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Geeks versus Nerds Vancouver – Episode 34: Hot Wheels & Shady Deals

Comedy, Events, Reviews, Showcase

May 19, 2017

The last season of Geeks versus Nerds Vancouver is proving to be super entertaining and full of the good stuff.

This episode was Hot Wheels & Shady Deals and it put Team Rocket against Cobra and The Delorean against The Batmobile.

The Opening Debate was Team Rocket vs. Cobra – They just cannot win… but this time, one of them has to! Right? Right?! It’s TEAM ROCKET versus COBRA – “Which is the least effective criminal organization?”

The members of Team Rocket were Adam Duff (a GvN regular), Phil Amore (of The Criticals Comedy) and Neoma Charles-Lundaahl (in her second debate with GvN).

The members of Team Cobra were Keegan Flick-Parker (Producer of GvN Vancouver), Beni Spieler and Nick Drake (both are regular performers for GvN)

This debate was filled with such a great knowledge of the fandoms. I don’t think that I have fully appreciated how crappy both Team Rocket and Cobra both are until I heard these two teams debate.

On one hand, Team Rocket are just the worst at being criminals. They are part of a world where they do not teach basic education but only how to train and fight Pokemon. On the other hand, Cobra is a terrible terrorist organization, they really do not grasp the finer points of espionage. Both teams fought well, but in the end, Team Rocket was THE WORST.

The Headlining Debate was The Delorean vs. The Batmobile – These cars have it all – speed, power, style, and ridiculous special powers! But which is superior? It’s THE DELOREAN versus THE BATMOBILE – “Which is the coolest ride?”

On Team DeLorean was Jo Dworschak (from Fruit Salad and Story, Story, Lie), Zachary Taylor (of The Criticals Comedy) and Graeme Thompson (GvN Regular and actor about town).

The members of Team Batmobile were Brent Hirose (Instant Theatre), Hunter Cochrane, Jess Ode.

One of the great parts of Geeks Versus Nerds Vancouver is that it gives local performers a place to stretch themselves out and grow. I am not going to lie, I love Batman and I was set to cheer for The Batmobile the team for Team DeLorean made the best case possible.

In its essence, this debate is Car vs. Time Machine and who better in our modern popular culture to tout the benefits of owning a Time Machine than Rick Sanchez. The pure amazing that was Graeme Thompson dressed as Rick,  spouting his points mid burp while yelling for that Mulan Szechuan Sauce was possibly the scale tipper on this one.

Team DeLorean despite Team Batmobile’s noble attempt to weave the mythology of John DeLorean advocating for the destruction of his coke induced monster car, won, and they won hard.

 

All in all the show was great and we cannot stress this enough, GO TO THE LAST TWO SHOWS THAT GEEKS VERSUS NERDS VANCOUVER WILL BE HAVING.

May 27th Geeks versus Nerds – Ep35: Absolutely Revolting – Pinky and The Brain Vs. Invader Zim and Gir / Katniss Everdeen vs. Neo

And their final show is on June 24th which will put Black Magic against Super Science and Steve Urkel against Sheldon Cooper.

 

All photo credits belong to Zemekiss Photography

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503

Instant Theatre – Shakespeare After Dark – The Bard, Improvised and Twisted

Comedy, Events, Improv, Reviews

May 3, 2017

When I agreed to review this show, I thought that I would be seeing improvisers taking the premises of Shakespeare plays and then Mad-Lib style scene creation would happen… but wow and hoo-boy I didn’t see what I saw coming.

Mood Music

I arrived at The Havana early so I got a drink and a snack and hung out. As people started lining up for the show there was one guy who was incredibly boisterous and extra huggy with the people around him. Homeboy was drunk. A friend of mine was doing the doors for the show (we do a podcast together) and I mentioned that he was super drunk and she said… “Oh, have you not seen the show before? He is one of the improvisers, he is supposed to be drunk.” And there we have it good gentles a segue into a bonny tale.

Brad The Drunk is the best at being a railing.

As I entered the black box theatre at The Havana a guitarist was playing classical folk music to set the mood. Actors were milling about in peasant shirts. Then the show started.  Nikolai Witschl came on stage and introduced the show, which is two acts, one is a rehearsed piece from a Shakespearean play in which our drunk improviser is the main character and must remember while very drunk their lines including a monologue and the second is an improvised long form scene in the style of Shakespeare based on suggestions from the audience.

The first act was from All’s Well That Ends Well, following his father’s death, Bertram, the young Count of Rossillion, leaves home to attend the court of the ailing King of France, along with his friend Parolles. Helena, the Countess’s ward, is in love with Bertram, and reveals her affection to the Countess, who is sympathetic. The scene is from a trial.

Monologues are hard

Brad the Drunk (who was the inebriated improviser) was able successfully deliver his monologue and follow along with the scene but I am not sure that Shakespeare wrote in all of the extra swearing and long pauses into the scene. By the end of the scene, everyone in the audience was near tears because of the hilarity of the situation. I was so amazed at the performance that a wow slipped out of my mouth and without skipping a beat Brad The Drunk said, “You are correct, wow”.

