavenger about the fringes of Edmonton culture.

Good Grief Photo Exhibition Preview for Vue Weekly

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I previewed Good Grief for Vue Weekly today. It’s an exciting debut exhibition by Jay Procktor, an Edmonton photographer I respect immensely.

As a Grade 1 teacher, Jay Procktor sometimes clowns around with his students. But after years of work on the side as a photographer, the 43-year-old local is unveiling his first large gallery exhibition this week, filled with 16 images of clowns in both a literal and symbolic sense.

The Good Grief exhibit is inspired by personal loss Procktor has encountered, featuring 15 self-portraits and one photo of Procktor’s father.

In February 2012, Procktor’s best friend passed away and five months later his father also passed after a long battle with cancer. Read more

My interview with Procktor was one of my all-time favourites. The way he channeled loss into a community project culminating in fantastic art is incredible. I only wish I had more space to share his story.