‘Crash Pad’ art exhibition preview for Vue Weekly

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I covered Crash Pad, an engaging exhibition from Albertan artist Cindy Baker, for Vue Weekly a few weeks ago.

Edmonton artist Cindy Baker’s latest exhibition explores the fat female body through inviting blue watercolour prints and evocative, yet relaxing, performance art.

Crash Pad was first shown at the Tangled Art Gallery in Toronto last December, and it features images of diverse women at home, lounging in varying states of undress as they prepare to begin or end their days.

Baker chose Somerset paper for these prints to preserve the feel of the original watercolour paper, and within each image she presents a soft feeling of domesticity. Laundry baskets, wheelchairs, canes, furniture, indoor plants,  dogs, and cats all fill the frames in service of this goal. Read more

The exhibition runs until June 16 at the dc3 Art Projects gallery, with live performances held on Thursdays and Saturdays.

‘Undercover’ theatre review for Vue Weekly

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I got my first taste of “spontaneous theatre” this week when I reviewed Rebecca Northan’s Undercover at the Citadel Theatre for Vue Weekly.

While many improv shows rely on audience members for only a few moments to serve a gag, director and producer Rebecca Northan’s follow-up to her international hit Blind Date, takes a different approach. Undercover makes a single “rookie detective” the core component of the production’s 125-minute narrative conceit.

Police Sgt. Roberta Collins (Northan) hires the detective from the audience, quickly brings them up to speed on the job, and then sends them undercover to gather intel on a new criminal name in town at a private art auction on an acreage. Co-written by Northan and multidisciplinary artist Bruce Horak (who also plays Peter Vinen, the rookie’s inside contact) Undercover delivers an experience like no other. Read more

I plan to see the show at least one more time before it wraps in The Club theatre on Apr. 29, because it’s the kind of performance that will never be the same twice. I look forward to seeing what Northan thinks up next!

Video Games Live symphony concert preview for Vue Weekly

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I enjoyed a fun and personal assignment this week when I previewed Video Games Live for Vue Weekly.

When veteran composer Tommy Tallarico dared in 2002 to produce Video Games Live—an audiovisual spectacle featuring symphonic music—no one in the business thought it would work.

Tallarico recalls the game publishers, symphonies, and concert venues telling him “people who play video games don’t go to a symphony, and the people who do go to a symphony certainly don’t play video games. You’re crazy, kid. Get out of here.”

But 11,000 people showed up to his first show in Los Angeles, silencing the doubters and starting a wave of momentum that still rolls today. Video Games Live now holds a Guinness World Records for the most concerts performed by a touring symphonic production (450, and rising), as well as the record for most concurrent live viewers at a symphony: 752,000 at a concert in Beijing, China in 2015.

“No time ever in the history of music have millions of young people around the world come out to watch a symphony,” Tallarico says. “Before Video Games Live, it never happened.” Read more

Alongside the first conscious moment I can recall as a toddler playing Chrono Trigger (trying to catch the password-rat in Arris Dome,) the haunting bass line of the derelict 2300AD labs is the first piece of music I remember. So to interview Tallarico about his numerous arrangements of equally great video game music for Video Games Live was a special moment I won’t soon forget.

Video Games Live tickets almost always sell out, but if you’re in town and can make it, hopefully I’ll see you there!

Kobo Town concert preview for Vue Weekly

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Kobo Town is an incredible Canadian calypso band, and I got to preview its upcoming concert for Vue Weekly.

When Kobo Town comes to play, they deliver a high-energy show with calypso classics and reinterpretations of the genre.

After moving to Canada as a teenager, Trinidadian songwriter Drew Gonsalves named the band after the historic neighbourhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad: the birthplace of calypso.

Gonsalves grabbed inspiration from all around him for the band’s latest album Where the Galleon Sank—whether by listening to hits from Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, working with legendary performers like Calypso Rose, absorbing ideas from French culture, or spotting quirks in Kobo Town’s home-base Toronto. Read more

Where the Galleon Sank is nominated for world album of the year at The JUNOS awards this weekend. Whether Gonsalves and his band earn the top nod or not, their concert isn’t one to be missed if you can make it to The Arden Theatre on March 29.

‘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!

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.