The next act was the improvised scene, in which a tavern owner who was the former King of England works tirelessly to protect his daughter from finding out her royal line but also from having her meet and fall in love… which is exactly what happened, with a member of the royal court who is an adventurer. The adventurer and his sister met the local drunk who was named Bob.  There was also a plot to capture the Former King’s daughter and to sell back to her father for a price. All of this is 100% improvised. During this, Brad the Drunk was a ship’s rail and also as a parrot who would state the obvious. The conclusion of the story was the adventurer marrying the daughter of the Former King and Bob the Drunk marrying the adventurer’s sister.

Afterwards, I caught up with Brad the Drunk, he was all smile and very happy. His drink of choice was 375 ML of Bombay Sapphire and OJ between the hours 3pm and 10pm. Which, hopefully, was in a bottle that wasn’t recently recalled for being 77% alcohol.

It was a blast and something I think everyone will enjoy. You can catch the next installment of Shakespeare After Dark – The Bard, Improvised and Twisted, Saturday May 27th at The Havana.

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362

The Mariposa Opera presents “Here I Stand”

Culture, Events, Showcase

May 2, 2017

Do you know what Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is?

It’s okay if you don’t. I didn’t. I don’t think anyone in our offices did, which is why things like this are important. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a disease that causes fatigue, loss of memory and concentration, unexplained muscle and joint pain, and sore throat.

It’s that last one that has special meaning here: sore throat. Jacqueline Ko has suffered with ME/CFS since she was six years old. She’s spent a good chunk of her time bedridden but has still helped found the critically acclaimed production company, Opera Mariposa and the Mariposa Theatre Wing, while mastering a range of vocal skills. Combining both these things, Jacqueline has managed to raise over $35,000 for ME/CFS research, hoping to find a cure and increase visibility.

“ME can change the course of your life forever – it certainly did for me,” Ko says. “I’ve seen studies that compare its impact to multiple sclerosis, late-stage cancer or congestive heart failure, but it’s still rare for this disease to be taught in medical school. They say as many as 9 out of 10 people aren’t even diagnosed. I was lucky in that regard – but the fact is, even with a diagnosis, they still don’t fully understand the cause or have a cure.”

By pairing with the ME/FM Society of BC, Jacqueline has put together a series of musical singles that are meant to tell her story through music, weaving together different stylings and making sure that her show has something for everything. The show draws from diverse genres – from pop to Broadway to opera. Her set will include pieces by Puccini, Verdi, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, as well as songs from the hit musical Hamilton. Jacqueline will be joined on stage by pianist Angus Kellett and several guest artists, and the evening will include a reception as well as a charity raffle contest with over $2,000 in prizes.

You can learn more about her story in the new book, Lighting Up a Hidden World: CFS and ME, by Valerie Free.

The concert itself will take place on Saturday, May 13, 2017, at 7:30 pm at the Marpole United Church, located at 1296 West 67th Avenue, Vancouver. You can click here to buy tickets, click here to find out more about the ME/FM Society of BC, and click here to find out more about Jacqueline Ko and the Opera Mariposa

Banner photo credits goes to Kathryn Nickford Photography

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486

Robin Hood: Prince of Tease

Burlesque, Events, Reviews

April 30, 2017

It’s a cool night in late April, dark skies threatening rain, but we’re braving the weather to go to Granville Island and check out the latest offering from Toofly Productions, Robin Hood: the Prince of Tease. It’s a punny name being produced by a punny company and promises to be a punny burlesque take on the classic tale of a thief that robs from the rich and gives to the poor.

There’s something about this story that makes it persist – the idea of the rich stealing from everyone and giving to themselves has plagued western society since before the dawn of scarcity economics, and the tale of a man stealing from those wealthy thieves to give back, of fighting a corrupt system that steals everything and leaves no voice to the most helpless, is just as relevant these days as it has ever been.

So, we’re excited. Toofly is a recent invention, the dream of Alan Pronger. He wanted to create a means of producing the weirdest ideas he could find, of taking concepts too strange for other companies and making them reality. They’re a non-profit for emerging artists that specializes in exploring the absurdity of modern life.

This makes the Performance Works Theater a perfect venue for them – a place located on the tail-end of Granville Island, it was a machine shop that opened almost a hundred years ago and changed into a rehearsal and performance venue a little under thirty years ago. You might say the building’s purpose was stolen, it’s meaning gone for practical to absurd, and you would be right.

Robin Hood: Prince of Tease lives up the expectations set by both

The story takes quite a lot from the old Keven Costner movie with gender-flipped characters: Prince Joan has taken control of unspecified European country after hearing the news that King Richard and Robin of Loxley are dead. She kills Robin’s father, blinds his man-servant Winkin, taxes people into near death and spends all the money on himself. The opening set-up borrows as much from Game of Thrones as from its source material and is self-aware enough to call themselves out in, self-awareness being one of the best parts of Burlesque performances.

We then follow Robin as she escapes from BDSM land with the help of a Benny Hill sequence, meets Oddman Out, and the two of them travel together to get back to unspecified European country. They discover what’s happened in Robin’s absence, Robin recruits her people, and they start robbing from the rich and giving to the poor – but the conceit here is that everyone fights through dance, a thing that Robin excels at and Oddman Out doesn’t quite get. It makes for some cute sequences and story progressions and leads us up to the climax, where Oddman Out gets the final show-stopping number.

There’s some strong performances: anyone familiar with the Vancouver scene has seen Andrew Lynch perform, and his Sheriff lives up to the high standards his presence demands. Emily Pangburn’s Robin is graceful and cocky and her facial expressions are as perfect as the choice to cast her as the lead. Isabella Halladay’s Will Scarlet demands attention and earns it, and she’s got presence enough to make her every moment on stage count.

Of note is Katherine Alpen’s Winkin – this is her first burlesque and she carries herself with a refined dignity in almost every scene, acting as the narrator and liberally ignoring the fourth wall. She’s great. Joseph Spitale’s Mann Marian is an utter delight from start to finish, a clueless dude-in-distress caught between political machinations he has little understanding of. Finally, the dry delivery of Jennifer Doan’s Oddman Out makes her the conscience of the show and the person who grows the most, a quiet presence that shadows the rest of the story until she’s ready to take center stage in the final number.

All of the male performers took some serious risks here: Jared Arthur, Joseph Spitale, Kenneth Tynan, Matthew Fedorowicz, Andrew Lynch, and Rafael Ruiz did some amazing things with the material they were given and the routines they worked out, and fans of boylesque are going to love the things they do.

The script has some very clever one-liners about its source material, the limitations of the set, and the limitations of the stage. It criticizes itself – how do you have a Robin Hood show without bows and arrows?!? – and a strong opening sequence that sets the stage for what’s to come.

A handful of minor technical choices can be excused – with the amount of glitter being used, one wonders why we don’t just replace blood with the stuff? It would have made for a much more dramatic (in every sense of the word) performance. There’s also a beautiful silks performance that, while gorgeous, comes out of nowhere and adds nothing to the story as a whole.

Which segues nicely into one of the problems with Robin Hood: Prince of Tease – the writer promotes comedy over character and loses out on the chance for more comedy because of it. The pacing is a bit weird, and without strong enough character motivation we’re left cheering for people because of the source material rather than the characters as they stand here. Traits come out of nowhere and pay-offs come without build up, making them feel hollow.

Even worse is the queer-coded villains; Mann Marian being forced to marry the fabulous Sheriff and being in horror of it and then being rescued by the female Robin is played for laughs, sure, and there’s an attempted rescue of the concept with a gay marriage between Little John and Marian’s manservant, but it feels like a last ditch effort to cover a mistake. Marian’s efforts with Robin are stymied by sexual fluidity, which comes off as a bit of bi-erasure.

Neither issue is large enough to mar the performances or the show as a whole. We’d recommend seeing it – it’s funny and a good time and the few flaws are evidence of inexperience more than maliciousness. Toofly Productions is still maturing as a studio and will continue to do so – and if this is what they’re early efforts look like, well, we can’t wait to see where they end up.

A word of warning: if you are going to see this (and if you like musicals, burlesque, or Robin Hood, then you should), reserve a table. The Performance Works Theater has limited seating and looking for a place to sit can be difficult. We’d recommend trying to get a seat in the center aisle – there’s a shower sequence that happens towards the back at the end of the second act that you’re going to want an unobstructed view of.

You can learn more about Toofly by clicking here, more about Robin Hood: the Prince of Tease by clicking here or buy tickets by clicking here, and learn more about the Performance Works Theater by clicking here. The show runs from now until May 13, 2017, with each show starting at 8pm.

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583

Instant Theatre – Talk Felty To Me

Events, Improv, Reviews

April 24, 2017

If you were alive and culturally savvy in the last 14 years you probably have heard the song, The Internet Is For Porn. If you haven’t heard it then you should.. click the link above, we will wait. Great! You watched that? Cool. That is from Avenue Q.  For those of us who have been lucky enough to see it live, then you will feel very at home watching Instant Theatre’s Talk Felty To Me. And for those of you who haven’t… you probably will still have a lovely if not raunchy good time. 

Talk Felty To Me is part of Instant’s monthly line up of shows held at The Havana. There are many adjectives that one could use to describe this show. Funny. Hilarious. Adult. Shocking. However, the one that sticks out is RAUNCHY!  This is the most amazing, raunchy, experience. I spent most of the show in near crying, clutch my pearls delight. 

There was a cast of 7-10 puppeteer/improvisers who came out and greeted the crowd and then went into a round of Innuendo. Innuendo is set up with the premise that you say that “Having sex with me is like (fill in the audience suggestion) because (punchline). It is a popular improv game that always gets a great laugh, but when puppets do it, it changes the fabric of reality. Most of us have been raised with Sesame Street as a fundamental building blocks of our education and to have a puppet talk say “I like my men like I like my coffee, in a cup” is disturbing and magical.

Then they did Normal, Bigger, Biggest which is set up to have a suggestion of a style of movie or show (in this show it was Film Noir) and then you do the scene normally, then bigger (more exaggerated) then biggest which is the most ridiculous version of the scenario.

The audience loved this so much. It just more and more ridiculous and well, to use the adjective above, raunchy.

After this, we had a session of advice about dating from two puppet brothers. It was great! Full of thoughtful but poorly executed advice, much like how most of us navigate the dating world. Done in the every other word style of improv where one puppet will say the first word, then the next word is done by the other puppet until they complete a semi coherent thought.

Next was Bushy! The Diva of Talk Felty To Me, who serenades the crowd with a song based on the audience suggestion, they asked for something that was a “Sexy Problem” and UTI was suggested.

Bushy is singing about UTIs and Sexy

After Bushy sang it’s song there were more skits involving an audience members dreams to be a pirate chef and also a series of short stories where a puppet complained about poor people in East Van and their need for the last scone.

Finally the last and I think the sweetest part of the night happened when the lady who was the main puppet maker for the show had her friend come on stage and have the cast sing happy birthday to her.

All in all, Talk Felty To Me is amazing and a delight, worth every bit of uncomfortable shock and will forever scar me but in the end will be a fond memory.

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508

Instant Theatre – The Actor’s Nightmare

Comedy, Events, Improv, Reviews

April 21, 2017

At the Havana Restaurant on Commercial Drive there lies a small black box style theatre space hidden at the back. This is where you will find players from Instant Theatre strutting their stuff. On the third Saturday of every month is when Instant improvisers and five guest actors bring you The Actor’s Nightmare – Scripted Theatre and Improv Collide!

As the title suggests, an actor’s nightmare is not knowing their lines, or worst, not knowing what play they are even in. This is exactly what happens in Actor’s Nightmare. Each improviser is paired up with a guest actor who will act out their memorized scripted lines. The improviser then must react to the scripted lines and make a cohesive-ish act. The result is a series of unexpectedly hilarious one act plays.

 

Allie Entwistle doing audience warm ups

 

The night began with host Allie Entwistle introducing the show with an explanation of what to expect and some fairly standard improv audience warm ups. The first actor-improviser pair, Abbey St. Brendan and Janet Davidson were then invited onto the stage. Janet started with asking for audience suggestion of an object: a whisk. The scene began with Janet whisking a bowl of something (a cake!) and Abbey’s Mary Aldin burst in exclaiming something about a murder in the house. The ensuing entertaining chaos of trying to find out who was murdered, who was the murderer, and how Janet’s character became an inadvertent accomplice had the audience in endless laughter. After the act was over, Abbey revealed that her scripted part was from Agatha Christie’s Toward Zero.

 

Abbey and Janet discussing a murder and cake!

 

 

Next was an original piece by Bennett Taylor and improviser Trang Nguyen. Trang’s 12 year old farm girl entered the scene with bucket of milk from their old cow, Betsy, and presented it to her father (Bennett) while contemplated whether the boy from next farm over would take her to the dance. We come to learn that Father worked as a cashier at a restaurant, Bob’s Big Ol’ Steaks. Unfortunately, Betsy succumbed to some sort of ailment involving a ball which resulted in a field full of cow blood.

 

Bennet and Trang investigating Betsy’s illness

 

Third set of the evening was a dramatic observation of bird behaviour by Vuk Prodanovic and Maddy Rafter as Captain and Miss Pennywise. This short half-improvised act started on a submarine, with the Captain’s overreaction to Pa, his seagull friend’s antics, but later was revealed that Captain and Miss Pennywise were criminals on the run. Criminals with a heart, having a heart to heart. There was also a giant heart in the sky, or possibly crows…? Vuk’s scripted part was from Urinetown: The Musical.

 

The second to last pair was Ella Berger as Niki (Curtains) and Mark Sears. The scene took place during intermission of a high school play, Macbeth: The Musical. Mark’s character, a drama teacher named Frank Gower was texting when Niki, whom Mr. Gower embarrassingly misnamed Amber multiple times, barged onto the scene. Niki was reluctant to replace the lead actress who fell off the stage and injured herself as Lady Macbeth. Revelations of death threats and forbidden romances followed, as Mr. Gower was trying to get someone to carry the injured girl off the front rows.

 

Ella and Mark having a crisis during “intermission”

 

Lastly, Julie Casselman and our erstwhile host herself, Allie Entwistle. Allie was given the audience suggestion of “a rack of watermelons”, and thus, Jacob the Watermelon Merchant was born. As the scene progressed, we learn that Mary Snow (Julie), a kumquat seller, and Jacob were once engaged, but Mary promised herself to Jerome since Jacob ran away a year ago. Apparently Jerome was quite the mansplainer and told Mary all kinds of things, such as all the pretty names of the moon’s mountains and valleys, and that bald men are very potent. Yes, potent. There was also a dog ghost. The act ended with Mary sliding her engagement ring off and making suggestive eyebrow movements at Jacob. Julie’s excerpt is from Salt-Water Moon by David French.

 

Julie and Allie at the watermelon rack

 

All in all, The Actor’s Nightmare – Scripted Theatre and Improv Collide! was very entertaining and kept the audience in stitches, which is par of course for Instant Theatre improv shows. The scenes held up surprisingly well though it is not without a dash of chaos, but what’s improv without a healthy dose of entropy. I would highly recommend The Actor’s Nightmare if you are in the mood for some comedy on Saturday night.

The next showing of The Actor’s Nightmare – Scripted Theatre and Improv Collide! will be on May 20th at 10:30 PM, tickets available here.

 


Eva Mak is a local producer, artist and lady about town. You can tweet at her @originalevamak 

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877

Geekenders’ Nintendance at the Odyssey

Burlesque, Culture, Events

April 18, 2017

It’s a warm Vancouver night, clear and expectant, and I’m walking towards one of the most storied venues in the city. The Odyssey was opened in 1987 and continues to operate as one of the city’s most prominent gay bars and that makes it the perfect spot for Geekenders to expand into.

A line had already begun to form at seven o’clock, the curious and familiar of both venue and troupe coming to see what the official mingling of both would result in. The answer was a smashing success, with a good crowd that was hot and ready for everything the Geekenders had to offer and a Geekenders crew fully prepared to take advantage of everything that their hosts had on hand.

People got settled, got drinks, got comfortable, greeted old friends and made new ones before the show began. The Odyssey provided a host of Nintendo-themed drinks and entertainment, including several iterations of Mario Kart and Smash Bros., letting the bar fill with classic remix video game tracks that set the stage for what was to come.

And what came? Veronica Vamp and the incomparable Stephen Blakley took the stage as Jesse and James of Team Rocket fame, accompanied by stage kitty Chantini. The two set an immediate rapport, riffing off the game and the cartoon and one another as they set the tone for the acts to follow with typical Geekenders flair.

Dee Luscious set things off as Bowser, King of the Koopas, prancing out to Amy Kurcharik and Friends’ Like a Boss and showing everyone that she had come up with an ironclad plan to finally conquer the Mushroom Kingdom: kidnap Princess Peach and put her in a castle. Dee made the stage her castle and every last audience member was captivated by her performance. It was a strong showing, equal parts funny and sensual, and it set things at ease and relaxed the crowd for whatever was to come.

With Princess Peach out of the picture, Jayne Fondue stepped up as Princess Daisy and let us know why she should be the new ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom and not just Luigi’s heart. Rocking out to How to be a Heartbreaker by Marina and the Diamonds, her facial expressions let everyone know that they were watching royalty – and when she came into the audience to thrum along with her loyal subjects, we were surprised to find her take someone on stage with her. This lucky player two was fed the freshest sort of block-fare, turned from another face in the crowd into the most famous plumber this side of Mario. The two of them stepped off, triumphant, and everyone’s heart went with them.

Artemis Lark had a difficult act to follow, but she managed. Coming out as the Kaepora Gaebora- the Great Owl from the Legend of Zelda games – she took a wild breath and claimed the space around the stage, flapping her wings and moving her head like an owl to Who Are You? by the Who, an inspired choice that Artemis turned into the ultimate audio/visual pun. Her facial expressions were, once again, perfect, and she became the show’s twilight princess as attention focused from performer to crowd.

The fine folks behind the upcoming Robin Hood: Prince of Tease were given a chance to strut their stuff while hosting the Geekenders costume contest. They’re performing an entirely gender-bent take on the classic fable and will be at the Performance Works on Granville Island from April 28th to May 13th. You can find out more by clicking here.

We were treated to two separate contests, a Nintendo-themed and a non-Nintendo themed follow up. A man wearing a full on Pikachu costume claimed the former, while the birthday-celebrating Draco Muffboi and companion Ginger Femmecat shared victory Hogwarts-bound Sailors Uranus and Pluto. Their victory was greeted with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday sung at Draco, and a Happiest Birthday to you.

With that island of calm behind us, we returned to the world of burlesque with Kitty Glitter proving that everyone loves a dinosaur. Appearing as Yoshi, she gobbled down every last morsel of attention with a fun and energetic showing that had the Odyssey in good spirits and ready for more.

The crowd was rocking and rollicking and feeling the passion of that performance, and so we were treated to an intense tournament of that most skill based of challenges: rock paper scissors. Contestants were culled from the crowd, their glory to be claimed or lost on stage for all the Odyssey to see. The battle was fierce and the prizes for victory mighty, with the final winner taking home the Master Sword.

You could take that prize home, maybe. You should come to one of these shows.

Donna Jazz flounced on stage to bring us back to the show as Kirby. She started things innocent, with some light instrumental that led to a nice rendition of Don’t Put in Your Mouth, the songs following the action as Kirby, of course, ate something… and we all know that Kirby takes on the power of those that are eaten. The music was swallowed and so was Donna, allowing her to transform into a very different kind of dreamland resident, Beyoncé’s Partition marking this as the perfect song to sum up the stunning performance as a whole.

As Kirby ended, the King returned: one can’t keep a bad Koopa down, and one does not turn away from a second showing from their King. The debuting Johnny Wildcard eschewed the stage entirely, showing as incredible athleticism as he swung along and pole-danced to Ain’t no rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant. Johnny hit every beat perfectly, ruling the land and the world and making the Odyssey his kingdom, and by the time his performance ended and we had managed to pick our jaws up off the floor we were certain we had seen the show-stopping number.

We were wrong.

Saffron St. James flew out from Ottawa to take part in this show, donning the yellow cap and crooked mustache of Wario. She stepped on stage and, like Wario, was greedy for our attention – but unlike Wario, she knew how to hold it once she had it. Setting herself to Crown by Angel Haze, she brought the house down, a perfect presence that proved that majesty comes from so much more than a crown.

Jesse and James saw us off and kicked off a massive dance party mingled with video games and good times, as the crowd that was there stayed and new faces showed up. A good time was had by all, and Stephen Blakley gave us some magic as he took the stage to reprise the Han Solo routine from the Star Wars burlesque. What else was he going to do? Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger was playing. The Geekenders crowd knew what was up, and the new faces from the Odyssey clued in quickly.

Geekenders continues to break new ground and expand their venues and fanbase. This was an awesome show with a great turnout for a Sunday night, and there’s sure to be more to follow both at the Odyssey and elsewhere. We know for certain that the Geekenders are returning to the Rio this May the Fourth (and the Fifth~!) with Star Wars: The Empire Strips Back. For our new friends that saw tonight and want more, click here and grab some tickets.

You won’t be disappointed.

All photos provided for by Zemekiss Photography, who you can learn more about by clicking here. You should do so; Zemekiss Exanto is awesome people and will capture your event with class and skill.  

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The Criticals Comedy show us a new take on an improv classic

Comedy

April 14, 2017

If you live in the Vancouver Lower Mainland and go to fandom conventions then you know who The Criticals Comedy are. You also know that “Whose Line Is It Anime?” is a convention goer favourite. They pack every panel room they are booked in and have had to have people turned away.

However, if you don’t go to fandom conventions, then you would not have had a chance to be delighted… until now. Brothers Phillip Amor and Colin Amor along with their cousin Zachary Taylor had their premier Whose Line event last Friday at Seven Dining Lounge in Vancouver and for a show that started at conventions,  it packed a decent crowd ready to participate in improv scenarios for fabulous prizes.

Colin Amor, Phillip Amor and Zachary Taylor look on in horror/laughter as contestants improv. Photo Credit: Quill Point

Photo Credit: Ashley Gabriel

The setup is simple in it’s formula, upon entering the venue you are give n a door ticket. That door ticket will be entered into the raffle later on in the night but it is also used to randomly choose the contestants for each round. When your name ticket is called, you go up, listen to the improv game instructions and create a scene with the other contestants. Popular games are “Scenes From A Hat” and “Pocket Words”. At the end of the show the winners of each round are called up on stage and given prizes and a chance to do a final scene.

This city is going to be having a local geek culture metamorphosis soon, the long standing Geeks versus Nerds Vancouver announced that season 5 (the current season) will be their last season, and with the change of the culture and those driving it we find ourselves wondering what will be the newest lineup of monthly geeky/nerdy events to gather at, “Whose Line Is It Anime?” is a strong contender.

Chris Nyarady from Geeks versus Nerds Vancouver was there and participated in a scene where you did colour commentary for a game of competitive Monopoly. Photo Credit: Ashley Gabriel

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379

In The Tent Of The Tea Party

Culture, Events, Music, Reviews

April 6, 2017

A spattering of Vancouver rain clatters against the concrete of Granville Street. A drumbeat without rhythm. Heavy. Is the dampness that pulls at you the rain? Or is there something else clawing at your soul? Something in the air tonight?

Trading on a legacy of sex, drugs, and black magic, The Tea Party crave a darker part of your soul. Especially Transmission (1997). Transmission is a gate, the music the path, and tonight? Tonight, The Tea Party will be our guide.

In 1997 three kids from Windsor resolved to produce “the darkest rock and roll album Canada had ever heard.” At the time, the Canadian charts were dominated by imports like the Spice Girls, No Doubt, The Backstreet Boys, and Pop Compilation Albums. For every the Tragically Hip or Our Lady Peace, there was a Sarah McLachlan or Celine Dion.

Often called “Moroccan Roll”, The Tea Party draw on sounds and instruments from across the globe, with a fixation on Middle-Eastern Mysticism and Music. Hearing live the music of my childhood, of my heroes, fulfills. Great musicians performing their greatest works out weighs the gimmicked nature of anniversary tours. Jeff Martin plays the guitar like an Olympic athlete. While a painting ages in his attic, he pulls out a bow and makes his strings sing. Jeff Burrows gives the drums an animalistic enthusiasm. Stuart Chatwood applies bass and keyboard, adding texture on texture, painting in sound.

This album offers a snapshot into the 90s that I never really knew personally. My older brother came of age during the heyday of Nirvana and the Wu-tang Clan while I was still playing Charlotte Diamond on repeat. That great musical revolution, heard through hollow walls as my brother learned long solos and discovered new sounds. I missed it. Too young. Too shy. It wasn’t until one hot summer in 1999, the world on pause, awaiting the new millennium, bored in the basement, I watched MTV countdown the top 20 videos of the week. Between undulating pop stars and incoherent rappers lay something beautiful: “Heaven Coming Down” from the album Triptych (1999) pulled me into The Tea Party’s world.

With the singular obsession of a pre-teen girl, I devoured their back catalogue as best I could. A copy of Splendor Solis (1993) from the back of an HMV. The Edges of Twilight (1995) borrowed from my brother. And, finally, Transmission, from a dusty corner of an A&B Sound. Looking for a way to understand the world, I stumbled into a different kind of understanding. That magic still lingered on the edges of the world. If only your eyes were open you could see it all.

If listening to Transmission is like finding a stack of Picasso sketches tucked in the back of the garage, hearing it live is a gallery exhibition. A sea of people, falling back on who they grew from. Aging rockers, former goth kids, angry angsty teens, and lost souls. “Army Ants”, pulsing, sends a wave across the crowd. “Psychopomp”, dragging the enraptured souls to the underworld and back again. “Babylon”, walking a tightrope between sex and violence until finally- “Release”…

“Release” resonates with me. Reminds me of why I’m here, of the journey the last few years have been. Of all I’ve lost and gained. Of missed chances and pain… I cry. There is a sincerity to it. A beauty. Even Martin takes a pause. To thank us, all of us, for creating such a moment. The moment passes – back into “Temptation” we go.

An intermission only to pull us back into Martin’s impossible world. Speaking openly of their heroes, the band slipped covers into the middle of their own work. U2’s classic “With or Without You” (1987) appeared in “Heaven Coming Down” (1999). Parts of “Under Pressure” (1982 Queen, David Bowie) kept appearing. The 20-minute version of “Sister Awake” included “Paint it Black” (1966, The Rolling Stones) as well as their encore.

So, here we are, 20 years later, do we still need an album like Transmission? What does an album mean in an age where Artists live and die download by download?

I think we’ve forgotten the importance of telling a good story.  The journey sacrificed on the altar of destination. Music is a product. Artists are commodities. Instead of autotuned perfection, give me skill. Give me the raw emotion and passion of a psychopomp.

The next city to host the Tea Party tent will be The Roxy in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, April 8th.  After that they’re going to the Star Events Centre in Sydney, NSW, on Friday, April 21st. If you can’t make either of those dates, you can click here to see the rest of the tour, or click here to see their incredible selection of music

 

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I was “murdered” by burlesque troupe and I would happily do it again, Geekenders “We All Float Down Here”...

Burlesque, Events, Reviews

April 1, 2017

If you haven’t been attending the Geekenders 2016/2017 Season you are missing out on events that are innovative and life-changing. I was floored when I saw their stage production of The Rocky Horror Show, I could not get over how amazing Batlesque was, and I wouldn’t have thought that something could beat them but We All Float Down Here proved my happily wrong.

Our horrifying hosts for the evening were Gidget Gravedigger and Alistair Crane and they were adorable, creepy and chocked full of Sleepwalkers trivia. Their story of the evening was the unfortunate but understandable murder of Alistair by Gidget and, in a typical King plot twist, having the body buried in the Pet Cemetary, only to have him come back to life and then turn into the Night Flier, was so silly and creepy. A+.

They were helped by their stage kitties in the first half of the show, Anita Johnson and Flash LeFox. The two crept and delighted the audience as The Grady Twins from The Shining. I would also like to make special note that I really appreciated that there was recognition that Stephen King writes about disturbing things and therefore an appropriate warning was said before people got in too deep. It shows that Geekenders cares about their audiences and stays true to their mandate of being a progressive troupe of performers.

The first performance revved the engines of the audience as Trixie Hobbitses as Christine danced and murdered her way around Kitty Glitter and Seamus Fit-It-In to the perfect song, The Beatles Baby You Can Drive My Car. She delighted. She KILLED. Her use of the classic balloon pop routine was a great treat and her use of headlights was top notch.

Next up was Androsia Wilde and Rear Admiral Ziggy Starbutt in a sexy homoerotic tango inspired by King’s epic The Dark Tower series. The routine turned into a violent pas de deux of fisticuffs and undressing while Short Change Hero by The Heavy.

Our first boylesque number of the night was Tylr Bourbon performing The Mist which was visceral and mesmerized the audience with the lush and disturbing images.

Fanny Oakley then gave us a sanguine belly dance sensation in her interpretation of Salem’s Lot complete with drinking blood on stage and bearing all as Take Me To Church by Hozier played.

Our first international act of the night came from a good friend of the Geekenders community who had performed in the Weird Al Burlesque: Violet DeVille, fresh from a performance date in Texas, possessed perfect comic timing in a The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill number. She made SPACE GOO even more awesome than it already was. A nice touch was using Catch A Falling Star by Perry Como and the Thunderstruck cover by Steve n’ Seagulls.

Secret Window, Secret Garden is one of my favorite King works and Ginger Femmecat and Draco-Muff-Boi’s take on it was perfection. The Nine Inch Nails song The Line Begins to Blur was the right choice for this performance and story. The visuals of Draco and Ginger transforming into each other was executed with precision and disturbing beauty.

The best part of The Shining is seeing a family descend into madness and the horror of knowing that the place that the world you live in is out to get you. Riannaconda showed us a trifecta of narratives transitioning from Wendy Torrance to Jack Torrance to the Overlook itself (complete with the iconic carpet). Also, two words… Glitter Axe.

Full disclosure: I am a Miss Dee Twenty fangirl. My opinion of her work is possibly slightly biased, but I checked with everyone else I could talk to and we were all in agreement, she is a rockstar. Her Needful Things act was a classic Miss Dee performance. Great music selection, Satan Takes A Holiday by Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Artie Shaw’s Nightmare along with her trademark narrative opener tells us a story of how when you make a deal with the devil you will be exposed. The Half and Half is a classic burlesque routine and Dee does it in full.

I enjoy a good period blood joke. Most beings with uteruses know the body horror of menstruation and Carrie was a formative and terrifying story of how women are shamed for their natural body functions. Fanny Oakley’s second number of the night explored that by using a montage of images from the movie and her own dancing which beautifully crescendoed into the crowning blood red glitter bath glory.

“She can’t be dead, MISERY CHASTAIN CANNOT BE DEAD!” is how I felt at the end Seamus-Fit-It-In and Kitty Glitter’s Misery number. The glitter axe made its second appearance as the couple showed how deep their love goes for wheelchairs, torture and Kathy Bates

I love it when performers take concepts from classic burlesque and turn it on their heads. Violet DeVille’s second number of the night was a reverse tease. Drawing inspiration from Silver Bullet, a story of a small town terrorized by a werewolf, Violet came out in her wolf form and danced in a barely-there nude costume with wolf mask and tail, then slowly added human elements of dress to a cover version of Bad Moon Rising by Mourning Ritual Feat: Peter Dreimanis of July Talk. It was a well-crafted comment on how we hide the dark animal inside our selves by covering it up with what we see as civilized.

The antepenultimate act was a huge and wild ensemble piece. One of the best things about Geekenders’ shows is that you will never be disappointed in a floor show style group “everyone take off your clothes” piece, and this is no exception. Veronica Vamp led Fanny Oakley, Faye Havok, and Tylr Bourbon in the ritualistic torture of Trixie Hobbitses and Seamus Fit-It-In with Rear Admiral Siggy Starbutts reprising her roll of Death in an epic retelling of Children of the Corn. Set to Go Kindergarten by Lonely Island featuring Robin, it was spicy like the Gingers that menaced us on stage.

With the reboot of IT coming to theaters and the recent upswing of creepy clowns standing on the edges of towns with balloons, having a clown with a balloon stand in the lobby of The Rio who encourages you to take photos of them with your friends is inspired. Brandy Snifter is, in fact, one of the most inspired performers I saw that night. If you ever had a raging crush on Loonette from Big Comfy Couch, then Brandy Snifter performing to Killer Klowns by The Dickies and the Goldfinger cover of 99 Red Balloons is your dark grown-up fantasy. We were so blessed to have Brandy visit from LA, because she is an international burlesque gem.

In my family, we have a “no shower curtain when taking a bath” rule. The Shining and specifically room 237 is the horror movie incident that inspired this rule. Anita Johnson, who is a gosh darned genius, used my fear of shower curtains and bathtubs against me in her Room 237 number where she stripped off her rotting flesh to Splish Splash by Bobby Darin. Jeebus the whole thing gave me a queasy but happy feeling in my stomach.

We all Float Down Here was a freaky, creepy, scary, unnerving delight. Successfully selling out the Rio and showing the city that Horrorlesque is a viable and popular genre of burlesque. If Geekenders gets any more amazing it is going to be hard to get tickets and that means that they are going to have to get support from their fans to find larger venues to accommodate the needs of the community that adores them.

We All Float Down Here Setlist

Christine – Drive My Car by The Beatles

The Dark Tower Series – Short Change Hero by The Heavy

The Mist – Haydar by Gulcan Kaya

Salem’s Lot – Take Me To Church by Hozier

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill Catch A Falling Star by Perry Como

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill Thunderstruck by Steve n’ Seagulls

Secret Window – The Line Begins To Blur by Nine Inch Nails

The Shining – How Deep Can I Go by Hairy Soul Man

Needful Things – Satan Takes A Holiday by Tommy Dorsey Orchestra

Needful Things – Nightmare by Artie Shaw

Carrie – Red Dress by MAGIC!

Misery – Love On The Rocks With No Ice by The Darkness

Silver Bullet – Bad Moon Rising  by Mourning Ritual Feat: Peter Dreimanis

Children of the Corn – Go Kindergarten by The Lonely Island Feat: Robyn

IT – Killer Klowns by The Dickies

IT – 99 Red Balloons by Goldfinger

Room 237/ The Shining – Diana by Paul Anka

Room 237/ The Shining – Splish Splash by Bobby Darin

Room 237/ The Shining – Rebel Rouser by Duane Eddie

Room 237/ The Shining – Charlie Big Potato by Skunk Anansie

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